Why is my computer so slow?

The easiest way to know if you have been infected is resemblance. What does this mean? It means that one, as regular user of the computer, should know how the computer behaves and what the minutiae of its operation are. You will easily recognize your computer as you would normally recognize something you work with regularly. So if one day you turn on your computer and there is no resemblance with what you normally would see and feel, then there is a chance that your computer has been infected.

 

Why is my computer so slow? This is the question many people is asking about. Why a computer decrease its performance and start crawling to perform a simple task like opening Google Chrome?

In our line of work, this is a regular issue. Around 30% of all our customers call us because their computer is running extremely slow. And everybody wants to know why is this happening.

The reasons for a low performance are many and depends heavily on the usage habits of the owner. In most occasions the slowness is caused by a software related problem. In other words, there is a program, a conflict between programs or a malware infection (also software) causing the problem. A hardware problem can also trigger this kind of behaviour and it also happens often.

Let see what the options for a slow system are and how users can identify the cause and make the necessary adjustments to fix the problem or when to call a professional service to help them out.

Programs using too much resources

The most common cause of s system slowness is a lack of resources. This doesn’t mean that the computer is too old or that the hardware needs to be improved. This just means some programs are using more resources than necessary taking them away from the system and therefore making it run slow. An easy way to check this out is closing all the running applications and then opening the task manager. On the performance tab you will be able to see the computing resources consumption. Those are CPU, RAM and Disk. Networking is another resource but this doesn’t make the computer slow, only the internet. With the computer idle and no open applications, the CPU consumption should be between 0% and 3%, the RAM should be a flat line rosing about the 50% and the Disk should be 0%.

Now these are not rules, it could happen that at that moment the anti-virus is running a scan or Windows is applying updates. To make sure is none of these, click on the Processes tab and sort them by the maximized resource. Then, check the name of the process that is using the resource the most, if it is the anti-virus, windows installer or windows updates, not need to worry. Just wait for a while until is finish and check it out again. If the process maximizing the resource is none of those, then there is a program using them with no apparent reason. Once the program has been identified, make sure is something you really need. Otherwise uninstall it.

If the program is something you normally use, then something is going on. The next step here would be checking for any program updates. In most cases the developing company will release updates to fix those issues or to accommodate their software to new Windows updates. So updating it should do. Also, check for any pending Windows updates. Those can actually cause problems sometimes, but they fix them more often.

Startup

Sometimes could happen that after checking the resources consumption, specially RAM, there is not a clear picture of which programs may be causing the problem. In this case, what one needs to do is check what programs are starting at logon and which of them are actually needed.

To do this, head to the task manager again and click on the Startup tab. There, you will be able to see all the applications that are starting with the system. None of them are required for the system to run, so don’t be afraid of disabling them. However, it is always a good idea to leave enabled the anti-virus and some other common ones like Adobe, Java, Sound and graphics, but the most important is the anti-virus.

Programs Conflict

This issue is more common that one would believe. This happens when someone have been reading stuff about trojans, hackers, scammers, ransomware, etc. in the internet and someday decided that his current Anti-virus is not enough and that another layer of protection is required.

This may sound like a good idea, but is not. Having two or more anti-virus software in a single machine cause them to clash between each other. They don’t recognize the other as a security tool, but as something scanning the computer instead. This immediately generates a reaction on the other anti-virus and all of the sudden instead of protecting the computer, they start consuming all their effort in stopping the other anti-virus and because these tools are created to monitor all the system activities, most of the system tasks are put in a queue until the anti-virus has time to review them. As a result, the computer starts running extremely slow. And this in only if one is lucky enough. Sometimes the system cannot even run and crashes after a few minutes of the user login or they simply stop working and the infamous blue screen of death (BSOD) starts appearing.

Ironically, this is the easiest to fix. Just pick one anti-virus and remove the rest. Reboot the PC and that would be it. Ah! And don’t forget to run a full virus scan afterwards as some malware could have managed to get in during the chaos.

Malware Infections

Catching malware infections using the task manager is not an easy job and sometimes is not even possible. In fact, identify a malware infection manually requires a great endeavour even for an experienced tech. However, there are symptoms one can identify to see if there is actually something going on or not.

The easiest way to know if you have been infected is resemblance. What does this mean? It means that one, as regular user of the computer, should know how the computer behaves and what the minutiae of its operation are. You will easily recognize your computer as you would normally recognize something you work with regularly. So if one day you turn on your computer and there is no resemblance with what you normally would see and feel, then there is a chance that your computer has been infected.

So having said that, if one day your computer starts working very slow and you have not installed any program recently, the resources consumption looks normal and have only one anti-virus, then is possible that your computer is infected. But it could also be a hardware problem as we will see later.

In this case, the very first thing to do is run a full scan with your anti-virus tool. It may take a few hours to finish so better do it overnight. After this, check what was found and remove the risks.

If nothing was found, it doesn’t mean that there is nothing there as if it managed to get in is possible that your security program is not designed to catch this specific type of infection. So what one could do is head to https://www.malwarebytes.com/mwb-download/ and download the free version.

Once installed, go to the settings tab and disable the trial account. Then click in the protection tab and enable the “Scan for rootkits” and disable the “start with windows” options. Both are important.

Before running a scan with MBAM (Malwarebytes Anti-Malware) make sure to disable the “Real-time protection” of your current anti-virus, otherwise there might be problems. One very good thing of this tool is that it scans for PUPs too. PUPs are Potentially Unwanted Programs and those are programs that are not malware but have a very bad behaviour on your computer, sometimes even propitiating real infections. After this scan, we could say that the system might be clean. Reboot your computer and check the performance.

Hardware

Now that we have discarded any possible software related problem, is time to look into hardware. There are many hardware components that could fail in a computer, but only one of them could trigger a performance problem, disk.

 

The times that our techs in Brainbox IT have dealt with damaged disks are countless. Disks are very unreliable, especially the old fashion hard disk drives (HDD). We always tell our customer that is not a matter of if, is matter of when a disk is going to fail. Which is why having an up to date backup is so important.

Identifying a failing disk is a difficult task so we will not focus on that. What is important is to rule out a software problem and once done, look into the disk.

Unfortunately a failing disk is not fixable. So if this is case, a data migration and a system re-build will be require.

Do not hesitate to book a tech with Brainbox IT and one of our friendly techs will come to you to assist you with this or any other computer related issue.