Why Is My Computer So Slow? Tips to Speed It Up

If you’re spending too much time looking at loading bars and spinning cursors, there might be something simple dragging your PC’s performance down.

A Few Fast Fixes Can Go a Long Way

  • The components that most determine your PC’s performance are your RAM, CPU, and disk drive. If any of these are overloaded, your whole experience slows down.

  • Windows 10 and 11 have tools built into the OS to help you free up your computer’s key resources and to address other things that can slow down your PC’s speed.

  • Don’t let a slow device detract from your creativity and productivity. Updating your device can help make sure it’s capable of handing the latest software and immersive experiences you need.



Why Is My PC Lagging?

Your computer—whether it’s a desktop, laptop, or other form factor—should feel like a fast and fluid tool. It should be able to keep up with your flow of productivity and creativity. If it feels like you’re frequently having to stop what you’re doing to wait on your computer to complete computing tasks or you’re constantly worried your computer will freeze while you’re in the middle of something, computer performance issues may be the culprit.

How to Fix a Slow Computer

There are many reasons why a computer may be running slowly. However, your computer’s speed is largely determined by three key components.

  • CPU: The central processing unit, also known as the processor, is your computer’s brain. Its performance is measured in gigahertz (GHz), and the faster it is, the faster your computer and apps will run.
  • RAM: Random-access memory, often just called memory, is measured in gigabytes (GB) for size and GHz for speed. More GBs and faster speeds will make your apps run more fluidly and allow you to have more programs open at once.
  • Disk drive: Your storage drive, or hard drive, space is where your apps and files are stored when they’re not being used. It’s measured in volume by GBs and read/write speed by GBs per second.

If you use up too many of these resources, your computer won’t be able to keep up with you, and you’ll be spending a lot of time waiting for it to load—or worse, dealing with computer crashes. Here are some tips on making sure your computer is using its available resources the best way possible.

Restart Your PC

When in doubt, restart! While your computer is running, your operating system allocates space in RAM for different programs. If your RAM fills up (for example, from opening too many browser tabs), your computer will slow down.

A simple restart of your device clears the data out of RAM and loads up only the essential applications your computer needs. You should then only open the applications required to complete your task. Opening other programs will likely put you back in the same situation.

Check Task Manager to See How Your PC Is Performing

Your computer only has so many resources. If you’re running more programs or bigger files than your RAM, CPU, and disk drive can handle, your computer will run slow.

To see how much of each resource you’re using, open the Task Manager by searching for it in the Start menu or by pressing Control, Alt, and Delete simultaneously on your keyboard. In the Task Manager window, select the Performance tab. The left-side column will show you a list of key resource components and the percentage of each resource being actively used.

If you’re using more than 80 percent of your RAM, CPU, and disk space consistently, your computer is running or storing more than it can handle. Freeing up storage space or adding more RAM or an additional storage disk drive can help. We cover many of these tips in this section. If your CPU is overloaded by the tasks you’re asking it to do, you may need to upgrade to a new laptop or desktop with a new CPU with faster speed.

Quick tip: Use the Task Manager to close any unneeded apps to potentially give your computer a quick boost of speed.

Disable Startup Programs

Do you know which programs open when your PC starts up? Most people don’t, but a common PC performance problem is when there are too many applications that start automatically when your PC boots up. These applications then run in the background, taking up your PC’s limited memory and other resources and potentially causing your other applications to run slower.

To stop unnecessary apps from opening automatically, select Start in the taskbar, or tap the Windows key, to bring up a list of applications. Locate and select Settings to open the Settings window. Next, locate and select Apps, then Startup. Here, you’ll find the programs that start automatically. If you see any that you don’t use every time you use your computer, toggle them to Off. If you’re not sure what one of the apps is, you can do an internet search to learn more about it before you decide if you want to keep it on or turn it off.

Free Up Disk Space

If your hard drive is full or nearly full, it slows down your computer. The operating system doesn’t have enough free space to work adequately, resulting in your PC running slow and your files taking too long to open, among other effects.

Freeing up some disk space on your PC may improve its performance. Read our article on how to free up PC storage space to learn several ways to do this, from removing unnecessary files and apps to using built-in cleanup tools and other storage options.

