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This Is Why Your Computer Is So Slow

Put to death the spinning wheel of death.

We've all been there. You go to do something innocuous on your computer, and bam!, your cursor starts spinning endlessly, rendering your machine practically useless. (Some people call this technological affliction the "spinning wheel of death.") In the modern age, it's arguably one of the most annoying little things we have to put up with. And if you find yourself experiencing it while in the throes of a major project, you could similarly find yourself screaming, "Why?! Why is my computer so slow?"

Well, as with all things, there's good news and there's bad news. The good news is that there's certainly a definitive problem you can pinpoint as to why your computer is functioning at an approximate speed of 0.5MPH. What's more, your machine can almost certainly be fixed and running at top speed in no time.

The bad news is that pinpointing the problem isn't always so easy.

Thankfully, we're here to help. Here, from most common to least, you'll find all the IT-desk-approved reasons your computer may be running so slowly.

Programs, Programs, Programs

The most common reason for the dreaded slow computer is that there are simply too many programs running at once. Many people are unaware that they have programs running in the background, so it's always a good idea to check to make sure that your computer doesn't have any programs running without your permission.

According to computer repair doctor Aaron Schoeffler, "90 percent of programs want permission to start when your computer starts so that you'll use them, and that can result in a boot time of five to ten minutes. When it finally does start, a ton of programs are already running in the background and if you're not using a newer computer, that can slow it down." For optimum speed, it's important to make sure you don't have any programs set to automatically open when you turn on your computer. You can do this in your computer's settings.

Random Access Memory

If your computer's Random Access Memory (RAM) is being overused, the speed of your device will be compromised. According to the experts at Ehorus, a Madrid-based tech firm, if your RAM card is old, that could be the culprit. Oftentimes, older versions of RAM technology don't have the memory or ability to run newer operating systems at a decent speed. To fix the issue, Ehorus suggests downgrading your operating system so that it uses less RAM, or using programs that use less RAM.

Your computer might also be running low on memory, causing it to slow down. According to Business Insider, while your computer is seeking more RAM, resources from other tasks will be taken away. WIRED suggests erasing temporary files to increase the speed of your computer, and erasing system files to increase your computer's storage. If you're unsure how to do this, use the Disk Cleanup utility on your computer (it's under "All Programs" in the Windows "Start" menu) and select "Temporary Files" to delete any clutter. (Mac users: consider trying an app, like Disk Cleanup Pro.)

It's also a good idea to do a general cleaning out of your computer every few months to make sure there isn't any space being used up unnecessarily. Computers come with a lot of pre-downloaded apps and programs, and there are probably some on your computer that you have never even used. (Hello, Photoshop for that junior year Intro to Graphic Design elective.) Delete any dusty apps to ensure that your computer has enough storage to run at maximum efficiency.

The final trick for optimizing your RAM concerns a program you likely use day in and day out: the internet. Start by clearing your cache and clearing your browser history regularly. Then, tackle your windows and tabs. Having too many windows and tabs open at the same time is a huge mistake most people make. Each time you open a new tab or window, it's saved in RAM, so your computer will likely slow down if you choose to keep tons of them open all at one time. If you're experiencing a slow computer, and have an endless sea of internet on the screen, start by closing a few of those tabs and windows.


Whether getting a virus was your fault or not (that 720p version of Avengers: Infinity War just looked so legit!), no two ways about it: a virus can bring your computer's functioning screeching to a halt. Of course, not all viruses are built—or look—the same. Take it from the experts at Tech Talk: "Some pretend you have a virus so you can get 'rid' of it by coughing up your credit card. Others lie dormant in the background, waiting for further instruction from home base. Others deluge the users with pop up ads based on user behavior. Others hijack search results to direct you to suspicious web sites."

If you need to purge your computer of a virus on the quick, download a virus scanner, like AVG. That way, you can ID anything that may have a virus and steer clear of downloading it—before your computer becomes infected.


If nothing mentioned above seems to be the issue, your computer might simply just be too old. According to Corporate Information Technologies, if your old computer is running slowly, "You can try wiping the hard drive and starting again, but computers older than about seven years will likely not be able to run it efficiently enough to notice a gain in speed, resulting in a slower operating experience." So, the best solution for your problem might be biting the bullet and investing in a new computer. And for more amazing tech advice, learn all about the 13 Ways You're Ruining Your Cell Phone without Realizing It.

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