How To Easily Solve “Why Your Computer Is So Slow”

Your computer used to be quick like a fat kid chasing an ice cream truck, but now it doesn’t respond or takes forever to load. It seems like every day you wonder, “Why is my computer so slow?”

Over time, your computer can slow down because of aging hardware and bloated software—like your Great Uncle Paul. But, unlike an old relative, you can speed up your computer by breathing new life into it and getting rid of the fat.

First, solving the problem of why your computer is slow starts with the simplest solution.

Try Restarting Your Computer To Speed Things Up

If you haven’t restarted your computer in a while, it may be time to do so. In a perfect world, it is best to reboot it at least once per week.

While a computer can run for long periods without issue, a fresh restart allows it to clear out old data stored in your RAM (Memory). Second, it will enable programs to finish updating, which isn’t possible when the PC is on and using them.

restarting a pc to update windows
It’s important to reset windows frequently for updates.

Pro Tip: Make sure to restart your PC from the start menu. Just pressing the power button may cause loss of data.

A restart doesn’t always fix a slow computer, but it’s worth a shot. Not to mention, that if a simple restart doesn’t work, it gets more involved from this point on.

Is Your Computer Suddenly Slow After A Restart?

So your PC speed problems suddenly emerged after a restart. Windows took forever to startup, and when you tried to open any of your apps, it took way too long. The loading circle spins and spins, yet it wasn’t doing that before you restarted your PC. So, what gives?

In most cases where this happens, something is using up your Memory, Storage, or both. To figure out if this is true, open your “Task Manager” by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC. Next, click your “Performance” tab to see how much of your “Memory” and “Disk” is being used—both should be under 90%.

If this is the case, you’ll want to follow these steps to get your memory or storage back:

  1. Press CTRL+SHIFT+ESC for “Task Manager”
  2. Click the “Details” tab
  3. Select “Memory” to sort the list from greatest to least for usage
  4. You’ll see 1 or 2 programs at the top using most or all of your resources.
  5. Select the programs and click “End Task.”

In the most recent version of Windows 10, this info is available at the top of the default “Processes” tab as well. Like before, click “Memory” and sort it from greatest to least to find the culprit, and end it.

programs causing slow pc startup

Open “Task Manager,” then click on “Memory” under “Details.”

But, maybe the slow-down is only happening during startup?

Is Windows Slow On Startup?

Newly added programs can sneak into your startup queue. Over time they form a long line, and your computer needs to address each one before the process can finish.

Files that should be allowed in your queue need to contribute to your PC in one way or another. If it is a program such as Steam or iTunes, they can wait to be opened by you at a later time.

To Remove Programs From Startup:

  1. Press CTRL+Shift+ESC
  2. Select the “Startup” tab
  3. Choose a program
  4. Click “Disable”

To Adjust Startup Programs On Windows 7:

  1. Press the “Start” button
  2. Select “System Configuration”
  3. Click the “Startup” tab
  4. Deselect the unworthy programs

Couldn’t find any programs stealing your beloved bytes? Well, not pointing fingers or anything but it’s possible that you’re to blame for the lack of space.

Low Storage Space Will Make Your Computer Slow

It is vital that you have at least 10-15% of free storage space on your hard drive. Your programs use some of the extra space to store cached and temporary files without you even realizing it.

You’ll start noticing that your computer is running slow at about the same time it runs out of space to perform these simple stores of data.

How To Free Up Space And Improve Performance

Though the goal is the same, how you go about it can depend on what version of Windows you have installed.

For Windows 7, click “Start,” and then click on “Computer” to open “Windows Explorer.” Here you can view your drives, and see how full each one is.

lack of free space slowing computer
Check available disk space here.

Are you using Windows 8, 8.1, or 10? First, right-click “Start” and select “File Explorer.” In the window that opens, select “This PC” from the left sidebar menu. Your drives will appear at the bottom of the main window, along with how much storage space each has left.

