Is Windows 11 Slow After Update? Here’s How to Fix It

Tips • August 24, 2023

windows11 slow

Upgrading to Windows 11 is a milestone for many users, embracing a new era of Microsoft’s vision for desktop computing. With its refined interface, enhanced start menu, and a sea of advanced features, Windows 11 represents the future of the popular operating system. However, as with any major technological transition, there can be certain crucial issues.

A common concern echoed by some early adopters is a perceivable slowdown post-update. This isn’t unique to Windows; major OS updates, whether it’s macOS Monterey or others, often come with initial challenges. In this guide, we aim to provide clarity on why Windows 11 might be underperforming and offer actionable solutions to restore its efficiency.

Common reasons for Windows 11 slowness after an update

Before delving into the remedies, it’s crucial to pinpoint the potential causes behind the lag. A well-informed approach will yield more effective results. Let’s examine some of the usual suspects behind  Windows 11’s post-update sluggishness:

  1. Hardware Incompatibility – Not all PCs are built the same. Some older models might struggle with the new demands of Windows 11, especially if they’re on the edge of the minimum system requirements.
  2. Too Many Active Programs – Just like having too many apps open on your phone can drain its battery, having multiple programs running on your PC can hog resources and slow things down.
  3. Low Storage Space – A nearly full hard drive can significantly impact your computer’s performance. Windows 11, with all its features, requires a fair amount of space to operate smoothly.
  4. Unresolved OS or Driver Bugs – New operating systems can have bugs that haven’t been ironed out yet. These can cause slowdowns or other issues until they’re addressed in future updates.
  5. Internet Connection Issues – Online tasks, like browsing or streaming, can be affected by a slow or unstable internet connection.
  6. Malfunctioning Hardware or Software Bugs – Sometimes, specific hardware components or software can conflict with the new OS, leading to performance issues.
  7. Poor Memory Management and Disk Usage – If your system is not managing its RAM or disk usage efficiently, it can lead to slowdowns, especially when multitasking.

Built-in solutions to speed up Windows 11

By tweaking a few things here and there, you can significantly improve your system’s speed and responsiveness. Whether you’re a tech newbie or a seasoned pro, we’ve got you covered with easy-to-follow steps and tips.

Solution #1 – Rebooting the System

Ah, the age-old advice of “Have you tried turning it off and on again?” It might sound cliché, but there’s a reason it’s the first line of defense for many tech issues. Here’s why it works:

  • Terminating Background Programs – Over time, as you open and close applications, some might not shut down correctly and continue running in the background. These can eat up valuable system resources. A fresh reboot ensures all these background processes are terminated, freeing up RAM and CPU cycles.
  • Clearing Temporary Files – Every time you use your computer, it generates temporary files. These can accumulate and slow down your system. Restarting can help clear some of these files, giving your system a little performance boost.
  • Resolving Minor System Glitches –Sometimes, minor software glitches can cause slowdowns. A simple reboot can often resolve these issues, getting your system back on track.

reboot

How to Do It:

  • Click on the “Start” button.
  • Select the “Power” icon, and choose “Restart”.
  • Wait for your system to reboot and check if the performance has improved.

Rebooting is a simple yet effective solution, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. As we move forward, we’ll explore more advanced solutions to ensure your Windows 11 experience is as smooth as possible.

Solution #2 – Installing Windows Updates

Keeping your system up-to-date is crucial. Microsoft regularly releases updates to fix bugs, improve performance, and enhance security. If your Windows 11 is acting sluggish, there might be an update waiting to address that very issue.

  • Addressing OS-level Bugs – New updates often come with patches for known bugs that might be causing your system to slow down.
  • Optimizing System Performance – Some updates are specifically designed to enhance the overall performance and responsiveness of the OS.
  • Ensuring Hardware Compatibility – Updates can also include new drivers or patches to ensure better compatibility with various hardware components.

winupdate

How to Do It:

  • Open the “Settings” app.
  • Navigate to “Windows Update” on the left sidebar.
  • Click on “Check for updates”.
  • If there is any pending update listed, install it.

