One of the most frequent questions I used to have from my customers went something like this: “I have this computer that’s only a few years old. When I first got it, it was awesome! It was so fast! Now when I use it, it seems so slow. Why is that? What can I do to make it run fast again?” A common struggle most users deal with is a computer that doesn’t have that giddy-up any more. Over time, certain things can happen to make your computer slow down. There are many reasons this can occur. For this post, I’m just going to focus on the most common. Thankfully, they are also among the easiest to fix.
One of the MOST common causes of a slow computer are programs and processes that are running in the background. Disabling these items can dramatically increase the time your computer takes to start up and perform basic functions. One culprit in particular is antivirus software. Many big-name antivirus programs are preset to run scans at regular intervals. I always recommend scans be run during times when the computer is not being used. You can usually change the scan schedule in the program’s settings. Personally, I prefer antivirus software that does not scan unless I manually tell it to. That way I have better control over the resources of the computer.
- Tip: a quick way to see what is running in the background is to open a utility called Task Manager. To open this, click the Start menu and type Task Manager in the search area. A new window will open that displays a list of running programs and processes. This might give you a better understanding of how your computer is being used.
Another common cause of a slowing computer is programs that run even when you are not using them. They usually start when you turn on your computer, just waiting to be opened. They sit there, using your memory and processing power, hoping you’ll click on them. Don’t give in. In fact, shut them down before they ever have a chance to get started. Seriously, when many new programs are installed, they are told to start when Windows first boots up. You can disable this function, saving processing power and memory usage for programs you actually use. There is a utility built into Windows called MSConfig, along with several third-party programs that do a great job of allowing you to disable the worst offenders. Bottom line, eliminating these items will increase the speed that your computer operates.
There can be other things causing your machine to be slow that are not related to what has been discussed so far. Something as simple as not rebooting for an extended period of time, to more complex issues like viruses and damaged hardware. Additionally, things like a full hard drive, a corrupt registry, or even the age of the computer could be a culprit. So, what are we to do?
I recommend scanning your computer for viruses and malware on a regular basis. My favorite antivirus program is called Avast. It is lightweight, doesn’t use much of the computer’s resources, and the free version does an amazing job. Another tool I love is called CCleaner. This program will clean unnecessary files from your machine, allow you to uninstall programs you no longer need, will repair registry errors, and will list all startup items for you to manipulate. That one’s free also. If you do these things and are still having issues, it may be time to call in the cavalry. Also, if you leave a comment below I’ll see what I can do to point you in the right direction. I love helping people figure this stuff out. The best part of leaving a comment? That’s free too!
Here’s to taming the technology in our lives!