Why is My Computer So Slow All of a Sudden? Here's How to Speed Things Up Again
If your computer is slow all of a sudden, you might be facing some kind of isolated glitch. You don't have to worry too much about it, as simply restarting your computer can get rid of it. However, the problem can be due to something more serious too, like a virus running amok. You'll have to scan your PC with your anti-virus and see what it says.
My computer has randomly gotten slow a couple of times. The first time it happened, I rebooted my PC, because I had a feeling I was dealing with something minor. This pretty much took care of the slowness, but the second time around, it wouldn't go away. Turns out, one of my drivers was outdated.
If you'd like to know how I fixed this, and all the other reasons the issue can pop up, you can read ahead.
Why is My Computer So Slow All of a Sudden?
There are a few different reasons why your computer can be slow all of a sudden.
Let's take a look at them.
1. Minor Glitches
The first reason why you might be dealing with a slow computer could be a minor software glitch. It's hard to say how or why it popped up, but you should be able to clear it by simply restarting your computer.
Here's how you can restart your Windows computer:
Click on the Windows start button
Click on the Power button
Select the Restart option
Wait for your slow computer to reboot, and then check whether it is still running slow
Here's how you can restart your Mac computer:
Head to the Apple Menu
Click on the Restart option
Wait for your Mac computer to reboot, and then check whether it is still running slow
2. Background Programs Accessing System Files
Your computer might be slow because of background programs eating your system's resources. They may either be starting on their own when your computer boots, or are programs that you've opened and forgotten to close.
Here's how you can check whether your startup programs are eating your resources on Windows:
Click on the Search bar
Search for Task Manager
Open Task Manager from the drop-down list
Click on the Processes tab - you should open resource monitor now
From the performance monitor window, go through the app list and find all the apps/background processes that you have open right now, and check how much CPU and memory they take up, and then compare it with the other apps
If you feel like it takes up too much resources, you should consider disabling it
Here's what you do on Macs:
Press the Command and Space keys to open your Mac Spotlight
Search for Activity Monitor
Click on Activity Monitor from the search results
Go through the CPU and Memory tabs to check all your apps, and how many resources they use
Once you've checked the performance monitor, decide whether the processes/apps you have running now need to be disabled or not
If you've figured that these background apps are wasting too many resources, you can right-click them from the taskbar, and then select End Task to close them if they're currently running. But if they're apps that automatically open the moment your PC launches, you can stop them from doing this. Here's how:
Click on Apps
Select Startup Programs
Toggle off all the apps that you want to disable from automatically starting
Here's how you stop apps from automatically launching on Macs:
Launch the app that automatically starts
Right-click on its icon on the dock
Untick the Open at Login option
Confirm the change
3. Low Storage Space (Low Disk Space)
A lot of the time, the issue can be due to low disk space. You probably have been downloading files, and have filled up your drive. You not only would face your computer processing power being slow, but it might also be turning on and off randomly.
Now, there's a way to check how much storage space you've used. Here's what you can do on Windows computers:
Click on the Windows Start button
Go to System
Select Storage from the left-hand panel
Select This PC
Go to the Storage Usage section
Check the free space that's available
Here's what you do on Macs:
Click on your Apple menu
Click on General from the sidebar (you may need to scroll down a bit)
Click on Storage from the right side
Select the All Volumes option
Open Storage Settings
Go through your computer's available storage space now
On both Mac and Windows computers, there's a special optimization feature that lets you see all the files that you can do without.
Here's how you can use it and improve computer performance on Windows:
Click on the Windows Start button
Go to Settings
Go to System
Choose Cleanup Recommendations
Go through the file list, such as the 'Large and Unusued File' downloads folder section
You should see a list of recommended unnecessary files to clear for disk cleanup
Select the ones you would want to delete, and then select the Cleanup button (remember that these files will be permanently deleted so double-check whether you will need them)
Here's what you do on Mac:
Click on the Apple menu in the left corner of the screen
Select the About This Mac option from the dropdown menu
Click on the Storage tab from the window that appears
Choose the Manage button
Wait for the Storage Management window to launch
You should see a couple of different ways to optimize your storage now, like the Optimize Storage option. Once enabled, it automatically deletes any TV shows or movies that you've downloaded into your iTunes library, and can identify large files that you don't use anymore and recommend deleting them
4. Outdated Operating System
Your operating system being outdated can be the cause of the slow performance. If you're dealing with an outdated OS, you probably already know. Update prompts would've been popping up.
