What the Tech? How to fix a slow computer

(ABC 6 News) – Why is your computer running so much slower than it did a few months or years ago? If you’ve noticed it’s taking longer to start up or completing basic tasks, don’t run out and buy a new PC without first trying these tips to speed up a lagging computer.

Programs, apps or processes that are running are a big culprit when it comes down to cause a computer to run slow. Tap Ctl-Alt-Del to call up the computer’s task manager. If it doesn’t open, click on settings (windows computers) and search for “task manager”. Here you’ll see every program or process currently running. At the top are the processes you probably have open. If you use the Google Chrome browser there’s a good chance you’re seeing a large portion of your computer’s CPU and memory being used by Chrome. When I randomly checked, Chrome was hogging 24% of the CPU and over 1.6 GB of memory. And that was with just one browser open with 6 tabs

If your computer is lagging while you’ve got a Chrome browser window open, close it by clicking on “end task”. You’ll need to re-open Chrome but it’ll start with a blank slate and will free up some of your computer’s memory.

If your computer is slow to start check your startup apps. These apps or programs are forced to start whenever you turn on the computer and frankly, some of them probably don’t need to start automatically. Go to settings (running Windows 10) in the lower left-hand corner of your toolbar and then choose “startup”. Many of them should be turned off by default but go down the list and if you see one you either don’t use, turn the tab to “off”

Many people put their computer in “sleep mode” before going to bed at night or just when they’re going to be away from it for several hours. Heck, some people never shut down their PC. If you’re having continuous problems with your computer working smoothly, re-start it severaltimes a week. This ‘refresh’ clears out the memory that’s become fragmented and will speedthings up considerably. It also will install any Windows updates the next time you start it up.

If your computer is 6 or more years old, it’s a good idea to upgrade your primary disc drive to an SSD or Solid State Drive. Older computers (and that could be just 3 years old) have spinning hard drives while an SSD has no moving parts. Not only will upgrading to an SSD speed things up dramatically, it also will extend the life of the computer and help prevent crashes that could wipe out everything on your main drive. SSD’s that are large enough for most people’s primary drive are around $100 now. I recommend taking your computer to a professional for installing an SSD because they’ll need to move over all of your files to the new drive including the operating system

While you’re there, ask them if you have enough memory installed to do all the things you’re doing on the computer.

Beware of scams that claim to be able to speed up or fix an aging computer. Most of these scams are phone calls from someone claiming to be with Microsoft and ask you to grant them access to controlling your computer remotely. Not only will they try to take your money but giving them access to your computer they can install malware or gather your most sensitive data.

These tips are for PC owners but Mac computer users might also need to clear out Chrome or browser tabs and re-start to install any updates.