How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues


How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues


Optimize your System using SupportAssist

Duration: 00:32
Closed captions: English only


If your Dell laptop is taking longer than expected to respond, boot up, or shut down, you may be experiencing a system performance issue.

Various problems can cause system performance issues, such as:

  • Fragmented data on the hard disk drive
  • Outdated drivers for internal components or external peripherals like docking stations
  • Outdated or corrupt operating system files
  • Disk errors
  • Insufficient memory (RAM)
  • Hardware failure

Follow the steps in the Troubleshooting Steps section to help resolve slow performance issues on your Dell computer. There are also some optional steps and informational videos in the other sections below.

Note: Dell recommends removing any external peripherals (printers, docking stations, etc.) before proceeding with the troubleshooting steps. This can help determine whether the issue is with the computer or the peripheral.

Step 1: Restart your computer regularly

A reboot (restart) can resolve many issues. Restarting your computer is an effective way to clear the system memory (RAM) and shut down any errant processes and services.

Restarting your computer closes all the applications and services running on your computer, including background processes that other programs have started. The more programs that you have open and the longer they run, the more likely your computer will slow down and eventually run out of RAM. Ideally, you should shut down your computer when it is not in use. If you use your computer frequently, Dell recommends restarting it at least once per week.

If restarting the computer does not resolve the issue, proceed to the next step.

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Step 2: Run the automated tools provided in the SupportAssist tool.

  1. Press and hold the Windows (Windows Button) key, and then press the q key.
  2. In the search box type supportassist.
  3. Select SupportAssist (Trusted Microsoft Store app) in the list of results.
    Note: When SupportAssist does not show up in the search results, browse to the SupportAssist for PCs and tablets page for information about downloading and installing SupportAssist.
  4. Touch or click Start Now to run all the tests.
    Note: You can touch or click the down arrow and then run the individual test, but for slow performance issues, we recommend running all the tests.
  5. SupportAssist runs the tests one by one and provides the results.
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Step 3: Run a complete hardware diagnostic test

The diagnostic test in SupportAssist only looks at the hardware issues most likely to cause slow performance issues. A more comprehensive diagnostic tool is available, but it takes more time to complete.

Running a complete hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware-related problems and provide troubleshooting steps to resolve the issues. Dell offers both online and built-in hardware diagnostic tests, such as the enhanced Pre-boot System Assessment (ePSA).

Running Dell Pre-boot System Assessment or enhanced Pre-boot System Assessment (Dell PSA or ePSA)

  1. Restart your Dell computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, press the F12 key to enter One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics, and press Enter key on the keyboard.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
    If the test fails, write down the error code and validation code.
If an error code appears, either:

To learn more about Dell ePSA or PSA, visit the Dell knowledge-base article Resolve Hardware Issues With Built-in and Online Diagnostics (SupportAssist ePSA, ePSA or PSA Error Codes).

Diagnose Hardware Issues on Your Dell Notebook or Desktop using Dell ePSA Diagnostic Test

Duration: 01:34
Closed captions: English only

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Step 4: Scan your computer for malware

Malware (viruses, spyware, trojans, etc.) can cause a computer to stop functioning or perform slowly. These malicious programs can also track your web browsing and display additional advertisements.

If you suspect your computer has been infected, Dell recommends that you scan your computer with an anti-virus or anti-malware program. Windows 10 computers come equipped with Windows Defender, which provides basic protection against malware, but dedicated anti-virus or anti-malware software can thoroughly scan your system and remove malicious programs. Most Dell computers have basic anti-virus software like McAfee preinstalled, but this software may require a subscription. There are many other anti-virus or anti-malware programs (free-to-use and subscription-based) that you may use.

Note: Installing more than one anti-virus or anti-malware program on your computer does not give you better protection. Instead, it only slows down your computer further. Dell recommends installing one anti-virus or anti-malware program and updating it regularly to maintain active protection against malware.

To learn more, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows.

If you do not find any malware on the computer, proceed to the next step.

