Computer slowdown: Why it happens and how to fix it

By: Elsie Otachi
8 minute read
fix computer slowdown

After purchasing a laptop or PC, you may find that you experience computer slowdown over time (sometimes while it’s still brand new), and there are many reasons for this.

The computer slowdown issue may come up due to viruses, damaged system files, full disk with no space, or even conflicts between third party applications.

If you’re experiencing a computer slowdown regardless of the operating system, here are some solutions to fix the problem.

How to fix slow PC performance

1. Perform System Maintenance Troubleshooter

This resolves most of the common system problems.

Take these steps to perform the System Maintenance troubleshooter:

  • Click Start
  • Go to the search field box and type Troubleshooting
  • Click on Troubleshooting
  • Click on System and Security

slow game loads

  • Click on System Maintenance

system maintenance windows 10

  • Click Next
  • Follow the instructions to run the system maintenance troubleshooter.

2. Perform a Clean Boot

Performing a clean boot for your computer reduces conflicts related to software that can bring up the root causes of the computer slowdown.

These conflicts can be caused by applications and services that start up and run in the background whenever you start Windows normally.

How to perform a clean boot

In order to successfully perform a clean boot on Windows 10, you have to be logged on as the administrator, then follow these steps:

  • Go to the search box
  • Type msconfig
  • Select System Configuration

 

  • Find Services tab
  • Select Hide all Microsoft services box

disable microsoft services

  • Click Disable all
  • Go to Startup tab
  • Click Open Task Manager

game crash

  • Close Task manager then click Ok
  • Reboot your computer

You will have a clean boot environment after all these steps are carefully followed, after which you can try and check if you still experience the computer slowdown issue, or if the problem is gone.

ALSO READ: Users report that Windows 10 Creators Update slows down PCs


3. Run a System File Checker scan

Here’s how to do this:

  • Click Start
  • Go to the search field box and type CMD
  • Select Command Prompt

game crash

  • Right click and select Run as Administrator

  • Type sfc/scannow
  • Press Enter
  • Restart your computer

If the computer slowdown issue persists, try the next solution.


4. Install drivers in compatibility mode

Follow these steps to install in compatibility mode:

  • Download the latest driver from the manufacturer’s website
  • Save it on your local disk
  • Right click on the set up file of the downloaded driver
  • Click Properties
  • Click Compatibility tab
  • Check the box next to Run this program in Compatibility mode
  • Select the Operating System from the drop down list
  • The driver will install, then check its functionality.

ALSO READ: Fix: “This app can’t run on your PC” on Windows 10


5. Boot in Safe Mode

Safe mode starts up your computer with limited files and drivers but Windows will still run. To know whether you’re on Safe mode, you’ll see the words at the corners of your screen.

If the issue of computer slowdown persists, check whether it occurs while your computer is in Safe mode.

Follow these steps to start your computer in Safe Mode:

  • Click on Start button
  • Select Settings – the Settings box will open up
  • Click Update & Security

  • Select Recovery from the left pane

slow game loads

  • Go to Advanced options
  • Go to Advanced Startup
  • Click Restart now
  • Select Troubleshoot from the choose an option screen, then click Advanced options
  • Go to Startup Settings and click Restart
  • Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  • Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode

A quicker way to get into Safe Mode is to restart your computer then do the following:

  • From the Choose an option screen, select Troubleshoot>Advanced options>Startup Settings>Restart
  • Once your computer restarts, a list of options will come up.
  • Choose 4 or F4 to start your computer in Safe Mode

If the computer slowdown issue isn’t there while in Safe mode, then your default settings and basic drivers are not contributing to the issue.

How to exit Safe Mode:

  • Right click Start button
  • Select Run
  • Type msconfig
  • A pop up will open
  • Go to the Boot tab
  • Deselect or uncheck Safe Boot option box
  • Restart your computer

6. Run disk clean up

Before doing this, ensure you have sufficient disk space on Windows drive.

Here’s how to run disk clean up:

  • Click Start
  • In the search field box, type disk cleanup
  • The disk cleanup drive selection box will appear.
  • Click Ok to set off the disk space calculation process
  • Go to Properties>Tools>Error checking

Check the box and click Run.

Note: this process cleans up files associated with your user profile. You can also use it to clean up files on your computer. Any infected data files may only be cleaned by completely deleting the file, meaning there’s a chance you may lose data.


7. Perform a System Reset

Performing a reset allows you to choose which files you want to keep, or remove, and then reinstalls Windows.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Click Start
  • Click Settings
  • Click Update & Security

  • Click Recovery on the left pane
  • Click Reset this PC
  • Click Get started and choose an option either Keep my files, Remove everything, or Restore factory settings

Note: all your personal files will be deleted and settings reset. Any apps you installed will be removed, and only pre-installed apps that came with your PC will be reinstalled.


8. Turn off visual effects

Disabling some visual effects can help speed up your computer. You can choose the visual effects to turn off, or let Windows choose it for you.

