ARCHIVED: Why is my Windows computer running slowly?
If your Windows computer is running slowly, following are possible causes and solutions.
On this page:
- Unneeded programs
- Programs loading on startup
- Windows updates
- Insufficient RAM
- Defective or incompatible RAM
- Hard disk errors
- Fragmented hard drive
- Overheating CPU
You may need to free some space on the hard drive by removing unneeded programs; see ARCHIVED: In Windows, how do I uninstall programs?
Programs loading on startup
Configure programs to automatically load on startup only if you
really need them, since some programs load into your notification
area, and can cause your computer to slow down. You can
typically change startup options in the program preferences, but you
may need to check the help documentation. Even if programs do not load
automatically, you can still access them via
Start, and then
All Programs, or via an icon on your desktop. For more, see
In Windows, how can I prevent a program from starting automatically?
If you are experiencing a significant number of unwanted pop-up windows, your computer most likely has some type of spyware or malware infection; see ARCHIVED: What is spyware or adware, and how can I remove it?
You may have pending Windows updates that need to be installed. Keeping Windows up to date helps maintain the security and reliability of your operating system, which helps it run at optimal speeds. See ARCHIVED: For Windows, how can I get software updates and patches?
Your computer may run slowly if it does not have sufficient RAM. For minimum hardware requirements for your operating system, see:
- About Windows 8 at IU: System requirements, availability, versions
- About Windows 7
- About Windows Vista
- ARCHIVED: What is Windows XP?
Defective or incompatible RAM
In most cases, a computer with either defective or incompatible RAM will simply not function. Other times, it will give clear and unambiguous blue-screen errors. In a few cases, the computer will function, but badly. The solution is to identify the incompatible or defective RAM and replace it. It's best to identify the proper amount of RAM for your computer and use only that, and, when problems occur, to run burn-in tests (some are available for free download) to ensure the RAM is still physically good.
Hard disk errors
Your disk may contain errors (e.g., file allocation errors), which can cause error messages as well as slow performance. To fix these errors, run ScanDisk.
For help, see Microsoft Support.
Fragmented hard drive
A fragmented hard drive will make the computer search the hard drive to find pieces of files. You can fix this by defragmenting your hard drive.
For help, see Microsoft Support.
Every Pentium-class and newer computer has fans and heat sinks specifically for cooling the CPU. When the fan wears out or becomes clogged with dust or other debris, the temperature of the CPU rises. In most cases, the computer simply stops operating, but sometimes the entire computer will appear to be running slowly or taking long pauses. To rectify this, clean the CPU fan so it spins at the proper rate, clean out the heat sink so it dissipates heat properly, or replace the fan/heat sink unit.
Last modified on January 07, 2013.