How To Fix Slow Computer Problems – Windows 7

by Rod Dunne on July 31, 2010

in Articles, Laptop, Performance, Registry Cleaners Articles, Tips and Tools

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Windows 7 pulled together a number of tools and diagnostics to help fix slow computer issues. Here, we’ll look at some of these tools and suggest some ways of making the best use from them.

Windows XP/Vista/2000 Users: The Windows 7 tools listed in this post are found in different locations in earlier operating systems (OS). Our guide on how to fix a slow computer covers a generic approach that applies to any OS and our posts on troubleshooting Windows XP slow startup speed and how to speed up Windows XP focus on XP-specific solutions.

Establish Your Computers Base Score

Before starting into improving a slow PC, or trying to speed up Windows, it is worthwhile establishing some metrics/measurements so that you can do a before & after comparison. Windows 7 introduced the Windows Experience Index as one way to measure the capability of your computer’s software, OS and hardware.

This provides a base score for your systems capability – a lower base score means your PC is less likely to be capable of running complex applications/algorithms. To fix slow running computer problems this score acts as a good benchmark for establishing if the changes you make have improved your slow PC or slow laptop.

You can find the base score for your computer in the Control panel (under Performance Information and Tools). Click ‘Rate this computer’ if the score is not shown and re-run the assessment after changes or any error fix to gauge the levels of improvement.

Using Performance Tasks

The main tool to help fix slow computer issues is the task section of Performance Information & Tools. Of the tasks shown, the main improvements to make are as follows:

  • Disk cleanup is an important tool if your computer is slow due to an increasingly full disk drive. Windows requires over 10% to be kept free for use by the OS. I find my computer keeps freezing once this goes below 5%. More free disk space means more virtual memory for Windows to use. This can also fix error messages that refer to insufficient disk space. Our article on computer clean up options details simple ways to free up disk space.
  • Reduce the number of visual effects. This can be especially useful if your laptop computer is slow and strains to display video content correctly.
  • If Windows Search is running slow then modify the indexing options so that it does not take priority over other applications. This does not however speed up other areas of computer performance outside of the search. You could fix slow PC performance even further by disabling the search functionality completely if you do not use it often.
  • The disk defragmenter (under advanced tools) should be run monthly to improve disk access times. Fixing computers with performance issues should be seen as an ongoing task that regular defragmentation and disk clean up can help maintain fast PC speeds.

Using Additional Memory

The standard idea is to upgrade the amount of RAM installed on your PC. However, a great many people use external USB flash drives these days but few realize that they can fix slow running computer problems by dedicating a section of the flash memory for the OS. In terms of slow computer solutions, adding RAM does not resolve the root performance problem, but does provide the most immediate and noticeable gains.

The one proviso is that the drive has to be ReadyBoost compatible. You can check the drive’s documentation to establish this or simply check the Properties dialog box for the drive (compatible drives display an additional ReadyBoost tab for configuring memory allocation).

Adding RAM will improve slow startup times and overall computer performance for the OS and all applications.

Note also that making extensive read/write commands to flash devices will shorten  their working life considerably. Flash memory switches eventually wear out making flash card data recovery impossible (as it is a mechanical failing) for any files/data clusters using the affected memory.

Troubleshooting

The Trouble-Shooter tool is actually quite handy for users and can easily step novice users through how to fix a slow computer.

The two main areas that fix slow computer issues are (i) the Check For Performance Issues tool and (ii) the Run Maintenance Tasks tool. These are both found in the Control Panel > Troubleshooting > System and Security.

This should pick up the majority of regular performance problems (disk space, RAM, some configuration settings) but may not pick up that your computer is slow due to virus damage or registry problems. 

If you find your computer freezes randomly while on the internet then make sure to check your web connection is working well (good upload/download speeds) and, if necessary check with the broadband provider that there are no problems with the line. Check our article on how to increase internet speed for additional tips.

Related Posts:
Our post on improving slow boot performance has extra tips for speeding up start times.
Free laptop computer programs: Hoaxes or the real deal?
Windows XP speed up tips.
Why is my computer so slow all of a sudden? Solutions to rapidly worsening performance issues.
My computer keeps restarting itself – causes and solutions.

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