Speed Up Your PC

By Tracey Dowdy

After months on the couch, working from home, most of us are feeling the weight of the past year. That may include your devices, including your PC. If it’s your work computer, you may have an IT department to lean on, even remotely, but if it’s your personal computer running Windows, you may benefit from these tools that will improve processing speeds and reduce lag. 

Task Manager operates as a window into your PC’s health. You can see exactly what programs are taxing the processor, the amount of memory a program or app is taking up, and how much network data a program has used. 

To open, right-click on the Taskbar and select Task Manager from the list of options. The default view will which apps are currently running. Select More Details in the bottom left corner to open a list of Apps and Background Processes. It constantly refreshes, so it’s best to let it run for a few minutes and just observe. Look for apps that shoot to the top of the list, then disappear a few seconds later, and for processes that stay at the top of the list with high memory or CPU use. To close an app or process that you suspect may be partly responsible for slow performance, click on the listing, then click End Task.

Several things could be causing your PC to be sluggish, and at the top of that list is antivirus scans that can slow down your system while it’s actively scanning your computer for malware and viruses. To avoid scans interfering with your work, schedule it to run when you’re not likely to be using your PC, such as overnight or while you’re out for lunch.

Another cause for lag is the number of apps and programs that launch at startup. To clean up the list, open your Task Manager and eliminate anything that you don’t need to have locked and loaded when you start your computer by clicking the app name, followed by Disable.

One common issue is the number of browser tabs open at one time. Remember, each window and tab takes up memory and processing power. Over time, that constant pull will slow down your PC. 

To see which extensions and tabs could be to blame, in Task Manager, click on the arrow next to your browser’s name. If you use Chrome, it has a built-in task manager of its own. Launch it by pressing Shift+Esc while using Chrome, or click on the menu button > More Tools > Task manager. If the problem persists, try switching browsers or limiting the number of tabs you have open. 

Additionally, be sure to close apps down completely when you’re done. If you’re not sure, check the notification tray (next to the volume and Wi-Fi indicators) to see what’s still running in the background. 

It’s also a good idea to shut down and power off your computer completely – don’t just restart it. Let it cool for a few minutes to clear out the memory and fully reset before powering on again. 

Finally, pause OneDrive syncing by clicking on the OneDrive icon in the notification tray, select More, and then Pause syncing.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.