My computer is running slow, what steps can I do to fix it?

Methods mention below are for computers running Microsoft Windows that can help speed up your computer or at least determine why your computer is running slow.

Reboot

Try to reboot your computer before following any of the steps below.

Background programs

Background program is one of the most common reasons that slow your computer. Remove or disable any terminate and stay resident programs (TSRs), then startup programs that automatically start each time the computer boots.

To see background programs and how much memory and CPU they are using, open Task Manager.

If you your spyware protection, antivirus scanner, or another security utility is in background scan progress, it will decrease the overall performance of your computer. In this case, let the scan to complete, the computer’s performance should improve.

Close System Tray Programs

Many applications run in the system tray. These applications ussualy launch at startup and run in the background, but only show up when you click the up arrow icon at the bottom-right corner of your screen (near the system tray), right-click any icon of applications you don’t need running in the background, then close them to free up resources.

Reduce Animations

By default, quite a few animations were enable in Windows setting, and may make your PC a bit slower. For example, Windows can minimize and maximize windows instantly if you disable Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing option.

To enable/disable animations, press Windows+X or right-click the Start button and select System. Select System info on the right, click Advanced System Settings on the left of the newly opened window, and then click the Settings button under Performance area. Choose Adjust for best performance in the Visual Effects tab to disable all the animations, or select Custom and disable the individual animations you don’t want to see. For example, uncheck Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing to disable the minimize and maximize animations.

Lighten Your Web Browser

There’s a good chance you use your web browser a lot, so your web browser may just be a bit slow. It’s a good idea to use as few browser extensions, or add-ons as possible, those slow down your web browser and cause it to use more memory.

Go into your web browser’s Extensions or Add-ons manager and remove add-ons you don’t need. You should also consider enabling click-to-play plug-ins. Preventing Flash and other content from loading will prevent unimportant Flash content from using CPU time.

Delete temp files

As a computer runs programs, temporary files are stored on the hard drive. Deleting these temp files can help improve computer performance.

First, we suggest using the Windows Disk Cleanup utility to delete temporary files and other files no longer needed on the computer.

Unfortunately, the Disk Cleanup may not delete every file in the temp directory. Therefore, we also suggest deleting temporary files manually. To do this, open the Start Menu and type %temp% in the Search field and then press Enter key. In Windows XP and prior, click the Run option in the Start Menu and enter %temp% in the Run field and then press Enter key, a Temp folder should open. You can delete all files found in this folder and, if any files are in use and cannot be deleted, they can be skipped.

Free hard drive space

Verify that there is at least 200-500MB of free hard drive space. This available space allows the computer to have room for the swap file to increase in size, as well as room for temporary files.

Bad, corrupted or fragmented hard drive

  • Run ScanDiskchkdsk or something equivalent to verify there is nothing physically wrong with the computer’s hard drive.
  • Run Defrag to help ensure that data is arranged in the best possible order.
  • Use other software tools to test the hard drive for any errors by looking at the SMART of the drive.

Scan for viruses

If your computer is infected with one or more viruses, it may run more slowly. If your computer does not have an antivirus program installed, you can run Trend Micro’s free Housecall online utility to scan for viruses on your computer, as well as remove them. It is also recommended that you install an antivirus program for active protection against viruses.

Scan for malware

Today, spyware and other malware is a big cause of many computer problems, including slower performance. Even if an antivirus scanner is installed on the computer, we recommend running a malware scan as well. Use the free version of Malwarebytes to scan your computer for malware.

Uninstall Programs You Don’t Use

Open the Control Panel, find the list of installed programs, and uninstall programs you don’t use and don’t need from your PC. This can help speed your PC up, as those programs might include background processes, autostart entries, system services, context menu entries, and other things that can slow down your PC. It’ll also save room on your hard drive and improve system security. For example, you definitely shouldn’t have Java installed if you’re not using it.

Reset Your PC / Reinstall Windows

Solution to fix Windows problems aside from rebooting your PC, of course – is getting a fresh Windows installation.

On modern versions of Windows (Windows 8, 8.1, and 10), it’s easier to get a fresh Windows installation than ever. You don’t have to get Windows installation media and reinstall Windows. Instead, you can simply use the Reset your PC feature built into Windows to get a new, fresh Windows system. This is similar to reinstalling Windows and will wipe your installed programs and system settings while keeping your files.

Hardware conflicts

Verify that the Device Manager (right-click on This PC or My Compurter icon and select Device Manager) has no conflicts. If any exist, resolve these issues as they could be the cause of your problem.

Update Windows

  • Make sure you have all the latest Windows updates installed.
  • If you are on the Internet when your computer is slow, make sure all browser plugins are up-to-date.

Update your drivers

Make sure you have the latest drivers for your computer hardware, especially the latest video drivers. Having out-of-date drivers can cause an assortment of issues, including slow performance.

Reboot the computer again

After making any of the changes above, be sure to reboot your machine.

Run a registry cleaner

We normally do not recommend registry cleaners. However, if you have followed all of the above steps and your computer is still slow, try running a registry cleaner on the computer.

Memory upgrade

If you have had your computer for more than two years, you may need more memory. Today, we suggest computers have a minimum of 2 GB of memory (RAM) for a 32-bit system and 4 GB for a 64-bit system. By having enough memory for programs to run within memory, your computer will not need to swap information stored in memory to the swap file. If the hard drive light is constantly active, it can be an indication the computer is frequently swapping information between your memory and hard drive.

Hard drive upgrade

One of the biggest bottlenecks of a computer is the hard disk drive. Upgrading from a standard hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD) will drastically improve the performance of a computer.

Computer or processor is overheating

Make sure your computer and processor is not overheating. Excessive heat can cause a decrease in computer performance because most operating systems automatically reduce the speed of the processor to help compensate for heat-related issues.

Dust, dirt, and hair can also constrict proper airflow inside your computer, which can cause a computer to overheat. Make sure your computer case is clean, and that the fans are not obstructed.

Increase or upgrade processor speed

Increasing the speed of the processor, or CPU, can help improve your computer’s performance. There are two options for increasing processor speed: overclocking or upgrading.

Overclocking a processor means increasing its speed beyond what it has been designed to stably run. While overclocking can increase the processor speed, the increase is often not very significant, resulting in maybe a 10% or 20% speed increase at most. Furthermore, the processor itself must be capable of being overclocked. You would need to find the specifications for the processor in your computer to determine if it can be overclocked. An overclocked processor will generate more heat, thus requiring a more powerful heat sink and fan to pull the excess heat away from the processor.

A safer alternative to overclocking is upgrading the processor in your computer. You would need to get the specifications for your motherboard to determine what type of newer processor may be used in it. You can then install the new processor in place of the existing processor.

Old computer

If your computer is more than five years old, it will have slower performance than a new one. As more advanced software programs are released, they are optimized to run more efficiently on newer computers. Older computers are not able to run these new programs as well, which can cause them to perform more slowly. Furthermore, new software tends to be more demanding in general, which is another problem for old hardware. We recommend that you consider purchasing a new computer or upgrading your current one.