General discussion

Help! Windows 10 system slowed down to a crawl over time

I know this has been done to death on the forum. When I searched for “slow computer” or “slow windows”, there were thousands of responses.

I’ve had my Acer Aspire for a couple of years now and have the latest, most up-to-date version of Windows 10 (64-bit). Granted, I use a lot of software, particularly Google Chrome with loads of tabs open, and software like Skype (two instances) and Office 365 and various background processes like Malwarebytes, McAfee Security, f.lux, DropBox, OneDrive, etc. But I have a fast computer configuration: 256GB SSD drive for Windows and all the installed software and my “working data” with an extra 1TB regular hard drive for archiving and backup – and 16GB RAM.

And I have BoostSpeed and CCleaner and have tweaked Windows in various ways to optimize performance, and I tend to close apps I’m not using to reduce the RAM load (but I shouldn’t have thought that would make a difference as they’re probably not running in the background, or at least are sitting in virtual RAM on the SSD, so shouldn’t be a drag on the system).

And yet my computer seems to have become gradually slower and slower with time. It was blindingly fast in the beginning, but now it can take half a minute just to launch File Explorer or the app I could be working (e.g. Excel or Google Chrome) displays “not responsive” for about 20-30 seconds before continuing with its operation.


Surely, it also doesn’t matter that I’ve installed loads of apps? It’s only if I run a lot of them together that they actually have a load on the computer, right?

Or could the delay be that the registry is now so huge that it takes ages to work through the database for any regular operation. I heard that many apps use the registry to store data (rather than a private database of their own). Is this normal? I scan the registry regularly and have followed all the main tweaks suggested in the various discussions, on CNET and elsewhere. And yet my computer is still slow.

The only thing I haven’t tried is to make a clean install. However, this is a huge job. Just re-installing all the apps can take several days, plus I have to reconfigure hundreds of settings in Outlook and the antivirus software, the firewall and other utilities (and reset all the File Explorer library and default view settings and backup protocols), and tweak Windows all over again from scratch, etc. etc.

Are there some useful utilities that can identify what’s really happening under the hood or some software that will really and truly optimize the computer (BoostSpeed and CCleaner don’t seem to make all the much of a difference, and of course as I had an SSD there’s no need for defragmenting either)?

I will be grateful for any ideas or pointers (or even a link to an up-to-date discussion that deals thoroughly with this subject). Many thanks in advance.

--Submitted by Gary O.

Discussion is locked
Reply
Follow
Reply to: Help! Windows 10 system slowed down to a crawl over time
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Help! Windows 10 system slowed down to a crawl over time
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
Comments
- Collapse -
very similar symptoms but....

My Asus laptop has an almost identical problem BUT it's somehow related to the monthly Microsoft updates. It begins to slow down about two weeks after an update and the week prior to the update (2nd Tuesday of the month) it's almost unusable. My workaround is to uninstall the most recent update, reboot and then install the update again and reboot. This "fix" attacks the symptoms but not the cause. By the way, I've always had the updating of other PC's disabled in my settings.

- Collapse -
Where To Begin?

Your question is simple, but the answer might be a little more complicated. I would suggest the least desirable solution from your point of view - a fresh install of Windows 10!
Here's why:
1. You should not have McAfee Security and MalwareBytes both running at the same time, not even in the background. Pick one, probably McAfee, and only run a MalwareBytes scan if you believe malware may have gotten past the protection of McAfee, Chrome browser, etc. (I gave up on McAfee because it hogged memory and cpu power, and I changed to Avast instead. However, McAfee has probably improved since then.)
2. Your 256GB SSD slows down as it fills up. If it's two-thirds full or more it is definitely less responsive than when it's one-third full. If you're contemplating a fresh intall of Windows 10, you might consider replacing the SSD with a larger capacity model at the same time. Recently, SSDs prices have dropped considerably. A very good quality 500GB SSD can be had for $55 - $65. Crucial, WD or Sandisk, Intel, and Samsung all have good reputations for reliability. Alternatively, consider moving some less speed-sensitive programs or apps to the 1TB data drive. This would involve uninstalling the app from the SSD (C: Drive) and installing it instead on the data drive (maybe D: or E: drive?). Maybe Dropbox and Onedrive and others would be candidates for this, thus freeing up some space on the SSD? Otherwise, get a larger capacity SSD.
3. Regarding Boostspeed and CCleaner. They are both good apps, BUT they are best used minimally. Auslogics is a good company, but there's little or no need for the tweaking/tuning that Boostspeed involves. As for CCleaner, definitely run the basic "cleanup" routine now and then, but DON'T run the Registry cleaner. Even though it's one of the most conservative and careful Registry cleaners, you still shouldn't do it except in rare circumstances. I do suggest looking at CCleaner's "Startup" tab, and see how many apps you can Disable when Windows boots up. Mainly, you can disable things you use occasionally, and keep the most frequently used items enabled. Data is NOT stored in the Registry; it only stores instructions for how Windows interacts/uses software & hardware.
4. Consider adding more RAM memory. I suggest this because you told us you're running lots of apps and lots of browser tabs. If your Aspire is a laptop it has two memory "slots". It may have 2 x 8GB modules occupying those slots. If so, you would need to replace them both with a new 2 x 16GB kit (total=32GB). Alternatively, it may have 1 x 16GB module occupying a single slot. If so, you can add a second 16GB module of exactly the same type
. The extra memory will facilitate running lots of apps and browser tabs without slowdown, as will having more space on your SSD.
5. Don't tweak anything to "improve" your SSD. In earlier times (back in Windows 7 days), when SSDs were mostly smaller capacity and there were concerns regarding longevity, there were many suggested tweaks. Forget all that. Windows 10 handles it very well. You don't need to disable Indexing, or move/disable the PageFile, or any other such tweaks (there are several more, also redundant).
Let us know if you have more questions.

