Is your PC running Sloowly Now?
When you first unboxed and powered up your brand spanking new PC it ran like the Roadrunner. Everything was snappy and responsive. Windows booted briskly and in less than a minute your PC was ready for anything you wanted to do. New windows just popped open. The internet was fast - pages loaded quickly.
But now - a few months (or a few years) later you (and your PC) are playing the waiting game.
What happened to that speed-demon machine you were (once) so pleased with? Can anything be done to speed up your PC to make it run like new again?
Or will you simply have to bite the bullet and get a new machine?
Perhaps your PC is simply just too old?
Or is it cost-effective to revitalize an older PC?
Unnecessary programs installed or Malware?
Is your hard drive more than 70% full?
Too many startup items?
How much RAM (random access memory) is installed?
What operating system does your PC run?
Other concerns: The BIOS
"I have been advised that I should "flash" the BIOS on my PC. What is the BIOS and how do I flash it?"
About the BIOS.
The remainder of this article is dedicated to (hopefully) answering the above questions.
Revitalize your old PC
Even the speed of an ancient (6 years old or more) PC can be improved if you're willing to spend time cleaning it up.
Restart your PC (or shutdown then reboot)
Restarting a PC, or shutting it down completely, rather than allowing it to sleep, can solve many problems. If your PC's power button is set to put your computer to sleep rather than shut it down completely you may eventually have problems. Sleep does not recover RAM memory nor does it shutdown running services or close apps and programs. This means, if you happen to have a memory leak in a program or a program develops a glitch, more RAM memory will continue to be used and/or the faulty program will not start fresh again with no glitches. For a more detailed explanation see this good article at How-To-Geek website.
If the power button on your PC is set to put your computer to sleep rather than to shutdown you can change this in Power Options of the Control Panel. To do this go to the Control Panel and then Power Options then click Choose what the power buttons do (it's on the left in the Power Options window). Use the drop-down menu to change the setting in both Battery and Plugged-in from Sleep to Shutdown. Save your change (Click - Save Changes) then close the Control Panel.
Really want your PC to sleep?
Rule out Hardware Problems
If you suspect that your PC may have a hardware problem, before checking for software glitches, you can check its hardware first.RAM Memory
If your PC seems to run well just after a reboot, but slows down considerably as you use it.
Or if your PC is plagued by frequent freezes, reboots, or BSODs (Blue Screen Of Death) your RAM could be wearing out or bad.
Another sign of bad RAM can be corrupt files, especially when the corruption is found in recently opened and used files.
Use the Windows Memory Diagnostic test - in Windows Vista, 7, 8, & 10
Unfortunately, you may not see (or hear) any symptoms if your hard drive is going bad until it simply quits.
You can still check the drive for errors and bad sectors
Malware - Virus, Spyware Scan and Removal
If your PC is running more slowly than usual one of the first things you should check for is Malware infestation.
If you can't download anything
Note: Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware can be left installed on your PC if you choose. They will not interfere with the function of your active free security programs such as Avast, AVG, Bitdefender, or any paid software such as McAfee or Norton.
Internet Browser Cleanup
If nothing helped
On another internet connected PC, go to Bleeping Computer, Click on the Virus Removal tab and find the description of the malware infection that is present on your PC.
If none of the above helps you to remove any Malware that may be present on your PC then you should take the PC to a qualified PC Service technician. Be sure of the possible charges before you leave your PC with him/her.Finally, if you think you need a new active antivirus software suite to guard your PC against malware infections see my Antivirus Software PDF and view the recommendations.
If your present antivirus was disabled because you did not pay the subscription or if it did not do its job and allowed the malware in then you might need new software.
Be sure to uninstall the old antivirus program and restart your PC before you install the new antivirus program. Two active antivirus programs installed may interfere with the operation of each other rendering you defenseless.
Remove never-used, little-used, or unnecessary programs from your PC.
Every PC has extra programs. This software was either pre-installed by the PC manufacturer who made your PC or by you, either on purpose or without you realizing it when you installed other software. That's how many people get software such as multiple toolbars and Google Chrome installed on their PC without them realizing it.
General examples of software that may be undesirable, useless, or unnecessary:
Free up space on your hard drive.
