How To Determine Why Your Computer Is Running Slow


By Ryan Williams, TechBetter.com - This question was submitted by a reader in New Jersey. The reader wants to know how to determine why her computer is running slowly. Thank you for the question. This is a relatively easy thing to do and should help a lot of people.

NOTE: This tech tips uses Windows Vista as an example, however the process is nearly the same in Windows XP.

To check which programs are currently running on your computer, right click on your task bar where no icons or tasks are located.
Example: http://www.techbetter.com/ttimage.aspx?image=runningtasks01.gif

On the context menu that appears after you right-click, select 'Task Manager'.
Example: http://www.techbetter.com/ttimage.aspx?image=runningtasks02.gif

The Task Manager window that appears next will show you every program running on your computer. You can sort these programs by name, by CPU utilization and by memory usage by clicking on the corresponding column headers. I usually sort by CPU utilization percentage when I am troubleshooting why a computer is running slow. The higher the percentage the more CPU the program is hogging to itself. Be sure to click the column header twice to sort the column from highest to lowest so that the programs taking the most resources appear at the top of the list.
Example: http://www.techbetter.com/ttimage.aspx?image=runningtasks03.gif

This is useful because often times when your computer is running slow it is because one or more programs are stealing all of your CPU and starving the rest of the programs on your computer. Examples of when this can occur include when an antivirus program is running a full system scan or when an automated backup routine is backing up your files.

Viewing your tasks in Task Manager will show you which programs are hoarding your computer resources, but what if you don't know what the running programs are for or if they are actually necessary? This is where the website ProcessLibrary.com comes in handy. You can enter the file name of the running program on your computer and ProcessLibrary will tell you if the file is safe and what the program is actually used for. In the following example, I looked up the program dwm.exe which is running on my computer. The website tells me that the program was developed by Microsoft and that the program is safe. If the program was spyware or something similar the site would alert me to remove the file.
Example: http://www.techbetter.com/ttimage.aspx?image=runningtasks04.gif

Using this method it is easy to determine which programs are causing your computer to run slow AND if those programs are legitimate or need to be removed.
I hope you find this Tech Tip useful. If you have a questions you would like me to address, please let me know by clicking the "ask me" link below.

Happy Teching,

Ryan Williams

Ask Me A Tech Question
http://www.techbetter.com/question.aspx

View & Subscribe To My Tech Tips
http://blog.techbetter.com

About Me & TechBetter
http://www.techbetter.com/aboutme.aspx

This blog

by Ryan Williams - Ryan is a business technology consultant living in Southern Georgia. He is Partner and Chief Technology Officer at Nexxtep Technology Services, Inc., the largest technology service provider in the South Georgia region.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

38973

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

70132

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

43763

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

80820
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
17595

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

50776

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

74683

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

22515

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

58811

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

31626
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
95154
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
22555

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

47455
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
24420
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
28400

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

91400

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

29834

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

102205

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

54870

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

36129
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
62048

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

87380

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

48488