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What should I do if my computer constantly is slow or freezes?

Pop quiz: How often do you need to restart your computer for best performance?

Here’s a hint. If you only do it when your machine crashes or needs to update, that’s not enough. Tap or click for my recommendation for keeping your computer happy.

It’s frustrating to deal with a slow, lagging computer day in and day out. Tap or click for six easy tactics to speed up an old PC.

Sometimes the issues are more acute. If your computer is unresponsive, slow down and follow these steps:

Restart first

OK, this step is obvious, but there is often confusion here. Some people think they have to pull the computer’s power plug or flip the switch on the power strip. Instead, hold the computer’s power button for five to 10 seconds to power it off.

A few things can happen next when your computer comes back on:

1. Computer starts fine

If the computer starts up fine, don’t just move on without second thought. This is an excellent reminder to back up your important information if a serious problem is on the way. Otherwise, you could find yourself scrambling through more complicated ways to get files off a dead computer.

Need help?Here’s what you need to know about backing up like a pro.

If your computer does freeze again, keep reading.

2. Computer asks you how to boot

While restarting, the computer might indicate an error with Windows and ask if you want to start normally or in Safe Mode. Choose to start Windows normally. Then back up your data and see if it freezes again.

If Windows fails to boot normally three times in a row, it will enter Automatic Repair Mode. Here you can boot into Safe Mode. To do so, interrupt the boot-up process. Before Windows finishes loading, press down on the power button for four seconds to interrupt the process.

If this is the second time your computer has frozen, choose to boot in “Safe Mode with Networking.” Try using the computer like this and see if it freezes again.

If it doesn’t freeze in Safe Mode, it’s likely a software problem.

GET SMART: Windows 10 tricks the pros use all the time

3. Computer freezes again immediately

If the computer freezes again immediately after booting, whether in normal mode or Safe Mode, you could have a serious software or hardware problem. It’s most likely a hardware problem, though.

4. Your computer is checking the disk

There could be corrupt data on your hard drive, and the computer is trying to repair that data. If so, it will start with a check disk. You mustn’t interrupt this process, or you risk further data loss.