There’s nothing more frustrating than your computer slowing you down when you are trying to get things done. A computer that is slow, underperforming, or crashing is never fun. If your computer is starting to let you down like this, then something must be wrong.
First of all—don’t panic. There is no need to immediately assume the worst. Several different factors or reasons could be contributing to why your computer is not performing as it once was. We are here to help you solve the problem and get your computer back to its old self.
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Let us highlight a few of the most common reasons why your computer might be slowing down. Consider these options, as well as our tips to fix your computer, before you take any drastic measures. There may be no need to do anything like reformat your computer or take it to the repairman.
The reason why a computer may be slow could be one—or more—of the following, which are the most common causes:
There is a chance that your slow computer is also being caused by something other than the reasons listed above. With that said, however, it is worth trying to solve the common problems first. No matter what, your computer will only benefit from the advice below.
If you are suffering from a slow system, go through the following points to improve your computer’s performance.
Temporary files really should be just that—temporary. While a computer is running a file, it stores any temporary files related to that program on the hard drive. This means your hard drive can quickly become cluttered up with unnecessary files that you do not need.
The best way to tackle this problem is by using the Windows Disk Cleanup utility. This works to find any temporary files that are being stored in your computer which you no longer need. However, while this utility is great for the most part, it may not find and delete every temporary file.
To make sure that you have really cleaned up all the temporary files, you can delete them manually. This can be done by following the steps below:
Open the Start menu and click on the search bar.
Type “%temp%” into the search bar and press enter.
The Temp folder should open, showing any temporary files remaining on your system.
Delete all of the files in this folder; if any are in use by another program just press skip.
Another very common cause of a slow computer is the presence of one or more viruses. Make sure you utilize your antivirus software and scan your computer regularly for viruses. It is important to keep the antivirus software up to date so that your computer is always protected.
If you do not have antivirus software, then we strongly recommend that you get your hands on some. This will help to ensure that your computer has a continuous defense against infection. If you can keep your computer protected against viruses you are reducing the risk of a slow system.
There is a wide variety of different options available when it comes to choosing antivirus software. Options of different protection can be overwhelming and expensive, so make sure you do your research before taking the plunge.
A new PC usually comes complete with a variety of pre-installed programs. Chances are you will not need or use all of these programs. However, just because you are not using them does not mean they don’t take up space on your computer.
These programs may even be running in the background without you knowing. Too many programs running at the same time can considerably slow down your computer. Clearing up programs you never use is quick and easy to do.
Simply go to the Start menu and open Control Panel. In the control panel, open Programs and Features. Inside this folder, you will see a list of all of the programs present on your computer.
Scroll through the list and delete any programs you do not need or use. If there is a program that you are unsure about deleting, you can use software like PC Decrapifier. This is free software that tells you what programs do and if they are worth keeping.
As we have already mentioned, too many programs running at the same time can seriously slow down your system. However, while you may think you are only running one or two programs, you could be wrong. There may be multiple programs that open automatically upon startup.
To stop programs from opening by default at every startup, there are few quick and easy steps you can follow.
Open the Start menu and type “Run” into the search bar.
A box will appear; type “MSConfig” into the box and another box will appear.
At the top of the new box, click on the Startup tab.
A list of all of the programs that are configured to run when you start your computer will appear.
You have two options now. First, you can click on the box to disable all programs from starting automatically. Or, if you have some you want to keep, manually select the programs you want to run at each startup.
Defragmenting your hard drive sounds scary, but is actually much easier than it sounds. This may be the best step for those who edit, save and store different kinds of files on their computers. Whenever you edit and re-save, a new copy is made and saved into a different part of your drive.
If this process is done repeatedly, your hard drive will become littered with lots of versions of the file. When there are chunks of the same information all over your computer, it can slow your system down.
A defragmenting program is built into all Microsoft devices, or you can download defragmenters from third parties if you wish. However, the built-in defragmenter is more than capable of sorting out your device. Here are the easy steps to follow to perform a defragmentation of your hard drive.
Open the Start menu and type “Disk Defragmenter” into the search bar.
A window will open, displaying the disk drives that are local to your computer.
It will automatically select the main drive (typically the C drive) but you can choose whichever drive you want to defragment.
The drive you defragment will first be optimized and then defragmented.
This process is quite time intensive so you should do it when you don’t need other programs running. Set the defragmentation going and leave your computer to it. We recommend that you defragment your hard disks regularly, perhaps once a month.
Regular defragmenting is a good idea, especially if you notice an improvement to your computer’s speed after a defragment.
** Important Note about Defragmenting: Do not defragment your disk if it is a solid-state drive (SSD). Defragmenting an SSD disk can end up giving your computer more problems. Check the kind of disk you are using through the “Optimize Drives” application.
This application is built-in and tells you the kind of disk you have, either SSD or HDD.
