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How to Fix a Slow Computer or Laptop

Why is my computer operating so slow and how to fix it


How to fix a slow computer! This is one of the most frequently asked questions from users and it can be very frustrating. Your operating system has to manage the resources of your computer (memory, drive space, processing power) between all the programs that are running on it. There’s a considerable number of things that may be reducing your computer’s performance. Many of them are a result of inefficient use of your computer’s resources.


The steps you can take to fix a slow computer or laptop:

If your computer has not been restarted recently, ensure that you restart it before following any other steps. In your Operating System (Windows), the RAM or Memory has space allocated in it for programs that are running on your computer. Once your RAM eventually fills up, your computer will slow down as your Operating System begins using the swap file instead.

my computer is slow


A restart could be a quick fix and an answer  to the question “How to Fix a Slow Computer?”


Once the RAM fills up, the swap file which is a file on your disk drive will be used for data that is currently being used in programs. However, hard drives, even much faster SSDs, are slower than RAM, therefore your computer will slow down when it resorts to using the swap file.

Ever been in a situation where your computer or laptop suddenly slow down? This RAM to swap file process is the most reason why many users will be asking themselves why did my computer get slow all of a sudden?


What to Do When Your Windows Laptop Slows Down

1. Restart your computer or laptop

Restarting your computer ensures that programs will not keep running in the background. It also allows Windows updates to be installed and can fix bugs that your computer might be suffering from like memory leaks which cause programs to take up more RAM space than necessary. A simple reboot can be the easiest fix for a slow-running computer.


Programs That Run on Startup can slow down your computer

2. Disable startup programs

Programs that automatically run at boot can slow down your computer and increase the time it takes to boot up. You might require some programs to run automatically at boot if you use them whenever you’re on your computer, but if there are too many start-up programs running, your computer’s performance will be reduced as they run in the background hence resulting the computer to run slow.


How to disable startup programs: On Windows 8 and 10,

  1. Right-click the taskbarHow to Fix a Slow Computer
  2. And select Task ManagerAlternative or short cut to step 1 and 2
    Simultaneously hold  ‘Ctrl-Alt-Delete’fix a slow computer or laptopSelect Task manager
    and then go to the Start-up’ tab
    How to Fix a Slow ComputerYou’ll be able to view each program that runs on startup and its impact on your PC’s performance and boot time.


Caution: This method is for advanced users. Disabling a wrong program could affect your computer’s operating system.


Before you disable any programs, note that some of these are vital for Windows to operate. Programs published by Microsoft, for example, are best left alone, or you could use Google to find out more about them and whether you should keep them or not.

To disable a program simply right-click the Disable option.


Note: On Windows 7 instead of selecting ‘Task Manager, you’ll have to search for ‘Systems Configuration’.


How do I clean up my computer to make it run faster?

3. Clean your hard drive

When the space on your Hard Drive is full, your computer slows because the Operating System does not have enough space to work efficiently. In order to prevent fragmentation, use swap files and create temporary files, your Operating system requires free space.

Ensure that your hard drive has 200 – 500 MB (megabytes) of disk space available to prevent your hard drive from filling up.

Stop keeping cat images and videos collected over the years that are unnecessary, they are hurting your computer performance.


To check how much free space you have, open ‘File Explorer’ and click ‘This PC’ in the left navigation bar. Your primary drive will usually have the name (Windows c:). If you have other drives, you will also be able to view how much space they have.

How do I clean up my computer to make it run faster

Regardless of how many drives you have, it is better to ensure that each one has a buffer (free space) of 200-500 MB to keep the Operating System managing files on the drives efficiently.


How to clean up a hard drive to fix a slow computer or laptop

  • Empty out your recycle bin: When you use your PC, files build up in the recycle bin, Cleaning it regularly will assist in keeping up the performance of your PC. To clean your recycle bin, double-click on the recycle bin icon, right-click anywhere and then select ‘Empty Recycle Bin’. You can right-click on recycle bin icon itself as well.
  • Unwanted Programs: Unwanted programs could be taking up space on your hard drive and slowing down your computer. To delete them, open ‘Control Panel’ through the windows search bar (accessible via the Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen). Click ‘Uninstall a Program’ under the ‘Programs Header’. Use the window that pops up to uninstall any unwanted programs.
  • Clean Your Downloads Folder: Not cleaning your downloads folder will result in the accumulation of the files that you download from the internet. These will take up space on your hard drive and ultimately slow down your PC. To delete unneeded files, Open ‘File Explorer’ and click ‘Downloads’ on the Access Bar on the left. Place files that you still need in the appropriate folders and delete the rest.
  • Delete Temporary Files: Temporary files are stored on the hard drive as a computer runs programs. Deleting these temp files can help to improve the performance of your PC. It can be hard to know which temp files to delete, and they can be difficult to find since they are mainly in hidden folders. To access your main temporary file folder, exit all open programs, press the Windows key + R, type in %TMP% and click ‘OK’. A folder that contains most of your temporary files will pop up. Note that it may bring up temp files that programs are still using and should not be removed.


