So your computer has slowed down to a frustrating snail’s pace and it’s driving you crazy! As far as you’re aware you are doing nothing differently from the time when things ran at lightning speed, so what could be wrong with your device? There are a plethora of reasons why your computer could be running slowly, from dust to issues with your RAM, from nasty virus’ to greedy programmes – below are the ten most common things that could be causing your slow computer misery.

1. Your browser is the one slowing you down

How many tabs do you have open right now? If you’re in the habit of having dozens of browser tabs open at one time you will be using a lot of your computer’s RAM. You may be a fan of having all your most used links open all of the time but if those tabs are auto-refreshing then this will slow things down even more. Try to keep a clean browser and use the bookmarks section to keep a hold of links you want to return to later. While we’re on the topic of browsers do you happen to have a lot of browser extensions? Some browser extensions work hard in the background even when you don’t think they’re inactive, this could be another reason for your computer running so slowly. Assess your browser extensions and remove or disable any that you don’t need or use.

2. You’re running too many programmes at once

In the same way that multitasking can be a drain our our brains running too many programmes at once can be a drain on your computer’s memory and processing power. You may have games or other downloaded programmes that you aren’t aware of running in the background and impacting your computer’s performance . Head into your task manager to view the programmes taking up the most processing power and always try to close programmes you aren’t using when you are done with them.

3. Your Operating System needs updating

If your OS is very outdated then it may start to cause your computer to run slowly. Your OS manages the running of your device and is responsible for your hardware, memory and software applications. If your OS is out of date it may struggle to allocate memory and run all the programmes that you are trying to use. To fix this issue, try uninstalling and reinstalling your OS and keep an eye out for any available OS updates – click here to see what’s new in MacOS Catalina. Maintaining an updated OS is also beneficial for device security.


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4. You’re running on low power mode

Some computers have settings that restrict processing power when the computer is in low power mode in order to try and extend your battery life. To maintain maximum performance either keep your device charged to avoid it entering low power mode or adjust your low power mode settings so that they do not restrict your performance. You can do this in your device’s power settings.

5. You need to dust your work space

Sometimes external factors can affect the speed of your computer such as an excess of dust in your work space. If dust collects and covers over your CPU casing then it can restrict airflow causing the device to overheat and struggle. Regularly clean and check the ventilation areas of your computer or laptop to avoid the possibility of crashes and overheating. If you are working in a dusty area then this will need to be done regularly.


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6. You have a virus or your virus software is working too hard

Viruses, malware and spyware can all slow down your computer as they tend to run in the background without you even knowing it. Run a malware scan to see if this could be the cause of your slow computer problems. It’s important to also be aware that sometimes your anti-virus software could be the one slowing you down. A very active anti-virus software could be conducting regular scans in the background and be the cause of your slow computer. An anti-virus scan can take a few hours as it trawls through your whole computer, try to conduct scans when you aren’t using your device to avoid it slowing you down.

7. Your hard drive is nearly full

When your hard drive begins to fill up and reaches near to 85% full your computer can slow down by up to 50%. This is because there’s simply no space left for the temporary files that are needed to run your basic programmes. Check your hard drive and see if it’s nearly full, if it is then start by deleting any files associated with old programmes, if this doesn’t free up enough space then consider getting an external hard drive for any larger files that do not need to be stored on your computer, such as images, music or videos. You can also often free up a fair bit of hard drive space by simply emptying your trash. When you send things to the trash they are not automatically deleted from your computer so it’s important to regularly empty your trash to remove them properly.

8. You’ve maxed out your memory

Some programmes, such as design software and Photoshop, can take up a lot of your computer’s RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory and in essence is responsible for storing all of the information that your computer needs to work in the now and in the near future. Your RAM stores information making it seem like your computer is able to search, find and open things quickly because it’s actually already stored this information in your RAM. If you’re regularly using all of your RAM then consider installing more.


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9. Too many programmes are trying to start up at once

“The most common cause of a slow computer is too many startup programs,” says Aaron Schoeffler, computer repair doctor at LaptopMD. “90 percent of programs want that permission to start when your computer starts so that you’ll use them, and that can result in a boot time of five to ten minutes. When it finally does start, a ton of programs are already running in the background and if you’re not using a newer computer, that can slow it down.” To see how many startup programmes you have running enter your task manager or go to system preferences and then change the programme settings so that these programmes do not automatically open when you start up your computer.

10. You need a good old fashioned computer restart

There’s a reason why turning things off and on again is often the first thing people suggest when you’re having computer issues and that’s because it often works! Turning your computer off and on shuts down unnecessary programmes saving you the hassle of going into your task manager. It also refreshes settings putting them back in their steady stable state. Think of it like a tangle of string, the string gets more tangled throughout the day and by turning your computer off and on you straighten all the string back out so that it can run smoothly.

So before you take a sledge hammer to your device in frustration try to work through the ten things listed above and see if this improves the speed of your computer. If none of these things work then it may be time to take your computer to a professional for further diagnostics or to consider getting a new device which can handle what you are trying to do with it.

Tom Parillo

Tom Parillo

I am interested in all things technology, especially automation, robotics and tech that helps change how society will live in the future.