It’s easy to take your computer’s processing speed for granted when everything is working in a smooth, swift manner. However, when the machine starts to “drag its feet” while booting up, take more than just a few seconds to save files or launch programs, and lag so badly that consuming media or doing work is nearly impossible…well, that’s when we suddenly become very interested in processing speed! A sluggish computer is often extremely frustrating to work with, but fortunately, the condition doesn’t have to be chronic. So, before you declare your device to be a lost cause (or throw it out the window in a fit of anger), here are four techniques to try:
1.) Remove some files or programs to free up disk space.
While computers now come with more storage space than ever before, you still can’t hoard an infinite amount of data—and as your computer’s hard drive fills up, the machine tends to slow down. If that surprises you, think of it this way: it’s much easier to find a specific item or complete a task inside your home when the house is neat and tidy. If you have piles of junk, paper, and trash everywhere, getting work done tends to be much trickier!
So, if your computer is lagging, one of the simplest things to do is to go through your personal files and see if there’s anything that you can either delete or move to a portable storage device (flash drive, external hard drive, etc.). You can also look at the list of programs and apps currently installed on the machine and remove/uninstall anything that you know you don’t use. This can include “bloatware” that came pre-installed on your computer when you purchased it, or games and programs that you downloaded, used twice, and then completely forgot about.
(Note: do not uninstall a program or app if you don’t know what it is or what, exactly, it does! Doing so may harm your computer, and recovering these programs can be considerably more complicated than removing them!)
2.) Check Your Task Manager or Activity Monitor and “kill” some processes.
When a program or app is running too slowly to functional or seems to have frozen completely, hitting Ctrl + Alt + Delete (on a PC) or going to Applications à Utilities à Activity Monitor (on a Mac) can be a lifesaver. Doing so will pull up either Task Manager or Activity Monitor (respectively) and allow you to end the stuck programs. This is a fairly basic trick that most computer owners know, even if they don’t consider themselves to be very “tech-savvy.”
But Task Manager and Activity Monitor are capable of much more than simply ending unresponsive apps. If you look at the details offered by these modules, you can also see which programs are currently operating behind-the-scenes, which ones have instructions to launch automatically upon startup, and whether or not any particular program is “hogging” all of the available space on your hard disk, RAM, or network. Any one of these issues can slow down your computer substantially, so speeding things up may be as simple as instructing your computer to completely close that game you thought you exited out of an hour ago…or telling it that it doesn’t need to load Skype the moment you log on to your desktop!
(Another note: If you don’t know what a specific background process or program is, do not kill it! You could wind up terminating something that’s necessary for your operating system to work, requiring you to reboot your computer!)
3.) Run a malware/anti-virus scan.
Viruses, spyware, and other kinds of malware can also be the culprit when your computer suddenly starts running more slowly than usual. These nasty programs tend to lurk in the background of your computer’s regular operations, using disk space and RAM while remaining practically invisible to the user. It’s not uncommon for malware to be sophisticated enough to hide from Task Manager or Activity Monitor, and some viruses can disable these modules entirely! If your computer is acting up, go ahead and manually order your anti-virus/anti-malware program to scan your hard drive for suspicious items, even if the software very recently performed a scheduled scan. And if you don’t currently have any anti-virus/anti-malware software installed on your computer, that’s something you need to remedy ASAP!
4.) Remove unnecessary browser add-ons.
If you spend a lot of time online, you’ve probably downloaded some add-ons or extensions to your browser-of-choice. Add-ons aren’t necessarily “bad” things (especially if they’re well-designed and genuinely enhance your web surfing experience), but if you’re running too many at once, they can bog down the browser and make it slow to a crawl. It’s a good idea to go into your browser settings and take a long, hard look at the extensions you’re currently running. If there are any that you only utilize on rare occasions (e.g., ones that are linked to a specific website), keep them turned off when you’re not using them. And if there are some that you don’t use at all anymore, go ahead and hit ‘delete.’
Working with a slow computer can be exasperating, but fixing the problem doesn’t always require extraordinary measures. Each of the four techniques we just discussed can be performed relatively quickly and easily in the privacy of your own home, so don’t be afraid to give them a shot. However, if nothing you do seems to resolve the situation and you’re at your wit’s end, then give us a call at 817-756-2241. Our trained technicians will be able to get to the root of the problem, whether the culprit is insidious malware eating up your RAM, an aged hard drive that’s about to fail, or something else entirely. Don’t let a sleepy processor keep you down; ComputerCPR can whip your technology into shape!