We’ve all felt the inevitable frustration of a slow computer. When our computer is “thinking”, frozen, or doing nothing after we asked it to simply open a file or program.
Or perhaps you wake up and turn on your computer for the first time aaaand you wait. This will take a while. So, you go grab a cup of coffee while you wait for it to turn on.
A slow computer can not only cause pull-your-hair-out frustration, but the simple loss of productivity can be extremely detrimental, especially when it comes to business.
The good news is; there are several causes for a slow computer, and we can fix or build any computer to maximize speed and efficiency. You may have to put some money into new hardware, but the time, and definitely the frustration, you save not waiting on a computer will be well worth the investment.
Let’s jump into some common issues for slow computer speeds. If you’ve only got time to read one tip then just jump to Reason #5 and find out how a solid-state hard drive will bring you into the future.
Why do I have such a slow computer?
These first few reasons for a slow computer might seem obvious, but it is a very common issue we see on a daily basis. Viruses work by copying themselves into files and when that file is run it causes the virus to spread further. Back when computers were first invented many programmers created viruses almost like jokes. Just to see if they could write a program to annihilate someone’s computer.
In today’s world, viruses do many different things. You’ve probably seen news stories on viruses such as the infamous ‘Wanna-Cry Virus’ that has hit many companies hard. These viruses completely lock down a machine and encrypt all of the files on the system. Supposedly, the only way to unlock the computer is to send payment to some account and only then will your computer be usable. Although this is not a guarantee that your computer will be unlocked.
Many viruses can be stopped by using an anti-virus program. Although no anti-virus can guarantee 100% prevention, they do block nearly everything that comes their way.
A good anti-virus plus being proactive with updates will ensure you’re the best prepared in case of an attack.
On to #2 – Malware
Malware stands for “malicious software”. Technically viruses are a type of malware. They are just the type we hear about the most often. Malware can refer to worms, trojans, viruses, adware and a few others. All of these will cause issues if they are infecting your system.
Malware could run in the background without you ever knowing, collecting your data. They could cause annoying popups or cause your browser to redirect you to unfamiliar websites. No matter what they do, they are extremely annoying and will cause your computer to run slower. Many of them can be harmful and potentially threaten the security of all your accounts. Some extreme infections can even let someone take over the computer and use it for their own purposes. One of the tell tale signs for any type of malware is a slow computer. As these extra curricular programs run they will take away resources from other important tasks.
Regular checkups and being knowledgeable about the do’s and don’ts of the internet can go a long way in preventing infections.
3.) Failing Hardware
If your computer is free of all forms of viruses and malware, there is a possibility you have faulty hardware. One of the most likely sources of a slow computer is a failing hard drive.
This is problematic because the hard drive is where all your data is at. Hard drives can fail at any time. One day the computer could be working completely fine. Then the next day you go to start it up and boom. No rhyme or reason it just cuts out. This is why having a backup, either externally or through the cloud, is crucial to keeping your data safe.
If it’s not the hard drive it could be another piece of hardware. We won’t bore you with the details, but just about any failing piece of equipment in the machine will cause you to see reduced performance.
4.) You need new hardware
This is very similar to #3. However, if your system is free from infections and the hardware tests OK, then there can be a simple explanation. You need new , more powerful hardware. Whether that is an entirely new machine or simply upgrading your old machine (See step #5), if everything else checks out, the computer might be running as fast as it can given its specifications. The cause of your slow computer may not be for any negative reason.
Many people feel like they should buy a computer and it should last 10 years. And you may be able to do that, but the computer will be out performed by new models. You wouldn’t expect a vehicle made in 2007 to perform equally as well as the 2017 model would you?
It’s worth mentioning that technology in the past few years has also taken enormous leaps and bounds. Computers have never been faster and more affordable.
But if you’re still wanting to hold on to that old machine, and want the performance of a new computer, look no further than reason #5.
5.) You need a solid-state drive
If you’ve never heard of a solid-state drive (SSD) then I urge you to read on. We won’t go into the extremely techie bits. All you need to know is this: If you could spend your money anywhere, SPEND IT HERE.
We cannot stress the unbelievable performance increase you will see with a solid-state drive. This is the future of computing. Our fellow tech junkies at How-to Geek did a few tests on solid-state drives versus the old mechanical style of hard drives. During every test, the solid-state performed at least twice as fast and in some tests over 400 times faster than the mechanical drives.
Just speaking from experience, we see boot times drop from several minutes to roughly 30 seconds or even shorter. Imagine that, starting your computer and it’s ready to go before you get situated in your seat. How much time is lost waiting for your computer to start up or even open a program? What about browsing the web? All of this is boosted like your computer just chugged an energy drink.
Solid-states are a little bit more expensive than mechanical hard drives. But that is a small price to pay when you compare it to the lost productivity just waiting for a computer. Time is money, so stop wasting it waiting.
6.) Internet Speed
If you can check all of the above then the next thing we would check: how fast is your internet?
Many times, people believe the computer is the bottleneck. And most of the time there is some issue with the computer itself. However, you need to take a step back and ask yourself: When is my computer slow? If your answers all revolve around you being connected to the internet (browsing websites, downloading, etc.) then you need to check what speed you’re paying for.
One of the local internet service providers (ISP) offers speeds as low as 5 Mbps/sec. This used to be considered a fast connection about 10-15 years ago. In today’s fast paced world, this could be the source of your frustration. Although the number (5 Mbps/ sec) may not mean much to you, the same ISP offers a top speed of 300 Mbps/sec. Again, those may not make sense to you, but what should make sense is the top speed offered is 60 times faster than the lower. That being said, we recommend a speed of around 25 Mbps/sec to avoid extremely slow wait times. It will also give you enough speed to stream HD video from services such as Netflix and Hulu.
So, if you’re issues mainly revolve around the internet, then check out what speed you’re paying for and consider upgrading.
7.) Too much unnecessary junk running
Last but not least, if you have run through this entire list and everything checks out…
It’s possible your system is simply trying to run too much at once. There are ways to tell the computer which programs to load when it boots up. Doing this can reduce the amount of work it has to do. This also ensures that programs will only run once you’ve opened them.
Sometimes a simple optimization is all your computer needs to get up and going.
All of these steps will help you move towards away from a slow computer. Less downtown, more productivity, and less frustration will be worth it.
Time is money. So, spend the little extra cash for a solid-state drive and stop wasting your time!