If there are any available updates, Windows will download and install them automatically. Once done, it might prompt you to restart your computer.

RELATED: Top 7 Driver Updater Software for Windows

Solution #3 – Clearing Junk Files

Over time, your computer accumulates junk files. These can be temporary files, cache, or remnants from uninstalled applications. Clearing them out can free up valuable storage space and improve system performance.

  • Freeing Up Storage Space –A cluttered hard drive can slow down your system. By removing unnecessary files, you ensure that your OS has enough space to operate smoothly.
  • Improving System Responsiveness –Less clutter means faster file searches and better overall system responsiveness.

How to Do It:

  • Type “Disk Cleanup” in the Windows search bar and open the app.
  • Select the drive you want to clean (usually the C: Drive).
  • Check the boxes for the types of files you want to delete, such as “Temporary Internet Files” or “Recycle Bin”.
  • Click on “OK” and then “Delete Files” to confirm.

RELATED: How to Clean and Save Space on Windows 11

Solution #4 – Disabling Unnecessary Startup Apps

Every time you boot up your computer, certain applications start automatically. While some are essential, others can be resource hogs, slowing down your system’s startup time.

  • Faster Boot Time –By limiting the number of apps that launch at startup, your computer can boot up more quickly.
  • Freeing Up System Resources –Preventing non-essential apps from starting up can free up RAM and CPU resources for more important tasks.

startupapps

How to Do It:

  • Press “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” or right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager”.
  • Navigate to the “Startup” tab at the top.
  • You’ll see a list of applications with their startup impact. Identify non-essential apps with a “High” startup impact.
  • Right-click on the non-essential apps and choose “”Disable”.

Solution #5 – Optimizing Visual Effects

Windows 11 comes with a range of visual effects that, while aesthetically pleasing, can be taxing on older hardware.

  • Smoother Performance –Disabling certain visual effects can lead to a more responsive system, especially on older PCs.
  • Reduced Resource Usage –Some effects, like transparency, can use up valuable GPU resources.

How to Do It:

  • Press “Windows key + S” to open the search bar.
  • Type “Performance” and select “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows” from the results.
  • In the “Performance Options” window, choose “Adjust for best performance” to disable all visual effects.
  • Alternatively, select “Custom” and manually choose which effects to enable or disable.
  • Click “Apply” and then “OK”.

Solution #6 – Using Task Manager

Sometimes, a single misbehaving app can be the culprit behind a slow system. The Task Manager allows you to monitor and manage running processes.

  • Identifying Resource Hogs – See which apps are using up the most RAM, CPU, or disk resources.
  • Force-quitting Problematic Apps – If an app is unresponsive or using up too many resources, you can end its process.

taskprocess

How to Do It:

  • Right-click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager”.
  • Under the “Processes” tab, check the CPU, Memory, and Disk columns.
  • Identify apps that are using a high percentage of CPU, Memory, or Disk.
  • Right-click on any problematic apps and choose “End Task”.

Solution #7 – Troubleshooting Windows Search

The search function is integral to Windows 11, but sometimes it can cause slowdowns, especially if it’s indexing files in the background.

  • Improving Search Speed – By optimizing the search function, you can find files and apps more quickly.
  • Reducing Background Resource Usage – Limiting the files that Windows indexes can free up system resources.

How to Do It:

  • Press Windows key + S and type “Indexing Options”.
  • Select “Indexing Options” from the results.
  • In the window that appears, click on “Modify”.
  • Here, you can choose which folders and locations are indexed. Uncheck locations that aren’t frequently searched.
  • Click “OK” to save changes.

Solution #8 – Defragmentation

Over time, files on your hard drive can become fragmented, leading to slower read/write speeds. Defragmenting your drive can help organize these files more efficiently.

  • Optimized File Access – Files are rearranged for quicker access.
  • Improved Disk Performance – Reduces the work your hard drive has to do to access files.

How to Do It:

  • Type “Defragment” in the Windows search bar.
  • Select “Defragment and Optimize Drives”.
  • Select your drive and click on “Optimize”.

