Fix slow computer without a technician

How fast the computer should be

Any modern computer should take less than 30 seconds from cold start to desktop. It's normal for devices to take a few seconds to wake up from standby mode. Programmes should take seconds to start and no time to switch between tabs. The average time for internet pages to open should be under 5 seconds.

Why is my computer slow?

The computer is clogged up with programs and data you or your kids have installed. For example, torrents or other downloading software left running in the background is a common source of issues. This software will slow down your internet connection and take computer resources.

The easy solution - buy a new computer!

It may cost from $500 for a basic laptop to $3000 or more for a performance PC. Time to shop, delivery, installation of programs, and data transferring may take 1 - 14 days.

Sure new computer CPUs run faster per Moore's Law, which states that CPU speed doubles approximately every two years.

However, there are a couple of downsides to consider. Firstly, other computer components, such as hard disks, do not improve at the same rate, and online speed depends on the internet, which may only improve if you fix WiFi issues.

Secondly, while it's possible to transfer data yourself, setting up a new computer from scratch may result in losing some crucial programs and preferred settings. A computer technician can help you move everything as it was before.

A new PC or Mac may slow down over time if you keep old habits that cause problems in the first place. Additionally, data may be lost during the transfer process, and viruses can be transferred along with the data, leading to the same problems on the new computer.

It is worth buying a new PC when:

  1. The computer breaks due to a hardware failure.
  2. You're obsessed with modern technology, fast computers, gaming.
  3. You're not paying for it.

Hard solution - Fix computer by yourself

Price $0. Time 30 minutes - 1 day. You will save money and learn something new. It takes time and patience. You may only fix the issue partially or even worsen the problem.

The common problem with slow computer speed is not in the computer itself but in internet or network related. Try using the computer without the network cable or the WiFi off. If the issue persists, it is a computer problem. If something changes, there is a good chance the problem is in the network. Computers and other devices, such as mobile phones connected to the same WiFi network, may slow each other down dramatically. A network setup adequate to your needs can boost computer speed without buying a new one. Other issues could be related to your internet provider, NBN plan, or the distance to the NBN fibre node.

You can find many computer clean-up software which removes temporary files left on your computer from internet browsing and other activities which could have been piling up for up to a few years. Carefully do not delete saved passwords and other valuable data.

After you clean temporary files, uninstall unnecessary software by going to Start - Control Panel - Programs and Features. You can sort installed programs by installation date by clicking on the column header 'Installed on'. Start from the programs installed last. If you can track when your computer started getting slower, you can single out the program that caused the trouble.

Programs sometimes come in packages; you might recognise one program but not other necessary components or drivers that came with it. In this case, you must consult a computer technician before deleting potentially essential program files.

Stay calm. Sometimes people download and install a bunch of 'speed optimisers', 'system cleaners', and even two or more antiviruses simultaneously! These programs can start interfering with each other, and the computer could get stuck. Also, beware of false 'system optimisers' on the net. They claim to catch and fix many errors and bugs in your system, but their only purpose is to squeeze money out of you or, worse, bug your computer.

Call a professional

Another option is to seek assistance from a professional computer repair service. They can diagnose and resolve your computer issues, as well as provide WiFi setup.

About author

Dimitri, the owner of Manly Electronics, is a highly experienced and trustworthy computer repair specialist. With a degree in electronic engineering and extensive knowledge in the field, he provides cost-effective and prompt repairs to both residential and commercial clients in Sydney's Northern Beaches and beyond. His mission is to offer personalized support and honest assessments of customer issues to provide the best economical solution.

July 2013; revised 2023