Why is my computer so slow? Get a real computer tune up
Fast startup times and speedy operations are among the greatest joys of working and playing on a brand-new PC. After all, we all want our PCs to run at peak capacity, regardless of whether it is a budget laptop or a polygon-pushing gaming desktop. But, inevitably, that out-of-the-box performance fades away and we ask why is my computer so slow?
Eventually, every PC and MacBook will slow down, either gradually or suddenly. That's when a computer tune up and defrag proves its worth. Often, viruses, malware and adware take their toll too. To get your computer back to it's heyday performance, you need knowledgeable computer repair experts in person, not some online PC cleaner scam. At ClickAway, we’re proud to fight back and fix that slow computer.
What should you upgrade on your computer first? There are plenty of reasons that a computer can run slow, each of which can require a different fix. Some of the more common issues include slow boot-up and loading times, slow performance when switching between tasks, and poor performance in games. Not all of the following advice will apply to all situations. You should identify the performance issues your computer has and what causes them, to prioritize what components you should replace. ClickAway can do this during a free basic diagnostic.
What Should I Upgrade First? Replace the HDD with an SSD
One of the main components that you can replace to get a big performance boost, especially in booting and loading times is your hard drive. Old HDD hard drives are notoriously slow because they read and write data to a spinning disk. A modern SSD can read and write data more than three times faster than an HDD while using the same SATA connector. If your computer is modern enough to support an M.2 or U.2 connector, this read and write speed improvement over an HDD can be as much as 20 times.
In the real world upgrading from an HDD to an SSD can see your boot-up times change from two or more minutes to nearer 15 seconds. You’ll also find that large files and programs are quicker to copy or open.
SSDs are still somewhat expensive in comparison to HDDs but if you stick to a capacity of one terabyte or less, prices can be reasonable. As you’ll be replacing your operating system drive, this upgrade will require you to reinstall Windows.
Next – Upgrade your RAM
If you run into issues where switching between tasks is slow, or your web browser slows down with only a few open tabs, you may not have enough RAM in your computer. RAM is a type of fast memory used to store data for the currently running programs. By using the high-speed RAM, data can be accessed much quicker than if it was accessed from the hard drive, it also leaves the hard drive available for other tasks.
If you only have a small amount of RAM and you open too many programs, your computer will start to slow down as some of the data in the RAM is offloaded to the slower hard drive. If your computer is running slow and you can see that your RAM is at or near 100% usage, this will be your problem.
The absolute minimum RAM requirement for a computer running Windows 10 is 2GB. Realistically, however, this will not run well at all. Even with 4GB of RAM, you will likely regularly run into RAM related performance issues. In the real world, it’s recommended that you have at least 6 or 8GB of RAM in your computer.
Thankfully, most computers are designed to support RAM upgrades. Before purchasing new RAM though, you need to check what you already have and what your system supports. Most computers will have two, four, or eight RAM slots. You should ensure you don’t buy more sticks of RAM than you can use.
RAM comes in four different shapes. DDR3, and DDR4 RAM are used in desktop computers. While the connectors may look very similar, they are not the same, and you will need to get the version your motherboard supports. Laptops tend to use a smaller form-factor called LPDDR3 and LPDDR4, these types are also not compatible.
If you’ve got free RAM slots, you need to choose if you’re going to supplement or replace your existing RAM. Be aware, that is highly recommended that you do not mix different speeds or capacities of RAM; in fact, it’s best you ensure that all sticks of RAM are of the same brand and model.
Upgrade your graphics card
If you’re a gamer, what should I upgrade often leads to the graphics card. But some professional workstations may also be limited by an old and weak graphics card. If you’re playing games but struggling with low frame-rates or not being able to enable the graphics options you want, then it’s likely time to upgrade your graphics card.
In computer games, the GPU or Graphics Processing Unit is almost always the limiting factor in performance. Upgrading a GPU can be somewhat expensive but modern mid-tier graphics cards are very capable – if your resolution requirements aren’t too high.
Obviously, gaming at 4K or even 1440p is much more processor intensive than at 1080p. To game at higher resolutions you will need to be prepared to spend more money on a stronger graphics card.
Laptop gamers should be aware that it is impossible to upgrade the GPU built into almost all laptops. This is because the GPU processor is built into the laptop’s motherboard itself for space reasons. In desktop computers, however, graphics cards come as a separate expansion card that can be replaced and upgraded with relative ease.
