Help! My computer is running slow!!!

One of the most common questions I get asked is “Why is my computer running so slow?”.  There are any number of reasons why it’s slow, but let me give you my basic troubleshooting tasks that I perform.  First, I look at the age of the PC/Laptop and the number of apps the user is trying to run. A Pentium 4 with Office 2007, Quicken 2009, Adobe Acrobat Standard and other apps running is going to run slow.  A hardware upgrade is needed at this point.

If the PC/Laptop is relatively new (less than 2 years old), there are a couple of things I look for. First, I check to see if the Hard Drive needs to be Defragged. To Defrag your computer, open My Computer or Windows Explorer. Right click on C: and then click on Properties. Next click on Tools and Defragment Now. Click Analyze to determine if a Defrag is needed. If one is needed, click on Defrag and this will start the process. Defragmentation can take several hours so be patient and let it run.

If Defrag is not needed or doesn’t seem to speed up the PC/Laptop, I run a tool to clean the PC/Laptop. One tool I recommend is CCleaner by Piriform. If can be downloaded from this link. Over time, removing and adding software, improper shutdowns and just general problems can cause the Registry and other Windows Operating files to get cluttered. CCleaner examines these files and removes the clutter.

If the prior steps don’t work, I run MSCONFIG and look to see what is running at PC/Laptop startup. To do this, Click Start or hit the Windows key on your keyboard. Next click Run and then type msconfig (not case sensitive) and then hit enter. You want to examine the Startup tab and see what’s running.

Be careful editing this file. If you are not confident editing it, let the Professionals edit it.

Your goal here is to look for programs that are running at Startup that you don’t need to run. For instance, if you are happy with your version of Adobe Reader, you may want to turn off AdobeUpdater by unchecking it’s box. This will prevent if from running at Startup.

The final thing I look for is Spyware. There are numerous tools out there to check for Spyware but the key thing to remember is these tools should be run in SAFE Mode. I will devote my next blog to running Spyware tools so I’ll not cover that here.

Some final thoughts on slow running PC – try to be cognizant of when the slowness is occurring. Is it only occurring when you start your web browser? Is it slow when the PC/Laptop starts up? Is it slow when you run your mail program? Some things to think about as your troubleshooting slow pc’s are: Is the Internet in general slow that day? Is your ISP having issues? Is your virus protection processing a scan at the time of the slowness (our laptop at Church was running slow on Sunday mornings during service. It turns out that the AntiVirus program was running weekly scans during Service. I quickly turned that off ).  Also, there may be Hardware issues that are causing the slowness (failing hard drive, overheating CPU).  These should be ruled out before the troubleshooting tasks listed above.

Troubleshooting a slow PC/Laptop is a time consuming process so don’t expect a quick fix on this. If your not PC literate, you may want to turn this over to the Professionals but it will cost you some money. You might want to consider reimaging your PC/Laptop. It may work out better in the long run.


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