You’re Slowing Down Your PC: 4 Common Mistakes & What to Do Instead

Why is my computer so slow? This is the single most common complaint among computer users across the world.

The way you use your computer can either prolong the life and performance of your computer, or it can contribute to the slowdown problem. To determine which kind of user you are, and how to change what you’re doing wrong, read on.

Why Do Computers Slow Down?

  • Running low on available RAM
  • Lack of reboots
  • Malware
  • Poor maintenance
  • Temp file bloat
  • Viruses

Let’s look at how your own behavior is contributing to each one of these causes.

1. Installing Too Many Applications

There’s nothing wrong with installing software, but every application you install consumes precious computer resources in some way.

During the installation process you should make sure that when you’re asked if the software can run in the taskbar (or as a service), you select No unless that’s really a feature that you need.

The problem with allowing software to run “in the background” is that every software that does this consumes a little bit of available RAM.

You can view the top RAM hoarding applications by opening Task Manager and sorting processes by memory.

if you see a bunch of running applications you don’t recognize, then it’s possible you’ve been installing too many applications without giving it much thought.

It may not be a bad idea to uninstall the applications you never use.

2. Never Rebooting

There are a lot of people who never turn their computers off. In most cases, it’s to save time the next time they want to use the computer. Unfortunately, rarely rebooting a computer contributes to slowdown issues.

Restarting your computer is good for your computer’s health for the following reasons:

  • Flush RAM: Most modern computers manage RAM efficiently, but restarting your computer flushes out RAM and lets your computer start with a blank slate. This helps it run more efficiently.
  • Fix Memory Leaks: Some applications (usually freeware written by inexperienced programmers) have glitches that lead to slow memory leaks. A memory leak is RAM utilized by the software but never released back to the computer. Restarting your computer kills that process and releases RAM back to the computer to use again.
  • Updates and Diagnostics: By default, your computer receives and installs Windows updates when you restart. If you never or rarely restart, you could be running a computer that lacks important security patches or OS fixes.

Users who rarely restart their computers are usually the same users who complain that their computer is running slowly.

Do yourself a favor and shut down your computer every night. Not only will it keep your computer running fast, but you’ll also save electricity too.

3. You Aren’t Maintaining Your Computer

One of the most common reasons for the slowdown of older computers is either hard drive fragmentation, hard drive failure, or corrupt system files.

Disk Drive Fragmentation

Over time, the hard drive can get so fragmented with very few open, consecutive blocks of memory that it takes the OS much longer to store or obtain data. You can prevent this from happening by ensuring your hard drives don’t get too fragmented.

On Windows 10, this is very easy to do. Click on the Start menu, and type the word defrag.

Click on Defragment and Optimize Drives.

If your computer is set up properly, you should see that defragmentation and optimization is done automatically on a regular schedule.

If this isn’t On, then click on Change settings, and make sure you have it set up to run on a regular schedule.

Also, if it wasn’t set up to run regularly, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to click on Analyze to see just how badly fragmented your drives are.

4. You Never Clean Up Temp Files

Whenever I have a friend who says their computer is running slow, the first place I always check is temporary file locations. There are three main areas where files get cached over time.

To delete temporary files:

  1. Search for Disk cleanup from the taskbar and select it from the list of results.
  2. Under Files to delete, select the file types to get rid of. To get a description of the file type, select it.
  3. Select OK.

If you need to free up more space, you can also delete system files:

  1. In Disk cleanup, select Clean up system files.
  2. Select the file types to get rid of. To get a description of the file type, select it.
  3. Select OK.