If your computer is running slow and you’re looking to speed it up, in this guide, we’ve outlined a number of potential issues that could be slowing down your computer and have covered how to fix each one.
There are many reasons why your computer could be running slow. It could just be that your system is older and needs to be upgraded or replaced altogether. Or, it could be that your computer is infected with a virus or is loaded with malware. Or, maybe your storage is at its capacity and your system is running slower as a result.
Regardless of why your computer is running slow, a poor performing computer is frustrating and trying to figure out and solve the issue can be even worse. So, in this guide, we’ve outlined ten reasons why your computer might be running slow and how to fix each one.
1. Your Internet Connection is Slow
Most of the tasks/activities that people carry out on their computers these days are primarily online. Web browsing, online gaming, sending emails, watching/streaming videos, etc. If you have a slow internet connection, doing any of those activities listed above is going to feel a lot slower than if you had a fast internet connection.
And, many users blame their computers for what is really the fault of their slow internet connection.
To tell if your internet connection is the reason why it feels like your computer is running slow, go watch some videos on YouTube and browse the internet. After you do that, try running some programs (Word Processor, Excel, or any other software you have) that don’t rely on an internet connection or just browse around the files of your computer.
If your computer is notably slower when you are doing activities that require online access, but not slow when you are doing activities that don’t require the internet, then it is very possible that it’s your internet connection that is the problem.
*NOTE: If it’s clear that your computer runs slower only when doing activities on the internet—it could also be that you have malware on your system, too many browser tabs open, or too many extensions/add-ons installed on your browser. So, before you spend extra money on upgrading your internet connection, first make sure that the problem is not related to those two issues.
How to Fix It: You Probably Need A Faster Internet Connection
This one, of course, is a no-brainer. If a slow internet connection is the root of your problem, the only way to fix it is to upgrade your internet service.
Although, if you’re relying on a wireless connection, it could be that your internet connection is slow because you aren’t getting a good enough signal from the router. So, if you are using a wireless connection, before you go out and upgrade your internet connection, first try moving your computer around to see if it is simply the Wi-Fi connection that is giving you problems.
What Internet Speed Should You Get?
Most of the big cable providers don’t even offer internet packages that come with less than 25-50Mbps download speeds. But, if you’re using a smaller provider and you have a connection of less than 10Mbps, you’ll want to upgrade it.
In reality, a 10Mbps connection is probably fine for casual use in a small household. But, given that big companies like AT&T and Charter/Comcast offer 100Mbps plans at fairly affordable rates, I’d say shoot for a 100Mbps package—especially if you are really frustrated with your current connection speeds.
There’s nothing worse than having a slow internet connection and, likewise, there’s nothing more satisfying than upgrading from a slow connection to an incredibly fast connection. You may live to take the faster internet connection for granted—but it will never stop treating you well.
2. You Have Too Many Programs Running
One common problem that can result in a slow-running computer, is having too many programs running at the same time. You might not even know that you have a bunch of programs running—they could all be running in the background.
And, even if you have rebooted your computer, that doesn’t necessarily mean that those programs have stopped running. If they are enabled to run at startup, as soon as you reboot your computer, they will just pop right back up.
How to Fix It: Close Unused Program, Delete Programs You Don’t Use, & Disable Programs from Launching at Startup
Closing programs you’re not currently using, deleting programs you no longer use, and removing programs from launching at startup that you don’t actually need to launch at startup might help you speed up your computer. Here’s how to do each one:
Close Unused Programs
- Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete
- Choose Task Manager
- Sort through the list of Apps and Background processes that show up
- Find programs that are using up significant amounts of memory, but that you aren’t actually using
- Click on them and hit the ‘End task’ button
Delete Programs You Don’t Use Anymore
- Type ‘remove program’ into the Windows search bar and hit enter
- Go to ‘Sory by’ and choose ‘Size’ to sort by the biggest programs
- Highlight the program you no longer use and hit ‘Uninstall’
- Repeat for all programs you don’t use anymore
Disable Programs from Launching at Startup
- Press Ctrl+Alt+Delete
- Choose Task Manager
- Switch to the ‘Startup’ tab
- Click on any program that is ‘Enabled’ that you don’t need to launch at startup, and hit ‘Disable’
3. You Have Too Many Browser Tabs Open
Google’s Chrome browser is by far the most popular web browser. However, it is notorious for being a resource hog that can cripple your computer’s performance. The more tabs open you have in Chrome, the more memory it uses. Other web browsers can have the same effect (although, not usually as bad as Chrome).
How to Fix It: Close Unused Tabs!
To fix this problem, simply close all of the browser tabs you aren’t using.
