Why Is My Computer So Slow All Of A Sudden

by Rod Dunne on November 2, 2010

in Articles, Performance

Why Is My Computer So Slow All Of A Sudden
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If you find yourself wondering why is my computer so slow all of a sudden then this article will show you some regular computer repair and maintenance checks and techniques for resolving the most common causes of this issue.

Is the computer overheating?

If the CPU or hard drive begins to overheat then they will rapidly degrade in performance, even during simple operations, and components will components will ultimately fail. Check the BIOS menu for diagnostics information relating to fan speeds and CPU temperature. If these are above recommended guidelines then make sure all vents and air inlets to the PC are unblocked. For desktop PCs, open the casing and clear out all dust using a can of compressed air from the heat sink, fans and fan filters.

Our post on hard drive repair has more information about overheating disk issues and repairs.

Is there a virus on the PC?

You could find a file corrupted on your OS due to the presence of a bug on a computer (e.g. adware, malware, Trojan viruses, etc) which can lead to performance issues. Run a full scan of your hard drive and any USB memory drives that you use.

If the applications cannot repair damage to the Windows registry (a critical operating system file used for configuring of applications) then use a registry cleaner or PC repair tool to rectify the damage.

Is your hard drive running out of space?

The Windows operating system normally recommends 10% of disk space left free (or 200 MB) for use by the paging file as virtual memory. Virtual memory is used by all programs are processing commands. If this is being constrained as a result of the hard disk filling up then OS performance will drastically worsen.

Get rid of any old applications you no longer need and use the Disk Cleanup utility (accessories, system tools) to remove cookies, temporary files and cached data. If I find my computer is running slow after copying large bulky files to the drive (e.g. MP3 files) then this is the first item I check.

Is it time to defragment the hard disk?

Disk fragmentation occurs because files are stored as many small fragments located around the disk. This is great for memory management, but can result in your computer running slow once these fragments run into the thousands.

Use Windows own Disk Defragmenter utility or Regtool (a registry cleaner with advanced disk defragmentation features). If I find my computer is running very slow after removing a large quantity of files around the hard disk or after using utilities that generate a lot of small files (e.g. audio/visual productions software) then this is one of the primary things to check.

Are there too many applications running at once?

Computers are limited by how many applications they run based on the amount of RAM that you have installed. Open up the task manager utility on the processes tab and try to pick out background applications you can do without.

If I find my computer is very slow when running an individual application then I check its memory usage in task manager and see if it is exorbitant in comparison to other software programs. If it is, then make a decision to disable the program, uninstall it, check the maker’s website for updates and/or research if there are known performance issues/tweaks.

If you’re still trying to work out why is my computer so slow all of a sudden, even after running these checks, then it is quite possible that there is a hardware fault with the PC. Open up the Device Manager utility (control panel, system, hardware) and check that all internal hardware components and external peripherals are operating correctly.

This utility also provides its own troubleshooting wizard to guide you through some of the checks you can make and any faulty components.

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