Why is My Computer Running So Slow?

It’s frustrating when a piece of technology doesn’t work properly. Sometimes it’s downright insulting.

But it’s not technology’s fault that humans have a hard time using it, much less understand it.

Technology surrounds us, our smartphones, tablets, laptops, TV’s and more encapsulate our everyday lives.

Which is why it’s important that we understand the intricacies of the devices we use every day to make our lives easier and better.

A slow running computer doesn’t need to be a frustrating experience anymore. Instead, learn more about the reasons your computer might be running slow, how you can fix this problem, and how you can prevent a computer slow-down in the future.

There are many reasons why computers run slowly sometimes. Some reasons are more complex than others, but most are problems that have easy solutions.

Continue reading about the most common reasons computers begin running slowly, how you can solve those problems and perhaps prevent them from happening in the future.

Reboot Always Helps

Sometimes the problem isn’t as complicated as we think. If your laptop or computer hasn’t been restarted in a while, it may need a reboot.

Restarting might allow software updates to take place that might help speed up your computer.

In IT terms, there are two types of reboots, cold reboot and warm reboot. Cold reboot refers to the process of rebooting your computer system by pushing the Power button until the computer completely turns off. Warm reboot, however is usually initiated manually from the Taskbar.

Restarting your system is important because programs can stop working for a number of reasons including program errors; restarting allows your computer to essentially flush out it’s system and start fresh.

This is more of an organizational factor than anything else. Your computer needs to be able to organize files, programs, and system updates in a way that allows it to run properly.

Too Many Background Programs Running

Another common reason for a slow machine is too many background programs. Particularly software programs known as terminate-and-stay-resident programs (TSR).

These programs remain in your computer’s history until you need to use them. The best known example of these programs are antivirus scanners.

Be sure that if you have an antivirus scanner or spyware protection program that it is not scanning in the background.

Scans operating in the background will likely decrease your computer’s overall performance.

Additionally, newly downloaded programs will find their way onto a computer’s Start menu (PC) or Login (Macbook), which can drastically decrease your computer’s performance.

If this is your problem here are a few fixes:

Windows 8 & 10 Users: Press and hold the Windows key and X. Next, select Task Manager. Find the Startup tab, and right-click on any programs you want to delete or temporarily disable.

Mac Users: Go to Applications and select Systems Preferences. Find User Groups and select Login Items. From here you can uncheck any unwanted programs and delete desktop icons you don’t need.

Hard Drive Failure

Perhaps, one of the more complicated reasons for a slow computer, hard drive failure is also a likely culprit.

Experts believe that after two or three years of consistent use, hard drive failure is probably the reason your computer can’t keep up.

Users should keep in mind that your hard drive is made up of moving parts that rotate thousands of times in a single day, let alone years.

Those lucky enough to own a SSD or solid-state drive, can expect a slightly longer lifespan of eight to ten years because the physical damage to the hardware isn’t as detrimental.

Over time, and depending on the age of your hard drive, you might want to consider replacing it.

If you don’t want to replace your hard drive, you can check and see if you can fix the problem. In order to do this, you will need to run a hard drive check. Here’s how to do that.

Windows Users: In the Windows Explorer window, select Computer. Right-click on Drive/Properties/Tools/ and select Check Now.

Mac Users: Open Applications and find Utilities and then Disk Utility. Find the hard drive in question, highlight it and click First Aid.

Your Hard Drive is Bloated

Even the most organized person in the world can end up with a hard drive filled to the brim with things they don’t want or need.

When computers reach 95 percent capacity, their power decreases by 50 percent. Developers say this happens due to the fact that temporary files required for operating programs don’t have the space to perform their functions.

Programs, downloads, updates and temporary files all have to share space on your hard drive.

Too many files, and all those programs can’t properly operate your machine, with the limited amount of space available.

A good start in clearing space on your computer would be clearing out your Trash. To see if this is causing your computer to slow down, simply check your hard drive status.

For iOS users, clicking Apple and selecting About This Mac will give you a picture about your hard drive health.

Likewise, Windows users can go to the Start menu, select Computer and right-click your primary hard drive, then go to Properties.

The best way to fix this problem will be to de-clutter your computer. In fact, a deep clean of your hard drive will rid it of unnecessary programs, unused files and defected downloads.

Additionally, you should be able to eliminate manufacturer bloatware, system backups and restore points, all of which, will give you more space.

Professionals suggest using a cloud service, in order to save even more space on your hard drive.

CCleaner for both Mac and Windows is a free software program that identifies unneeded files and deletes them, we recommend you give it a try.

Too Many Browser Extensions

While helpful, sometimes, browser extensions can wreak havoc on your hard drive. Experts warn that not all browser extensions are what they seem, and not all are built alike. In some cases, a browser extension will claim to be an ad-blocker when in reality it is browser adware that slows your computer down with pop-ads and other intrusive advertisements.

A simple fix includes disabling and removing extensions that you don’t need or use. This task is done within your internet browser window.