If the space on any of your drives is less than 15% free, make it your mission to increase it. How you do this varies depending on what you have stored, but here are some options that are sure to speed your computer up.

Uninstall Your Useless Programs

At some point, you’ll have unused programs installed, that are taking up precious space. Uninstall these to not only increase storage but also reduce the number of apps that open when you boot up your PC—instantly speeding it up.

Again, the steps to remove an old program is different depending on what version of Windows you have.

For Windows 7, click “Start,” and then click on “Control Panel.” In the window that opens, select “Uninstall a program.” Your PC will now load a list of installed programs. To uninstall one, just double-click on it.

With Windows 8 and 8.1, right-click the “Start” button and select “Control Panel.” In the window that opens, select “Programs and Features.” On the list of installed programs, double-click on the one you want to remove.

On Windows 10, click the “Start” button, and then click the “gear icon” located just above the power button. When the window opens, select “Apps.” After a list of apps should load, click on the one, you want to uninstall. Finally, click the “Uninstall” button that appears—that’s it.

A small word of advice, if you don’t know what a program does, leave it be.

With extra space, you won’t think about why your computer is slow because your PC will have plenty of space to run free!

Delete Temp Files To Free Up More Space

As you browse the web, download files, and run programs, your computer stores temporary data. These files never get deleted after use, but you can easily remove them, yourself.

As before, depending on which version of Windows you have, open “Windows Explorer” or “File Explorer.” Next, right-click on the full drive and select “Properties.” In the “General” tab, choose “Disk Cleanup.” Another window will open, where you can select which files to delete.

run disk clean up on a slow computer

Pro Tip: It’s safe to remove all files here without causing any harm to your PC.

Remove Your Old Files And Documents

If you have old files that you no longer need, they are also taking up space. Select them and hit the delete key to send them to the “Recycle Bin.” Once you are finished deleting last years college essays (and pictures of your ex), you will still have to remove them from the “Recycle Bin.”

Doing this is as easy as right-clicking the bin, and selecting delete. Are you sure? Yes of course you are! Also, pressing Shift+Del skips this step and permanently erases the file right then and there—FOREVER.

Do you have an unhealthy attachment to these files? Are they so valuable that you can’t get rid of them, even if it means speeding your sorry, slow computer up? Fine! You can move them to another drive, just by dragging them over and dropping them.

Finally, you can use a USB drive if you are out of space on your PC. Just plug it in, and BOOM instant storage! Like before you’re going to drag the files to the new device and drop them.

Since we are talking about old files. Did you know there is software designed to give your PC a thorough cleaning and in turn speed it up?

Programs Designed To Enhance Your PCs Performance

There are two types of programs we recommend for handling speed and performance issues. The first type locates all of your junk files that you can’t get rid of by using Windows Disk Cleanup. The second type updates all of your device drivers, which are often missed by the user (not on purpose of course).

Remove The Clutter With CCleaner and Clean Master Software

These programs find duplicate files, clean your registry, wipe free disk space, clean your browser and allow you to manage auto-startup programs (sorry that was long-winded). The best programs on the web to do all those things is CCleaner. Another good alternative is Clean Master.

Which one you choose to go with is up to you, but you’ll see results with either. Plus they’re free, so there’s that. Some people tout these apps as bloatware, yet we can personally attest that they’ve worked on our computers.

If you use the free versions, you can just delete them once you are done using them, if you worry about ads.

Once installed, follow the prompts and watch the magic.

Keep Drivers Updated with Driver Booster and Driver Easy Software

Did you know that out of date drivers can be the number one reason your computer slows way down? Drivers are software, that when downloaded allow your hardware to function correctly.

We recommend automatic driver updates, as most of us aren’t going to go on each manufacturer’s website to download their drivers manually. For this, it’s best to use Driver Booster. You can also use other software such as Driver Easy.

These programs are free (they have premium versions) and are as easy to use as installing and then hitting a single button (usually scan). They will scan your computer for out of date drivers and give you the option to update them—all in one place.

