Gradually with use and because of a variety of reasons ranging from hardware malfunction to outdated software, our laptops/devices tend to slow down, therefore, causing immense inconvenience.
Listed below are 14 possible reasons why your laptop might be running slow. We recommend going through the entire list to first identify what is causing the slowdown and then troubleshooting accordingly.
In This Article
- Your laptop computer may run slow if there are several startup programs running or if you are multitasking too much on it.
- If the laptop is old, if the drive is full, if it is low on memory and if there are viruses and malware, it will also run pretty slow.
- Overheating may also result in slow performance and even system shutdown just as an overloaded browser would.
- The laptop may also run slow if you use a faulty VPN, use heavy graphics excessively, have Cortana enabled always, skip shutting down the system and use it during peak internet hours.
How Do You Know If Your Laptop is Running Slow?
If you see that your laptop is taking longer than usual to open up and start the whole work.
Then it is definitely slow and you need to repair or fix the issues so that you can work perfectly.
Your laptop can certainly take time to boot up but that does not mean much.
So, you can check your internet connection which can make your laptop slow. If the connection is okay then you can check the performance of the laptop.
If the result is not promising then you must find out the reasons behind the problem along with the right solutions.
The 14 Reasons Why Your Laptop is Running Slow
1. Multiple Startup Programs
You probably have several programs installed on your laptop that you need and use every day.
Afterall, you must carry your files, photos, music and applications everywhere you go.
However, the more programs you install, the more complex and sluggish the startup process becomes.
Since your laptop will attempt to rapidly start several programs at once, it is bound to struggle and slow down.
Despite all its attempts to work quickly, it will end up taking a considerable amount of time to display your home screen.
Then these apps continue to run until shut down, thereby making it impossible for you or your laptop to work at optimal speeds.
Manually disable the self-start option of each program that you do not need opened immediately after powering on your laptop.
This will save both you and your laptop some precious time. You can open programs only if and when needed.
2. Multitasking to the Max
Multitasking negatively affects us. It slows us down, thereby, reducing our productivity, and it’s no different when it comes to laptops.
You can easily use a few basic programs simultaneously, without your laptop slowing down.
However, if you run multiple memory and graphics-intensive programs simultaneously, your laptop is guaranteed to perform slowly, as resources are being divided among multiple programs.
Running such heavy and demanding programs one after the other will make things easier for you and your device.
3. Low on Memory
To determine what type of programs can be run on your laptop, it is essential to first determine exactly how much RAM, i.e. temporary storage, is available.
Basically, having more RAM improves your laptop’s capability to run memory-intensive software like Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
2-4 GB of RAM is sufficient for basic tasks such as web surfing or word processing.
However, for graphic-intensive software or to multitask you may need at least 8-16 GB of RAM.
The number one telltale sign of low memory is extremely sluggish processing when two or more basic programs are running simultaneously.
Since, a vast majority of modern laptops multitask with ease.
However, if RAM is full no device can handle running multiple memory-heavy software.
Your laptop may actually have several software running simultaneously in the background, taking up RAM, but because you are not using these programs actively you may be unaware of them.
Programs like Dropbox could be syncing files silently or the anti-virus software could be running a scan.
Every time you use your laptop check its memory usage by accessing Task Manager’s Processes tab under which all programs taking up RAM will be listed.
Decide what software you need to continue running and close the rest. This will improve your laptop’s speed and your ability to multitask.
If yours is an older laptop it probably has very limited RAM to begin with, which is why it may remain unable to run memory-heavy software.
You might have to add more RAM i.e. upgrade your existing RAM to regain lost speed.
4. Full Hard Drive
One of the most common causes behind a slow laptop is a full hard drive.
All your files, music, programs, photos etc. are saved on the hard drive hence, the more files you create/save, the more programs you install, the slower your laptop becomes.
Software programs take up a considerable amount of space as well.
If storage space is 90% full, your laptop will be forced to function approximately 50% slower compared to its original speed.
Your hard drive may also have fragmented files, which are physically spread across it.
They are harder and more time consuming to read. Thereby, making your laptop slow.
Consider upgrading your HDD because it is rapidly becoming outdated, as its successor SSD is far more efficient.
Make it a habit to regularly go through and delete all unnecessary files.
Permanently delete files that you may no longer need or use. Important files can be transferred and stored on an external drive or cloud storage.
Additionally, you can uninstall any programs that you haven’t used in some time.
Reinstalling programs if and when needed and deleting them after each use is much easier.
Run Disk Clean-up to delete all temp files and unnecessary program files to empty more disk space.
Also, it is best to run Disk Defragmenter if it takes quite long to access and open certain files.
If your laptop has empty M.2 slots you can install an SSD in order to upgrade storage.
Laptops that boast open M.2 slots allow users to keep their HDD connected alongside an SSD.
Keep in mind to use only up to 70% of your SSDs total storage capacity, as beyond this SSDs will also work very sluggishly.
Furthermore, remember to regularly empty your laptop’s Recycle Bin to fully ensure all unnecessary files have been deleted.
5. Your Laptop is Old and Outdated Inside and Out
The older your laptop is, the more likely it is to slow down.
Gradual slowing down of devices is inevitable even if they were used occasionally and carefully.
Moreover, laptop manufacturers employ planned obsolescence strategies to deliberately slow down existing devices and force consumers to buy newer versions.
This is precisely why Windows 7 laptops are far slower than Windows 11 laptops.
Rapid technological advancement means that older laptops with outdated operating systems and hardware cannot keep up with consumers’ demands and needs, hence the need to upgrade arises.
Older laptops usually have HDDs which are significantly slower and less efficient when compared to SSDs.
While HDDs are prone to damage and fragmentation, and last only 3-5 years, SSDs have no moving parts, are quieter, consume less power and last much longer.
