Laugh all you want, but I’ve always been a Windows guy, and for the past six years I’ve used a Windows Vista laptop for 100% of my web development work. This weekend, I bought a brand new Windows 8 laptop.

It was a cheap one. An HP Pavilion, with tax, totaled up to less than $400 from Best Buy. I thought I had gotten a steal.

When I first unpacked it and started it up, I was shocked to realize that the internet was actually slower on this brand new laptop than my six-year-old one. I’m talking about cripplingly slow. I could’ve probably dusted off my old Windows 98 box, connected to an old-school dialup account from AOL (apparently they still do that) and it would’ve been faster.

With some Windows update magic, I’m writing this from my new laptop with a respectable 10 MBPS download speed. What follows are my step by step instructions on how I “unsucked” it:

Step 1, BEFORE ANYTHING ELSE: Update Your Wireless Driver

Update WiFi DriverI typically work over WiFi. A quick diagnostic test (me plugging in an Ethernet cable and realized how much faster it was) narrowed down my slow internet problem to my wireless adapter.

  • Search for your “Device Manager”
  • Select “Network Adapters”
  • Locate your wireless adapter (mine was Realtek … Wi-Fi Adapter, may be different for you)
  • Right click it, select “Update Driver Software” and wait. It may take a few minutes to work.

After making this change, my wireless internet download speeds increased by about 16-fold. As you might imagine, this made downloading large upgrades (3+ GB worth) go a bit more swiftly.

Step 2: Install all your Windows updates

One of the first things I did was check the Windows Store app to immediately upgrade to Windows 8.1. No dice.

Apparently, before you can do that, you have to apply all your other updates. If I had this laptop for several months, I’m sure this would have upgrade automatically on its own. But I just opened it, so I had to “catch up” in a sense.

Move mouse to lower right corner of screen, you’ll see a menu appear where you can access your settings. Then go to “Change PC Settings” and navigate to “Windows Update.” Get started, and wait.

Hopefully for you, you already fixed your wireless adapter so this part will go a lot faster for you. It took me a few hours in my pre-updated wireless driver state.

Step 3: Upgrade to Windows 8.1

After downloading and applying all of the Windows 8 updates (there will be a lot) you’ll now see the option to download Windows 8.1 for free when you open the Windows Store app.

It’s a 3-4 GB download. It will take a while to download. And after it’s downloaded, it’ll take a while to install. After that, you’ll be asked to re-input a lot of settings you thought you already set in your original setup. More on that later.

Step 4: Uninstall all useless preloaded apps

Let’s see, my HP came with a number of apps I have absolutely no interest in.

  • eBay? I don’t think I’ve bought anything on eBay for 5 years.
  • An “HP Deals” app (where no deals were available in my country)? Can’t really take advantage of that.
  • Really, just too much stuff to name. Get rid of anything that sounds skeevy. Keep anything that sounds essential to your computer’s normal operation (touchpad stuff, drivers, etc.).

I probably uninstalled at least 30 apps, and I’m not done yet. Who knows what kind of a kickback HP got for preinstalling all of this crapware on every new box.

I also had Netflix and Skype pre-loaded. I decided to keep these because I use them anyway, but they’re also already free apps in the Windows Store you can download again should you ever decide to uninstall and want them back again.

Conclusion

First of all, I’m pretty appalled at how awful this laptop was out of the box. It’s almost as if HP struck a deal with Best Buy (and GeekSquad) that went a little something like, “we’ll ship our laptops with really horrible drivers that make the computer cripplingly slow. All you have to do is upgrade them and charge a premium for the ‘fix’! Brilliant!”

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t figure out this “update wireless router before anything else” thing until much later on in the unsucking process. Hopefully you won’t run into the same issue as I did after reading this.

Also, Windows 8 showed how desperately data hungry Microsoft is. Do I want to send every URL I visit to Microsoft for some bs “security check”? No. Do I want to send info about every single program I install to Microsoft for some other bs “security check”? No. Make sure you don’t do the “express” set up and opt-out of all of these ridiculous “security” features.

Besides that, the UI will take some getting used to. It’s not a touch screen and I’m still getting the hang of touchpad gestures.

After getting the slow WiFi thing taken care of, I’ve gotta say…I don’t hate it.

13 Comments

  1. My pc is boring me, I hate it, I want to make it fast, and install some apps, can you help? im a pc lover so tell me what to do andi will

  2. Hi,

    I have tried all the things you have suggested and as you can see from my user name, none have been successful. My computer is brand new, less than 3 months old and has been extremely slow since day 1. It’s a HP with windows 8.1 not touch screen. I have to restart it ten times a day and nothing is running at start up except essential things, so I don’t know what else to do. I’ve even upgraded my internet speed and nothing. PLEASE HELP ME!!

  3. Thank you SO MUCH. I thought I was going to be stuck waiting forever for every page I visited. I did everything you said – luckily my wireless router was updated, so I skipped that part. The windows updates took the longest, I left it overnight to avoid staying up until 3 in the morning. Another thing I got lucky with was apps – I don’t have any, really. I’ve uninstalled WildTangent but there’s not even enough apps on here to need to scroll through, no eBay, Skype, nothing.

    Again, thanks!

  4. Thats right I ran windows performance analyser and I got heaps better performance, so it must have sorted some crap out on memory allocation to where,,,,,,,, It is to the point I can now use the laptop and equals what I would think would be an 8 year old laptop on xp ARGHHH a fourth time. I did delete some bloatware like the antivirus and some hp software, but need to start deleting more. I still can’t open multiple tabs say 4 or more on explorer without having major memory issues even. ARGHHHH A fifth time… HOW CAN HP SELL A PRODUCT THIS BAD arghhh a sixth time.

  5. I’m in the same boat – except I went from super slow to literally NOTHING responds. It pulls up a browser or an app and then immediately goes to ‘not responding’, I’ve literally had this thing for three days.

    When going to the wireless step, the PC says it’s already updated, so I moved on and it’s been like 45 minutes on the ‘updates’ screen with a little loading sequence but its like it isn’t finding anything?

  6. The fact is, Pest Buy and its fabulous Gunk Squad have one purpose in life: To sell you what you don’t need, and after that to sell you what you shouldn’t need because you should have gotten what you really needed in the first place. They don’t care if your new computer has enough RAM to run Windows and chew gum at the same time. They just want to sell you all the extra software and “guarantees” so you’ll come back for more. The less you know about what you’re really getting, the better for them.

  7. Just wanted to say thanks. We get a lot of new employees with out-of-the-box Windows 8 PCs and this is our current “go-to” lifesaver for troubleshooting the inevitable initial horrors when trying to download even the simplest things (aka, Skype for Desktop!). You’re the best!

  8. Not even 2 mos. Ago I got this beautiful candy apple red laptop from HP with Windows 8!! I absolutely hate it!! I’ve been waiting forever for the updates to complete!! It always says not connected when it is, kicks me off constantly, ugh!! I hate it!!, will try your suggestions if it ever gets done updating!! So dumb!! My old Dell is looking pretty good right now!!

  9. Another thing to check is the processor’s minimum speed. Newer computers often have it preset at only 5%. Go to Power Options and click on the advanced settings. Then find the processor speed settings and change the minimum to something like 75%. Made a big difference for me!

  10. I owe you the cost of a service call. I had despaired at the slowness of my new Windows 10 computer and went back to using my old one where the screen was hanging off and had to be propped up on the keyboard. (no, they can’t fix it. I tried.) I followed this step by step, adapting to Windows 10 by using imagination and luck. My computer is so much faster it’s unbelievable. Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to post this.

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