Computer Running Very Slow – Troubleshooting Tips & Tricks

by Rod Dunne on August 11, 2010

in Articles, Performance

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When you find your computer running very slow it can be difficult to work out what PC repairs to attempt as there is no error or exception to highlight the root of the problem.

For this reason, it is worth using a checklist of slow PC causes and solutions in order to improve performance.

Slow PC – General Problems

  • Hard Drive Capacity: Open the properties for each hard drive/partition and check that it is less than 90% full. Over this point and Windows freezes due to a lack of virtual memory.
  • Data Fragmentation: Run a disk defragmenter tool every month on all partitions. Defragmented data benefits you with less disk access calls and less RAM usage by the operating system (OS). The Regtool registry cleaner has an advanced disk defragmenter which can quickly defragment even large disk partitions.
  • Close Applications: Close background tasks you don’t need. Check memory usage of applications via the Task Manager and remove/replace those that use too much RAM (or check for patch updates/upgrades for the program).
  • Specifications: You could find your computer running very slow if using modern application on older PCs (as the programs may have minimum specifications for RAM & CPU). If you find your computer running very slow with one particular application then this may be the problem. Check online for product versions that support your OS version, CPU speed and RAM.
  • Run Windows Update regularly (or schedule it to run automatically) in order to get the latest device drivers and OS code, which often includes performance fixes.
  • Check your registry file for faults/corruption. Registry keys hold program configuration for applications and system programs and can become faulty as applications are updated/removed or due to virus damage. One incorrect key setting can affect how a program runs and slow PC speeds. Use a registry cleaner (e.g. Registry Easy or XP Repair Pro) to automate the process.

Slow Internet/Browsing

I sometimes find my computer is running very slow on account of web connectivity issues. A hanging connection can have a knock on effect on the browser. In this case, it is worth switching connections (e.g. try using free Wifi) to test if the connection is to blame. A quick phone call to the internet service provider (ISP) can also be worth trying as they can normally check the line for faults.

There are some additional tasks for improving slow internet speeds:

  • Disable add-ons in the browser.
  • Scan for viruses, in particular trojan viruses (e.g. mass email programs) that may be using your broadband connection.
  • Use your firewall to block any of your programs you don’t wish to have accessing the web. Some applications will continuously be pinging remote servers.

Slow Startup

The key to improving slow startup times is to reduce the number of programs that initialize at startup. These can be disabled using the System Configuration Utility (Go to the Start menu, choose the Run program and enter msconfig). Our post on Windows XP slow startup performance covers more details for this OS version.

The programs startup tab lists off which programs it initializes. Disable the ones you are content to have switched off. Always research any unknown programs before disabling them, as they may be important (e.g. software update services).

Related Posts: Why does my computer keep freezing?

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