Free methods to speed up a computer include defragmenting hard disks, reducing animations and closing applications running in the background. Windows can perform all three applications without requiring any third-party software.
Click the Start button and type "disk defragmenter" in the search box. Click Disk Defragmenter from the results. Select a drive, and click Analyze Disk to see whether the data on the disk is fragmented. If the percentage of fragmentation is above 10 percent, click Defragment Disk. If the application asks for administrative privileges, grant them.
Because fragmented data takes longer to read, it slows the operating system down. Manually defragmenting isn't always necessary, as Windows does it automatically. However, copying a large amount of data onto a hard disk may cause fragmentation and slow down the system. Solid-state drives do not need defragmentation.
Closing all or some animations may also improve performance. Hold down the Windows key, and press X. Select System from the list, and click Advanced System Settings. Navigate to the Advanced tab, and click Settings under Performance. Select Adjust for Best Performance, or disable animations one by one to improve performance.
Closing unused background applications frees up system resources and increases performance. Open the Task Manager by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc. Open the Processes tab to view how many resources the background applications use. Close unnecessary applications by selecting them from the list and clicking End Task on the bottom right.