How to Fix a Slow PC

Snail_by_munsils

  "My computer is so slow" lamented one of my co-workers just the other day.

One hears this often on their travels through Internet forums. I’m going to assume this ‘slowness’ is one that gradually developed over a period of time; not slowness in the sense of the PC being old and newer PCs are ‘faster’.

So, has your PC become slower over time? There are many and varied causes for slowness in a PC. Some remedies are simple and easy to perform, others are more drastic in nature.

 

Lets begin with  the easy ones first.

  • Reboot: have you rebooted recently? Some leave their PCs running all the time. A good shutdown and restart will clear Window’s memory and hopefully speed things up a wee bit.
  • Disk Cleanup: this is a built-in Windows tool that will scan your Windows drive (or any drive you tell it to) for temporary Internet files, log files, your Recycle Bin and other safe-to-delete items. You uncheck or check any items you are unsure about. Disk Cleanup will also tell what these files are for when you click on them. After running Disk Cleanup, do a reboot.
  • Add/Remove Programs: likely you have installed programs you no longer need, or forgot you had installed. Have look at the list of programs and see if there are some you can uninstall. This will free up disk space, and may even remove some items from your start-up list, since many programs install themselves so that a portion of them get on this list that Windows runs when you start your PC. Often this is done without you knowing about it.
  • Defragment: this often gets overlooked by many and it can speed up your disk access times, depending on the amount of defragmentation to begin with. Once you have cleaned out unneeded files and programs, run Windows Defragmenter to tidy up your drive and arrange the data on your hard drive in a more accessible fashion.
  • ‘Slow Internet’: does your Internet connection seem to have lost some of it’s ‘zip’? Then try rebooting your high speed modem and/or router. When not using the Internet, power-off your modem and/or router and wait about 10 seconds, then restart. Once the connection is re-established, you will most likely notice a speed improvement. If not, then it may be a problem on your service provider’s end of things and you should contact them. (First thing they will ask you to do is reboot your modem, I’ll bet!)
  • Corrine of Security Garden reminds us that viruses and malware can also slow down a PC, so be sure to incorporate full antivirus and antimalware scans as part of your routine.

More drastic measures

If none of the above work, or you notice only a little improvement; perhaps it is time for a fresh install of Windows, which most long-time users like myself have come to realize is the ultimate solution. In order to do this, you will need to do a fair bit of prep work:

  • gather all your installation discs, Windows (most importantly) and your registration serial keys. You will likely need drivers for your PC’s hardware, which may have come on a disk from your PC’s builder. Windows will recognize most, if not all of your hardware on installation, but it may miss a thing or two, particularly a display (video) driver or network card driver.
  • backup all your personal data, like documents, digital photos, emails, mp3s and so forth.
  • set aside a few hours to accomplish this task. Once Windows is installed, you will want to update it immediately with the latest service pack.  Allow one hour minimum to install and update Windows.

If all this sounds daunting – and it can be- if you have all the tools and all your data backed up, then you can feel somewhat confident in proceeding. Try and get a knowledgeable friend to help you if possible. It can be done and you will love your ‘fresh’ install of Windows!