By Delia / Last update December 21, 2021

For many Windows users, computer lagging is a frequently encountered problem. There can be many reasons why your computer is running slowly. It is important to identify these problems in order to bring performance back to normal.

Here’s a list of the most common problems that cause your computer to run slowly. Continue reading to learn more and find possible solutions.

windows computer

Insufficient storage space

Computers store memory in a variety of ways. Usually, computers store files and installed programs on a storage drive. Usually, the storage drive is a hard drive. In computers purchased within the last year or two, the storage drive may be a solid-state (SSD) drive.

When the storage drive is full, the computer may slow down. Your computer needs to have a certain amount of free space in the storage drive. It allows the CPU to swap files and store temporary files, and lack of storage makes these tasks difficult or impossible. This can cause the operating system to slow down.

Some means you can take are: deleting old and unnecessary files; uninstalling programs you no longer use; using the disk cleanup tool that comes with Windows to delete temporary files; moving photos and videos to an external storage device, etc.

disk cleanup

Aging hard drive

Slow computer operation is one of the signs of an aging hard drive. The standard life cycle of a hard drive is 3 to 5 years. While there are use cases for hard drives as long as 10 years, don't expect it to really get there.

In addition to computer lag, other signs may indicate that your computer's hard drive is aging. Is your computer making strange noises when there is a delay? If your slow computer operating system frequently crashes, then the hard drive may be too old.

You can replace your old hard drive. In fact, it is recommended before computer lag is replaced by a computer blue screen. A new hard drive won't cost a lot of money. Upgrading RAM can actually be more expensive.

If the rest of your computer hardware is as old as the hard drive, you may want to consider buying a new computer.

hard disk

CPU bottlenecks

Bottleneck is a term usually used for games. But CPU bottlenecks can occur for other tasks as well. The term refers to what happens when there are not enough processors in a computer to meet the demands of a task.

CPU bottlenecks occur when you pair a low-end CPU with a high-end hardware or device (usually a GPU). For example, let's say you buy a super-fast graphics card and pair it with an entry-level desktop processor. The low-end processor will not be able to match the speed of the GPU. This will lead to overall lag.

CPU-dependent software can also lead to bottlenecks. This means that the demands of the game far exceed the capabilities of the processor unit. Other types of demanding software, such as 3D modeling and video editing programs, can also lead to bottlenecks.

Fixing CPU bottlenecks is easy. But finding the cause of the problem is not. To fully resolve any bottleneck, you must first identify the cause of the bottleneck. Find out if it is the GPU or an installed program that is causing the bottleneck latency.

Once the cause of the problem is identified, the situation can be corrected. Often, replacing an aging or low-end processor with a newer version will help. For example, if the CPU is bottlenecking the GPU, upgrade to an Intel Core i7 processor. It is the best gaming processor available.

Downgrading the software or device you use with your computer can also eliminate bottlenecks. If your CPU can't handle running a specific program, uninstall it from your computer. Of course, most PC users prefer to upgrade their computers.


Insufficient RAM memory

RAM memory is the temporary "volatile" memory in your computer. Unlike stored memory, RAM only works when the computer is turned on. The operating system relies heavily on RAM to run tasks smoothly. Not having enough RAM for the processes you are trying to run can significantly slow down your computer.

Modern computing needs, especially with memory-hungry browsers like Chrome, require a healthy supply of RAM memory for your computer. In the early 2000s, computers only needed about 2 GB of RAM. today, a 64-bit system needs at least 4 GB of RAM, and ideally 8 GB for systems used for anything but the most basic office work.

Upgrading RAM is a great way to improve the overall performance of your PC. But first, make sure that lack of RAM is the cause of your computer's lag.

ram memory

Unnecessary background programs

Your computer may be running programs in the background without your knowledge. For example, anti-virus programs usually run in the background. There may be many others that you don't actually need to run.

You can use the Task Manager utility to see all the programs that are running on your computer. Press Alt + Ctrl + Delete to access the Task Manager, and switch to Processes tab. It should show all programs running in the foreground and background.

Scroll through and find the background program that you don't actually need to run, then you can right-click on it and select "End task". Also, some software (such as security software) may run automatically after startup, thus limiting your computer's performance. You can find them in the Startup tab and "Disable" them as needed.

task manager

Malware or viruses

Viruses or malicious software programs can cause many problems with your computer. Slowing down your computer is just one of them.

If using your computer for work, use an antivirus or malware scanner to make sure your computer is not infected with any viruses. A malware protection program can remove or isolate dangerous files or programs from your computer. After the virus has been eliminated, your computer should run as usual.

It is highly recommended to have a professional check your computer for malware problems. Remnants of malware may still be present on your computer. In this case, a professional can back up your important files and restore your operating system.