How do I troubleshoot slowness in a Windows computer?

How do I know if RAM is an issue?

In this case Windows Explorer is slow. (but it is quite subjective) I think it might be because of many logical drives, or some driver?

How do i know if Ram is an issue? (is there something I can measure?).

I have a Windows 7 laptop (64bit)

(10Mar:) Is there some way I can compare the performance at different points in time?

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    Whats your specs on the computer? – Simon Sheehan Mar 2 '12 at 23:09
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    @SimonSheehan: Specifications should not matter. For once, let's encourage a question that doesn't compare two products (X GB vs Y GB) but rather asks advice on how to do it oneself. I can have a computer and usage patterns such that 256 MB of RAM is no problem, but I can also have something way different with 16 GB being a problem. – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 0:17
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    A good answer would be a thorough check through the hardware as well as the software. Using statistics like the Windows Performance Index as well as testing software like Sandra you can get a good idea for the hardware; using software like Soluto, Process Monitor or even the Windows Performance Toolkit, one can get a good idea for the hardware. There you go, now only one needs to write all that out so it's not just a comment but actually learns one how to start doing that all... :) – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 0:20
  • Possible duplicate...superuser.com/questions/111326/… – Moab Mar 3 '12 at 2:57
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    None of both duplicates troubleshoots a low computer. Something the original and current of this version starts the question with, thus this question is different as it actually goes down to trying to find the root cause. The user suspects RAM to be the main cause, but does not know any way to confirm this and/or know if it is something else. In my opinion, closing it as a duplicate does not help him. – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 3:03

Without knowing the specifics of your setup, there are a few things you can do:

  • Make sure you have enough RAM for the types of applications that you're running - if you're mainly browsing and working on MS Office-type documents, 4 GB is likely to be enough (especially for 32 bit systems). If you're running more memory intensive applications like Photoshop, running virtual machines, doing software development with a lot of tools running, or gaming, you will probably need more RAM (8+ GB)
  • Check your Windows Experience Index - According to this post:

Try using Using the Windows Experience Index, which is a feature built into Windows, you will understand how well Windows will perform on a specific PC, and make the buying process of new PCs, hardware upgrades, and software simpler.

To determine your WEI score, click on Start and then right click on My Computer. Select Properties from the menu and the System Information window opens.Click on Windows Experience Index under the System section in the middle of the window. This opens the Performance Information and Tools window.If you haven’t run the WEI assessment yet, click on Run the Assessment in the bottom right hand corner of the window. If you have already run the assessment, you subscores and score should be displayed in the window.

The memory score measures the bandwidth of moving data into and out of memory in Mega Bytes per Second. The higher the bandwidth, the better the memory.

Not having enough memory is a limiting factor on performance. As a result, the amount of memory in the system constrains the score value. The amount of system memory is determined by the overall system memory minus any memory reserved for graphics (if any).

  • Make sure that your machine is not infected by any malware - run antivirus and other diagnostic software to make sure your system is clean. Infected machines can have performance issues because the malware is diverting your system resources for other purposes.
  • Confirm that your system has enough free hard drive space - if your hard drive doesn't have much free space, system performance can suffer.
  • Switch to a SSD - these flash devices offer significantly faster I/O than disk-based products, albeit at higher prices for smaller capacities.

Finally, Microsoft also has a page devoted to optimizing Windows 7 performance. Key suggestions:

  • Try the Performance troubleshooter
  • Delete programs you never use
  • Limit how many programs run at startup
  • Defragment your hard disk
  • Clean up your hard disk
  • Run fewer programs at the same time
  • Turn off visual effects
  • Restart regularly
  • Add more memory
  • Check for viruses and spyware
  • Check your computer's speed
  • Don’t settle for slow

Ultimately, there are a lot of factors that can impact system performance. One or more of the factors above are likely to be limiting factors - addressing those issues can improve perceived peformance of your computer.

  • 4 GB or 8 GB is enough right now, but what about the future? How can one more exactly determine what amount of RAM is enough, regardless of date/time or being a mainstream user? One of my parents comes by with 1 GB or even less, while I can easily use 16 GB or more if I really want to (and memory would cost less and have better laptop support)... Other than that, +1 for mentioning the Microsoft page which refers the Performance troubleshooter; which is easier than many alternative tools that exist. – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 0:24
  • 3 GB runs amazingly fast on Windows 8 Consumer Preview and decently fast on Windows 7... so the answer's recommendation about 4 GB maybe should be 3 GB. – JavaAndCSharp Mar 3 '12 at 0:43
  • @JavaAndCSharp: On your computer with your usage patterns that is true, but that doesn't apply to the majority. Also memory alone doesn't make up "amazingly fast". So there should be no recommendation, rather advice on how to determine what value doesn't result in low memory conditions... – Tamara Wijsman Mar 3 '12 at 3:05

For advance analysis use MS Process Monitor. It shows all the actions performed by processes on the system, so you can detect if the slowness is related to a specific process doing IO, for example.

Download from: https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/sysinternals/bb896645

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