With your drivers updated, you’ve just provided another boost of speed to your PC. But, what other alternatives are available if you are still experiencing a slow computer?

Defragment Your Hard Disk Drive (HDD)

Did you know that an HDD is the slowest part of any computer? Mostly because of its many moving parts, but there is another reason that it can get slower over time—fragmentation.

As you create and delete files, the HDD stores parts of that data across the entire disk space. That means it has to look in many different places to load a single file. So, if your computer is running slow, this could be one reason why.

While it isn’t possible to speed up an HDD beyond what it was made to do (RPMs), it is possible to make it more effective at reading and writing data. So, if you want to add another speed boost to your computer, try defragging it.

What Exactly Is Defragmentation?

As part of routine maintenance, a defrag benefits your HDD in two significant ways. First, it will read and write data quickly, plus it also extends its lifespan. That’s because the moving parts of an HDD move less when all of your files are put together in one spot.

This task is performed by taking fragments of each file and moving them next to one another, in a closer location.

Imagine having to put a puzzle together with the pieces spread out across your house. So you can see how much quicker it would be if all of the parts were in front of you within arm’s reach. The process is the same for an HDD that’s fetching a program for you.

Since it has to move less, it grabs your files faster and gets less worn out over time.

Finally, you should NEVER defrag a Solid State Drive (SSD), as this provides no benefit and wears it out. And, that will slow your computer down even more.

Learn how SSDs and HDDs operate in two entirely different fashions.

How To Defragment Your HDD On Windows OS

If you’re running Windows 8, 8.1, or 10 and are not sure what type of drive you have, it will show you as you go through the process below. Be aware that Windows 7 will not display this info.

Pro Tip: Once started, a defrag can take a long time to complete. So, don’t plan on using your PC for a while.

To Defrag Using Windows 7:

  • Click on “Start”
  • Select “Computer”
  • Right-click the “C:” drive
  • Select “Properties”
  • Select “Tools”
  • Choose “Defragment Now”
  • Click and Run “Analyze Disk”
  • Click and Run “Defragment Disk”

To Defrag Using Windows 8, 8.1:

  • Select “Search” From the Charms Menu
  • Select “Settings”
  • Type “Defrag” on the Command Line
  • Select “Defragment and Optimize Your Drives”
  • Highlight the “C:” drive
  • Select “Analyze”
  • Select “Optimize”

To Defrag Using Windows 10:

  • Right-Click “Start” icon or “Cortana” icon
  • Type “Defrag” in the search box
  • Select “Defragment and Optimize”
  • Highlight the “C:” drive
  • Select “Analyze”
  • Select “Optimize”
Defrag HDD to speed up PC

As you can see, the process is almost the same across all versions, with a few slight tweaks. Also, if using Windows 10, it’s set to auto defrag by default. That means you may not have to touch it at all.

A final reminder, if you are using an SSD, you do NOT want to defrag it.

Your HDD May Need To Be Replaced

If none of the above is working, it’s possible that your Hard Drive is just old and needs to be taken out back and, well you know.

While SSDs aren’t as prone to failure, an HDD is mechanical and has many parts moving around at all times, at fast speeds. Like the brakes on a car, you want to replace your HDD before it goes out.

You can check your HDD by doing the following:

  1. Click “Start”
  2. Open Search
  3. Type “Chkdsk.exe”
  4. Select and Run the “Check Disk” program

This tool will scan your hard drive for any bad sectors. These sectors can no longer be used to store data. If you notice that you have a fair amount of bad sectors, consider replacing your HDD pronto to speed up your PC.

If you decide to replace your HDD, do so with an SSD to see a significant boost in computer loading speed. You might pay a little extra for a Solid State Drive, but it’s worth it in my opinion.

That sounds great, but what if your computer is only slow when playing games?

Your Computer Is Slow When Playing Games

When games lag, right off the bat I think of overheating. The number one reason for a heat problem is poor air circulation and plenty of dust.

