If your formerly shiny, new Windows 10 PC has begun to lose some of its luster, there are ways to put a little pep back in its step. Here are some quick, easy ways to improve its performance without swapping out any hardware.
1. Go opaque
Windows 10's new Start menu is sexy and see-through, but that transparency will cost you some (slight) resources. To reclaim those resources, you can disable transparency in the Start menu, taskbar, and action center: Open the Settings menu and go to Personalization > Colors and toggle off Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent.
2. No special effects
Making the Start menu, taskbar, and action center transparent is one thing, but Windows 10 still has a lot of other snazzy, built-in special effects. To really go bare-bones on the special effects, right-click the Start button and click System.
Click Advanced system settings to open the System Properties menu. On the Advanced tab under Performance, click Settings...
This will open the Performance Options menu. In the Visual Effects tab, either choose Adjust for best performance to turn off all unnecessary animations and special effects, or choose Custom: and deselect the visual effects you think can live without. When you're finished, click OK to apply your changes.
3. Disable Startup programs
If your PC is taking a long time to boot up -- and you've enabled Fast Startup and everything -- you may have too many programs starting up when you turn your computer on. To fix this, right-click on the Start button and click Task Manager. Click the Startup tab (click More details if you don't see the Startup tab) and peruse the list of programs that start up with your computer. If you see a program that doesn't need to be there, right-click it and click Disable. You can also arrange the list of programs by Startup impact, if you'd like to see the programs that are taking up the most resources (and time).
4. Find (and fix) the problem
Windows 10 has a built-in performance troubleshooter that can help you find and fix any problems that might be affecting your PC's speed. To open the troubleshooter, right-click on the Start button and click Control Panel. Under Security and Maintenance at the top, click Troubleshoot common computer problems. Next, under System and Security, click Run maintenance tasks.
5. Reduce the Boot Menu Time-out
When your computer starts up, the boot menu is displayed for a certain amount of time before the operating system loads. This gives you time to do things like start Windows in Safe Mode. You can shave a few seconds off your startup time by changing the boot menu time-out, which is set to 30 seconds by default.
To do this, right-click on the Start button and click Control Panel. Go to System > Advanced system settings, and, under Startup and Recovery, click Settings.
Next to Time to display list of operating systems:, change the value from 30 seconds to 10 seconds and click OK.
6. No tipping
In an effort to be helpful, Windows 10 will sometimes give you tips on how to get the most out of the OS. It scans your computer in order to do this, a process that can have a slight impact on performance. To turn off these tips, go to Start > Settings > System > Notifications & actions and toggle off Get tips, tricks and suggestions as you use Windows.
7. Run Disk Cleanup
This one's a win-win. It'll improve performance and free up space on your hard drive. Disk Cleanup has been around forever, but this trusted Windows utility can still help clean out the temporary files, installers and other junk littering your hard drive. To run it, just search for Disk Cleanup, run it and click the button labeled Clean up system files.
8. Eradicate bloatware
If your PC came with preinstalled apps you don't want or need, get rid of them. Same goes for any apps you installed that you later found to be of little or no use. Right-click the Start menu, choose Control Panel and under the Programs header, click Uninstall a program. Peruse the list from time to time and select the programs you no longer need and click Uninstall at the top of the list.
9. Power plan
Make sure you aren't using a Power saver plan if you don't need to. Even desktops will sometimes feature a power-saver option, which doesn't do you any good unless you are trying to conserve battery life. Open the Control Panel and go to Hardware and Sound > Power Options to see which power plan you are currently using. For better performance, make sure you are using a High Performance or Balanced plan (or a plan from the PC manufacturer that says it's balanced).
10. Restart your PC
Is speeding up your computer as simple as...restarting it? Maybe. Restarting your PC clears out its memory and stops any processes that might be taking up resources. Also, shutting down your computer is not the same as restarting it -- shutdown is affected by Windows 10's Fast Startup, which saves a snapshot of your PC and its processes in a hiberfile for faster boot-up. Restart is not affected by Fast Startup, so if you have Fast Startup enabled, restarting your PC is the only way to fully clear the memory and shutdown processes.
Editors' note: This story was originally published on April 12, 2016, and has since been updated with more tips.