Note: This is mainly for HDDs. If you have an SSD, it’s best to avoid defragmentation as it can reduce the lifespan of the drive.

Solution #9 – Removing Unwanted Preinstalled Apps

Windows 11 comes with several preinstalled apps that you might never use. Uninstalling them can free up storage space and resources.

  • Free Up Storage – Every bit of storage space counts, especially on smaller drives.
  • Reduced Background Processes – Some preinstalled apps run background processes, even if you never use them.

How to Do It:

  • Open the “Settings” app and go to “Apps”.
  • Under “Apps & features” scroll through the list.
  • Uninstall any apps you don’t need by clicking on them and selecting “Uninstall”.

Solution #10 – Disabling Unwanted Animations

Animations in Windows 11, such as window transitions and live tile animations, can be visually appealing, but they can also consume system resources. Disabling them can lead to a more responsive system, especially on older hardware.

  • Faster Response Times – Without animations, actions like minimizing or maximizing windows become instantaneous.
  • Reduced GPU Load – Your graphics card won’t have to render these animations, freeing it up for other tasks.

How to Do It:

  • Press the Windows key + X together on your keyboard. This will open the Quick Link menu.
  • From the menu, select System.
  • In the System settings, scroll down and click on Advanced system settings on the right side.
  • This will open the System Properties window. Under the Advanced tab, click on the Settings button in the Performance section.
  • In the Performance Options window, you’ll see a list of visual effects. By default, it’s set to “Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.”
  • To disable animations, select the Custom option. This will allow you to manually choose which visual effects to enable or disable.
  • Uncheck the following options to disable animations:
  • Animate controls and elements inside windows
  • Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing
  • Animations in the taskbar
  • Fade or slide menus into view
  • Fade or slide ToolTips into view
  • Fade out menu items after clicking
  • Once you’ve made your selections, click “Apply” and then “OK” to save the changes.

Solution #11 – Enable Storage Sense

Temporary files, old downloads, and system cache can take up valuable storage space. Windows 11 offers a built-in feature called Storage Sense that can help manage and free up storage automatically.

storagesense

How to Do It:

  • Click the “Start” button and select Settings.
  • Navigate to “System > Storage”.
  • In the “Storage Sense” section, toggle the switch from Off to On.

To customize how Storage Sense works, click on the arrow next to the toggle. Here, you can set up a schedule for running Storage Sense and specify which files to delete and when.

Solution #12 – Adjust the Performance Power Plan Settings

Every computer has power plans that dictate how it uses energy. By adjusting these settings, you can optimize your PC’s performance, especially when it’s plugged in.

How to Do It:

  • Right-click on the battery icon in the system tray and select “Power Options”.
  • Choose the High performance power plan.
  • Click on “Change plan settings” next to your active power plan.

Adjust the settings as needed, ensuring that the minimum and maximum processor state is set to 100% for optimal performance.

Solution #13 – Use Efficiency Mode

Windows 11 introduced a feature called Efficiency Mode, designed to optimize the performance of individual apps and processes. By lowering the process priority of background applications, it can speed up your PC and even improve battery life on laptops.

  • Optimized Performance – Helps apps run smoother by prioritizing their processes.
  • Extended Battery Life – On laptops, using Efficiency Mode can lead to longer battery usage.

efficiencymode

How to Do It:

  • Launch the Task Manager by pressing “Ctrl + Shift + Esc” or right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager.
  • In the “Processes” tab, click on the app or process you want to optimize.
  • Click on the “Efficiency Mode” icon at the top right. If the icon is grayed out, the app or process doesn’t support Efficiency Mode.
  • Confirm your choice to enable Efficiency Mode for the selected app or process.

Solution #14 – Use Automatic Windows Maintenance

Windows 11 is always working behind the scenes to ensure your PC runs smoothly. It performs tasks like security scanning, system diagnostics, and more. This automatic maintenance helps your PC run at its best.

  • Regular System Checks – Ensures that potential issues are identified and fixed promptly.
  • Optimized Performance – By regularly maintaining system health, your PC’s performance remains at its peak.

