As an IT professional, you can make a few Windows 10 performance tweaks to enable the OS to run faster. It's as easy as changing a few settings and adding some hardware and memory.
Maximizing the amount of physical RAM can dramatically improve Windows 10 performance. A 32-bit system running Windows 10 can accommodate up to 4 GB of RAM, and a 64-bit system can handle 128 GB or more depending on the version of Windows 10 you install and your computer's motherboard.
Memory modules are inexpensive, so consider installing the maximum 4 GB of RAM on a 32-bit system and at least 16 GB on a 64-bit system for everyday use. You should also buy the fastest RAM that the system will support. Check the computer or motherboard manufacturer's specifications.
Minimize the paging file
The Windows paging file, or pagefile, supports system crash dumps and enables the system to use physical RAM more efficiently by writing some file content to a hard disk if the main memory is near capacity.
On most Windows 10 systems with 8 GB of RAM or more, the OS manages the size of the paging file nicely. The paging file is typically 1.25 GB on 8 GB systems, 2.5 GB on 16 GB systems and 5 GB on 32 GB systems. For systems with more RAM, you can make the paging file somewhat smaller. You could trim the paging file to 2 GB on a 16 GB system, for example, or to 3.5 GB on a 32 GB system without running into any noticeable performance problems.
As a result, one of the Windows 10 performance tweaks you can make is to reduce the size of the paging file on such systems. You should avoid altering the paging file on 32-bit systems, however.
You can minimize the size of the paging file using the following steps:
- Open System Properties. Right-click the Start button, select Control Panel > System and then click Change Settings.
- In the System Properties dialog box, in the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance section.
- In the Performance Options dialog box, in the Advanced tab, click the Change button in the Virtual Memory section.
- In the Virtual Memory dialog box, jot down the minimum allowed, recommended and currently allocated paging file sizes in the last section. Then, uncheck the box that says Automatically manage paging file size for all drives. If more than one drive appears in the available drives list, click your system drive, which is the one you installed Windows 10 on -- usually C:.
- Click Custom Size, and then type values into the Initial Size (MB) and Maximum Size (MB) boxes. Make the maximum size 1 GB or up to 4 GB depending on the amount of RAM you installed -- 64 GB or more.
- Click Set, then OK.
After these steps, close all the open dialog boxes and restart your computer.
If you have multiple physical drives -- not just multiple partitions of a single drive -- you can increase the system speed by splitting the paging file across two drives. Allocate about 300 MB of the paging file to the system drive, select the second drive in the Virtual Memory dialog box, set the initial size and maximum size values, and click Set.
Use an SSD
Other Windows 10 performance tweaks include using a solid-state drive (SSD) for the system/boot drive, rather than an ordinary hard drive. This dramatically reduces startup time. The faster your SSD, the better.
When Microsoft first released Windows 10, you could improve performance by splitting paging files across multiple drives or working with Intel Rapid Start to speed things up. But modern, nonvolatile memory express SSDs offer sufficient speed and space at reasonable prices, so that is no longer necessary.
The only way to go faster is to invest in Intel Optane memory -- a system accelerating tool that stores a user's most used data and programs close to the processor for quicker access.
Disable visual effects in the UI
Animations and shadows make the UI look great, but they can consume significant CPU and memory.
To turn off these features, open System Properties. In the System Properties dialog box, in the Advanced tab, click the Settings button in the Performance section. In the Visual Effects tab, you can uncheck all the options highlighted in yellow in Figure A.
Weed out unneeded services
Other Windows 10 performance tweaks, such as turning off unneeded system services, can speed up the OS. You can safely disable services such as ASP.NET State Service, Portable Device Enumerator Service and Windows Media Player Network Sharing Service.
Even though Windows 10 versions since 1607 haven't benefitted much, if at all, from service grooming, with underpowered 32- or 64-bit systems, disabling some services can still provide a modest performance boost.
To disable services, open the Services console by entering services.msc in the Run box. Right-click the Start menu and select Run, or press WinKey + R. In the Services console, right-click the service you want to turn off and select Properties. In the Properties dialog box, click the Stop button and then select Disabled from the Startup type drop-down menu as seen in Figure B.
Be sure to disable one service at a time, reboot the computer and use it for a while before disabling another service. This way, if something goes haywire, you'll know which service you must enable again to fix the problem.
Manage Windows startup entries
Whittling down the programs that launch automatically when Windows 10 starts can get you from the power-off state, or a restart, to the desktop more quickly. To manage Windows 10 startup programs, open the Task Manager and click the Startup tab. Select the programs you don't want to launch automatically and click Disable. If you really want to get down and dirty with startup items, use the Windows Sysinternals Autoruns utility instead.
Windows 10 also has a built-in internet lookup for process names, which makes it easy to decide which processes to leave enabled and which ones to disable. To use the internet lookup, right-click any entry and select Search Online. Your default browser opens with a list of results for that particular program.
At Windows 10 startup, apps that the Startup folder loads are delayed to allow the OS to load its processes first, which keeps things orderly and makes for a speedier experience. You can reduce startup time even more by minimizing the app startup time delay, which requires using the Windows Registry Editor:
- Open the Registry Editor -- regedit.exe.
- Drill down to the following registry key: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\Serialize
If the Serialize key does not exist, create it by clicking the Explorer key in the left pane, selecting Edit > New > Key from the menu bar, typing Serialize to name the key and pressing Enter.
- Create a new DWORD value called StartupDelayInMSec and set the value to zero. To create the DWORD value, right-click the Serialize key in the left pane and select New > DWORD (32-bit) Value. Rename the value to StartupDelayInMSec. The value is set to zero by default as shown in Figure C.
- Exit the Registry Editor.
The next time you reboot, your computer should start up faster.
Reduce the boot delay timeout value
In Windows 10 the boot delay timeout value is set to 30 seconds by default. You can find the boot delay timeout value in the Boot tab in msconfig.exe.
You can add to your Windows 10 performance tweaks by reducing the boot time value to 10 seconds -- which still leaves enough time to boot in Safe Mode if you need to. Alternatively, you can set it to zero seconds and use msconfig -- the Boot tab -- or Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup to force Windows 10 to boot in Safe Mode on the next restart.
The Settings method forces an immediate restart, so don't do this until you save your work and are ready to reboot. The msconfig method requires you to uncheck the Safe boot checkbox before your next reboot.
If you implement all these Windows 10 performance tweaks to reduce startup times and increase memory, you should notice a much faster operating system. Even a few of the recommendations will earn you a more responsive and enjoyable computing experience.
What's new in Windows 10?
Windows 10 testing problems
Changes to the Windows 10 Command Prompt
Ways to improve Windows 10 battery life
Improvements to the Windows 10 OS help it meet enterprise needs