What Could Be Slowing Down Your Computer?
Computers tend to slow down for a variety of reasons, but most of these are about one thing: how you are using your PC or laptop. Every time you download the latest program, install extensions, are surfing the Internet, creating files, and filling your hard drive with your favourite choice of music and movies, you are building up a virtual detritus that will have a negative impact on the computer’s performance. So, if you’re asking yourself why your computer seems to be running slower and slower with each passing day, it’s time you run some checks to clean it up.
Fortunately, you don’t have to get rid of your PC and get a new one. Generally speaking if your computer is 3-5 years old it’s usually worth investing some money into it. If your computer is 5+ years old you may find it more economical to put the money towards a new one.
Instead, here are a couple of the most frequent reasons why your computer could be slowing down, and some tips for getting it to work faster.
A Failing Hard Drive
Most hard drives come with moving parts that will eventually fail, and there’s no way of guarding against this happening except keeping a backup of your programs and files. On the other hand, Solid State Drives (SSDs) don’t have any moving parts, and they are less likely to fail since they don’t suffer mechanical breakdowns. However, the data in SSDs can easily be corrupted, and it’s much more difficult to recover your data if that happens.
It’s recommended that you run regular hard drive checks to ensure that your drive is in tip-top condition. Installing HDD health check software for your PC will go a long way in ensuring that your disk is not failing. Also, take care if you have a laptop and transport it around, remember that the hard drive inside the computer is a moving component so it should be handled with care at all times.
You Have Too Many Browser Tabs Open
If you are in the habit of opening too many tabs at the same time, it’s more than likely that your Internet browser is hogging more than its fair share of precious RAM. Running multiple browsers will also slow down the computer – just as opening 10 tabs will; and you lose extra RAM if any of your tabs are continually refreshing.
If you have important links that you need to have open at the same time, it’s better if you create a Bookmarks folder. Make use of browser extension tools that will help organise all your open tabs to a simple list on a single tab, and you can access them whenever you need.
An Overzealous Antivirus Program
Anti-malware programs are critical for maintaining computer hygiene; however, yours could be running numerous background tasks when you need your RAM. Virus scans usually run in the background and end up slowing down your PC. In fact, most antivirus software on the market run weekly full scans by default, and they take a couple of hours, so they can use up a lot of your RAM.
To fix this dilemma, just open your antivirus software settings and tweak the settings for it to scan late in the evening when you’re not working on your computer. Be aware, however, that this feature may not be available in some free programs, which is why you should consider upgrading to a paid subscription.
Too Many Startup Programs
Some of the new programs you download will sometimes sneak their way into your Login Items for Macs and Startup Menu for Windows. If you inadvertently allowed the programs to do this during installation, you’ll likely end up with dozens of applications running the moment you turn on your computer. Also having too many icons on your Mac’s desktop will slow down its performance significantly.
Firewall and antivirus software should run on starting up your computer. Other programs like Microsoft Office or iTunes can easily be configured to stay closed until you need them. To fix this, consider stopping or reducing the startup items.
You’re Running a Slick OS
The battle between appearance and performance is very much alive, and when you enable the visual effects for eye candy transitions, you are likely affecting your PC’s speed. This is especially true if the hardware is just a little over the requirements of your Operating System (OS). With an excellent 1GB RAM video card, you should be OK, but anything less than that will inevitably slow down the computer.
Fix visual effects on your Windows computer in the Control Panel. For Macs, go to System Preferences to minimise applications and change the Genie effect to Scale; remember to uncheck Animate Opening Applications.
Your Computer Doesn’t Have Enough Memory
If you have cleaned your PC and modified how you use your Internet browser by reducing open tabs, but the computer is still slow, it’s time you look into upgrading your system’s RAM. A couple of programs require lots of RAM for running, especially video or photo editing software. Many people try running such resource-heavy programs on entry- to mid-level computers that cannot handle them.
It’s best if you upgrade your unit’s memory to 16GB or 32GB RAM if you plan on running graphics-heavy programs. Fortunately, improving your PC’s RAM isn’t too costly. Increasing RAM makes your computer much faster and better while handling resource-heavy tasks.
You Might Have to Restart Your PC
Restarting seems to solve plenty of tech problems like programs that hang for even more reasons. Lots of stuff ends up being stuck in the background; for instance, when you try closing down Outlook, the background processes may still be running. You can choose to “End Task,” but not many people are savvy about the tasks they can end.
Instead of manually digging into your PC’s Activity Monitor or Task Manager to find out the reason behind the sluggish performance, you can restart your computer. This will help end these resource-hogging programs.