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How to fix a slow computer?

One of the most common reasons for a slow computer are programs running in the background.

Below are steps for Microsoft Windows users that can help speed up the computer or at least determine why the computer is running slow.

This page only covers an overall slow computer and not a computer that has a slow boot up or slow Internet.

1. Reboot

If your computer has not been rebooted recently, make sure to reboot it before following any of the steps below.

3. 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.

2. Background Programs

One of the most common reasons for a slow computer are 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 Resource Monitor 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 is not scanning your computer in the background. If a scan is in progress, it will decrease the overall performance of your computer. If this is the case, allow the scan to complete, and the computer’s performance should improve.

4. Free Hard Drive Space

Verify that there is at least 200MB-1GB 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.

6. 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 free 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.

5. 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.

7. 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 Malware-bytes to scan your computer for malware.

8. Hardware conflicts

Verify that the Device Manager has no conflicts. If any exist, resolve these issues as they could be the cause of your problem.

10. 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.

9. 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.

11. Reboot the computer again

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

12. Memory upgrade

If you have had your computer for more than two years, you may need more memory.

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.

14. Computer or processor is overheating

Make sure your computer and processor is not overheating. Excessive heat can cause a decrease in the 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.

13. 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.

15. 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 on your computer and reinstalling the operating system can increase performance by getting rid of old software or drivers. 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.

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