Leadership

Video: Five tips for troubleshooting a slow PC

Don't just accept a computer that runs slowly. Bill Detwiler shows you how to fix five common culprits of a slow PC.

If your PC is running a bit more slowly than when you first bought it, you're not alone. And, luckily you don't have to just accept a slow computer. During this week's TR Dojo episode, I explore five common culprits of system slowdowns and tell you how to address them.

For those who prefer text to video, you can click the Transcript link that appears below the video player window or check out Debra Littlejohn Shinder's article, "10 tips for troubleshooting PC system slowdowns."

I mention the following resources during the episode:

You can also sign up to receive the latest TR Dojo lessons through one or more of the following methods:

About

Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop supp...

20 comments
sakkar
sakkar

I have been very religious with my drive maintenance after a severe slowdown. I now run CCleaner, look for stuff to uninstall regularly even if the PC is not running slow. I also defrag using one of the popular automatic defraggers that does the job really fast and thoroughly which I believe has helped keep things very fast and smooth.

ghurt
ghurt

Defragging is definitaly more important these days with new storage technologies like SAN and Virtualisation. I use a fully automatic defragger that works in the back-round and goes to work as soon as fragmentation takes place. Saves you having to worry about when to defrag.

reisen55
reisen55

The tips as outlined are Computer Basic 101. I contend that there are more than 3 versions of Windows XP: Home, Prof and 64bit. There are over two billion versions. Or as many as have been installed because each individual system with it's own unique witch's brew of software makes THIS VERSION slightly different from all of the others. Inside of these are a few dozen odd technical issues that can slow a system down.

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

An useful analogy would be to compare the older automotive technology to computers. How many people can diagnose a car problem, even with the older cars which are far easier to understand? Few if any people can troubleshoot a PC. They can give you a history of behavior. As with cars a professional is needed to diagnose PC issues. Familiarity breeds a form of contempt with both cars and computers that leads the layman to think he can fix both and which usually leads to disasterous and humorous consequences.

bobdavis321
bobdavis321

Just yesterday I replaced a hub with a switch with port monitoring. The first time I had that ability I found 3 bad network cables. The complaint yesterday was 'slow computer'. The cause - a bad network cable. If you do not have switches that allow you to monitor the ports for bad data get them!

dmacleay
dmacleay

Whenever I've done defraging of my MS machines in the past the system becomes unstable. It seems the defrag routine always moves something it's not supposed to move.

raymosely
raymosely

and event logs second. Could be memory, could be high CPU utilization (like an antivirus scan). I came across a new one last week. In the middle of a migration from SBS 2003 to SBS 2008, and a server migration, and using DFS to migrate data, - ta da, the old server crashed. Multiple hard drive failures. This messed with home folder redirection. One user's folder redirection was still pointing to the old server, which caused delays of 15 to 30 seconds on opening anything in My Documents. I patched up the registry, rebooted, and the event log errors went away, and most importantly, the user's files started opening promptly (less than 2 seconds). So first - task manager, second - event logs. Last, I have an old Linksys router that I am thinking of setting up with dd-wrt to monitor bandwidth usage on wide area links (Internet).

Rathion
Rathion

Most units I run into have fallen way behind on memory. Most major manufacturers systems already had low memory when sold. Upgrading low memory will help every other procedure run faster as well. Also, MS config should only be used for diagnostics.

szlzezezpzzz
szlzezezpzzz

although I never have problem with the windows defrag, a third party defrag could make a difference. A very important issue that I am sure you understand is the defragmenter can be the only program running when you are defragmenting. if you continue to work and use programs while this is running it could cause a crash or corrupt important files. the entire HDD is being used constantly moving files around if you move use a program that is currently being tossed around on the HDD this could cause crashes.

broy26
broy26

I would suggest instead of using windows defrag, try Auslogics disk defrag, and ausolics screensaver defrag, both are free,I find that they work better than windows defrag, the disk defrag removes jubk files before it defrags.

szlzezezpzzz
szlzezezpzzz

MS config is a configuration utility. windows comes with plenty of diagnostic utilities. although I rarely use all of the configuration options in MS Config. that is just it it is for configuration not diagnostic info. It does not show real time information and system performance, but it is a good place to go for a slow start of and restart options.

paul.hudson
paul.hudson

Memory can certainly cause a lot of problems. My motto is: It is better to have and not need than need and not have. The more the merrier. I've had a lot of luck by letting Windows determine the size of my swap file. Right click My Computer, Select Properties. Click on the Advanced Tab. Click the Performance Settings Button. On the Visual Effects Tab select Adjust for Best Performance. On the Advanced Tab select Change in Virtual Memory. Select System Managed Size and click the Set Button. Click OK. Click OK. Click OK.

paul.hudson
paul.hudson

I've had a lot of luck by letting Windows determine the size of my swap file. Right click My Computer, Select Properties. Click on the Advanced Tab. Click the Performance Settings Button. On the Visual Effects Tab select Adjust for Best Performance. On the Advanced Tab select Change in Virtual Memory. Select System Managed Size and click the Set Button. Click OK. Click OK. Click OK.

TheSwabbie
TheSwabbie

Not all the locations I have been a Network Admin at have been "locked down" when I started. By the time I had left these locations I had end users pissed off that they could no longer install anything they wanted (Webshots, Limewire).. but the network was more secure. Almost EVERY instance of PC slowness or outright crashes were the result of End users intalling BullS*** on their systems. I also tutored them in the practice of emptying their Temp Internet Files too. For the instances that the end user DIDNT install something it was because their AV/Malware was not running (issues) or was outdated. Running Malware Bytes and Avast was usually enough to clean them up.

justputt2
justputt2

Well said,,, Defrag must be the only program running.

raymosely
raymosely

When Windows sets the swap file, two things happen. First, when it needs to be set larger, that very act takes resources that can slow down the computer. Second, the swap file becomes fragmented. Which can slow down the computer. I generally set the swap file to about 125% of actual RAM and make it static. Anything more, if used, will result in a dreadfully slow computer. Anything less can result in out of memory problems.

justputt2
justputt2

Many years ago in the IBM 360/370 Era those were the guide lines for system memory loading,, the basics are still there.

SgtPappy
SgtPappy

should be set to 1.5 times the amount of RAM and the upper limit to 3 times the amount of RAM. Doing this will not cause the page file to fragment.

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