Slow PC Getting You Down
5 easy ways to fix a slow Windows PC. It happens to almost every Windows user over time: You buy a new desktop or laptop PC. It runs fast. But a few months later, you’re sure it’s slower than it used to be. Ask for help on the Internet or in real life, and you usually get one of two answers: you must have downloaded a virus, or you need to defragment your hard drive. This is usually NOT the answer. Unless you are experiencing virus like activity, you probably don’t have a virus, and Windows doesn’t need you to run the defragmenting tool yourself these days. Your problems most likely lie elsewhere.
Microsoft offers some basic help on how to solve the problem with five suggestions for getting a Windows machine back up to speed.
Check for viruses — This usually isn’t the problem, despite what your friendly, neighborhood geek told you, but it’s worth a look. If you haven’t got antivirus software running already, download the free Microsoft Security Essentials software.
Run Windows Update — If you haven’t updated your Windows operating system in a while, there may be speed fixes that Microsoft has published since you bought it. Of course, that doesn’t explain why your PC would have actually become slower, but it might improve the problem. Microsoft recommends that you turn on automatic updating, but many computer users hate automatic updates — they always seem to insist on installing themselves in the middle of a deadline or an important chat session. It’s easy to make Windows wait until you tell it to update – just remember to do it regularly.
Reduce your Web page history — This little nugget works. Internet Explorer stores a historical archive of Web sites you have visited. If it gets too big, managing it slows the browser. Microsoft recommends keeping no more than a week’s worth of Web history. The company has instructions for how to reduce the size of your history.
Disable add-ons — Browser add-ons can slow down browsing tremendously, especially if you install several of them. To disable add-ons, go to the Internet Explorer option Tools -> Manage Add-ons. Other browsers have similar configuration controls and suffer the same hit on performance. Use a few add-ons as possible.
Free up some disk space — A disk that’s running out of space can slow Windows performance down a lot, as it juggles data that it would normally just write out to the disk. To reclaim space, run the Disk Cleanup tool (bring up the Start menu and type “disk cleanup tool” into the search box) to remove Internet cache files, clear the Recycling Bin and delete installed programs that you never use.
Still too slow? Here’s a fast and easy way to get some help from the people who make Windows: Log in to Twitter and post a tweet with @MicrosoftHelps in it to get attention from the Microsoft customer support team. The team is available weekdays 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Pacific time. Microsoft has plenty of online documentation, but having a human being help you navigate the software is much quicker—especially if your system is already crawling.