General Question

testypoo's avatar

My computer is so freaking slow I'm seconds away from smashing it out of frustration. How can I make it run faster?

Asked by testypoo (13points) September 4th, 2010

Every time I try to open firefox/chrome/explorer (I’ve tried them all), my computer basically goes “Hmmmmmm…so you want to open the internet, eh? Well…let me think about this for a little bit.” And it gives me a fucking white window and an hourglass for about 2 minutes before I can do anything.

It also does this when I click the start button (I use windows). Or open an explorer window. Basically if I decide to click on anything at all on my computer I may as well go run some fucking errands or something. It’s pathetic. My laptop is old – it’s from 2006 – and it’s seen some freaky shit in its day, but it still has a few gigs of space left and I’m not necessarily downloading virus-ridden porn on to the thing every night or anything. I imagine at this point my laptop should be running like a spry, active 60-something who does aerobics once a week; instead it’s functioning like a bed-ridden, senile 95-year old alzheimers patient.

SO WHY THE FUCK IS IT SO SLLLOWWWWWW??? And how can I make it faster? What steps do I take? I’m thinking something like this:

1) Check it for viruses with free spyware checking software.
2) ?????????

So seriously, just tell me what to do and I’ll do it. Please advise before I punch my laptop until it is destroyed thus cutting up my knuckles and bleeding all over the place and staining my carpet. Words can not describe how fucking angry I get when I so much as click on the Microsoft Word icon and my laptop decides to sit and chill for like 3 minutes before going “OKAY SURE ILL LET YOU USE WORD NOW” instead of just opening it the fuck up.

Yes I am furious. Yes I know nothing about computers. Yes I appreciate your advice, thank you fluther.

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27 Answers

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testypoo's avatar

…Also, currently running a SpyBot scan.

le_inferno's avatar

It’s probably time for a new computer.

My PC acted like this in its last days of life. I had it from 2002–2009. In the last year or so, it was intolerably slow. It was barely functioning. Some computers just aren’t built to last very long. But, if buying a new computer isn’t in your budget, you can try freeing up your hard drive space.

Computers have evolved a great deal since 2006, and you’ll most likely find a more robust machine that will also last longer.

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testypoo's avatar

I just want to add, if you’re planning on telling me to get a new computer – yes, I know, I need a new computer. I’m not going to buy a new computer tomorrow, or next week, or even next month. I’m buying a new computer when I can afford it. So for now, please, tell me what I can do to make this old piece of shit run faster.

@Tomfafa I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean.

Sarcasm's avatar

The most effective way to improve it would be to format your harddisk and start fresh. But that would delete all of your data, so unless you can back it up somewhere, I suppose that’s not a possibility.

Disk defragmentation is incredibly important. Depending on what operating system you use, it may be in different locations, but you should be able to find it in Start->Accessories->System Tools.

Also try CCleaner. It’ll clear out your shit folders (Temp, downloads, history, etc), and you can also go through and fix up your registry, and delete unused programs (though I guess that’s too vague)

Spybot is good for clearing out malware.

I’m not sure how much you have, but adding more RAM can’t hurt. It will cost money, but certainly not as much as buying a whole new laptop. Just make sure it’s compatible.

mrrich724's avatar

There are few frustrations worse than this one. My heart is tightening up since I just read this. You know, 3 years ago I was going through this. It caused me to just give up on the computer and buy a Mac based on a recommendation by a classmate.

I have literally NEVER experienced this feeling again. And I’m using the same one I bought back then. . . oh, and I’ve never had to reformat or defragment. I’ve never run a virus scan ( I HATED waiting for Norton to take an hour to update definitions and scan my folders).

I have never been called a fanboy of Mac, this is just the truth I have experienced.

superneil21's avatar

this is what i did with my old laptop. i deleted everything and put on the latest ubuntu os. Now it runs way faster and virus free. Best of all its free to do.

faye's avatar

Good luck, @testypoo. I couldn’t find ‘accessories’ even.

demonictruth's avatar

Try downloading ccleaner and fixing your registry. I don’t know if it will help you but it did to me. However, ccleaner is going to delete a lot of stuff such as saved passwords and internet history and also your recent activity for your own computer, so use at your own risk.
It’s free by the way.

jerv's avatar

Ubuntu speeds things up a bit, but if there is a hardware fault then even that won’t help.

