What could be causing my computer to run so slow?

There are many possible causes of a slow PC. Because your computer is constantly working with files - moving, copying and deleting from place to place - it will eventually get cluttered with leftover files, some of which are not needed and just take up valuable disk space.

If your PC crashes or freezes up, it may be a symptom of a slow or cluttered PC. The brain of your computer is the Processor, and it may be that your processor is too slow to run today's demanding software. The processor can also struggle if you have multiple programs running at once - for example, if you have Word open to compose a letter while downloading a file from the Internet and also playing a song through your media player.
Following are some steps you could take to increase the speed of your computer.

1. Hard Drive is nearing its capacity:

Try removing programs that are no longer needed to free up some space. Be sure to use the programs uninstall tool (if available). If the program does not have an uninstall tool, then remove the program using Add/Remove Programs in your Control Panel. Also, use the Disk Cleanup tool (start>> all programs>> accessories>> disk cleanup) to free-up additional space.

2. Increase RAM
RAM is the temporary memory the computer uses to do its calculations. If you do not have enough RAM, your programs will run slowly.

3. Your files could be excessively fragmented:
Try using the Disk Defragmenter tool (start>>all programs>> accessories>>systems tools>>disk defragmenter) to restore the fragmented files to their proper location.

4. Too many Icons on your Desktop:
Excessive desktop icons will make your computer run slow. Try removing the icons (right click the icon and select delete) that you rarely use. Removing an icon from your desktop is only removing the "shortcut" to the program, not the program itself.

5. Spyware Installed on Your System
You may also have programs running in the background using up memory that you are unaware of, and in some cases, the problem may be a malicious program such as a virus or spyware.
Many web sites on the Internet install "spyware" on your computer so that it can actually "spy" on you. As you surf the web, more and more spyware gets installed. This will eventually begin to slow your computer very noticeably. Therefore, it is important to perform frequent anti-spyware scans with capable software to remove these unwanted parasites. A couple of programs for this purpose are:

Antivirus & Anti-Spyware - 2010

Total Internet Security - 2010

6. Too many programs running at Windows startup:
As you continue to download programs, all of these programs startup and run in the background. To stop these programs from running:

1. Go to Start>> Run. Type in: msconfig [Enter] or click OK.
2. Click the Startup tab.
3. All of the programs listed in this menu that have a checkmark are the programs that are currently running. Deselect (by clicking in the checkbox) the ones that you do not want to run any longer. Once you have done this, click OK.
4. Exit the Microsoft Configuration Utility.
5. You will be asked to restart your computer. Go ahead with the restart. Depending on how many programs that you've stopped from running, you could see very positive results in your computers performance.

7. Others
Other components of your PC can contribute to poor performance, particularly your Graphics Card when it comes to running media and games software. Some hardware needs special programs called Drivers and these need to be kept up to date.

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