Is your computer running slow? Does it take ages to start up and get on the internet? Does it take a long time to start up a program? Does it seem like it is working hard but not getting anywhere? If so, you probably have the classic ‘My Computer’s Too Slow’ complaint. But fear not, all is not lost. I’m going to take you through some very basic steps that should make a noticable difference to your computer performance. These are all steps that your computer repair shop will be doing if you take it in for a tune-up. But you could save yourself a bit of money and Do It Yourself.
When performing a PC tune-up on a slow computer, you need to decide where to start? You will probably perform all of these steps by the time you’re finished, but doing the right steps first can save a lot of time in the long run.
Is there any obvious virus or malware activity going on?
When you boot the computer into Windows, are there programs running that you don’t recognise? Are there pop-ups appearing on the screen warning about viruses or asking you for money? When you are on the internet, does your browser sometimes take you to different web pages than you had intended?
If the answer to any of these is Yes, then you need to assume you are starting from an infected PC. The first steps will be to remove the virus or malware that is causing the problem, and after that you can proceed with the Tune-Up. Read our guide on removing a new computer virus or malware.
If the answer is No, let’s take a look at the computer hardware itself.
Is this a reasonably new PC or laptop, or is it pretty old?
Important: Don’t confuse memory (or RAM) with your hard disk. Your hard disk is where all of your documents, pictures, videos and programs are stored. They stay on the hard disk even after the computer is turned off. The hard disk is long term storage. Memory (or RAM) is short term storage only used while the computer is turned on.
We need to check how much memory your computer has. One of the simplest ways of doing this is to Right Click on My Computer and select Properties. Depending on whether you are running Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, the screen you see will be different, but it should display how much memory (RAM) your computer has.
How much memory is enough?
This really varies by what operating system you are running, and what you tend to use your computer for. But here are some general minimum recommendations.
For Windows XP, it will run OK on 512MB RAM, but I would recommend at least 1GB of RAM.
For Windows Vista and Windows 7, they will run on 1GB RAM but I would recommend at least 2GB RAM, if not more.
Before you go buying more RAM, make sure to check whether you have a spare RAM slot in your PC or laptop. After all, you will need somewhere to plug the new memory into. If you don’t have a spare slot, you will need to remove one of the existing memory sticks to make room, so make sure to order enough to cover the upgrade AND what you are removing.
If you are thinking about ordering more RAM, read our guide on finding and ordering the right memory for your computer.
Performing a Tune-Up
By this stage, we can assume that we are running on a fairly uninfected machine and your computer is running slow because it is just clogged up with several years of everyday use and in need of a general Tune-Up.
Performing a Tune-Up basically means clearing out unnecessary files, removing unwanted programs, checking for hidden viruses or malware, organising your hard disk and generally trimming down what is running in the background so that your computer is free to do the things you want it to do.
Fortunately there are free, handy tools to download from the internet that will allow you to do all of this yourself. Click here to read our guide on Performing a Tune-Up on your Computer.
Hopefully once you are done with all of these steps you will find your computer running faster and back to it’s old self.