Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

How to Speed Up a Slow Computer

There are many things that slow your computer down to a crawl. Any application running needs a degree of system resources in order to function. Some applications are necessary, though most are not. I will give you a breakdown as to the "haves" and "have nots" of resource sucking, background running, applications and services running within windows. Software is not the only culprit of poor running machines. You also need the hardware required to run such applications. Imagine the hardware as a dwindling bank account and the software as blood-sucking bill collectors. You have two options. You can eliminate the bills or increase the bank account. Here, I will teach you how to do both.
Since hardware upgrades are the easiest to explain, I will start there. There are two main links in the hardware chain that affect performance. The processor and the RAM or memory. The processor, simply put, involves serious changes to your system if you want to upgrade it. You must, at the minimum, replace the motherboard. If you replace the motherboard, you must have a power supply powerful enough to handle it. Which if you have a reduced form factor case, you may have to replace the case as well. Not to mention, you might have to get a new hard drive and CD-ROM drive, as IDE/PATA is getting phased out in exchange for SATA. By the time you are done, you might as well have replaced the whole computer. So, if you feel you need a new processor, you actually need a new computer. The memory, on the other hand, can be upgraded with ease. There are three main types of memory in modern systems: DDR (pc-xxxx, 1GB Max/chip), DDR2 (pc2-xxxx, 2GB max/chip), and DDR3 (pc3-xxxxx, 16GB Max/chip). Desktops use DIMM, whereas laptops use SODIMM. Also, RAM operates at different clock cycles as well (hence pc-xxxx, where x is the clock speed in MHz times 4). To make sure you purchase the right memory, consult your motherboard manufacturer (User Guide) or your local PC Repair Shop. Installation is simple... Ground yourself first (preferably with an anti-static wrist strap). Then, it's out with old, in with the new. I don't care what Microsoft says, they're posted minimum requirements in regards to memory for Windows are, to put it politely, incorrect. So here are my revised, recommended requirements:

Windows XP (Service Pack 3) - 1GB

Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) - More than 1GB, preferably 2GB-4GB

Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) - 2GB Min, Preferably 4GB-8GB+ to make use of windows 7's full potential

There is a lot of software out there. Most of it is useless and just takes up space and resources, ultimately slowing your machine down. I have categorized a few of the bad ones:

Adware/Spyware (and viruses, Oh My!)

This software makes it way onto your computer via "free" games, websites, porn, and poor surfing habits. If you read the End User License Agreement (EULA) of the "free" software, you will find out that you give these companies permission to install this stuff on your machine. It gathers up your surfing habits in order to profile you and dish you a helping of advertisements. Completely useless to you and slows your machine down. To remedy this, beware of anything labeled as "free". Some can be removed through add/remove programs. Others need to be removed via anti-virus. A few may require you to perform a factory reset on your computer.

IE Toolbars

I have worked on machines that had so many toolbars, that you could only see 2" of the website at a time. I mean Google, Yahoo, Ask, Norton, mywebsearch, you name it, it was on there. Most (if not all) of them Useless. Simply don't install them. IE 8 comes with a search box that you can assign to a search provider of your choice.

Instant messengers

These programs are NOT useless. However, they are usually set to startup with windows. So, unless you are chat happy and talking to everyone you know from the time you sign on until you shut the computer down, you should disable this feature. Only open them when you use them. This actually applies to any software that you don't use regularly. These programs should have a setting that disable them from launching upon windows startup or you can actually disable them in the Microsoft System Configuration Utilty. Simply click start, then run (or the search box in Vista/7) and type "msconfig" without the quotes. The startup tab will list all programs that run upon startup (go figure). Just uncheck the box next to the programs you wish to disable.


That's not a crack at Microsoft. It's just there are so many unneeded services and features running in the background. *Note* This section is directed at the advanced users. You can do damage to your machine, lose data, and wind up with costly repair bills if you do not know what you are doing here. With that said, you can type services.msc in the run dialogue and it will show you all services that are installed, running or not. If you read each services description real carefully, you can determine whether or not you will use it in your current configuration. For example, if you have a Windows XP Desktop that is hardwired into you internet connection, there is no need for the "Wireless Zero" service. Also, no matter how pretty they are, you should disable the visual effects as well (I had a girlfriend like that once... real pretty but terribly useless). If you right click "My Computer" and click properties the click advanced ("Advanced System Settings" in Windows Vista/7) under performance click settings. Under the "visual effects" tab change the radio button to "Best Performance". That will free up some resources as well.

