What to do when your computer is too slow

If your computer is running at the speed of molasses, it’s time to look under the hood.

There are several possible reasons that your computer is performing poorly. In this article, I’m going to break down a few of the most common problems and how you can fix them.

I’ve talked to many people who, instead of taking their computer in for repairs or otherwise trying to figure out what’s going on, go straight out and buy a new computer! While it’s always fun to have a shiny, new computer, repeated habits could cause your new computer to end up the same way the old one did: sloooooow.

Diagnosing computer problems is a lot like taking your computer to the doctor: there are several tests you can do to uncover the core issue. If you’re not super comfortable digging around on your computer, then talk to a professional (give me a call!), though I’m going to do my best to simplify this.

Issue #1: Computer has run out of disk space

If the “Low Disk Space” error message has come up recently on your computer (“Your startup disk is almost full” if you have a Mac), this means your computer is bogged down with files. These can be image and video files (video uses up a ton of space), music, or even temporary Internet files.

This is an easy one to fix. Run through this list to free up space:

  • Empty the trash.
  • Get rid of everything you don’t need in your downloads folder.
  • Go through your video folder/s and delete anything you don’t need.
  • Transfer photos and videos you want to keep to an external hard drive.
  • Clean up your cloud storage (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.) by deleting unneeded files.
  • Use free software like CC Cleaner to clean out temporary Internet files.
  • Restart.

Alternatively, you can look at upgrading the memory. Check with your manufacturer to see whether this is possible. Newer Macs are not up-gradable.

Issue #2: Too many programs are running or you haven’t upgraded your software

Computers are pretty amazing, but they can only handle so much before they get overwhelmed. If you run several big programs, like Adobe design software, at the same time, it’s probably too much for your computer. Only run what you need, and ensure everything else is closed. Also, do a proper shutdown of your computer at the end of the day, instead of just letting it go to sleep. If you’re using outdated operating system software like Windows 7, this could also be the reason your computer is slow. Your computer should also be setup for automatic updates.

Issue #3: Your computer may be infected with a virus or malware

Viruses and malware aren’t necessarily obvious. They can lurk in the background, slowly destroying your computer. Run your antivirus software once a week and automate it if you can so that you don’t have to remember to do this.

Here are two antivirus programs you can use, both are free:

AVG for Mac
Windows Defender (already on your computer if you have Windows 8 or 10)

If any of this seems too overwhelming, or the process itself has proven too confusing once you’ve gotten into trying the steps for yourself, we’re always here to help. A quick site visit may be enough to get your computer running smoothly again; in some cases, however,  your computer may just be old and run-down which could indicate that it’s time for a new one. If you’d like a computer diagnosis or help with your new purchase give West Coast Technical a call and we’ll be happy to help!