When you first got your computer, you were amazed by its speed. However, you may recently be finding yourself constantly asking, “Why is my computer so slow?” I always say that if your computer is at least 5 years old, the cheapest computer you can buy today will still be better than what you already have. This is due to the fact that technology improves so rapidly.
Unless you are like me and love having the latest and greatest devices, you probably aren’t interested in buying a new computer every time it starts to act up. You are also probably pretty eager to get to work speeding up your computer, so we’ll get right to the 5 easy ways to speed up your computer.
Five steps to fixing a slow computer
Step One: Remove Viruses
The number one cause of slow computers is malware on the system. Removing this malware can usually resolve the majority of your speed issues. I like to use the free download from Malwarebytes.org. This program does a great job of finding and removing most of the harmful malware on your computer. I usually run it once as is. Then I reboot the computer into safe mode and run it again. When you boot the computer into safe mode (for Windows PC’s or Macs) it limits the programs that startup. So if Malwarebytes has difficulty removing a piece of malware because it is currently running, it should be able to remove it once you are in safe mode.
Once the viruses have been removed make sure you install some virus protection on your computer. Being proactive about protecting your computer can help it STAY fast, so you don’t have to go through this whole thing again next month!
Step Two: Remove Old Programs
Actual installed programs are becoming less abundant with cloud-based services fulfilling most of our needs. If you have had the computer for a while though, there may be several installed programs that you do not use. View your list of installed programs. Remove any on the list you haven’t used in the last 6 months to 1 year.
This may also be a great time to upgrade your older programs if you do use them. If you have a subscription license, upgrades are usually free. The newer versions will have better features and often run more efficiently.
Step Three: Remove Files
Much like older programs can clutter up a system and make your computer run slowly, too many files can do the same thing. Although computers are MUCH smarter than you or I, imagine trying to find your favorite shirt inside a messy closet. When you have too many clothes it can be hard to locate that ONE shirt you want to wear. The computer can have similar issues. If it is searching for a file among thousands, it can be harder to find. It will eventually find it, but it might take it a while. However, you may not be so lucky when searching for your shirt.
Clean up and delete files you don’t use anymore. Move photos and other important documents to cloud storage or an external hard drive. Organize files you would like to keep in folders that will make it easy to locate the files you want to open.
Step Four: Limit Number of Programs Running at Startup
Some programs want to make sure you run them as soon as your computer turns on. When you install these programs it will add something to your “startup” that keeps the program running, even when it’s not running. Cleaning up these startup programs can certainly speed up your computer when it is booting. Choosing to only run those programs when you need them can also speed up your computer. You can clean these startup programs on Windows and on Mac.
Step Five: Limit Running Programs
Finally, you may notice your computer is slow when you are running too many programs at once. Each program will take a certain amount of resources. As you open more and more programs the resources continue to dwindle until there is nothing left. If your computer is slow, but you don’t think you are running very many programs check out the currently running programs on Windows or Mac. Close any programs you don’t think you need to currently be running. The warning here is closing certain programs that you may not understand what they do, may cause instabilities in your computer. If you find this to be the case, just reboot and the program will start back up again.
Still asking yourself “Why is my computer so slow?”
If your computer is still running slow after you have done all of the above steps, there are still 2 things you can do to try and speed it up. However, these steps aren’t as quick or easy.
One of the best ways to speed up an older computer is to add more RAM (Random Access Memory) to the system. This will allow the computer to run more processes at the same time and make the computer much quicker. You may need to consult with a professional though to help you buy the right RAM for your device and install it.
Restore Factory Settings
This one is the kill switch. It will remove all of your programs and files. Your computer will appear exactly the way it did when you took it out of the box. If you go this route, be sure you have backups of all of your files. You will also want the installation discs or downloads for all of your programs, so you can reinstall.
Or, just do what I do… and buy a new one.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I receive compensation if you make a purchase using the links.
Sarah Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 16 years of her career as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on KSL News, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com