Why Do Old Laptops Run So Slow?

Computers are devices that store and retrieve data, but they get less efficient at doing so as they get older. However, it can seem like, no matter how well you take care of your laptop, it will die for no diagnosable reason. So, why do old laptops decrease in performance, and what can you do to stop it? 

Old laptops run so slow because they are not as refined as new computers. Your computer may have problems with a physical internal component, like an old battery, or it may be outdated or have bugs in the software slowing it down.

So, let’s discuss why your old laptop might be running slower than ever. I’ll get into the details and offer solutions to help you keep your old laptop in tip-top shape. 

thinkpad laptop on

Reasons An Old Laptop Runs Slow

Computers have different components that each have distinct functions that work together to allow the whole system to run smoothly. Still, because all of these components rely on each other, if one of them suffers from age or damage, the entire system will slow down

Your RAM is Outdated

RAM stands for random access memory, and it is where your computer stores temporary information. If you don’t have enough RAM, your computer may not be able to load apps, browser searches, or files, slowing down the laptop significantly. 

However, most laptops start with enough RAM to perform everyday tasks like using the internet, playing simple games, and loading files. 

The technological developments of this age make the RAM stop working, and most apps take at least 8GB of RAM to function seamlessly. However, newer computers almost always have at least 16 GB of RAM or more to ensure that you can complete tasks without suffering from lagging. 

Laptop Memory

Older Laptops Have Fuller Storage

The storage drive in your computer is where all the long-term memory is stored. This component is where binary, or digital coding using only ones or zeroes, is used to back up all your photos, videos, and extra storage for operations like Word and Excel.

When your storage is getting full, your laptop will inevitably slow down. That’s because your computer needs extra storage space to save your activity at any given time, and if there’s not enough room, you’ll get an error after the computer attempts to preserve your data.

Older Laptops are Prone To Overheating

Your computer generates heat energy through electricity from running all of its hardware. Laptops use fans and ventilation systems to keep the system cool. 

However, if your laptop overheats and the cooling system isn’t working well, this could cause the functions to slow down. Overheating could permanently damage your computer’s components, making your laptop useless in the worst cases. 

Overheating is particularly common in older laptops since they may not have the hardware to run advanced applications like photo editing software or video games with cutting-edge graphics. If you try to run a program that is too advanced for your laptop’s specs, it has a high chance of overworking the hardware, which may ultimately result in overheating and damage. 

Cooler close up

Your Laptop Is Too Old To Support OS Updates

Your laptop’s age might be your issue if you have noticed slower speeds after updating your operating system. As operating systems advance, they get more complicated, requiring more processing power from your laptop. 

Over time, the operating system might become too “heavy” or advanced for your old laptop to run smoothly. Usually, this OS-related slowdown has to do with graphics, RAM, and storage space. 

There’s little you can do about this issue, and that’s why computers don’t last forever. So, if your OS is far too much for your laptop to handle, then it might be time to consider an upgrade. 

Laptops Lose Battery Life Over Time

The battery in your computer is much like the battery in any other object. Batteries power other things by using stored chemical energy and turning it into mechanical energy through a flow of electrical currents.

However, batteries stop holding a charge after a finite number of cycles, and usually, a laptop’s battery is the first component to fail. In addition, when the battery is not holding a charge, your computer will likely automatically slow down processes to save energy, resulting in slower loading speeds. 

How To Make Your Old Laptop Run Faster

Increase Your Laptop’s Storage

The best way to help your computer run faster is by optimizing your storage. You can start by clearing your trash and deleting any apps or pictures you don’t need. You can also back up your computer on a flash drive and then remove most of the files on your laptop to create more space.

Essentially, you just want to clear as many unnecessary files, big or small, as possible. That way, you have plenty of storage space for the tasks you want to complete right now. 

If you’ve done as much as you can manually to clear storage space and your laptop has a hard drive, you could consider switching to an SSD – a more efficient form of storage. Here is a YouTube video on the differences between the two:

Remove Bugs and Install Updates

You might wonder why your laptop is constantly getting updates from the operating system. These updates are necessary because the processing systems and algorithms are programmed to find flaws, and each update patches over these flaws. 

Bugs are defects in the code that the original programmer didn’t foresee. When you report a bug or crashing error, other bugs are often discovered alongside it, so your whole system needs to update to keep everything running the way it’s supposed to.

Update your computer as soon as the update arrives so that your computer will continue to function at its highest capacity.

Take Proper Care of Your Laptop’s Battery

Because the battery is the power source for all the other components of your computer, it’s essential to know how to take care of your battery. While you may think that the best course of action is to keep it fully charged at all times, letting the battery run out and then fully recharging it every once in a while allows optimal charging and energy storage for future uses.

Removal of the battery by a service technician

Understand Your Laptop’s Limits

There might come a day when you have to realize that your computer is just too slow to fix. The internet and computer technology of modern times are constantly updating and changing, and operating systems and physical technology are inevitably replaced by newer and faster technology.

Knowing how to care for your computer to help it run faster is essential, but knowing when to let go is equally necessary.


Laptops are complex machines that have become an essential part of our daily lives. It can be frustrating when they are running slowly, whether due to faulty programming or outdated equipment. Luckily, there are explanations and solutions for all of your computer needs.


I'm Rob, the founder of theonetechstop.com. I’m a Marine Corps vet with a master’s degree in Information Systems and have been working in the technology field for over a decade.

Recent Posts