Even with a powerful PC it’s possible to suffer from poor Windows 11 performance, and this can be caused by a variety of issues, ranging from excessive Startup programs to Windows bloatware. Follow these simple steps if you’re looking to improve boot times and overall performance.
1. Startup Programs
Most users don’t realise how many unnecessary programs run on Startup. Applications like Spotify, Steam, and Skype can increase boot-up time, not to mention strain resources like CPU and memory. All you need to do is disable these apps from running on startup. You can open each application individually and make the change, but it can also be done through Windows:
- Head over to Start -> Settings (Ctrl + I), then choose Apps and select Startup. It’s as easy as disabling the programs you don’t want to run on Startup.
- Alternatively you can use the Task Manager. Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del, then navigate to the Startup tab. Simply select the application and click Disable in the bottom right corner.
2. Free Up Hard Disk Space
A bloated hard disk can be a performance killer, and there are a few useful tools for freeing up space. Windows has a built-in tool called Storage Sense that offers some useful features:
-Clear the Recycle Bin after a selected period
-Delete unused files in the Downloads folder
-Remove unused cloud-backed content
Storage Sense needs to be enabled, so navigate to to Start -> Settings -> System -> Storage, then select Storage Sense. Here you can enable and finetune the tool.
Another built-in tool you can use is Disk Cleanup, where you can safely delete temporary files and cache. Simply click Start and search for Disk Cleanup.
If you’re still struggling to free up space, you should do a manual inspection with WinDirStat. WinDirStat will show you comprehensive disk usage statistics, allowing you to identify space hogs. Sometimes deleting cache files can make a big difference.
3. Free Up Hard Disk Space
Bloatware is another big culprit, and removing bloatware is especially important if you’re on a new PC or laptop. Not only will you have to deal with Windows bloatware, but unwanted programs from the PC manufacturer.
Although Microsoft bloatware has decreased over time, Windows 11 still has a good chunk of bloat. Not everyone wants to use pre-installed applications like OneDrive, 3D Builder, and Microsoft News, and you can uninstall these applications by navigating to Start -> Settings -> Apps -> Apps & features. Here is a more exhaustive list of pre-installed apps you probably won’t need:
Additionally, there are a few tweaks you can make to improve performance and privacy.
- Disable Ads by navigating to Start -> Settings -> Privacy & security. Under Windows Permission, select General, and at the very top you want to disable Let apps show me personalised ads by using my advertising ID.
- Make a few tweaks under Diagnostics & feedback. To get there, navigate to Start -> Settings -> Privacy & security -> Diagnostics & feedback. The first thing you want to do here is disable Send optional diagnostic data. This will prevent Windows from collecting usage statistics (and potentially sharing it with a third party). On the same tab, you want to also disable Tailored experiences, and this will prevent Windows from showing things like personalised tips and recommendations.
If you don’t have the time and patience to uninstall/disable one thing at a time, you can try an all-in-one tool such as Win-Debloat-Tools or Win10Debloat. These tools take care of everything, from removing bloatware to making the necessary Windows settings. Use at your own risk.
4. Remove Malware
Performing regular scans with Windows Defender (or your Anti-Virus of choice) is highly advisable. Windows Defender will perform Scheduled Scans, and it is also possible to start a manual scan through the Windows Security app. Hit Start and type in Windows Security. Once you have the app open, choose Virus & threat protection. Here you can either perform a Quick scan, or open Scan options to run a Full scan.
As an extra precaution, use an anti-malware tool like Malwarebytes to put it beyond doubt. I’d recommend performing a monthly scan with Malwarebytes to ensure your machine is free of malware and adware. If you’re using the free version, it isn’t even necessary to keep it on your PC afterwards. Just install, scan, uninstall – repeat once a month.
5. Update Windows
Keeping Windows 11 up to date is very important as Microsoft regularly releases security updates and bug fixes. Don’t miss any updates and ensure you have the latest version. Open up Start -> Settings, then choose Windows Update on the bottom left. Updates will appear automatically, but you can click the Check for updates button to make sure you have the latest version.
6. Disable Visual Effects
This one is probably overkill for most users, but if you’re running a low machine without a dedicated GPU, disabling things like animations and shadows can make the OS feel more snappy. To disable visual effects, hit Start, then type View advanced system settings. Under the Advanced tab, select Performance -> Settings. Choose the Adjust for best performance radio button. It won’t look as pretty, but it’ll be fast!