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How to Troubleshoot Slow Performance Issues

Summary: Is your computer running slow? This article provides information about how to troubleshoot and resolve slow performance issues with your Dell computer.

This article may have been automatically translated. If you have any feedback regarding its quality, please let us know using the form at the bottom of this page.

Article Content


Your Dell computer may be experiencing a performance issue if you notice one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Computer running slow and takes a long time to boot into the operating system or stops responding.
  • Applications take a long time to load or respond.
  • Computer responds slowly or stops responding during user activity such as clicking and typing.
  • My computer is running slow and takes a long time to respond or stops responding during shutdown or restart.
  • Browsers and other applications stop responding or stops responding frequently.

Try these quick steps to resolve system performance issues on a Dell computer .

Optimize your System using SupportAssist.

Duration: 00:32
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.


Performance issues in computers can be caused due to:

  • Fragmented data on the hard disk drive.
  • Unused applications running in the background.
  • Outdated drivers for devices such as chipset, BIOS, docking stations, and so on.
  • Outdated or corrupt operating system files.
  • Current computer configuration does not meet the requirements for high-end applications or games.
  • Hard disk errors.
  • Insufficient system memory (RAM).
  • Hardware failure.
  • Malware infection.


Follow the steps mentioned below to help resolve slow performance issues on your Dell computer. Also, find more information in the optional steps and informational videos section of this article.

NOTE: Dell Technologies recommends disconnecting devices such as printers, docking stations, and so on, before proceeding with the troubleshooting steps. This can help determine if the issue is with the computer or the device.

The SupportAssist application optimizes your computer (including updating outdated drivers) to help resolve performance issues.

  1. Press and hold the Windows key (Windows Button), and then press the q key.
  2. In the search box type SupportAssist.
  3. Select SupportAssist (App) in the list of results.
    NOTE: When SupportAssist does not show up in the search results, go to the SupportAssist for PCs and tablets page for information about downloading and installing SupportAssist.
  4. Touch or click Start Now to run the tests.
    NOTE: You can touch or click the down arrow and then run the individual test. Dell Technologies recommends running a full computer test.
  5. SupportAssist runs the tests one by one and provides the results and suggested actions.

Restart your computer if you have not done so lately.

A reboot or restart can resolve many issues. Restarting your computer is an effective way to clear the computer 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 slows 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 Technologies recommends restarting the computer at least once per week.

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

Running a hardware diagnostic test can help you identify hardware-related problems and provide you with 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. Dell offers both integrated and online diagnostics.

Running hardware diagnostic test using Dell SupportAssist

If the computer can boot into Windows and has an active Internet connection, run a quick test on the Dell computer using Dell SupportAssist.

Running Dell SupportAssist Preboot System Assessment or enhanced Preboot System Assessment (Dell PSA or ePSA)
  1. Restart the computer.
  2. When the Dell logo appears, press the F12 key to enter the One-time Boot Menu.
  3. Use the arrow keys to select Diagnostics and press the Enter key.
  4. Follow the on-screen prompts and respond appropriately to complete the diagnostics.
    1. If the test passes, go to the next step.
    2. If the test fails, ensure to write down the error code and validation code, and contact Dell Technical Support.

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

Duration: 01:34
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

Malware (viruses, spyware, trojans, and so on) can cause the computer to stop working or perform slowly. Malware can monitor users web browsing, display unsolicited advertisements and click baits. Malware can be used against users to gain access to personal data such as identification numbers or details, bank or credit card numbers, passwords, datafile, and so on.

If you suspect that your computer has been infected, Dell Technologies recommends that you run a thorough or deep scan on your computer using 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 computer and remove malicious programs. Most Dell computers are preinstalled with a basic anti-virus software such as McAfee that requires a subscription from the software manufacturer. 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 may slow down your computer further. Dell Technologies recommends installing one anti-virus or anti-malware program and updating it regularly to maintain active protection against malware.

Learn how to Protect Your Computer or Remove Malware in Microsoft Windows.

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

Optimizing your system using SupportAssist for Home PCs

Duration: 01:50
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

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 computer files, installed applications, Windows Registry, and computer 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 must be logged in as a user with administrator rights on your computer to run System Restore.

Learn How to Use System Restore in Microsoft Windows.

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

If your Dell computer continues to lock up, stop responding, or run slowly, and the troubleshooting steps above did not resolve the issue, consider reinstalling the operating system. If you do not want to reinstall the operating system, see the Optional Steps section to see other potential solutions.

WARNING: Reinstalling the operating system results in the permanent loss of all data on the computer. Dell Technologies recommends that you back up all personal data to an external storage device, including but not limited to images, documents, email messages, contacts, browser bookmarks (favorites), music, videos, and so on.

Learn how to Restore your Computer Using SupportAssist OS Recovery.

Additional Information

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 computer'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 computer 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: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

  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. See 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 installed on your Dell computer and the maximum amount of memory (RAM) that your Dell computer can support. To learn more about computer configuration and memory specifications of your Dell computer, see the User Manual on the Dell Support website.

NOTE: Some Dell Ultrabook laptops have integrated 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, go to the Dell website.

To learn more, see 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 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 laptops.
  • 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, go to the Dell website.

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

Safe mode prevents noncrucial 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 in to 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, see the links below based on the operating system that is 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, go to the next step.

How to Perform a Clean Boot to detect Software Problems

Duration: 0:40
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

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Limit startup programs

Many applications or software that is run in the computer 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 must 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. Clear 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 operating system is corrupt and you must reinstall the operating system. See the Restore the computer to factory defaults section in the Troubleshooting Steps.

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Informational videos

Troubleshooting Slow Internet and Network Connections

Duration: 01:51
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

How to Perform System Restore in Windows 10

Duration: 01:22
Closed captions: Available in multiple languages. Click the Closed Caption icon and select the language that you want.

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Out of Warranty support Out of warranty? No problem. Browse to the website and enter your Dell Service Tag and view our offers.

NOTE: Offers are only available for US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, China, and Japan personal computer customers. Server and Storage not applicable.

Article Properties

Affected Product

Alienware, Inspiron, Legacy Desktop Models, OptiPlex, Vostro, XPS, G Series, G Series, Alienware, Inspiron, Latitude, Vostro, XPS, Legacy Laptop Models, Fixed Workstations, Mobile Workstations

Last Published Date

01 Feb 2024



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