Here's how you can do a Windows update:
Select the Start button
Click on the Windows Update button
Select the Check for Updates option
If there is a firmware version that you can download, it should pop up
Click on it and then wait for your computer operating system to upgrade
Check if your computer running slow still
Here's how you can update Mac computers:
Click on the Apple menu
Click on the System's Settings button
Click General from the sidebar (you may need to scroll down to find it)
Select the Software Update button
If there is a firmware version that you can download, it should appear on the screen
Select it and then wait for your Mac computer operating system to upgrade
Check if your computer running slow still
To make sure you never face operating system problems again, you can go ahead and enable automatic updates. Your computer will automatically download the latest firmware whenever it's available now.
Here's how you can switch it on Windows computers:
Click on the Start button
Select the Settings button
Click on Update & Security from the menu
Choose the Windows Update option from the left-hand side
Click on the Advanced Options button
You should see a window called 'Choose How Updated are Installed'. Click on it
Select 'Automatic' from the drop-down menu
Check the Give Me Updates for Other Microsoft Products option too
Here's what you do on Mac computers:
Click the Apple Menu
Select the System Settings
Click General from the sidebar
Click Software Update from the right-hand side
Click on the Automatic Updates option
Select Done to finish up and confirm
5. Corrupt Operating System (Broken Operating Systems)
Apart from all of the above, you may be dealing with a slow PC, possibly because your OS is corrupt.
You can figure this out easily, actually - there are a lot of tell-tell signs. For instance, you'd get hit with the Blue Screen of Death regularly, have programs constantly crashing, and have applications that won't launch
This issue isn't really something that you face on Macs. So, here's how you can fix it on Windows computers:
Click on Start
Enter Command prompt into the Windows search bar
Launch the Command Prompt with your Administrator permissions
Type in the following command in: DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth
Wait for the DISM tool to find system issues, which should pinpoint why you have a slow Windows computer
Activate your Windows System File Checker by typing Sfc/Scannow
Wait for it to scan your system
It will try to fix whatever is causing you to have a slow Windows computer. Follow the prompts that pop up that let it do this
6. Virus Running Loose
Your PC's processing power can slow down if you're dealing with a virus running loose. Whatever is on your computer would be sucking up its resources to keep itself going. Now, there are a few different ways that you can take care of this. You can either use your computer's security system, or whatever anti-virus you have installed.
Here's how you can use the built-in security tool on Windows:
Click on the Windows Start button
Choose the Update & Security option
Select Windows Security from the left-hand side panel
Navigate to the Virus & Threat Protection section
Click on the Quick Scan button
Wait for the Windows Security feature to scan your system
If you feel like the Quick Scan was not enough, you can go with Full Scan instead. You will once again have to wait for the Windows Security Feature to scan your PC
Review your scan results - it should pop up on the screen. There should be prompts if a virus, or anything malicious was detected
Check your PC's performance now
Here's how you use the built-in Mac security feature:
Click on the Apple menu that is in the top left-hand corner
Select System Preferences from the drop-down menu
Choose Security & Privacy
Click on General from the Security & Privacy tab
Ensure the Automatically Update Safe Downloads List button is enabled
Wait for your OS to check for any viruses now -
Here's how you can use an anti-virus, like Avast:
Launch the Avast App (can be accessed from your System tray)
Navigiate to the Avast scan menu
Go through the different scan options and pick the one that you want to perform. It can either be a Quick Scan, Full System scan, or a Custom scan. The custom scan lets you check any specific files and folders to see if they're infected
Select the desired scan type
Click on the Start button to initiate the process
Wait for the Avast tool to finish examining your system
You should see the results from the scan pop up afterwards. There should also be prompts on how you can take care of the problem
7. Overheating Computers
There's a chance that your computer is acting up because it's overheating. This could be due to a few different reasons, like your CPU fans being clogged with dust.