Your computer may be running slowly if it is full or does not have enough free storage space. Ideally, your system should always have at least 200-500MB of free space. Without this space, your computer will be unable to accommodate temporary files or newly saved documents.
Check how much space is available on your hard drive by following these simple steps:
Open File Explorer by pressing the Windows key and the E key at the same time.
A window will open; in the left navigation section click “This PC.”
Within “This PC,” click on the Devices and Drives section. This will display all drives used by the computer.
Next to each storage device is a status bar that clearly shows how much memory is used or available. You will also be able to see here the total size of the disk.
Once you have determined how full your disk is, you may need to create some more space. Creating space can be done in a few different ways, including using the Disk Cleanup utility. Here are some simple steps to try and gain some more space on your hard drive.
Open the Start menu and type “disk” into the search bar.
Click the Disk Cleanup option.
The Disk Cleanup window will open. In this window, you will see different ways disk space is being used.
Select the boxes by the items that are taking up disk space. Do not select “Compress old files”.
Click OK, followed by YES to clean up your disk.
** Important Note about Disk Cleanup: When using disk cleanup there is an option to compress the files in your hard drive. This is not always a good idea as it works to remove non-essential files from your computer.
This may result in losing data or documents that you might need. Proceed with extreme caution when it comes to compressing your hard drive.
Storage and memory are two key factors to a smooth and speedy computer. Computers come with a set amount of random access memory or RAM. Ideally, you should have at least 2GB of RAM to support a 32-bit system; this should be 4GB for a 64-bit system.
The RAM in your computer allows the device to run programs and access information. When there is not enough memory available to run programs effectively, your computer begins to adapt. It does this by swapping information stored within the RAM to become what is known as a swap file.
This kind of activity obviously slows down your device as it’s fighting to process things as fast as it can. There is a way to determine whether or not your computer is swapping information between your hard drive and memory. If the light on your hard drive is constantly active, this is a clear sign that this is happening.
If your computer is more than two years old, you may need to upgrade your memory. It is easy to check the amount of RAM installed in your system. Follow the steps below:
Open the Start menu and type “RAM” into the search bar.
An option to “view RAM info” should appear. Press Enter to accept this option.
A window will appear displaying the amount of RAM installed on your computer system.
If you opt to upgrade your RAM to a higher capacity, this will help to speed up your computer.
Once you have worked to speed up your computer there are a few ways you can keep things running smoothly. It is quick and easy to keep your computer in great shape. Here are some of our top tips to prevent your computer from slowing down.
As we have highlighted above, a buildup of temporary files can slow down your computer. Once you have cleared them all up, make sure you stay on top of them. Regularly check for any temporary files and delete them, especially if you have downloaded any new software or updates.
Follow the simple steps above to clear up any temporary files monthly. This is an easy and effective way to maintain the speed of your system.
Try to keep up to date with your software and install the latest updates as they are released. If you let your software get too out of date, things may begin to slow down.
Regularly check your computer and most-used programs for software updates. While some software updates can be bulky, the developers often release updates to improve the performance of their programs.
Space on a computer is a very valuable asset. With that said, make sure you only download and keep programs that you regularly use and need. Unused programs will be taking up valuable space and memory.
Think carefully before installing any new programs or software. Consider whether or not you have the space to accommodate it. Also, consider how often you will use a program to make sure it is worth the storage it requires.
Finally, carefully check the options when installing new programs. Be sure to uncheck the option to “open on startup.”
Many programs will have the default setting to open on startup which can slow down your system considerably. This is an easy thing to miss and you may not even be aware that this program is running.
As we mentioned earlier, viruses are a common cause of computer slow-downs. But even if you aren’t experiencing sluggishness now, we highly recommend that you install antivirus software.
It is important to keep your system constantly protected from nasty bugs and viruses. While you may not think that it’s important, viruses can be found in the most innocent of places. Protection really is a must.
Antivirus software can easily be purchased online or in-store. Do your research and speak to sales advisors to see what kind of coverage is best for you. Some of these packages can cost a small fortune and maybe more coverage than you need.
If you are on a tighter budget you could also consider trying free antivirus software. They can be just as effective as some of the most expensive on the market. There is a wide variety of different suppliers and coverages available to download for free. Make sure you research these and read reviews before relying on them, however.
Several factors can affect the speed and performance of your laptop or computer. If you have tried one or two of our solutions and had no improvement, do not give up. Work your way down the list until you see positive results.
Consider all options when it comes to fixing the problem. Often, a slow computer can be caused by several different issues happening at the same time. It is also important to have valid and up-to-date antivirus software to keep your computer protected.
Once you have managed to regain some speed and improved performance, make sure you stay organized. Keep on top of your computer software, programs, and storage to maintain the best performance. If you work to take care of your system, it will continue to run more quickly and smoothly, benefiting your work – and your pocket.
Marcus has a graduate degree in computer engineering and has many years of experience in cutting-edge technology research and development in both startups and Fortune 500 corporations. In his free time, he enjoys RTS gaming.
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