Author: Ian Musyoka
Friday, January 31, 2020

My Computer is Running Slow, What Steps Can I Take to Fix It?

Using a slow computer can make the simplest of jobs feel very irritating and cumbersome. Your files take forever to launch, your browser keeps hanging, words you type do not show up on time, and you keep getting the ‘Not Responding’ error message when running files. It all culminates in a very depressing experience. 

A lot of factors contribute to reduced PC performance; most of them stemming from the insufficient use of computer resources. Rebooting your computer or cleaning the hard drive may solve most of the issues but some problems require more than that to fix. This is no cause for alarm, however. Having a slow running PC is a normal thing. With time, due to the activities you carry out on your device such as surfing the web and running multiple programs, the speed gets sluggish. Are you having an issue with a slow PC? Find out some of the possible reasons behind it and methods you can use to fix the issue. 

My Computer is Running Slow, What Steps Can I Take to Fix It?

Why Your Computer is Slow/ How to Fix It

  1. A Maxed-Out Hard Drive

Without sufficient free space for the operating system to work adequately due to a full hard drive, your computer's performance will slow down. The operating system (OS) needs space to create temporary files, use the swap file, and prevent fragmentation among others. You need to ensure that a full hard drive is not the reason behind your trouble. 

To check how much free space you have, open File Explorer and click ‘This PC’. It is located on the left navigation bar. You will be able to see how much space you have in your main drive (Windows (C:)) and other drives. Make sure that you have at least 500 megabytes of free disk space in all drives you have. This will help your OS have better management over your files. 

There are a few ways you can counter this problem. One of them is by cleaning out your recycle bin. Deleted files accumulate in your disk storage when using your computer. Making an effort to clean it occasionally can help your PC maintain its performance levels. On the desktop, double-click on the Recycle Bin icon and click on ‘Empty Recycle Bin’ on the top left corner of the window. You can also right-click anywhere inside the Recycle Bin window and select ‘Empty Recycle Bin’ or right-click on the Recycle Bin icon itself and do the same. 

If your recycle bin is already empty, you might want to remove unwanted programs from your computer. You may have downloaded programs in the past, that you no longer need or want, that might be doing a number on your PC’s performance. To remove these programs, go to the Windows search bar and type in ‘Control Panel.’ Click on it and select ‘Uninstall a Program’ under ‘Programs.’ Using the window that opens up, select the programs you no longer need and uninstall them. Third-party programs like camera apps and games are safe to remove. However, if the name ‘driver’ or ‘Microsoft’ appears on a program, it would be safe to Google it first before accidentally deleting something important. 

My Computer is Running Slow, What Steps Can I Take to Fix It?

  1. Background Programs

When too many programs are running simultaneously, a lot of the processing power is used up making your PC slow and reducing its performance. There are a number of programs that will still run in the background after being closed (e.g. Chrome), while others launch themselves when booting your PC. You can use Task Manager to check the programs running in the background as well as the amount of processing power and memory they are consuming. To access Task Manager, press Ctrl+Alt+Del. 

Your Task Manager will open using a simplified view if you are a Windows 10 user. In this case, click on ‘More details’ at the bottom. Sort out the programs running in your PC in relation to resource consumption using Memory, CPU and Disk header. If your memory bar is almost full, for example, close programs you do not need and sort the remaining programs by how they use memory. You can close programs directly by clicking on them and selecting ‘End task.’ Remember, if you are confused about the use of a program, Google it to first be sure of its function.

My Computer is Running Slow, What Steps Can I Take to Fix It?

  1. Insufficient Random Access Memory (RAM)

RAM is used by the computer to store information about the operating system and programs that are running on it. If a computer is operating on less than 4GB of RAM, the competition between programs to share the memory will slow it down. When your RAM gets depleted, the computer begins using the swap file instead. With hard drives being slower than RAM, a difference in performance is bound to be noticed. Upgrading your computer memory can increase your PC’s performance and speed. 

Programs that require large information storage in RAM for quick access, such as video editing and games, require at least 6GB to prevent the computer from using the swap file too much. Upgrading desktop RAM is quite easy. After purchasing your new RAM, check your motherboard’s manual to know exactly which slots to fit them in. You may have to purchase a new laptop if you need its RAM upgraded. However, some laptops come with the upgradeable RAM feature. It would be best to check the manual or confirm with the laptop manufacturer’s support team. 

  1. Startup Programs

If too many programs run when your computer is booting, your computer might slow down as well as increase the booting time significantly. Many programs, including third-party ones, have an option that allows them to run when your PC boots. Sometimes, this can come in very handy especially when it comes to an antivirus software or firewall. On the other hand, too many programs running during the boot process can affect your computer's performance and boot time.

You can disable a program from running during startup by accessing Task Manager using the Ctrl+Alt+Del command. At the top of the Task Manager window, select the ‘Startup’ tab. From here, you will see a breakdown of the enabled startup programs and how they affect your computer’s performance and boot time. To stop a program from running automatically, click on it and then select ‘Disable’ from the bottom right corner of the window. Disabling your firewall and anti-malware software is not recommended. 

  1. Temporary Files

The OS and other computer programs use temporary files to store temporary data. A good example is files that are downloaded by programs when updates are being installed. These files can accumulate over time and occupy a lot of disk space. Deleting them can boost computer performance. 

To access the main temporary file folder, press Win+R, type in %temp%, and then hit ‘Enter.’ Make sure to exit all open programs before doing this. A folder containing most temporary files on your device will appear. Delete all the files present in this folder. Any important files that cannot be deleted can be skipped. 

  1. System Updates

Last but not least, for maximum PC performance, it is a good idea to have updated drivers as well as the latest Windows update. New driver and Windows updates play a big role in improving performance- by ignoring these updates, your computer's performance may start reducing. 

You can use the Settings menu to deal with computer update management. Start by opening the Start menu and selecting the ‘Settings’ icon located on the left, right above the ‘Power’ icon. Once the Settings window pops-up, click ‘Update and Security.’ From the displayed page, you will find out if you are behind on updates and how you can fix it. 

Benefits of Using a Fast Computer

The instructions needed by multiple processes and applications to perform their jobs are provided by a processor. The faster these instructions are relayed, the faster the performance of the computer. A fast computer directly translates into increased efficiency and productivity. 

The speed benefits of a fast PC can help you deal with a higher number of tasks using more sophisticated software. Running video software and high definition games were next to impossible during the start of the first computers. Today, improved computer speeds provide an avenue for touchscreen-based programs to run, which highly depend on fast processors for quick responses. 

Your applications, web browser and anti-malware software will run very smoothly. Windows saves your computer files in small pieces of fragmented data. Fragmented files take a lot more time to read, leading to the reduced speed of your applications, emails, anti-malware programs, and web browser. Files that are neatly stored end-to-end with no fragmentation result in the fast running of your PC with little effort from your part. 

Are you tired of waiting for your device to boot or backup? Boot failures, slow boot times, aborted backups, data loss, and file corruption can also occur as a result of fragmentation. This can altogether be avoided by following the aforementioned methods. Moreover, you are bound to notice a rise in system reliability, reduced lags and crashes, increased file access speeds and an increased computer lifespan. 


Many factors contribute to the reduced performance of a computer, most of them originating from insufficient use of computer resources. Over time, the processes of your computer cause your computer to run sluggish. Therefore, having a slow running PC is a normal thing as a computer user. Some of the reasons why your computer might be running slow are insufficient RAM, a full hard-drive, interference from background and startup programs, a lot of temporary files, and lack of system updates. A fast PC is important for high levels of productivity and efficiency. 

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