What To Do If Your Computer Is Slow

What To Do If Your Computer Is Slow

Has your computer slowed down? There are various things you can do to help speed it up or diagnose why it’s being so sluggish. Below are some tips on how to do this. Note that this won’t help if the computer has always been slow, or if the problem is due to a poor internet connection.

Restart computer

Especially if you haven’t recently rebooted your computer, do it now, before taking any further steps. A reboot is easy to do and can fix a lot of computer problems, and you might not have to do anything else.

Stop programs running in the background

Background programs that you might not even be aware of are a common cause of a computer running slowly. TSRs (terminate and stay resident programs) and other programs that start automatically when your computer reboots could be the problem. These need to be disabled or removed.

Here’s a tip to help you see what programs you have running in the background. In Windows, the Task Manager will show you what’s running and how much memory and CPU resources they’re using. For a Windows 7 or higher operating system, there’s also a command called Resmon (short for ‘resource monitor’) that you can use.

One thing to check is whether you have an antivirus scanner or similar security program running in the background. If a scan is running it can temporarily slow down your computer. Virus-scanning is important, so you should allow the scan to complete. If that’s the cause, the computer’s speed should normalise when it’s finished.

Get rid of temporary files

Temporary files are regularly stored on your computer as it runs. You can improve your computer’s performance by getting rid of them. Here’s how to do it on a Windows computer:

Windows includes a Disk Cleanup tool that will delete temporary and other junk files. It will get rid of most temp files but not necessarily all of them. To make sure you’ve eliminated them all you might need to locate the temp file directory and manually delete any that are remaining.

Check space on your hard drive

Ideally you should have at least 200-500 megabytes of space free on your hard drive. This will allow extra size for the swap file, which will create more space for any temp files that are being generated.

Identify hard drive errors

If your hard drive has become corrupted or fragmented, this can be a cause of poor speed and performance. You can check your Windows computer hard drive using the ScanDisk or chkdsk commands (or equivalents) to do a physical hard drive check. The Defrag tool will test that the data on your hard drive is ordered optimally. There are other tools available to help you check hard drive problems, such as SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology), a built-in monitoring system on many computers.

Turn on virus scanning

Viruses and malware can slow down a computer, so a scan is essential. Everyone should have antivirus software installed. Most of the top brands offer free versions that you can use to start with. They should be run regularly to check for viruses and to ensure ongoing protection.

Check for spyware and other malware

These malicious programs are a common cause of computer problems, including slowing down. As well as checking for viruses, you should run an additional malware scan. Again, top brands offer free versions that you can download in a matter of minutes.

Hardware conflicts

Computer elements that aren’t working together properly can cause slowdown. One way to look at this is to check the Device Manager.

Keep your computer updated

Manufacturers regularly issue updates in order to keep your operating system secure and running smoothly. Make sure that you’ve updated, using the Windows Update option.

Drivers for your computer hardware also need updating. This is especially important for video drivers. Outdated drivers can cause all sorts of computer problems, including slowdown.

Browser-related issues

Do you have any plug-ins, extensions or add-ons linked to your browser? If the computer seems to be slow when you’re using your browser to surf the web, disable these in case they’re the source of the problem.

IMPORTANT: to see if any of the solutions outlined above have worked, you’ll need to restart your computer.

Other solutions

There are other things you can do, but they won’t be your first option when dealing with a slow computer.

Cleaning the registry

This is one further option, but this is not something we recommend as a routine solution. Running a registry cleaner is nevertheless another avenue to follow if nothing else has worked.

Upgrading memory

A computer that’s more than two years old may be running out memory. The minimum we recommend is 2 GB or RAM for a 32-bit system or 4 GB for a 64-bit one. If your computer has adequate memory then it doesn’t have to resort to additional operations (such as use of the swap file) to keep running efficiently. When the hard drive light is on all the time then that shows that the swap file is in regular use, as information is relayed from your memory to your hard disk.

Upgrade your hard drive

The hard disk drive can turn into a bottleneck that impedes functioning and speed. An upgrade to an SSD (solid state drive) will make a big difference to your computer’s efficiency.

Check for overheating

Overheating can impact negatively on performance because operating systems typically slow down the processor to compensate for raised temperatures. Another common cause of overheating is dust and debris inside your computer, which blocks airflow and can obstruct the fans.

Upgrade the CPU speed

A faster processor (CPU) will speed up a computer. You have two options here – upgrading or overclocking. The less effective option is overclocking, which means increasing its speed to a level that is above the ideal level at which it remains stable.

Not all CPUs can be overclocked and often the speed increase is minor – perhaps only 10-20%. Check your specs to see if this is possible for your model. Another downside is that this will increase heat levels, which can in turn cause computer problems if you don’t have a powerful enough heat sink.

Upgrading the processor is a better and safer option. Check the specs of your motherboard to see what newer processor is compatible with it.

h3 class=”services”>Start from scratch

If nothing else has worked, then you can either reinstall the operating system or erase everything. Erasing everything will make sure that you’ve got rid of old drivers and software. Reinstalling your operating system will make sure everything is fresh and up-to-date and that the machine’s slowness isn’t caused by software problems.

Hardware and component problems

No computer lasts forever and a slow computer could have a more serious hardware problem. It could be the hard drive, CPU, motherboard or RAM that is failing. Bad hardware can be identified by using the Ultimate Boot CD utility (UBCD).

Older computers will always start slowing down

Even a computer that’s not failing will slow down over time (for example, if it’s five years old or more). New software is optimized for newer computers and puts more strain on older ones, so that they don’t run as fast. If you can’t fix your slow computer, or live with reduced operating speed, it may be time to get a new computer or upgrade the one you have now.

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