Published July 11, 2019
Are you wondering why your computer is so slow? A computer running slow is an extremely common issue, especially with older computers.
Table of Contents
- 1. Restart Your Computer
- 2. Free Up Hard Drive Space
- 3. Check Programs Using All Your CPU
- 4. Check Programs Using All Your RAM
- 5. Disable Startup Programs
- 6. Make Sure Your Computer Isn’t Overheating
- 7. Get Rid of Viruses and Malware
- 8. Check Your Internet Speed
- 9. Audit Web Browser Add-Ons
- 10. Disable Windows Visual Effects
- 11. Fix Hard Drive Errors
- 12. Fix Memory Errors
- 13. Update Your Drivers
- 14. Upgrade Your Computer
- 15. Reinstall Windows
In fact, many things could be causing Windows 7 or Windows 10 to run slow, whether it’s software or hardware problems. To help you troubleshoot, I put together a list of 15 things to try to speed things up, step by step.
Note: If you’re looking for a quick fix and don’t want to manually troubleshoot, you’re looking for Iolo System Mechanic. I ran speed benchmarks myself and it’s the first PC cleaner to actually speed up my slow computer.
Let’s get right into it, starting with the methods that are easier and more likely to produce results.
Restart Your Computer
If you have a slow PC, it could be that too many programs and processes are open. Also, a lot of things happen in the background in Windows that can slow your computer down.
You could go into the task manager yourself and see what’s going on, but for now let’s just do a simple restart and see if things improve. There’s a reason one of the most common computer troubleshooting advice is “restart your computer.” It’s because it fixes many problems.
Free Up Hard Drive Space
A full hard drive can slow a computer down significantly. Windows needs hard drive space to save necessary temporary files and system files. So if you run out of free space, Windows will run slow and may not be able to perform some tasks properly.
You can check how much hard drive space you have left by opening up File Explorer, and going to your PC. Hit Windows Key + e and click on “This PC” or “My Computer.”
There are many ways to free up hard drive space. You can:
- Uninstall unnecessary programs
- Empty recycle bin
- Delete unneeded files
You can use a free PC cleaner like CCleaner to do all these things and more.
Check Programs Using All Your CPU
Your computer will definitely run slow if its CPU is always running at 100%. It’s so busy it can’t keep up with anything, including mouse and keyboard input.
To look at which programs are running, open Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
Click CPU to sort that column in descending order. If the total CPU usage is consistently under 90% you should have nothing to worry about.
Otherwise, try ending the processes taking up the most CPU to free up some resources. Right-click on each process taking up CPU and click End Task.
Leave Task Manager open for the next step.
Check Programs Using All Your RAM
Just like how overusing the CPU can slow a computer down, overusing your available RAM can also slow a computer down. If you closed Task Manager already, re-open it with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
This time, click Memory to sort in descending order. Now you can see which processes are taking up the most memory.
Like CPU, you don’t have to worry unless your Memory usage is consistently over 90%. If this is the case, try ending the processes taking up the most memory by right-clicking and then clicking End Task.
Disable Startup Programs
Pay attention to this if your PC is especially slow booting up. Not only can unnecessary startup programs slow down your boot time, they can run in the background and take up system resources afterwards too.
To check out your startup programs, first open the Task Manager with Ctrl + Shift + Esc.
Now, look for enabled programs you recognize. To disable a program you don’t need to run startup, simply right-click and hit Disable. If you aren’t sure, try disabling it at startup anyway. If something goes wrong you can always re-enable it.
Make Sure Your Computer Isn’t Overheating
A lot of the time computer overheating means your computer is being overloaded, but this isn’t always true. To see if this is the cause, download and install Core Temp to monitor your CPU temperature (don’t worry it’s free and completely safe).
Next, open it up and look at your CPU core temperatures:
High CPU temperatures (70+°C) could be why Windows 7 or 10 is running slow. Similar to when a CPU is being overused by too many programs, if a CPU is too hot it won’t be able to function correctly.
Common causes of overheating are:
- Bad ventilation
- Stopped or broken computer fans
- Badly placed heat sink or old thermal paste
To ensure proper ventilation, make sure your computer or laptop vents aren’t blocked (e.g. your computer is right against a wall). This is especially true for laptops, since there is less ventilation.
To check if fans are running, open up your computer case and look to see if all the fans are running. If not, double check their connections to your motherboard.
To check that your heatsink is seated correctly, check out this video to see if your heatsink is seated in the same way:
Like the video, you should also see a layer of thermal paste on your CPU. If it’s worn away, you should consider re-applying some since thermal paste is essential for CPU cooling.
