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Computer Running Slow? Try These Steps!

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Computer running slow? Taking forever to open a folder, documents, or any programs that you didn't have an issue with before? Here are a few steps to help speed it up.

The programs mentioned below ALL have free versions, you can buy them if you want, but I suggest using the free version in this case.
 
Antivirus

First step is to check, and clean up, any viruses / malware you might have installed on your computer. Any good antivirus will help with this. There are many out there, if you don’t have any currently installed, you should do this right away. Many of the big names have free 30 day trials to find one you like. There are also many free ones, but they may only give you a quarter of the feature or not have real-time scanning as an option. The only downside is this could slightly slow your computer as it will be running in the background at all times. However, it is very important you have an antivirus program installed to help prevent you from becoming infecting and losing personal information.

Once installed run a full system scan and clean up any viruses it may find.

One suggested antivirus program to run is MalwareBytes found at (www.malwarebytes.org). Use the free version (this does not do real time scans unless you buy it. However it is free to do on demand scans for this case. However, I highly recommend buying a antivirus program from your favorite antivirus vendor (or do some research and pick which one is best for you).

 
AntiSpyware

Next is a spyware cleaner. Similar to antivirus software there is antispyware software. The problem is, this could be another program running in the background. So I would suggest getting one you run on demand and run a scan at night when you are not using the computer on a regular basis. Maybe antivirus programs come with antispyware so this may not even be needed. Check your antivirus program for this feature.
One installed, run a full system scan and cleanup any spyware that may be found.

One suggestion, for home use is Spybot Search and Destroy, free for home use found at (https://www.safer-networking.org)
 
Cleanup / Registry Cleanup

Cleanup program. This is a program that will cleanup things such as file temporary files and other clutter you no longer need on your computer. There are many programs that do this but one of the one I use personally is CCleaner but there are many available. This will clean up junk files as well as registry fixes. After cleaning up your computer, run the registry cleanup and run that multiple times until it no longer files registry errors.
One installed, run a full system scan and registry cleanup

CCleaner I mentioned above can be found at (https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner) use the free version
 
Update your Programs / OS and Drivers

Update your computer. Run Windows update and update your computer. Download the latest updates for all your programs to your computer. For example adobe and java should be updated and patched. See if there is a new version to your other programs and download any patches they may have. Also, go to the manufacture's website and download any new drivers for your computer.
 
Remove Unwanted Programs

Uninstall unwanted programs. Many time you may have several toolbars and other programs running you do not want running. The best way to take care of this is to uninstall them. To do this go to Control Panel -> Programs and Features (or Add / Remove Programs in earlier versions of Windows) and go through the list and uninstall anything you don’t need (like toolbars).
 
Upgrade your Hardware

Upgrade your computer. If you have an older computer perhaps you need to upgrade some components of your computer. For example, how much RAM do you have? You should have at least 2-4GB RAM minimum. This is a cheap upgrade that could provide a decent boost to your computer speed.
 
Check your Disk for Errors

Check to see if there are any errors with your Hard Disk. To do this run command prompt as administrator and run chkdsk /F it may make you restart to run that program. This will help clean up any errors you may have on your disks.
 
Defrag your computer

Run defrag on your computer which has been known to make computer run faster. To do this right click on your C: Drive and choose properties. Click Tools tab and click Defragment Now… and run the defragmentation.

Still Slow!

If you are still having issues I'd suggest looking into another (new) computer as it may be outdated hardware. If it is rather new hardware, reinstalling Windows fresh might help or upgrading components such as RAM, Hard Drive (SSD, Hybrid or faster RPM) and so on. 

Closing notes

While I've mentioned a few programs, I advise you use the free version unless you really want to pro version. But I have a feeling you will just run this once in a while. The only thing I recommend is an antivirus program. They are generally cheap, but you need to do some research to as what you feel as the best as there is so many. Remember, if it's free, you could be getting what you paid for... a watered down product, I mean after all... would you work for free with your best work?
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Author:Seth_zin
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14 Comments
 
LVL 66

Expert Comment

by:Jim Horn
Nice article, voting yes.
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Expert Comment

by:GregoryLShaw
I tried all of the above and nothing helped. I finally figured out (via resmon.exe) that my CPU was being throttled to 4% whenever I ran anything the least bit CPU intensive. At Dell's recommendation, I ran Iolo System Mechanic. Amazingly, now I can run CPU intensive programs without any CPU throttling. This may be a rare problem, but if you identify CPU throttling (resmon showing Maximum Frequency much less than 100%) this may help you too.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Guillermin-go
Nice article but dont defrag if your hard drive is an SSD one.
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LVL 4

