How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues

How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues

When asking yourself why is my dell laptop so slow, why has it stopped responding, why does it take longer than expected to respond, or slow to boot up or shut down, you may be experiencing a system performance issue.

Whether your computer has gradually become slower or suddenly stopped working, there could be a variety of reasons for performance-related problems. Slow performance and other problems can be a result of fragmented data on the hard disk drive, external peripherals like docking stations, outdated device drivers, outdated or corrupt operating system files, disk errors, not enough memory (RAM), hardware failure, etc.

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: It is recommended to remove any external peripherals like printers, docking stations, etc., before proceeding with the troubleshooting steps. This can help isolate if 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 ensure that any errant processes and services that have started are shut down.

Restarting your computer closes all the applications or software running on your computer, applications running on the taskbar and dozens of other services that may be running in the background which were started by various applications. The more things you have open and the longer you keep them running, the greater the chances your computer will slow down and eventually run out of memory (RAM). Ideally, it is a good practice to shut down the computer when not in use. However, most times it is recommended that you restart your computer at least once a week when you use your computer a lot.

When 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 on how to download and install 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. The test is run one by one and the results are given.
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Step 3: Run a complete hardware diagnostic test

The diagnostic test is done in the SupportAssist tool only looks at the hardware issues most likely to cause slow performance issue. A more comprehensive diagnostic tool is available but does take more time to complete.

Running a complete hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware related problems and provide you troubleshooting steps to help resolve the issue. To determine if your Dell computer is experiencing a hardware problem, it is recommended that you first run a hardware diagnostic test on your computer. Dell offers both built-in and online diagnostics. Dell ePSA hardware diagnostic test will help check if the hardware devices are working correctly.

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, ensure to write down the error code and validation code.
When an error code appears, either:

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

If the built-in diagnostics and other troubleshooting steps have not identified the cause of slow performance, we recommend that you consider running the Dell online diagnostics. Dell's online diagnostic test helps you troubleshoot a problem, get automated fixes and order replacement parts. Online diagnostics installs Dell SupportAssist to help you diagnose and troubleshoot your Dell computer.

Running an Online Diagnostics on a Dell computer
  1. Browse to the Dell Support website.
  2. Touch or click Detect PC, or enter the Service Tag, and then touch or click the Search icon.
  3. Touch or click Full Test
  • Dell SupportAssist is required to identify your Dell device and run a diagnostic check. Follow the on-screen instructions to download and install Dell SupportAssist.
  • Some diagnostic tests may display graphical patterns to test the video or display and some status dialog boxes that may require your response. The diagnostic test results may show incorrectly if there is no response provided when required.

Diagnose Hardware Issues on Your Dell Notebook or Desktop using Dell ePSA Diagnostic Test - (1:34)

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Step 4: Scan your computer for malware

Malware (virus, spyware, trojans, etc.,) can cause a computer to lock up, perform slowly, etc. Spyware and other types of malware are a big cause of many computer problems including a slow computer. If you suspect your computer has been infected, there is a chance that malicious software may be running in the background and slowing down your computer. This could be software that interferes with your web browsing to track and add additional advertisements.

It is recommended that you scan your computer with an anti-virus or anti-malware program. Windows 10 computers come built-in with Windows Defender which provides basic protection against malware. Most Dell computers also come with basic anti-virus software pre-installed like McAfee but may require a subscription. There are many other anti-virus or anti-malware programs (free to use and subscription-based) that you may use like McAfee, Norton, Kaspersky, Trend Micro, etc., use the one installed on your computer to run a thorough or deep scan.

Note: Installing more than one anti-virus or anti-malware software on your computer does not give you better protection, instead it will only slow down your computer further. It is recommended to install one anti-virus or anti-malware software and update it regularly for active protection against malware.

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

If there is no malware found on the computer, proceed to the next step.

What is Malware (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:03) English Only

5 Ways to Check for Viruses (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:33) 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 can help you revert your computer's state (including system files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and system settings) to that of a previous point in time, which can be used to recover from computer malfunctions or other problems.

Microsoft Windows automatically creates a "restore point" every time an application or software is installed, when Windows Update installs latest updates when a device driver is installed or you can manually create a "restore point".

Note: System Restore does not save old copies of any personal files, hence it will not delete or replace any personal files or personal data when you perform a restoration. System restore is also not an effective solution to remove virus, spyware or any type of malware on your computer.
Note: You need to be logged as a user with administrator rights on your computer to run Windows System Restore.

To learn how to restore your Dell computer to a previous point in time using Windows System Restore, refer to the links below based on the operating system installed on your computer.

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, there may be an underlying issue with the operating system and may need to be reinstalled to resolve the issue. When you are unable or unwilling to reinstall the Operating System refer to the Optional Steps section, for more options that may or may not help.

Warning: Reinstalling the operating system will result in the loss of all data on the computer. Dell recommends that you back up all personal data including but not limited to pictures, spreadsheets, word documents, emails, contacts, browser bookmarks (favorites), music, videos, etc. to an external storage device before reinstalling the operating system.

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

Blocked air vents can cause serious performance issues by restricting airflow, this can cause the processor, memory (RAM) and other hardware to overheat which may lead to a potential hardware failure. Excessive heat can also cause a significant decrease in performance as most processors automatically reduce the speed of the processor to help compensate for heat-related problems. If you notice the system fan running constantly, this might indicate your computer is not running as efficiently as possible, and/or clogged air vents.

It is important to keep dust from accumulating in your computer and ensure adequate ventilation to help reduce heat. Lint and dust accumulation prevents air from flowing around the cooling fins and causes the fan to work harder.

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, 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.

How to Clean Computer Fans - (2:01)

  • Turn off the computer.
  • Check the air vents on the computer for dust or debris.
    Vents maybe located in various places depending on the computer model. Refer to the User Manual of your Dell computer.
  • Use a can of compressed air to remove dust or debris from the air vents.
    Caution: It is recommended to use a can of compressed air only. Do not use vacuum cleaners or blowers. Vacuum cleaners and blowers cause static and may damage electronic or electrical components inside your computer.
  • To prevent overheating problems, keep the computer in an upright position and on a hard or sturdy surface, and provide enough clearance around the air vents.
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Upgrade the computer memory (RAM)

Generally, most computers are capable of memory (RAM) upgrades and can accept large amounts of memory than what may be installed on the computer. 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 what is 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 the same issue(s) 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 will 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.

Perform a Clean Boot to detect Software Problems - (00:40)

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Limit startup programs

Many applications or software 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 Don't 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 will need to 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 - (1:12) English Only

System Slowing Down? Troubleshoot Slow Performance in Windows 8 - (2:56)

How to Fix Slow Internet (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (1:12) English Only

Troubleshooting Slow Internet and Network Connections - (1:51)

How to Improve Computer Performance (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (2:55) English Only

Fix Windows 10 Performance (Official Dell Tech Support) on YouTube - (1:22) English Only

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Article ID: SLN171944

Last Date Modified: 10/31/2019 07:00 AM

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