Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, OS X, Windows

5 Reasons to keep your operating system up to date

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up…

Many users have developed the bad habit of delaying or ignoring operating systems updates. They see the little pop up reminders and simply hit “postpone” without a second thought. That is until they experience their first major problem with their shiny new PC or laptop!

Instead of putting off important updates, which we all know inevitably pop up at the least opportune times, users should prioritise them. This is not only to keep yourself secure but also it has benefits relating to your computers performance speed.

So, why is it so important to keep your system updated?

 

Security vulnerability fixes

 

The very first reason why new updates constantly appear is to fix security holes. The thing is, no matter how secure an operating system is designed to be, hackers more often than not find ways to exploit systems. Most malicious threats are caused by security flaws that remain unfixed due to a not up-to-date OS.

By ignoring updates, this is the digital equivalent of leaving your doors unlocked and open!

 

Better Functionality

 

An OS update will usually provide its users with new and enhanced features. This might also include processing speed improvements. So, the next time you feel your computer isn’t functioning as good as it used to a few weeks back, all you might have to do is wait for an update!

Other functionality features can include improved web browsers or built in security features such as fingerprint ID or face recognition logins.

 

Bug fixes

 

All software providers, including your OS provider, carry out meticulous checks before selling their products. However, it is only after some time that faults in the source code starts to appear. That is where updates come into play.

By not updating and having these bugs in play, many bad things can potentially happen on your PC. From software simply not working to an entire OS failure at the extreme end of the spectrum!

 

Improvement of Hardware performance

 

OS updates very often bring along driver updates. A driver is a piece of software that allows the operating system to interact with hardware. Depending on the hardware connected to a computer, driver updates might increase the overall performance of your machine, especially when it comes to gaming and connecting to the Wi-Fi.

Although many hardware manufacturers provide driver update capabilities separately, OS providers have improved leaps and bounds in recent years as far as seamlessly providing driver updates is concerned.

 

Avoiding passing a virus to other computers

 

While your computer’s operating system might be relatively immune to different malware, it doesn’t necessarily mean it cannot spread to other devices that are on the same network you are on.

For instance, your Macintosh should be quite safe from cyber attacks however you may easily pass a threat to your friends or colleagues who are on a Windows device if you are sharing a common network.

While an update might not be able to completely prevent such a scenario, it definitely can reduce the risks associated with it.

As well as updating your operating system, make sure you have an anti-virus installed to protect yourself. For more information check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018

 

No excuses – Keep your Operating System up to date!

 

Don’t forget, system updates are designed to protect their users from cyber attacks and provide the best performance. Ignoring them might prove critical to the functioning of your device. If you want to ensure best user experience, there really shouldn’t be an excuse to not keep your operating system up to date!

 

 

 

Apple, OS X

The Ultimate Guide to OS X Performance

Back in May 2007, I wrote a guide on 52 ways to speed up OS X, the article resonated with…

Back in May 2007, I wrote a guide on 52 ways to speed up OS X, the article resonated with many people about their frustrations with their Mac’s speed and gave 52 simple ways to improve performance. In the following months and years the article received almost half a million views* but over a decade later are the tips still relevant and what are the best methods to speed up an aging mac today?

1. General Troubleshooting

A good place to start is to investigate whether there is a specific application or process slowing down your Mac. For this we turn to the Activity Monitor, Apple already has a good article on getting to grips with the various features of their task manager. For our purposes of troubleshooting, we’re interested in any applications which are using the CPU for a long period of time.

Is Adobe Acrobat Reader DC taking an unreasonable amount of the CPU over a sustained period of time?

Trying to identify the process at fault is often difficult as there isn’t a comprehensive list of all the core OS X processes (like kernel_task, fontd, WindowServer, hidd, coreaudiod). Typically when troubleshooting if a process is taking a sustained period of time to load I will simply Google it to check whether its a core OS X process, an application or malware.

Once you’ve identified the process you can then decide whether you need it or whether you should look at how to remove it.

2. Hardware

In a lot of cases, nothing is going to beat newer or better hardware. Mac’s have always been poor when it comes to upgradability and newer Mac’s haven’t made this any easier. In many cases, the components your Mac come with are the ones it will end its life with however some models allow you to change either the hard drive or the memory.

OS X and our applications love memory and the rule is simple, the more the better, if you have the option to upgrade from 2gb to 4gb or 4gb to 8gb its one of the easiest ways to see a noticeable performance increase.

Older Macs before SSDs were standard should let you replace the hard drive for a solid state drive. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube on how to do this. The performance difference is again noticeable and its a relatively low cost way to breath some life into an older Mac.

Other upgrades such as changing processors are usually not possible or recommended due to compatibility.

3. Disk Space

As well as the physical memory (RAM) in your Mac, OS X uses virtual memory, or part of your physical disk drive. This gets cleared out at reboot and is managed automatically by the system as you use it. If you’re like me and only reboot for updates then it’s not uncommon for these files to be several gigabytes. OS X manages these files without you having to worry but it is important to ensure you have enough space left on your drive.

OS X memory usage after reboot and opening Safari
The memory tab of Activity Monitor shows the biggest memory users and the types of memory in use.

