84. How To Fix A Slow Computer

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Fixing Slow Laptops

If There is Not Enough Memory

This is a classic example of why a laptop would become slow. When it happens, you see that the hard drive light is always on and if you open a lot of internet browser tabs it becomes slow beyond belief. What happens is the operating system tries to compensate for the shortage of memory by making a junk of a virtual memory on the hard drive. That’s why the hard-drive light is always on. 

Fixing this is actually very simple - we just need to upgrade the memory (RAM). Laptop memory is easy to access as it is usually located underneath the laptop.


Overheating

Believe it or not, if the laptop notices that it is overheating it will actually slow down the processor speed. This will happen on almost all laptops with only a few exceptions. Why does this happen? Well, the processor or other electronic components can get damaged if they are on a thermal stress for a prolonged time. Actually, the components will most likely not get damaged, but they will de-solder themselves from the logic board.

Usually a laptop overheats when the processor fan becomes full of dust or the thermal paste that is between the processor heat sink and the processor dries out, preventing heat transfer from the processor to the heat sink. 

How can you fix this? Usually we need to disassemble the laptop to get access to the heat sink, fan and the processor. On some laptops like on various Dells this is pretty easy. We need just to unscrew a few screws, take out the plastic cover, unscrew a few screws again and then take out the heat sink. 

The Laptop is Full of Bloatware and Other Stuff 

Yet again this is a classic example of why a laptop is slow even if it came from a shop just a few days ago. I do not know why manufacturers are still doing this, but on every laptop I buy I find tons of software that they think I’m going to need. However, it never gets used and it sits there taking up space and slowing the processor down. Sometimes it even interferes with my work. 

This is why if I buy a new laptop it gets an operating system reinstallation immediately.

Virus

Some viruses perform hard-drive encryption while you work, like some ransomware, which will slow the laptop down. 

Faulty Hard Drive

This is also a very common problem on laptops, especially old ones. What happens is that the disk becomes unreadable in some areas and the laptop still tries to read the data unsuccessfully. What will happen if this starts is that you will see that some programs should not start or you cannot access some of your files. 

Celeron Processors

Celeron processors from Intel are usually slow because they are cheaper and designed for budget laptops. They are usually good for office work like word processing and printing, but they can’t handle media content or some websites. This is actually strange, but if you go to certain websites with heavy media content the Celeron processor would have a hard time showing you the content.

Laptop Specs Do Not Match Operating System Requirements

This can happen after an upgrade. For example, if you used Windows XP and upgraded it to Windows Vista you would notice how slow the laptop may become. You have here two options: get rid of Vista (the best way) or upgrade the memory to twice the size. 

Vista

The only good thing about Windows Vista is that Windows 7 came along and replaced it. If you have Vista on your laptop I feel very sorry for you. Please upgrade it to Windows 7. I do not recommend upgrading it to Windows 8 or Windows 10 because they are a bit different. I have in mind here the user interface. You can run the same programs as on Windows 7, though. Also, there may be some drivers missing if your laptop is an older one. 

Some Laptop Models Are Slower Than Other Models

In reality some laptop models are slower than other models. This is true for older laptops and new laptops that have a Celeron processor. I already have mentioned Celeron processors. 

Laptops with old memory RAM, i.e. DDR1, will be significantly slower than their brothers with DDR2 memory. On the other hand there is a very small difference in laptop speed if it has DDR3 or DDR4 memory. 

Laptops with DDR1 memory are now considered obsolete and you need to get another laptop. 

Faulty Charger

Believe it or not, the charger can affect the performance of your laptop. It is something to do with the quality of power that the charger outputs. If it is not completely filtered and a flat 19 Volts nobody knows how the laptop will behave. Usually laptops have voltage regulators inside but some models do not have good filters with large capacitors. So, any voltage spikes, fluctuations etc. would actually slow down the system. 

You can replace the charger just to make sure it does not make your laptop slow. 

Full of Dust

If your laptop is dusty it is most likely overheating. As mentioned above, laptops monitor system temperatures and if it gets too hot somewhere usually the processor will be slowing down. In some cases the laptop can even power down to prevent damage to electronic components. 

Water Damage

Laptops can survive water damage like coffee or juice spillage. Often the only thing that will fail is the keyboard. However, sometimes some liquid reaches the logic board. If the person who repaired it did not clean the logic board properly then the logic board can get rusty because of the residue that has been left. 