One way to troubleshoot the problem is to play your game in windowed mode. At the same time have your Task Manager open and the Performance tab selected. You can access this by pressing CTRL+SHIFT+ESC.

At the exact moment your game stutters, slows or freezes, look at the performance window to see which component is maxing out. You might also download a temp monitor like HWMonitor. If you are looking for something a little easier to use, CoreTemp will track the heat of your CPU and GPU in a similar fashion.

If you can rule out heat or a malfunctioning piece of hardware—update your drivers. On many occasions I have personally failed to keep my graphics card driver updated and most of the time, downloading and installing the latest driver fixed my in-game performance issues.

Scroll up to learn more about drivers. Scroll down to learn how to clear your PC of dust. Keep reading to see if a recent Windows update is putting the brakes on your computer.

Is Your Computer Suddenly Slow After A Windows Update?

Now and then Microsoft will install a security update, that for whatever reason, slows your PC. The good news is that undoing these updates is easy and can be done in 7 steps:

  1. Press the Windows Key + R
  2. In the box type “appwiz.cpl”
  3. Press Enter
  4. Select “View Installed Updates”
  5. Choose the most recent security update (a KB number is attached to it)
  6. Next Click “Uninstall”
  7. Restart your computer
view installed updates
Type this here to access Windows updates

Does your computer still move as slow as a depressed sloth? Do you still think a rogue update is to blame? Your Second option is to use Windows built-in update troubleshooter.

The steps to run Windows Update Troubleshooter:

  1. Press the Windows Key + X
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click Update and Security
  4. Choose Windows Update
  5. Click “Run Troubleshooter”
trouble shooting windows on a slow computer
Windows Troubleshooter

The Update troubleshooter will walk you thru the rest of the process. If there were any issues with a previous update, you would find out here.

But maybe you’ve done all of this, and your computer is still way too slow. Could dust build-up cause your PC to overheat and quit on you?

How Dust And Dirt Will Cause A Computer To Slow Down

Your computer could be running slow from overheating caused by dust build-up.

Even if filtered, dust will eventually settle inside your PC. If not removed, it cakes up around heat producing components and insulates them—trapping heat. A rise in temps will overheat your CPU, causing it to freeze, stutter or restart.

First, you need to remove the dust and stop it from slowing your computer down. No matter if it’s a laptop or a desktop, the tools are the same. You’re going to need electronic wipes or a lint-free cloth (coffee filters work great), compressed air and for the outside of your PC—yes, a shop vac is fine.

Despite tales of static discharge, if you don’t directly touch any components with your vacuum, things will be A-Ok.

How To Clean Your Laptop PC

Cleaning a laptop inside and out requires taking it apart, yet that is not easy for most people. The best way to clean any computer is to clean the components directly. Either way, you can do a decent job cleaning your laptop while leaving it in one piece. We mean it. Leave it whole.

HP 630 laptop disassembly, take apart, teardown tutorial
How to dismantle a laptop, since you are going to try it anyway.

Pro Tip: The above dismantle process also applies to MacBook Pro users.

First, anytime you go to clean your laptop, make sure you turn it off, unplug it and remove the battery. Secondly, use an electronic wipe or lint-free cloth to get dust and crumbs off the outside of your computer. Cleaning the outside keeps dust from blowing back in thru small openings.

Next, clean out any dust in the vents and exhaust port using compressed air. Point the straw on a flat angle at your laptop so that you blow dust away from your computer and not into it. You can also use a shop vac here to suck the dust out thru the exhaust and keyboard.

compressed air removes dust from a slow computer

Finally, use another electronic wipe on the outside of your computer if it got dirty from the previous step.

Here’s another great article I found to help you clean your MacBook or PC laptop by Chris Hoffman at How-To Geek.

If you are still having heat issues and can’t access the inside of your device, it’s best to contact the manufacturer and have it serviced. Hopefully, it’s still under warranty.

How To Clean Your Desktop PC

Before you begin, know that manufacturers void warranties when you open the case. So, enter at your own risk. If you built your PC, then you can do whatever the hell you want.

