Why Is My Computer Running Slow?

We’ve all experienced it.  It wastes our time. Frustrates. Causes anxiety and then temps us to go buy a new one: A slow or freezing computer!

RAM

Of course computers never run as fast as when you first bought it, and you understand this.  So you load your new toy with massive programs, new browsers, music, videos, pictures and then, if you’ve not cluttered things up enough, browse the internet and pickup malware, viruses and other un-needed programs!! Great!

 

Here are 8 reasons why your computer might be as  slow as a brick:

1. Programs Utilizing Memory (including programs in the background)

Running programs use memory.  The more robust of a program, the more memory.  This is normal.  But you can’t run every program.  So you may have to decide to either shut down a program or two to free up some memory.

Background programs, however, are usually the programs taking up much-needed memory.  These are programs that are loaded when Windows boots, ready to be used at moments-notice.  But you really don’t need them all readily available.  See all running programs from your Task Manager (click Control-Alt and then Delete to run it).  You’ll see quickly what is using memory.

Task Manager View Windows 10

Task Manager View for Windows 10

Task Manager View Windows 7

Task Manager View for Windows 7

I’d like some help with my computer…

To keep programs from loading automatically (I’m pointing at you Skype), you can either remove them from the “Startup” folder on your computer, or go into your computer configurations (MSCONFIG) and disable it.

To change items in the start-up folder:

Mac: Applications / Systems Preferences / User Groups / Login Items, then uncheck unneeded programs. Delete desktop icons you don’t use by trashing them or, in the case of files you’ve saved to your desktop for convenience, reorganizing to the appropriate folder.

Windows 8 and 10: Windows key + X / Task Manager / Startup tab, then right-click on the programs you want to remove and select Disable.

Windows 7 and older: Start button, then search for System Configuration. Go to Startup tab, then uncheck each of the programs if you don’t want starting when the system boots up.

To use MSCONFIG on a PC, type “msconfig” (without parentheses) in your Win 7, 8 or 10 search bar.  Right-click on the program and choose “Run as Administrator.”  Select “Yes” to allow the program to make changes to your system.  Then click the “Start-up” tab.  You can deselect any programs checked that you want to stop from auto-loading.  Be careful to only uncheck ones that you recognize.  Click “Ok” and then allow the computer to reboot if needed.

When you run out of memory using only one or two programs, it may be time to add memory (RAM) to your computer (but not so fast!).  This is an easy process, but becomes expensive on laptops and newer systems.  You can easily spend $100 on memory, so make sure you don’t have another issue going described below.  To see how much memory you have, type “My Computer” in the search bar and Right-click on the folder (My PC for Win 10).  Choose Properties.  This will display how much RAM you have installed.  It’s recommended to have a minimum of 8GB using today’s technology.

 

2. An Overactive Virus Scanner

Virus under microscopeSome virus scanners take up a lot of memory.  If you have one, you’ll know it because if you pause a scan, everything speeds up.  You’ll also see in the Task Manager how much memory it’s using when running.  It might be time to consider another (lighter-weight) virus scan program.

 

3. A Full Hard Drive

It’s recommended by many in the computer world that you keep 10% of your hard drive free.  Some people claim this number to be as much as  25%, but I’d shoot for 10% or more.  Type “My Computer” in the search bar and click on the folder (My PC for Win 10).  Look for the C: Drive and it will show how much space is being used, as well as the amount of free space.

 

4. Malware or Virus

Yup, these use up memory.  Some even are created to lock your computer up.  Usually we see PCs that have several instances of malware that are slowing things down.  The best thing to do is run your virus scan and then another malware scanner, such as Malwarebytes or AdwCleaner.  This usually is all that’s needed.  For more specific viruses (or Trojans), there are Trojan removal tools.  Search Google for the issue you are having and you may find lots of discussion about it.  Be sure to only download a removal tool from a known source, otherwise you may just be downloading yet another virus!

 

5. Rogue Programs

These are the ones that get downloaded without you knowing with a “free” program you have downloaded.  Free games are notorious for including other programs without your clear knowledge.  You can delete these by heading over to “Installing/Uninstalling Programs.”  From there, click the top of the column under Date Installed.  Then look for the date that you noticed the slow-down and remove programs that either have no author or installed the same day a game was installed.  Be careful in this window, though, since some strangely-named programs are running by Microsoft to run Windows.

 

6. Failing Hard Drive

Sometime reported as what sounds like pebbles in your hard drive!  A noisy drive is a failing drive.  Back things up quickly and don’t keep your computer on unless you need to, until you’ve replaced it.  Drives range from $50 to $300 or more, depending on the capacity and whether it’s a rotating or newer Solid State drive (similar to Flash Memory, like your smartphone uses).

 

7. Bad Memory Module (RAM)

This is fairly uncommon, since a bad module usually won’t let you start your computer to begin with.  There is built-in and third-party software to check your memory.  Search for “memory test” for this option.

 

8. Failing Processor (CPU)

The worst case scenario is a failing processor or CPU (Central Processing Unit).  This is connected to the motherboard to run your machine.  There are very few ways to test for this, so stick to the above suggestions.  As last resort, you can put in a used (or new) CPU into your machine and see if it improves the speed.  Unfortunately, the price of a new processor may be closer to the price of getting a new machine.

 

Bonus

Special Web Browser Note: If you are having issues with just your web browser, you may have too many extensions installed.  All your other programs work fine—but when you open up your Google Chrome or Firefox, things slow to a crawl.  This isolated issue usually has to do with too many add-ons or plug-ins running in your browser.  But it also can also mean you have malware or a virus.  Try disabling all of your add-ons and restart your browser.

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Mark is an entrepreneur from Greensboro, NC. He began working with WordPress in 2002 and has since been fine-tuning his webpage experience with the designing of e-commerce websites and blogs for businesses. He's a 1998 graduate of Elon College with a BA in Corporate Communications. Mark's a proud father to a 5-year-old daughter and husband to a precious wife.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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