Work-From-Home Laptop Slowing Down? How to Find the Problem
There are few things more frustrating than a slow computer, and for those working from home, there is an added layer of complexity—you can’t just have someone from the IT team come and take a look at your machine when it’s slowing down. The bad news is that it’s inevitable for a computer to slow down over time. The good news is you can check and do some things on your own to fix it. For more advanced issues, you can take it in to a local computer shop for repairs and cleaning.
If you are starting to notice a computer slowing down—especially if it’s a relatively new PC or laptop purchased in the last three years—there are a few basic troubleshooting things you can look for that might give you a clue as to why.
When you install new programs, most have a default setting to launch on startup. As you boot up for the day they are all trying to go at the same time. Not only will the startup be painfully slow, that means all those programs run in the background, which can keep the computer running slowly all the time.
The fix:check your Applications folder (on Mac) or your Task Manager (on PC) to see what items are running at startup and uncheck any that aren’t necessary. Make sure to leave your antivirus and firewall intact, though, to protect against unwanted intruders.
If your hard drive is getting worn out, it can slow down your ability to retrieve files and programs. Most traditional hard drives last about two to three years, so if you don’t have a solid state drive (SSD) you might want to look into getting a new computer with one included. These last anywhere from three to five times longer because they store information in a way that makes it easy to retrieve without wearing down the drive.
The fix: run a hard drive check by looking at your computer properties and scanning the drive. You can identify whether your hard drive has a lot of “bad sectors” that are inaccessible, and whether it’s time to upgrade. You can also check if it’s too full and you need more storage space, and remove unnecessary files to give yourself a little breathing room.
Another thing that can slow down your PC is trying to run dozens of programs or open tons of browser tabs. While tabs are convenient and can allow you to do a lot of different things at once, all those sites are using up processing power. Some of them are probably auto-refreshing, which takes even more power.
The fix: check what’s running now by looking at your active windows and shutting down anything that you don’t need immediately (after saving everything, of course). If you’re a browser-tab addict, create bookmarks for the things you really need or want to get back to later. You can even categorize them, like “things to read” or “important tools” to keep things more organized.