Cleaning a desktop PC is a little more extensive than cleaning a laptop. The positive side of this is that you can remove dust more thoroughly since you have direct access to the components.

To start, turn off your computer and unplug it. If you need to move your PC to a larger work area for better access, do it now.

Next, remove all panels from your PC case by undoing the screws or latches that attach them. With the panels removed, set them to the side in a safe location.

Note: We do NOT recommend using a shop-vac on the inside of your case. We still maintain that use on the outside of the case will not harm your computer.

You should wipe your case with electronic wipes or lint-free cloth and isopropyl alcohol (coffee filters work too). Then, clean all of the components where you can see dust. Use compressed air to blow the dust away from tight spaces, connectors, and fans.

dust.t this is why your computer is so slow

Make sure you thoroughly clean around the heatsink and CPU, as this is the biggest producer of heat in a computer. It may also help to reseat the heatsink and apply fresh thermal paste to the CPU.

Is your computer still slow after a thorough cleaning? Perhaps your PC is experiencing a case of dementia with low available memory?

Increase The RAM In Your Computer To Speed It Up

It’s time for a disclaimer! Adding more RAM to your slow computer will not always speed it up. If you already have plenty of RAM, adding more might make your wallet fly faster (because it’ll be thinner) but not your computer.

But, if you don’t have enough RAM, adding more will speed up your computer significantly!

It’s relatively easy to see if the amount of RAM you have in your computer is making it run slow. But, increasing that amount requires a little bit of technical know-how.

How Much RAM Do You Already Have?

For Windows 7, start by pressing Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open “Task Manager.” At the bottom of the window, it will show “Physical Memory” as a percentage (%)—take note of this number.

ram shortage causing computer to slow
Your available RAM can be viewed here.

On Windows 8, 8.1, and 10, press Ctrl+Shift+Esc to open “Task Manager.” Click the Performance tab at the top. If you don’t see any tabs, click “More details” in the bottom-left corner first. Next, on the left side, you will see “Memory” with a percentage (%) under it. Again, take note of the numbers here, as that is your available memory.

The percentage you see is the RAM currently being used by your computer. If it ever goes above 80% while you are using your computer, add more. A lack of RAM is slowing down your computer if this is true.

When above 80%, your computer starts using your HDD or SDD as RAM. Since these are very slow by comparison, this hinders your computer significantly.

Finding the Correct Type of RAM for Your Computer

Before you add more RAM, check the following:

  1. Whether your motherboard has open RAM slots
  2. What type of RAM your computer uses (ex: DDR3-1866)
  3. The amount it currently has (ex: 8GB)
  4. The maximum amount of RAM your computer can handle (ex: 16GB)

Remember, you can look under the “Performance” tab mentioned in the last section to see this info.

If you have open slots, you might prefer to add RAM to them either way. If you don’t have open slots, you’ll have to replace the RAM currently installed in your motherboard.

How To Install RAM Into Your Computer

So, you’ve got more RAM after deciding it would speed up your PC. But, sticking it in is a problem (It happens to the best of us).

Since taking a laptop apart might require an expert, we are going to cover desktops. If you still want to proceed with taking apart your laptop, flip it upside down and start undoing the screws on the bottom—if it has any.

Since it entails more than removing screws, we strongly suggest you have the manufacturer look at it.

For a desktop, take off the side panel. Then, locate the RAM in the motherboard. Yours will look similar to the picture below, though they may vary in color.

Ram sticks speeding up a slow computer
RAM stick location on a desktop

To remove previously installed RAM, press toward the motherboard on both ends of the stick. The tabs at the ends will detach, allowing removal of the RAM from its slot.

When installing your new RAM, align the stick above the empty slot and press down to insert it. If necessary, also push the slot tabs toward the RAM stick while working it down.

So, you have lots of memory, but your computer is still napping. What are the possibilities of an infection?

