When a computer starts to slow down it can be a sign of several problems, ranging from a virus infection, to overheating or even a failing hard drive. If the symptoms continue to worsen or progress to the point where the system is not booting up properly you could be facing a pretty serious hardware problem. Catching the symptoms early and acting quickly is the key, but even if you haven’t all hope is not lost.
First and foremost, if the system is still working, back up your data right away. If you have trouble transferring information after one or two attempts, stop working on it and call a professional. Your data could be at risk if the hard drive is failing.
Secondly, evaluate the age of the system and your budget for repair or data recovery. If the system is seven years old, then it’s probably not worth repairing. If it contains valuable data you don’t have stored elsewhere, then seeing if a data recovery is possible could be worthwhile. If it is a relatively new system, check your warranty and check your credit card policy as some cards (such as American Express) may double your hardware warranty at no additional cost.
Last, but certainly not least, be careful with tech support. While these folks mean well and are trying to help you, if your data is not backed up some of the diagnostics or resolutions they want you to perform could be destructive — even if they aren’t intended to be. If your hard drive is failing, the system is overheating or otherwise damaged additional stress could make matters worse.