How to Watch Video on a Slow Computer

by Jennifer Claerr

Trying to watch streaming video or DVDs on a slow computer can be frustrating. Typically, the video will play for a few seconds, then come to a complete standstill. Just a few seconds of waiting for the video to start again can seem like an eternity. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to solve slow video playback on an older computer. Chances are your computer already has what it needs to play videos effectively. If you still can't play videos properly after doing routine maintenance, upgrading some key components may help.

Get the latest driver for your current video device. If you have onboard video on your motherboard or a graphics card that came pre-installed, visit your computer manufacturer's website to download the file. Visit your graphics card manufacturer's website if you've previously upgraded your video.

Defragment your hard drive. In Windows, click "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools" and "Disk Defragmenter." Select your system drive (drive C:) and click "Defragment."

Clean junk files off your computer. Click "Start," "All Programs," "Accessories," "System Tools" and "Disk Cleanup." Check the boxes beside "Downloaded Program Files," "Temporary Internet Files," "Offline Webpages," "Recycle Bin" and "Temporary Files." Click "OK."

Upgrade your graphics card if you're still experiencing slow video playback. Be sure to carefully check the system requirements on the outside of the box before making your purchase. Also ensure that the graphics card will work with the expansion slots on your computer. For example, if your computer has only PCI slots, you must get a PCI card. If your computer has an AGP slot, get an AGP video card, as this will run faster than PCI. Navigate to the video card manufacturer's website to download and install the latest driver.

Upgrade your system random access memory (RAM) to the highest amount it can take. Check your user manual or look at the manufacturer's website for system specifications for your model. Make sure that you copy down the exact type of RAM that your computer needs. Make a note of the size in megabytes (MB) or gigabytes (GB), the speed, the number of pins and how many modules you need. Most computers today take DDR SDRAM in DIMMs. Make a note if your computer needs a different type of memory.


  • check If you're on dial-up, this may cause problems with streaming video. Upgrade your Internet connection to DSL if it's available. Running regular virus and spyware scans to remove threats can solve problems that are slowing down your computer.


  • close Don't attempt to upgrade your video card if your computer is 10 years old or older. Get your new graphics card from a seller with a good return policy and keep all the packaging in case you need to take it back.

About the Author

Jennifer Claerr is a web writer who has written for online sites such as Demand Studios,, and She has a degree in art from the University of Texas at Arlington. She writes on a variety of topics, including holidays, health and fitness, travel, computers and art.

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