A lot of the times, without doing anything out of the ordinary to your computer, you might just find it doesn’t run as fast as it should. Now, a PC is a very complex system made up of many hardware and software components, so the list of things which could be malfunctioning is basically limitless.
There are, however, a few common computer problems which you can try to fix. We’ve gathered the most frequent problems here, together with a brief explanation on how they occur, and some practical advice regarding how you can go about solving them.
Below you will find our top solutions on how to fix slow computer.
Fix Slow Computer #1: You haven’t rebooted your computer in a while
Boot and Reboot are basically the more technically-sounding terms for Start and Restart. A Boot/Start process loads the operating system and starts the initial processes, beginning with the powered-off state.
A Reboot/Restart process, on the other hand, is mostly required after performing an activity which affects functionality, like installing or uninstalling a program or updating your system.
Whether or not you really have to reboot your computer depends on a number of factors. Most of the times, after installing or updating a program you will be asked to restart, either right then and there, or at a later time (but the changes won’t take effect until you do).
Rebooting makes your computer clear the cache, clear RAM memory, and force a new registry read, so it will almost always result in the system working a bit better.
Just remember not to just turn it off using the shut down button or by unplugging the power source, but rather go to Start -> Turn Off Your Computer -> Restart.
Fix Slow Computer #2: You don’t have enough free hard drive space
The free space on your hard drive isn’t just free disk space that isn’t being used in any way.
You might not notice this at the time, but that space might be used for a number of things, like storing temporary files or the data you’re downloading while streaming videos (especially if you’ve loaded up more than a few).
To make sure there aren’t any problems of this sort, always keep at least 20% free hard drive space.
Fix Slow Computer #3: There are too many background programs open
You should remove or disable any startup programs that automatically start each time a computer boots. Also, if you have an antivirus or another kind of security program, set it up so that it doesn’t scan your computer in the background.
This may use up a lot of the system’s resources and cause it to run slower.
If you want to actually see what programs are running in the background and how much memory and CPU they are using, simply open the Task Manager and have a look.
You can also devise a schedule to run your security programs whenever there’s the lowest level of activity on your computer.
Fix Slow Computer #4: Your computer is infected with a virus or malware
This one is fairly straightforward: if your computer is infected, it will probably run slower, since that’s one of the effect of having viruses and malware. If you suspect something like that has happened, you will have to scan your PC.
There are plenty of free and trial versions of antivirus programs you can find online, and it’s a good idea to perform a scan once in a while, even if you’re not experiencing any problems at the moment.
You could also make your pc malware-proof to avoid future problems.
Fix Slow Computer #5: Hard drive is corrupted or fragmented
There are many reasons for a hard drive to become corrupted, but more often than not it’s because of an improper shutdown (as we’ve mentioned earlier, don’t just press the shutdown button or unplug the power source!).
A corrupted disk basically means that, for whatever reason, the system can’t access the files that you want – and it’s usually a problem you won’t be able to get around.
To diagnose and attempt to repair your hard drive, run ScanDisk (or something equivalent) and verify if there’s nothing physically wrong with your hard drive. To ensure the data is arranged in the optimal order, you should also run a disk defragmentation.
These processes are a bit more advanced than what the average PC user might be familiar with, so if you haven’t done something like this before, it’s best to ask someone who has.
Fix Slow Computer #6: Hardware conflicts and outdated drivers
A hardware conflict, as its name suggests, occurs when two devices try to use the same resource (like and IRQ or a memory address), which results in an error.
Hardware conflicts aren’t very common these days because by using plug-n-play (PnP) manages each of the hardware devices installed in the computer for the user.
You can use the Device Manager to verify that your computer has no hardware conflicts and to fix the issue if necessary. You will first need to open the Device Manager, select System form the top of the list, and hit Properties.
You will then be presented with a list of devices, a list you can use to determine which is being used in what way – if you find the conflict you can then refer to the device’s manual for information on how to change the configuration and eventually solve the problem.
If you haven’t been able to solve the issue yet, remove or disconnect all non-
essential devices, like a sound card or the CD-ROM, except the one which isn’t working.
If the device still does not work, it might either be simply broken, or in conflict with a vital piece of hardware like the motherboard.
If the issue still is not fixed, the device’s driver might be to blame. Go to the manufacture’s website and download the latest drivers for the product in question.
Even if you’re not experiencing any problems, having the latest drivers could still improve overall performance.
Fix Slow Computer #7: Your version of Windows (or other operating system you might be using) or another piece of software is out of date
The solution here is simple: always make sure you have the latest Windows updates installed on your computer. Same goes for other pieces of software, especially if you notice they’re running slower or they’re causing other kinds of problems.
Fix Slow Computer #8: Your computer needs a memory upgrade
If you’ve had your computer for more than a year, it’s maybe time to consider a memory upgrade. The bare minimum your system should sport to work properly these days would be about 1GB of memory.
If you want to know the amount of available system resources (which includes memory and performance/usage), simply open the Task Manager.
In the Processes tab you will be able to find information about all the programs that are currently running, including how much of the computer’s resources they are using. In the Performance tab, on the other hand, you can get a general idea of all the system’s resources.
After you find out how much memory you’ve got, you can check your computer manufacturer’s website to see whether there are open memory slots on the motherboard.
Compare your current memory with the maximum, and if there any open slots on the motherboard, you could consider adding new memory.
You could even replace the existing memory with a newer model, one that comes with greater capacity.
Fix Slow Computer #9: Your computer or processor is overheating
The processor is one of the most “overworked” components in your computer. Although modern computers have various systems in place to try to keep things as cool as possible, the processor can still overheat sometimes, which causes a significant decline in computer performance.
Most motherboard manufacturers include CPU temperature monitoring software, so you can easily check if your computer is overheating (which often means exceeding 90 degrees Celsius or about 194 degrees Fahrenheit).
A frequent cause of overheating is the obstruction of fans inside the computer. You generally want to keep the inside of the case clean and dust free, not just the fans.
To clean your computer, you must first turn it off and unplug it from its power source.
Then use a cloth as delicately as possible, trying to avoid the internal components. You can use a vacuum cleaner around the computer, however do not use it to clean inside the case, because it generates static electricity which can damage the sensitive system components.
Fix Slow Computer #10: You computer is old
Computers aren’t exactly known for their long life. Most systems become obsolete really quickly, so if you’re had yours for more than five years, you should probably consider getting a new one.
That’s because new programs and updates are always coming out, which almost always comes with an increase in the minimum requirements department. A side effect of this is that older computer will slow down while using them.
In order to stay up to date with the latest technologies, you should consider buying a new computer every few years or so. It’s a good idea to do some research beforehand and go to the store knowing what you’re looking for and what you can get for your budget.
Fix Slow Computer #11: Hardware failure
If your computer is still slow after solving all the issues detailed above, there might be a more serious underlying problem with the hardware.
In this case, any one of the multiple components which make up your PC could be failing, from the hard drive, to the CPU, to the memory etc.
At first you should get in touch with a professional and see if there’s anything that could be done to fix the component, but in the end the best, most cost effective solution might simply be to replace it, or to replace the entire computer altogether.