Hard drive too full - free space less than 20%
Also try Ccleaner In addition to or instead of Disk Cleanup.
After running Disk Cleanup and/or Ccleaner:
Normal files that take up an unusually great amount of space on a hard drive are music files, graphics files (photos), and especially video files (movies).
If, by chance, your hard drive is near full yet you have none (or very few) of the above mentioned files then you may simply have a rather small hard drive - if not you may have another problem.
Check your Downloads Folder
Defragment & check the hard drive for errors.
Primarily for Windows XP and Windows Vista
The hard drive may have data errors that keep it spinning too much looking for the proper data.
To check your primary hard disk:
Check your disk for file fragmentation:
Note if your PC is running Windows 7, 8, or 10.
*In the MSConfig (or Task Manager) window choose the Startup tab.
*Go to Bleeping Computer Website and click on the Startup List tab.
If you have lots of startup items this task will be time-consuming but not all that difficult.
When you have finished close MSConfig or the Task Manager. Restart your PC and you will notice the list of little icons in the Task Bar will not be so long now. And your PC should boot faster if you have eliminated enough of them.
Many programs, when installed, place icons in the Task Bar. Prime examples of this are Yahoo Messenger, Skype and Printing software of different brands. None of these programs need to run all the time. When, and if, you need them simply double-click their shortcuts or choose them from the Start Menu.
Too many Fonts installed?
If you like, you can check to see what's starting up along side of your internet browser.
If you like, you can check to see what's starting up along side of your internet browser.
To Check this setting:
In addition to Windows, Windows Update also provides updates for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office, if installed.
You can get a PDF file from your PC manufacturer's support website that will show you the proper way to open the case of your PC to enable it to be cleaned.
First, before doing anything else, take a look at your time and date display in the taskbar.
On to the Cleaning
You will need a can of compressed air especially for cleaning electronics - available from Walmart, Best Buy or other such store. You will also need a clean cloth or a soft paper towel to gently wipe clean the fan blades - as best you can without damaging them.
Don't touch any electronic components inside the case with your bare hands if you can possibly avoid it. Static electricity in your body is sufficient to fry the delicate electronics. So it's wise to ground yourself to rid your body of excess static electricity. Touch a water faucet or the bare metal case of any grounded appliance before performing this task.
After you have disconnected the power cord and all connected devices open your PC's case and take it outside to perform the cleaning - dust will be flying all over if your PC is really dirty.
After my dire warning - if you feel hesitant to do it yourself - you may simply decide to take the PC to a technician for him (or her) to handle.
Add additional Random Access Memory (RAM)
If your PC is more than two or three years old adding more RAM will likely speed it up some. Just how much is hard to know - beforehand.
However, before spending a substantial amount of money on an old machine you should be certain it is worth it.
To find out how much RAM is presently installed in your PC:
To determine if you should add more RAM:
You may ask: "Why don't I simply forget all the other stuff and just put more RAM in the machine and be done with it?"
If you decide to proceed you will need to find out what how much RAM you can and should add and most important - what type of RAM you should buy and where you should get it.
The Service, maintenance, or upgrade guide you downloaded from your PC's manufacturer should tell you what memory type and also the maximum amount of RAM your PC will hold.
If the guide is too technical to be understood properly (some of them are pretty bad) simply go to Crucial.Com.
If you wish to be very specific you can download a small applet from the Crucial site which will scan your PC and give detailed info about your PC's present configuration.
Now that you know you need more RAM memory and how much and what kind to get you need to decide whether you wish to install it yourself.
However, if you were hesitant to clean the inside of your PC perhaps you should get a technician to do it for you. Expect to pay at least twice as much as it would have cost you to order RAM and do it yourself.
When you should consider installing a SSD rather than purchasing a new PC
If all of the above conditions are met your old PC is certainly a good candidate for a Solid State hard drive.
However, before you install a perfectly nice and clean SSD into an older (and possibly dirty) computer be sure to clean it up first.
For more detailed information about Solid State drives read my file Install a Solid State Drive - SSD.