If you don’t feel confident opening up your computer and taking a look at the CPU, I recommend finding a professional to do it for you.
Get Rid of Viruses and Malware
If your computer has been fine before and is suddenly slow now, it’s possible malware could be responsible. Malware can do things like hog system resources, and interfere with normal tasks a computer does to work properly.
Try running a scan with both your antivirus and Malwarebytes. Both of them together will find anything harmful on your computer.
Check Your Internet Speed
I have to throw this one in here because many people mistake a slow internet connection for a slow computer. For example, if you notice that only your internet browser and downloading is slow, it’s likely it’s just your internet.
Check out SpeedTest.net and hit the big GO button.
If you have high ping (100+) and/or low download speeds (<10Mbps), it could just be that your internet is slow. You can try optimizing your internet settings manually to gain some speed, or you can use software like Iolo System Mechanic to do it for you.
Audit Web Browser Add-Ons
Web browser add-ons can really slow down your browser if you have too many running at once. To check out which ones you have installed in Chrome, type chrome://extensions/ into the URL bar. For Firefox, click the menu button, click Add-ons, and then click Extensions or Themes.
Try disabling or removing the add-ons and extensions you don’t need anymore.
Disable Windows Visual Effects
Visual effects are nice and all, but they can cause your PC to run slow, especially if it’s older. To turn off Windows visual effects, first navigate to your Control Panel.
You can do this by pressing the Windows key to start a search, type in Control Panel, and click the first result.
For Windows 7, look for Performance Information and Tools. Then click Adjust visual effects, go to the Visual Effects tab, click Adjust for best performance, and then click OK.
For Windows 10, in the Control Panel click System, Advanced System Settings, and then Settings under Performance.
Now, under the Visual Effects tab click Adjust for best performance and then click OK.
Fix Hard Drive Errors
Like a full hard drive, a corrupted hard drive could also cause Windows 7 or 10 to be slow. If a hard drive has errors it may not work properly and could cause issues like freezing or lagginess.
Windows has a built-in tool for fixing hard drive errors called Disk Check. To use it, first open up File Explorer with Windows key + e. Then, click on This PC. Right-click on the drive you want to check and hit Properties.
Next, go to the Tools tab and click Check. Click Scan drive to begin the scan.
If your hard drive is fine, you should see this message:
If not, Windows should help you fix any errors your hard drive has.
Fix Memory Errors
Memory problems such as a faulty memory card can cause a lot of computer issues, such as freezing or running slow. Like Disk Check, Windows has a built-in tool called Windows Memory Diagnostic tool to troubleshoot memory issues.
To run a memory check, first press Windows key + r to open up the Run window, type in mdsched.exe and hit OK.
Now, make sure all your work is saved, and click Restart now and check for problems (recommended). Windows will now restart and check for memory errors.
When your computer restarts and begins the test, press F1 to enter the scan options.
Make sure Standard is selected under Test Mix, Default is selected under Cache, and 2 is the value of Pass Count. Now, hit F10 to go back to the scan.
Finally, wait for the test to complete. Your computer will restart afterwards and show you the test results. If there are any errors Windows should also help you fix them.
Update Your Drivers
Old or corrupted drivers are notorious for many computer problems, including running slow. For example, if your graphics card has a wrong driver it could cause games to lag or even freeze.
To check your drivers, open up Device Manager with Windows Key + r, type in devmgmt.msc, and hit OK
If you don’t see “Other devices,” “Unknown devices,” any red Xs, or exclamation marks then your drivers should be fine.
Next, try updating your drivers in Windows.
Upgrade Your Computer
Sometimes no matter what you do to try to speed things up, your computer is just outdated and needs to be upgraded. If you don’t want to go all out and get a new computer, you can make some upgrades to help your computer run faster:
- Add more RAM to your computer
- Upgrade your hard drive to an SSD
- Purchase a faster CPU
- Get a new graphics card (if games are slow)
For some reason, if nothing else worked and you don’t want to upgrade your computer, this is a last resort. Reinstalling Windows makes sure your computer is back to its default settings with no other software and files.
Check out here for instructions on how to reinstall Windows. If even that doesn’t stop your computer from running slow, it may be time to bite the bullet and upgrade your computer after all.
As you can see, there are many possible reasons why your computer is running slow. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and you need to try a lot of things to speed it up.
Is Windows still slow for you after following this guide? Do you have another method you used to speed up your computer? Let me know in the comments!