Six More Factors of Slow Computers

1st September 2016 by in category IT Support Blog with 0 and 10

Half a dozen more ways to perk up slow computers at little expense

Slow Computers image by Master-L

A remedy for sluggish performance: Tabard IT’s guide to speeding up slow computers. Image by Master-L (via Shutterstock).

On the 06 November 2014, we produced a blog post entitled My Computer is Slow: Six Factors of Slow Computers. We looked at the common causes of sluggish performance and added some useful tips. In the 2014 article, we looked at how bogus PC ‘Doctor’ software and excessive toolbars were a pain in the proverbials. Most of the issues stated in the original article are prevalent today.

Almost two years on, we have followed this up with six more factors of slow computers. Again, our latest post includes useful tips. Easy-to-follow tips that can change your PC from an Austin Allegro hatchback to a Jaguar E-Type sports car in no time at all.

1. Rogue Programs Hogging Your CPU Space

Whether you are reading this post on a Mac with El Capitan, a Windows 10 PC, or an Android tablet, you may receive a message along these lines:

“[program] is not responding”.

Sometimes, you can choose to let the process continue, or abort the process. On Android devices, a dialogue box appears, enabling you to wait or abort. On Windows, pressing ALT+CTRL+DELETE together opens Task Manager. Just click on the program then the End Task button. With MacOS systems, go to the Applications folder and choose Utilities. Then go to Activity Monitor and click the program you wish to abort.

2. Too Many Browser Tabs

To misquote a traditional proverb, too many browser tabs make a PC cough. For standard browsing, four or five tabs at once should be enough. If you have 10 to 20 on the go, expect some sluggish performance. Each browser tab takes up more memory than you think, depending on which websites you are viewing. Sometimes, hundreds of megabytes per tab, especially on content-heavy websites and video streaming.

To avoid a bout of the spinning blue flying rings or multicoloured beach balls, keep your browser tabs and windows to a minimum.

3. Too Many Programs at Once

Another peeve about slow computers are the programs we might have running at once. Typically, you may be running Chrome, and listening to your music on iTunes or Spotify. Then you realise a report or letter needed doing, so you fire up Microsoft Office. You want to do several other things, but you find pressing ALT+TAB to go from one program to another feels like Bambi scaling Ben Nevis in January.

The easiest way to avoiding sluggish performance? Try closing down programs you no longer need to use at this moment in time. A slow machine also inhibits your ability to get the report or letter handed in on time.

4. (Lack of) Memory

Unless you have a digital tablet or smartphone (where memory expansion options are limited to SD cards), adding memory to your PC is another good way of beefing up slow computers. What may have been state-of-the-art two years ago would become the budget option in 2016. Updated programs take up more memory than earlier versions.

On a bog-standard PC, memory can be added to your motherboard. With later models of Apple iMac computers, memory can only be fitted by an Apple Retail Store or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. If you have a 21” iMac from 2015 onwards (with or without a Retina 4K screen), you are out of luck. If you own an older iMac or a Mac Pro, you should have fewer problems doing it yourself.

5. Your Hard Drive is Failing

Oh no! You have heard a clunking noise from your PC. It could be the rattle of a soon-to-be-deceased hard drive. Like the rest of your PC, your hard drive is a complex beast With intricate parts. As the passage of time marches onward, your hard drive could be less reliable. The disc head starts to move slowly, the head ceases to be read efficiently and, in all, it slows your computer down.

To check the performance of your hard drive, run a health check program on your hard disc drive. Your operating system may be bundled with a hard drive diagnostics program. There are also proprietary and open-source programs available (but it is best to do your homework beforehand). Furthermore, we also recommend backing up your files onto a mixture of external drives and secure cloud-based storage options. Some operating systems, like MacOS (with Time Machine), make light work of backing up your files.

6. Messy Workspaces

As well as failing hard drives, too many browser tabs, and a lack of memory, there is one other factor which turns your Lotus Elise of a computer into a Trabant. The answer may be closer to home than you think. For slow computers, our sixth factor could be the state of your workspace. Dust can enter into any perforation or gap of your PC. As a consequence, years of dust could stifle your CPU, clog up your hard drive, and make your keyboard and mouse less responsive.

You can keep your workspace tidy by polishing your desk. A can of compressed air is useful for getting rid of dust on your keyboard or in other nooks and crannies (i.e. speaker grilles). We recommend switching the power off and unplugging the PC before you start cleaning.

If you have any queries, why not give us a call on 0131 339 9448. We shall get back to you as soon as possible.

Tabard IT, 01 September 2016

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