Too Many Programs Running At Once

We’ve all been guilty of this. The fast-paced world ensures that all of us are multi-tasking at any given time.

Of course when working on our computers, we tend to run many programs simultaneously. While computers are amazing, they can only do so much at once.

A hard-drive’s ability to do a million different things at once rests largely on its RAM, or random access memory.

RAM is what allows computers to seamlessly switch between programs without disruption.

The easy fix, close out programs you are not currently actively using. If that doesn’t work head into Task Manager or Activity Monitor to see what programs are using the most processing power.

Close out the programs you aren’t using, or don’t need in order to conserve power. If those solutions don’t work, perhaps increasing the amount of RAM of your hard drive will be the best solution.

Anti-Virus or Virus Infection

These problems are essentially two sides of the same coin. Your computer could be running slow due to antivirus programs that are running background scans constantly, or it could be a virus infection.

If it is the antivirus, it is possible that the program is running background scans when you’re working, thus siphoning processing power from your machine.

In this event, check your antivirus settings. If you can, schedule your antivirus scan to run during times when you’re not working on your computer, such as early morning hours, or late at night.

If the antivirus isn’t slowing down your system, chances are, it’s a virus or some other form of spyware.

This nasty buggers affect everything from your browser to crashing your computer. To fix this problem, run a malware scan, experts suggest using Malwarebytes for both iOS and Windows users.

Cryptomining and Ad Revenue

Did you know that someone could use your computer system to mine cryptocurrency? If not, then beware, this could be happening to you without your knowledge.

This happens when code from a website ad, active only when the site is open, is used to generate income or mine cryptocurrency.

Legitimate sites such as Salon.com use this system as way to produce income instead of relying on traditional advertising sales.

Malware that downloads onto your computer can also cause cryptomining. The best known example would be the Digimine virus.

In order to fix this, shut down your browser page. As mentioned before, the code is only active when the website is open, in most cases.

Environmental Concerns

Perhaps your computer is running slow not because of any malfunction internally, but external factors.

Take a look around the room in which you work on your computer. In fact, examine your computer very closely.

If you find excessive amounts of dust or dirt, this can cause your system to perform poorly. Too much dust prevents proper ventilation, thus inhibiting the processors from functioning properly and possibly overheating the computer.

Simple fix, dust and dust often. Regularly check your computer for any dust particles that could be slowing your computer down.

If you mostly work with a laptop, regularly check to make sure it’s vents aren’t blocked, especially if you feel it heating up.

Unnecessary Programs Sucking Away Processing Power

Contrary to popular opinion, it’s not always the HI-Def video game, or movie, or music application that causing your system to slow down.

Sometime, you’ll find rogue programs still operating long after you’ve closed them. These programs may be suffering an error or stuck in a loop, either way they are now decreasing your computer’s performance.

One solution to this problem, is to check which programs are using more than their fair share of processing power.

Using either Task Manager or Activity Monitor, find the CPU tab in the menu to see which programs are running and exactly how much power they’re using.

If you find a program you aren’t currently using, hogging up power, you can select to quit it and close all background processes.

One of these programs you might want to look for, Internet Explorer, as it uses a tremendous amount of processing power.

However, if your Internet Explorer came bundled with your Windows PC, removing this program could cause significant problems for your computer in the future.

Final Thoughts

As mentioned before, it could be a number of reasons for why your computer is running slowly. But these most common reasons will help you understand how to solve these issues and prevent them from happening in the future.

For the most part, keeping your computer clear and free of unnecessary programs, temporary files, and other digital detritus will help improve your computer’s overall performance. But that isn’t the only maintenance you need to keep a healthy hard drive.

Think about investing in a good antivirus software program that can protect your system from catastrophic damage.

Minimalize physical damage by making sure you’re properly transporting your laptop with the right protection.

Remember that hard drives are machines like any other, and will experience wear and tear and will need to be replaced every few years.

Developing habits such as regularly dusting your system, clearing out files and bloatware, keeping browser extensions to a minimum, and even clearing out your trash, will ensure that your system keeps running at optimal performance.

Don’t let your system run for extended amounts of time without a proper reboot, just so that programs have a chance to update and sync and clear out any caches that might be preventing programs from running properly.

These healthy maintenance habits will save you money and time. It’s incredibly difficult to enjoy technology when it doesn’t work properly, perhaps even more frustrating is the feeling of helplessness many of us get when our computers aren’t performing properly.

Hopefully this guide has helped you overcome these technical difficulties, and allows you have the best performing computer that money can buy.

About the author

Lamin
Lamin

Geek Life Activated is my little corner on the web. I'm very passionate about tech, and i aim to use this blog to express that. I currently work as a System Administrator, and i love every second of it. I'm still new at it, so i'm learning something new everyday. I'm pretty open to learning new things, so please feel free to correct me if i'm wrong about anything, and you can contact me anytime you want. I'm a very easy person to talk to. :)

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