Tips for Identify and Correcting a Slow Computer
How to Repair a Slow Computer

Computer Boots Up Slowly

A computer can boot-up/start up slowly for several different reasons. It could be that it requires updates, doesn't have enough memory available, may need a cleaning and more. To speed up the boot-up process you can disable programs, run a scan to determine errors, create more hard disk drive space, check software updates and add memory. All of these things and more will enhance the speed of a computer.

Disable Startup Programs – When you load programs on your computer they will remain active within the computer's memory. In time, they may slow down the computer particularly if your memory resources are limited. If you disable the programs that are not used often, the boot-up time will shorten. You can stop a current program running by using your Task Manager. Hit ALT + CTRL + DEL to go to your task manager window (or goto the Start/Run... line and type "taskmgr" then hit Enter). Click on the Applications Tab at the top and select the program you want to end. Click "End Task" button. To review programs that automatically load during start-up that are slowing down the boot-up process, look at the contents in your "Startup Folder". In Windows, it will look something like this:

Note: If you happen to be running Windows 8 instead of Windows 7 it will be located under the Processes tab instead of the Applications tab.

Making Space on the Hard Disk Drive – A computer should have at least 250MB or more of free/available space. Ideally, though, you should try to have about 10% of your hard drive space free at all times. For a 200 GB hard drive, you would want 20 GB free--this will give you plenty of 'breathing' room. You can easily determine your hard drive space on your computer. Depending on the operating system and version you should be able to access this information using "My Computer."

Adding Memory – The memory of a computer, or RAM, may also slow down the computer if too much memory is taken up by running programs/processes. Modern computers should have at least 1GB of memory. 64-Bit operating systems (Windows 7 64-Bit) require a minimum of 2 GB of memory. It may be time to update your computer if it is running anything less than that.

Updating Drivers & Operating Systems – If drivers are corrupt, out of date, or incorrect they can cause different issues, one of them being slowing down your computer. To avoid this, be sure that your computer has updated drivers. In later versions of Windows, they may include updated hardware drivers for popular devices. These are usually found under 'optional updates' at the Microsoft Windows Update area, shown here:

Registry Cleaners – Sometimes running a cleaner will help to enhance the overall performance of the operating system such as Windows. If you have tried all other solutions, yet still experience a slow computer then this may help but it can also cause further issues causing the operating system to shut down completely. Some recommended registry cleaners include Glary Utilities and EasyCleaner, but this should always be the very last option. Tampering with the Windows Registry can be a quick road to disaster if you don't know what you're doing.

Suggestion – Once you have tried all those steps and the computer seems to be working more quickly, it is always a good idea either turn your computer off or put it in hibernation mode when it is not in use. It saves electricity and may extend the life of some of your hardware if it doesn't have to needlessly run.

Computer is Running Slow

If a computer is running slow it may be from some of the same causes that make a computer boot up slowly. There are a few more things that can be going wrong with a computer if then entire system is slow versus just a boot up or reboot issue. Some of these other reasons include conflicts in hardware, too many background programs running at one time, or overheating.

Background programs – When programs begin to run automatically every time the computer starts up, they are called background programs. They take up a lot of resources causing the computer to slow. An example of a background program would be an aggressive anti-virus scanner that is constantly running in the background. You can use your Task Manager to determine what programs are running and to then disable them.

Overheating – It may be that your computer is overheating. When a computer gets too hot it will decrease its performance and slow down its speed. Most computers should not be in a room where the temperature exceeds 26 °C (80 °F). You can check for overheating by seeing if the computer's fan(s) is running. If it is not working then the fan may need to be replaced. If it is working, it may be that it is still getting too hot because of its environment, for example, it is too close to a heat source and/or there is no proper ventilation. In this case the computer will need to be moved to a well-ventilated area.

Conflicts in Hardware – To verify that there are no hardware issues you will need to check the Device Manager. If Windows is your operating system you can quickly access this by pressing the "Windows" key and "Pause" key at the same time.

Suggestion – If none of the suggestions have resolved the issue of a slow computer, try a clean install (this means, re-format and reinstall the OS and only the necessary programs). This is of course a last resort, and the task can seem daunting. But, more often than not, it can greatly increase performance.

Interested in learning more? Why not take an online Intro to PC Troubleshooting and Repair course?


GB – This stands for a gigabyte which is a unit of measurement used in storing digital information. It is the multiple of a byte.

Hard disk drive – HDD or Hard Disk Drive is the main place where data is stored on the computer. You will find the operating system, data files, software and more all in the hard disk drive.

Hibernation Mode – This is used to conserve the computer's batteries or power. When the computer is on this mode the current memory is saved to the hard disk and the computer shuts down (or sleeps). It is different from shutting down the computer because when turned on, it will resume where the user left off and much more quickly than a reboot.

Load (to load programs) – When a user loads programs onto a computer it is being saved on the computer so that it can be accessed in the future. You can load a game, antivirus programs and much more. It is the same as "installing" a program.

MB – This stands for a megabyte and is a unit of measurement for digital information. It is a multiple of the unit byte.

