How To Optimize Your Computer For Free

Many users think a slow computer means you need to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on new equipment. Instead, you may be able to restore near-optimal performance by using free utilities on your Windows computer.

Make use of these applications to optimize your computer. All of them are either included with various versions of Windows operating systems or can be downloaded for free.

Delete programs you do not use

Chances are, a purchased desktop or laptop computer has an abundance of unnecessary software (or bloatware). Unless you manually build a computer and install the operating system yourself, these programs are usually included as free versions with the intent of later selling a license to the user.

NOTE: Some installations include the full version, though it may still be unnecessary.

Uninstall Windows ProgramsMake a list of applications you use regularly. Then, look through the Control Panel under the ‘Add/Remove Programs’ or ‘Uninstall or change a program’ section. You may notice programs like:

  • Weather widgets
  • Game packages
  • Encyclopedias
  • Maps
  • Shortcut toolbars

If you regularly use any of them and they are not causing problems, you should not be alarmed. However, all of these extra programs use up space and resources, especially if they are set to boot at system startup. Safely and entirely removing these applications will help the overall performance of your system. Learn more about how to uninstall programs on a Windows operating system.

Defragment your hard drive

Defragment Hard Drive Windows
Windows Disk Defragmenter

Fragmentation is an organizational process of data on a hard drive. As files are added, deleted, and modified, data becomes fragmented. This process may increase the computing time of various processes.

Defragramentation is the process of reorganizing the fragmented data efficiently. This process usually decreases (improves) computing time of processes.

Disk Defragmenter can be run on an automatic schedule or started manually. The process itself may take upwards of multiple hours to complete, depending on the severity of fragmentation, the size of the hard drive, and the processor speed of the computer itself. Learn how to defragment your hard drive.

Use Disk Cleanup to delete files

Another Windows called ‘Disk Cleanup’ can help delete unnecessary files as well. Deleting applications and unnecessary files will help. However, an operating system stores additional files and data in other locations.

Windows Disk CleanupDisk Cleanup will assist by cleaning up files found in:

  • Downloaded Program Files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • Temporary files
  • Thumbnails
  • and more

You are able to select which files you wish to delete. You can choose between your own files (current user), or all system files for all users (if you have administrative rights). Learn more about using Disk Cleanup.

Download and install Windows updates

Windows Update - Checking for updates
Windows Update searching for newest updates

Software updates are frequently shunned by users because they feel the changes may be unnecessary or may negatively affect user experience. More often than not, operating system updates are released to improve experience by patching security flaws or upgrading existing features.

The Windows Update application allows for some flexibility in terms of how a user downloads and installs updates.

  • Automatically download and install new updates
  • Automatically download updates and allow the user to decide when/which to install
  • Allow the user to select which updates to download and install
  • Never check for updates (not recommended)

Depending on the settings, hundreds of critical updates my be available, and by not having them, system performance may be drastically reduced. Learn more about Windows Update.

Keeping your system updated, clean, and protected will make sure it continues working and will save you time and money in the long run.