The BIOS (or Basic Input/Output System) is, without getting too technical, the electronic traffic cop for your PC. It tells each component how (and when) to communicate with the other components. It also contains information for the PC to perform its power-on self test (POST). Flashing the BIOS involves downloading BIOS update software, either from the motherboard manufacturer or the PC manufacturer, then running it on your PC. This update software replaces the firmware on the BIOS chip with a newer version. Never download BIOS software (or any other kind of driver software) from any place on the internet except the original PC manufacturer's site. (If there is an approved update available, they will have it.) And when downloading, be certain that the update is for your particular model PC. It is a good idea to allow the PC manufacturer's site to install software on your PC that will scan the PC to determine its exact model (If available). That way you know for sure that the any update you may install has been created for your exact PC. The only reason to update or flash the BIOS is to add support for new technologies that the hardware is able to support. If that is possible then the PC manufacturer's support website will have that information available for you to read along with software for you to download. (For instance, outdated BIOS firmware may be preventing an Operating System Update, such as an update to Windows 10.)
The BIOS (or Basic Input/Output System) is, without getting too technical, the electronic traffic cop for your PC. It tells each component how (and when) to communicate with the other components. It also contains information for the PC to perform its power-on self test (POST).
Flashing the BIOS involves downloading BIOS update software, either from the motherboard manufacturer or the PC manufacturer, then running it on your PC. This update software replaces the firmware on the BIOS chip with a newer version.
Never download BIOS software (or any other kind of driver software) from any place on the internet except the original PC manufacturer's site. (If there is an approved update available, they will have it.) And when downloading, be certain that the update is for your particular model PC.
It is a good idea to allow the PC manufacturer's site to install software on your PC that will scan the PC to determine its exact model (If available). That way you know for sure that the any update you may install has been created for your exact PC.
The only reason to update or flash the BIOS is to add support for new technologies that the hardware is able to support. If that is possible then the PC manufacturer's support website will have that information available for you to read along with software for you to download. (For instance, outdated BIOS firmware may be preventing an Operating System Update, such as an update to Windows 10.)
Why Windows Slows Down Over Time
If you take a look at a Windows PC system that's slowed down you'll likely find many startup programs have been installed which lengthen the boot process and also clutter the taskbar with unnecessary icons. These additional startup programs consume CPU power, RAM memory, and other system resources in the background. Even some brand new computers come with useless startup programs right out of the box thanks to manufacturer-installed bloatware (also called crapware).
Browser Plug-ins, services, and toolbars:
Applications that add shortcuts to Windows Explorer's context menu can make right-clicking on files take much longer if they're badly programmed. Other programs may install themselves as a system service, so they're running in the background even though you can't see them and certainly don't need them. Even if they don't show icons in the taskbar useless background programs can slow down your PC.
Examples of this type are the update services for Adobe Flash Player & Reader, Oracle Java and Apple iTunes.
Large all-in-one Security Suites:
Complicated security suites like Norton are often a bit much. They consume a lot of system resources to perform all of their (sometimes useless) functions. Just get a simple antivirus program rather than a complete security suite. Both money and your PC's system resources will be saved. Example: Norton Antivirus rather than the full Norton suite.
PC Registry Cleaning Tools:
Registry cleaning tools are generally unnecessary and sometimes dangerous. They can make your computer even slower if they add themselves as a startup program always running in the background. The worst of these cleaning programs may even install spyware and other malware. The free version of CCleaner will clean your PC without adding additional useless startup programs.
Poorly written programs may clutter your system with useless DLL files and fill your registry with useless entries. The worst programs may not clean up properly after themselves even after you uninstall them. Be sure to read the software reviews before you install a new program!
The main cause of a Windows system slowing down over time is installing junk software. The only real cure for this is to completly reinstall the Windows OS but this may be more complicated on older PC systems with expensive preinstalled software such as Microsoft Office.
Note:On the newest Windows 8 and 10 PCs there is a feature called Refresh and Restore. Refresh which will reinstall Windows along with all preinstalled software.
Refresh will also preserve all users files, including your pictures and music. But Restore will remove everything while reinstalling Windows. A Clean (or Custom Install) of Windows 10 will also remove everything! Be careful! First, backup (save a copy of) your important data and be sure you can re-install any expensive and/or important programs (such as Microsoft Office).
ONE FINAL TIP