Picture the scene: you log onto your computer and nothing happens. Your PC takes forever to boot up and you feel every ounce of your patience drain away as you watch the loading icon spin over, over and over again trying to load up the simplest of applications.
PC performance issues are enough to frustrate even the most patient among us. But the good news is that there could very well be an easy fix to your frustration.
Have you tried turning it off and on again?
We’ve all heard this one before. But it’s a cliché for a reason – it works more than you might expect. If it’s been a while since you’ve rebooted your machine, then give this a try first. A restart gives all software a chance to start from scratch and any misbehaving code or struggling program that’s sapping processing power will be wiped clean.
Reasons your PC could be running slowly and how to fix them
If the trusty reboot doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to look a bit deeper. Here’s what else could be causing your PC to run slowly and what you can do about it.
Too many programs running
Just because you can have loads of things going on at once doesn’t mean you should. At some point, your PC’s memory and processing speed won’t be able to keep up with switching back and forth between programs and overall performance will suffer.
Solution: Use your task manager to shut down any programs you aren’t actively using or any rogue programs that haven’t shut down properly.
Too many browser tabs open
If your PC is only slow when browsing the web, it could be an internet browser issue and not a PC issue – especially if you’re the kind of person that has hundreds of tabs open at once.
Solution: Only have open what you need. If you want to come back to a site later, consider using the bookmarking or favouriting feature on your browser of choice.
Cookie, cache or extension overload
Every time you visit a new webpage, your browser stores temporary information about the visit. This can build up and take up precious disk space over time. Having too many browser extensions on the go can also slow down your PC as they take up memory and CPU usage.
Solution: Regularly clear your cache and cookies through your browser. Also consider disabling any plug-ins, extensions or add-ons unless you need them.
Your hard drive or memory is almost full
Your PC needs some breathing space when it comes to memory. Computers get slower as their hard drives fill up. Over time, programs you don’t use, updates and a steady building up of files and applications can chip away at the storage space you once had. As a rough rule of thumb, try to have at least 15-20% of your drive free at all times – more is always better.
Solution: Empty your trash folder regularly, delete temporary files, uninstall any programs you don’t use any more and consider moving large collections of photos, videos or music onto the cloud.
Too much is happening when your PC starts up
Whether you want them to or not, some applications are automatically programmed to load when you start up your machine. For some, like anti-virus, it’s a good idea to let them do so. Others are just are a burden on your PC’s processing speed when you first fire it up.
Solution: Find your PC’s startup log through the settings and disable any programs you don’t want to free up some processing speed. Take care with doing this though – never turn off anything that you don’t recognise the name of as it could affect startup.
Your computer software is out of date
As tempting as it is to click ‘Not now’ every time that pesky pop-up rears its head, out of date software or drivers can cause your PC to slow down. Ignore the reminder completely and your PC could be missing out on some crucial security or performance updates.
Solution: Make sure your software is up to date and running the latest version – this includes browsers, applications, drivers and your operating system itself.
You have a virus or malware on your PC
If your PC has become sloth-like out of nowhere, it might not be a software or hardware issue at all. Instead, it could be that your PC has some malicious virus, spyware or malware running somewhere in the background using up processing power.
Solution: Scan your PC using whatever anti-virus you have available. Consider running a full malware scan too to either rule that out or identify a bigger issue.
None of those solutions worked… what next?
You could consider a hard reset where you erase everything and start over as if your machine was fresh out of the box. Always make sure you’ve got everything you might need backed up somewhere else if you’re going to try this option. You can use the cloud or an external hard drive to do this.
Alternatively, it could be that your PC hardware is no longer up to the job. If you’re out of disk space, for example, the size of your hard drive could be what’s slowing down the running speed. Your only option at this point is to upgrade to some new kit.
If you think you’ve experienced a cybersecurity issue or you just can’t put your finger on the reason for your PC is running slowly, consider speaking to an IT professional who will be able to diagnose and fix your performance issues.
Computers in the City, your IT partner
Computers in the City is London’s longest-standing IT partner. With over 20 years’ experience, we can assist you to meet your IT support, consulting and cloud computing needs. We’re proud to be local, offering 24-hour support in straightforward language that takes the stress out of IT support.