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Top reasons why your computer is running slow

Top reasons why your computer is running slow
© Sshleigel | Dreamstime.com

If you've ever owned a computer (who doesn't?), you've probably encountered this one time or another - a PC that seems to slow down over time!

Your applications open sluggishly, web browsing seems pokey, apps are lagging and your computer startup time is worse than you remember.

Even new computers are not immune to these occasional slowdowns, and it could be a bit frustrating trying to figure out what's going on.

But before you throw your computer out the door, try these tricks first. They might save you some cash and your sanity.

1. Too many startup programs

If your computer takes its sweet time to start up, giving you the infamous spinning wheel of patience before you could even take control, then maybe there are non-essential programs that are clogging your start-up process.

It's easier than ever in Windows 10 to check your startup. Just open Task Manager, either by right-clicking on the taskbar then selecting Task Manager or by pressing Ctrl, Shift and Esc. Then go to the Startup tab.

A list of programs that impact your startup times are listed here with columns for publisher, status and impact.

To disable a program, just right-click then choose "Disable." Be careful of what you take off though, some essential programs, like anti-virus or firewall software, may not run properly if you disable them on startup.

2. Too many background processes

Sometimes, an application or process may be eating too much of your computer resources, slowing down your machine to a crawl.

There are a few ways to see what processes your Windows computer is running. The easiest is to bring up Windows Task Manager again then go to the Processes tab.

Here, you'll see the process name, how much of your computer's processing power it's using, how much memory it's hogging and - sometimes - which programs use it.

If you see any background processes that you don't actually use or need, then feel free to select the process and click the "End Task" button.

3. You're running out of hard drive space

As you accumulate files and programs, your storage eventually fills up. This could potentially slow down your system as it takes longer to search for the data it needs. It is recommended that you have at least 20 percent free space on your operating system drive for optimal performance.

In Windows 10, the easiest way to check for free space is to open Settings >> System >> Storage. This will display all the drives that you currently have with a graphical representation of the remaining free space.

Selecting a drive will show you a breakdown of what kind of system data are occupying it.

A category you might want to check first is Temporary Files. In here, Windows 10 could automatically clear all the temp files that the system doesn't require to run, like temporary internet and program files and caches.

4. You have tons of old programs that you don't use

Most of the time, we have applications we have installed, used once and have totally forgotten about. These programs still occupy hard drive space and may even have temporary files and folders installed. They could even be running in the background, sucking out memory and resources so it is in your best interest to track them down and uninstall them.

To do this in Windows 10, go to Settings  >> System >> Apps and Features. This will list all the programs and apps you have currently installed with their corresponding size. To remove, just click on the program or app then choose "Uninstall."

5. Malware is slowing you down

Another reason your computer may be running slower than usual is malware. This is the worst kind of slow down since malicious programs may be sucking up resources WHILE stealing your personal data. A slow computer is the least of your concerns if this is the case. Removing said malware should be your top priority.

There are free third-party tools online that will assist you in checking and removing malware, spyware and virus infections. Malwarebytes, for instance, is a proven malware removal tool for both Macs and PCs.

There's also a free malware detection and extraction program in Windows 10 called Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool. Introduced way back in Windows Vista, this tool runs in the background, quietly scanning your system and will alert you if it detects any suspicious activity.

6. Your drive needs defragging

If your hard disk is fragmented, then your system will take more time finding the resources that it needs, slowing you down even more. Defragmenting will rearrange the data on your hard disk to make it more efficient.

Windows 10 optimizes and defragments drives automatically according to schedule. If you want to perform a manual defrag, just search for "Defragment and Optimize Drives." Here, you could choose your target drive and click "Analyze" or "Optimize."

7. Too many browser windows and tabs open

Another simple tip to speed up your computer is to close some browser windows and tabs. It's super easy when you're working online to open tab after tab after tab. This can be very helpful when looking up specific things and you don't want to leave one of the sites that has tons of great information.

However, the more tabs that you have open the more of your gadget's RAM is being used. This can seriously slow down your computer.

If you have an open tab that is using an excessive amount of memory, close that tab. You might have multiple tabs open eating up tons of RAM. The more you close, the faster your computer will operate.

8. You need more RAM

If you have tried all the free system tweaks you could do and your system is still not running as quickly as you would want, then it may be time to look into hardware solutions like adding more RAM (Random Access Memory).

Extra RAM has significantly dropped down in price and adding a stick or two to your system configuration should be cheap and easy. If your computer lags and freezes when you have multiple programs open, adding more RAM will definitely help you out.

Microsoft recommends at least 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit Windows 10, but in our experience, 4 GB or more will give you a much smoother system.

9. Your computer needs cleaning, literally

If you have had your computer for a while, chances are dust has accumulated and it is grossly blocking your computer vents and airflow. This might lead to overheating and your computer is slowing down on purpose to lessen the load on your CPU.

A blast of compressed air may do the trick but for heavy-duty cleaning, use a specialized vacuum or a blower to get rid of those nasty dust bunnies. Make sure you turn your computer off, let the power drain for half an hour, unplug all the wires, take out any disks in the CD tray then let 'er rip.

10. Get a professional

These are but a few tips you can do to speed up a slow computer. Performing these basic troubleshooting tricks can certainly save you a trip to your local repair shop.

However, when you've done all you can and even these steps are not enough, then it's time to call in the professionals like the trusted techs from our sponsor HelloTech.

HelloTech offers a range of computer support services including tune-ups, data back-ups or transfers, new computer setup, virus removal, computer training, and more. Make your computer feel like new -- fast and secure, free of dangerous malware and useless bloatware.

You can have a HelloTech tech login remotely to get your computer up and running in no time. Or, for in-depth computer repair and virus removal, you can likewise book an in-home computer repair service.

And exclusively for Kim Komando listeners, get a $1 Computer Tune-up! That’s a $39 value service, for just $1, available only to you. This is a limited time offer exclusively for listeners of Kim Komando!

So what are you waiting for? Click here to take advantage of the special Kim Komando $1 Computer Tune-Up offer and get a 1-month free trial of HelloTech's unlimited support, with the purchase of any HelloTech service!

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