Is a slow computer cramping your WFH style? Try these fixes before you freak out

Kristine Solomon
·6-min read

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Slow computer? Try these work from home fixes. (Photo: Getty)
Slow computer? Try these work from home fixes. (Photo: Getty)

For many of us, it feels like a blessing to be employed during the pandemic — but it can also feel like a curse when your computer freezes in the middle of a Zoom call for the umpteenth time, takes an eternity to connect to your VPN or, worst of all, presents you with the spinning rainbow wheel of doom when you’re simply trying to load a web page.

Simply put, a slow computer has a maddening way of cramping your work-from-home style. And without an efficient on-site IT team like you had at the office, you’re probably pulling out your hair by now. In a recent survey, poor internet bandwidth was a major concern for 49 percent of remote workers. Another 51 percent experienced what they call “IT pains” after switching to a work-from-home setup. Technically speaking, we weren’t prepared for this.

So the question becomes, how do you ease those slow-computers woes, especially if you have other family members sharing the network? Aside from putting your own personal IT specialist on speed dial, you can try one (or all) of these strategies for increasing your PC’s speed — and your professional productivity.

Install System Mechanic in your computer

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free. (Photo: iolo)
Try System Mechanic for 30 days free. (Photo: iolo)

First thing’s first: make sure your computer is boosted by an industry-leading software that’s designed to speed up its performance. System Mechanic is one of the best packages on the market for tuning up your PC.

For just $4.99 a month, System Mechanic will keep a constant eye on everything going on inside your computer, and keep it running smoothly 24/7. Try a 30-day free trial period. One subscription protects all the computers in your household

System Mechanic is a software package that improves PC performance by identifying and troubleshooting the root causes of your computer troubles—up to 30,000 of them, actually. The award-winning software clears out the junk from your computer, fixes shaky WiFi connections, and frees up storage space to speed up your computer.

System Mechanic will scan your computer in real time and clear out cookies on a regular basis. Of course, not all cookies are bad—some are designed to keep your shopping cart up to date or remember passwords for frequently visited sites, for instance—so System Mechanic will also let you allow any cookies you don’t want it to touch.

Try System Mechanic for 30 days free; then just $4.99 per month.

1. Close all those extra tabs in your browser

There are two types of people in the world: those who close tabs in their browser while they’re working, and those who do not. If you’re in the latter category, it should come as no surprise that your computer is sluggish. And if you use more than one browser at a time, well, it’s time to clean up your act!

Each tab you open takes up precious memory and processing power. Over time it can take a toll of the performance of your PC...even if you feel each of those tabs is totally necessary. The best way to kick this habit is with sheer discipline.

But if you absolutely must be a tab-aholic, trying using a tool called BarTab Lite X in Firefox or Great Suspender in Chrome, which keeps tabs visible but unloads the ones you aren’t using for active memory.

2. Uninstall programs you aren’t using regularly

How many programs on your PC do you never use? (Photo: Getty)
How many programs on your PC do you never use? (Photo: Getty)

“A lot of applications will install other software on your computer that can take up resources. If you haven't used it in over a year, you probably don't need it and you can always re-install it as necessary,” says cybersecurity expert Adam Levin, founder of Cyberscout.

“This goes double for removing Startup programs - if you have too many applications all starting up each time you boot up a computer it can add a lot of time between the time you turn on the power and when you're actually able to use it.”

Trial versions of software that came already installed in your computer, out-of-date anti-virus programs and old computer games that you never play fall under the category of apps that no longer have a right to call your computer home — especially if they’re dragging it down.

3. Uninstall unnecessary web browser add-ons

Web browser add-ons you’re not using “can add to the overall bloat on a web browser and slow that down, which can give the impression that the entire computer is running slowly,” says Levin. “Many are also just spyware in disguise. Keeping your computer in tip-top shape not only enhances your online experience, it can help make attacks from malware, viruses and spammers more obvious.”

Memory-sucking browser extensions can usually be viewed in list form — you may not even be aware that they are installed on your computer. In some browsers you can even view them in a list to see how much memory is being used and make wiser decisions when it comes to deleting.

Remember that computers have a habit of collecting lots of programs you never actually use. Before you rule out a bigger problem like viruses or spyware, try cleaning house.

4. Uninstall excess startup programs

Startup programs System Mechanic
How many startup programs do you have? One, or a whole slew? (Photo: Getty)

It’s in a program’s best interest to position itself as a startup program after you download it — it’s like forcing your its to the front of the line. Some programs default to startup unless you opt out. It can tack on an extra boot time of up to 10 minutes — and how frustrating is that when you have a Zoom first thing in the morning?

When you have multiple startups running in the background, your PC’s attention is divided, and it can’t devote all its power to just one thing. That diffusion of memory can make your computer frustratingly slow to operate.

Take inventory and decide which you really need to automatically start up every time you power up.

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