Analyzing Windows 7 PC Slowdown Problems

Last Updated:   8/30/15  20:24                 Jeffrey Knauth

Here are steps to gather data on and possibly correct some Windows 7 PC slowdown problems you might have. If you cannot solve the problems yourself, the data will be of use to others who try to help you.

"Slow" in What Respect?

What are the circumstances of the slowdown?

  1. During startup/shutdown?
  2. During open/close of programs?
  3. When running any program? Or only for some specific program(s) or operation(s)?
  4. Jerky cursor movement or poor response to keyboard entry?
  5. Generally poor Internet response? Or only for specific web pages or actions?
  6. Unusual Desktop symptoms, e.g., delay when dragging an icon?
  7. Something else?

Sidetrack:  "Windows+Break" and Other Key Combinations

Many Windows-capable PC keyboards have a special Windows key (or two of them), which can be used in combination with other keys. Such a key might have a Windows logo on it, or be labled with "Start", or with something else entirely. Also many keyboards have a key marked with both Break and Pause. Alternatively, some keyboards have two separate keys for Break and Pause. To confuse things further, some have neither Break nor Pause keys.

The Windows+Break key combination (Windows and Break keys pressed together) is mentioned frequently in the steps below. For keyboards having separate Break and Pause keys, the Windows+Break combination may instead be achieved via the Windows+Pause combination. For laptops with neither a Break nor a Pause key, try the Windows+Fn+F12 combination. In the following text, "Windows+Break" means any of the above combinations that causes the System Properties window to be displayed.

Instead of using some form of Windows+Break key combination, the System Properties window can be displayed by Start > right-click Computer > Properties; this assumes you haven't hidden "Computer" in the Start Menu. In any event, right-clicking "Computer" or "My Computer" wherever you find it (in the Start menu, on the Desktop, in a Windows Explorer window, etc.) should display a menu with a Properties entry, which will then lead to the System Properties window.

The Windows+R key combination displays a Run popup, which is also accessible via the Start menu if "Run" has been included there. The Windows+E key combination is just a quick way to display the Computer (Explorer) window.

Checklist To Gather Configuration Information

  1. Antivirus program installed? Run schedule? Currency of updates?
  2. Type of Internet connection? Router/firewall? Browser? E-mail?
  3. Find system properties: Windows edition, system type, processor, memory, etc. [Windows+Break]   (see the Sidetrack section above) or [Start > right-click Computer > Properties]
  4. Use Task Manager to check for a runaway task [Ctrl+Shift+Esc: Applications, Processes (CPU sort), Performance]
  5. Check that there is enough available (free) disk space [Windows+E > right-click C: > Properties]   or [Start > Computer > right-click C: > Properties] also [Windows+R > diskmgmt.msc]   to see all disk configurations
  6. Check event log for errors, e.g., on hard drive [Windows+R > eventvwr.msc > Windows Logs > System]
  7. Review installed programs and ensure all are needed [Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features]
  8. Check Windows updates to see if system is current [Start > All Programs > Windows Update]   (usually) or [Windows+Break > Windows Update]   (lower left)
  9. Check for undesired startup programs via CCleaner or Autoruns (CCleaner is a free download from (Autoruns is a free download from; just google search "autoruns")
  10. Check paging configuration to see if size is appropriate [Windows+Break > Advanced system settings > Advanced >     Performance > Settings > Advanced > Virtual memory > Change]
  11. Check for excessive disk fragmentation [Windows+E > right-click C: > Properties > Tools >     Defragment now > Analyze disk]
  12. Check that System Restore space allocation isn't too large [Windows+Break > System protection > highlight C: > Configure]
  13. Check that Recycle Bin space allocation isn't too large [right-click Recycle Bin > Properties > highlight C:]
  14. Run Resource Monitor to display performance details [Ctrl+Shift+Esc > Performance > Resource Monitor]   or [Start > search for "Resource Monitor" > select it]
  15. Check for possible overuse of visual effects [Windows+Break > Advanced system settings > Advanced >     Performance > Settings > Visual Effects
  16. Run Speccy to display system/hardware information (Speccy is a free download from
  17. Run Personal Software Inspector (PSI) to determine software currency (PSI is a free download from

Possible Fixes for PC Slowdowns

Using information found in the steps above, you may now be able to correct the slowdown by doing some or all of the following.

Of course, always first back up your critical files. Preferably do a full system backup before making major changes to your system.

  1. Just rebooting the PC may solve the problem (you should be so lucky!)
  2. Catch up with installing Windows updates
  3. Uninstall programs you don't really need and update the rest
  4. Disable/delete unneeded automatic startups
  5. Do a virus scan of the whole system
  6. Reduce disk space reserved for Recycle Bin and System Restore
  7. Recover disk space and clean up the Windows registry via CCleaner
  8. For less powerful systems, reduce use of fancy visual effects, e.g., animations
  9. Defragment the hard drive
  10. Run hardware tests, in particular for hard drive and memory
  11. Add memory, often the simplest (and not very expensive) solution
  12. Update device drivers if appropriate (be careful to not overdo this)