The Page File (Virtual Memory)

This section is aimed at users who have lower end machines. The page file is part of the hard drive that your system uses as if it were RAM. Typically, you want to base the page file size on the amount of RAM a system has (commonly 1.5 times). So, if your machine has 1GB RAM, then you want your page file to be 1.5 GB (1536 MB). However, the more RAM a machine has, the less it needs to utilize the page file. Thus, if your machine has more than 2GB, it may be wiser to just let windows manage your page file. To adjust your page file, right click "my Computer" ("Computer" in Vista/7) then click properties. Next, click the advanced tab ("Advanced System Settings" in Vista/7). Under performance, click settings, then the advanced tab. Under "Virtual Memory" Click "Change". Then, select "Custom size" under the minimum and the maximum enter a number that is 1.5 times your system memory in MB. Then, click set.

Keep it clean

Windows likes to hold on to junk worse than those hoarders you see on TV. By performing a disk cleanup and an occasional defrag, you can keep your computer junk free and orderly. Both are in "start" ---> "programs" ---> "Accessories" ---> "System Tools"

I hoped you learned that by keeping your hardware up to date and your software under control, your computer should be a nice running machine. Thanks for reading my tip and best regards,


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2 Answers

error when I shut down and slooow

Is it that your computer has become slow or has been slow all the time these are two different things. I assume that you mean to say you computer has become slow. So I will proceed on that assumption.

Reinstall you windows (operating system). I did not say format (Unless you choose to). During the reinstallation process press "R" key when asked. At the end your system should run faster. This procedure corrects any system slowness resulting from corrupt files and file errors.

Sep 13, 2009 | Dell Latitude D600 Notebook

14 Answers

computer slows down to a crawl after windows updates

after the re installation also if the computer is working slow. there could be some hardware issue.

Oct 28, 2008 | Acer Aspire 5610-4648 Notebook

1 Answer

My computer runs unbelievably slowwwwwwwwww. It is

It may well be some form of virus or spy-ware.

It may also be that you have too many applications running at once eg. lots of tool-bars and instant message type programs.

It can also happen on graphic intensive applications.

You should rule out nasty stuff first using the program below.


For a free one its pretty darned good !

From a CLEAN computer download and put on a flash drive.

Copy to your DESKTOP on the suspect computer.

Run it but don't change any options just use what it offers.

When its done let it clean anything it finds.
Continued use may require purchase.

Its where I always start with an infected machine.

As for anti-virus AVOID Norton or Mcafee but try the AVG FREE version

As for too many applications that would be up to you to decide what you REALLY need and don't.
Most tool-bars are a waste of both time and space and can hog computers down. Maybe a good clean up is in order ?

It may just be a"leaking application"

These are badly coded programs that don't release memory when they should and just keep taking more to do the same job.

May I suggest you also download "hijackthis"

It is a program that can make a report on what you have running in such a way that you can post that information to certain sites and experts there will look at it.

They will then give you recommendations as to how you can remove programs or fix some issues that may be upsetting your computer.

Don't post the log here but follow the instructions and help the program offers to send it to one of the sites it will offer you.

If you understand startup lists you may even be able to spot some things yourself that you don't want to run and disable them from hijack this.

In some cases you may just be trying to push your computer too hard with the resources it has.

Trying to edit large graphics files or videos with limited ram or CPU power will slow most computers to a crawl.

Sep 13, 2009 | Compaq Computers & Internet

1 Answer

my system is not responding !

Could be any number of probems, and it would depend on exactly what type of system you have, (memory, cpu). Also, systems will have the tendency to slow down over time. It is good to reformat and reinstall the OS every few years or so, but depending on how much the computer gets used. Some times system slow downs can be as simple as installing a new program in a system. Some anti-virus software will bogg a system down because it uses so much resources. If your system is randomly slowing down, especially on start-up, I would suggest that you hit Control-Alt-Delete, and then see what process is running that is taking up most of you CPU resources during that moment. You can also go to Start-Run and then type in MSCONFIG and turn things off during start-up--but be careful. I turn off things that I don't need to constantly run, such as MS Office, and things that I am sure won't affect my system.

Here is a link to a forum that may help you: http://www.directron.com/community.html

Sep 28, 2008 | Computers & Internet

1 Answer

Inspiron 1150 Slow startup, slow printing, unable to run 2 programs at once

What Operating System do you run? If it is Windows XP SP2 (Home Edition or professional), here are some things you can do to speed up your system. 1st you should remove all programs that are not required from the start menu. Start > Run > Msconfig > startup tab. Unselect all that are not necessary. Also Right click on my computer > properties > Advanced > Performance settings > Adjust for best performance. This should speed things up a little. I would recommend atleast 512 MB of memory to run Windows XP and its applications decently. You should consider an upgrade.

Dec 20, 2007 | Dell Inspiron 1150 Notebook

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