Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

There are many different things that could be contributing to your system being slow. Everything from malware to running too much software at the same time.

My computer is so slow, a snail could move faster than it can. I absolutely do not know what to do with it. I restored it two days ago, but it did not help me one bit. I can't afford to buy one of those discs that's supposed to fix the computer and I've tried everything else. It takes me about four minutes to open an email and go on to the site. Sometimes, even more like six minutes.

In this excerpt from Answercast #52, I look at a machine that is slow as a snail on the internet and advise against fix-it-all programs.

Computer fix-alls

So I'm definitely going to wave you off of even considering buying those discs that claim to fix everything.

In my mind, in my experience, while there may be some good ones out there, there are so many that are ineffective and misleading that there's just too good a chance that you would be wasting your money.

Slow system

Unfortunately, there are many, many, many different things that could be contributing to your system being slow. Everything from malware (so I'd certainly make sure that you're running up-to-date malware scans) to just trying to run too much software at the same time.

Too much running

If your disk is really busy, for example, it's very possible that too many different applications are all trying to do something on your computer at the same time - and thereby slowing each other down. That would manifest as your email potentially being very, very slow.

Disk & memory issues

Another thing is disk issues. If the hard disk itself is failing, that sometimes manifests as extreme slowness.

It could be simply a lack of RAM. If your machine does not have enough RAM in it (and you're trying to do too much with it), it's very possible that the system is swapping so much to the hard drive that it effectively impacts the performance once again of everything.

Overloaded internet connection

If this is internet only? In other words, if your applications (local applications) are all responding well but it's only when you're trying to do something on the internet (like read your email, or download your email, or visit web pages), then I'd start looking at internet applications that are also trying to share your Internet connection.

Your internet connection is, in fact, one of the choke points on your machine. It's probably the slowest thing on a well-functioning machine. It's probably the thing that limits what you can do the most.

So, I would make sure that there aren't other applications trying to use the internet connection at the same time.

If you share your internet connection with other machines, make sure that all those machines aren't trying to share the internet connection at the same time. They will all slow you down.

So those are the kinds of things to look at. It's a very complex problem. There are so many different opportunities for things to go wrong. It's hard to say based on just "my machine is slow" that these are things that you need to be looking at.

Article C5805 - September 13, 2012 « »

Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

September 13, 2012 11:38 AM

The computer might slow if RAM is too small, so what about if we can just adjust vitual memory than another RAM, does this reliable?

Mark J
September 13, 2012 2:34 PM

Virtual memory is using a file on the hard drive to preform the functions of RAM. Increasing RAM would speed up the computer because RAM is much faster than the hard drive.

John E
September 14, 2012 5:08 AM

Check to see if the C drive is compressed.
It will give you more space but those files have to be uncompressed to run. That will slow the computer down to a snails pace.
If you running low on space on the C drive, get a larger hard drive.

September 14, 2012 8:57 AM

"I can't afford" points up a dirty secret of computer ownership. Similar to a car, a PC is complex and highly engineered, so problems often require expertise to fix. Paying an expert often costs a large percentage of the purchase cost, so it's a tough pill to swallow. If you own a car, you budget for maintenance and repair. You really need to do the same for a computer. Most businesses understand this, but home users, as a rule, do not.

john O
September 14, 2012 6:58 PM

If there is a lot of disk activity while you wait, try a defrag on the C: drive.

I believe Ask-Leo also has a guide for defraging the virtual memory page file. I once found a computer with a page file spread over 1000+ segments. Fixing that dramatically improved the computer's performance.

September 28, 2012 12:25 PM

Couls you please tell me how I can put System Restore back in my control panel & in my addd & remove.

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