In this day and age, no one has time for a slow computer. Whether it’s for work, for gaming, for managing personal finances, or other parts of our lives, most people expect their computers to work fast. When a computer slows down, you want to know why, and how to fix it.
Why is my computer so slow all of a sudden?
A sudden slow-down in computer performance can be a sign of a malware infection. It could be a computer virus (yes, they still exist), a computer worm, spyware, a banking Trojan, or a whole host of other threat types. If you experience a dramatic decrease in speed, a good first step is to scan for viruses and malware, and remove any threats that show up on the scan.
Not all slow-downs are due to malware. Some can be due to an aging computer whose performance has slowed over time, and it has become more noticeable to you recently. If you’ve recently added a lot of programs that are all vying for your computer’s resources, this could also be a factor.
Computers are incredibly sophisticated, relying on hardware and software to run together like a well-oiled machine. Computers can slow for many reasons, viruses being one, but something like malfunctioning or corrupt hardware could be another. To diagnose speed problems, here are some steps that may help optimize your computer:
1. Restart the computer
Try rebooting your PC, especially if you haven’t done so in a while. Restarting your computer can clear errant processes in your computer’s RAM. Besides memory leaks, a restart may also remove some temporary bugs or some resource-hungry apps from the background.
2. Clear Startup
Is your computer running slow because of too many programs loading at Startup? If so, hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and click Task Manager on Windows 10. Here, you can control what programs boot with your machine under the Startup tab. But be sure to avoid removing programs critical to your operating system (OS).
3. Clear heavy programs
Again, hit CTRL+ALT+DEL and click Task Manager on Windows 10. Now arrange Apps and Background processes by CPU and Memory under Processes. Consider ending or uninstalling non-essential programs that are resource-hungry. For example, you may want to keep your favorite web browser even if it consumes a lot of memory if you use it frequently. But you may want to remove programs that you no longer use that consume precious processing power (such as ones that may have come pre-installed with your computer).
4. Clear Storage Drive
A full hard drive that also hosts your OS can cause your computer to slow down. Hit the Windows key + S to launch the search bar. Now, type "disk cleanup" and hit enter. While it’s a good idea to clean every drive, it’s critical to clean the drive carrying your OS, which is typically the C: drive. You could also consider moving some essential programs from C: drive to another partition if your C: holds your operating system and is out of space.
5. Update software
It’s always a good idea to update your computer for the security updates that may stop exploits. But updating your software and installing new drivers may also boost your PC’s performance. Hit the Windows key + S to launch the search bar. Type "check for updates" to reach the Windows Update screen.
6. Disable Visual Effects
While this measure may be drastic, it can enhance performance. Hit the Windows key + R to open the R command and hit enter after typing “sysdm.cpl”. Now, under Advanced, select Adjust for best performance to remove all special effects.
7. Delete malicious software
Malicious software, also known as malware, can slow your PC down by using resources, corrupting data and programs, creating conflicts, or trying to take over your system. To clean up malware from your system, use an advanced antivirus program like Malwarebytes Premium. It's good to have a light and no-frills security tool that runs seamlessly on various systems while eliminating the following resource-hogging malware:
- Computer viruses, worms, ransomware, and some Trojans can harm the files and folders that help your operating system run smoothly.
- Adware and some malicious toolbars and extensions can deteriorate your computer and your Internet connection’s speed.
- While spyware, stalkerware, and keyloggers may not always throw up symptoms, they can negatively impact your system’s performance.
- Cryptojacking is a newer threat that can secretly your processing power and your Internet to mine for cryptocurrency.
8. Remove bloatware
You probably know bloatware as the third-party software trial-version software that came on your laptop. To keep it brief, bloatware, also known as shovelware or crapware, can drain your computing power. Removing these programs that you don’t need can help free up resources.
Malfunctioning, inadequate, unclean, or outdated computer hardware can cause a computer to slow down or crash. Diagnosing the problem can be a painstaking process, but it can help you isolate the culprit for a cost-effective fix. Run tests on your RAM, HDD, SDD, and GPU to identify any problems that affect your computer’s performance.
Dust or any other contaminant can be a computer’s silent killer. For example, pet hair caught up in your CPU’s fan can overheat and degrade your machine. You can regularly and gently clean your computer with an air duster to unchoke its components. You may also consider investing in a surge protector and a uninterruptible power supply (UPS) if you live in a location with unreliable power to reduce the risk of hardware or software corruption that slows computers.
You may need to upgrade your hardware if it’s outdated or inadequate. Nowadays, you should have 8GB of RAM to perform everyday tasks seamlessly, though many computer users prefer to have at least 16GB. Additionally, you can try using an SSD instead of an HDD to boot your computer and start your apps faster.
You may also need to look at the requirements for the software you’re trying to run to see if your hardware matches up. For example, if you’re a gamer, you may need a more powerful video card to run your computer game. Alternatively, try lowering the settings to make it easier for your computer to run the program. Also, ensure that your power supply is sufficient to satisfy the demands of your video card. A weak power supply can slow your computer or even force a Blue Screen of Death (BSoD).
How do I make my Internet faster?
You may need to try a few more steps to speed up your Internet too. Start by downloading the latest version of your browser and use Malwarebytes Browser Guard for Chrome, Firefox, Edge, or Safari to browse up to 4x faster by stopping popups and malware that attacks browsers. Additionally, learn how to clear your cache for another potential shot in the arm for your Internet connection. Finally, restarting your router, moving it to a more central location, and changing the WiFi password to stop others from using your connection can also help.