Top 5 Reasons Why a HP Laptop May Run Slow or Freeze (& 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 many other brands. There are a number of reasons for why HP laptops may run slow or keep freezing, from viruses to old hardware.

The good thing is — 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 possible causes, matched with 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 XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10 operation system.​

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 ads.

Solution: Antivirus and 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 (also called Microsoft Security Essentials), but it's not that powerful as it failed 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 a great option. It can find malware and trojans that other anti-virus programs don't go after. Another solution we like is SpyHunter, which has enhanced Antivirus and Anti-malware protection.

2. Hard Drive Is 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 surely slow down. 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 (or My Computer). Right click on your hard drive, select Properties and you'll see a chart detailing how much space is available on your hard drive.

Solution: Deep cleaning

The easiest way to get this done is by using a tool called CleanMyPC -- it helps 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, 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 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.

Solution: Close out programs and have 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 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 change their start-up options.

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.

Solution: Clean registry and update drivers

While system registry and device driver errors may sound complicated, they are actually pretty easy to fix — by using software. There are a number of different applications to choose but we like RegCure Pro because it's simple to use. Also, it goes beyond the typical errors and fixes other things that can slow down your HP laptop.

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.

Solution: Hardware Upgrade

Before you go trade or resell your old HP, consider hardware upgrades. Adding RAM will help your computer run more intense programs, and allow you to multi-task again. Replacing your hard drive with an SSD can also improve the speed tremendously because of the speed 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: April 20, 2017