Quick tips for more disk space

  1. Empty Trash
  2. Clear back download items
  3. Run a disk space analyser app such as Free Disk Space 
  4. Delete odd applications or files

4. OS X Tweaks

This section concentrates on quick and simple changes you can make within OS X to help with performance.

Start up items

When installing applications they often install themselves as a ‘login item’ so that when you boot your machine they open at login. In many circumstances, there is a good reason for this, applications such as Dropbox or OneDrive open in this way so that they can synchronise any files waiting to download or upload. In some cases though the functionality of the program isn’t needed on boot.

Fortunately, OS X gives a simple interface for reviewing these applications:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Click Users & Groups
  3. Click the tab ‘login items’
  4. From here you can see the items you have on startup.
  5. To remove an item click on it then click the minus symbol.

Visual effects

Disabling some of OS X’s visual effects will make it feel a little faster, to do the following you need to open the Terminal application (found in the applications folder) :

1. Disable animations when opening and closing windows.

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSAutomaticWindowAnimationsEnabled -bool false

2. Disable animations when opening a Quick Look window.

defaults write -g QLPanelAnimationDuration -float 0

3. Accelerated playback when adjusting the window size (Cocoa applications).

defaults write NSGlobalDomain NSWindowResizeTime -float 0.001

4. Disable animation when opening the Info window in Finder (cmd⌘ + i).

defaults write com.apple.finder DisableAllAnimations -bool true

5. Disable animations when you open an application from the Dock.

defaults write com.apple.dock launchanim -bool false

6. Make all animations faster that are used by Mission Control.

defaults write com.apple.dock expose-animation-duration -float 0.1

7. Disable the delay when you hide the Dock

defaults write com.apple.Dock autohide-delay -float 0

Reduce Finder Memory Usage

When opening finder, by default, it’s set to search for files within All My Files view. With lots of files on older Mac’s, this can slow down the opening of Finder.

  1. Open Finder
  2. Choose Preferences in the top menu
  3. Locate New Finder Window menu
  4. Now you change the default settings from “All My Files” to other more specific location, like your Documents folder. Next time you launch Finder it will automatically open in this new location.

5. Applications

I clung up to using Adobe Fireworks for years, it did everything I needed when it came to graphics editing but on my early 2015 MacBook Pro, it took a full 27 seconds to load. The reason was the way the software was written, using software development languages and libraries common in the early days of OS X.

About a year ago I switched to Acorn a modern graphics editor written specifically for newer versions of OS X, it loads on my Mac in about 2 seconds.

I hadn’t changed anything to improve performance as such but just by changing the application I had made my Mac feel significantly quicker.

There’s no hard and fast rules when it comes to finding faster applications but if there is a common application you use which is either slow to load or to use then try searching for an alternative.

In general applications made specifically for OS X (such as my example above) are quicker.

Application Updates

Updates are a tricky one when it comes to performance, for many software developers performance related improvements will come in incremental releases after the main product has shipped. However, as we reported on earlier in the year with the Meltdown/Spectre exploits any related updates could have crippling performance issues.

On the other hand, Apple has released entire versions of OSX (remember OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard and to a lesser extent OS X 10.13 High Sierra) to give performance improvements.

In general, updates function as security fixes and bug fixes rather than performance improvements.

6. Web Browsers

Clear Cache

  • Safari. Launch the browser and select ‘Safari’ from the menu bar, followed by ‘Preferences…’ In the window that appears, click the ‘Privacy’ tab and give the ‘Manage Website Data…’ button a click. Select ‘Remove All.’
  • Chrome. Launch Chrome and select ‘History’ from the menu bar, followed by ‘Show full history.’ Click the ‘Clear browsing data…’ button.

 

Browser Extensions

How to remove Safari extensions

  1. Launch Safari.
  2. Click Safari > Preferences in the upper menu
  3. Choose Extensions tab.
  4. Remove the extensions you don’t need

How to remove Chrome extensions

  1. Launch Chrome.
  2. Click a three-dot icon in the top-right corner.
  3. Click More tools > Extensions.
  4. This will show you all the extensions you have installed. Simply delete or disable any you no longer use or recognise.

8. Other Troubleshooting

Resetting the SMC

Resetting the SMC can fix a number of power and hardware related problems including:

  • Problems with cooling fans: Such as your the fans run at high speeds for long periods of time or your fans not working at all
  • Lighting issues: Such as your battery indicator lights not working, problems with display backlighting or keyboard backlights issues.
  • Power management issues: Such as your Mac not turning on, sleep not working, random shutdowns and reboots.
  • Battery problems: Such as your battery not charging.
  • General performance and functionality issues: Such as your Mac feeling abnormally slow despite no CPU or disk usage or if your external ports are not working, airport and Bluetooth not working.

To reset on Mac desktops:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Unplug the power cord.
  3. Wait at least 15 seconds.
  4. Plug the power cord back in.
  5. Wait 5 seconds, then press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

To reset on Mac laptops:

  1. Shut down your Mac.
  2. Press Shift-Control-Option on the left side of the built-in keyboard, then press the power button at the same time. Hold these keys and the power button for 10 seconds.
    If you have a MacBook Pro with Touch ID, the Touch ID button is also the power button.
  3. Release all keys.
  4. Press the power button again to turn on your Mac.

