How to speed up a slow computer

Slow computer? Follow these steps to speed up your Sluggish PC.

Windows Version.

There are hundreds of things that could be causing your computer to run slowly. This guide will help you find the cause of your slow performance and will provide some suggestions how to speed-up your old PC.

One: Know Your Hardware

Before you can begin to speed up your old computer you need to know more about the hardware. Specifically you need to know what it has for:

  • Processor (CPU)
  • Memory (RAM)
  • Storage type (HDD or SSD)
  • Internet Speed

If you are having trouble playing games on your older PC, you will also need to know the graphics specs:

  • Video RAM (VRAM)
  • Graphics Processor (GPU)

Windows System Information App

All of this information can be found using Windows System Information.

To launch the System Information app in Windows 10 or Windows 11:

  1. Click the START button (the “Windows” button).
  2. Type “system info” in the search bar.
  3. Click “Open” to launch the Windows System Information app.
3 steps to open your windows computer system information app.

Almost everything you need to know about your Windows PC can be found in the Windows System Information app. The first things to look at are your processor (CPU) and memory (RAM).

What is your Processor (CPU)?

We’re not going to discuss upgrading your CPU, but knowing which one you have will help you understand the limitations of your computer. Simply put, the speed and number of cores will determine your computer’s base capability. For modest performance you should hope to see speed of at least 1.50GHz and no fewer than 4 cores. If your CPU speed is under 1.5GHz and/or it has only 2 cores, then it’s just a slow and under-powered CPU – so, to be blunt, lower your expectations or start shopping for a better computer.

How Much Physical Memory (RAM) Should You Have?

This is simple. More is better. For Windows 10 or Windows 11, 16GB is ideal but you can squeak by with a minimum of 8GB. Having 4GB or or less will leave your computer struggling. With very few exceptions, adding more RAM is a relatively fast and easy upgrade.

To see details about your Processor and Memory in the System Information app:

  1. Click “System Summary“.
  2. Make note of the Processor.
  3. How much Physical Memory (RAM) do you have?

Next, let’s look at your computer’s storage …

Windows Task Manager App

There are a few things you can see in the Task Manager that you can’t see in the System Information app.

To launch Windows Task Manager app:

  1. Click the START button (the “Windows” button).
  2. Type “task man” in the search bar.
  3. Click “Open” to launch the Windows Task Manager app.
to launch Windows task manager, click the windows/start button, then type "task man", then click Open

What type of Storage (Hard Drive) do You have?

For consumer grade laptops and desktop computers there are essentially two types of storage: HDD and SSD. HDD is older, slower technology. SSD is newer and faster. I won’t go into the technical differences, but generally speaking SSD is 5 to 15 times faster than HDD. Upgrading your storage from HDD to SSD is the one change that will make the biggest improvement in your overall computer speed.

click the performance tab in Windows task manager to see if your computer has HDD or SSD storage.

To check your computer’s storage type in the Task Manager:

  1. Click the “Performance” tab.
  2. Make note of Disk 0 (C:).
    • NOTE: Some computers have more than 1 disk. the (C:) disk is the important one when considering system speed.
  3. Is it SSD or HDD?

Gaming, Video Editing, Animation, and Graphic Design

Some types of computer usage require additional resources to process graphics. If you are a gamer or graphic designer you will need a good graphics processor (GPU). An under-spec’d GPU will make games almost unplayable and will add minutes (or hours) to the rendering time for large graphic/video files.

There is an incredible variety of GPUs out there with pros and cons that can be debated endlessly. But in general terms the most important factor is video RAM (vRAM). As with your system memory – more vRAM is better.

For gaming, video editing, and serious graphic design work, 2GB is effectively the minimum – 4 is better – but if possible shoot for 8 or more.

Check your computer’s graphics specifications

Steps to check your computer's graphics details

To check your computer’s graphics processor (GPU) in the Windows System Information app:

  1. Click the ‘+‘ to expand the Components list.
  2. Click Display.
  3. How much Adapter RAM do you see?

Should You Consider Any Upgrade?

Taking stock of your computer’s hardware resources is important before considering any upgrades. For more on upgrades, See section Three: Consider Upgrading your Computer’s Components.

