One of the most common problems people have with their computer is that they notice that it slows down over time.
A computer will slow down because of all the programs you have downloaded and installed over a period of time which will take up all your system resources. You will end up with more startup programs which slow down boot times, and the registry will become bloated. Your browser may also slow down if you do not clear out the temporary files occasionally.
A slow computer may also be full of Spyware, and Malware which will slow down your computer by using its system resources. The Hard Drive could also be nearly full or you might have insufficient Memory (RAM) in your computer to run all your programs.
Check if you have sufficient Hard Drive space and RAM
You can check Hard Drive space on a Windows computer by clicking 'Start' and then clicking 'Computer'. It should show you how much space is available on your drive, and if your C: drive is nearly full then you will need to remove some of your larger files such as videos, photos, and music. If your Hard Drive is partitioned or you have more Hard Drives installed then move some large files from the C: drive to another drive. The C: drive contains your Operating System and needs sufficient room for programs and configuration files etc. If you need more Hard Drive space then you will need to buy another Hard Drive with enough capacity.
To determine how much system memory (RAM) that you have then click 'Start', and right-click on 'Computer', and select 'properties'. If you only use your computer for browsing, word processing and email then 2GB may be enough, having 4GB is plenty for most tasks, and if you do lots of video & photo editing then more will be required. You can access the Task Manager by pressing 'Ctrl', 'Alt', 'Del', and selecting 'Task Manager', and then select 'Performance' which will give you information on how much RAM is being used. More RAM or higher capacity RAM can be bought and installed into your computer if required.
Check for Malware, Spyware, and Virus
If you do not have any Anti-Virus software running on your computer then you can download and install Avast
which is free. Make sure the Anti-Virus software is updated and then scan your computer.
Next download and install some free Anti-Spyware software such as Spybot Search & Destroy
, or Ad-Aware
. Make sure it is updated and scan and remove any Spyware.
Clean up your computer
Remove any programs that you have installed in the past but never use. Click 'Start', and 'All Programs', and look through your programs, and uninstall any that you no longer require. Click 'Start', and open the 'Control Panel', and select 'Programs and Features'. This will also show all your installed programs and allow you to uninstall any programs that are awkward to remove.
Use 'Disk Cleanup' to remove any unwanted temporary files from your computer, and defrag your Hard Drive (C: Drive). Information on doing this can be found here
. You can delete your browser's temporary files by opening the browser and pressing 'CTRL', 'SHIFT', and 'Delete' together which will give you the option to delete temporary files, cookies, and history etc.
You can also use a third party program such as CCleaner
which will remove temporary files, empty the recycle bin, remove unused files, clean up the registry etc.
Open the System Configuration utility (msconfig) so that you can see your startup programs and selectively disable any programs that you do not want to run when your computer starts. There are details on how to do this here
Is it time to buy another computer?
If you have tried to clean up your old computer but still find it very slow then it will be worth re-installing your operating system which will make your computer as fast as it was from new.
You computer may have been bought along with an Operating System Disk or more likely a Recovery Disk which will allow you to reinstall the operating system back to how it was when it was new.
You should first make a backup of all your important personal files, photos, videos, music etc. The files can be backed up on DVD or external Hard Drive or even a Flash Drive (Memory stick).
If it is still not quick enough for you after reinstalling the operating system then it is time for a new computer.
Windows Experience Rating
Windows Experience Rating is included with the Windows operating system (excluding Windows 8.1) and will rate your computer and its components and give you a score from 1.0 to 7.9 with 1.0 being poor and 7.9 is a very quick state-of-the-art computer.
It will evaluate your Processor (CPU), Memory (RAM), Graphics, Gaming Graphics, and Primary Hard Drive giving a separate score for each component so that you can see which is the weakest component in your computer and consider upgrading it. The overall score is rated at the same score as your weakest component.
If your computer has a 64-bit central processing unit (CPU) and 4 gigabytes (GB) or less random access memory (RAM), then the Memory (RAM) subscore for your computer will have a maximum of 5.9.
To access the Windows Experience Rating on your computer then click 'Start', and right-click 'Computer', and select 'Properties'. Click on 'Windows Experience Index', and run the assessment which will take a few minutes before presenting you with the scores.