- Collapse -
Almost Forgot

The big twice-a-year updates from Windows 10 tend to clutter up your system. That's another reason to consider putting in the effort to do a clean/freah install of Windows 10. Do NOT restore Windows to ow it came when new. That will provoke another huge update and clutter (maybe). Do the totally fresh install of the latest version of Win 10. Then, go to ACER website and download & install any of the actual ACER apps that you have found a use for. (my Aspire laptop has 6 ACER apps, but I've only ever used 2 of them. After 2 years, there's not much you'll need from them ...)

- Collapse -
Excellent Answer, I would like to add..

Missing a bit of info (cpu, connection)

Many of the apps mentioned are interactive, meaning that they are in constant communication. (Dropbox, Skype, OneDrive, etc.). If you are connecting wirelessly, that could be a culprit, throughput and latency. It's possible the monitoring all of these apps can slow you down.

As already mentioned as great as ccleaner is. running it too often can slow you down (ex. clearing the prefetch).

My 2 cents on software culprits.. not a fan of McAfee (fixed too many computers from their AV). Skype can cause issues as well (clean install of it is almost impossible).

Good Luck!

- Collapse -
Skype Works in Outlook.com

At Outlook.com (Microsoft's free webmail which has had several names including Hotmail) look at the right end of the blue Menu bar. The "S" icon is for Skype. It works OK.
There are plenty of other video chat apps, too. We've used Facebook Messenger a few times and it works OK on our PC, laptop, and Android phone.

- Collapse -
consider linux mint 19

A lot of that software bogging the computer down, such as CCleaner, the two AV programs mentioned, gain control over all updates and choose the time for them. Firefox and Chrome work in it. One Drive and Microsoft 365 can be used with it. It's fast too.

- Collapse -
16 gig of ram not much

i have a friend who told me that windows 10 takes a ton of ram - about 20 gigs or so not leaving much for your computer to use for other programs - if possible see if u can install more ram - ck with ms to see how much ram windows 10 uses - the reason i found this out was my granddaughter got her sister a little notebook with 30 gig of ram and she could not even download any programs let alone window updates and he told her window 10 was taking up almost all the ram and she could not download any programs or even do updates

- Collapse -
I would advise the mem command first to check ram usage
- Collapse -
Re: 16 gig of RAM

You're confusing RAM and HDD/SSD space.
16 GB of RAM is enough for 99% of the PC users. Nowadays 8 GB is standard and enough for most. 4 GB still is good for basic users.

32 GB HDD/SSD space isn't enough. The OP has 256 GB and that seems enough for him.

- Collapse -
A Misunderstanding

1. Windows 10 by itself uses approximately 2GB of RAM memory. The more apps/games/internet pages you have open, the more RAM memory you'll be using.
2. The little notebook with "30 gig of ram" is different. The notebook actually has 30GB (gigs, if you prefer) of storage space. Windows 10 takes up about half of that space all by itself. Then, sometime Windows 10 will do a big update, and it will keep/store the old setup just in case you need to undo the update. So, now there's even less free space to install apps and games. You can delete the old backup files. Also, most notebooks have a card reader slot. If you plug in an SDXC card or microSDXC card with "A1" or "A2" (faster) rating then you can install apps and games on that card instead of installing them on the limited built-in storage space. They are not expensive, either:
https://www.newegg.com/sandisk-64gb-microsdxc/p/N82E16820175006