What is Malware (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

Duration: 02:03
Closed captions: English only

5 Ways to Check for Viruses (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

Duration: 02:33
Closed captions: English only

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Step 5: Restore your Dell computer using Windows System Restore

System Restore is a Microsoft Windows operating system feature that can help fix certain types of crashes and other computer problems. System Restore reverts your computer's state (including system files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and system settings) to a previous point in time. You can create "restore points" manually at any time, but Windows automatically creates them whenever:

  • An application or software is installed.
  • Windows Update installs updates.
  • A device driver is installed.
Note: System Restore does not save old copies of any personal files or data, so it does not delete or replace them during a restoration. System restore is also not an effective way to remove any type of malware on your computer.
Note: You need to be logged in as a user with administrator rights on your computer to run System Restore.

To learn how to restore your Dell computer to a previous restore point, refer to the links below based on your computer's operating system:

If restoring your computer to a previous date does not resolve the issue, proceed to the next step.

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Step 6: Reinstall Microsoft Windows

If your Dell computer is still locking up or running slowly, and the troubleshooting steps above have not resolved the issue, you may need to reinstall the operating system. If you are unable or unwilling to reinstall the operating system, refer to the Optional Steps section to see other potential solutions.

Warning: Reinstalling the operating system results in the loss of all data on the computer. Dell recommends that you first back up all personal data to an external storage device, including but not limited to:
  • Pictures
  • Documents
  • Email messages
  • Contacts
  • Browser bookmarks (favorites)
  • Music
  • Videos

To learn more about reinstalling Microsoft Windows on your Dell computer, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article Factory reset, restore, or reinstall Microsoft Windows on a Dell computer.

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Check and clean the air vents on your Dell computer

If your computer's air vents become clogged with lint and dust, use a can of compressed air to clean them off and restore airflow. Inadequate airflow can cause your system's processor, memory (RAM), and other internal hardware to overheat and potentially fail. Excessive heat can also significantly decrease performance, as most processors automatically reduce their speed to prevent overheating. If you notice the system fan running constantly, this might indicate that your computer's air vents are clogged.

Caution: Turn off your computer and disconnect the power cable or AC adapter before using compressed air to clean your computer. Follow the instructions on the side of the compressed air can, as using compressed air incorrectly can damage your computer.
Caution: Do not try to blow the dust using your mouth. Moisture can cause irreparable damage to electronic or electrical components.
Caution: Do not use vacuum cleaners or blowers. Vacuum cleaners and blowers cause static and may damage electronic or electrical components inside your computer.

How to Clean Computer Fans

Duration: 02:00
Closed captions: English only

  1. Turn off the computer.
  2. Check the air vents on the computer for dust or debris.
    Vents may be located in various places depending on the computer model. Refer to the User Manual of your Dell computer.
  3. Use a can of compressed air to remove dust or debris from the air vents.
Note: To prevent overheating, keep the computer in an upright position and on a hard or sturdy surface, and provide adequate clearance around the air vents.

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Upgrade the computer memory (RAM)

Generally, most computers are capable of memory (RAM) upgrades. Before you consider upgrading the memory (RAM) on your Dell computer, we recommend that you verify how much memory (RAM) is currently installed on your Dell computer and the maximum amount of memory (RAM) that your Dell computer can support. To learn more about system configuration and memory specifications of your Dell computer, refer to the User Manual on the Dell Support website.

Note: Some Dell Ultra-book laptop computers have built-in memory (RAM) and hence cannot be replaced or upgraded.
Note: Before purchasing memory (RAM) modules, verify the type of memory that can be used with your Dell computer, the maximum amount of memory (RAM) and the number of memory modules that your Dell computer can support.

To purchase upgrade components for your Dell computer, visit the Dell website.

To learn more, refer to the Dell knowledge-base article How to Upgrade Memory in Your Computer.

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Upgrade hard disk drive to Solid State Drive (SSD)

Conventional hard disk drives have moving components and hence have lower read or write speeds compared to solid-state drives (SSD). A solid-state drive uses flash memory and can read or write data much faster and uses less power, in turn, extends laptop battery life. Upgrading to a solid-state drive can provide significant improvement in performance.

