If you have an older computer there is a good chance that your computer is slow because it needs a hardware upgrade, has a failing hardware component or needs to be replaced. You can fix a slow computer by trying any number of things outlined below.

The most common computer component to upgrade for a quick speed boost is the memory. If your computer has 512 MB of RAM or less you need more memory! Go to www.crucial.com and run their memory utility. This utility will show you exactly what kind of memory is in your computer, how many memory slots you have available and the type of memory you need to purchase.

Another good upgrade can be a new hard drive. Try to find out how fast your hard drive is. This is usually measured in rpms and is often found on the hard drive itself. You can also check your manufacturers' web site. If your hard drive is 5400 rpm you should upgrade to a 7200 rpm or faster hard drive if possible. Your computer will also slow down if you are low on disk space. Check the available space on your C drive. By default most computers have a 'paging file' setup on the C drive to use as temporary storage space. If you have another hard drive letter with plenty of space you may want to move your paging file to the other drive. In Windows XP you can right click My Computer, click the Advanced Tab and then click Settings under Performance. From here you can remove the paging file from C and add it to another drive.

Sometimes hardware components can fail. One thing to check for is a dead CPU fan or power supply fan. If your computer is overheating it will degrade over time. Also check your motherboard for popped caps. These small round cylinders on the motherboard should have a flat silver top. If the caps are bulged or leaking you need a new motherboard.

Obviously with an older computer these upgrades/replacements may not be worth the trouble. In general I like to replace my primary computer about every five years with only a couple of upgrades in between.

Another reason your computer may be running slow is that it may be infected with a virus or malware. Be sure that you are running updated virus software at all times. In this case 'updated' means ensuring that you are running the latest product version AND that you have downloaded the latest virus definition software. There are a number of free anti-virus programs including avast!, AVG and Avira that do a pretty good job of keeping your computer free of viruses. However if you are a heavy Internet user I recommend getting a full featured security sweet from a major manufacturer such as Symantec or McAfee. If you feel that you may have a virus that is undetected I suggest running an online virus scan to check your computer. I use Trend Micro whenever I suspect I may have a virus or malware.

As you use your computer to browse the web, create and delete files, install and uninstall software your hard drive will become fragmented. Run the disk defrag that comes with Windows or a third party utility every couple of months to smooth things out.

Another way to fix a slow computer is to remove some of the applications running in your systray (the area by the clock). If you have more than 5 or 6 items in the systray you'll probably want to remove some of them. Often you can right click on them to modify there properties so they don't launch at startup. You can do this for things like AIM and Yahoo Messenger.

By following these steps you'll be well on your way to fixing your slow computer!