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Is your computer running slowly? Here are some possible explanations.

Is your computer running slowly? Here are some possible explanations.

Written by Diane Diane Ware - December 06, 2018 in Computers

A slow computer is one of the main reasons customers bring their computers to Ware Repair.

This blog article will discuss the possible explanations for a slow computer.

Hard Drive Failure

hard drive opened

A faulty hard disk drive, HDD, whether the plates are damaged or the other mechanical moving parts are failing can slow down boot times and slow the overall performance of the computer. As can be seen in the image above, there are plenty of parts, some quite fragile, which could be at risk from an accidental shove or fall. Even over the typical lifespan of an HDD, about three to four years, the parts can simply quit working properly, for no good reason. A faulty HDD can also cause odd behavior, like programs not opening properly or suddenly disappearing, behavior that can often leads a user to believe there are viruses or malware causing the issues. 

The best solution would be to replace the mechanical hard drive (i.e. an HDD) with a new solid state drive, SSD, and have the operating system (OS) reinstalled, along with a data backup. We can do this for you at Ware Repair. 

For more about a comparison between an HDD and SSD, read this previous blog article

The Computer's Storage Space (HDD or SSD) is Too Full

When the computer's storage space is too full, then virtual memory, which uses the storage drive, whether an HDD or SDD, will not have that extra space available to use for program data and program updates. Programs on a computer will primarily use RAM memory while running, but when more and more programs are opened, available RAM space may not be adequate, so virtual memory is then used. 

windows 10 virtual memory

Decrease the amount of data on your hard drive to help with this problem. This can be done by transferring data to an external hard drive or by simply deleting information you no longer need, i.e. temporary files, documents you no longer need or use, etc. We can help you with this at Ware Repair, with a data backup. 

Computer Hasn't Been Restarted In A While

Certain programs, whether OS-based or user-installed (like Photoshop, for instance), can have processes running in the background, even when the program itself has been closed. 

The best solution for this is to simply restart the computer. 

Too Many Programs Running At The Same Time

This situation ties in with the previous reason for a slow computer, of too many processes running in the background. For instance, having Photoshop, Google Chrome with numerous tabs opened, Microsoft Outlook, and McAfee Antivirus running in the background - having all of these programs running at the same time, can be a drain on system resources, such as RAM, virtual memory, CPU and GPU usage, and hard drive usage. 

Try to close off programs when they are not being used, or add more virtual memory (as long as your hard drive has the available space for this - see above) and/or more RAM to your computer. We can help you with this at Ware Repair. 

Too Many Startup Programs

Now, in this situation, the slowness will mainly be felt when the computer is starting up. Boot time will be in minutes, sometimes even five to ten minutes, instead of just in seconds. As mentioned above, read about the awesome performance of an SSD in this previous blog. Boot up times can be in seconds with an SSD!

Part of our tune up process is the careful removal of startup programs that could be interfering with your computer's boot time. Ware Repair can help you with this. 

Computer Doesn't Have Enough RAM

RAM, random access memory is analogous to a desk; for example, when you would like to work on a written or typed project, files and papers are laid out upon the desk. It's a work space. RAM functions similarly. It's a workspace for program processing and data manipulation. If a computer does not have enough RAM as needed, then it can not accomplish its necessary processing and tasks. 

Bring your computer to Ware Repair, for a free diagnostic, and we will let you know if more RAM would be a good idea for your laptop or desktop. 

Hidden Viruses/Malware Programs Running in the Background

Just as too many programs running at the same time will slow a computer, this will of course do the same, if not worse. 

Bring your computer to Ware Repair if you suspect this. We can help you. 

Anti-Virus Programs Running Too Fervently in the Background

Some anti-virus programs will run nearly continuously in the background. This can have a definite hindering effect on the performance of a computer. I have personally witnessed this at Ware Repair, when a recent customer's laptop was at nearly a constant 100% usage of the CPU and running quite hot, even after administering some new thermal compound between the CPU and the heat sink (which helps the CPU conductively transfer heat to its adjacent fan). Once the culprit, a constantly running Webroot antivirus program was removed, the majority of the over-heating and 100% usage of the CPU stopped. 

At Ware Repair, we often recommend that for Microsoft Windows OS computers, to simply use Windows Defender for virus/malware protection because it runs with far less resources, quietly in the background. And for protection while online, we advise Google Chrome web browser with Ublock Origin extension to protect against malware and those annoying, resource-stealing website ads. Both of these are free, since Windows Defender is already a part of Windows and Ublock Origin is a free extension. 

Too Much Dust and Debris in Computer 

The desktop computers in the images below reveal too much dust and debris near the fan, which can thereby decrease the fan's performance. This is troubling; computer fans are an absolute necessity to keep the CPU cool. An over-heated CPU can dramatically slow computer processing, since most processors will automatically decrease the speed of processing to help protect against overheating. Even worse, many times a computer will simply shut down abruptly once the CPU gets too hot, a protection measure against a possible fire. 

Using a canned air cleaner can help to remove a lot of this dust and debris. We can also help you with this at Ware Repair, by disassembling your computer and doing a more thorough cleaning. 



Computer is Overheating

As was mentioned above, if a CPU is overheating, due to dust and debris, fan failure, or not enough thermal compound to conduct heat transfer from the CPU to the cooling fan, then this can dramatically decrease the speed of a computer. 

Bring your computer to Ware Repair, and we can help detect the main reason for the overheating issue. 

Drivers and/or Hardware Conflicts

If drivers for hardware parts are not updated on a regular basis, this can cause a computer to slow down. This is especially true for graphics cards. 

Also, hardware conflicts can slow down a computer. However, this is mostly avoided nowadays, due to Plug-and-Play(PNP)


Diane Ware

Manager - Tech Support

I am co-owner of Ware Repair and enjoy working with technology, web design and development, and embedded programming, especially that which applies to robotics. I also enjoy writing blogs and sci-fi novels on my free time.