Things to consider before upgrading the hard disk drive on your Dell computer:

  • Form factor - Hard disk drives come in two form factors: 3.5-inch drive - used on desktop computers and 2.5-inch drive - used on laptop computers.
  • Connector - What type of connector is available on your computer? IDE or S-ATA (Serial ATA) connector (SATA-I, SATA-II, or SATA-III connector).
  • Capacity - What is the maximum hard disk drive capacity that is supported by your computer?
Note: Before purchasing a Solid State Drive (SSD), verify that your Dell computer can support an SSD hard disk drive.

To purchase upgrade components for your Dell computer, visit the Dell website.

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Check to see if one or more same issues occur in Safe Mode

Safe mode prevents non-crucial applications and device drivers from loading, which helps eliminate software as a cause of slow performance.

Note: Display resolution in Safe Mode is automatically set to 800 x 600 and the icons and text appear larger than normal.
The desktop background wallpaper is disabled in Safe Mode. This is normal behavior and does not require troubleshooting.
All the visual settings return to normal when the computer is rebooted into regular mode.
Warning: When you log into Safe Mode (in this case, Safe Mode with Networking), your anti-virus or anti-malware program will be disabled. Please use caution when connected to a network or the Internet while your anti-virus is disabled.

To learn how to boot your computer into Safe Mode, refer to the links below based on the operating system installed on your computer.

If the issue does not exist in Safe Mode, the issue is likely related to a device driver or software. Ensure to update the device drivers and install any software updates that may be available for your computer including Microsoft Windows Updates.

However, if the issue still exists in Safe Mode, proceed to the next step.

How to Perform a Clean Boot to detect Software Problems

Duration: 000:40
Closed captions: English only

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Limit startup programs

Many applications or software that is run in the system tray, or also called notification area. These applications usually launch during startup and stay running in the background but remain hidden. Preventing these applications from launching during startup will not only speed up the login process but also save a lot of memory (RAM) and processing power to improve the performance of your computer.

Warning: It is recommended that you do not disable the anti-virus or anti-malware program or application from loading during startup. Disabling the anti-virus or anti-malware program may make your computer vulnerable to malware infection.
Note: You need to be logged in as a user with administrator rights on your computer to disable startup programs.
How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 10, Windows 8.1 or 8
  1. Close all open windows.
  2. Press CTRL + Shift + ESC key together on the keyboard.
  3. In the Task Manager window, click the Startup tab.
  4. Select the program or application that you want to disable from loading during startup.
  5. Right-click and select Disable.
  6. Repeat Step 4 & 5 for all the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup.
  7. Restart your computer.
How to disable startup programs in Microsoft Windows 7
  1. Close all open windows.
  2. Click the Start button. In the search box, type msconfig, and in the list of results, right-click msconfig and select Run as administrator.
  3. In the System Configuration window, click the Startup tab.
  4. Uncheck the programs or applications that you want to disable from loading during startup and click OK.
  5. In the confirmation window, check Do not show this message again and click Restart.

If disabling startup programs does not resolve the issue, it is most likely that your OS is corrupt and you must reinstall the OS. Refer Step 6 in the Troubleshooting Steps section.

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Informational Videos:

How to Speed Up Your Computer in Windows 10 (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

Duration: 01:12
Closed captions: English only

System Slowing Down? Troubleshoot Slow Performance in Windows 8

Duration: 02:56
Closed captions: English only

How to Fix Slow Internet (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

Duration: 01:12
Closed captions: English only

Troubleshooting Slow Internet and Network Connections

Duration: 01:51
Closed captions: English only

How to Improve Computer Performance (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube

Duration: 04:41
Closed captions: English only

How to Perform System Restore in Windows 10

Duration: 01:22
Closed captions: English only

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Article ID: SLN171944

Last Date Modified: 09/17/2020 03:51 AM

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