There are lot of reasons why an operating system such as Windows 7 would run slow. Below, I will show you exactly how to identify problems and how to solve them. I will also give you a few solutions that you might find helpful.
First, we are going to identify if there is enough memory or RAM on the computer. You might notice that the computer becomes slower when the memory is low. The next step is to press Ctrl ALT Del on the keyboard. A bluish screen will then show up and give you a few options. Choose the option at the bottom that says Start Task Manager. A small screen will pop up with a few tabs to choose from. We are going to use the Performance tab. Look towards the Physical Memory field where it says Available. When the available memory is close to zero, the system will be slow.
In this case, the computer has enough memory to run because the green bar shows that there is less memory used than what is installed on the computer. If the green memory bar is showing almost the same amount or more than the Total Physical memory, the computer does not have enough RAM memory and is using the hard drive as it’s memory which is not good for the computer system. The reason why it is not good for the computer system is because it puts a stress on the hard drive and slows the system down noticeably.
The Process tab. Below, we will see which program slows the computer down the most.
Click the Processes tab, and then click on the CPU field to arrange the column from high to low. As you can see here, the System Idle Process has around 90 percent of processing power, which is good. This also tells us that the processor is not doing too much work. The next program to check is Firefox. Firefox is important to check because there are usually a lot of tabs open in Firefox. There are also programs in Firefox within the tabs that could be using a lot of power. For example, Google Desktop will definitely consume a lot of processing power, and Flash player has also been know to use a lot of processing power.
The positive about using tools that are already in the operating system is that no unfamiliar software is installed, which always poses some type of risk.
Now, we are going to use a tool where we will be able to disable a program that uses a lot of processing power. Go to the Start button and in the Search field, type in msconfig (MSCONFIG), a small window will open similar to what is seen below:
Then click the Startup tab, which has the programs that show up during a boot-up of the computer. In the startup tab, those specific programs can be disabled and then enabled again. If you remembered earlier, I mentioned one way to identify a program that uses a lot of processor power using the Task Manager. In the startup tab, we can disable that program and several other programs if needed.
When we scroll down, we will notice a list of programs that have already been disabled. I have disabled both Adobe Reader and Acrobat Manager since these programs take too much processing power on my PC. Do not worry as disabling these programs will not affect the functioning of Adobe Reader. Even if disabled, Adobe Reader will still open and show each pdf as nothing has changed. Disabling the program will prevent it from starting services when the computer starts, and then do a type of monitoring which I would rather not have happen. In fact, almost all programs these days have a type of monitoring or other activity occurring, even if they are not evident in the Taskbar. As you can see, I disabled the computer from starting a few programs such as QuickTime, WinampAgent, etc. The good thing about this tool is that if something is not working properly, we can easily go there and enable it once again. I do not recommend disabling anything that is from Microsoft. The company that made each app is shown in the Manufacturer column. So, anything that says Microsoft Corporation should not be disabled.
Now, I will refer to antivirus applications. Yes, an antivirus application can slow down a computer. There are two antiviruses applications that are widely used, and also take a lot of resources from the computer. This does not mean that these applications are bad, but the way they work is a stress on the computer system. The first of these applications is McAfee. I now remember a joke, if you install McAfee, it will take over your computer. What I can say is that there is some truth in these words. If your computer is slow and it has McAfee installed on it, you can go to MSCONFIG, disable it, and then see if the computer does run faster. You can also uninstall the program and then compare how the computer runs afterward.
The next antivirus software that I would like to refer to is the Norton Antivirus application. This software was good in it’s early days. I remember running it on a 486 in my room during my school years. Back then, it used to slow the computer system down a bit, but not to the level that it does today. Today, the Norton Antivirus application has become similar to McAfee in that it does many protection jobs all at once.
The last thing I would like to talk about is purely hardware related. The choice is now up to you, do you have the willingness to do it? I am referring to the GSmartControl software. GSmartControl is open source software and available to download from sourceforge.
The GSmartControl software instantly shows what health the hard drive is in as a short numbered report.
I need to also mention that hard drive faults usually have different symptoms. Hard drive faults not only contribute to a slower computer, but also do something to the computer which makes it operate differently. For example, if you attempt to start a program and it won’t start at all, or if files are not able to be read. At times, the hard drive can also make a strange noise. All these are faulty hard drive symptoms that should not be ignored.
The GSmartControl software shows exactly when the hard drive is having trouble. If there is a problem, it will be shown in the red lines in the table. This first image above has no red horizontal lines, so everything with the HDD is working correctly.
Now, the below image is how a troubled hard drive looks.
I would also like to mention that when a computer overheats, the heat will affect the computer in a negative way. The system (now, it is very smart) will decrease it’s processor speed in order to keep the temperature low. This is especially noticeable on laptops that have ventilation holes underneath, which makes dust and other factors such as leaving the laptop on a bed make it slow. Laptops that do not have ventilation holes underneath and also have hot warm air blown in from the front seem to suffer less from this issue.
Desktop computer systems also can suffer from overheating, and usually this is because of a dust problem.
Me holding a laptop hard drive
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