Has your computer become sluggish? Here are a few reasons why you might be left waiting…
- Lots of unused programs
A lot of new laptops and PCs these days come with pre-installed software from the manufacturer that you never actually get around to using. You may not even realise these programs are on there taking up valuable space on your machine. And they’re not all lying dormant, either.
Some programs actually start working as soon as you start your computer, running processes in the background even if you’re not using them. These extra tasks divert resources away from what you want your computer to do and slows everything down as your computer must work even harder to multi-task.
- Too many temporary files
Everything you do on your computer creates a trail; a record of temporary files which are created during any action (like saving a file or opening an e-mail attachment) to prevent any data loss if your device were to suddenly turn off before the process completed.
These files become redundant almost immediately after being created and, if not deleted, can build up on your system’s memory causing your computer to become sluggish.
- Unnecessary start-ups
Sometimes in the process of downloading and installing a new program it may ask you for permission to start the program up when your computer turns on, whether you need it or not. Sometimes that request for permission is in the form of an easily missed check-box which is already pre-ticked. As a result, your computer may be loading lots of unnecessary programs immediately after booting in, without you even knowing about it. This increases the time it takes for your computer to respond to you and slows everything down before you’ve even got started.
- Not enough hard drive storage
Memory comes in several forms when talking about computers. Hard drive memory is your computer’s long-term memory, where all your data is stored along with the programs you use to access it (like the operating system, plus other applications). It’s not this type of memory that your computer uses to juggle tasks – well, mostly.
A tiny percentage of this memory is reserved for the overflow, known as the ‘page file’, for when your RAM (Random Access Memory), which is your computer’s short-term memory, is too ‘busy’. So if your hard drive is bursting at the seams there’s a chance this tiny percentage of memory is already being used. At this point, your computer will drastically slow down and it is most definitely time to upgrade to a bigger drive or move some files to an external device.
- Low RAM
RAM translates to your computer’s ability to multi-task. The more RAM you have, the more your computer can handle at once. And vice versa. If your computer doesn’t have a lot of RAM and you tend to run a lot of programs at once then you’ll notice your computer become a lot less responsive. The good news is that RAM is removable for most laptops and PCs so you can always upgrade it for an easy boost to your speed.
Computer fans suck in cool air to keep your components from overheating but they also let in the computer’s worst nightmare: dust. A fan choked by dust means not only is your computer at risk of slow performance due to overheating, but dust is also conductive and can cause electric shorts and fatal damage to your device. Pet hair and tar from smoking are also common stowaways!
Vacuuming the dust out is one way to help your computer breathe again but an inexperienced attempt can be extremely risky. For peace of mind, it is recommended that you take your computer to an experienced computer technician who will be able to thoroughly clean your components using the proper tools in a controlled and suitable environment.
- Malware/Adware infection
At best, malicious software and viruses tend to run processes in the background. At worst, they can track keystrokes (including all the passwords you key in) and websites visited, encrypt or corrupt your data, shower you with incessant pop-ups or enslave your computer for co-ordinated hacking attempts (without your knowledge). All of these things will slow your computer down and could seriously compromise your data and your safety.
- Having more than one anti-virus/malware scanner
You may think, then, that the more security the better. This is not always true when it comes to computer programs.
Most anti-virus/malware scanners use real-time detection processes to sweep and protect your computer. When you have more than one active at any given time they can either 1) conflict with each other, reducing their effectiveness, or 2) use double the resources necessary to perform the same job, both of which will have an adverse effect on the speed of your computer.
- Out-of-date drivers
Your hardware needs to ‘talk’ to your software in order for it all to work and the programs which facilitate this are called ‘drivers’. These drivers control specific pieces of hardware. Your CD-ROM drive has one, as does your mouse or trackpad, your keyboard, your printer etc. Sometimes the drivers will come pre-installed with your computer, and sometimes a printer or new device will include the drivers on a disc or an automatic download.
Hardware manufacturers release new drivers periodically to increase efficiency, ensure compatibility with new operating systems, and work out any bugs or issues. If your computer is using old or outdated drivers then you may find that things aren’t as streamlined as they should be and your computer is not as efficient.
- Hard disk failure
Hard drives (or hard disks) can slow down with age. They’re made up of lots of fast-moving parts which are subject to wear and tear. The lifespan of a hard drive is typically about five years, depending on the make and model.
If a hard drive is beginning to fail the computer can act erratically. You might have long wait times for access to files and folders or have files disappear completely, in addition to irregular crashes and cryptic error messages. A loud, grinding sound or unusual clicking can be the most definitive indicator of hard drive failure. When a hard disk fails it can take all your data with it.
If you suspect something may be wrong with your hard drive, take your computer to a computer repair centre immediately for the best chance to save your data and get a replacement.
EXPERT TIP: For an extra speed boost, invest in a solid-state drive (SSD). These have no moving parts, like a USB flash drive, and are noticeably quicker—an SSD can reduce your boot-up time drastically, meaning your computer can turn on and be ready to use in a matter of seconds.
If you notice your computer slowing down or you are worried about your computer’s performance, always consult a professional. Mediafields has a team of experienced computer technicians on hand for all PC diagnostics and repairs. Contact us today on 01978 361666 to discuss what we can do for you.