How to Do It:

  • Click on the search icon on the taskbar and type “Control Panel”, then open it.
  • Navigate to System and “Security > Security and Maintenance”.
  • In the “Maintenance” section, under “Automatic Maintenance”, click “Start maintenance” if you wish to run it immediately.

To set a daily schedule, click “Change maintenance settings”, choose your preferred time, and ensure the option to wake up your computer for maintenance is checked.

Solution #15 – Turn Off Search Indexing

While search indexing in Windows 11 helps speed up file searches, it can sometimes slow down your PC, especially if you have an SSD. Turning off indexing can give your system a performance boost.

  • Reduced Disk Usage – Turning off indexing can reduce the constant disk writing, especially beneficial for SSDs.
  • Improved System Speed – Without the background process of indexing, some users might notice a speedier PC.

How to Do It:

  • Click on the search icon on the taskbar and type “services.msc”, then press Enter.
  • In the “Services” app, scroll down to find either “Indexing Service” or “Windows Search”.
  • Double-click on it, and in the window that appears, click “Stop”.

For a more selective approach, you can also choose specific locations to exclude from indexing by going to Indexing Options in the Control Panel.

Third-Party solutions to speed up Windows 11

In most cases, the built-in solutions should cover just about everything. However, you can also explore third-party solutions to optimize your Windows 11 experience, ensuring it runs like a well-oiled machine.

CCleaner Professional: the ultimate utility for clearing clutter

In the realm of PC optimization, CCleaner Professional stands as a stalwart defender against system slowdowns. At its core, this tool is a master of cleanup. Whether it’s the remnants of old software or the accumulation of temporary files, these elements can weigh down a system. CCleaner Professional sweeps through, ensuring that every nook and cranny of your storage is free from unnecessary clutter.

ccleaner

Its registry cleaner further amplifies this cleanup process, targeting the Windows registry to remove outdated or broken entries, leading to a more responsive PC. And for those who feel their browsers have become sluggish, the browser cleaner rejuvenates them by ma

naging accumulated caches and cookies, ensuring a swifter online experience.

IObit Advanced SystemCare Pro: the Tune-Up Maestro

When it comes to fine-tuning a PC for peak performance, IObit Advanced SystemCare Pro is a name that resonates with many. This software is nothing short of a skilled mechanic for your computer. Its Deep Optimization feature tweaks system settings and applications, ensuring they operate at their peak. Over time, registries can become fragmented, leading to slowdowns.

systemcare

The registry defrag tool in IObit Advanced SystemCare Pro consolidates these fragments, ensuring smoother operations. Additionally, its startup optimization module ensures that only essential applications get the green light during boot, slashing those prolonged startup times. And for users who feel their internet speed isn’t up to par, the Internet Booster function optimizes browser settings for a faster online journey.

Conclusion

Windows 11, with its sleek design and enhanced features, is a significant upgrade from its predecessors. However, like any operating system, it can face performance issues over time. By implementing the built-in solutions we’ve discussed and considering trusted third-party tools like CCleaner Professional, you can ensure a consistently smooth and speedy Windows 11 experience. Regular maintenance, being mindful of the apps and processes running, and staying updated with system updates are the keys to a well-performing PC.

FAQs

Why is my Windows 11 system slow after an update?

Updates can sometimes change system settings or introduce new features that require more resources. It’s also possible that the update process left temporary files behind, taking up space.

How often should I perform system maintenance tasks?

While some tasks, like checking for malware, should be done regularly, others, like defragmentation or deep cleaning, can be done monthly or even quarterly.

Are third-party optimization tools safe?

While many third-party PC optimization tools are safe and effective, always ensure you’re downloading from a trusted source. Read reviews and understand what changes the software will make to your system.

Can I revert a Windows 11 update if I face performance issues?

Yes, Windows 11 allows you to roll back updates if they’re causing issues. However, it’s recommended to first try troubleshooting the problem.

Does upgrading hardware improve Windows 11 performance?

Absolutely. Upgrading components like RAM or switching to an SSD can provide noticeable performance boosts.