Computer slowdowns are never desirable. If you’re wondering why your computer is slow and not as snappy as before, there might be a number of reasons at play. Even computers that don’t have many years under their belt sometimes suffer from slowdowns. So age is not the only factor responsible then.
Computers are electronic devices and can suffer from a variety of software and hardware issues. These issues, if not diagnosed and resolved, can cause system slowdowns and in extreme cases, irreparable damage to components.
There might be six major causes behind your slow computer, ranging from minor software-level issues to major hardware-level faults:
- Low disk space
- Low system memory (RAM)
- Malware or Viruses
- Outdated system software
- Dust and thermal issues
- Obsolete hardware
Low Disk Space
Over time, your hard disk can get filled to the brim and cause Windows to slow down as a result. It’s recommended to keep at least 10% of your boot drive (C: drive in most systems) free, at the bare minimum.
Your computer might have multiple unnecessary and rarely-used programs consuming hard disk space. Your storage might also be suffering from optimization issues. Lastly, there might be a lot of temporary and browser cache files present on the hard disk, accumulated by the system and the apps over time.
Low System Memory
Your system memory or RAM is what keeps multiple applications running parallelly without slowing everything down. It is possible to use up almost all the available memory and end up with too little memory to keep the system running smoothly.
One of the most glaring areas in terms of system slowdown is the boot time. You might remember your brand-new laptop booting up in an instant but now takes a lifetime to make it to the desktop. This is because over time, your computer builds up the number of programs that get loaded on startup, needlessly increasing the boot time.
A majority of these programs don’t need to be loaded on startup. You can always launch them as and when you need them.
Malware or Viruses
In today’s always-online age, it’s virtually impossible not to catch malware or a virus while browsing the web or even from an infected USB drive or DVD.
Malware can be of several kinds- some sit on your drive and bring your system to a crawl and some are targeted to encrypt your files, accompanied with a ransom note, essentially rendering your files unusable unless you pay the scammers to decrypt them (or you could just give up on your data and just format your entire drive).
There are viruses lurking in cyberspace as well that, once on your disk, end up replicating themselves and start throwing pop-up messages unexpectedly or start launching unknown programs or simply making your system unresponsive. A potential sign of viruses on your system is weird sounds coming from your hard disk.
You can also end up with viruses from fishy emails or peer-to-peer file-sharing software like uTorrent, BitTorrent, etc.
Outdated System Software
Keeping your operating system up-to-date is essential to ensuring you have the latest features in terms of security and performance. Often newer OS builds have patches that fix persistent security flaws and performance drawbacks in the previous builds.
Often, some updates are missed due to changes to the system settings. This can lead to you experiencing slowdowns and malware infections. Hence, it’s important to make sure you have automatic updates turned on.
Dust and Hardware Issues
Both your desktops and laptops are prone to accumulating dust inside them, no matter how high-end your system is. Dust and grime are inevitable and will always be there after prolonged use. PCs and laptops have cooling fans working constantly, sucking in a fair bit of dust which settles on both the intake vents & fans and, on the motherboard and other components inside the case.
Your hard drive or memory might also be faulty from years of use and might require repairs or replacements.
The above reasons might be at play but it’s also possible that you’re overdue for an SSD or RAM upgrade if your beloved PC or laptop is showing signs of age. Today’s applications and internet browsers demand a minimum of 8GB and a recommended 16GB of RAM.
SSDs can bring one of the most noticeable speed improvements to your system. A 256 GB-512 GB SSD will be more than enough for your boot partition and will give your system a fresh lease of life.
There could still be other minor issues slowing down your computer:
- Visual features, One Drive Syncing, Search indexing, Windows Tips & Tricks, Cortana
- Recent application installation causing conflict with other applications
- Page file size not set properly
- System Management Controller issues
Lastly, you might need to send your computer for repairs or buy a new computer altogether if none of these issues are found to be the root cause of system slowdowns.