Top 5 Reasons Why a HP Laptop Runs Slow or Freezes (and How to Speed it Up)

Mother and daughter sitting couch with laptop computer

Sooner or later, all tech starts to slow down. HP creates some excellent laptops, but they're just as prone to slowdowns as any other brands. The bad news is that there are a number of reasons that HP laptops may run slow or keep freezing, from viruses to old hardware.

But there's good news too — many issues are pretty easy to fix and you may not need to invest in a new laptop just yet. Wondering why your HP laptop is slow or frozen? We've found 5 biggest causes, matched with simple solutions.

Note: this guide works on all types of HP Pavilion laptops, Mini networks, desktop PCs, as long as they run with Microsoft Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 operation systems.​

1. Viruses and Malware

laptop computer infected virus malware

While viruses are most known for crashing perfectly good computers, they could also be running in the background of normal tasks. Viruses and malware that run behind the scenes take up valuable CPU and slow your computer down. Sometimes, these bugs aren't necessarily out to wreak havoc, but trying to monitor your activities to target you with ads.

Solution: Antivirus and Malware removal software

Eliminating malicious threats will sure tune up your HP performance, but how do you know you even have any in the first place, and then how do you get rid of them? There's a variety of security software out there that will do the trick. For example, Microsoft has a built-in Windows Defender (also called Microsoft Security Essentials), but not a good option as it fails a number of antivirus tests.

The key is to look for a software that is capable of both removing existing viruses/malware and protecting your system against any future threats. We find BitDefender Total Security works great. It will find the malware and trojans that anti-virus programs don't go after. Another solution we like is SpyHunter, which has enhanced Antivirus and Anti-malware protection.

2. Hard Drive Getting Full

computer hard disk drive animation

Sometimes, your HP laptop will slow down simply because it doesn't have much room left to breathe. When your hard drive is more than 85 percent full, your computer will slow down. Not sure if this is your problem? Click the Start or Windows button, then go to This PC (or My Computer). Right click on your hard drive, then click properties and you'll see a chart detailing how much space you are using on your hard drive.

Solution: Deep cleaning

You should be cleaning out your laptop just as often as you clean out the closets to prevent a slow down. The easiest way is to use this tool called CleanMyPC -- it keeps your PC clean automatically.

You also get this done manually, if your time permits (and you are comfortable with technology). 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 above 85 percent? It's probably a good idea to start storing files that you don't access very often on an external hard drive. Things like old family photos and past projects aren’t things you want to just throw out, but you don't access them on a daily basis either — that makes them perfect for storing on an external drive.

3. Old or Failing Hardware

fix old computer hardware

Computers age in dog years — or perhaps double dog years. Old hardware often can't handle the demands of new technology. If your computer is running slow and it’s five years old or even older, the age may be to blame.

Solution: Hardware Upgrade

Before you go replace your HP laptop, consider a smaller hardware upgrade. Adding RAM will help run more intense programs, or allow you to multi-task again. Replacing your hard drive with an SSD will also improve the speed tremendously because of the way SSDs are designed. While replacing the SSD may not be practical for basic laptops, it may be a more affordable solution than replacing a high-end HP laptop. Make sure you check out this HP SSD upgrade guide in advance.

4. Running Too Many Programs

man multitasking in front of a computer

Along with your hard drive, your HP laptop'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's holding 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.

Solution: Close out programs and create better computer habits

The Task Manager should give 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 work on developing some better habits. Try to avoid multitasking whenever possible. 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 that another browser like Chrome works a bit faster.

One more thing — make sure you don't have programs automatically opening when your HP powers on, or you'll have applications running that you may not be using. You don't need to uninstall these programs — just change their start-up options.

5. 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 itself. Over time the registry can become littered during application installing/uninstalling process. If that happens, you'll likely see error messages and your HP will slow down as well. Similarly, outdated or missing device drivers can cause hardware issues and destabilize your computer.

Solution: Clean registry and update drivers

While system registry and device driver errors may sound complicated, they are actually pretty easy to fix — if you use software. There are a number of different applications to choose from that will correct these errors, but we like RegCure Pro because it's simple to use and it will go beyond the typical errors and also fix other things that can slow down your laptop.

Bonus tip: what to do when your HP laptop touch-pad or mouse freezes?

white wired computer mouse

Sometimes, the mouse or touchpad on HP laptops may suddenly freeze 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 it. 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: June 21, 2016