How to: Deal with temporary slowdowns

Malware isn't the most likely cause, but it's the most potentially dangerous, and is relatively easy to identify and fix

There's nothing pretty about software overburdening your CPU and slowing everything down. And finding and fixing the cause isn't always an easy task. These suggestions will hopefully help.

The first thing to do is check for an infection. Malware isn't the most likely cause, but it's the most potentially dangerous, and is relatively easy to identify and fix.

Don't trust your regular, always-on antivirus program this time. If your PC is infected, that program has already failed and is probably compromised. Try the free version of either SUPERAntiSpyware or Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware. Better yet, try both.

If the scans don't find anything, chances are your PC isn't infected (unless you have other reasons to think so; see Remove a Virus or Other Malicious Infection). But your Registry could be corrupted, and a scan of that should be your next step. In fact, such a scan solved Shermlindcastle's problem. CCleaner (another excellent, free program) found about 200 Java errors. Uninstalling and reinstalling Java fixed the problem.

188118-0201ccleaner_original

But if you're not so lucky, you'll have to find the culprit on your own. Start searching your memory (your brain's memory, not your PC's). When did the problem start? What did you do to your PC just before that? Did you install anything new? Allow Windows or an application to do a major upgrade?

Also, note what programs are running, and what peripherals you're using, when it happens. Keep a journal--on paper, so you don't have to type an entry into it when Windows is moving like an exhausted turtle.

Another idea, suggested by forum moderator Scott Maxwell: Keep an eye on your processes: When things are fine, right-click the taskbar and select Start Task Manager. Click the Processes tab, then click the CPU column heading once or twice to put the most demanding processes on the top. Keep the Task Manager running at all times.

188118-0201taskmanager_original

When your PC slows down, check the Task Manager window to see what's at the top of the list.

When you've identified the culprit, ask yourself how badly you need that program. If you need it, see if there's an update or a bug fix, and if there isn't, complain to the manufacturer.

Or you can just uninstall it. Don't simply use the program's own uninstaller (or Control Panel's program removal tool, which simply launches the program's own uninstaller). These uninstallers are often horribly inadequate, removing a program's functionality while leaving behind the problems. Instead, use the free, portable version of Revo Uninstaller or the $30 version of Total Uninstall. Why consider a $30 program over a free one? The free version of Revo can't handle 64-bit applications (not an issue if it's not a 64-bit PC), and Total Uninstall does a better job in situations where an uninstall requires a reboot.

188118-0201totaluninstall_original

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Lincoln Spector

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?