Updates – An update is needed to keep a program current. When software has been fixed or enhanced, an update will be made available. Most minor updates are free. Major updates may have an additional cost.
Repairing Errors
Blue Screen Error

Also known as "the blue screen of death," when your computer suddenly shows this blue screen, well, things are pretty bad. It could be from an issue in the hard disk drive, a condition that is impacting the computer's safe operation, a virus on the computer and more. Before you can begin to fix this error you will need to determine the exact cause.

Blue Screen/Automatically Reboots – If your computer shows a blue screen and then automatically restarts/reboots then follow these steps. Start at your Desktop and right click your mouse on the "My Computer" icon. Then click on "Properties." Once you have reached this window, click on the "Advanced" tab. You will see a "Settings" button underneath the "Startup" and "Recovery" options. Go into the "Startup" and "Recovery" window and uncheck the option that says "Automatically restart." Once you are done, click OK. If your operating system does not allow you to perform the steps above then the computer should be booted up using "Safe Mode."

Identifying Blue Screen Errors – Many different versions of Windows will have a more detailed error message. Although you may not understand what the error is, the cause of the error will typically pop up on the blue screen. This is how you tell what the error is. You can identify the error by finding the line on the screen that has all Capital Letter and underscores. It will not have spaces because the underscores will be in their place. For example, it will look something like: DRIVER_IRQL_NOT_LESS_OR_EQUAL. The error can say all sorts of different things but as long as it is in all caps and has underscores instead of spaces, this is your error. Write it down for future reference. You should also write down any file or address information found in the "Technical information" area.

Can't Identify Error in Blue Screen – If you cannot locate the error or there is not an error that resembles the above description, write down the error message at the top of the blue screen. It may be in the "Technical information" area of the error. It will resemble something like" STOP: 0X00000021 (0000472), etc. All you need to note is the first portion of this error. You should also write down any file or address information found in the "Technical information" area.

Troubleshooting – Once you have gathered the information you need, it is time to troubleshoot. Every error will require a different solution. Do a "Google" search for the error you are seeing. If it's a common error you may have to narrow your search by including the exact OS you are using and/or the make/model of your computer.
Blue Screen/ Fatal Exceptions Error – Sometimes you will see an error message on a blue screen that is a Fatal 0E error. This is the same as a fatal exception error. To tell if the error on your screen is a Fatal Exception Error, the message will start out with stating "An exception … has occurred …"
How to Fix a Fatal Exception Error – This ambiguous error can by caused by so many conflicting instances. It can also be caused by overheating, hardware issues, program code conflict and more. Each message will have a bunch of letters, numbers and symbols. For example: 0026:a002f37. Each error must be fixed a different way.

Runtime Error

A Runtime error can be caused by a conflict in a program that is running, an issue with the computer's software, a virus on the computer or an issue with the computer's memory. Each cause of an error will need to be fixed in a different way. Before you can fix it you will need to determine what is causing the error.

Determine the Runtime Error – When a Runtime Error pops it, it will include some sort of an error code or message. It may look something like this: Runtime error 65 path/file error. Each error will need to be resolved differently.

Issues with Software – It is possible that certain hardware is causing your Runtime Error. For example, a program, game or utility can cause issues. First visit the site of the developer and be sure that updates have been installed. For example, if a game was recently installed on your computer, it may need to be updated. If no updates are available it would be wise to uninstall the program then reinstall the program. Sometimes the operating system will cause a Runtime error, look for updates at your OS update website.

Extra Software – If extra software has recently been installed it could be generating the error. To see if this is the cause and to fix it, you must uninstall the software and then reboot.

Virus – Unfortunately, viruses can impact your system and cause a runtime error. If you do not have an antivirus program it is wise to get one. If you already have an antivirus program, it may need updating.

Memory Issue – It is possible that bad memory is causing a Runtime Error. Run a memory diagnostic check. Some BIOS/CMOS versions will do a memory diagnostic check in the Setup area. There are also software programs that will check your system memory for faults. If there is a fault, contact the manufacturer of the computer to see what types of services and recommendations are available.

Keywords/terms used

Developer – A developer is an organization or person who has created, designed and coded a computer program or software.

Illegal Software – Also known as "Pirated Software," illegal software is software that you are not authorized to use. Software is protected by copyright laws and patents. Sometimes people will distribute or duplicate programs without permission which is illegal. Many times they will 'alter' the software so that they can be duplicated or installed illegally. These altered versions may have additional malware associated with them.

Privilege Level – Depending on the user privilege level, they will have certain permissions to perform different actions. For example, if you try to delete a file and do not have that privilege, you will not be able to perform that action. This will result in an error message.

Safe Operation – This is the same as a computer operating in "Safe Mode" and allows you to work on your computer securely with minimal drivers loaded. It will only allow you to perform necessary operations.

Troubleshoot – This, in short, means to solve a problem. In order to repair a failed process or product, troubleshooting helps to locate the source so that the system can then work properly.

Underscores – This is a character on the keyboard that looks like a line (_). It is also called an under-strike, low dash, underline or under bar.

Utility – This is used to help maintain a computer and is the same thing as a "software tool". An antivirus program or backup program would be examples of a utility.