One of the first things I hear whenever I say I work in IT support is ‘ooh, my computer is running a bit slowly, can you help me?’ Usually this is a quick and easy fix, and quite often something they could do themselves. Computers start to slow down for many reasons, from malware to old age, but there are a few common reasons why you will be experiencing slow performance from your computer.
This is by far the most common reason computers start to run slowly, and it applies to phones too. It’s normal for us to have downloaded utilities and applications that run in the background, out of sight while we work. The more programs that are running – whether you see them running or not - the less memory and attention your computer has to do what you are asking it to. Avoid downloading applications that claim to ‘speed up’ your computer, as most of these will just make the problem worse. Instead go to Task Manager and close anything you are not using. It’s also a good idea to uninstall any programs you know you do not use at all, as this will boost your computers processing speed and free up memory.
Many types of virus or malware can cause performance problems in your computer, including slow Internet responses or general operations. Run a virus checker on your machine to find out if you have a virus or malware on your machine, and then take steps to remove it. Sometimes it is worth running both an anti-virus and anti-spyware program if you have them to ensure nothing is lurking in your machine waiting to cause problems. We have a handy guide on cleaning up your malware infected computer if you need it.
We have a habit of not wanting to turn our machines off overnight, especially when we are in an office. So we leave them on hibernate or sleep. While this may mean they wake up quickly in the morning, in the long term it can cause your machine to slow down. This is especially true if you have installed new applications or updated old ones. Very few of these installations or updates don’t require a restart to finish installing, but they do give us the option to do it later. This was designed so that we could save and close whatever we were working on, but it often ends up being a LOT later before we restart. Meanwhile there are a lot of updates and unfinished processes piling up on top of each other in your processor, and this is making it difficult to run at normal speed. Try restarting your computer and see if that speeds things up.
RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and this is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. It’s like our sort term vs long term memory. The more programs you have running at one time, the more RAM is being used and the less space there is for the computer to think. If you need all of the programs you are running and are still experiencing slowness, it might be time to upgrade your RAM. Deleting your temporary files is also a good way to free up some RAM space. Temporary files are exactly what they sound like – temporary files created by whatever we happen to be doing at the time. Temporary files are deleted automatically when the program exits, the file is closed or the machine is shut down, but sometimes it might hang around. You can manually delete your temporary files within the menu on your machine.
We don’t mean you’re trying to run IOS programmes on a Windows machine here. What we mean is that every piece of software you download and install onto your computer will have a list of requirements for things like processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM) and hard drive space. These specifications are the absolute minimum requirements the software needs in order to run. If your machine just scrapes by these requirements your programmes will still run, but they won’t run well. Check your machine against the specifications for your software – most often RAM is the issue and this is fairly simple to upgrade, so you shouldn’t need to replace the machine.
If you have tried all of these things and your machine is still running slowly, you may have a more serious underlying problem. For more information or advice on boosting the speed of your computer (without downloading nasty software), get in touch and I will get you running again.