How To Fix A Slow Computer

Published on
7,058 Points
8 Endorsements
Last Modified:
Kyle Santos
There are some things you don’t come back from. You either live with them, or you don’t.
How can this article save you time AND money?  In just a few minutes you may discover something you didn't know existed that is easy enough for you to fix yourself!

If you're reading this you're probably hoping for a quick and easy solution.

I may have one for you.  Whether you have a new computer, or are trying to keep the old one alive, it becomes an overwhelming frustration to spend so much time to improve computer performance.  I believe the frustration of a slow starting and / or performing computer can be resolved by opening up your wallet to get the problem fixed.  But another thing you're probably considering is not spending money to boost the performance of your computer.  


How can this article save you time AND money?

Forking out money and spending additional time to fix a computer's degraded performance should not be time consuming.  This is especially true if you know where to look and address common issues.  Do me a favor.  Open your Task Manager as you're reading this article.  Press and hold the keys CTRL+ALT+DELETE or right click your Task Bar > Start Task Manager.  (For Mac users go to Spotlight at the top right corner of your desktop and search for "Activity Monitor")


When you have opened the window, take a look at the tabs that are available.  Browse through your "Performance" and  "Processes" tabs.  What stands out to you?  Is your CPU or Memory bar showing you using a lot of usage?  Do you see a lot of processes that are running that look foreign or are unrecognizable? Let me show you an example.


In the first photo you will see a snapshot of your CPU and Memory usage.  In the second photo I sorted the processes consuming the most memory.  For the most part, we can easily identify items that are trusted like chrome.exe, thunderbird.exe, explorer.exe and most other common programs you use day to day.  But what about items that don't really say much like "csrss.exe".  It has no description.  A quick search of that name in our search engine (or a 3rd party like Google) will usually describe the item and its importance.  Research some of the items you see running currently on your computer and take note of what they do.  (You may have also noticed the 'End Process' button there too.  DO NOT end ANY process without performing research on the item(s).  It could be integral to your system.  In fact, refrain from doing it at all.)


What are system specifications?

This is your system's hardware.  Now let's take a look at what your computer running for hardware.  Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security > System (or right click your Computer icon and click Properties).  In a Mac click the Apple icon at the top left > About This Mac.


There is your Processor (CPU) type and how much memory is installed.  Now you can gauge if the items in Task Manager are in respect to the capabilities of your computer.  


What should I consider?

Did I buy a computer with pre-installed software?

If the answer is yes there is probably a handful of items that are identified in Task Manager that don't need to be running!


Have I installed numerous software programs on this computer that I needed in the past, but have no use for now?

If the answer is yes there are probably instances of processes still running in the background!

Even if you answered 'No' to those two questions you're not exactly in the clear.  Depending on your viewpoint, programs like iTunes appear to be harmless.  But if you have updated iTunes as often as I have you will also be committing to other programs like Quicktime, and recently, iCloud for Windows.  Believe it or not, there are strings attached!  Its not bad that Apple has obligated you to install additional items, but are they necessary for you?  As we need to install other software programs, browser extensions, computer games, orWHATEVER else to run our day to day lives, we neglect general maintence of our computers!

How can I make an immediate impact to enhancing my system's performance?


  1. Disable unwanted items.  Go to Start.  In the search bar type "msconfig" and press Enter.  Click the Startup tab.  See all those checked items?  Disable unknown Startup items.  Don't worry.  You can re-enable them later if they are important.  Click Apply > Ok.  On the next system Restart re-visit your Task Manager.  Was there less consumption of Memory and CPU?  Did your computer start faster?  (Mac users go to System Preferences > Users & Groups > Login Items)
  2. Click Start > Control Panel > Programs.  Click Uninstall a Program.  Peruse the list and look for items that rarely used or were installed a while ago that you have not used.  Do you need that program anymore that you installed and needed in the past?  (Mac users go to the Finder, click Applications.  If the app is in a folder it might have an uninstaller. Otherwise drag the app to the Trash > Empty Trash.)
  3. Research CCleaner and install the program.  http://download.cnet.com/CCleaner/ . Its proven time and time again as a useful application that cleans your system and browser applications for, you guessed it, CRAP!  It cleans items that just hang around and take up space and hinder computer performance.  (Macusers http://download.cnet.com/CCleaner/3000-2144_4-75453127.html)


Is that it?

Short answer: Yes.  You will see less CPU and memory consumption.

Long answer: For the time being you may notice a considerable improvement on your machine.  Opinions will vary, and I encourage comments to flow below providing feedback, but the intention of this article was to deliver items that you may not have known existed at all! As we all aim to accommodate a common gripe most people have, the technology will not slow down for us to keep up.  However, as long as we still have influence, and beneficial shortcuts, we will always strive to optimize the performance of our computers and deter obstructions in our paths.

Author:Kyle Santos
Ask questions about what you read
If you have a question about something within an article, you can receive help directly from the article author. Experts Exchange article authors are available to answer questions and further the discussion.
Get 7 days free