HomeHome : Help Center : Question

What are some of the main reasons why my computer is slowing down?

Answer: Nobody wants to buy a fast computer just to have it slow to a crawl over time. If your computer is not performing like it used to, there are a number of causes that could be causing the sluggish performance. Here are a few:

  1. A nearly full hard drive.
    If your hard drive is almost completely full, it is likely many of your files are fragmented. This is because as the hard drive fills up, there are fewer open blocks of space to write additional files to. The result is that new files get written on different sections of the drive (file fragmentation). Your computer takes longer to read fragmented files, since it has to scan more of the hard drive. This can cause your computer to slow down significantly.

    Solution: Delete unnecessary files and run a file defragmentation/optimization program such as Norton Speed Disk.

  2. Spyware and viruses.
    If you're using Windows, there is a high probability that your operating system has been infected by various spyware programs or viruses. These programs run discreetly within your system, taking up CPU and memory, slowing your computer down. They usually find their way into your computer through your Internet connection and are often hard to detect. Viruses and spyware can cause anything from a small drop in your computer's performance to bringing your machine to grinding halt.

    Solution: Use Windows Update to download the latest security updates and install at least one antivirus program and antispyware program to find and remove malicious files.

  3. Low memory (RAM).
    Everything that happens on your PC has to go through the computer's memory at some point. So if you don't have a lot of RAM, it may cause bottleneck when your computer needs to move a lot of information at once. Typically, newer software programs require more RAM than older programs, since they often have more features and better graphics capabilities. If your computer could run old programs well, but is having trouble running new programs, upgrading your memory is the first thing you should do. It's relatively inexpensive and can breath new life into your machine.

    Solution: Add more RAM to your computer. Make sure you get the correct type of memory for your machine -- check the size, type, number of pins, and speed of the RAM.

If none of these solutions seem to help boost your computer's performance, you may have to reinstall your operating system. If you decide to do this, be sure to back up all your data first on another hard drive or optical media, since the hard disk is typically erased during a system restore.

Published: April 14, 2005 — by Per Christensson

Answer from the PC Help Center