“Why is my computer so slow? Should I get a new one?”
This is probably one of the most frequently-asked questions I come across. Right out of the gate, my stock answers are typically “I don’t know yet.” and “Probably not.” Here’s why…
Pete’s philosophy: The computer is like any other tool, whether it’s a hammer, saw or cellular telephone. If it does the job you need it to do in a timely manner, then what’s the problem? If you’re a business person, you’ve probably got other places where you can spend the money better and doing it yourself can save you time & money!
Before we get going, a couple of words of warning! Static electricity is deadly to computer equipment. Not taking proper electro-static-discharge (ESD) precautions prior to and during any work on your computer can render it “recyclable”. Unless you know what you are doing and are comfortable working with ESD-sensitive equipment like your computer’s guts, do not start opening the case; please give me a call. If you fry your computer, don’t try to blame it on me!!!
“So why is it slow?”
The usual causes are…
Lack of memory
Operating systems are getting larger and larger, stretching your poor computers system resources to the max! Random Access Memory (RAM) is one reason that your machine may seem to be slower as time goes on. When Windows XP first came out, manufacturers tried to keep their prices low, so many computers were shipped with just enough RAM to make them work. Period. If your computer came with 256 Mb of RAM (standard a couple of years ago), a memory upgrade is an absolute necessity. By increasing the total RAM to 768 MB or 1 GB you could notice a 3 to 4-fold increase in speed! How do you find out how much RAM you have in your Windows computer? Right-click on the “My Computer” icon and select properties. The processor speed and memory will both be listed. Memory upgrades can run as low as US$25, depending on type and availability of memory. How much should I put in? Sorry, no easy answer to that one! Depending on the age of your computer and thus the mainboard that is used, maximum RAM could be as low as 2GB. When you’re checking with the RAM vendor, they should be able to tell you.
Full or fragmented hard disk
If you have had your hard disk very full, even if you clean out the files you don’t want any more, your system can still be slow. This may be caused by “disk fragmentation”. Windows is pretty good at fixing this but the process may take a bit of time. On your Windows computer, click Start -> Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Defragmenter”. This will advise you if your hard disks need to be defragmented. Depending on the size of your disk and how much stuff you have on it, this may take an hour or so… Cost: free!
The number one problem with computing these days is the proliferation of malware. On a global scale, the annual repair costs of infected machines is in the billions of dollars. Malware can result in poor machine performance, theft of personal information and the remote highjacking of your computer! You can’t even trust some of the software “cures” on the internet; some of these packages actually install malware on your machine, making it even slower! Call us for the real cure. Just because you’re running anti-virus software you can still be highly vulnerable to spyware! If you have anti-spyware software on your computer, make sure you keep it updated. Cost: variable, depending on degree of infection.
Viruses are still alive and mutating on the internet. Because you are running anti-spyware software doesn’t mean that you are immune from viruses! Quite the contrary. Once installed, the spyware (above) typically downloads viruses from other websites on the internet, causing your machine to even run slower. Have you been hitting the “Esc” key when your anti-virus asks you for money? Oh-oh! If you have anti-virus software on your computer, make sure you keep it updated. Cost: variable, depending on degree of infection.
Someone else using your internet!?
If you have not secured your wireless network, it is entirely possible (and probable) that someone other than you is using your internet connection!!! Leaving a wireless network unsecured means that it can be used for illegal purposes such as file sharing, downloading pornography or other such activities. If you suspect that your wireless network is not secured, consult your router or access point manual on methods of securing it. Failing to secure your network means that your neighbors or anyone driving by on the street can access your network, printer & possibly even your information! If you need help, just call…
These are not all the reasons for a slow computer but you could consider this list a good place to start!