My Computer Is Slow

Speed Up Your Windows PC for Free

(No this is not one of those Clean PC like internet scams.)

Commercials selling software and services that speed up your computer annoy me because everything you need to do this by yourself exists for free either on your computer or at the manufacturers website. I can’t understand why so many people think it is acceptable to buy a computer only to have it perform in a manner that is dramatically inconsistent with the manufacturers promise. We don’t accept this with other products. Imagine if you bought a new car and six months later it would only go at a top speed of 50 mph and it was not just your car but every car that manufacturer makes and sells? We’d stop buying those cars. But with computers, we just spend more money on software we don’t want or understand to solve a problem we don’t understand. It’s a scam and a travesty.

Here is a quick guide on the steps I take to speed up my computers and keep them running fast. There are two parts to this post. The first part is what to do if your computer is slowing down. The second part is how to keep your computer running at top speed.

What To Do If Your Windows PC or Laptop is Running Slowly

Before I start let me first just makes sure you notice this post only applies to PCs running Windows. Here’s why:
1. Chromebooks don’t slow down.
2. Linux does not slow down (and anyone tech savvy enough to run install and run a Linux OS like Ubuntu or Mint does not need PC troubleshooting help)
3. I have not owned a Mac since 1997.

Ok, now on to speeding up your computer.

Step 1: Remove unwanted and unnecessary software in the control panel.

Open the Control Panel which you can get to easily by searching for it or clicking on the Windows icon or “Programs” in the lower left corner. In general if you are not familiar with what is available through in the Control Panel, spend a little time clicking on things and learning what they do. Once the Control Panel is open you’ll see “Programs” or something like”uninstall programs”. Click on that. It might take a minute or so for your list of programs to load. That’s not your computer it’s just the way Windows software works but once it’s done you will have a list of computer programs installed on your machine. You can click on a program and select “uninstall” and the programs uninstall sequence will run. Caution: Be Careful What You Delete. Here are some things to look for that slow your PC down.

1. Multiple anti-virus programs or an anti-virus program you do not want installed. Norton and McAfee are infamous for tricking you in to installing their software when you do something else like update Adobe Acrobat, so you may be running a memory hog of a program and not know it. Delete superfluous applications that you know for certain you don’t use like CD label makers, Browser tool bars….junk like that. See a program you are not sure about. Do a Google search on the program to see what it is and read one or two posts by some tech person.

Step 2: Update Your Drivers

While Windows will famously update itself or push reminders to you to update your Windows software, PC makers don’t do this. Windows is not the only software your Windows PC is running. Drivers are software applications that do specific tasks like operate your disk drive or recognize what something is when you plug it in to a USB port. Like all software, these drivers may periodically get updated with a new version and get out of sync with Windows. Fortunately major PC manufacturers (Dell, HP, Acer, etc) provide free support which includes maintaining a list of the drives you have installed on your machine. Once again click on the icon in the lower left corner of your Windows machine, click on Programs and look for the name of your manufacturer in the list of programs. Click on their name and a list of programs (or websites) will be shown with one generally having a name like “support” or “help”. Click on it. It will launch a tool that you can use to review your computers status and check or new drivers. They’ll also help you update the drivers if needed.

Step 3: Uninstall/Reinstall Problem Programs

Sometimes software breaks and breaks hard. Go back to Step 1 and uninstall programs that are not running properly. Getting an error at start up? Delete the offending program and reinstall. I’ve done this with lot’s of programs and it always helps. Same is true if a program is running slowly, unless it’s iTunes which is just slow.

Step 4: Check for Spyware/Adware

I don’t think this is a significant contributor to Windows PC slow down and in general all of the hype about this is used to sell you something else you don’t need AND Windows has software already installed on your computer that will tell you if you have these types of programs running. In the Control Panel use the “Action Center” or “Firewall” status sections to see if you have some issues that Windows can clean up for you.

How To Keep Your Windows PC Running Fast

Here are a few steps you can follow to keep your Windows PC humming along as fast as it can go.

Step 1: Be Careful When You Click

You are your own worst enemy of your PC speed. You inadvertently install a bunch of crap on your computer when you are doing something else. Get used to reading. When installing something or performing a task, read all of the dialogue boxes and make sure you select or deselect the things you don’t really want installed like trials of other programs like antivirus, browser tool bars and other such nonsense.

Step 2: Every Blue Moon Check Your Drivers

This really only has to be done very infrequently (annually?).

Step 3: Scan The List of Installed Programs

Think of this as Spring cleaning. Just junk stuff you no longer use or did no know you had installed.

That’s it. I’ve used these simple steps many times to “fix” computer issues my kids created by just clicking willy nilly on all kinds of installs. What you do not need is to pay for another software application or service which will just basically do the same thing you can do on your own for free.