So, you’ve had your computer a while and it’s not the speedy device it once was. Perhaps you’ve taken to brewing a cup of tea while your slow computer or laptop boots up or you find yourself tapping your fingers in frustration while you wait for a program to load?
Either way, you’re probably wondering if it’s time to pension the poor old thing off and splash out on a brand new one. But then you remember, aside from the expense – you have this old beast set up just the way you like it. A new PC/laptop is great, but there’s all the setup and configuration of programs, emails, wifi connections and transferring data across to your new device.
There is another solution! There are many reasons why your old computer may have become a
slow computer and many of these can be rectified, often without spending any money at all. With a little bit of effort, you may be able to get your PC close to the speed it ran at when it was new. Indeed, if you are happy to spend some money you could even make it significantly quicker than when it was new!
PROVISO … when I talk about old computers, I am talking about recent history. If your machine is running anything older than Windows 7 you’re running software that is
So here’s a checklist of the things you can do to speed your slow computer! In no particular order:
NB. Does the thought of tinkering with your PC/laptop settings fill you with dread? Perhaps you just don’t have the time or patience and need someone else to handle this for you. If that’s the case, the author of this post can help. Just go to the end of this post for more details.
Check Your Hard Drive
If you have a mechanical hard drive (not an SSD), check that you have at least 15% free space, ideally more. Without that free space, Windows will be unable to defrag your hard drive which is a common issue with many a slow computer. If it’s getting full, try running disk cleanup to free up some space. Uninstall any unwanted programs, delete any unwanted download files or videos. If your drive has any unused partitions, you may be able to transfer files there. You can happily move photos, videos and documents, but don’t try to move program files. To move program files you’ll need to uninstall the program first, then reinstall it on the other partition. Once you have enough space, run defrag and check the defrag schedule is set up to run at a time when your PC/laptop is likely to be on.
Check Everything is Working as it Should
Open the “Device Manager”. This will show if all your connected hardware is working as it should. Any yellow exclamation marks, question marks or red crosses will need investigating.
Open the “Event Viewer” and look through the windows logs. Most of the entries will be providing information but check any warning or error messages. These could give you information on programs or hardware that isn’t working as it should. However, some entries (like the DistributedCom error) can be safely ignored.
Viruses and Malware – Often the Cause of a Slow Computer
“But, I have antivirus software!” … I hear you say.
Have you checked recently to see if it’s up to date? If it isn’t, it’s “almost” not worth having. Also, all antivirus software will miss the occasional virus or malware so running a scan from time to time is a must. Once you have run a scan with your own AV software it’s worth also downloading and running a malware scanner,
Don’t be tempted to run more than one antivirus software package at the same time on your PC. You may feel that you’re taking a “belt and braces” approach but unfortunately, due to the way this software works it could have seriously detrimental effects on your PC and could even cause it to lock up.
Check System Performance
Ctrl/Alt/Delete and select “Task Manager”. In the bottom left of the task manager window, click the drop-down arrow next to more details. Check the CPU, Memory and Disk columns.
CPU – although this will “spike” from time to time when your PC is performing specific tasks like opening programs, I like to see this generally running at under 10%. Check for any programs that seem to be using the CPU a lot and close/investigate.
Memory – if this is getting anywhere close to 100% then this will be seriously slowing your PC/laptop down. Try closing programs or upgrading the amount of RAM in your machine.
Disk – I often see this pinned at 100%. The could easily be the reason for your slow computer. Try to find out what it is that’s writing to your drive so much and closing it down. If you’ve closed everything you can and nothing is malfunctioning then you may need to upgrade to a Solid State Disk Drive (SSD). See below.
If your machine is quite old, perhaps it’s been upgraded from an earlier operating system and is struggling to cope with all the “bells and whistles” that Windows 10 has to offer. You could try turning these off. Open “Performance Options” and either deselect the options you’re happy not to use or alternatively, check the radio button next to “Adjust for best performance”.
For a Serious Boost in Slow Computer Speed!
Upgrade to a Solid State Drive (SSD). This will seriously boost boot and program load times for almost any computer. You can clone the contents of your old drive to your new one before you swap them over so that nothing will change so far as setup, configuration, installed programs and files are concerned. Your PC/laptop will be exactly the same as before, just much, much quicker!
About The Author
I am the founder of MicroGenic and have spent over a decade providing IT support. If you have a slow computer or laptop but would rather not attempt the tasks detailed above yourself then I can help. If you are able to deliver your equipment to me (based in Saffron Walden) then I can offer the following services and rates:
PC check and cleanup – £40
Upgrade to SSD – £40 (plus the cost of the hard drive)
Hard drives vary in price depending on size from £60 for a 250Gb drive to £300 for a 2Tb drive.
I am also able to provide this service at your premises (within 20 miles of CB11) but would charge an hourly rate (£40 per hour). Some of the scans I’d need to run can be time-consuming, especially on a slow machine so leaving your equipment with me may be more cost-effective.
Contact me for more information – firstname.lastname@example.org or book an appointment online.