9. Good Practice

These tips aren’t necessarily going to speed OS X up but will make the day to day usage of your Mac easier and hence feel quicker to use.

Keeping the downloads folder clean

Since the introduction of High Sierra, when you’ve downloaded a new installation file, you will be prompted to send the file to the trash. This doesn’t apply to other files such as PDFs and images so its good practice to clear back this folder once in a while.

Removing Unused Apps

In most cases removing an unused app is as simple as locating it in finder and dragging it to the trash.

10. Final Note

Hopefully, the above tips will help keep your Mac feeling fast and current and remember to try to restart once in a while!

*Google analytics – 492,193 page views as of 6th March 2018

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Internet Security, Social Media

8 Tips to Protect Your Browsing Privacy

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing…

Online privacy is a hot topic recently with the influx of news stories about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica possibly misusing users data. Although the news stories are highlighting to people just how much Facebook knows about them, they are not the only company that keeps track of things you do online!

Virtually every interaction that takes place in a web browser is tracked in some way. There are many ways in which you are tracked online, IP address, browser cookies, HTTP referrer headers, browser fingerprints and user agents. All of these things make it possible to trace everything you do online.

Unfortunately, the majority of people are happy to hand out way too much information about themselves too – their location, their relationships and much more online.

For some users, browsing privacy is only just becoming a priority when they are online. Fortunately, we have compiled some tips, add-ons/browser extensions to try and minimize the amount of information available about you and your browsing habits.

 

Stop oversharing – Take your browsing privacy seriously

 

Our first and most obvious tip, stop oversharing your information online willingly! Whenever you disclose information online it is there forever. Whether this is on facebook, twitter or other social media try to simply not share information that is not relevant.

Simply customizing your social media settings to restrict who can see what you share is a good starting place.

Turning off location tracking in apps and your google account settings should be your next step.

Unfortunately, information shared willingly only scratches the surface of data that is stored about you online.

 

“Do Not Track”

 

All modern web browsers have the ability to toggle on a “do not track” option. This option is a W3C standard that tells websites, when enabled, to stop their user-tracking and disable cross-site user tracking.

An example of this would be targeted adverts. If you have ever been browsing for an item, an electric toothbrush, for example, you may have noticed that for weeks after you see lots of adverts or more electric toothbrushes. This example would not happen if a user had the “do not track” option enabled in their browser.

 

Ad Blockers

 

To avoid seeing adverts and many user tracking scripts at all you can simply install an ad blocker. There are many options available to you, common and powerful choices are Ad Block Plus (https://adblockplus.org/) and uBlock Origin (https://github.com/gorhill/uBlock).

 

Disable browser scripts

 

A slightly more aggressive way of blocking user tracking scripts is to install a browser add-on/extension that disables them all by default. No Script (https://noscript.net/) and ScriptSafe (https://www.andryou.com/scriptsafe/) are the most common options available.

By default, these extensions will block all Java, JavaScript, Flash and other tracking scripts generated by the site you are visiting. This “white list” approach can break some website until you enable certain scripts but it does give you the freedom and security of having everything off by default.

 

Become an online ghost with Ghostery – https://www.ghostery.com

 

Ghostery is a browser extensions/add-on that provides a safer way to browse online. It offers a wide range of features such as enhanced ad-blocking, enhanced anti-tracking, and smart blocking. By default, it blocks thousands of known user tracking scripts. Ghostery offers control over your browsing privacy by allowing you to run individual tracking scripts if for some reason you need them.

 

HTTPS Everywhere – https://www.eff.org/https-everywhere

 

HTTPS Everywhere is another browser extension/add-on that encrypts your data sent to many major websites.

Although most communication to websites nowadays is done through HTTPS, some information you send may sneak through in an unsecured, un-encrypted form. This is where HTTPS Everywhere steps in – It steps in and takes these unsecured HTTP requests and encrypts them.

 

Mozilla Facebook container – https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/facebook-container/

 

Following on from recent news stories, the Mozilla foundation has launched their Facebook container. When installed it will delete all of your previous Facebook cookies and ask you to log in using the container tab. It acts like a normal browser tab but with one important difference – Any Facebook activities are isolated from other browser activity.

Any websites with embedded Facebook widgets, such as like or share buttons will not work as your account login is contained inside the Facebook container tab. This makes it so that Facebook loses the ability to track your browsing activity outside of Facebook. A simple yet efficient way of restoring some browsing privacy to your daily Facebook session!

 

VPN (Virtual Private Network)

 

In one of our previous articles – Do I need a VPN for 2018 We discussed the pros of a VPN for the average user. The main point that we took from the article was that by having a VPN you are ensuring that all your online browsing information is invisible to your ISP.

A VPN will stop your ISP spying on your online browsing activities but is not a golden bullet to online browsing privacy. Using a (reputable!) VPN in conjunction with some of the add-ons/extensions mentioned in this article would be a very powerful combination to stay safe online.

