Computers are indispensable, but as soon as they slow down and problems arise, computers become a confusion-ridden technological beast.

The doom-signaling hourglass or pinwheel may not be so intimidating for computer-savvy individuals, but the majority of computer owners don’t understand them. PCs and Macs alike can slow down after a few years of use, and knowing what steps to take in that situation can save money on repairs and diagnostics. When troubleshooting a slow computer, there are a number of possible issues you can eliminate by going through a few steps.

    Reboot: It’s the simplest solution and often effective. If a computer is frozen or operating at a glacial pace, close all programs and reboot it before doing anything else. This can clear up minor issues and glitches.

    Check hard disk drive space: This is especially pertinent if you download a lot of files or images slowing down your Mac or PC. Verify that you have at least 200-500 megabytes of space left on your hard disk drive. To free up space, users can perform a disk-cleanup, or they can uninstall old programs and games.

    Scan for malware and viruses: Even if your computer has anti-virus software or an anti-virus scanner, experts recommend running additional malware scans. Viruses can disable functions and programs, not to mention slow down your computer’s processing capacity.

    Overheating processor: Today’s high-powered processors produce a lot of heat. If your fan or cooling system isn’t working properly, your computer will start to slow down and malfunction. Check to see if dust is clogging the fan or if the motor has simply stopped working. If pieces of the fan are loose, the computer should emit a buzzing or jiggling noise.

    Actively update: As inconvenient as it can be, running updates on your computer regularly is a huge piece of computer maintenance. This includes running updates on Windows, browser plug-ins and drivers. Programs and software will slow down rapidly, take forever to load and freeze often if they aren’t updated.

    Call an expert: Sometimes users must call the professionals. One reliable company is Geeks on Call, which offers on-site and remote computer assistance from certified, trained and tested experts.

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