If your Windows laptop isn’t as fast as it used to be, there are plenty of ways to get it running like new. It may have been infected with malware or you may have an outdated operating system. Also, there may be too many startup programs or too many temporary files. If you have an older laptop, you may need to replace the hard drive or memory cards.
Here are the most common reasons why your laptop is running slow and how you can fix them.
Notebook is slow due to programs running in the background
If your laptop is slow, one of the easiest things you can do is close as many programs as possible. However, some programs continue to run in the background even after they are closed. These programs can consume your processing power, which can slow down your laptop.
The fix: You can use Windows Task Manager to close programs running in the background. To do this, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete on your keyboard and select Task Manager. Then make sure you click on More details in the lower left corner. This lets you see what programs are using your computer’s CPU, memory, and more.
You can sort all the programs running on your laptops, which requires the most resources, by clicking on any column header. Then you can select a program and click End Task in the lower right corner of the window to force the program to quit.
However, there may be certain programs running in the background that are necessary for the laptop to work properly. So make sure you know what a program is before you choose to force quit.
Laptop is slow due to startup programs
You may also have many programs opening when you start your computer. Some of these programs will ask for permission to run when you start up your computer, so you will use them more often. However, there are some programs that will run automatically whenever you turn on your computer, without ever asking for permission.
The fix: To find out which programs are set to run when you start up your laptop, go to the Startup tab at the top of the Task Manager window. Here, you will see the application name, status and its impact on startup.
Click the Startup Impact column header to see which apps are slowing down your laptop. Then select a program and click Disable in the lower right corner of the window.
You can also speed up the startup process by closing all programs before shutting down your computer. That way, you won’t have apps trying to start every time you boot up your laptop.
You need to update your operating system
If you haven’t updated your OS (operating system) in a while, you might be missing new driver updates and software patches. This can slow down your laptop and leave it unprotected from security vulnerabilities that hackers use to infect your computer.
Windows typically releases major feature updates twice a year. On the other hand, patches to improve security and fix bugs are released monthly. If your laptop seems to be running slower than usual, make sure your system is up to date.
The fix: To find out if you need to update your operating system, click the magnifying glass icon in the lower left corner of your screen and type update in the search bar. Then click Open and select Download if updates are available for your system.
You will then need to restart the laptop for the changes to take effect. You can do this by clicking Restart Now when the update files are finished downloading.
Your laptop is infected with malware
If you are seeing pop-up ads on your laptop or programs are randomly crashing, your computer may be infected with malware (malicious software). Your computer can get infected when you open emails from unknown senders or download files from suspicious websites.
There are different types of malware that can slow down your laptop for various reasons. Some malware can infect your laptop’s memory and spread to other programs and files on your computer. Hackers also use malware to steal your personal information, such as your bank details or home address.
The fix: To remove malware from your computer, click the magnifying glass icon in the lower left corner of the screen. Then type Security in the search box and click Open. Then select Virus and threat protection and click Quick Scan.
You can also use third-party applications to scan your laptop for malware. Or, if you are looking for even more protection, you can also install an antivirus program.
You have too many temporary files
Temporary files are stored on your laptop whenever you create or modify a file. Typically, these files have names that end with “.tmp” or begin with a tilde or dollar sign. Temporary files are usually deleted after you close a program or application.
However, there are times when your laptop does not automatically delete these files. As a result, they can take up hard drive space and cause the laptop to run slowly. To avoid this, you can manually delete temporary files.
The fix: To delete temporary files on your laptop, click the magnifying glass icon in the lower left corner of the screen. Then type Disk Cleanup in the search bar and click Open. In the pop-up window that appears, select the drive you want to clean and click OK. Finally, check the box next to Temporary files and click OK.
From here, you can also delete temporary internet files, downloads, and more. You can also click Clean up system files to remove even more temporary files. Then you can also select the More options tab to remove programs you don’t use often and old system restore points.
Fragmented files are slowing down your laptop
Whenever you create, delete or edit a file on your computer, some of that data becomes fragmented. This means that chunks of files are stored in various parts of the hard drive. Over time, this can cause your laptop to slow down because your drive has to jump around to locate each piece of data.
To consolidate and organize the data on your drives, you can defrag your computer. And while Windows 10 will automatically defrag files once a week, you can also do it manually anytime you want.
The fix: To defrag a drive, click the magnifying glass icon in the lower left corner of the screen. Then type Defrag in the search bar and click Open. In the pop-up window, click Analyze to see how much space is occupied by fragmented files on your hard drive.
If there are many fragmented files, click Optimize. Finally, wait for the drive to reach 0% fragmented before starting to use programs or open files again.
However, you should only defrag your drive if it is labeled a hard drive under Media Type. If you notice that your drive is labeled a solid state drive, defragmenting it can further wear down the drive.
You need to update your hard drive
If you are still using a traditional hard disk drive (HDD), you may want to upgrade to a new solid state drive (SSD). An HDD typically lasts three to five years because it uses magnetic disks (or trays) to store data. An arm sits on top of these platters and reads and writes data while the disks spin at speeds of thousands of RPM (revolutions per minute).
On the other hand, an SSD is made up of flash memory chips, so it has no moving parts. Because of this, it can read and write data several times faster than an HDD. Also, SSDs are less noisy and consume less power than an HDD.
The fix: Many laptops these days come with empty slots that allow for easy installation of an SSD. All you need to install these little hard drives is a screwdriver.
You don’t have enough RAM
Random Access Memory (RAM) is temporary storage for your laptop. It keeps all the things your computer needs on standby. Then, when the time comes, it can quickly pull the information and deliver it to its processor.
For basic tasks like word processing and web browsing, you can use 2 to 4 GB of RAM. However, for multi-tasking or graphics-intensive programs, you may need 8-16GB of RAM or more. While adding more RAM won’t always speed up your laptop, you do need to have more than the minimum amount of RAM for certain programs to work properly.
If you want to know more about what RAM is and how much RAM you need, check out our previous article here.
The fix: To find out how much RAM you have, click on the magnifying glass icon in the lower left corner of your screen. Then type about in the search bar and click Open. You will see the amount of RAM available under Device Specifications, next to Installed RAM.
If you want to upgrade your RAM, you first need to make sure your laptop allows you to change your RAM cards. On some laptops, the RAM cards are soldered to the motherboard, which prevents you from replacing them.
Also, check the RAM specs on the laptop manufacturer’s website. Find out the maximum amount of RAM that can be installed and how many RAM slots you used. Also, be sure to install the correct type of RAM cards; otherwise they will not work.
If you’ve tried all the steps above, and your laptop is still slow, it might be time to upgrade your laptop to a new one. But if you still have questions, leave your questions in the comments below!