You are doing the right thing by doing scans for malware, but grabbing something like PartedMagic to run tests on the RAM and hard drive may prove useful for any computer that old.

@mrrich724 I’ve seen Mac malware, but none for Linux—(like Ubuntu). Windows is really prone to malware and also the only OS that really requires defragging. For those that don’t have $1000+ to blow on a new computer, an inexpensive PC with Linux can get you all of the speed and safety of OS X for less than half the price. Get Mac4Lin or Macbuntu on top of it and you’ll hardly notice the difference!—

Zaku's avatar

For various posters or anyone in general, computers do not just “get slow because they are old”.

What tends to cause this perception, is too much stuff getting installed, running at once, especially viruses and spyware, and/or the operating system resources being filled with crud, and/or the hard drive having fragmented files.

It’s almost never a hardware problem. If you reinstall the operating system, or install a different operating system that does not require more modern hardware, then it will run fast again, unless there really is some hardware breakdown causing the slowness.

Other steps that may be useful if you don’t want to reinstall an operating system, include:

* Removing all viruses (as you suggested).
* Shutting down and/or removing all software that is set to automatically run on the computer (the worst culprits other than viruses and spyware tend to be anti-virus programs).
* Defragment the hard drive.
* Configure a permanent swap file (in Windows).
* Clean out the Windows registry (best way is to reinstall Windows).
* Uninstall software you don’t use or don’t know what it is.

faye's avatar

Have I been told that having too many antivirus programs is a bad thing?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Sweet holy moly. Can you add memory or are you at the capacity the machine will hold? Cleaning the resgistry as well as using the minimum of programs in the boot start up. But increasing your ram is possibly your best option.

Sarcasm's avatar

@faye Just for you (Okay. That’s a lie, this is for everyone) Here’s how to get to the Defragmenter from your start menu in Windows XP. And you can just use the search function to find it on Vista/7.

And the problem with too many antivirus programs is
1) Programs use up resources. Having multiple antivirus programs is having multiple programs do exactly the same protection, but are using additional resources. Which will slow down your computer without reason.
2) Some antivirus programs will see each other as viruses, and cause problems.

downtide's avatar

As well as all of the above, especially @Sarcasm ‘s suggestions, I’d like to add another one.

If you’re using Windows XP or Vista, and you’re not confident enough to switch to Linux, switch up to Windows 7 instead. It’s much faster and more efficient, takes up a lot less disk space and resources than the older ones. Vista in particular is a bloated piece of cr*p.

RomanExpert's avatar

Smash it and buy a new computer!

mrrich724's avatar


the problem with those options (I’m guessing b/c I’m not to educated on Ubuntu/Linux/whatever) is how would someone who doesn’t even know how to fix something like this OP is experiencing know how to reformat their computer with a different OS?

is it really that easy? B/C my guess is no just because it’s hard enough for some just to reinstall windows after a clean wipe, getting the drivers etc back on.

jerv's avatar

@Zaku True, as far as you go. After a while, the Registry is made of scar tissue, and who knows what state the rest if the system is in if it hasn’t been scrupulously maintained. Accordingly, some computers feel the ravages of time within a month while others hum along like the day they first booted five years ago.

@mrrich724 Ubuntu is designed for people with little/no computer knowledge. It is easier than Windows in many ways.

toaster's avatar

Run your anti-virus software and make sure the program is up to date. Sometimes computers can get bugged to the point where the virus or whatnot manipulates everything to where nothing can really be done in resolving the ill productivity of your machine. One surefire way to get your rig running at factory condition is to reformat the hard drive. Bear in mind once you delete your existing partition all of your data will be erased! Back-up files beforehand! < this pertains to Windows XP, but the initial setup is the same and the rest of process is just a bit more streamlined with vista/7

koanhead's avatar

I recommend installing Ubuntu if you have 4GB or so left on the disk. You can install it alongside Windows so that you don’t lose anything. After installation boot into Ubuntu and see if it runs any faster; see how long it takes for Firefox to open.
If it’s a lot faster, then your Windows install is the problem. Run Disk Cleanup, defrag the disk, and run a good free antivirus and rootkit detector. If this doesn’t help, then you’ll need to reinstall Windows. The performance of Windows installations in my experience nearly always degrades over time due to technical issues I won’t get into here.
Or, rather than re-installing Windows you can just use Ubuntu. Ubuntu can usually see the Windows portion of the disk and access your files that are there. It can even run some of your programs.
Also, Ubuntu has a good antivirus program called ClamTk. Scanning the Windows volume from Ubuntu is likely to be more effective than scanning within Windows.

