One of the most common questions we get asked within the Support Team at Donkeylogic is "My computer is running slow; can you make it faster?". 9 times out of 10, the answer is yes, we can make your computer faster. Understanding why your computer is running slow though and taking measures to look after your computer can all help with this problem and ultimately save you money. With the first of this two part blog we’ll take a look at some of the issues you may be facing and how to deal with them.
Software vs Hardware
The reason a computer starts to slow down stems from either software or hardware (or sometimes a combination of both). Software problems are often related to user error or bugs and can be repaired a lot easier than hardware issues. Hardware issues tend to require repairing or replacing physical parts which costs more and takes more time. Software problems are easier to explain as they often refer to issues with every day use.
The biggest of these is internet use. Most people use the internet in one form or another these days; whether it is for emails, playing games or social media. If a computer is slow when using the internet, it can be down to an issue with your internet service provider or router, but rather than focusing on this, we’re going to focus on potential issues within the computer itself. When downloading files or opening emails there is always the chance of accidentally putting a virus on your computer. These days the chances of that are a lot lower due to secure anti-virus software, however it is still important to make sure you have this software in the first place. Apple computers are a lot more secure and do not need as much third party protection, but it doesn’t hurt to get some.
The other potential issue is malware or adware. These files don’t necessarily cause damage to your machine, but they run in the background, checking what websites you look at and focusing advertising directly at you. This is all using processor speed on your computer so it’s important to check that your computer is clean on a regular basis. Anti-virus software will usually check for these files and there is also dedicated malware scanning software available.
The other issue that could make your computer slow whilst using the internet are browser extensions. Websites and online programs often ask if you want to install these to use their services (such as Java and Adobe Flash player). A lot of the time these extensions are useful and necessary but over time they build up and are constantly drawing processing power which slows the computer down. Checking your browser extensions and removing ones you don’t regularly use is a good way of keeping your internet browser clean and working as effectively as possible.
Another software issue that we often see is when a client upgrades their operating system. They will often say "The machine was working fine until we upgraded and now everything’s really slow". This could be down to two reasons. Firstly, a newer operating system will generally require more memory and processing speed than the previous one so if your computer is six years old and you upgrade the operating system, all of a sudden you’re asking a lot more of your computer’s hardware and you will begin to see signs of its age. If a machine is too old to be upgraded then it will often stop you but as a rule of thumb; if the machine is more than six years old, although it may be compatible with the new software, it’s probably not worth doing it as it will make things worse instead of better. There are hardware upgrades you can do to improve your computer’s speed (more about that in Part 2) but similarly, if the computer is more than six years old then you should look at buying a new machine instead of upgrading components. Certain parts of a computer can’t be upgraded and will naturally degrade over time so financially it’s often not worth upgrading a machine that could potentially stop working in a year or two.
The other reason an operating system upgrade might cause your computer to be slow or not work correctly is if the operating system file has a bug in it. This is often the case when the operating system is first released, before the developers have had the chance to rectify problems. The first thing you should do is see if there are any further updates available as the developer may have resolved the issue. If there aren’t, then you may have to install the operating system again as there may have been a problem with the initial download. Depending on which system or upgrade you’re doing, you may be able to do this manually. If not, you will need to take your computer to a specialist and we can wipe the hard drive and start afresh. We can do this for you!
Remember to always back up your data before doing any upgrades and big installs!
The next blog will cover potential hardware issues that could be causing your computer to run slowly.