A lagging computer is a painfully familiar problem for many Windows users. There could be many reasons why your PC is slow. It’s important to identify these problems early on to restore performance back to normal.
See below for a list of most common problems that lead to slow performing PCs. Continue reading to learn more about the problems and find possible solutions for them:
A Bottlenecked CPU
Bottlenecking is a term usually used with gaming. But CPU bottleneck can happen with other tasks as well. The term refers to a situation that occurs when the processor in the computer isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the task demands.
CPU bottlenecking happens when you pair a low-end CPU with high-end hardware or a device, commonly a GPU. For example, say you buy a super-fast graphics card and pair it with an entry-level desktop processor. The low-end processor will not be able to match the speed of the GPU. This will cause overall lagging.
CPU-dependent software can lead to bottlenecking too. That means the demands of the game far outpace the capabilities of the processor unit. Other types of demanding software, like 3D modeling and video editing programs, could cause bottlenecking too.
Fixing CPU bottlenecking is easy. However, finding the cause of the problem isn’t. To adequately address any bottlenecking issue, you must first find out what’s causing it. Find out whether it’s the GPU or an installed program that causing the bottlenecked lag.
Once you root out the cause of the problem, you can remedy the situation. Usually, replacing an aged or a low-end processor with a newer version helps. For example, if the CPU bottlenecks the GPU, upgrade to an Intel Core i7 processor. It’s currently the best processor for gaming.
Downgrading the software or devices you use with your computer can eliminate the bottleneck as well. If your CPU can’t handle running a particular program, uninstall it from the PC. Most PC users would prefer upgrading their computers, of course.
The Hard Disk Drive is Old
A slow computer is one of the tell-tale signs of an aged hard disk. The standard life cycle for a hard drive is between 3 to 5 years. While there are stories of hard disks lasting as long as a decade, don’t count on it.
In addition to lagging, other signs may indicate that the hard disk of your PC is getting old. Are there any weird sounds coming from the computer with the lag? If your slow computer has frequent operating system freezes, then the hard disk is probably just too old.
You can replace an old hard drive. In fact, it’s recommended before lagging is replaced by the blue screen of death. A new hard disk drive won’t cost a lot of money. It can actually be more expensive to upgrade the RAM.
If the rest of your PC hardware is as old as the hard drive, you might want to consider buying a new computer.
Not Enough Storage Space in the PC
There are different ways your computer stores memory. Generally, the PC stores files and installed programs in the storage drive. Typically, the storage drive is a hard disk. In computers purchased in the last one or two years, the storage drive could be a solid-state (SSD) drive.
PCs can slow down when the storage drive is full to the brim. Your PC needs a certain amount of available space in the storage drive. It allows the CPU to swap files and store temporary files. Lack of memory makes these tasks difficult or impossible. That could cause the operating system to slow down.
You can free up space on the storage drive by deleting old and unnecessary files. Delete temporary files to make room for new ones. Uninstall programs you no longer use. You can also move photos and videos to an external storage device, like a USB stick.
Your PC needs at least 200 MB of free space on the storage drive. Ideally, there should be more than 500 MB.
It’s possible that your PC has a small storage drive. Older computers still have 500GB hard drives. You can consider upgrading to a 1TB or more storage drive. Alternatively, connect an external hard drive to your PC to store files remotely.
Shortage of RAM Memory
RAM memory is the temporary, “volatile” memory in your PC. Unlike stored memory, RAM works only when the PC is turned on. The operating system relies heavily on RAM for smoothly running tasks. Not having enough RAM for the processes you’re trying to run can tellingly cause your computer to slow down.
Modern computing needs, particularly memory-hungry browsers like Chrome, demand a healthy supply of RAM memory for PCs. In the early 2000s, computers needed only about 2GB of RAM. Today, a 64-bit system needs at least 4 GB of RAM, preferably 8 GB for systems used for anything beyond the most basic office work.
Upgrading the RAM is a great way to improve the overall performance of your PC. But first, make sure that it is the lack of RAM is what results in lag.
You can easily replace the current RAM sticks in your PC. These sticks are relatively straightforward to pull out and replace with new sticks.
Related content: How to Choose the Correct RAM Upgrade
Unnecessary Background Programs
Your PC could be running programs in the background without you even knowing it. Anti-virus programs, for example, usually run in the background. There could be plenty of others that you don’t actually need to run.
You can check out all the programs your PC is running using the Task Manager utility. Press Alt + Ctr + Delete to access the Task Manager.
To check what you have running in the background, start the Task Manager and then go to the Processes tab. It should show all the programs running in the foreground and the background.
The Perfomance tab shows how much processing power each program is consuming.
Scroll through and look for background programs you don’t actually need to run. Security software, for starters, could bottleneck the performance of your computer by running since booting up.
You don’t need to uninstall these programs. However, schedule run times to prevent too many programs overwhelming your CPU at once.
Malware or Viruses
A virus or a malware program can cause a lot of problems in your PC. A slow computer is just one of them.
If using your computer for work, use an anti-virus or a malware scanning program to make sure your computer is not infected with anything. Home users may enjoy many of the same protections with the Windows Defender utility.
A malware protection program can remove or quarantine dangerous files or programs in your PC. When the virus is gone, your PC should perform as usual.
Related content: How to Layer Antivirus Software Without Slowing Your System
It’s highly recommended to have your computer checked out by a professional in case of a malware issue. Remnants of the malware could still exist in your PC. In this case, a professional could back up your important files and restore the operating system.
Generally speaking, if your PC is really old, then performance issues would be the norm. Try upgrading the CPU or buy a new computer to enjoy a quick boost in performance.
The article 6 Reasons Your PC is Slow and How to Fix It comes courtesy of Ollie Mercer, who usually writes at computer-realm.net.