torchingigloos's avatar

Your computer is slow for many reasons, but chances are it has nothing to do with the computer itself and everything to do with your windows install and lack of maintenance. I’m a REAL tech (ie not Geek Squad) who fixes these kinds of problems all the time and here’s what I would suggest: (restart computer after every step)
1. Uninstall EVERY anti-virus program (or anything that resembles one) you’ve installed. If you have anything Norton or Mcaffee get rid of those completely! They are useless and completely lag your system down. Uninstall then use CCleaner as others have suggested to clean up your registry (thus removing any trace of those useless programs).

2. Download and install Avast Anti-virus FREE edition (register it with the free key they send you). Install and scan your system on reboot (there’s an option in there, you might have to dig around a bit to find it). Nuke anything it finds.

3. Download Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and run… same thing, anything it finds wipe. DO NOT use Spybot, it destroys registry entries you might need for various programs and is known to slowly eat away at your system. (Sorry folks, do some research on it… it’s not good).

4. Go to your “Start” menu and in the search type “msconfig” and go to the “Services” tab. Click “Hide all Microsoft services” and then look for any with “Unknown” as manufacturer. Do a google search on these processes to make sure they are legit… many can be ditched without doing harm, but some are specific for drivers and some installed software… If you do disable one and something doesn’t work, just run msconfig again and re-enable it. While still in msconfig click the “startup” tab and go through and un-check any items that you don’t need or that look suspicious. If you don’t know what it is, you can look at the file name in the “Command” section and do a google search to make sure it’s legit. Many common programs that are in the startup are completely unnecessary. You can just start them manually whenever you use them. Use caution while using msconfig… if you aren’t too sure about disabling something google it, or ask.

5. Once you’ve followed these steps, defrag your hard drive (should be done every couple months depending on your usage) and you should be back to normal.

One final thing, if you’re using Windows XP you can put your Windows XP disc in the drive and pull up the command prompt (start menu, search for “command”). then type:
sfc /scannow
This will compare your XP system installation to the files on the disk and attempt to repair anything that’s corrupt. Not everything is repairable, but 9 times out of 10 this works when used with the previous steps.

If these steps don’t work, your windows installation is corrupt… back-up your important files, format… then re-install windows.

If you have any questions with turning off your services/startup items in msconfig feel free to ask me.

blackks's avatar

It may be because you use Windows. Windows is really slow and sometimes doesn’t even work at all. I use to Windows, but it was sooooo freakin slow that I changed to Linux/Ubuntu, then my computer worked a bit better and was faster, not by much, but still faster. If that doesn’t work then it’s time to get a new computer rather then wasting even more of your time. If you want a Dell then I suggest your use Ubuntu, but it would be best to buy a Mac. It does cost a bit, but it’s worth it. You’ll have a faster more functional computer that works really well.

My advice… NEVER USE WINDOWS!!! It is known to have a fair amount of virus’s and problems. It’s not always the computer, but the Software you use(Windows, Ubuntu, Linux).!

jerv's avatar

@blackks Ubuntu is notably faster, but I have yet to see a Mac that can beat even a mid-range PC of comparable age and half the price. They may have other great qualities, but speed and value are not on that list.

dabbler's avatar

If you’re using windows, some recent update made the memory-resident chunk of the OS larger than it used to be. I know several people who experienced a slowdown due to that lately.
Do you have as much RAM as you can put into your machine? Get more if not, that’s the cheapest/easiest thing you can do to increase performance.
Also go to control panel / add or remove programs and throw out any software you don’t need especially stuff that runs in the background all the time.

graynett's avatar

After you have done all above go to prefetch in windows and see how many files there are if over 300 del them all. Any way windows looks @ the prefetch every time to see if the program has been run before and uses that setting. As the No. increases it slows down older computers (ccleaner has a setting to do it if you check it)

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