Why is my PC so slow?

 

You turn on your PC, log in, then click on the browser icon to quickly get to work, but it is taking time. You then remember the good old days when your PC was lightning fast and it makes you wonder; what happened?


If this hasn’t happened to you yet it will at some point, especially considering how common of a problem this is.

palm on face

 

Table of contents

Why is your PC slow?

Is it time to upgrade?

Startup Issues

OS problems

Hard drive issues

Virus and Malware

Browser

Bottom line

What’s Next?

    Why is your PC slow?


    For your PC to provide the best possible performance all of its different parts, from the software to the smallest hardware have to work perfectly and in conjunction, only then the PC will perform at its best.


    If your PC is slowing down there is probably a problem in some part of your PC. In most cases, it is due to poor file management and heavy software eating up processing power but if your computer is a bit older it may need new components.


    Is it time to upgrade?


    Your first step should be to identify the issue, this will save time and effort as more often than not, a software issue is slowing down a PC and the owner ends up replacing a component like the RAM.


    A good place to start is the performance tab in your task manager that can be accessed by pressing CTRL+ALT+Delete.

    task manager screenshot

    Once you have the performance tab in front of you, Open whatever program your PC seems to struggle with and observe the different windows in the tab. If the total usage of your CPU exceeds 80%, it may be time to replace your CPU or if the usage in memory exceeds 80% then your RAM needs an upgrade.


    You should also analyze what programs are running in the background as a program running in the background without your knowledge could degrade the overall performance without you knowing. This is common, especially in laptops and budget computers.


    Startup Issues


    If everything seems fine, then have a look at the startup tab in the task managers, this will give you a list of programs that automatically start when you turn your PC on, along with their effect on your startup. You can disable programs that you do not need immediately after starting up your PC, this can have a considerable impact on your computer's startup times.

    task manager

    Programs especially anti-viruses and skype are known to cause slowdowns upon startup, make sure you disable them.


    Another common reason behind your computer's degraded performance can be the immense number of unnecessary software that is bound to accumulate on your hard drive. Often the software is downloaded for one-time use and then left on the hard drive. 


    In addition to that many computers come with preloaded programs that mostly are of little use to the majority of the users. Uninstalling all of these software can be beneficial as your computer will have more space to work with.


    Another major reason for an overall slowdown can be that your “C” drive, or whatever drive your operating system is housed in, is full. This can have major performance degradation issues, make sure you have at least 2 to 5GBs of free space on your "C" drive.


    OS problems


    The operating system of a computer is very intricate and there are many variables that can change over time that can lead to the OS slowing your PC down, because there is something hindering its smooth execution of commands.


    That is why small changes to the OS can boost performance considerably and speed up a slow PC.


    At many instances clearing the temporary files also may fix the problem, here is how to delete Temporary files in Windows:



    Go to the Search bar or Run Command(Windows +R) and type %temp%. all the temporary files will be shown, delete them all.


    Disabling automatic updates has also improved performance for some users as the system stops looking for updates in the background.


     To disable updates, search 'disable windows update' in the start menu. If nothing shows up, try the following steps:


    1. Type gpedit.mscin the search bar or Run Command.
    2. Then, Computer Configuration → Administrative Templates → All Settings → Configure automatic Updates → Disable(Left part) → Apply.

    Another thing worth considering is drivers; make sure all of your drivers are up to date and working as they should be.


    One-Drive

    Another thing tied to the OS is Microsoft’s cloud-based OneDrive file storage, built into Windows 10, keeps all your files synced and up to date on all of your PCs. It serves as a great back up in case your hard drive dies or you somehow lose data, it does this by constantly uploading your data to the cloud but that can also slow your PC down.

    That's why one way to speed up your PC is to stop the syncing. Before you turn it off permanently, though, you’ll want to check whether it is actually slowing down your PC or not.

    To do so, right-click the OneDrive icon (it looks like a cloud) in the notification area on the right side of the taskbar, then click the More button at the bottom of the screen.

    microsoft outlook settings

    From the popup screen that appears, click “Pause syncing” and select either 2 hours, 8 hours or 24 hours, depending upon how long you want it paused. During that time, gauge whether you're seeing a noticeable speed boost.

    If so, and you decide you do indeed want to turn off syncing, right-click the OneDrive icon, and from the popup, select Settings > Account. Click “Unlink this PC,” and then from the screen that appears, click “Unlink account.” When you do that, you’ll still be able to save your files to your local OneDrive folder, but it won’t sync with the cloud.

    If you still want to enjoy the benefits of one drive but don’t want to compromise on performance, then there’s a way to do just that:

    Right-click the OneDrive icon on the right side of the Taskbar and select Settings, then click the Settings tab on the dialog box that appears. Check the box next to Files On-Demand. Now click the OneDrive icon and select Open Folder. OneDrive appears in a File Explorer window. Right-click a folder whose files you want to be stored only on the cloud, but not on your PC, then select “Free up space.” Files from that folder will be deleted from your computer but saved on the cloud this will save you a lot of precious space.