For professional workstations, graphics cards can also be useful for applications such as rendering or neural network training. Having a more powerful graphics card will speed up your workflow. Performance benchmarks are often available so you can compare the rough performance advantage you’d receive in your workloads before you buy.
Answering the question, what should I upgrade, might lead you to examine your device peripherals. Upgrading your keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, headphones, or even your chair, can have a positive impact on your computer usage. The effect of some of these upgrades when using your computer for a long time each day can be quite significant and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Upgrading your CPU cooler can help your computer run a fair bit cooler, but the process is fiddly and time-consuming. Running cooler may help your computer be a little faster too if it was previously overheating under heavy load.
Unfortunately, upgrading the rest of the components in your computer, such as your CPU and motherboard can be a complex and time-consuming process, requiring you to rebuild most or all of your computer. ClickAway can give you a cost analysis between upgrading and purchasing a new computer. What should I upgrade on a PC or buying new is a question you should ask first.
It’s important to defragment your computer periodically to improve speed and performance. This can be done as part of a larger computer tune up at ClickAway or you can do this specifically yourself. Optimizing your computer drives helps organize the data in your hard drive and can improve its performance tremendously, especially in terms of speed. If your computer is running slower than usual, you might want to know how to defrag computer automatically and manually.
Automatic file defrag
Most contemporary Windows operating systems are defragmenting your computer automatically. This feature is automatically enabled, so you don’t actually need to do anything extra. But if you want to control when your computer runs its defragmentation processes, you can do that to an extent.
- Press the Windows key or click the Start button on your desktop and locate the Control Panel. Once you’ve done so, click on the Control Panel to open it.
- Click on “System and Security.”
- Underneath the Administrative Tools section of the menu, click on “Defragment and optimize your drives.”
- A window will open, listing your computer’s various disk drives. Toward the bottom of the window, click on “Change settings.”
- A smaller window will appear. In this window, select the settings that best apply to how frequently you want your computer to defragment. When you’re finished, click “OK.”
Like the previous method, if your computer’s operating system is Windows 7, 8, 10, or Vista, you can run its disk optimization tool when you think your computer is in need of one.
- Open the Control Panel.
- Click on “System and Security.”
- Underneath the Administrative Tools section of the menu, click on “Defragment and optimize your drives.”
- In the window that opens, click on the disk drive you want to defragment.
- Click “Optimize” to defragment the disk drive.
Do You Need to Defrag Mac Hard Drives?
Apple supplies a handy application for working with hard drives called Disk Utility, but it lacks a tool for defragmenting the drives connected to your Mac. The reason: A Mac running any version of OS X later than 10.2 or macOS does not need to be optimized. OS X and macOS have their own built-in safeguards that prevent files from becoming fragmented in the first place.
When you open a file, the Mac checks to see if it is highly fragmented (more than 8 fragments). If it is, the operating system will automatically defragment the file.
The result of all these safeguards is that a modern Mac rarely, if ever, needs to have its disk space defragmented. The only real exception to this is when your hard drive has less than 10% free space. At that point, the operating system is unable to perform its automatic defragmentation routines, and you should consider either removing files or expanding your disk storage size.
Should You Defrag an SSD?
While solid-state drives do become fragmented just like traditional hard drives, you should not optimize an SSD. Not only is it unnecessary, it could also shorten the lifespan of your drive.
A hard disk drive (HDD) stores data on magnetic plates. These plates spin at thousands of revolutions per minute while a dedicated read/write head sits above them. When you fragment these kinds of drives, it lines up the data on the spinning plates. This means the head doesn’t have to move around as much to read or write data.
However, SSDs don’t have mechanical moving parts like HDDs. Instead, they store information on memory chips, which means they can read and write fragmented data as fast as defragmented data.
Also, the memory chips in SSDs degrade every time you erase and write new data to them. So, defragging an SSD will actually cause it to die faster. That’s why you should not manually defrag an SSD.
However, you don’t need to remove your SSD from automatic defragging. This is because Windows 10 uses a different kind of defragmentation for SSDs.
When your computer overheats, your MacBook’s fan kicks into action. But when it runs too long or too loud, there may be another cause to consider. Let’s answer the question “why is my MacBook Air making a fan noise?”
If your MacBook’s fan is running too loud for too long, and too frequently, you may have a problem. For the most part, fans are a part of laptop life. Humans sweat, dogs pant and laptops generally spin fans to keep cool. Unless you have the tiny, fanless MacBook, then your MacBook Pro or MacBook Air will occasionally fire up its cooling fan to keep its thermals in check. But if your Mac’s fan has gone from occasionally spinning to regularly and loudly spinning, you’ll want to quiet it down.
