How to Fix a Slow Desktop or Laptop

edited August 2023 in PC Tech

If you are lucky enough to have reliable access to a PC with Internet access, you know just how valuable these devices are for their sheer utility in performing complex calculations, improving efficiency, and for general entertainment purposes. No matter how good your computer may be, you might notice your desktop or laptop computer gradually slowing down or abruptly crashing when carrying out complex tasks. Rather than spending significant amounts of money on sending your PC out for repair or purchasing a new or gently used model, there are several things you can do to free up space, improve operations, and get your PC back to its normal performance. 

Use a Reliable Freemium or Paid File Cleaning App 

While this is hardly news to experienced PC users, your desktop or laptop can build up extensive data stores, including downloaded documents, video and audio files, temporary documents, etc. More files and data clogging up your PC means that your CPU is devoting time and energy to sorting through files that are difficult for the average user to access and are effectively useless in many cases. If you have the time and energy to spare, you could go through and manually delete all the dead weight on your hard drive. But why would you go through all that effort when so many free and paid programs can handle the job for you? 

One example of a "freemium" PC cleaning app will be completely free to download and use, although users will be encouraged to upgrade to a full membership. The free membership offers both standard cleanings as well as basic privacy protection measures, while the professional version optimizes your performance with features like updating your drivers, performing a PC Health Check, complete and customizable cleaning programs, identifying and eliminating privacy trackers, automatic app updates, and much more.  

Another potential source of issues for both Windows and Apple PCs is having a heavily fragmented hard drive or having files spread across multiple digital locations. By having to take time and effort to assemble the complete set of data from various folders and registries, your PC ends up expending much more energy and CPU bandwidth on what should be a relatively simple task. Both major manufacturers offer simple methods for defragmenting your hard drive on-demand and setting up a schedule for regular defragmentation at your convenience. 

Get rid of bloatware and other dead weight on your PC 

 For those unfamiliar with the term, "bloatware" refers to a specific family of apps and programs that take up space without contributing to the computer's overall performance. If you still happen to have apps like Adobe Flash Player, Java, or Shockwave Player, you should get rid of them immediately because they are fully obsolete and are no longer being updated. Other examples include bloatware installed by the PC's manufacturer like photo management apps, Note Pad, WinRAR, or other programs that effectively duplicate apps your PC already has. 

 Many users are guilty of downloading a program, trying it once and promptly forgetting to delete it from their hard drive. These programs can take away significant time and energy from your PC's typical tasks, especially if they are constantly running in the background or are set to turn on every time your PC boots up. Whether you are a devotee of Windows or Apple products, you should review the applications on your PC regularly and delete any programs that haven't been used on a regular basis. Of course, you should always exercise caution when deleting programs in case you accidentally remove something vital to your computer's operations, but if it's been more than a month since the app was used, you can probably get rid of it without issue. 

 Ensure all of your software, drivers, and apps are up to date 

 Although it might be a simple solution to such a frustrating problem, having your operating system, your favorite apps, or important programming drivers not updated to the latest version can cause significant slowdowns, glitches, and other issues. If you aren't working with the latest version of a particular software, not only is your PC operating at less efficiency but any apps that rely on Internet connectivity may also be rendered useless. Security issues can also arise from delays in your update schedule, which can lead to your PC becoming vulnerable to malware infections, which can cause a whole new level of difficulties.  

While many PCs are set to update such software automatically, issues like Internet connectivity or power interruptions can cause the download not to finish installing. If you find your PC is suddenly much slower and less communicative than previously, it is always worth checking to see if there has been a recent software release that wasn't properly updated. 

Upgrade your RAM and storage or buy a new hard drive 

 If you are more technically inclined and willing to take some minor risks, you can purchase and install upgrades for both your PC's storage capacity and its RAM. Both components are largely responsible for the overall speed of your PC, so upgrading them is an inexpensive way of boosting your computer's speed. It may also be worth replacing your existing HDD hard drive with a more modern and capable SSD to boost performance across the board. If your PC has the space, dual HDD/SSD setups are possible so you can enjoy the best of both worlds. 


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