My computer is running slow, what steps can I do to fix it?
Below are steps for Microsoft Windows users that can help speed up the computer or determine why the computer is running slow.
If your computer has not been rebooted recently, make sure to reboot it before following any of the steps below.
Tip: To see what programs are running in the background and how much memory and CPU they are using, open Task Manager. If you are running Windows 7 or higher, run Resmon to get a better understanding of how your computer is being used.
If you have an antivirus scanner on the computer, spyware protection program, or another security utility, make sure it is not scanning your computer in the background. If a scan is in progress, it can decrease the overall performance of your computer. If this is the case, allow the scan to complete, and the computer's performance should improve.
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. In Windows XP and prior, click the Run option in the Start Menu and enter %temp% in the Run field. Press Enter and 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
Bad, corrupted or fragmented hard drive
- Run ScanDisk, chkdsk, 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 malware
Today, spyware and other malware is a big cause of many computer problems, including a slow computer. Even if an antivirus scanner is installed on the computer, we recommend running a malware scan on the computer. Use the free version of Malwarebytes to scan your computer for malware.
Scan for viruses
If your computer is infected with one or more viruses, this can cause your computer to run slow. 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.
- Verify that the Device Manager has no conflicts. If any exist, resolve these issues as they could be the cause of your problem.
- Make sure you have all the latest Windows updates installed on the computer.
- If you are on the Internet when your computer is slow, make sure all browser plugins are up-to-date.
Update your drivers
Reboot computer again
If you have done any of the above steps, but your computer is still acting slow, try rebooting the computer again at this point.
Run 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.
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.
- Determining how much RAM is installed and available.
- How much memory or RAM should my computer have?
- What type of computer memory to use in a memory upgrade?
Hard drive upgrade
Computer or processor is overheating
Make sure your computer and processor is not overheating. Excessive heat can cause a significant decrease in computer performance because most processors 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 fans are not obstructed.
Increase or upgrade processor speed
Overclocking a processor means increasing the speed of the processor in your computer, beyond what it is normally designed to 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. In order to overclock a processor, 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 could be overclocked. An overclocked processor will generate more heat, thus requiring a more powerful heatsink and fan to pull the excess heat away from the processor. In some cases, overclocking a processor will require the use of a liquid-cooling system to keep the processor from overheating.
A safer option to overclocking is upgrading the processor in your computer. You would need to get the specifications for the motherboard in your computer, to determine what type of processor it is able to use. You would then need to buy a new processor that is compatible with the motherboard and also faster than the current processor in your computer. You can then install the new processor in place of the existing processor.
Erase computer and start over
If none of the above solutions resolve your issues, another option is to either reinstall Windows or erase everything and then start over.
Erasing everything and starting over can increase performance by getting rid of old software or drivers that may be on the computer and causing the computer to be slow. Installing a fresh copy of Windows, software programs, and the latest drivers help verify there are no software related issues causing your computer to be slow.
Finally, if your computer is still slow after trying all of the above recommendations, there may have a more serious hardware related issue, such as a failing component in the computer. Examples of failing hardware could include a failing or bad hard drive, CPU, RAM, motherboard, or another component.
You can run hardware diagnostic tests using the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) utility. This utility provides many diagnostic tests that you can run and determine if your computer has a bad piece of hardware.
If your computer is more than five years old, the age of the computer could be the cause of the slow performance. 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. We recommend that you consider purchasing a new computer or accept that your computer is not going to be as fast as a newer computer.
- Other basic computer troubleshooting steps.
- Why is my Internet connection so slow?
- What makes a computer fast and powerful?
- How to increase processor speed.
- Is it a good idea to change my Microsoft Windows page file size?
- See our slow definition for all links relating to slow computers.
- Hard drive help and support.
- Microsoft Windows help and support.