How to Fix a Laptop's Lag

By Hugh Patterson

Laptops allow users to take their computers anywhere. Increases in available hard drive space have allowed laptop owners to install and use sophisticated software programs that increase user productivity. Internet access, through wireless networks, has also added to the laptop's popularity as a business tool. However, complex programs and easy Internet access can cause a laptop to lag or run slowly. You can call in a professional to adjust the computer for maximum operational efficiency, but the cost can be high. Use the same techniques employed by professional computer technicians to fix laptop lag caused by many complex software programs and Internet use.

Things You'll Need

  • Administrator's privileges
  • Antivirus software
  • File cleaning software

Step 1

Run Disk Cleaner, a built-in program on Windows computers. Log in as the administrator to gain full access to the computer. Click the "Start" button. Open the "All Programs" menu, and select the "Accessories" folder. Click the "System Tools" folder, then select "Disk Cleanup." A small pop-up window will appear as the program starts. This cleanup process can take anywhere from 60 seconds to 45 minutes, depending on the number of files scanned. After scanning, a second window will appear that contains a list of items to delete. Select all available choices. Click the "OK" button. A second window will pop up asking for permission to delete the selected files. Click the "Yes" button.

Step 2

Scan the computer using an antivirus software program. Perform a complete or full scan of the computer's hard drive. You must scan the entire hard drive because most viruses are buried deeply within the drive's files. Viruses can cripple a laptop, causing it to run extremely slowly. Perform virus scans at least once a week, and keep the antivirus program running at all times, which allows the program to catch viral intrusions as they occur and before they cause any damage.

Step 3

Install a secondary disk cleaning program. The "Disk Cleaner" program that comes with Windows does not catch every nonessential file that will cause a performance lag. Many available free disk cleaning programs remove the files missed by "Disk Cleanup." Use a program that cleans the Registry as well.

Step 4

Clean up the Registry files. The Registry houses the software configurations of all programs installed on the laptop. When you remove a program from the laptop, it leaves behind traces of itself in the Registry. These fragments cause the laptop to slow down. While Windows comes with a Registry editor that allows the user to remove programs manually, using a program that removes these files is much safer because the removal of the wrong Registry file can cause an existing program to crash. Follow the software manufacturer's instructions to operate the program. Most of these programs have a Windows-like interface, so you should find them easy to use.

Step 5

Install software updates as they become available. As software manufacturers make improvements to their products, they offer automatic updates you can download through the Internet. Out-of-date programs can slow a laptop considerably. Open the "Control Panel," select "System and Security" and click "Windows Firewall." Select "Allow programs to communicate through Windows Firewall." Click the "Change Settings" button, and check the appropriate boxes to allow updates. Click "OK," and close the window.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use the Window's "Disk Cleanup" program or secondary disk cleaning software on a daily basis. Three or four hours of Internet use, especially downloading, can build up a large volume of temporary files that can slow a laptop.
  • Adding more RAM to a laptop can greatly increase its overall speed.