Sluggish computer? Here's some expert advice to get it back on the fast track

·7 min read

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Avoid the dreaded "spinning rainbow wheel of death" on your computer screen. (Photo: Getty)

The spinning rainbow wheel of death is one of the more frustrating sights in our modern world. Sure, you can refer to it as a beach ball if you’re feeling lighthearted. Or you can call that computer-freezing icon what it really is: the bane of your existence.

A slow computer that takes forever to load web pages, open documents, and respond to pretty much any basic command is more common than you think. It’s often just a matter of poor maintenance or disorganization. Powerful tune-up software like System Mechanic will get rid of all the excessive, unnecessary files and other junk clogging up your PC, jumpstarting its performance and boosting your internet speed.

System Mechanic addresses up to 30,000 potential problems, running hundreds of critical tests to stop your device from slowing down and crashing. The ultra-private software uses military-grade wiping to make sure things like deleted data and cached web pages are gone from PCs forever, freeing up tons of hard drive space.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free*

If system clogging is not the culprit, though, it could mean your PC or Mac is running a malicious program that you’re unaware of.

“Keeping your computer up to date doesn’t just improve your online experience; it can also make attacks from malware, viruses, and scammers more obvious,” says Adam Levin, cyber security expert and founder of CyberScout. “If your computer is always glitchy or running slow, it’s not always obvious whether it’s a newly installed malicious program or a more innocuous problem.”

Ready to get your computer back on the fast track? Below are four common culprits for a sluggish computer, plus the software and maintenance solutions that can have you up and running smoothly in no time.

The issue: Too many startup programs

The solution: Remove and disable unnecessary programs

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If your system practically shuts down before it even boosts up, it's time for a system clean out. (Photo: Getty)

An abundance of unnecessary startup programs is one of the most common reasons your computer is so slow, and can tack on up to 10 minutes of boot-up time from the moment you switch on your device, according to Techlicious. As those programs continue to run in the background, they further impede your computer’s speed.

Try cleaning up your computer automatically—and in one fell swoop—by installing System Mechanic, the leading solution for decluttering your digital world on PCs. It’ll address all the junk that’s slowing down your PC or Mac, and restore its good working order in no time. System Mechanic offers a free 30-day trial; after that, it’s just $4.99 a month.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free*

Here’s how to clean up your computer manually, if you want to get a headstart now: Edit down your default startup programs by first trashing unnecessary desktop icons, then organizing the rest in desktop folders. If you’re using a Mac, navigate to Login Items, then uncheck the programs you don’t need. If you’re on a PC using Windows 8 and above, go to the Startup tab, right-click on the programs you want to remove, and hit Disable.

If you’re using Windows 7 or older, navigate to the Startup tab, then uncheck all the programs you don’t need to run whenever you start your computer. Note that antivirus and antimalware programs should always be included in startup programs; the rest are up to your discretion.

Ransomware Malware Attack. Business Computer Hacked. Security Breach
Don't accidentally give hackers access to your sensitive info. (Photo: Getty)

The issue: Malware

The solution: Install Malwarebytes Premium anti-malware software

Malware is shorthand for malicious programs that make their way into your computer and wreak havoc, allowing hackers access to sensitive personal information that could lead to identity theft.

“Keep your computer clean by always running some type of end-point protection. These often include email scanning, anti-virus, anti-malware, and personal firewall applications to help protect your computer from slowing down and putting your information at risk,” says Ron Culler, Senior Director of Technology and Solutions for ADT Cybersecurity, to Yahoo Life. “Using what [your computer] comes with doesn’t always work, and there are many affordable solutions that often give you the ability to run it on multiple computers in your home.”

Malwarebytes Premium is the leading software for detecting existing and emerging security threats thanks to 24/7 smart technology. Not only will it remove any existing malware in your computer, but it’s constantly on the lookout for malicious program infiltrations, blocking them before they even have a chance of striking. Protect up to three Macs or PCs with one Malwarebytes subscription, and reduce your worries about malware slowing down your computer—or worse, exposing sensitive information to predators.

Practicing common sense will keep you safe, too. “Pay attention to what you click on when reading emails or browsing the web. It’s very easy to infect your computer with malware or ransomware by clicking links in unsolicited emails or links in social media” says Culler. “You never really know what is at the other end of that enticing link.”

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days free*

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Keep everything updated and you're already ahead of the game. (Photo: Getty)

The issue: Your software that is out-of-date.

The solution: Turn on automatic updates

Blame it on your laziness: If you’re often ignoring prompts to update your computer’s software, you’re probably hindering its ability to run smoothly. Even worse, you’re all but inviting malware into your system. “Updates are issued when vulnerabilities are found,” says Levin. Some updates pertain to new features, “but many of these features relate to security issues that have been discovered or new ways to better protect you.”

“Any time you get a legitimate notice to update your software, don’t click ‘I’ll do it later,’” advises Levin. That being said, he warns never to follow a link from an email to perform a so-called software update; this is most likely a phishing scam. Only perform updates based on actual, legitimate prompts on your computer sent directly from the programs you have installed.

Having Malwarebytes Premium running in the background at all times lets you double-down on the protection, in the off chance you accidentally slip up and click on a malicious link. Malwarebytes can help thwart the threat in real life, stepping in when human error occurs.

Try Malwarebytes Premium for 30 days free*

Man on sofa using laptop
The naked eye can't see just how much junk is stored on your computer's hard drive. (Photo: Getty)

The issue: Your hard drive is a mess

The solution: Clean it up—and “defrag” it

Consider your hard drive the storage room of your computer. It’s where everything is kept for the short and long term, from your operating system to anything you’ve ever downloaded from the internet. Your hard drive only has so much space, and when it gets clogged and cluttered, it borrows “mental” energy to sort through things, slowing down its performance when called upon to do other things like load a web page.

If your computer’s running on Windows, run a disk cleanup by selecting Disk Cleanup in your Start menu. Then select the files you’re okay with deleting, including those already in your Recycle bin. You’ll also want to “defrag” your hard drive. The hard drive stores everything in sequential order, but over time, files can get disorganized, leaving defragmented holes and random information scattered everywhere. A tool like Defraggler by CCleaner can do the work for you.

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