What to Do When Slow Computer Performance Gets You Down
By Stacey Ross
A slow-running computer is one of the most frustrating issues to contend with, especially for computer-based professionals who rely heavily on their machines’ full capacity and speed to do their job properly. Sluggish computer performance can be attributed to many different factors, some quite basic, others more technical and complex to deal with.
So how does one know when to upgrade, and when to buy new? Luckily, I default to my husband, who has a knack for refurbishing computers, but I am also fortunate to have an online friend from Reliant Computer Services, Chris Hudson, who was able to shed some light on this common problem.
Stacey: The computer is the major and most common tool that practically every person (kid or grown- up) uses on a daily basis. People like freelancers, bloggers, web designers and developers, online sellers and tutors, game testers, writers, internet marketers – all those computer-based professionals really depend on their desktop machine or laptop. In this regard, a slow running computer could really ruin one’s work. As a computer repair expert, what would you recommend our readers to do when their machines start running slow?
Chris: Indeed, a slow running computer can be a real problem, especially for people who work online. There are many causes of reduced computer performance. Generally, these are hardware problems, software problems or both.
When looking to resolve a slow running computer issue, users must try and localise the problem that’s causing the machine to perform so poorly. Usually, there are five main causes of sluggish computer performance. It is highly advisable to check each of these before making any executive decisions like buying a new computer.
- A dying hard drive
- Not enough RAM
- A slow CPU
- OS Problems
Stacey: So what you’re saying is that investing in a new computer is not always necessary?
Chris: Exactly, in many instances investing in new parts or upgrading existing ones is not always necessary. There are other more basic procedures which you can do yourself to improve your machine’s performance.
Consider the following:
- Update your antivirus software and definitions, then run a full scan of the computer.
- Clear up space on your hard disk using the appropriate system tools or external apps.
- Remove unused, unnecessary programs and applications you don’t really need.
- Defragment your hard drive.
- Install an anti-spyware tool (spyware removal program).
Stacey: So what basic tips would you give to the common computer owner when his/her computer starts running slow?
Chris: In order to prevent slow computer performance, try and stick to the following:
- Don’t install software you don’t really need or use.
- Be careful where you download from – free software is usually loaded with spyware.
- Run your full scans regularly.
- Defragment your hard drive once a month, or better yet schedule a monthly defragmentation in order to automate the process.
- Make sure your firewall program is always up and running.
Stacey: You’ve mentioned certain computer part upgrades. What do you mean by that? What part should one consider upgrading if the manual actions that you’ve described above prove to be insufficient?
Chris: There are a number of common causes of decreased computer performance, and various ways to resolve each issue.
- In many cases, the diminishing storage and processing capacity of aging hard drives can cause a computer to run slowly and behave buggy when in use. Just because the machine boots and loads its OS doesn’t necessarily mean the HD is doing fine.
- Internet sites and other modern interactive applications require a lot of RAM to run error-free and, if your machine has insufficient amount of RAM, you will be experiencing slow, buggy performance. If so, consider a RAM upgrade – cheap and relatively easy to do.
- A slow computer might simply be an outdated computer. A slow processor or CPU is a common cause of bad computer performance.
- Operating systems (OS) tend to get clogged with files and data in different registries throughout the computer. In many cases, a good OS clean up or a fresh reinstall is all that’s required to bring your machine up to its former speed and performance.
- If you haven’t updated your machine in a while, perhaps this is why it is slowing down and losing its computing power. Make sure you have the latest versions of programs, applications and features you use for best performance.
Stacey: We are referring to decreased computer performance, but could you share how you would recognize that your computer needs a little boost?
Chris: Sure, here are some common tell-tale signs that your machine needs service and attention:
- Generally slow performance, seen throughout all applications and processes.
- Frequent, unexplained error messages.
- Freezes, crashes and shutdowns.
- Long start up and shut down times.
Saving money on untimely repairs and unnecessary upgrades translates to great news, but for me, thank goodness my husband takes care of this department. Everyone needs a computer geek as a close friend, or at least someone trustworthy to go to!
Stacey Ross is an online consultant, social media enthusiast, freelancer and owner of SanDiegoBargainMama.com. A former teacher and middle school counselor, she is now a mom of two who researches and freelances about lifestyle topics involving family and well-being.