- Collapse -
free space

how much free space is on the drive. if the drive is full, then it will slow down. someone mentioned you cannot have malwarebytes and mcafees installed at the same time. they are wrong. you cannot have two antiviruses installed at the same time. malwarebytes is for malware, not viruses. it is generally used as a companion utility for antivirus utilities.

boot to safemode and see if the computer runs a lot faster. if it does, then you have some program that is causing the problem. if you have any shortcuts on your screen to different online services and external drives, it could also slow you down.

finally see the following for some more help

https://www.intowindows.com/how-to-find-out-programs-slowing-down-windows-10-boot/

https://gizmodo.com/how-to-figure-out-whats-slowing-your-computer-down-1792424394

- Collapse -
Coment about MalwareBytes and McAfee

It has been a long time (back in the 98 2000 days) that I installed the free McAfee from the internet carrier and kept having to reinstall the OS. Found it was McAfee seeing normal things as virus including its self. So to this day I don't trust McAfee.

Running MalwareBytes and Virus same time. I had both MalwareBytes and Norton Security running same time with no problem. Seemed to complement each other. Then came a semi annual W10 update and installed Defender and uninstalled Norton and disabled MalwareBytes.
Cannot uninstall Defender and W10 wont allow two antivirus installed. Even with Defender disabled and when disabled W10 throws a warning every time I open anything that searches the internet.
So. As suggested by others MalwareBytes runs when I want to scan only.
Gary O.
You mentioned lots of tabs opened all the time. If those tabs are programs then each program uses some to a lot of ram. As ram availability decreases the processor then puts processing on the C drive. That takes time to access and store. Making your computer go slower with every function you add.

- Collapse -
A clean install of Windows system files only is possible

without losing your current apps and desktop programs, and their settings, as long as your system is still up and running.

Use the Media Creation Tool ( https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows10 ) to create a USB installation drive then plug it in with the system running, open the drive in File Explorer and run the file setup.exe. You will now be able to select the option to re-install only the system files, leaving everything else intact.

This works because what effectively happens is that the upgrade process that installed the current version of Windows 10 (October 2018 Update/18H2 in this case) is re-run, leaving everything of yours intact, including leaving a windows.old folder of anything left behind in the process.

You may have to redo some system settings afterwards and any system registry values you have edited will revert to default but any new keys you created will remain in place.

Post was last edited on May 18, 2019 4:27 AM PDT

- Collapse -
Windows 10 system slowed down

Mine was slowing as well. This November it will be 10 years old. HP dv7-3085dx
I maxed out my RAM with new cards and next will install a 2TB SSD. But the best thing I did was to finally give PC Matic a try. I wish I had done it sooner. It cleaned all the BS from my laptop and it screams. I do not use any other software for protection.

Hope this helps.

- Collapse -
A couple of things...

Some of the previous suggestions run counter to my experience.

I have not noticed that SSDs slow down as they approach capacity. Mine have operated without any decline in performance when filled as high as 93%.

I have not noticed that SSDs slow down as they approach capacity. Mine have operated without any decline in performance when filled as high as 93%.

I do agree that you should rely on just one anti-malware application. I would stick with McAfee and use Malwarebytes only when you suspect you may have a problem McAfee didn't catch.

From what you describe, the chief symptom you are experiencing is slowness when displaying folder listings using File Explorer. This can often be remedied by turning off indexing.

From what you describe to be the capacity of and the uses to which you put the computer, you should not be putting any strain whatsoever on either your RAM or your processor.

Nor should your slowdown be related to any Microsoft update. But you can get rid of the remnants left by previous upgrades by right-clicking on your C: drive, selecting Properties (this is where you can also turn off indexing, but that is more relevant to your data drive than your C: drive), then clicking on Disk Cleanup. In the Disk Cleanup window, click on "Clean Up System Files."

You might also check out defragmenting your data drive (but NOT your C: drive!).

I have never seen even a badly maintained registry cause any significant slowdown, although I do clean mine with CCleaner on occasion, particularly when I want to get rid of vestiges of apps I have deleted.

I do agree that the only guaranteed cure here is a clean reinstallation of Windows 10. If you copy off to other media your Users/[user]/appdata folder, you should be able to restore your application settings, bookmarks/favorites and email records after you reinstall the applications.

I might suggest running something like Spybot Search and Destroy to scan for any adware -- that stuff can really slow you down. I would also suggest running sfc /scannow to see if your O/S has in any way become corrupted.

- Collapse -
Windows 10

True

CNET Forums