 

 

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Android, Antivirus, Apple, Chromebook, Enterprise, Internet Security, Microsoft, Mobile, OS X, Windows

Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have…

Let’s address the elephant in the room – malware and viruses do exist! Devices are not immune so we have to ask “Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary?”! It is worth noting that if your phone, tablet or computer is invulnerable to internet threats today, it isn’t a guarantee it will stay so forever.

Having said that, let’s discuss why viruses are immensely prevalent on some platforms while on others they are almost non-existent.

First and foremost, we need to understand that cybercrime is a lucrative business. Hackers are always in search of ways to sneak in into users’ systems and capitalize on sensitive information.

While most vulnerabilities till now have been centered around the Windows OS, other system software like that of Apple’s isn’t as protected either as it once used to be.

It’s not that there are issues with Apple’s inbuilt security system, but rather, cyber culprits have found new ways of slipping through advanced defense systems. The reason why they have started out so late is that they were pretty content targeting the much easier and larger number of Windows and Android users till now.

Though Apple’s security is pretty impressive, it isn’t completely immune. For cybercriminals exploiting the system, it is just a matter of time.

As of now, Apple doesn’t really have antivirus software for the iOS and the same goes for Google’s Chrome OS, one of the most secure systems to date.

The few apps that claim to protect devices running on these operating systems are probably Security Software. So, for the time being, we will focus our attention on Windows, OS X, and Android systems.

 

Windows PCs and Laptops

 

Before progressing any further, let’s answer the simpler stuff first – Is buying antivirus software necessary for windows 7 or older?

The answer is simple and straightforward – YES, IT IS!

Now back to what’s more popular: What about Windows 8 and Windows 10?

While Windows 8 and above have had some significant improvements in their security system, especially after the introduction of Windows 10 with which Windows Defender Antivirus (a step-up to the Microsoft Security Essentials) comes included, the everlasting question whether one needs an additional antivirus software or not still remains unanswered.

Before passing any judgment, it must be noted that Windows Defender switches off gracefully once it detects a third-party program to avoid any interference. Hence, you once an antivirus software is installed and running the Windows Defender isn’t going to work any longer. Unless you are confident with your antivirus software, it is best letting Microsoft’s default defender do the job.

While Windows Defender if good, it certainly isn’t the best! According to AV-TEST, Microsoft’s inbuilt security program score a 4.5 out of 6. Of course, it isn’t bad but not as capable as Avira’s or Avast’s antivirus software that topped the list in December 2017.

 

Mac OS X Desktop Computers and Laptops

 

For a long time, Mac OS X was incredibly safe. Apple’s intelligently designed sandbox OS made it extremely difficult for criminals to hack Apple devices.

As a matter of fact, if a few years ago a Mac user would install an antivirus software, the only purpose it would solve was preventing it from passing to other devices on the same network. However, Macs have been cracked and have lately been more vulnerable to threats like never before.

For now, home users are pretty safe from being affected by a malware or a virus. Even though not many Mac users have been affected by a virus, it wouldn’t be right to forget that the risks are there.

To be on the safer side, it wouldn’t be a bad idea investing in an antivirus. Just like for the Windows, antivirus software from Kaspersky, Symantec and Avast do an impressive job of protecting Apple devices.

 

Android Phones and Tablets

 

It wouldn’t be safe to say that Android viruses do not exist at all. However, as long as one refrains from downloading apps from external sources, it is almost impossible your device to be infected by a virus or malware.

While, by default, Google doesn’t allow its Android users to installs apps from third-party source, this can be easily modified through a few steps in the settings. If you regularly install apps from unknown sources or are one of those courageous users who fiddle with their devices by gaining root access, having an antivirus installed wouldn’t be a bad idea.

It must be noted, that the Android threats known till now aren’t as malicious as the ones affecting Windows PCs and Laptops. This is mainly because it isn’t as easy to exploit an Android device and there isn’t much reason to do so as most of the sensitive information that hackers are in the hunt for is one computer.

As of now, there hasn’t been an Android malware that has caused booting issues for a device. Even if one feels his Android phone or tablet has been affected by a virus, all he has to do is back up his data and run a factory reset.

While having an antivirus might seem something optional, one might not regret having a security software instead installed on his Android.

What is important to keep in mind is that Android runs on devices that have a tendency to get stolen. Losing a phone or a tablet is quite daunting indeed. But giving away sensitive information is even worse. And, that is where security software plays a crucial role.

 

Is Buying Antivirus Software Necessary or will a free version suffice?

 

While free antivirus software today, like the Sophos Antivirus, protect devices from threats to a good degree, they are obviously nowhere near to what the paid ones are capable of doing.

Whether or not to pay for an antivirus or whether even having one is required is a highly personal opinion and there are certain things that are to be considered while making such a decision. If of course, you have important data on your device, something you cannot afford lose an inexpensive antivirus is worth adding to the expense.

For some suggestions on which antivirus to pick, check our article – Top 5 Antivirus programs for 2018

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Microsoft, Windows

29 Tips and Tricks to Speed Up Windows 10 [Ultimate Guide]

PC hardware capabilities are ever increasing, the latest and greatest hardware demands powerful software to go with it. Microsoft Windows…

PC hardware capabilities are ever increasing, the latest and greatest hardware demands powerful software to go with it. Microsoft Windows 10 offers exactly that.

