10 Reasons Your Computer May Be Running Slowly

Frustrated with your computer or cell phone? Embarrassed to ask your kids/grandkids for tech help? You’re not alone. According to AARP, 33 percent of Boomers report frustration with technology.  Here’s some tips to help you take control of your technology.


One of the most popular computer questions people have about their computer is “Why is it running slowly?” Through the years, we have narrowed down the list of possible reasons to ten:

1) Too many programs are running at the same time.
It is common for users to download utilities, applications, and other programs that run in the background. The more programs that are running – whether you see them or not – the less “attention span” your computer has to do other things you are asking it to do.

Avoid downloading web browser-helpers, more than one anti-malware program, or applications that claim to “speed up” your internet or your computer, as each one added will slow down your performance. (It’s also a good idea to uninstall programs that you do not use to increase your machine’s processing speed.)

2) There’s not enough free RAM.
Random-access memory (RAM) is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. The more programs running at time, the more RAM is used. If your computer is running slowly, it could be because too many programs are running, and not enough RAM. To make your computer run faster, run fewer programs at a time or upgrade your RAM.

3) You have a virus/malware infection.
Internet slowdowns and slow computer operation can be a symptom of an infection. To find out if you have a malware problem, use an anti-virus and anti-spyware application to find it — like the free scanning tool we have available in the Self-Help area of our website.

4) You have low hard drive space.
Lack of hard drive space often affects older computers, or computers that do a lot of video editing or design work. Hard drives, which store all of your computer’s information, have a finite amount of space. Once they’re filled up, the computer no longer has the ability to manipulate files. The computer will slow down, eventually becoming unusable.

Generally, Windows will alert you to “low disk space” if this is the case. Moving some of your less-used files — such as pictures, music, and movies — to an external hard drive would free up some of your computer’s hard drive space and make it run faster. Deleting temporary files and performing a disk cleanup are also good ways to reclaim wasted space. Another solution? Install a bigger hard drive.

5) Restart your computer.
Every once in a while, it is a good idea to restart your computer. A computer cannot complete some of its updates until you restart. Restarting your computer can also free up memory resources tied up by buggy programs.

6) Sharing a wireless network.
If your internet is running slowly, but your computer is running quickly, you could have a lot of activity on your wireless network. Check to see if anyone else on your network is doing something that uses a lot of bandwidth (like streaming video or playing online games), as this can make your computer run slowly. You should also make sure your wireless network is secure so someone else isn’t using your Internet bandwidth. If your wireless network is not secure, Geek Squad recommends you create a password to secure your data and ensure strangers don’t join your network.

7)  Too many “bells and whistles.”
Animated pointers and hi-resolution images of your favorite vacation spot may look nice, but they can also slow your computer down. Since animations and images  load into memory every time you start your PC , there is less processing power available for more important tasks.

8) You have a scanning program running.
When a scanning program such as an anti-virus, anti-spyware, or automatic backup is running, your computer may respond slowly. We don’t recommend disabling these, as they are an important part of your computers safety. These programs should be run at least once a week, but don’t plan on using your machine while they are running.

9) Your computer barely meets your software’s minimum requirements.
Software usually has a list of requirements for things like processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM) and hard drive space. These specifications are the absolute minimum levels needed to make the software run. If your computer just meets the requirements, the software will run, but it might not run well. Try to meet or surpass the system “recommendations” of your software, rather than just meeting the bare “requirements.”

10) You have a fragmented hard drive.
It’s important to defragment your hard drive to help the computer organize itself better and make sure it runs smoothly. Think of your hard drive as someone who really likes to be organized but is always in a big hurry. Because you hard drive is low on time, it might save bits of a file here and pieces of it there, rather than all together. This works fine for a while, but eventually everything is scattered, and it takes your hard drive longer to find everything and get moving. Defragmenting is like a really big clean up. Your hard drive will put everything back in the right place and, as a result, will be able to move more quickly.

That’s it! If you’ve follow these ten steps, it should help you resolve a decent amount of your slow computer problems. There’s always more to learn, and lots to do in order to keep your computer running smoothly. Of course, there’s always help from Geek Squad, if you need it, but don’t be afraid to try some things on your own as well. We’ll always be available for you at www.geeksquad.com, at 1-800-GEEKSQUAD (1-800-433-5778), or at a Geek Squad precinct in a Best Buy store near you.

Agent Wiebusch carries badge number #3881, and has thwarted rogue technology issues since 2004, helping clients in store, in their home or business, and now online. When away from computers, he enjoys playing sports, playing videogames, and tinkering with motorcycles, classic cars, and anything else fast.

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