There are five ways to stop a MacBook Air making a fan noise. It might be that you need to go through all of these steps until your fan finally calms down. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the problem. Set aside a little time to genuinely focus on your fan health, and you’ll continue to get a lot of quality life out of your MacBook — without it sounding like you’re at the airfield. Of course. ClickAway MacBook repair technicians can resolve this for you if you prefer
Trouble shooting – MacBook Air making a fan noise
- Check your apps and tabs
The more apps and browser tabs you’ve got running, the greater the odds are that your Mac will need to employ its fan to keep things cool. Cut down on your multitasking by closing apps when you are done using them, especially when you are using graphics-intensive apps like Photoshop and iMovie.
To see which apps are using the most CPU resources, open the Activity Monitor and click on the CPU tab. In our experience, Chrome is more of a resource hog than Safari, so you might try switching browsers for a quieter Web browsing experience. We also suggest using your iPhone to play music and podcasts with iTunes and Spotify instead of keeping those apps running on your Mac.
- Keep vents clear
The MacBook Pro has vents on its sides and back edge, and the MacBook Air has vents along its back edge. These vents draw in cool air and expel hot air. If you block these vents by resting your laptop on a lap, couch cushion, pillow, bed or blanket, then your Mac is sure to heat up quick. I use a coffee table book to keep my MacBook Pro’s vents unobstructed when sitting on a couch or lying in bed.
If it looks like a bunch of grime has collected along the vents, you can try blowing it away with a can of compressed air. Of course, you run the risk of just blowing the debris further into your Mac. If that appears to be the case, then you will need to open up your Mac to get under the hood. This is probably best left to ClickAway. We can do it while you wait.
- Open up and clean
If you really want to do it yourself, get a tiny Phillips-head screwdriver and remove the bottom panel of your MacBook to clean out any dirt, dust and grime that may have collected over the years. Use your can of compressed air to blow away any debris or a lint-free cloth to wipe it away. Pay particular attention to the cooling fan itself and its vents, along with the entire back edge of your MacBook. The goal here is clean passageways for maximum airflow.
- Test your fans
There is a chance that your MacBook Air making a fan noise and overheating is there’s something wrong with the cooling fan itself. Baked into your Mac is a hardware diagnostic tool. If it was made prior to June 2013, you’ll use the Apple Hardware Test. After that date, you’ll use Apple Diagnostics.
These tools operate in a similar fashion. With your MacBook plugged in and all external peripherals removed, restart it and hold down the D key to start either diagnostic program.
Follow the onscreen instructions to start the test. The standard test takes only a minute or two to complete and will report any hardware issues. For a more thorough investigation, you can check a box to run an extended test that will take an hour or more to complete.
There are three codes, all starting with “PPF,” related to the cooling fan. If you get one of the results that indicates there may be an issue with your fan, it’s time to contact Apple if you have Apple Care with your MacBook. If you don’t, visit your nearest ClickAway Mac Repair technician for a repair or ask for a computer tune up.
- Reset the SMC
If your Mac is clean and grime-free and you are keeping your apps and tabs in check your MacBook Air making a fan noise continues, try resetting the System Management Controller (SMC). The SMC is responsible for controlling low-level functions on your Mac including “thermal management,” aka the cooling fan. Follow opens in a new windowApple’s instructions for resetting the SMC. Any questions can quickly be answered at ClickAway.
Are you asking the question “why is my MacBook Pro so slow?” There can be several reasons why a Mac isn’t performing as it should, but they are often due to one or more of the following:
- The Mac is old or its hardware can’t keep up. At some point the processor, drive, amount of RAM and/or graphics card simply can’t keep up with the latest software. New versions of macOS are generally compatible with Macs going back several years, but if yours is among the oldest supported by the current operating system, it may not have what it takes to be fully efficient.
- There is a hardware problem. One of the components in your Mac has failed or is failing.
- There is a software problem. The operating system or specific applications are not working as they should.
MacBook Pro So Slow – Troubleshooting Steps
Troubleshooting a MacBook Pro so slow is a process of elimination. And troubleshooting can take a time which is why ClickAway Mac Repair technicians are here to do it for you. But if your Mac is getting slow and you want to try and resolve it yourself, follow these troubleshooting steps to find what’s wrong and hopefully make it faster.
