Fix Your Slow Computer Blues

First, let me ask a few questions about your slow computer.

1. Did your computer just begin to slow down?

If so, did you recently install a new program? If so, uninstall that program first, and see your computer speeds up. It may be a problem with the software.

2. Has the computer been slow for a while, and just seems to keep getting slower, even though nothing has changed?

If so, when was the last time you rebooted? Go to Start, Shutdown, and Restart your computer. This is one of most common causes of a slow computer. It's best to reboot at least once a week.

3. How much hard drive space is available on C: drive?

This is usually an issue on older machines with smaller hard drives. A computer needs a certain amount of space on the C: drive to "cache" or save information about the tasks it is working on. If that space is not available because the C: drive is full, you'll end up with a very slow computer.

To check your hard drive space, do this:

  • Right click on the Windows Start button.
  • Left click on Explore.
  • Find the C: drive and right click on it.
  • Left click on Properties.
  • Look at the pie chart.
If the free space section is really tiny, you need to consider uninstalling programs you aren't using, or deleting old files you don't use anymore. (Also, see the discussion below about CCleaner for more cleaning hints).

The solutions above will fix the most common causes of a slow computer.


If you've checked on and implemented the solutions above, and are still crawling, here’s a few more tricks to fix a slow computer.

These are written for computers running Windows XP, but you could extrapolate if needed.

  • Clean and Organize your Computer Hard Drive.

    There should be mostly folders and very few individual files stored directly on your computer's C: drive. All of your working files should be stored in folders under the My Documents folder. Why?

    • Your files will be in one place and easy to find.
    • Your files will be easier to back up.
    • It helps your computer run faster.

  • Turn off the Windows XP visual effects.

    Go to Start | Control Panel | System | Advanced tab. Under the Performance section click on Settings. Uncheck all boxes except the following:

    • Show shadows under menus
    • Show shadows under mouse pointer
    • Show translucent click ion rectangle
    • Smooth edges of screen fonts
    • Use drop shadows for icons labels on the desktop
    • Use visual styles on windows and buttons

    Click Apply and OK, then OK again.

  • Disable Windows XP Sounds

    Sounds are great, but it slows Windows down to load and play them. To disable all Windows XP task sounds, go to:

    Start | Control Panel | Sounds and Audio Devices, click the Sounds tab, under Sound Scheme, click "No Sounds".

  • Uninstall Useless Windows XP Components

    Windows XP installs several hefty components which you probably aren’t using…

    Go to Start | Control Panel | Add or Remove Programs.Click the Add/Remove Windows Components button.

    Uncheck the following if you aren’t using them:

    • Indexing Service
    • MSN Explorer ( Of course, if MSN is your internet service provider, leave "MSN Explorer" checked).
    • Outlook Express
    • Windows Messenger (This works with MSN, so if MSN is your internet service provider, leave it alone.
    • Click "Next" and "Finished".


  • Clean Up Your Computer, and Eliminate Unneeded Start-up Programs

    There are lots of ways to clean up your computer, and remove old debris, but I’ve found the easiest is to use CCleaner to clean up old, unused files on your computer, stop unneeded programs from starting, and fix Windows registry errors.

    If you are not an experienced Windows user, consider reading the online tutorial before you use the program. Removing old junk files can really have a great effect on a slow computer.

  • Check for Viruses, Spyware, and Other Malware

    Hidden viruses, spyware and other malware often load at system start-up, slowing down the process. Get rid of them by scanning for viruses and malware on a regular basis.

    WHAT? You don't have any anti-virus and anti-spyware software applications loaded?

    Please, please go NOW and download a copy of AVG Free Anti-virus software and AVG Free Anti-spyware and install them.

    The links are on my Free Virus Protection page.

  • Defragment your Hard Drive

    Computers write information to a hard drive by filling in open places on the drive.

    Files are not written in one big block, which means your Word document might be spread out all over your hard drive.

    To defrag your computer means to basically rearrange the files on your computer’s hard drive so that file parts are closer together. Once rearranged, the computer will take less time to access the files.

    1. Click on Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, Disk Defragmenter.
    2. Select your C: drive, and click Analyze. Windows will analyze your drive for you and tell if it needs to be defragmented. If it does, then click Defragment.
    3. NOTE: you don’t want to work on your computer while Analyze or Defragment are running, so start these processes when you can be away from the computer for a while.

  • Add RAM to Your Computer

    To check to see how much RAM you have installed on your computer, do this:

    Click on the Start menu, and right click on My Computer, then left click on Properties. OR From the Windows desktop, hold down the Windows key and press the Pause/Break key.

    On the General tab, in the bottom right hand corner, look for the amount of RAM. If it has less than 1Gb (gigabyte), (i.e. if it says 512Kb) you should really consider upgrading it. I’d go to 2Gb if possible.

  • Remove Fonts You Don’t Need

    I love cool fonts, and I tend to install a lot of them on my machine. But I have to check every once in a while, because if the number gets over 500, it can really slow down Windows.

    I found this great program called The Font Thing which helps you easily uninstall fonts you don’t need.

  • Remove Unused Printers

    1. Click on Start, Printers and Faxes.
    2. Right click on any printers you don't use, and choose Delete from the menu.
    3. You should also need to go to Start, Control Panel, Add Remove Programs and uninstall the associated printer drive.

  • Check the Speed of your Network Card

    1. Click on Start, Control Panel, and double click on Network Connections.
    2. Right click on your network card and left click on Properties from the menu that appears.
    3. Click on the Configure button for the card.
    4. Click on the Advanced Tab. For a wired card, it should say Speed and Duplex. Make sure that is set to Auto.
    5. If you are using a wireless card, look for IBSS settings. They should also be set to Automatic negotiation.

    Taking the steps above should really help with any slow computer problems. I've used them with great success, and I continue to keep an eye out for new ways to fix slow computers, so keep checking back!



    Done with Slow Computer Fixes, take me back to Computer Tips

  • If you found this site helpful...

    Sensible Computer Help is written, produced, and directed by a one woman writing team, namely me.

    My name is Ellen, and this site is the result of over 20 years experience in the IT support industry. No outside entity pays me to write this site.

    The information here is offered freely and with the hope that it helps small business owners get the technical help they need.

    Your donations are greatly appreciated, and help me cover the costs of maintaining the site.