It happens to everyone. Sometimes it happens slowly over time and other times it happens all at once. Your computer slows down. And it keeps getting slower.
You just want to scream in frustration and throw your laptop out the window, or rip your desktop off of your desk and toss it in the bin. Before you know it, you’re planning your days around your computer booting up. You find yourself running errands in between clicking links on websites. By the time a video on Youtube finishes buffering, you’ve already died of old age.
Using a slow computer is no way to live
Hopefully, you have come to the realization that this is no way to live. Computers should be waiting on US, not the other way around. But why is your computer slow?
You may find yourself crying out to the void. Why is my computer slow? There must be an explanation.
Let’s get this one out of the way: do you have a hard drive?
If your computer is more than a few years old, you probably have a classic conventional hard drive. This is what separates fast computers from slow computers. Fast computers have SOLID STATE drives, whereas slow computers have HARD drives. The difference is night and day. Replace your internal hard drive with a solid-state drive and your computer will be at least twice as fast as the day it was brought home brand new.
It is possible to do this yourself with a little know-how. This is also a service that your friendly local computer store provides. Read more on it here.
It could be background processes
Besides the obvious software problems like malware and viruses, background processes can be a little more subtle and hard to detect. There are often so many of them that you can’t quite tell which ones are supposed to be there and which ones are just slowing your system down for no good reason.
Open your task manager by pressing “ctrl” + “shift” + “esc” and go over to the processes tab. You will see a list of processes sorted into two categories: Windows processes and other processes. You don’t want to remove any critical Windows processes, but everything else should be investigated to make sure if it is actually something important or not.
Windows could be updating in the background
Pesky Windows always seems to be updating. Open your settings and search “Windows update” to see what is going on with updates. If your computer is in the middle of downloading and installing updates it will run very slowly. The best thing you can do is restart your computer so that it installs these updates on shut down. Once your Windows update says “Windows is up to date” then you can rule out updates as the culprit.
You could have a slow anti-virus program
A lot of antivirus programs are just plain slow. Some of the worst culprits are Norton and McAfee. I often spend a lot of time uninstalling these slow antivirus programs for my clients and setting up something a little faster. Typically Windows Defender can do everything an antivirus program does but without hogging your system resources. Using a good AdBlock on your web browser also prevents some of the pop-ups that can lead to viruses as well.
The original creator of McAfee antivirus stepped away from the company long ago, and since then he has even remarked how difficult and annoying the software is:
Worst case: your slow computer is just ancient
Not to offend old computers, since I think all computers are special, but when they get old, they tend to keep up with modern software less and less.
Going on Facebook or Youtube with that old single-core laptop from 2007 is like taking the horse and chariot on the interstate. When a computer gets too old, throwing upgrades at it is not going to fix it. There is only so much you can do to an old computer before it makes sense to just buy something newer.
Our article How To Find Out If Your Computer Is Worth Fixing goes into more detail on determining if your slow computer is too old to upgrade.