Back up your data
Whether the cause of your MacBook Pro so slow is hardware or software, the first thing to do is ensure that you don’t lose any data. If there are hardware issues, then your Mac could potentially stop working, or your drive could be corrupted. You can use Apple’s Time Machine to back up your Mac. If you have multiple backups, and your Mac fails, having two backup solutions is the best way to ensure you don’t use data. Sometimes backups get corrupted, or their drives fail too.
Restart your Mac
Restarting your Mac is quick and easy, or at least it should be. When you restart your Mac, it clears the memory and forces any processes that may have been stuck to reload. The amount of time it takes for your Mac to go from black screen to loading your desktop can also be a good indication of where to look for issues. Most Macs, regardless of configuration and operating system version, should be up and running in no more than one minute or two; Macs with SSDs should go to the login screen in seconds. If the startup process takes longer, this doesn’t give clues as to what’s wrong, but it does suggest that something is happening when the Mac loads macOS rather than later.
If the restart process takes a long time, try again after disconnecting any peripherals connected to the computer, especially hard drives. Sometimes problems with external hard drives can slow down Macs, as the Mac is trying to read and perhaps index the drive. At other times, even keyboards or mice can have issues that conflict with your Mac.
Check Resource Usage
If a restart did not solve your MacBook Pro so slow issues, or only fixed them for a short time, you should check how your Mac’s hardware is being used. Is your Mac using too much RAM and running out of memory? Are certain stuck processes causing your Mac to slow down? MacOS has a useful utility called Activity Monitor. This utility gives you a live view of your Mac’s processor, RAM, energy, disk, and network usage. You can find this utility in Applications > Utilities.
First, set up Activity Monitor to make it easy to use:
- From the View menu, select Update Frequency, and then set it to its lowest value, 5 seconds. This makes it easier to see what’s happening; the display won’t change too quickly.
- In the same menu, make sure you check All Processes. Processes are apps that you see, and those that run in the background; your Mac runs dozens of different processes. Activity Monitor shows all processes in real-time. The information is sorted into different tabs that display processes in the category specified, and each one can help you narrow down the issues you’re having. ClickAway MacBook repair techs can answer any questions you have about Activity Monitory.
Check available storage space
One common cause for Mac slowdowns is when your startup drive gets full. You need disk space to store files, but also to use virtual memory. If you run out of space on your drive, then any task where virtual memory is needed may be slow.
To check your Mac’s available storage, go to the Apple Menu > About This Mac > Storage. If you’re running out of space on your drive, you’ll need to move some files. Again, ClickAway is here to help you with any data backup or data transfer needs you may have.
If you frequently run low on drive space, then you’ll need to move files to an external drive, and consider upgrading the drive in your Mac, if possible, or getting a larger drive on your next Mac.
Test the Hardware
Is your Mac just spinning when you ask it to do something? Your software may not be the cause of MacBook Pro so slow. A failing drive, faulty RAM, or other hardware issues can sometimes cause the same type of symptoms. For example, the dreaded spinning beachball could be caused by a software or hardware problem.
Using the above steps, if the issue is caused by software, you should have a pretty good idea of what the culprit is; however, to test your hardware some different tools are required. There are tools built into your Mac you can to use to help identify hardware issues that may cause a slow Mac.
You can use Disk Utility to test your Mac’s hardware. Disk Utility is an app that you can use to erase, format, and partition drives, and you can also use it to check if your drives are running smoothly. You can find it in Applications > Utilities.
Select your drive and click the First Aid button. This is a good first check, and you can run it on your startup drive, or external drives, to check their integrity. Disk Utility will tell you if your disks are running correctly, will repair some issues, and will tell you if there are more serious problems that it can’t fix.
Take Your Mac to An Apple Expert
When you have checked the software and the hardware but can’t find anything wrong, you can always get more help. If you have Apple Care support for your Mac, call Apple, and they’ll help you. If not, take the Mac to ClickAway. We will do checks of the hardware and the operating system, and let you know what needs to be done and how much it will cost. Our computer tuneup service can speed things up as well by looking at the OS, RAM, temporary and duplicate files, dust in the fans and much more.
When to know when – How to upgrade RAM?
Upgrading RAM on your PC is one way to make your computer far more speedy. Over the years, operating systems like Windows, software like Photoshop, and now even web browsers like Chrome, have built reputations for being unabashed memory hogs. Older PCs, meanwhile, often have between 2GB and 4GB of memory. Loading too many tabs in Chrome or keeping to many programs open on your desktop could use up all of the memory your system has to offer, slowing your system to a crawl.
