Tech 101: My Computer is Running Slow - as part of the expert series by GeoBeats. Common reasons why a computer runs slow: The most common reason why a computer runs slow is too many start up items. In other words, programs in addition to Windows that turn on when you turn on your computer, and there are a number of ways to determine what is running and to turn them off. The best indicator of how many programs are running in your system is looking on your task bar, which is in the lower right hand corner of the computer next to the time. Each icon on the task bar signifies something that is running in the system. Now many of these need to run, like your network connection and your sound, but many of them do not. Opening any program and looking for a way to turn off those start up items can be a little complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it is not too bad. Look for these words: tools, settings and options. Once you find any of those words you will come to a list of commands that will allow you to turn off this program in the start up and, generally, what you will see is a check box that says 'automatically start when Windows starts' or 'turn on when I turn on my computer'. By unchecking that box you have turned off the command to start that program. Also, in your program files is a folder called 'start up'. If you click on the start up folder it will give you a list of the programs in the system that are also starting. You can right click on the icon of the program in the start up file and delete that icon from the start up file. It will not delete the program from your system, it will simply delete the command to start when you turn your computer on. Most programs do not need to run in the background. Other things which will cause your computer to run slow are not having your Windows' updates in place, not having updates for other third party software like Adobe Reader or Java done and in place. And probably the second or third most common reason for a computer to run slow is a lack of what is called RAM memory. Now RAM memory is not where you store your pictures or your music, that is your physical memory. RAM memory is the virtual space where everything happens while the computer is on. And I tell folks to think of it kind of like a stage where everything happens. You are looking at your monitor and everything you see is in front of the curtain and all the other processes it takes to run Windows are behind the curtain. If you think of the stage as your RAM memory and you have a low RAM memory in your computer then that stage is very small and everybody is squeezed in and you are literally pushing one guy off the stage to allow someone else to come on. Generally most computers come with low RAM memory, it is a sales technique and it is very inexpensive and easy to upgrade a computer and add more RAM memory to increase performance. So we have start up programs, we have updates that have not been done and are sort of lingering in the background and we have low RAM memory. If you have more than one user on your computer, in other words, when you turn it on you have a number of people's names and you have to choose your name to get in to your information. If other people are still logged on to that computer that will slow you down. So if you leave your computer on and your son, or sister, is using the computer, you are going to want to log off of their user not just switch users. By logging off it closes their user down and it gives you all of the resources of the computer. If you only switch users you have left their user active and it is eating resources of the machine.