Windows 10 is the latest in Microsofts operating system line and it does not disappoint when it comes to powerful features. Unfortunately, some of the new, powerful and fancy looking features of Windows 10 demand more resources than previous offerings. This can lead to decreased responsiveness or perceived performance when you are using your PC or laptop!

With this Ultimate Guide, we try to offer a wide selection of options to improve the performance of your Windows 10 machine. Not all options directly relate to Windows 10 but they are all aimed at increasing your overall desktop performance.

Whether you are trying to get the last bit of performance out of an old PC/Laptop, or simply trying to make your shiny new desktop perform even faster, many of the tips and tricks here on in should improve your Windows 10 experience.

The vast majority of our tips and tricks are free, there will be some money conscious options provided towards the end which offer a significant speed boost to your Windows 10 experience.

1. Clean Hardware

Our first suggestion is not a setting on your PC! A large majority of PCs or Laptops have decreased performance due to excessive heat. When your PC or Laptop gets too hot, most modern hardware is designed to decrease its power output and therefore decrease its thermal output.

The drastically decreased hardware speeds have a direct impact on your Windows 10 performance. A processor running at half speed is going to struggle to operate Windows 10 efficiently with multiple applications open.

For laptops, our suggestions are as follows

  • Never put your laptop on a soft surface during use. This often results in air vents being covered which increase temperatures.
  • Turn off your laptop – Grab a can of compressed air and blow dust out of any visible ventilation holes. Make sure you do this outside or in a well-ventilated area as a surprising amount of dust can come out

For Desktop Users we have these suggestions

  • Turn off your desktop
  • Carefully open the side of your case
  • Grab a can of compressed air and direct it into the processor fan
  • Manually clean (with the compressed air) the dust from any intake or extraction fans in your case.
  • If your computer has a graphics card fan, give that a blast with the compressed air also.

By keeping your Windows 10 machines in a cleaner environment and performing some careful dusting every so often, you can ensure that your device is running at its full potential at all times with no thermal throttling.

2. Performance Mode

If your Windows 10 is seemingly slow, checking your computer’s performance mode is the first thing you should do. Windows 10 has a selection of power settings available from Power Saver for laptops through to high performance for plugged in/desktops.

Making sure you are in the appropriate setting (High performance for maximum speed!) is important to improving your Windows 10 experience.

To check your current power settings follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Choose a power plan”
  • Select “Choose a power plan” option
  • Select “High Performance” option
Power Options
Power Options

Your laptop/desktop will now run at full power at all times to increase responsiveness/overall performance in Windows 10.

If for some reason the “High Performance” option is not available to you, you can select the option to create a custom power plan and turn all options to maximum power.

On a laptop, you can change power plan easily from the system tray with the following steps

  • Click the battery icon
  • Select “Best Performance” on the slider
Power Options from System Tray
Power Options from System Tray

3. Windows Troubleshooter (Automatic Maintenance)

The first tool you should utilize if your Windows 10 desktop is misbehaving or performing slowly is the built-in Windows Troubleshooter / Automatic Maintenance tool.

This tool runs through a standard maintenance checklist to ensure that your Windows 10 speed is optimal.

Although the Automatic Maintenance tool should be enabled by default, you can check that it is running correctly through by following these steps

Windows Key or Start Button

  • Type “Settings”
  • Select “Settings” option
  • Type “Maintenance” in the search bar
  • Select “Security and Maintenance”
  • Click the downward arrow on the Maintenance heading
  • Select “Start Maintenance” and enter your password
  • The maintenance tool will now run

4. Windows Defender Security Center

The Windows Defender Security Center is Windows 10 built-in line of defense. This awesome suite has a bunch of tools and utilities to not only keep your Windows 10 device secure but also fast!

By making use of its 3 main components you go a long way to making sure that your Windows 10 pc or laptop is safe online, virus free and up to date!

Virus Scan

Running the Virus scan application on a regular basis will make sure that no nasty virus or malware applications have made it on to your system. The virus scan app comes with built-in real-time protection to ensure that you can’t easily install something bad on your Windows 10 device.

Windows Update

Keeping your Windows 10 installation up-to-date is vital to maintaining its speed. By having the latest and greatest security updates, as well as device driver updates, you can be sure that you are a step closer to a fast Windows 10 experience.

Firewall

The built-in Windows Defender Firewall is a solid line of defense against potential cyber attacks. In an ever increasingly connected world, making sure your device is safe from attacks is a great way to maintain excellent Windows 10 speed.

To access the Windows Defender Suite follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Windows Defender”
  • Select “Windows Defender Security Center”
  • Select “Open Windows Defender Security Center”
  • Alternatively, you can select the Windows Defender Security Center from your system tray.
Windows Defender System Tray
Windows Defender System Tray

Hopefully, the overview screen shows you all green check marks. If not you can run any of the utilities by clicking on the relevant screen.

Windows Defender Overview
Windows Defender Overview

5. Update Drivers

A quick and easy tip to try and grab some extra speed for your Windows 10 device is to make sure your device drivers are up to date.