A mere 4GB could work if you’re sticking to light tasks and not using Chrome, but 8GB is really the minimum we would recommend for a modern desktop PC, and 16GB is the sweet spot for most people consider its modest price increase from 8GB. Gamers with an eye towards future-proofing might even want to consider 32GB—the downside being increased cost, of course.
While swapping an old hard disk drive for a modern SSD is the most drastic hardware improvement, a Mac RAM upgrade lets you run more programs simultaneously. An iMac memory upgrade is an easy way to give your computer more multitasking juice. Upgrading the RAM on your old Mac computer is a quick and affordable way to get your device to handle all of those open tabs in your Chrome browser.
We recommend you upgrade RAM in pairs. For example, add two modules of 8GB of RAM instead of a single module of 16GB of RAM. It’s not so much about cost savings, as it is a performance consideration. Intel supports dual-channel architecture, which is optimized for memory in pairs. However, what you can do with your Mac’s RAM depends on your exact model.
Unfortunately, most modern Macs don’t allow you to upgrade the RAM yourself. Recent MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models have the RAM soldered to the motherboard. Some newer iMacs technically have user-upgradeable RAM, but doing so requires extensive teardown of the machine. We wouldn’t recommend trying a MacBook pro RAM unless you’re extremely experienced with electronics and your machine is already out of warranty. ClickAway’s Apple Mac technicians can tell you your options during a free basic diagnosis.
Other considerations to upgrade RAM
If your laptop will no longer boot up, it may be because one of your memory sticks has gone bad. We can open the laptop and use a process of elimination to determine which stick is causing the problem. We can then replace that particular RAM stick, allowing your laptop to boot up normally again.
How to install more RAM
Installing your own RAM can be done if you’re comfortable and skilled about RAM slots, heat sinks, motherboards and so forth. Otherwise, ClickAway’s computer tune up service can do this for you. Our technicians have been upgrading older PCs and Macs since 2002.
Computer Tune Up $199 - Includes Defrag & More
Why Is My Computer So Slow? Try a Tune Up
- Fix a slow computer with a Computer tune up of operating systems: Windows Vista/7/8/10 & Mac OS X including Mavericks/Yosemite/El Capitan/Mojave
- System hardware test (including hard drive, memory, and CPU) visual inspection of motherboard capacitors (desktops)
- Check for sufficient RAM and free hard drive space and recommend an upgrade if necessary
- Optimize operating system performance
- Remove unnecessary startup programs
- Delete temporary files
- Clean interior including fans and heat sink with compressed air
- Scan all drives, email, and external media
- On-site or in-store service
- Repair damage to Operating System
My Computer Is Slow | Virus Removal Needs
- Remove hard drive and scan contents for viruses and spyware / malware
- Multilevel malware / virus / spyware / trojan screening and removal
- Manually remove all malicious software not quarantined and deleted
- Install any relevant anti-spyware software
- Check for current version of anti-virus
- Industrial strength detection tools
- Guaranteed 100% removal of threats
- Networking & IT Service
- Data Management Services
- Software Upgrades
- Complete System Reinstall / Rebuild $99
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Is your computer running slow? A quality computer tune up can make your lethargic PC feel new again.
Remove Duplicate Files, Defrag, Increase RAM, Increase Speed
All computers eventually lose that day-one luster, becoming lethargic, unresponsive, and even unreliable. The operating system gets gunked up as apps are added and incompletely deleted, leaving behind drivers and all sorts of other system detritus. Their hard drives fill up with forgotten files we've abandoned in folders whose existence we've forgotten. A defrag is just one of the tasks you need to perform.
Programs build up enormous caches behind the scenes that we don't even know about. Eventually, our full hard drives choke the OS as it tries to run. Outdated drivers cease to work correctly. Toolbars and other nasty plug-ins can precipitously slow our browsers to a crawl. It doesn't matter how diligent you are, or what sort of productivity software you use to get the most out of your time if end up sitting around and waiting for your computer to catch up to you.
Our machines can become so impaired through use and neglect that we can no longer use Microsoft Word or play a PC game with the same speed and efficiency to which we have become accustomed. That's when we ask why is my computer so slow? Often, we ponder buying a new computer. But that's a drastic solution, and one that's frequently unnecessary. Instead, you can get often that fresh-out-the-box performance for tens of dollars—instead hundreds or even thousands—thanks to a relatively inexpensive computer tune-up at ClickAway.