Optimizing Windows 11 Performance: Tips and Tricks
With Windows 11, Microsoft has made some big changes to enhance the user experience. The sleek new interface, centered taskbar, Widgets, Teams integration, and Android apps support are just some of the exciting new features. However, while these features offer more possibilities, they can impact system performance if not optimized properly. Based on tips shared by fellow Windows 11 users, we walk through some best practices to get the most out of Windows 11.
Manage Resources with Task Manager
Windows 11 comes equipped with an improved Task Manager that allows monitoring apps, processes, and resources. With its revamped UI, the new Task Manager makes it easy to identify resource intensive background tasks.
We can quickly launch Task Manager with Ctrl+Shift+Esc keyboard shortcut or right click the taskbar and select "Task Manager." The Processes tab lists all running apps and background processes along with their memory and CPU usage. Apps consuming significant resources will appear at the top. To free up resources, we can right click resource intensive processes and select "End Task."
Regularly reviewing processes with Task Manager can help identify and troubleshoot performance issues caused by rogue apps. We can also set process priority to optimize CPU usage.
Disable Visual Effects
Windows 11 introduces new visual enhancements like rounded corners, drop shadows, transparency, and smooth animations. While these effects look slick, they use additional GPU and CPU resources.
Disabling some visual effects can significantly improve performance on low powered devices. To disable effects, go to System > Display in Settings app and turn off transparency effects. Toggling off animations under the Advanced Graphics Settings is another option.
Reducing visual flair by utilizing basic backgrounds, disabling thumbnail previews, and shrinking taskbar size also helps conserve resources.
Bloatware refers to pre-installed manufacturer apps that run in the background and eat up storage and memory. With each new Windows release, Microsoft also adds more default apps that may go unused.
Regularly reviewing installed apps and removing bloatware helps declutter the system and boosts speed. The Settings app includes an Apps section that lists installed apps along with their size and usage details. Apps taking up significant space that serve no purpose can be safely removed with the "Uninstall" button.
For more advanced app removal, Bulk Crap Uninstaller is a popular third party tool that can detect and eradicate bloatware.
Change Power Settings
Windows 11 comes with Balanced power plan enabled by default which saves battery life by limiting background activity and performance. Switching to High performance power plan unleashes full CPU and GPU power, driving higher frame rates in games and improving overall speed.
Accessing Power & Battery settings and changing plan to High Performance delivers an instant performance uplift. Tweaking advanced power settings to never turn off hard disks and restricting CPU throttling also helps eke out more speed.
Keep Drivers Updated
Outdated and faulty drivers are a prime cause of poor Windows performance. Windows 11 automatically updates Microsoft drivers, but GPU, motherboard and other third party drivers need to be manually updated for optimal operation.
Using Device Manager, we can examine installed drivers and update faulty ones by right clicking and selecting "Update driver." For graphics card drivers, visiting the Nvidia or AMD website offers latest optimized drivers. Utilizing third party driver update utilities like Driver Booster also ensures we never miss an update.
Keeping on top of driver updates minimizes crashes, resolves bugs, and boosts gaming performance.
Change Visual Themes
Custom visual themes allow customizing the look and feel of Windows 11 with different icon sets, fonts, colors, and window appearance. But themes can degrade performance, especially elaborate ones with animated elements.
Sticking to the default Windows 11 theme ensures optimal speed. Popular lightweight themes like Maverick, Metro and Comfort Temp are designed for efficiency. We can also create a custom theme with a simple wallpaper, minimal effects and a high contrast color scheme to maximize productivity.
Clean Up with Disk Cleanup
Accumulated junk files, caches, logs and temporary data bloat the storage over time and slow down Windows. Running Disk Cleanup utility clears out these unnecessary files.
Search for Disk Cleanup, select drive to scan and click OK. It will calculate recoverable space from deleting temporary files, recycle bin contents, and various caches. Review selections and hit "Clean up system files" to free up valuable disk space and boost performance.
For advanced cleaning, third party tools like CCleaner and Wise Disk Cleaner offer enhanced algorithms to clear up more gigabytes.
Install an SSD
Upgrading from a traditional hard disk drive (HDD) to a solid state drive (SSD) is the best hardware upgrade for dramatrically enhancing Windows speed. SSDs have no moving parts, allowing ultra fast boot times, app launches, file transfers and read/write speeds.
Even older systems feel brand new after installing an SSD. With rapid bootup, Windows updates install in a flash as well. Price drops have made SSDs affordable, and the performance payoff makes it a worthy investment for any Windows 11 machine.
Windows 11 introduces compelling new capabilities. But optimizing performance is crucial for it to run smoothly, especially on older machines. Following the tips outlined here helps Windows 11 operate at its peak efficiency while taking full advantage of its multitasking prowess. Have you discovered any other techniques for speeding up Windows 11? Let us know in the comments!