    For every folder whose files you want to be kept on your PC, right-click the folder and select “Always Keep on this Device.” You can change the options on any folder at any time by right-clicking it and choosing what you want to be done


    Windows automatic maintenance

    Every day, behind the scenes, Windows 10 performs maintenance on your PC. It does things like security scanning and performing system diagnostics to make sure everything is working perfectly, it troubleshoots problems automatically if any are detected. 


    This makes sure your PC runs at peak performance. By default, this automatic maintenance runs every day at 2:00 a.m., as long as your device is plugged into a power source and is asleep.

    windows automatic updates

    There’s an off chance, though, that the feature has been somehow turned off or you haven’t had your PC plugged in for a while, so the maintenance hasn’t been done. You can make sure it’s turned on and runs every day, and run it manually if that’s what you prefer.


    Run the Control Panel app and select System and Security > Security and Maintenance. In the Maintenance section, under Automatic Maintenance, click “Start maintenance” if you want it to run now. 


    To make sure that it runs every day, click “Change maintenance settings,” and from the screen that appears, select the time you’d like maintenance to run, and check the box next to “Allow scheduled maintenance to wake up my computer at the scheduled time.” Then click OK.


    Game mode

    If you’re a serious gamer, you probably know all about Game Mode, which optimizes your PC for playing games. It comes in handy when you’re gaming , but it can slow down your system when you’re not playing because it multitasks with lots of processes running in the background. So turning off Game Mode can give your PC a quick boost. (You can always turn it back on again when you want to play a game.)

    windows game mode 

    Game Mode is turned on by default, so even if you’ve never played a game on your PC, it’s probably enabled. To turn it off, go to Settings > Gaming > Game Mode and move the Game Mode slider to Off. After you do that, click the Xbox Game Bar category on the left hand side of the screen, and on the screen you come to, turn the slider at the top of the screen to “Off”.


    Hard drive issues


    In many instances, your hard drives become cluttered with temporary files and caches. It's hard to manually clean your hard drive so it's better to use an application like C-cleaner which helps delete these temporary files automatically.


    If you are still using a HDD it's still better to upgrade to an SSD at least for the drive your OS will be on, since SSDs are faster, this will decrease your computer’s overall startup time and programs that are stored on the SSD will also run faster.


    As you use your hard disk it starts becoming fragmented, this can slow down your PC. When a disk gets fragmented it means that it is saving data in an unorganized and haphazard way which makes it harder for your computer to look for data and load it when needed.


    Thankfully windows OS has a built-in defragmentation tool.

    defrag

    To run the tool, type defrag into the search box and press Enter. From the screen that appears, select the drive you want to defragment. Click the Optimize button to defragment it. Select multiple disks by holding down the Ctrl key and clicking each you want to defragment.

    If you want to have your disk or disks defragmented automatically, click the Change settings button, then check the box next to “Run on a schedule.” Now select the frequency at which you want the disk(s) defragmented by clicking the drop-down next to Frequency and selecting Daily, Weekly or Monthly. (Weekly will be your best bet.) From this screen, you can also choose multiple drives to defragment.


    Disclaimer: If you have an SSD, defragging won't offer any noticeable performance improvement, and it could cause wear on the disk. It's only beneficial to defrag Hard Drives.


    Virus and Malware

    Malware and Viruses can also considerably slow down your computer as they eat up processing power from your computer. Degradation in performance can be a giveaway of your PC being infected by a virus.

    You should always use an effective antivirus and keep your windows defender on at all times. 

    Unfortunately, some threats can bypass windows defenders that is why it is always better to invest in a well-optimized antivirus to keep your PC safe.

    Spywares have the most effect on your computers and are hard to get rid of. Prevention is always better than the cure, that’s why you should never use pirated programs or download software from shady websites. They are free for a reason, to get spyware into your system.


    Another big factor that is often lesser known is involved in eating up your computer’s resources without your knowledge is bloatware. 


    Bloatware or adware as it’s often called is used to send anonymous data from your computer to advertisers and it may even have been installed into your computer by the manufacturer. They eat up a great chunk of your CPUs resources and can degrade the performance of your computer easily.

    Windows Defender or any other effective security suite software can be used to root these out during a system-wide scan.


    Browser

    If you're facing lag while browsing the internet, your browser may be the issue. Usually a quick cache clean would solve the issue but sometimes you may have to re-download the browser.

    Some browsers, especially browsers like Google Chrome, are quite resource-heavy and take up quite some space on your RAM as they treat each tab as a separate task on the RAM, that is why you should frequently close tabs that aren’t in use, having numerous tabs open will just slow things down.


    Bottom line

    Your computer can easily return to its former glory if you follow the right steps, but remember before you consider anything else, use the oldest trick in the book: restart your computer. It may sound like typical advice but in most cases, a simple restart is what’s needed by the computer to reset itself and clear its RAM.

    Best of luck on your PC fixing journey!

    If you have any questions feel free to contact me, you can use the comments section below or a contact form.

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