Q: My computer boots up slower than it used to. Can I speed it up?
A: Yes! You may have accumulated a number of unneeded programs that are slowing you down.
When you start up Windows, you may have unneeded programs or, worse, PUPs that also start up. More on PUPs later.
Getting rid of these unneeded programs will make your computer start up a little faster. But be careful. You don’t want to kill some program you actually need.
You can see what loads when your Windows computer boots up. From your desktop press: Ctrl-Shift-Esc. That brings up Task Manager. Or you can right-click on the Taskbar and click Task Manager. In Windows 11, click the Start button, type “task,” and press Enter.
Click on the Startup tab of Task Manager. There you will see in alphabetical order the programs that may be opening on startup. If the entry in the Status column says, “Disabled,” the program does not load.
The “Startup impact” column gives you a relative idea about how much a program slows down the startup process.
Uninstall Programs You Don't Need
It is best to uninstall programs you don’t need. If you are sure it is safe to uninstall a program, just type “uninstall” in the Windows Search box, click Add/Remove Programs, scroll down to the program, click on it, and uninstall it.
If you are pretty sure you don’t need a program but want to be on the safe side, disable it in the Startup tab of Task Manager. Right-click on it and choose Disable. You can enable it later if you need to.
Biggest Speed Improvement
I should note that the biggest improvement you can make to speed up your startup is to replace the Windows hard drive with a solid-state drive (SSD) if you don’t have one already. Or replace your old, sluggish PC with a new one. The small form factor PCs are surprisingly inexpensive, small, and fast compared to any PCs made more than three to five years ago.
You can also speed up your Windows Startup for free by enabling the Windows 10 Fast Startup feature. As a techie, I am loath to skip the standard startup process, but maybe I am just old-fashioned.
For a step-by-step guide to enabling Windows 10 Fast Startup, see How to Speed Up Boot Time on Your PC or Laptop.
Potentially Unwanted Programs
Now, back to PUPs. Potentially Unwanted Program (PUP) is the industry term for a program that may have slyly been installed when you downloaded and installed a different program. PUPs can contain adware, spyware, and worse. A good antivirus program can identify and possibly remove PUPs for you.
Programs that can remove PUPs for you are Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware. Neither of these free programs replaces your antivirus software. They are good for running manually to remove things your antivirus protection might have missed.
Be forewarned! The Internet displays a zillion ads for programs that will “dramatically speed up your computer!!!” Don’t fall for them! By and large, they are junk. Often they are PUPs that are pushed at you when you install some other freeware program.
This article originally appeared in the Ask Techie column of the GPSolo eReport, American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. Author: Wells H. Anderson, J.D., CEO, SecureMyFirm Inc.