Expert Comment

by:dbright5813
Seriously? What's next, a how-to article for "Try turning it off and on again"?
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Expert Comment

by:Juan Vargas
Nice article.  Additionally I do:  "Compact Outlook File(s)", reset Internet Explorer, chkdsk, and if necessary, physically clean the interior of the PC and replace thermal compound on the processor.
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Expert Comment

by:Infosafety
The first thing I like to do when a computer is running slow is check the system logs for hard drive errors, to see if the drive is failing.  If there are signs of drive failure, if there is not a recent backup, I backup important files before doing anything else.  Craig Herberg
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Ed Covney
I check two things:
H/W:  Available RAM (Swapping programs to the hard drive is a performance killer) and
S/W:  use Mark Russinovich's "Systools". His procexp.exe (Process Explorer) knows everything about every program in memory, how it got put there and who put it there. It helps to "know" your system before troubles begin.
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Expert Comment

by:J. Andrew Smith
Here's how I clean up my system every day, and it works especially well for heavy Excel developers like me to clean up and stabilize Excel.  Make sure you have full admin privileges and have nothing else running, even in the system tray, to do all these:

1. (one time only) Do Start/Run, then type CLEANMGR /SAGESET:3.  (CLEANMGR is the Windows "Disk Cleanup" utility.)  When the dialog box comes up, scroll the whole list, and check all the checks to ON.  This saves those settings into the Registry into some area numbered 3.

2. Do Start/Run, then type CLEANMGR /SAGERUN:3.  This is now the command-line way to clean up checkbox set #3 from above.

3. Get ATF-Cleaner from www.atribune.org, and run it.  Click Select All and Empty Selected.

4. For Excel macro files get Rob Bovey's Code Cleaner from www.appspro.com/Utilities/CodeCleaner.htm.  When you install it the VBIDE's Tools menu will have a new command: Clean Project....  Open every macro-enabled Excel file you've got in Design Mode (holding down the Shift key), and clean it with this.
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LVL 19

Expert Comment

by:Ken Butters
Another reason for PC slowdown can be attributed to low space on the hard drive.   If you start running out of space, it can cause big problems for your swap file.

Obvious solutions are to delete unneeded files, or upgrade to a larger hard drive.
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LVL 22

Expert Comment

by:rspahitz
Would have been nice to see things about how to check which process is causing the slowness rather than "clog up your system with more processes that clean things up when you're trying to work" (aka anti-virus/anti-spyware/anti-productivity) but at least there was an indication of maybe turning it off while doing other things.
A mention of the Task Manager would have been helpful.  Many people already know about this, but I suspect even more know about the apparent benefits of anti-malware tools.
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LVL 3

Expert Comment

by:Ed Covney
rspahitz - Read my post from 5-27:  "Procexp" is like task manager on steroids.  It can't tell you why a system is slow (nothing can) but it allows you to ascertain that for yourself - what's occupying RAM, CPU and IO activity.  FWIW, the Windows 10's task manager is much better than what you get on Win 7 and prior versions.
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Expert Comment

by:Rochelle Adsitt
When it comes to anti-virus, free isn't always necessarily "worthless". I use Microsoft Security Essentials (which is completely free) and, after running a full scan on a computer, it found something that the Norton Security Suite (which was previously installed) apparently didn't. (As someone once told me - who knows better how to protect Windows, than the company which makes and maintains it? So why not use their anti-virus/anti-malware?)

I took my friend's computer from being basically non-functional to pristine and running like a top mostly by using Malwarebytes and Microsoft Security Essentials.

CCleaner is also my top go-to tool (again, free), and I use chkdsk /F and Disk Cleanup (Clean System Files) in the routine I use to help improve performance.
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Expert Comment

by:Rochelle Adsitt
Also - ninite.com is a fabulous resource for installing the latest version of utilities and other software we've come to depend on (Adobe Reader, Flash, Java, Malwarebytes, etc.) cleanly and quickly. It installs the software for me and doesn't allow any of the extra junk (like toolbars) to get installed or enabled.
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LVL 7

Expert Comment

by:gudii9
CCleaner I mentioned above can be found at (https://www.piriform.com/ccleaner) use the free version

i installed and analyzed saw 9243 mb worth of files. now cleaning them.

when i open the windows explorer (windows key+E)it is closing by itself in few seconds saying 'windows enountered a problem..windows trying to find solution etc) not sure why
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