4. Your Browser Has Too Many Extensions/Add-Ons
Just as having too many browser tabs open at the same time can slow your computer down, so, too, can having too many browser extensions/add-ons. Some browser extensions and add-ons can be helpful, while others are no better than malware or spyware. So, it is best to remove any browser extensions that you don’t absolutely need.
How to Fix It: Remove Any Unnecessary Browser Extensions/Add-ons
This process will vary depending on the browser you are using. But, here are some general steps that vaguely describe the process:
- Go into your browser’s settings
- Find the Extensions or Add-ons section
- Go through and delete any extensions or add-ons you don’t need
5. Your Computer Has A Virus or Malware
Another common reason why your computer might be running slower than it should be is that it has a virus on it or loads of malware/spyware. Viruses, malware, and spyware can hog system resources, which will result in a slow-performing computer.
How to Fix It: Install an Antivirus Program or Get Rid of the Problem Manually
If your computer is running slower than normal and you don’t already have an antivirus program installed, you’ll want to install one and scan your system to check and see if there are any viruses or malware that is causing your problem.
*NOTE: It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t have more than one antivirus program installed on your computer at the same time, as the two programs can conflict with each other and cause problems.
6. Your Laptop is Set to Run in Low Power Mode
For laptop users, it’s possible that your laptop is running slow because the ‘Power Saver’ mode may have been turned on and left there. The ‘Power Saver’ mode is designed to cut back on your PC’s performance wherever possible so that it can save as much battery as possible to prevent the system from dying due to lack of charge.
How to Fix It: Switch Back to Balanced or High Performance Mode
To check and see if your laptop is running in low power mode and to change it into balanced or high performance mode, follow these instructions:
- Type control panel into your Windows search bar and hit enter
- In the Control Panel, select ‘Hardware and Sound’
- In the Hardware and Sound menu, select ‘Power Options’
- In power options, make sure either ‘Balanced’ or ‘High performance’ are selected
7. Your Laptop is Overheating
Another reason why laptop users might be seeing sudden performance loss in their system is due to overheating. If your laptop hasn’t been cleaned in awhile and it’s not getting enough airflow, the components inside of your system will start to get hotter. For a component like your processor, at a certain temperature, it will start to throttle—which means that it will start operating more slowly—and that will result in performance loss.
How to Fix It: Keep Your Laptop Running Cool
There are a few ways that you can lower your CPU temps and keep your laptop from overheating. They are:
- Only use your laptop on hard solid surfaces so air can travel under it
- Clean out your laptop’s vents
- Get a laptop cooler
- Avoid using it while plugged in when possible
*NOTE: Some gaming laptops don’t run at full power when not plugged in. So, unfortunately, if you have a gaming laptop that needs to be plugged in in order to run at full performance, running it while not plugged in isn’t a great option.
8. You Don’t Have Enough Memory
Not having enough memory can cause your computer to slow down to unbearable levels. Your computer uses RAM (random access memory) to store important files and data for the programs that your computer is currently running. Your CPU can access RAM to grab that info and data very quickly. However, if you don’t have enough RAM for the kind of tasks and programs you’re trying to run on your computer, your CPU will have to pull that data directly from your hard drive, which takes a lot longer to do than pulling it from your RAM. This results in a significant loss in performance.
How to Fix It: Add More Memory
Adding more memory to your computer is a pretty straightforward process that won’t cost you a significant amount of money.
Before you purchase more RAM for your computer, though, it’s important that you note that not all RAM will be compatible with your computer. Check out this video for a guide on how to upgrade your RAM correctly:
9. Your Computer is Too Old/Not Powerful Enough
Unfortunately, the most common reason why your computer is running slowly is also the reason you probably don’t want to hear: your computer sucks. Or, at least, it sucks for what you are trying to do with it.
If you bought your computer in 2012 for $300 just to send emails and use Microsoft Word, it might actually still serve you well. But, if you’re now trying to play games on it or edit videos, and you’re wondering why it’s not running well anymore, it’s because it’s not cut out for the task at hand.
Ultimately, there’s no right way to tell whether or not you need an upgrade. But, if your computer is older and it has become a struggle to use it to do the tasks you need and want to do on a daily basis, then you need to upgrade it.
How to Fix It: Buy A New Laptop or Computer
This is probably the solution that most people who end up on this page will need to do. But, they will put it off for as long as possible. And, that’s understandable. Buying a new computer or laptop is an expensive investment. My suggestion is that you save up your money so you can buy a higher-end model. By spending more now, your system will stay relevent for a lot longer.
If you’re looking to get a new desktop, I’d also suggest that you consider building your own computer. In doing so, you can save money on the high markup costs that pre-built computer companies charge and get more performance for your money.