A driver is a small piece of software that allows your hardware to interact with software/Windows 10. Hardware manufacturers are constantly releasing new and better optimized drivers for the hardware to increase speeds.

The vast majority of your device driver updates will be covered within the windows update section above. However, some devices, such as graphics cards, have larger device driver suites that offer extra tools/speed.

If you go to the manufacturer’s website to grab a device driver suite, be careful not to install any extraneous bits of software or services that will negate any performance gain!

6. Error check drives

Through day to day activity, it is possible that your Windows 10 hard drive may become corrupted or damaged. Unfortunately, this is simply the nature of computer hardware!

These corrupt parts of your hard drive can cause your Windows 10 installation to slow down, hang up or even crash completely.

To check if your hard drive has any corruption you can use Windows 10 built-in tool for disk checking.

Follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “This PC”
  • Select “This PC”
  • Right-click your Windows hard drive
  • Select “Properties”
  • Select “Tools”
  • Select “Check” Under the Error Checking heading
  • Follow the on-screen instructions to completion

With some luck, any corrupt sections of your hard drive will be recovered.

Disk Check
Disk Check
Disk Check
Disk Check

7. Remove Old or Unused applications

Over time your Windows 10 installation will gather a whole bunch of rarely used or extraneous applications.

Although they will have fairly low impact on your Windows 10 performance when not running, it is still possible for extra software to be taking up resources through background services or other update programs.

It is also possible that if you have Windows 10 installed on a small partition or hard drive/SSD that any extra programs will make your disk space critical.

To uninstall any unused or old applications follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Remove”
  • Select “Add or Remove Programs”
  • Under the “Apps & Features” heading, select any program you wish to uninstall
  • Select “Uninstall”
  • Follow on-screen instructions until program is removed
Add or Remove Program
Add or Remove Program
Add or Remove Program
Add or Remove Program

8. Disable Start Up Applications

Along the same lines as old and unused applications, your Windows 10 installation will gather extra unneeded startup applications over time.

These small programs are assigned to open up when your Windows 10 is loading. Although on their own they will likely have a small impact, cumulatively they can slow down your Windows 10 loading speed and therefore affect overall performance.

To disable some startup applications follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Task Manager”
  • Select “Task Manager”
  • Select “Start-up”
  • Right-click an application to disable
  • Select “Disable” from the context menu
Disable Start up applications
Disable Start up applications

As you will be able to see, the task manager offers some insight into the startup time impact of each individual application. Prioritise disabling any extra startup applications, which you aren’t planning to use, that have a high or medium impact first.

9. Disable Animations

Windows 10 has a vast selection of flashy effects and animations built in. These are pleasing to the eye and improve the visual impact of Windows 10, unfortunately, they do take up system resources unnecessarily.

If you don’t mind having a slightly less flashy interface for some faster Windows 10 performance then follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “advanced system settings”
  • Select “View Advanced System Settings”
  • Enter your password if prompted
  • Select “Settings” under the performance heading
  • Select “Adjust for Best Performance”
  • Apply/OK
Disable Animations
Disable Animations

 

10. Disable Search Indexing

Search Indexing improves the speed at which your Windows 10 installation can return results from the search tool. It does this by processing all of the data on your pc or laptop to be searchable.

Although this has little impact on faster, newer devices, it can have a large impact on older Windows 10 machines.

To disable Search Indexing follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Services.msc”
  • Select “Services” application
  • Find “Windows Search” in the list of services
  • Right click “Windows Search”
  • Select “Properties” in the context menu
  • Change Startup Type to either disabled or manual
  • Apply/OK

Windows will no longer cache/index search results, freeing up a small number of resources to speed up Windows 10.

Disable Search Indexing
Disable Search Indexing

 

11. Clean up Disk

Following a similar train of thought to our removing old and unused application trick, the built-in Windows 10 disk clean up tool can free up vital disk space resources.

Over time your Windows 10 installation will accumulate extra temporary files for such things as windows updates or temporary browser related files.

These files, while small, take up precious resources on older machines that can be used to speed up Windows 10.

To run the disk clean up tool follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “disk clean-up”
  • Select “Disk Clean-Up” Application
  • The tool will scan for relevant files to clean up
  • Select any files that you want to remove
  • Select “Clean up system files” and follow the on-screen instructions

12. Optimize your browser experience

The vast majority of perceived Windows 10 speed issues will begin with people browsing the internet. For most users, their browser is seen as an extension of their Windows installation.

Unfortunately, browsers can become bogged down through excessive extensions that hog large amounts of memory when in use.

By making sure you do not have too many extensions installed, or removing excessively high usage ones, you can speed up your Windows 10 perceived performance.

To disable extensions, follow these steps

For Chrome

  • Open a new chrome tab
  • Type “chrome://extensions/” and hit enter
  • Select “remove” on any unneeded extensions

For Firefox (Add-ons)

  • Click the Menu button
  • Select Add-ons
  • In the Add-ons Manager tab, select the Extensions or Themes panel.
  • Select the Add-on you wish to disable
  • Click the Disable button

It is recommended to restart your browser once you have disabled an extension/Add-on.

13. Defrag (not SSD)

Data fragmentation is still a problem for a large number of Windows 10 devices.

