HP Laptop Running Slow? Here Are 5 Common Reasons (& Fixes To Speed It Up)

Mother and daughter sitting couch with laptop computer

HP creates some excellent laptops, but not all of them are solid and speedy.

Let's be honest: how many times have you complained about your HP laptop running slow? It doesn't matter whether you're on latest Windows 10, or the older Windows 7.

You know, like any other technology device, an HP laptop will start to slow down over time. It's just like the law of nature. But if the performance issue happens too soon or too frequently, it's probably not okay. A slow computer decreases productivity, it's also bad for our health (see this infographic).

There are a number of reasons that could be responsible for the issue, from software problems to old hardware. However, many "culprits" are very easy to fix while others may need a bit work. Here we've found five possible causes, matched with five simple fix solutions.

Note: this guide works for all types of HP Pavilion laptops, Mini networks, desktop PCs, as long as they run under a Microsoft Windows OS, such as Windows 10/8.1/7/Vista/XP.​

1. Viruses and Malware

laptop computer infected virus malware

While viruses are most known for crashing computers and stealing your data, they could also run wild in the background -- taking up valuable CPU and memory thus slow down your PC. Other times, these malicious programs aren't necessarily out to wreak havoc, but trying to monitor your activities and target you with annoying flash ads. Remember that your laptop always heats up when you're browsing specific websites, that's all because those sites are loaded with heavy ads (with flashes and videos "flying" around).

How to Fix It: Using light-weighted antivirus or malware removal software

Eliminating malicious threats will sure tune up your HP's overall performance, but how to know whether your computer has been caught, and then how do you get rid of them? There's a variety of security software out there that can do the job. For example, Microsoft has a built-in Windows Defender (previously called Microsoft Security Essentials), but it's not that powerful as it failed a number of antivirus tests. Read more from this TomsGuide post: Is Windows Defender Good Enough? Not Yet!

The key is to look for a security software that is capable of protecting your HP system against malware threats as well as is lightweight while running. We find Bitdefender Total Security 2018 a great option. It's powerful, update fast, and isn't demanding in system resources. You may also want to get a copy of SpyRemover Pro, which has enhanced features to target spyware.

2. Hard Drive Is Getting Full

computer hard disk drive animation

Sometimes, your HP laptop runs slow simply because it doesn't have much room left to breathe. When the hard drive is more than 85 percent full, your computer will lag more often. How to find if you HP has enough free storage space? Click the Start or Windows button on left corner, then go to This PC on Windows 10 (or My Computer on Windows 7). Right click on your hard drive, select Properties and you'll see a chart detailing how much space is available.

How to Fix It: Deep cleaning

There's no better way for the job than CleanMyPC -- the program has a collection of tools that can help clean out all the clutters and unused apps, and keep your PC clean automatically.

If you have time and don't mind getting a bit into technical stuff, you also do this manually. First, run Disk Cleanup (Windows 7 see here, Windows 8/10 here) to eliminate the temporary files that your computer accumulates over time (find it with the search tool under the start menu). Then, uninstall any programs that you don't use any more. Still your HP hard drive is above 85 percent full? It's probably a good idea to start transferring those large old files that you don't need any more to to an external hard drive. Items like old family photos, past projects, redundant backups are probably not the files you access on a daily basis — that makes them perfect for storing on an external drive.

3. Running Too Many Programs at Once

man multitasking in front of a computer

Along with a hard drive, a computer's RAM is a short-term storage for all the programs that are currently in use. Run too many applications at once, you'll fill up the RAM and see a big drop in overall speed. To see if that's what holds your HP laptop back, open Task Manager (by right clicking on "Taskbar") and click the CPU column to order the applications by how much they're making your computer work.

How to Fix It: Close out programs and have better computer habits

The Task Manager gives you a good idea of what programs you should close to speed up your HP. But, you should also take it a step further and develop better using habits. Avoid multitasking at all cost. Use Task Manager to discover alternatives to the programs that eat up the most of your CPUs. Firefox, for example, tends to be a bit power hungry while many users find Chrome works a bit faster.

Another thing to optimize is make sure you don't have too many startup programs that automatically open up when you turn on your HP laptop. Most of the time, you don't need to uninstall these programs. Instead, just disable them from auto starting up. CleanMyPC is the easiest way to get this done.

4. Windows Registry and Device Driver Issues

sleepy boy in front of a Windows PC

The Registry is like a database that stores settings and preferences for programs you've installed and Windows OS system files. Over time the registry can become littered after application installing/uninstalling. Typical symptom is that you'll see error messages and your HP slows down all of a sudden. Similarly, outdated or missing device drivers can cause hardware issues as well as destabilize your computer.

How to Fix It: Clean registry and update drivers

While system registry and device driver errors may sound complicated, they are actually easy to fix by using software like RegCure Pro, a simple to use registry cleaner that goes beyond the typical errors and fixes other things that may bog down the performance of your PC. For device drivers issues, try Driver Navigator to find and fix them.

5. Old or Failing Hardware

fix old computer hardware

Computers age in dog years — or perhaps double dog years. Old hardware are often unable to meet the demands of new technology. If your HP computer is running slow and it's already five years old, the age is probably the bottleneck.

How to Fix It: Upgrade Hardware Components

Before you go trade or resell your old HP, consider hardware upgrades. Adding extra RAM will help your computer better handle intense programs, and allow you to multi-task again. This HP help center article has everything you need to know about memory upgrades.

If you're using an old HP, replacing the hard drive with an SSD (solid-state drive) is a "speed-guaranteed" way to make your HP faster again because of the tremendous advantage SSDs have over HDDs. While replacing the SSD may not be practical for all HP laptops, it may be a more affordable solution than buying a new PC. Before you proceed with a new SSD, make sure you check out this HP SSD upgrade guide in advance.

What to do when your HP laptop touch-pad or mouse freezes up?

white wired computer mouse

Sometimes, the mouse or touchpad on HP laptops suddenly freezes up — so what can you do to solve the issue when you can't even move the mouse? A hard restart will often do the trick! Turn the computer off, if possible, and unplug the power cable. Then, remove the battery from the back. To drain any remaining power, hold down the on/off button for at least ten seconds. Then, put the battery back in and start everything back up as normal — the touchpad or mouse should return to normal.

Last update: Oct. 21, 2017