Computers slow down for any number of reasons, but most of those boil down to one thing – us using them. As you download programs, install extensions, surf the web, create files, and fill your hard drive with movies and music, inevitably, you’ll build up virtual detritus that will impact your PC’s performance. So, if you’ve been asking yourself, “Why is my computer so slow?” these are the most common reasons your computer is slowing down – and the simple measures you can take to get it running faster.

1. You have too many startup programs

Newly downloaded programs often try to weasel their way into your Startup menu (Windows) or Login Items (Mac). If you didn’t uncheck the box for that permission, you could have dozens of unnecessary programs vying to be ready and running as soon as your computer boots up (as if that’s happening any time soon).

“The most common cause of a slow computer is too many startup programs,” says Aaron Schoeffler, former COO of LaptopMD. “90 percent of programs want that permission to start when your computer starts so that you’ll use them. When it finally does start, a ton of programs are already running in the background, and if you’re not using a newer computer, that can slow it down.”

While some programs—such as antivirus and firewall software—should be allowed to run from startup, others—such as Microsoft Office—could quite easily stay closed until you actually need to access a file from their digital depths.

Fix it

Windows 11: Start > Settings > Apps > Startup. Toggle off programs you don’t need to launch at startup.

Windows 10: Press the Windows key + X > Task Manager > Startup tab, then right-click on the programs you want to remove and select “Disable.”

2. Your browser has too many add-ons

Browser extensions can usefully enhance your web experience like a price tracker or a unit converter I use. However, they might also be a culprit in slowing down your computer by eating up processing power. Nor are all extensions created equal – some add-ons may proclaim themselves popup blockers or search protectors, but they may be browser adware that can slow your computer down by downloading ads and popping up ads every time you open your browser.

Fix it

Turn off or remove the extensions you don’t really need.

Chrome: Open the Menu > Extensions > Manage Extensions. You can choose to uninstall or toggle off each extension.

Safari: Open Safari and then select Safari > Settings (or Preferences) > Extensions. There, you can uninstall any extensions you’re not using.

Edge:& Go to Menu > Extensions > Manage Extensions. You can choose to remove or toggle off each extension.

Firefox: Click on the Extensions button (puzzle piece) on the far right. For each, you can choose to uninstall or toggle it off.

3. You’re running too many programs at once

Doing a trillion things at once is exactly why we have computers, but at some point, your little bundle of artificial intelligence is going to falter. Your computer’s ability to run multiple programs at the same time hinges in part on its RAM (random access memory), which allows it to switch from processing one program to another with seeming fluidity. However, if the demands of the open programs are outstripping your computer’s memory and processing power, you’ll notice a slowdown.

Fix it

Find out which programs are open and sucking up processing power. You can see what’s running and the resources programs that are used in Task Manager on Windows PCs and Activity Monitor on Macs. Close the programs you don’t need open.

Windows 10 and 11: Open Task Manager by pressing Ctrl + Alt + Del.

Mac: Open Finder > Utilities > Activity Monitor

4. Too many browser tabs are open

If you’re in the dozens of open tabs camp (“All the better to never lose a link,” you claim), your browser is likely hogging far more than its fair share of RAM. “When you open a new browser tab, it’s saved in RAM. If you have only a little bit of RAM left free, you run out of room for processing everything that is active, so the computer slows down,” Schoeffler says.

Multiple open browsers can slow down the works, too, and you get extra slow points if any tabs are also auto-refreshing (say, a live blog). What’s more, having a glut of browser tabs full of supposedly crucial information doesn’t exactly help your efficiency or mindfulness.

Fix it

The easiest way to keep track of a tab is to bookmark it for later. You can create a folder for different types of bookmarks – “To Read,” “Interesting Recipes,” etc. Even better, One-Tab for Chrome, Edge, or Firefox does the work for you, compiling all your open tabs into a simple list on a single tab, which can then be accessed as needed. Depending on your browser, you can save tabs into groups that you can access later. If you’re working on a project, I highly recommend using this feature.

Chrome: To create a tab group, right-click on a tab and select “Add to new tab group.” You can then name the group and select a color. That will save your tabs for as long as the browser is open. You can also choose to toggle on “Save Group.” This will save all tabs in the group in a folder on your bookmarks bar, and it will remain there until you delete it.

Edge: To create a tab group, right-click on a tab and select “Add to new tab group.” You can then name the group and select a color. That will save your tabs for as long as the browser is open. If you want to save a group of tabs for later, I’d recommend using Edge’s Collections feature. Click on the Collections icon (two squares with a plus) and select “Create new collection.” Your new collection will open in a side panel of the browser. For any tab you want to save for later, you click on the “Add current page” link, and the tab will be added to the collection. Collections are saved until you delete them.

Safari: In Safari, go to File > New Empty Tab Group or New Tab Group with This Tab and then name the tab group. As you add tabs while browsing, they save automatically to the group unless you close the tab. When you want to open your group again, open the sidebar, and all tabs in the group will open.

We hope these tips have been helpful in your business. Please let us know if you have any questions about your IT environment or how to secure it from outside cyber threats. We are here for you! Contact us at (732) 780-8615 or email at [email protected].

Natasha Stokes, Excerpt from “14 Reasons Why Your Computer is Slow“,, April 9th, 2024