If you've bought a PC in the last couple of years the chances are it'll be running Windows 10, Microsoft's latest operating system.
Widely recognised as one of the better OS releases (yes, even from the get-go: our sister title TechAdvisor described it as the best Windows yet), returning the Start menu, doing away with the much-reviled Start Screen by default from Windows 8, for example, and with Microsoft regularly releasing updates that genuinely do improve the experience.
As with any software upon release, it runs best on higher spec devices. If your business migrated to the latest OS on older hardware, for security reasons, for example, it's possible you or your colleagues are experiencing some lag.
Luckily there are a few easy tips and tricks you can do to make Windows 10 faster. A quick note – some of these will be (quite rightly) locked for admin rights (think the registry or any other system files) while others, like changing your power settings, probably won't be:
Slow to boot? Try fast startup
Head to your control panel, hardware and sound, power options, system settings, then tick the fast startup box.
The way this works is Windows holds onto the kernel when you shut down, so when you start up again, it's already there – refreshing the RAM with the loaded image from the hibernation file, as HowToGeek explains in this useful pros and cons for Fast Startup article.
Stop some startup programs
A tried and tested trick for ailing Windows systems, if your PC is loading too many applications on boot then it's going to take longer to get up and running.
Changing this is pretty simple in Windows 10 as TechAdvisor explains. One way is to launch Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Esc, or you can open the Start Menu icon and pick Task Manager from there.
Once you're in Task Manager, click on More details, click the Start-up tab, and then remove what you don't want by right clicking on the application and choose ‘Disable'. You can re-enable these at any time.
Launch the troubleshooter
As our sister title points out, Windows 10 has a great tool that combs for performance issues and then issue you a report. You can then choose to let Windows 10 solve these, if you like. It'll require admin rights.
Find the troubleshooter in Control Panel > System and Security > Security and Maintenance > Troubleshooting > Run maintenance tasks.
Notifications can be handy, but they can also be annoying, and if you're already putting a strain on your processor they can make things worse. Go to the Windows 10 Action Centre to turn them off.
Windows 10 also frequently send information back to Microsoft – more than you might expect. Handily, it's not difficult to find out what.
Boost your privacy by heading to Settings, Privacy, General, and uncheck the Advertising ID tab up top. When you've done that, you can opt out of personalised ads at this link on the Microsoft website.
Disable more stuff – like Cortana
Microsoft made a big song and dance of its flagship digital assistant Cortana, but if you're not using it, then the processes are running in the background waiting for voice input that it's never going to get.
Turn Cortana off by opening Start menu search, clicking on Cortana, clicking the settings icon, and then toggling all of the options to ‘off'.
Mercilessly destroy bloatware
Vendors love to stuff your brand new PC full of apps you probably won't want or will never use. To get rid of them, grab the Refresh Windows Tool from Microsoft – it will install a completely clean version of Windows 10 without core apps. Better to do this when you first buy a new laptop or when you're fully backed up (twice) as it will remove literally everything.
You can also get rid of some apps that come bundled with Windows 10, although Cortana, Edge, Contact Support and Windows Feedback are with you for life. Head here to our sister site TechAdvisor for a more in-depth tutorial.
Clean up after the Fall Creators Update
There's a Disk Cleanup tool in every copy of Windows 10. If you've installed the Fall Creators Update from late 2017 your machine is going to have leftover bits on it hogging up disk space. Head here for a full tutorial.
Go to Start, search Disk Cleanup, right click, run as admin. Then you'll want to click on Clean up systems files – and this will surface a ‘Previous Windows Installation' option. Check that then click OK and say goodbye to those unnecessary files.
Or simply go to your Settings, System, then Storage, and open Storage Sense. If you click on the Change how we free up space tab there will then be an option to delete previous versions of Windows.
Use Performance Monitor
Performance Monitor is a really powerful tool that gives you a big picture overview of how your machine is running. You can check the CPU and how much of it is being used (and by what). You can generate a report by typing perfmon /report into the search box.
The report might take a while, but when it opens it's interactive, with Windows even offering you advice on how to deal with any issues that it has flagged. Have a look at the Warnings entry for priorities to tackle.
MakeUseOf has a good tutorial that outlines some of the things you can do with Performance Monitor.