Two: Kill unnecessary processes and Uninstall Apps

Now that you have better understanding of your computer’s hardware – and how it stacks up to today’s minimum requirements – we can take a look at the software. Specifically, we want to look for processes and applications that consume more than their fair share of system’s resources.

Check Your Startup Apps

First, take a look at your startup apps. There’s a very good chance that at startup Windows launches several applications that simply don’t need to be launched. These will run, unseen, in the background- consuming valuable memory and loading down your CPU, bogging down your computer.

In the Startup Apps manager you can prevent or allow applications to auto-launch at startup. The goal here is to turn off everything that isn’t essential. Remember – most of the applications can be launched on an as-needed basis; they don’t need to be launched automatically when your computer boots up.

To manage Windows Startup apps:

  1. Click the START button (the “Windows” button).
  2. Type “startup” in the search bar.
  3. Click “Open” to launch the Windows Startup Apps manager.
to check Windows startup apps, click the windows/start button, then type "startup", then click Open
Windows Startup apps manager

Turn EVRYTHING off – then RESTART.

This sounds scary, but don’t worry. You aren’t uninstalling anything yet. This will just prevent these non-essentials from running in the background when you restart.

If some of your necessary services don’t work after you restart your computer, just come back here and turn ON the apps that you need.

With all of the Startup Apps turned OFF, you should notice some improvement in your startup speed and overall system responsiveness.

Check Your System’s Resource Usage

Make sure you have no other programs running. At most, keep this browser tab open – but close all other tabs. Open the Task Manager again and click the Processes tab. This will show you a long list of things running in the background with their respective resource usage.

Windows Task manager shows system's CPU, memory, Disk, Network, and GPU usage

Your computer’s total resource usage is shown at the top. There are no exact good/bad numbers, but lower is better. With no other applications running, your resource usage should stay below:

  • CPU: 25%
  • Memory: 25%
  • Disk: 5%
  • Network: 0%
  • GPU: 5%

Remove Unused Applications

Your computer is full of applications you don’t need and will likely never use. Some of these apps are harmless – part of the Windows operating system. But some third-party applications can bog down your system and/or pose a security risk. Do a little light housecleaning and uninstall some of these programs.

To see your computer’s installed applications, launch Windows Apps and Features page:

  1. Click the START button (the “Windows” button).
  2. Type “add or remove” in the search bar.
  3. Click “Open” to launch the Windows Startup Apps manager.
to check Windows installed apps, click the windows/start button, then type "add or remove", then click Open

Identifying the good apps from the bad can be difficult. There will probably be up to 100 or more applications in the list. There are a few rules to follow that will help you determine what to keep and what to uninstall as you scroll down through the list.

  • If you recognize and regularly use an application – keep it.
  • If you recognize an application, but no longer use it and probably never will again – uninstall it.
  • Keep all Microsoft applications unless you are absolutely sure you don’t need them.
  • If you’re unsure – keep it, and seek qualified advice.

Three: Consider Upgrading Your Computer’s components

Unless there is something seriously wrong with your computer, the steps outlined above should have made at least a slight improvement in your computer’s speed. But ultimately it all comes down to what’s under the hood. You can’t expect an old car with a tiny engine to perform like a new, highly optimized vehicle. And just like an old car, upgrading parts on your old computer might not be worth the cost.

But how do you know?

First, consider your computer’s age. If your computer is older than 10 years then upgrading it might be fool’s errand.

Second, consider the original price. If you paid $400 for your computer six years ago, then it probably doesn’t make sense to spend another $400 on upgrades.

So, if it’s not too old and it wasn’t too cheap to begin with, then do your upgrades in this order:

  1. Storage. Upgrade to an SSD if you have an HDD
  2. Memory. Upgrade your RAM if you have 8GB or less.
  3. Graphics. Upgrade to a GPU with 8GB or more (especially if you play games or do graphic intensive work)

Call Us – (902)270-5004

Troubleshooting a slow computer can be a real headache, especially if you don’t do it every day. But we can make it as painless as possible. We have decades of experience improving the speed of old, slow computers. We typically have a 1 day turnaround and our rates are extremely fair.

We will also give you an honest opinion as to whether or not you should upgrade your old computer or consider a new one.

Thanks for reading – we look forward to hearing from you. Please leave your comments below.