My computer is running slow, what steps can I do to fix it?
Below are steps users can follow to help speed up a computer or determine why a computer is running slow. It should be noted that this page only covers an overall slow computer and not a computer that starts slow or has a slow Internet connection. To diagnose those issues, visit the following pages:
If your computer has not been rebooted recently, make sure to reboot it before following any of the steps below. Rebooting the computer can fix many problems and is an easy first step.
One of the most common reasons for a slow computer is programs running in the background. Remove or disable any TSRs and startup programs that automatically start each time the computer boots.
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 resources are used.
If you have an antivirus scanner on the computer, spyware protection program, or another security utility, make sure it's not scanning your computer in the background. If a scan is in progress, it decreases 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 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.
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
Check the hard drive for errors
On a macOS computer, access the Disk Utility program, and use the First Aid option to check the hard drive for errors. To open Disk Utility:
- Click the Launchpad icon on the dock.
- Open the Other folder.
- Click Disk Utility to open the program.
Make sure hard drive is not fragmented
Run Defrag to help ensure that data is arranged in the best possible order.
Test hard drive
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 doesn't have an antivirus program installed, run Trend Micro's free Housecall online utility to scan and remove viruses on your computer. We also recommend 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.
Verify that the Device Manager has no conflicts. If any exist, resolve these issues as they could be causing your problem.
Update the operating system
To update a computer running Microsoft Windows, run Windows Update.
To update a macOS computer, run Software Update. To upgrade the operating system, use the App Store.
Disable browser plug-ins
If your computer runs especially slow when you're using your web browser, considering disabling any browser plug-ins, add-ons, or extensions.
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, reboot your machine.
Run a registry cleaner
If you have a Mac computer, skip this section, as there is no registry in macOS.
We usually do not recommend registry cleaners. However, if you followed all the steps above 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 doesn't need to swap information stored in memory to the swap file. If the hard drive light is continuously active, it's an indication the computer is frequently swapping information between your memory and hard drive.
Hard drive upgrade
Computer or processor is overheating
Make sure your computer and processor is not overheating. Excessive heat can cause a decrease in the computer's 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 causes a computer to overheat. Make sure your computer case is clean, and that the fans are not obstructed.
Increase or upgrade the processor speed
Overclocking a processor means increasing its speed beyond what it's designed to run stably. 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 generates 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.
Erase computer and start over
If none of the solutions above resolve your issues, another option is to reinstall the operating system, or you can erase everything and start over.
Erasing everything on your computer and reinstalling the operating system can increase performance by getting rid of old software or drivers. Installing a fresh copy of macOS or 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 the above recommendations, there's likely a more serious hardware related issue (e.g., failing component). Examples of failing hardware could include the hard drive, CPU, RAM, motherboard, or other components.
You can run hardware diagnostic tests using the Ultimate Boot CD (UBCD) utility. This utility provides information on whether or not your computer has a bad piece of hardware.
If your computer is more than five years old, it performs slower 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 causes them to perform more slowly. Furthermore, new software tends to be more demanding in general, which is another problem for old hardware. We recommend you consider purchasing a new computer or upgrading your current one.
- Other basic computer troubleshooting steps.
- Why is my Internet connection so slow?
- What makes a computer fast and powerful?
- How to know which games my computer can run.
- How to increase processor speed.
- Should I 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.