Having data scattered around is similar to a library having books thrown all over the floor. The information is all there, it is just increasingly difficult to locate!

The impact of fragmented data is not a huge one, but it is still worth using the built-in disk defragmentation tool on normal hard drives.

Do not run the defrag tool if you have an SSD in your desktop or laptop, see our section at the end of the article for the reasons why.

To run the Defrag tool follow these steps

  • Windows key or Start Button
  • Type “Defrag”
  • Select “Defragment and Optimize Drives”
  • Select “Analyze” on the hard drive
  • Once a drive has been analyzed, Select “Optimize”
  • Follow the on-screen instructions and wait.
Disk Defragment
Disk Defragment

14. Enable Hibernation

One way to speed up Windows 10 loading times is to not fully shut down your PC or Laptop after use.

By making use of the hibernation feature of Windows 10 you can resume your Windows 10 session from the state before your hibernated it.

To enable the hibernate option in your start menu follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Power”
  • Select “Choose a Power Plan”
  • Select “Choose what the Power Buttons do” in the left menu
  • Scroll down and check “Hibernate” to show it in the start menu.

Enable Hibernation

15. Enable Fast Startup

If you aren’t a fan of the hibernate option, or you simply like to shut your PC down fully after every use, Windows 10 has a built-in fast startup feature that you can make use of.

Follow the same steps as the hibernate tip above but instead make sure to select “Turn on fast startup” in the menu.

16. Disable Background Apps

Background Apps are similar to system services, they sit in the background as their name suggests so that they are ready for use at a moments notice.

The majority of background apps use very little resources so it is likely only worth disabling any you really don’t use.

If you are on a very old system it is probably worth turning background apps off completely to maximize your available resources.

To disable background apps (individually or entirely) follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Background”
  • Select “Choose which apps can run in the background”
  • Toggle individual applications in the list off, or toggle off background apps entirely

 

Disable Background Applications
Disable Background Applications

17. Optimize Virtual Memory (Pagefile)

If your Windows 10 desktop or laptop has a small amount of RAM, it is worth making modifications to the virtual memory (page file) allocation.

Virtual Memory is an assigned area of your hard drive that will act like RAM in a pinch. Although it is massively slower than real RAM, it is important to have an optimized allocation size so that you never get truly stuck.

The Virtual Memory allocation is automatically handled by Windows 10, however, making a manual adjustment can improve its performance.

To change your virtual memory allocation settings, follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Control Panel”
  • Open “Control Panel”
  • Select “System and Security”
  • Select “System”
  • Select “Advanced System Settings” in the left menu
  • Enter your password if prompted
  • Select “Settings” under the performance heading
  • Select “Advanced” at the top
  • Select “Change” under the virtual memory heading
  • Uncheck “Automatically manage paging file size for all drives”
  • Check the “Custom Size” radio button
  • Enter an amount that is double that of your system RAM (e.g. 4GB – 4000MB – would require you to enter 8000MB)
  • Select “Set”
  • OK
Increase Virtual Memory
Increase Virtual Memory

18. Disable Windows Tips

If you aren’t a complete novice to Windows options then you should be able to safely disregard and disable the Windows 10 tips option.

Tips are highlighted pieces of advice offered by Windows to help brand new users not accidentally modify/disable something they shouldn’t.

To disable Windows Tips follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Notifications & actions settings”
  • Select “Notifications & actions settings”
  • Toggle off “Get Tips, Tricks and Suggestions as you use Windows”
  • You can also disable other individual programs from notifying you with tips from this options screen.
Disable Windows Tips
Disable Windows Tips

19. Turn off Dynamic Color Adaption

A small resource gain can be made by disabling a fancy desktop feature offering from Windows 10.

Color adaption allows Windows to automatically take a color from your desktop and altering your Windows theme to go along with it.

To disable this option follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Color Settings”
  • Select “Color Settings”
  • Toggle “Automatically pick an accent color from my background” option off
Disable Dynamic Color Adaption
Disable Dynamic Color Adaption

20. Disable Background Services

Whenever you turn on your PC, Windows will automatically load a plethora of services in the background. Services are small programs that perform small tasks in the background.

Some services simply lie in wait until you need to run a piece of software, such as quickstart for Adobe or Office. Unfortunately, these services do use resources – So if you don’t use a piece of software that is running a background service often – it is worth disabling it.

Example services to disable would be jqs.exe – Java Quick Start, reader_sl.exe – Adobe Acrobat speed launcher and OSA.exe/soffice.exe for Microsoft and OpenOffice packages.

To disable a service follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “services.msc”
  • Select “Services” application
  • Find the service you wish to disable
  • Double click the service
  • Change the Startup Type option to “Disabled” or “Manual”
  • Select Apply/OK
Disable Services
Disable Services

 

21. CCleaner

CCleaner is a free piece of software (with a paid pro version) that offers a number of features to increase the speed and security of your PC.

Although we previously used the disk clean up tool to get rid of lots of unused files on our machine, CCleaner goes an extra step to remove unnecessary data.