Faulty USB Device

If you have a failing USB device that is attached to the laptop it can slow down the operating system. A classic example would be a hard drive that has bad sectors on the disk. If you try to copy files from it this will take ages to do. External hard drives, especially the bigger ones, are nothing more than a usual hard drive fitted into an external enclosure with a USB interface. And just as the enclosure can get faulty, so too can the hard drive. 

Some Programs Can Make the Laptop Slow

If you have on the laptop a few programs installed like Adobe Photoshop I can guarantee your laptop will get slower. The thing is that almost all programs write data to the user folder. You can see that in AppData/Local/Temp, which is in your account folder and filled with strange folders and other mess. You can clean it up and make some space on your laptop by running disk cleanup; click start and type “cleanup”, select temporary files and hit ok. 

What is Happening with Slow Desktops

The Hard Drive

The same hard drive can make the computer slow. Hard drives on desktops work on the same principle as laptop hard drives. If they encounter data they are unable to read from the disk, the hard drive still tries to read it anyway. After dozens of attempts it marks it as not readable and moves along. So, the damaged hard drive will definitely make the desktop computer slow. What else can damage the hard drive? A faulty power supply can damage hard drives. This probably seems incredible, but I have seen some hard drives that have been damaged by faulty desktop computer power supplies. 

This is how it happens. Every power supply has a bunch of big capacitors inside that help make 12 volts, which is flat and stabilized. If those capacitors dry out or something else happens to them they lose the capacity. As a result we get voltage spikes, fluctuations etc. that reach our hard drive. Laptop hard drives and also desktop hard drives do not have a circuit inside that can absorb those fluctuations. As a result what we get is damaged electronics inside the hard drive or damaged areas on the disk with unreadable data. 

Memory

Desktops also use memory like laptops, only the modules are longer. They usually come in a variety of memory sizes and are made by many manufacturers. Today DDR1 memory is considered obsolete and if you have one in your computer it is time to upgrade the motherboard. Motherboards usually accept one type of memory, so you’ll need to buy a new motherboard if you want to upgrade to a newer memory type.

Power Supply

I feel the power supply on a desktop computer is a bit overlooked. It is very important to have it working properly, otherwise we can get a damaged hard drive, processor or logic board. 

How can you know if there may be a faulty power supply? Usually strange computer behavior like failing to start in the morning, slow performance, and randomly powering down can be a sign of a faulty power supply, or faulty capacitors in the power supply to be precise.

Faulty Capacitors on the Logic Board

Most often if a capacitor is faulty you can see that the top of it is a little deformed. Sometimes some liquid starts to leak from it. However, sometimes it looks as normal but inside are dried-out electrolytes so it is like there is no capacitor at all. 

What would the symptoms of this fault be? You would notice that the computer does not like heavy loads. Sometimes it can even power down if you play a game. Also, it would not start in the morning on the first time or it would not power on at all on a cold day. 

Faulty USB Ports

USB ports are in general a bit fragile. Every USB port has four wires. Two are power and the other two in the middle are dedicated to data transfer. If for some reason these two in the middle deform or break we will get slow data transfer speeds, or may not even be recognized by the computer. This is a very common fault on USB flash drives. If the desktop computer USB port breaks it usually breaks completely, and you will probably find black plastic bits that came from the USB port. In this case it is better not to use this port and instead show it to a specialist. There is power going through this port and if it gets a shortage it can damage the power supply. 

Faulty Motherboard

Sometimes you can visually identify a faulty motherboard that has faulty capacitors, faulty MOSFETs (black things with a burnt hole), burned Nvidia chips (yes, they get black and make a black spot on the motherboard) and other things that overheat and change their color to black. It is actually incredible that a motherboard today has thousands of elements and the failure rate is actually very low. In fact, computers’ hard drives fail more frequently than the motherboard. 

Overheating

As on laptops, overheating is also a problem on desktop computers. There are a few places that you need to check. The first is the processor heat sink. This is usually a big metal piece that sits on the processor. It needs to be clean, have good thermal paste and have a good working fan. Usually desktop heat sinks are not designed to work without a fan. However, there are some computers that do not use fans at all but they cost more and are not designed for media work or gaming. 

Back from How To Fix A Slow Computer to Home

If Windows 7 Starts Slow

How to Fix Water Damaged Laptop


Computer Repair User Guide

Troubleshooting Computer Problems

How To Fix Computer Problems

Maintenance And Repair

Fix A Slow Computer

Remove Virus

Network Repair

Hard Drive Repair

Computer Repair Tools

Computer Help

Computer Repair Course

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