That shiny blazing fast machine of yours is finally starting to show signs of old age. File transfers are no longer quick, game framerates are beginning to drop, and you just can’t open enough chrome tabs.
In reality, sooner or later all laptops suffer through some factors that cause them to slow down. Like any other machine, they also require regular maintenance to keep their performance at par. Push them too hard, and you might have a burnt motherboard on your hands.
In this article, we go over the seven most common factors that cause laptop slowdowns and how to fix them.
Also read: How hot is too hot for a PC to handle?
Your thermal paste has dried
Is your laptop getting a bit too hot lately? It’s normal for laptops to get a bit warm, considering the amount of horsepower these machines have in their thin and light chassis. But something too warm can indicate a problem.
Generally, there’s a layer of thermal paste between your CPU and the cooling system in the laptop to transfer the heat out. When this paste dries, the cooling system isn’t able to push out heat as efficiently, and this causes the computer to overheat.
Overheating can slow down the processor which can have a direct impact on the performance of your machine. It might even crash if it gets too hot.
How to fix it?
Get your laptop serviced. If you think you’re confident enough, you can replace the thermal paste yourself too.
It’s a very cheap and effective way to improve your laptop’s performance — one that should be performed at least once a year.
Your laptop is dirty
Yep, you read that right. Dirt and dust particles can accumulate over time on your machine, especially if you often use it outdoors. These particles, if not cleaned regularly, can get into the air vents on your laptop and can block them out.
This hits the heating system directly, and the laptop would start overheating. As aforementioned, that’s terrible news.
How to fix it?
You know, perhaps try cleaning your machine every so often. Especially the vents.
If it’s been quite some time since you’ve cleaned your laptop, you might even need to disassemble it and clean it from the inside as well. It’s a good habit anyway to clean your stuff.
Too many programs launching at startup
So perhaps your laptop runs just fine but takes an awful lot of time to boot up.
Well, several programs tend to auto start on booting. Over regular use, you might accumulate a bunch of programs that start with windows and can painfully eat away all resources, causing your machine to boot slowly.
How to fix it?
To see what programs boot on startup and what is the resource utilisation per program, launch the task manager and go to the startup tab.
Here you can see all the programs that launch on boot along with their startup impact.
Disable all unnecessary programs, and you’ll find your machine booting up way quicker. Also if you note something fishy here, you might want to run a system malware scan which brings us to the next reason
You’ve got malware on your machine
More often than not we end up downloading some shady file from the internet. Or perhaps plug in an infected USB drive and end up getting our systems infected. If this has been the case with you, chances are, it’s slowing down your system, in addition to a bunch of other bad things.
It might be hard to notice such things as malware now is extremely hard to detect. However, viruses and malware still are perhaps the most common reasons why PCs and laptops alike slow down.
If you’re noticing substantial performance spikes or high CPU utilisation while your computer is idle, it might indicate that something is wrong.
How to fix it?
This one is simple, update the anti-virus on your PC and do a full scan. Remove all potential threats detected.
Sometimes, the infection might be hard to come by and not get detected at all by your anti-virus. Or perhaps you might not be able to remove it even after detections (for example, the recycler virus, God that thing was annoying). In such cases, you’ll have to switch to a more powerful anti-virus/antimalware or worst case, format your drive.
As a result of regular use, we install more programs than we delete. As the drives on our machines fill up, this gives less freedom to other programs to function, causing system slowdowns.
Also, over time, your HDD gets fragmented as a result of multiple read/write operations. This can mean that there’s even less space on your drive than you see. It also means that sectors on your drive are not adequately maintained.
Worst case, your drive might be failing. If you’re still using mechanical hard drives, this is one of the most significant disadvantages that they have. In such cases, it’s best to back up your data and switch to a new drive as soon as possible.
How can I fix it?
This one requires a bit of effort.
Keep tabs on what programs you use often and which one you can delete. It always a good idea to have as much free space on your internal drive as possible. Defragmenting can also help speed up your drive’s response time. Click the Start button, type “disk defragmenter” and press the “Enter” key to launch the Windows defragmenter utility.
In case your drive is failing, there’s not a lot you can do. Directly backup all data you can and switch to a new drive. Preferably an SSD or at least a hybrid drive would be great for speed and performance.
You might need more RAM
As software becomes more resource hungry, old machines often have problems coming up. Also, you might want to run more than one program at a time. In such situations, if your machine is failing to cope up or is crashing, or at the very least is slow, it’s an indication that you might require more RAM.
How to fix it?
Well for most people, about 8GB of RAM should suffice. If you are on an older machine with 4 or less, now is a good time to bump it up to 8 gigs.
Your machine is just old
As harsh as it may sound, at one point in time, your laptop will become obsolete.
Laptops have limited upgradability and a limited life cycle. You can’t just keep pumping more RAM into the machine expecting performance boosts. That’s not the way it works.
Sadly enough, fixing this requires a new machine with up to date hardware. Hardware that should last you long enough to justify it’s worth.
Also read: Is Windows Defender good enough for your PC?