An explanation of why your Dell PC is running slower over time and how to speed it up

An explanation of why your Dell PC is running slower over time and how to speed it up



The following article provides information on why Dell PCs may slow down over time and how you can fix this on your PC.


Table of Contents:

  1. PC Performance Issues
  2. Software
  3. Links to Install guides
  4. Memory

1. PC Performance Issues

Software and Memory

This article covers reasons why your system might have slowed down and things you can do to resolve this.

If you are having system hangs, freezes, slowdowns or other performance issues please go through the guide below first before returning to this page.

Note: This article is based on you having run through the Built in diagnostics and the troubleshooting guide and having found no issues.

Every computer will work harder for the same results as the years pass. Commonly this happens a few years after the purchase of PC, but there are cases when the system slows after its only been used for a few months.

Why does this happen?

There are several causes. Each person who uses a computer will use it for different tasks, so it usually comes down to how the machine is being used over time.

Note: Microsoft recommend an OS reinstall before ever "Major" system change. A "Major" system change, can be anything from installing a new program to make a configuration change. This is not practical for the majority of users.


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2. Software

Issues and Causes

The most common reason for you to notice a deterioration in performance, is that when you first get a PC it has had a clean image/Operating System (OS) installed along with your programs from the factory and that image has been tested as working fine. Over time that image is changed by whoever uses the PC. The more often it is changed, usually the quicker you will start to see issues.

All users will download and install new programs, applications, updates and drivers over time. They will also uninstall programs and applications they feel they no longer require. The new files alter and change the old files, sometimes for the worse. The uninstalls never remove themselves fully, 100% of the time and will often leave parts of themselves behind. The OS has to navigate these changes and dead ends in order to complete the jobs you set it.

Some of these changes are optional and some are mandatory for the operating system. The point is, over time the software and files will change and this will more often than not have a detrimental effect on performance.

Over time you will gather more and more information, programs and data on your system. The larger the hard drive (HDD) is and the larger the amount of data you have on it, will also adversely affect its performance. Files on your HDD are saved as small parts of the whole file and they are usually saved wherever there is space available on your HDD. This means every time it searches for files, it has to search the whole of your drive and recombine them. Obviously the more it has to search through and the more parts there are to locate, the slower it will be. This is why all PC manufacturers recommend you follow basic system maintenance like running Defrag on your HDD. It reorders the files on your drive to locate as many parts of a file as possible, and move them as close together as possible.

If you want to look into this further look up the terms Defragment and Contiguous.

Another issue with HDD's over time is that the more data your HDD holds the less space is available for what the system calls your Paging File. This is space that your system takes from the HDD to create virtual memory space to help your system memory (RAM) operate. It allows the RAM to switch between programs more quickly, by being able to cache and pickup memory from the RAM onto the drive and then back to the RAM when needed. The way to avoid this is to make sure your HDD is never completely full and that you backup unneeded data off of your HDD whenever possible.

Note: If you have a spinning hard drive, once they get older they will start to slow down as they reach the end of life. All spinning hard drives will die eventually. While it could be tomorrow, its much more likely to happen 10 years from now. It’s just the nature of their design as a mechanical part.

Another possible fix is to add a Solid State (SSD) hard drive into your PC as your Boot drive. The Hard drive that your operating system boots and runs from. They have significantly quicker read times and are not intended for the storage of large amounts of data.

Note: Defrag is not recommended on older SSD's as they had a tendency to cause read errors.

There are special programs that identify applications that take up space on your computers hard drive. There are programs that check for any processes or programs that are taking up your systems resources. There are also special programs that check for dead/orphan files and for unneeded entries in your Registry. These programs can be useful. Unfortunately they are also well known for being spyware and for causing issues themselves, if you let them delete files without understanding what those files do. This can seriously affect your system stability and can cause boot issues.

Another software issue is corruption of the data that your HDD holds. If the corruption is bad enough it will affect how your system operates. Corruption can be caused by a host of things but it’s mostly bugs in the operating system from updates, corrupted RAM data, static electricity, power surges and for the normal operating system decomposition with age that all Windows users report.

We also can’t ignore that fact that for most PC users, malware and viruses will all too often contribute to a computer slowing down. Our systems come with antivirus installed, but it's up to you if you to configure and use it or another to get another program to use in its place. It's up to you how often your scan your system and how you behave when you're online.

The good news is that all of these software issues will be resolved by a clean install of your operating system and programs and drivers.


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3. Links to install guides

You can find various guides for the various types of Microsoft Windows Operating System installs on the Link page below:


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4. Memory

Issues and Causes

The most common sign of your system having memory issues is for the OS to report multiple memory errors. Such as memory overflow and not enough memory. Not having sufficient RAM in your system causes your HDD to try to compensate for it. The computer will constantly seek more RAM, taking away resources from other tasks. If you are constantly getting memory errors and yet the memory is passing all the diagnostics, then you may be looking at having to add memory to the system. As the operating systems develop and as programs become more and more resource hungry, I'm afraid the same amount of RAM as worked fine in Windows XP, would simply not be much use in Windows 7 if it was put under any kind of stress.

Note: When PC's shipped with Windows XP, 2GB of RAM was considered the optimum amount of memory to have installed. This increased with each operating system from Windows 7 through 8, until most systems that currently ship with Windows 10 go out with between 4GB and 8GB as standard.
Note: Adding memory is usually the most cost effective way to get a longer operating life out of an older PC. Please be aware that a 32 bit OS will only be able to have a maximum of 4GB, while a 64 bit OS can have up to 16GB.
Note: Please be aware as of 08 April 2014, Microsoft has stopped supporting Microsoft Windows XP in all it's revisions.


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Quick Tips content is self-published by the Dell Support Professionals who resolve issues daily. In order to achieve a speedy publication, Quick Tips may represent only partial solutions or work-arounds that are still in development or pending further proof of successfully resolving an issue. As such Quick Tips have not been reviewed, validated or approved by Dell and should be used with appropriate caution. Dell shall not be liable for any loss, including but not limited to loss of data, loss of profit or loss of revenue, which customers may incur by following any procedure or advice set out in the Quick Tips.

Article ID: SLN265847

Last Date Modified: 10/23/2017 06:29 AM


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