Is Your Computer Slow Because Of A Virus?

Though it’s rare in this day and age for your anti-virus software to miss an infection, it still happens from time to time. Here are the steps you need to take if you suspect malware.

First, make sure your anti-virus is installed or up to date. If you are unable to access the internet, you will need to load the software from a thumb drive.

Next, restart your computer in “Safe Mode.” To do this, reboot your computer and begin pressing the “F8” key. A screen with “Advanced Boot Options” will appear. Use the arrow keys to select “Safe Mode” and hit enter.

Once booted in, you should run “Disk Cleanup,” which can be accessed by simply typing “Disk Cleanup” in your search bar. After the cleanup process is complete, open your anti-virus software and select “Scan.”

If you don’t trust your anti-virus after it failed to catch the initial infection, you can always download or upload a secondary scanner and use it as well.

If the virus scan detects any unwanted or malicious programs, have it remove them. We recommend that you boot up in Safe Mode without internet access, as some malware can redownload itself if it gets deleted.

So, you’ve exterminated the bugs, but your computer is still not responding. If you’re ready to go ape s*** on your PC, you could do a factory reset.

Try A Factory Reset As A Last Ditch Effort

Before we dive into this drastic option, have you backed up your files? A factory reset will wipe out everything! If you have anything you hold near and dear to your heart, transfer it to a separate drive or external storage device now.

A factory reset will put your computer back to the very beginning before it became overloaded or corrupted. Doing it is super simple too!

To Factory Reset Any Version of Windows:

  1. Restart The Computer
  2. Repeatedly press the “F8” key
  3. Enter “Advanced Startup Options”
  4. Select “Troubleshoot”
  5. Choose “Reset This PC”
  6. Select “Remove Everything”
  7. Follow The Steps To Reinstall Windows

Remember, only once you are at your final straw should you perform a reset of Windows. Again, back up the files, you want to keep!

Could Your Internet Just Be Slow?

So, you are having issues with your internet speed and blamed your poor computer? It happens, and I am sure your PC will forgive you. I mean hopefully it does before AI advances, and then it might remember how you slighted it by calling it “slow.”

Let’s jump out of that rabbit hole and just speed up your internet instead.

Begin by restarting your modem and router. It’s a good idea to try this quick fix before getting on one of those dreaded phone calls with your cable company. The only other option you should try by yourself is disconnecting from your 5GHz connection and reconnecting to 2.4GHz, which is typically more stable.

If this didn’t fix the problem, just like your computer can overheat, so too can your wireless equipment. If your router and modem are provided to you by your ISP, have them replace it.

Sometimes, you can run into configuration errors, signal interference, or maybe you tried to change the settings yourself and royally screwed up your WiFi. Your ISP is still the best option to fix any technical issues you are experiencing.

To check your speed and compare it to your cable plan, try a speedtest. Here you can view your download and upload speed, as well as your latency. Once you work thru this, you’ll be back to streaming movies over the internet, and webpage load speed will pick back up rapidly.

Other Internet Related Issues That Can Slow You Down

Do you suspect that your computers built-in WiFi is failing? Find out how to replace it with a fast USB adapter.

Finally, how many chrome extensions do you have downloaded? It may be time to cut some or all of those loose. Plug-ins running in the background can chew thru your RAM quick.

Also, you don’t need twelve open tabs either, try closing some of them. You can always try switching web browsers too. For example, if you are still using Internet Explorer or Edge—why aren’t you on Chrome, Safari or Firefox yet?

Remember, the reason your computer downloads are slow is related to your internet connection, or web browser and usually not your PC itself.

Never Worry About A Slow PC Again

When you follow every step, your once slow computer will be able to do “0.5 past lightspeed,” and “make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs.” Okay, that is the Millenium Falcon, but you get my point.

If none of this worked and you purchased your computer in the 90s, then your final step is to buy or build a new PC. You need to get with the times, Grandpa!

Last, but not least, we want to hear from you. Contact us and tell us what worked to speed things up.