If your PC is overheating, its components are probably working overtime to keep it cool. So, your system is slowing down, as a result. It does take a bit of work to clean your CPU fans, but I've broken it down as easy for you.
Here's what you can do on a PC:
Switch your computer off
Proceed to open your PC case back panel
Look for your CPU fan (you may need to use your manual to find it)
Use a screwdriver to remove your CPU fan from the motherboard's circuit
Dust off any dust and grime
Use a compressed air can on your fan's blades
Re-attach the CPU fan to its slots, and make sure it's slotted into place properly
Turn your computer back on and then check whether you're still dealing with a slow computer
Here's what you can do on a Mac computer:
Shut down your Mac
Remove your computer's bottom cover using a screwdriver
Locate the CPU fan - should be located towards the top of your device (you can use your Mac's manual to find it)
Use a compressed air can on the fan's blades
Re-assemble your Mac, and then turn it back on again and check if you're still stuck with the slow performance issue
8. Faulty or Missing Drivers
Your computer's performance can also be affected if you have outdated drivers. Now on Mac computers, your system drivers automatically update the moment you update your operating system. So, you don't have to worry about doing anything extra here.
But on Windows computers, you'll have to manually get the job done. There actually are 2 ways that you can do this - you can either use a third-party tool, like the Avast Updater, or go through with the process manually.
Click on the Download button next to the outdated graphics driver that pops up
Here's method 2:
Open the search bar from your PC taskbar
Search for Device Manager
Click on the Device Manager option when it pops up
Click on the Category button
Right-click your graphics card driver
Tap the Search Automatically for Updated Driver option
Click on the Update Driver button, and wait for the latest firmware to install
9. Hardware Issues
Last but not least, you might be having a slow computer on your hands because of hardware issues, like your RAM or hard drive being broken. There's really nothing you can do about this, other than open your PC up, inspect it, and then replace them.
Depending on when you bought your computer/ the hardware parts, you might be able to get them fixed for free (if you still have their warranty). Definitely call the shop you got them from and inform them about what you're facing.
Answered below are some popular questions.
1. How Can I Make Windows 11 Run Faster?
I would recommend that you make sure that your OS is updated - you'll be running the latest Windows versions, so you won't have to worry about any potential bugs ever slowing you down.
Apart from this, I would recommend updating your RAM and swapping your Hard drive for a Solid State Drive. By upgrading your RAM, you would have programs open faster, as the upgraded RAM would mean more memory. However, upgrading RAM can be a bit of work - you can check this other guide I've written for an easy breakdown.
When it comes to going with a solid-state drive instead of a hard drive, you'd be able to retrieve data from it quicker, which would also help with speed.
Lastly, I'd suggest that you clean your computer regularly. Its insides may be dusty, so your CPU fan may not be able to do a good job of cooling your PC. The process to follow can be a bit tough, but I broke it down for you earlier.
2. What Do You Do If Your Internet Connection is Slow?
Generally speaking, if your internet was fine and it's suddenly slow, your internet service provider/network administrator might be responsible. They may be going through some kind of network tower issue, so you'll have to wait it out for them to take care of things.
But also, your router might be glitching out. So, the best possible fix would be to turn it off and then back on again.
If you are dealing with a slow computer, you may be facing it because of a random glitch. So, try and restart your desktop and see whether this helps. But if it doesn't do the trick, the issue can be due to background programs eating up too many resources, existing files being corrupted, or even a virus.
Overall, the issue can be quite easy to fix, and a lot of the reasons for the problem are the same on both Windows and Mac computers. Hopefully, you found everything discussed useful, and are able to improve your computer performance now.
Hi, I’m Lindsay, a techie from Kansas City. That’s right; I’m a born and bred Midwesterner. I learned to take electronics apart at my dad’s GameStop way back when, and I haven’t stopped since. I spend most of my time checking out new gadgets.
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