To use CCleaner follow these steps

  • Go to https://www.ccleaner.com/ccleaner and download either the free or pro version of CCleaner
  • Follow the installation instructions provided by CCleaner
  • Launch CCleaner from your start menu (Windows Key or Start Button – CCleaner)
  • Select the Cleaner Icon on the left
  • Select Analyze options
  • Select Run Cleaner to remove unused files

22. Clean up your Registry

The Windows registry is a database of low-level settings for both Windows and the applications installed on your PC.

Over time, as you add and remove software, the registry can end up with unnecessary or broken registry entries. To eliminate these from potentially causing performance issues on your PC you can use CCleaner again.

It is recommended to do a backup of your registry before modifying anything, fortunately, CCleaner offers this option during the registry clean up procedure.

To use CCLeaner to fix your registry follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “CCLeaner”
  • Select “CCLeaner” application
  • Select the registry icon on the left
  • Select “Scan for issues”
  • Select “Fix Selected issues” after selecting the issues it highlights.

23. Disable Live Tile

Live tiles are a feature in the Windows 10 start menu. They are auto-updating “live” tiles that can offer many things such as Twitter and news updates. If, however, you aren’t making use of them or you are looking to free up resources, you can easily disable them.

To disable a live tile follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Right-click the Live tile you wish to disable
  • Select “More” on the context menu
  • Select “Turn Live Tile off” from the context menu

The live tile is now disabled.

Disable Live Tile
Disable Live Tile

24. Disable Sync

One great feature of Windows 10 is its ability to sync a whole bunch of important things across devices such as passwords, system settings, browser settings.

Unfortunately, this syncing process can use up vital resources that you may want to use elsewhere!

To disable syncing follow these steps

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Sync your settings”
  • Open “Sync your settings”
  • Turn Sync settings toggle to off.

Although this is likely to only give a tiny increase in performance, if you aren’t making use of the sync option then it is resources/bandwidth saved.

Disable Sync
Disable Sync

25. ReadyBoost USB 3.0 drive

A handy option if you have a spare USB 3.0 pen drive (or at least a chunk of space on one!).

Windows 10 offers users a feature that allows you to make use of space on a removable storage device as a supplement to your memory (RAM).

This option is only really of value if your removable storage device is faster than your hard drive, so if you have an SSD or lots of RAM already then it isn’t worth trying.

It is recommended to use only a USB 3.0 drive due to the increased speed.

If you want to try it out, follow these steps

  • Insert USB 3.0 removable storage device
  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “This PC”
  • Open “This PC”
  • Right-click USB device
  • Select Properties
  • Select either “Use this Device” (and select a storage amount) or “Dedicate this device” if you do not plan on storing anything on the USB storage.
  • OK – Windows will now configure your USB device to use with ReadyBoost

26. Reset nuke it

Our final free option!

If your computer came pre-built/pre-installed then Windows 10 has a handy “reset/recover” option built in.

This is a final solution if your Windows 10 performance problems just don’t seem to be going away.

To access the recovery menu

  • Windows Key or Start Button
  • Type “Recovery”
  • Select “Recovery Options”
  • Select “Get Started” and follow the prompts.

Reset Options in Windows 10By choosing this option you will return your PC to the Windows state from when you purchased it. You will likely benefit from following the previously stated steps of removing bloatware and disabling some background processes after you have reset.

27. Install SSD

Although not a free option, installing an SSD into your desktop or laptop can offer massive speed increases. Startup times, application loading and all-around performance will be sped up by switching away from the much slower mechanical hard drive.

If you do install an SSD you can disregard the tip to defragment your hard drive as this isn’t required. In fact, it can harm your SSD by using program/erase cycles that are technically limited due to the way SSDs work.

28. Install More/Faster Memory (RAM)

Another paid option is to equip your laptop or desktop with faster/more RAM. By doing so you will be less reliant on the pagefile/virtual memory/Readyboost options.

Be careful to check what type of memory your computer takes along with the maximum capacity.

There are several free tools online to check this for you such as Crucials compatible memory advisor – http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/advisor

RAM is unfortunately fairly expensive as of the time of writing this article so this is one of the last options we would take!

29. Performance Monitor

Once you have followed the tips and tricks applicable to you – and maybe splashed out on some hardware upgrades – you can easily monitor your computer’s performance in Windows 10.

To access the performance monitor follow these steps

  • Right-click your taskbar
  • Select “Task Manager” from the context menu
  • Select “More Details” at the bottom left of the task manager
  • Select the Performance tab at the top of the task manager

You will now be greeted with an overview of performance for many aspects of your PC – CPU, Memory, Hard drive, Wifi, and Graphics card. These overviews will allow you to “keep an eye on things” in regards to your PCs performance.

Performance Monitor Overview
Performance Monitor Overview

Any irregularities such as hugely increased CPU or Memory usage should be easy to spot with the performance monitor allowing you to take action.

If something is hogging resources, you can find the culprit by selecting the processes tab and then the relevant subheading (CPU, Memory etc). This will order the currently running processes on your machine by their usage. If something is hogging way too many resources it should easily stand out!

Hopefully this guide has helped speed up Windows 10 on your PC/Laptop!

Please check out our other guides for more advice on keeping your computer safe and secure online.

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