What Are the Causes of a Computer Running Slow?

By Lee Carroll

Computers truly are one the marvels of modern life. However, few things are as frustrating as a computer that seems to creep along instead of working efficiently. Numerous issues have an impact on how fast your computer performs tasks. Some are dangerous, and others are not. Read the manufacturer's materials for your computer and operating system to begin the process of troubleshooting, as each system works a bit differently.

Too Many Applications

Of all the reasons computers run slow, running too many programs at the same time is highest on the list, according to Colby-Sawyer College. Unfortunately, you may not know every application that is running; sometimes programs are hidden, and are designed to run every time your computer is operating, whether or not you choose to run them. Some programs automatically install other unrelated programs on your computer without your knowledge, and those are often designed to run every time your computer is operating. Check your system to locate all programs that are running. You may not see all of them, so make sure to "unhide" hidden programs. This process is different from one operating system to another. It is not unusual to find twice as many hidden programs as unhidden. Be sure each unwanted program is not a necessary component of another before closing the application or uninstalling it.

Spyware and Viruses

Spyware and viruses are usually installed secretly. Spyware sets itself to run automatically. Your computer picks up malicious spyware and viruses from a number of places like unsafe websites and forwarded emails, explains Best Security Tips. Forwarded emails are those that enter your inbox with "Fwd" as part of the subject line. When one appears, it has usually found its way through hundreds or even thousands of other computers before reaching yours, picking up harmful content in a similar way as you catch a cold. Also, spyware and viruses are sometimes intentionally attached to that type of email. To be safe, don't open forwarded emails, no matter who sends them to you. Spyware and viruses attach to one of your software programs and eventually reach the computer's operating system, where it creates much more damage. Spyware and virus removal software is available in electronics stores for purchase. They detect and quarantine or remove malicious content before it has a chance to attach to and branch out through your system.

Other Reasons

A slow computer isn't necessarily bombarded with too many programs, malicious spyware or viruses. Sometimes, computers seem to run slow because the system is outdated or there isn't enough memory. Perhaps your connection speed is slow due to bad weather, using dialup instead of broadband or DSL, or the website you want to view has a lot of traffic, explains Microsoft. Older computers seem slow, even if they are in top working condition. They do not have enough resources to run newer software or access certain websites. Check your computer's specifications to see if yours accepts upgrades. Some computers are upgradable by the user at home, and others require a professional to do the job. Eventually, most computers outlive their usefulness, and must be replaced.