We’ve all been there: you need to hand in work within the next hour, but your computer is slow that you start to wonder whether the history of technology museum will accept it as a donation.
It doesn’t help that even a simple reboot will take another ten minutes at least. The browser crashes, your word editing software freezes the entire system. You can’t even get task manager to surface from beneath the sluggishness.
So, what are the most common reasons for such awful performance? What can you do to make sure this doesn’t happen again? Your deadline might be lost this time, but you can prepare for the next by checking the following five things on your PC.
Why Is My Computer So Slow? Things to Check
1. What Are Your Programs Doing?
By accessing Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del), you can take a look at the processes tab. Order the list of active software and packages by how much of the CPU, Memory, and Disk they are using.
Clickhrough to sort by each. If any programs are using a large amount of available resources, then chances are that they are contributing heavily to the slow working of your computer.
Shut them down wither directly or by left-clicking on them in the task manager and selecting End Task.
Another common problem with software is at computer startup. When you have many programs set to automatically open whenever you boot your computer, they will clamor for memory and CPU space all at once. This really increases the switch-on time.
It can drive the user nuts when all these programs come up with login pop-ups at the same time. Take note of which programs turn on by themselves when you turn on your computer. Go into their settings and change them so that this is no longer allowed. You can do this from the Task Manager’s Start-up tab as well.
After you have checked the above, check to see whether you have any hidden programs running in your system tray (the upwards arrow on the right side of the tray). Close these down also. Set them so they do not automatically boot with your computer.
2. Check Your System Settings
Changing the settings that you use your computer with can be a big help as well. Often, the manufacturer’s settings for your system prize fashion over function. By going into the advanced system settings, adjust the animations to play only the ones that you feel are necessary. This will speed up your PC substantially.
You should have some sort of anti-malware service or antivirus protection on your computer. Newer machines especially come with these pre-installed. Run a scan every now and again to check for anything that could be on your computer that could be slowing it down.
3. Is Your Browser Optimised?
Browsers can really eat into your CPU and memory if you let them. If you have a lot of extensions or an animated browser theme, then you could be contributing to your own downfall. Take a look at your extensions and delete or uninstall any that are not absolutely necessary.
Make sure that you are using the most up to date version of your browser, and that you are not using one that is famed to be extremely slow. I recommend using Mozilla Firefox because it is one of the most lightweight browsers, but Chrome is also a good option. Just don’t weigh it down with millions of additions.
Set your browser not to allow the use of flash if you do not authorize it. It can be really annoying as well as an inconvenience when you are aiming for peak performance from your PC.
4. Hard Drive
You should keep some free space on your hard drive. The more you cram onto it the slower your machine will be. It might be worth it to invest in either cloud storage or an external hard drive to keep all your non-essential files.
Continuing this line of thinking, it is going to be well worth it to take the time to look through all of your installed programs. Weed out the ones that you do not use, or the ones that can be replaced with a browser-based alternative. All your programs have a home on your hard drive, and thus they contribute to slowing down your computer.
If you have an older operating system, then it is necessary to defragment it every few months as well. A fragmented disk can slow down your computer. It will frantically try to sift through junk on the disk, looking for the relevant snippets that it needs. This causes it to use resources more intensively, and for longer. To defragment your hard drive, simply type defragmentation into the search bar of your computer and follow the instructions from there. Note that this is not a necessary procedure for a solid-state disk (SSD), although Windows likes to optimise them anyway.
5. Check For Updates (Software and Hardware)
Companies release updates quite often. It is generally a good idea to set up automatic updates for your browser, antivirus, antimalware, drivers and for your operating system as well. Old drivers and browsers, in particular, can really hinder your PC’s performance. You can check for updates for your antivirus and malware by going into their settings. There will be an option to scan for updates – and a setting to automate this. Drivers can be a little more tricky, but with Windows 7 and above, you can set the computer to install them automatically.
Lastly, when nothing else has gone to plan, you can check for hardware updates. A lot of the time, modern programs are just too much for old hardware to handle. Check your computer’s specs in your settings. If you have 4 gigabytes of RAM (memory) or less, then it is a good idea to look into upping that number. In addition, if your processor is running at 2.00 GHz or below, then consider upgrading that as well.
Conclusion – If Nothing Else Works..
If you have tried all the things on this list to no avail, then it is time to get your operating system reset to factory settings. Just make sure that you save all of your data and files, as these will be erased in the process.
Another thing to understand is that there comes a time when old hardware will just not hack it anymore. No matter how many upgrades you add or how you fine-tune the settings, tech grows old quickly. When this happens, it is best to just buy a new computer.