Pause OneDrive Syncing

If you use Microsoft OneDrive to store files in the cloud, your PC will continually perform a syncing action between your computer and the cloud. This allows for your files to be properly saved whether you access them from your desktop or a web browser. This syncing can slow your computer down by taking up key computer resources.

If you’re trying to overcome computer performance problems, pausing OneDrive syncing can free up disk space and resources and give your PC a speed boost. To do so, look for the OneDrive icon, which looks like a cloud, on the taskbar near the notification area. Select the OneDrive icon to open its menu, then select Settings, or the gear icon. Locate the sync menu to review your current preferences, and toggle any of the options you don’t want to automatically sync to Off. In some cases, you can then choose how long you want to pause syncing your files.

Check for Viruses and Malware

Viruses, malware, and malicious software are typically designed to use up your computer’s resources to perform tasks you didn’t ask for. This means that a slow computer might be infected (though this is much less likely than the other issues addressed in this article).

In the search bar located on the taskbar or under the Start menu, search “Windows Security” to see a summary of all security options on your device, including a few to scan for viruses. You can also employ many of the other antivirus programs available online, but make sure the one you choose is from a reputable source, such as the official Microsoft store. There are many malicious apps online that are advertised as antivirus software.

Add Additional RAM

RAM—or random-access memory—is your CPU’s short-term memory. It holds the data your PC needs to run software and open files. If you run out of RAM to operate your applications, then your computer must juggle data between your CPU, your slower disk drive, and your RAM. This will slow everything down.

If you see in the Task Manager that your RAM usage continually exceeds 80 percent, or often hits 100 percent, you don’t have enough RAM for your computer. If you’ve closed unwanted apps and you’re still using too much RAM, then you need to add more RAM capacity. Many desktops and even laptops allow you to add additional RAM modules if you have extra available RAM slots. But make sure to properly match the RAM module to your device, or it won’t function.

For more details on RAM and how to determine if you have enough, read our article, “What Is Computer RAM?

Upgrade to an SSD

The speed of your disk drive storage is a big determining factor for your PC’s performance. Every time you open a file or application, like editing a photo or playing a game, the CPU needs to read and write data on your disk drive. Traditional hard disk drives (HDDs) can store large amounts of data and are readily available, but they are slower than new solid-state drives (SSDs), largely because they rely on moving parts.

SSDs read and write data much faster than HDDs. Transitioning from an HDD to an SSD can improve many aspects of your computer’s performance, from how long it takes to start up to how long it takes to download something from the internet. Adding a single SSD to a PC tower or laptop can often offer enough space to store everything that an avid content creator, gamer, or other power user could possibly want.

Will a Full HDD or SSD Slow My PC Down?

For hard disk drives, leaving 10 to 15 percent of the drive free for virtual memory, temp files, and other storage needs can keep your PC running well. Solid-state drives, however, need more available space. SSDs work best if the available storage is kept between 25 and 30 percent of the total capacity.

PC Running Slow? Discover Devices Powered by Intel

Standards for memory, disk drives, and CPUs are always changing to keep up with the latest software. This often means that older computers simply aren’t up to the task of delivering the experience you demand.

Your device should amplify your creativity and productivity, not drag it down. There is a wide range of devices available with the latest Intel® CPUs that also offer RAM, disk drive, and other critical components that meet or exceed the latest standards. You can find lightweight notebook computers that can turn into tablets and powerful all-in-one PCs with sleek designs that all but disappear on your desk. Be sure to read our article on the best laptop for home use to help you decide if it’s time to upgrade your device and what to look for when you do decide to buy.

Frequently Asked Questions

The first step to fixing a slow computer is to make sure your computer has enough resources to perform the tasks you want it to. Your computer’s speed is largely determined by three key components: the RAM, CPU, and disk drive. The fastest way to fix a slow computer is to make sure your computer has enough of these resources. Closing unused programs, restarting your computer, and making sure you have enough disk drive space are easy ways to improve PC speed.

If your PC has been working fine but suddenly has become slow, here are a few common causes:

  • You’re running a new app that requires more CPU and RAM resources than your PC has.
  • You’re opening large files.
  • You have a heavy-duty application running in the background.
  • Your disk drive storage is overly full.
  • Your PC has been infected by a virus or malware.

You can use the tips in this article to help you investigate what may be slowing your PC down, as well as get some suggestions for how to improve its performance.