Information Technology Services

What to do when...Your computer is slow

Sometimes your computer seems a little sluggish. There are a few things you can do to speed up your system.

Try all or one of the following:

  • Remove temporary files on your computer
  • Disk Defrag
  • Remove unused programs
  • Disk Cleanup
  • Run Anti-virus and Anti-spyware software

Remove temporary files on your computer

A temporary file is a file that is created to temporarily store information in order to free memory for other purposes, or to act as a safety net to prevent data loss when a program performs certain functions.  Temporary files can take up a huge chunk of space on your computer.  It is a good idea to empty your temp folder often if you browse the web frequently and when you add or remove programs on your computer.  

To empty the temp folder:

  • Double click on Computer (or My Computer)
  • Double click on the C: drive
  • Double click the Windows folder
  • Double click on the Temp folder
  • Select and delete everything in the folder (Select all - Ctrl+A)
  • If you receive an error that it can't delete a particular file, just click skip or ok to continue.

Disk Defragmenter

Disk Defragmenter is a system utility for analyzing local volumes and locating and consolidating fragmented files and folders. If you are having problems opening your files or notice a delay in opening files, then defraging your hard drive may help resolve this problem. 

To run Disk Defrag:

  • Click Start, Programs or All Programs
  • Click Accessories and then click System Tools
  • Click Disk Defragmenter
  • Click Analyze disk to get an analysis or click Defragment disk to start defraging the drive

After you analyze or defragment a volume, you can view the results in a colored horizontal bar graph called the Analysis display and the Defragmentation display. (see below)

A box will pop up telling you whether your computer needs to be defraged or not. The color bars help you to see how your files are stored. If there is a log of Red, then it would be a good idea to defrag your computer. Hit the Defragment button to start the process. (see chart below)

Color Description

Red: Most of the clusters are part of a fragmented file.

Blue: Most of the clusters are contiguous files with clusters in the group that
contain only free space and contiguous clusters.

Green: Most of the clusters are part of a file that cannot be moved from its current location.

White: Most of the clusters are free space and contiguous clusters.

Remove unused programs

You may have programs on your computer that you never use. For this reason you should remove them. Programs take up space on your computer.

To remove programs you don’t use or need anymore do the following:

  • Click Start, then click Control Panel.
  • Double click on Add or Remove Programs or Programs and Features.
  • From the programs listed, select the program you want to remove and click the Change/Remove or Remove button. Follow the steps on the screen to completely remove the program. Do the same for any other program you want to remove. You will notice that the program also displays how often you use a particular program.
    Note: don’t remove anything labeled “Update” or “Hotfix”. These improve the security of your computer.
  • You may have to restart your computer to complete the process.

Disk cleanup

Disk cleanup calculates how much space you can save on your C: drive and allows you to delete items that can save you space.  Disk cleanup checks how much space you can save from some of the following files: downloaded programs, temporary internet files, office setup files, recycle bin, etc. This will free up space that can be used by other programs.

To use disk cleanup, do the following:

  • Click Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and select Disk Cleanup.
  • Disk cleanup will check to see how much space you can save.
  • The disk cleanup box will appear showing you how much space you can save.
  • You can select and deselect items you do and don’t want removed.
  • Click OK.


Run Anti-virus and Anti-spyware software

A Virus or spyware could also be the cause of a slow computer.  Try running the spyware and virus programs installed on your computer to see what it finds.

Anti-Virus: Start, Programs, Symantec Endpoint Protection (or whatever software is installed on your computer), click run full scan.

Anti-Spyware: Start, Programs, Lavasoft Ad-Adaware SE Professional (or whatever software is installed on your computer), click start.

If you don't see either of these programs on your computer, you can request to have them installed (for employees).