Coming to software, your laptop’s operating system may be outdated, behind on software patches and driver updates hence, causing your laptop to slow down. An outdated OS increases security vulnerabilities as well.
Another major factor that slows down a laptop’s performance is outdated applications/programs.
Older versions of programs are slower than their up to date successors. Hence, your laptop has a harder time running them.
Ditch your old outdated HDD and upgrade to an SSD if it’s compatible with your laptop.
If this single upgrade helps your laptop function optimally, you need not invest in more upgrades.
If not, update your device’s operating system, install the latest drivers and regularly update all programs to avoid diminishing efficiency.
If your laptop continues to perform sluggishly even after an SSD installation and updating operating system and drivers, you may have to upgrade to an entirely new laptop.
Before you upgrade to a new laptop you must identify your needs whether they be related to work or entertainment.
Once you know what you need it will become easier to look for options in your budget.
Consider purchasing a laptop from a reliable and reputed manufacturer/tech giant because they combine state-of-the-art technology and superior quality.
6. Malware and Virus Threats
Malware are created and released with the intention to corrupt all computer processes.
If your laptop has been infected, you may see random ads popping up, experience drastic slowdowns in performance or worse, witness a complete system crash.
You must prioritize removing malware because they are capable of infecting your laptop’s memory and spreading to different files and programs.
Malware allows hackers to steal personal data including your bank details.
Your laptop has definitely been infected if you’ve been experiencing the following:
- Software opening and closing on their own
- Suspicious files in hard drive
- Blue screen of death or stop error notifications
Install and frequently update a reliable anti-virus software and scan your laptop every day to catch and remove any and all malware.
Additionally, avoid suspicious emails, downloading programs for sketchy sites and visiting unsafe sites that your browser warns you against, as these are the easiest ways through which hackers spread malware.
7. Constant Overheating
While using and charging your laptop throughout the day, you may have noticed that when it overheats it slows down, lags and freezes.
Dirt and dust also contribute to overheating issues, as they clog cooling fins, making it harder for the internal fan to provide adequate cooling effectively.
Adequate cooling and cleanliness are essential for any device’s well being because heat can cause permanent hardware damage.
Clean your laptop at regular intervals using a compressed air can and microfiber cloth.
Also, use your laptop in a well ventilated, cool and clean environment as much as you can.
Additionally, you may want to invest in an adjustable laptop stand with an in-built fan to ensure quick cooling.
8. Overloaded Browser
We use our laptops to access the internet for a wide array of reasons.
Surfing the web is a necessity but opening multiple tabs and visiting random websites is not.
The more tabs you open at any given point, the slower your laptop will perform.
The more websites you visit the more items end up in your browser’s cache.
Having two or more browsers open with several tabs that require RAM, will only hinder your laptop’s efficiency.
Start by restarting your browser and by having only one window of a browser open at a time. Then start closing all extra tabs.
Once you are done closing tabs you must look into removing browser extensions that you don’t use often.
Since, they can slow down your browser and ruin your browsing experience.
However, do add a memory saving extension to your browser to lower the memory footprint of all open tabs.
Moreover, clearing cache and cookies by accessing your browsing history will help increase performance speed, as it frees up space.
9. Power Saver Mode
Quickly draining batteries are an inconvenience that hamper our productivity, even more so when we are on the go and might not be able to charge.
This leads us to enable Power Saver mode, which causes laptops to run slowly.
Disable Power Saver mode and choose High Performance or Balanced modes instead.
Windows’ preset power plan named High Performance is the best option for slower devices, as it speeds them up, albeit using more energy.
10. Faulty VPN
VPNs use system resources to encode and decode all data going from and coming to your laptop. This is why VPNs slow down devices.
Try loading different web pages with your VPN off, if they load quicker than they would with your VPN on, you know for a fact that your VPN is faulty.
Use free trials offered by various VPN services to determine which one works efficiently. Then choose your VPN and subscription plan accordingly.
11. Excessive Use of Animations and Graphics
Animations and graphics are attractive and interactive, make programs more interesting and improve user experience.
However, they also contribute towards making our devices slower.
Locate and select an option called Adjust for Best Performance, as it will remove all graphic and animation effects that you can easily live and work without.
12. Skipping Shutting Down
We often underestimate how important manually shutting down and powering on or even instantly rebooting our laptops is.
Putting your laptop in sleep mode comes in handy in various situations.
However, if you want to experience your laptop’s efficiency you must shut it down from time to time.
Restarting helps updates take effect and has several performance boosting benefits.
At the end of each day, close all programs and files and shut down your laptop. Soon you will notice your laptop’s processing speed greatly improve.
13. Having Cortana Enabled
Cortana, the Windows 10 & 11 digital assistant is a useful feature for those who need it. However, it slows down devices and has privacy threats associated with its use.
Cortana works by constantly running in the background, being on standby, listening for commands and collecting details about your activities.
Not only does it use resources but also slows down laptops as a result of functioning.
Access Cortana from Startup apps and immediately disable it.
14. Peak Internet Hours
Sometimes you may experience a sudden slowdown wherein browsing and downloading files becomes difficult.
The root cause of such slowdowns is not linked to your laptop, as they may be the result of peak internet hours.
Since more users are connected to and using the internet at peak hours, you may notice your WiFi network slowdown.
Be patient. There is absolutely no need to worry or make any changes to your laptop because as soon as peak internet hours are over, your browser and laptop will start operating at top speeds again.
Laptops slow down after several years of use. However, if yours isn’t old but still sluggish, you now know the reasons why the laptop is running slow.
Use the comprehensive list above to not only improve your laptop’s speed immediately but use it regularly as a checklist, to do everything that keeps laptops running at top speed.