Last updateSun, 09 Apr 2017 3pm

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Tips to Speed Up a Slow Windows PC

Your computer is running very slow, your programs take a long time to run, and worse yet, your computer is taking a long time to start up. You have had this system for a while and it is getting worst. it is sick. You are contemplating on getting a new system.

Your new computer may eventually get bogged down again over time and become very slow. Before you spend your hard earned money to get a new computer, let’s see if we can determine why and what is causing your computer to perform poorly. Below are possible route causes:

  1. Look for spyware, adware, and viruses
  2. Check your hard drive
  3. Check your systems for loaded programs from system startup
  4. Determine if you have enough memory
  5. Ignoring errors

Your PC isn't what it used to be. Now you wait, and wait, and then, wait some more. If your Windows system was any slower, it may not start up at all.
While this level of frustration fully justifies the need to spend money on a brand new computer, put your wallet away for now. First, try to breathe new life into your old pokey machine.

Look for Spyware, Adware, and Viruses

To begin with, start looking for spyware, adware, Trojan horses, and viruses. These malicious programs contain code that generally runs invisibly and take up a good chunk of your system resources. Resources would be the processor is busy more often for functions you did not ask for and physical memory being forced to swap out to the hard drive frequently. Many times they are malicious and are doing harm to you and your system such preventing you from getting onto the Internet and even destroying your data files. Scan your computer for viruses and spyware. While there are many scanning tools, here are some to get started. Run the scans and remove what it finds. You may experience the malicious code preventing you from downloading these tools. Other methods may be necessary such a safe mode and copying the tools.

  1. Malwarebytes (
  2. Superantispyware (
  3. StopZilla (
  4. Trend Micro HyjackThis (
  5. Spybot (

It may be necessary to turn off your System Restore prior to your scanning effort. There enough cases where the malicious code is hidden in the System Volume to be reinstalled and continue with it malicious activities. To do this:

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Click on the 'System' app to open then basic information about your computer
  3. On the left side, click on 'System Protection' to get System Properties window
  4. Select the drive to disable the restore then click on the 'Configure,,,' button to get another window
  5. Select the 'Disable system protection' then click the OK button to go back to the 'System Properties' window
  6. Verify the C drive protection is Off
  7. Click on the OK button to exit out of the 'System Protection' window
  8. Then exit out of the Control Panel

Check Your Hard Drive

The hard drive can be full and possibly fragmented. Every computer system needs about 15% space for file swapping. A swap file (also known as pagefile) is a space on a hard drive used as the virtual memory extension of a computer's real physical memory (RAM). Having a swap file allows your computer's operating system to pretend that you have more RAM than you actually do. The least recently used program and files in RAM can be "swapped out" to your hard disk until they are needed again later. This will allow new programs and files can be "swapped in" to RAM. The file swapping is managed by Windows operating system.

Hard drive can be fragmented when you install and uninstall programs, save and delete files over a period of time. Fragmentation makes your hard disk do extra work that will eventually slow down your computer. Prior to defragmentation, you may desire to clean up your hard drive with Disk Cleanup. Disk Cleanup is used to:

  • Remove temporary Internet files.
  • Delete downloaded program files
  • Empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Remove Windows temporary files, such as error reports.
  • Delete optional Windows components that you don't use.
  • Delete installed programs that you no longer use.
  • Remove unused restore points and shadow copies from System Restore.

Access Disk Cleanup by doing the following steps:

  1. Click on the Start menu
  2. Then go to and click on All Programs
  3. Look for and click on Accessories
  4. Find System Tools then click to get to the Disk Cleanup

After the program scans your hard drive, you should see a list of file categories such as, Clear Temporary files, Temporary Internet Files and the Recycle Bin. Make your selections and click OK. It may take a few minutes to delete the files.

You can use the Windows Defrag to move files into more contiguous sequence to improve program and file access. Windows often splits files, storing parts in separate areas of the drive. Your computer must work harder to access program and data files. Disk Defragmenter rearranges fragmented data so your hard disk can work more efficiently and quickly. Generally, Disk Defragmenter runs on a schedule, but you can also defragment your hard disk manually. To defrag manually, do the following:

  1. Clicking the Start button and locate 'Accessories' menu item
  2. Then look for the 'System Tools; submenu item then click that.
  3. In System Tools, click Disk Defragmenter. If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation. (NOTE - Windows 8 and 10, you can go to the Start screen and type 'Defragment' then open it up.)
  4. A defrag window will pop up. Select the drive you want to defrag then start it. Windows 8 and 10 does have the analyze feature you can do first to determine if you want/need to defrag the hard drive.
  5. Begin defragmenting when you are ready.

Disk Defragmenter might take from several minutes to a few hours to finish, depending on the size and degree of fragmentation of your hard disk. So you may want to do that Analyze first. However, you can still use your computer during the defragmentation process.

Check your systems for loaded programs from system startup

It is common for you to have programs you no longer use or need. Programs do use the system resources (memory and hard drive spaces). There are programs that automatically load when you start up your computer waiting for further instructions or get triggered by some event such as opening up a data file. Many times these programs will sit loaded and never do anything. You can remove these unwanted programs through Windows uninstall in the Windows Control Panel.
To remove the unwanted programs:

  1. Click on the Start button then click on the Control Panel
  2. In the Control Panel, click on the Add/Remove for Windows XP or Program and Features for Vista and Windows 7.
  3. Locate then click on the program to uninstall

If you do not want to remove any of these programs, then work to get them not to run when you start up your computer. Generally, the control would be in each of these programs. There are times programs are start from the Start menu auto start feature.

Add More Memory

Adding more memory can help a sluggish computer. Before you open the computer's case and add more physical random access memory, give Windows ReadyBoost a shot. You need a USB flash drive. A memory card like those from your digital camera will also work. Either should be at least 1 GB in capacity.

ReadyBoost will use the drive or card's storage space to take load off the RAM to get things done. Simply plug the drive or card into your computer. From the Windows 7, 8, and 10 dialog box, select speed up my system. Follow the prompts until the steps are completed. ReadyBoost is also available on Windows Vista. ReadyBoost is more of a temporary solution and to test if you need more memory. When you put in the external storage, you will need to do the following:

  1. Insert the external device such as USB thumb drive or SD card. The system will generally auto play to open a window display any files and folders. Close that.
  2. Open the Windows Explorer then right mouse on that inserted storage for a popup menu.
  3. Select Property menu item to get that drive properties window
  4. Select the ReadyBoost tab and it will look for that drive to determine if that drive can be used
  5. Either select 'Dedicate this device to ReadyBoost' or 'Use this device' and select the space to reserve
  6. Click OK to close the settings.

When you decide to remove this device and add more memory, you will need to turn of that ReadyBoost by doing the above steps and select "Do not use this device".

Check out the Errors

Errors may also be slowing your hard drive down. Error Checking finds and fixes them for you. It also checks the integrity of your files. Follow the steps below to do Error checking. Recommend backing up your hard drive before doing this checking.

  1. Open (My) Computer from Start menu or icon on the desktop
  2. Right-click the C: drive for a popup menu then select Properties to get the Properties window
  3. Click on the 'Tools' tab then click on the 'Check' button
  4. Select Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors. This process will vary a little between different windows.
  5. Click Start. Fix any bad sectors that are found.

If these steps did not resolve this performance issue, then you could reformat the drive and reinstall your programs and files. Generally, these steps help. If you have done everything possible with no improvement and resolve, then it still may be time to get a new computer with the knowledge that you did all you could to extend its useful life.