Why is my PC slow? How to get answers - and help

·4-min read
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PC running slowly? There's a solution for that. (Getty Images)

If you're one of the 60% of Brits who have been working from home throughout the pandemic, having a slow PC isn't an option. 

A computer that's sluggish can hold up important work projects, mess with your video conference meetings and even keep you chained to your desk longer than necessary. Basically, nothing good can come from a slow PC.

If you're struggling with a computer slowdown, it's a clear sign that something is off with your PC, tech and cybersecurity expert Chuck Brooks, president of Brooks Consulting International, tells Yahoo Life. 

But what exactly that might be ranges from something minor with an easy fix to a major issue that'll have you thinking about buying a new machine.

Just don't panic and automatically assume you'll need to shell out money for an upgraded model—many of the issues that can cause a slow PC are fixable. 

Naturally, your PC should be able to do the tasks you need it to achieve. There are some things that can help, like System Mechanic, which is a software package that helps improve your PC's performance by finding and troubleshooting more than 30,000 computer issues. The software can also scan and declutter your hard drive, check for internet connectivity issues and open up storage space so your PC can get back to making your life easier.

System Mechanic is just £3.90 a month, and it keeps tabs on what's happening inside your computer so you won't have to stress in the future about what's making your PC slow. 

Buy it: System Mechanic | Try for 30 days free, then £3.90 a month

So, why is my PC slow?

Don't feel bad if you don't automatically know what's going on. Even PC pros need to do a little detective work to find out why a computer may be slow. "There are a variety of causes that can slow down operations on computers," Brooks says. These are the most common.

1. Why is my PC slow? It's a spyware issue

Slow computer? It could be spyware. (Photo: Getty)
Slow computer? It could be spyware or malware. (Getty Images)

When a PC is slow, spyware and malware are usually to blame, Brooks says. In case you're not familiar with it, spyware is software that lets a person or organisation gather information about what's happening on your computer. Malware is designed to harm, to gain unauthorised access to your computer. 

For the record: Spyware and malware can happen, simply from using the Internet or downloading apps. "Regularly cleaning files and applications that you do not need or are too encumbering," can help hunt down these issues and get them off your computer, Brooks says. The end result? A faster PC.

2. Why is my PC slow? You're overloading your system

Even the best computers have a limit on how much they can handle. If you're running several operations at once, like playing music, gaming and video conferencing, it can lead to a slow PC, Brooks says. 

The quick fix is to limit how many applications you use at once. But if that's not an appealing option, it might be time to upgrade to a new computer with a bigger capacity.

3. Why is my PC slow? You're pushing your storage limitations

Slow computer? Consider deleting old computer files. (Photo: Getty)
Slow computer? Consider deleting old computer files. (Getty Images)

All those work documents, presentations, photos, music files and movies on your computer build up over time, and Brooks says they can drag down your speed. He lists "too much data compared to storage limitations and bandwidth" as a major problem.

Get a good, honest look at the stuff you're storing on your computer by looking at your hard drive. Anything you don't use anymore can go in the trash. 

Another possible solution: Consider moving some larger files to an external hard drive so they won't bog down your system. 

4. Why is my PC slow? You're using an old operating system

Your computer's operating system manages everything that happens on your PC. Without it, even the most basic of tasks would be pretty much impossible. But operating systems get outdated, and it's important not to ignore those notices that it's time for an update. 

"Users should update their operating systems," Brooks says. So, the next time your computer alerts you that it's time for an update, just do it. It'll save you a lot of hassle down the road. 

5. Why is my PC slow? You need to clear your cache

Slow computer? Might be time to clear your cache. (Photo: Getty)
Slow computer? Might be time to clear your cache. (Getty Images)

Your computer is collecting cookies pretty much every time you're online. These little digital files help websites remember who you are and track your activity—and they can slow down your PC. 

A good fix, Brook suggests, is to check out the privacy settings on your computer to see who can send you notifications and pop-ups, as well as cookies. Clicking on a higher privacy setting could help speed things up for you. 

Buy it: System Mechanic | Try for 30 days free, then £3.90 a month

Watch: 5 easy ways to improve your WiFi