Here’s how to do this:

  • Right click Start
  • Select Control Panel
  • Search for Performance Information and Tools
  • Click Performance Information and Tools
  • Click Adjust visual effects
  • Grant permissions or type your password if prompted to, or click Continue
  • Click Visual Effects tab
  • Click Adjust for best performance
  • Click Ok

Note: you can use a less drastic option by selecting Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer.

ALSO READThe best PC performance monitoring software to use


9. Use Performance Troubleshooter

The Performance Troubleshooter automatically finds and fixes problems, checking issues that cause computer slowdown, thereby affecting your computer’s performance. Such issues include number of logged in users, or multiple programs running simultaneously.

Here’s how to do this:

  • Right click Start
  • Select Control Panel
  • Search for Troubleshooter
  • Click Troubleshooting
  • Go to System and Security
  • Click Check for performance issues

10. Change the size of Virtual memory

If you get warnings of low memory (virtual), you need to increase the minimum paging file size. Windows sets the initial minimum size equal to the amount of RAM on your computer, the maximum equal to thrice the amount of RAM. If you get such warnings, increase both minimum and maximum sizes using the steps below:

  • Click Start
  • Type Advanced System Settings in the search field box
  • Open View Advanced System settings from the search results

  • Click Advanced tab

  • Under Performance, click Settings to open the Performance Options dialog box

  • Under Advanced tab, go to Virtual Memory then click Change

  • Clear the check box for Automatically manage paging file size for all drives
  • Under Drive (Volume Label), click the drive with the paging file you want to change
  • Click Custom size
  • Type a new size in MBs for both Initial size (MB) or Maximum size (MB)
  • Click Set
  • Click Ok

ALSO READ: Solve: “Your Computer is Low on Memory” on Windows 10, 8.1 or 7


Tips on how to prevent a computer slowdown

  1. Check your computer speed

If you experience computer slowdown, you could get a hardware upgrade such as a new hard disk or faster video card. Using the Windows Experience Index tool, you can check and rate your computer’s speed.

This rates your computer on five components rating each with a number, and an overall base score (ranges from 1-7.9). If your computer rates below 2 or 3, you may need a new computer (depending on the tasks you need it for).

  1. Add more memory

Consider adding more RAM to your computer in the event of a computer slowdown so as to speed it up, and deliver optimal performance. You can also use Windows ReadyBoost, which lets you use storage on some removable media devices like flash drives, to speed up your computer.

  1. Close System Tray programs

To do this, right click on the Taskbar>Properties>Customize>Select which icons appear on the taskbar. From here you can switch apps to ‘on’ to show them permanently on the right side of the taskbar, or move items to system tray popup (like Network or Volume).

You can also click Turn System Icons On or Off to remove icons entirely.

  1. Restart regularly

Do this once a week especially if you use it daily. Restarting clears memory and checks that errant processes and services that run are shut down. It also closes software running on your computer, not just those on your taskbar.

It also fixes mysterious performance problems that are hard to pinpoint. Keeping many programs open bogs down your computer, and leads to low memory.

  1. Disable Startup Programs

Right click the taskbar and click Task Manager to launch it. Click the Startup tab and disable startup applications that you don’t use. Windows will let you know which apps slowdown your computer’s startup process.

  1. Disable or reduce animations

To do this, right click Start>System>Advanced System Settings>Settings>Adjust for best performance (or select Custom to disable individual animations you don’t want). You can uncheck Animate windows when minimizing and maximizing to disable the animations.

  1. Lighten web browser

To do this, go to the Extensions or Add-ons manager on your web browser and remove what you don’t need. Consider enabling click-to-play plugins. You can prevent content such a s Flash and others from loading so as to reduce the use on CPU time.

  1. Scan your computer for adware and/or malware

As mentioned previously, viruses can cause computer slowdown. If malicious software is slowing it down and running in the background, scan your computer with a strong antivirus program, and also scan with Malwarebytes, which locates potentially unwanted programs usually ignored by antiviruses.

Such programs sneak into your computer and install other software you don’t need.

  1. Free up disk space

Run the Disk Cleanup tool to free up some space on your hard drive if it is completely full, because this contributes to computer slowdown.

  1. Defragment your hard disk

The latest versions of Windows does this automatically by defragmenting mechanical hard drives in the background.

SSDs or solid state drives don’t need defragmentation, though Windows will optimize them, which is okay.

  1. Uninstall programs you don’t need or use

Go to your computer’s Control Panel and uninstall programs you don’t use or need. This speeds up the machine because those programs run in the background and these processes slow down your computer. This also saves space on your hard drive, and improves your computer’s security.

Let us know if any of the solutions we shared worked for you.

RELATED STORIES TO CHECK OUT:

For various PC problems, we recommend to use this tool.

This tool will repair common computer errors, protect you from file loss, malware, hardware failure and optimize your PC for maximum performance. Quickly fix PC issues and prevent others from happening with this software:

  1. Download ReimagePlus (100% safe download).
  2. Click “Start Scan” to find Windows issues that could be causing PC problems.
  3. Click “Repair All” to fix all issues (requires upgrade).