Technology Advice by Ryan Taylor Adams

Fixing a Slow Computer

April 23rd, 2008 · No Comments · Printer Friendly Version


While I make an effort to update older posts to keep them relevant and technically accurate, the rapidly changing nature of the tech world makes it possible that the content of this post may no longer be relevant, current, or even accurate. Additionally, because of this post's age, adding new comments has been disabled. If you would like to contribute new information to this post, or have questions pertaining to this post, please use the Contact Form.

If your computer is slower than the day you bought it, there is a problem. Unlike mechanical devices, a computer’s performance doesn’t degrade from wearing out. Any change in performance is due to software (the operating system, programs you have installed, etc.). The good news is, troubleshooting and fixing a slow computer is easy and won’t cost you a dime.

The #1 reason for computer slow down is the presence of malware or viruses. Malware is software which is installed on your computer, often without your knowledge, designed to display advertisements or otherwise generate revenue. When you notice your computer slowing down or performing oddly, the first thing you should do is run a virus scan and a malware scan. If you don’t have an anti-virus program installed, check out the free version of AVG. To check for malware, use Ad-Aware.

Once you have checked for and removed any viruses and malware, check for unnecessary background programs. Background programs are those which run automatically when your computer starts up. Some will display an icon in the System Tray (the area just to the left the clock in your Task-bar), while others offer no indication they are running. The free program Startup Control Panel will allow you to view and selectively disable programs the run on start-up. Be careful when disabling¬†background programs as some are necessary. If you are unsure of which ones to disable with Startup Control Panel, post a message over at http://computing.net. In Windows XP and Vista, you will also want to check for unnecessary background services. In your control panel is a folder called “Administrative Tools.” In this folder you will see a shortcut for “Services.” Clicking on that will allow you to view and edit the start-up of Windows services. The same warning applies here, if you don’t know what services to disable, ask for help.

Last, but not least, you should clean up temporary files and defragment your disk. In your Start menu, you will find a folder called “Accessories,” and inside of that is a folder names “System Tools.”¬† Inside, you will find the “Disk Cleanup” tool. Run this program, select all the check-boxes when prompted, then run the tool to remove unneeded files. You should run Disk Cleanup before defragmenting. To defragment your computer, return to the “System Tools” folder, and click on “Disk Defragmenter.” From inside this program, you will be able to defragment your drives which arranges the data stored on your computer to allow for faster access.