Malware, Trojans or Viruses Could be the reason why your computer is slow

4. Scan for Malware or Viruses:

If your computer has been infected by malware and viruses, it can slow down. Ensure that you are using an up-to-date antivirus program for active protection against viruses.

Here is a list of the best anti-virus software to choose from.


Low memory slows down your computer or laptop

5. Upgrade your memory:

A memory upgrade is one of the easiest and most effective upgrades you can do. Your computer uses Random Access Memory (RAM) to store data that the operating system and the programs running on it are currently using. If your computer has less than 4GB of RAM, programs will compete for their share of memory, resulting in your PC being slowed down.

Related content: Should you upgrade your computer


Once your RAM eventually fills up, the computer will start to use the swap file on the hard drive – and because hard drives are significantly slower than RAM, there will be a distinct difference in the performance of your PC.


Programs such as games and video-editing programs need to store a large amount of data in memory for quick access. If these are the main kinds of programs you run on your PC, you should have at least 6GB of RAM so that your computer won’t have to resort to using the swap file too frequently.


Upgrading the RAM of a desktop computer should be relatively easy. All you need to do is buy a new RAM and place it in the slots that are pointed out in your motherboard’s manual.  With laptops, as it is with most upgrades, it’s a little trickier. You may or may not be able to upgrade the RAM without purchasing an entirely new computer. Consult your laptop’s manual to evaluate whether upgrading your RAM is possible on your own device.


Defected Computer hard drive can suddenly slow down your computer or laptop

6. Upgrade the Hard Drive:

Upgrading  from a Hard Disk Drive to a Solid State Drive can drastically improve the performance of your PC.

Related content:  how to upgrade your computer’s hard drive to SSD


How can I fix a slow computer using easy windows built in tools?

7. Defragment the hard drive:

Defragging your hard drive chronologically organizes the bits and pieces of data on your hard drive. If your PC has slowed down over a while, then defragging can assist in speeding it up. Programs that have large file sizes such as games and video editors, can fragment your hard drive, and defragging can improve their performance.

To defrag on Windows 10:

  • Select the search on the taskbar and enter Defrag
  • Choose ‘Defragment’ and ‘Optimize Drives’
  • Select a disk drive you would like to defrag
  • Click ‘Optimize’



8. Overheating computer Processor

Most systems automatically reduce the speed of a computer’s processor to compensate for heat-related issues, this can cause a decrease in your PC’s performance. Make sure that your computer and processor is not overheating.


Ensure your computer case is clean and the fans are not obstructed, as things like dust, dirt and hair can constrict proper airflow through your computer, which can cause overheating. CapeTown IT Support offers computer cleaning services to prevent overheating and ensure that your PC works efficiently. For more info on our computer cleaning services, get in touch with our support team


An outdated windows can slow down your pc

9. Update the Operating System:

 Ensure that you install the latest Windows updates and up-to-date drivers. This provides performance improvements, and falling behind on updates can cause your PC to slow down.

You can manage your computer’s updates via the Settings menu:

  • Select the ‘Windows Start Menu’, then click ‘Settings’ on the left.
  • Select ‘Update and Security’
  • This page will inform you on whether you are behind on any system updates, and will provide the steps you need to take if you are.


A Fresh Windows can fix a computer running slow

10. Reinstall The Operating System:

If no other steps work, you may have to resort to reinstalling your computer’s operating system. If you’ve been using your PC for a while (say, maybe 3 years or longer), you have probably built up files that you no longer require. Reinstalling Windows ensures that you get rid of everything you do not need. All your drivers and settings will be set to default and the system will be fresh.


Remember to backup all of your important files before you reinstall Windows, as this process will delete all data from your hard drive.

You can do this via Window’s backup tool, which you can find through searching backup in the start menu.

In Conclusion:

A computer or laptop can gradually or suddenly slow down due to a number of factors. To recap, here are the main

10 Solutions on how to fix a slow running computer or laptop

  1. Restart your computer or laptop
  2. Disable startup programs
  3. Clean your hard drive
  4. Scan for Malware or Viruses
  5. Upgrade your memory
  6. Upgrade the Hard Drive
  7. Defragment the hard drive
  8. Overheating computer Processor
  9. Update the Operating System
  10. Reinstall The Operating System

We hope this article assists you! For any queries, contact Cape Town iT Support





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