Slow running computers frustrate users and cut productivity. But behind every complaint about a slow computer, there’s a specific root cause. Find that root cause, and you can generally solve the problem.
Here’s a list of the main problems we find when asked to investigate slow systems, together with problem-solving tips to help you speed things up, lower office stress levels and get more done.
1. Malware and viruses
Malware, viruses and spyware are the most common reasons for slow computer performance. Often, there’s no other sign the machine is infected, and malware problems aren’t always picked up by anti-virus programmes – especially if you are using a free version. The malware needs to be found and removed.
2. Inadequate hardware
Workplace PCs or laptops are often not up to the job expected of them. Sometimes, little thought has been given to what specification is needed for the job the user is doing. Sometimes, the demand on the machine has simply grown over time. And every computer gets slower over time. Though you might be able to improve the situation by upgrading components, the best strategy is to budget to replace PCs at regular intervals.
3. Lack of RAM
RAM –or Random Access Memory – is what programmes use to access information on the computer. If there’s not enough RAM to handle what the programmes need to do, everything slows down. Depending on the capacity of your machine, it may be possible to add more RAM.
4. A damaged or faulty hard drive
Hard drives can develop problems – and when they do, things can only get worse. Generally, there’s only one cure: replacement.
5. Too many temporary files
Temporary files are files created to contain information while a new file is being made. They happen in all sorts of scenarios, including when you download a document from the web. Having a large number of temporary files gives your computer more work to do and can slow things down significantly. Internet browsing histories cause similar problems.
It’s a good idea to clear both your temporary folders file and your browsing history at regular intervals.
6. Toolbars and extensions
Toolbars and browser extensions can be added by either accident or design. You may not even know they’re there. Some are useful, others are a nuisance. But any toolbar or extension can potentially slow down the operation of the browser or application it’s attached to. Most can be removed – though it’s not always as simple as it should be.
7. Multiple security programmes
If you have more than one security programme on your machine, there’s the potential for conflict to slow down your system. Decide which you want and uninstall any others. Watch out for anti-virus programmes that sneak in on the back of downloads. A good example is the McAffee software that often installs alongside Adobe Acrobat Reader updates unless you spot the subtle box to tick to say you don’t want it.
8. Scheduled security scans
If you find your computer slow at the same time every day, a scheduled security scan is probably the culprit. Network security scans can mean entire teams abandon all hope of being productive for the duration. But the problem is often fixable. Security software packages work in very different ways, and with the right choice of software, you can minimise any disruption.
9. The wrong choice of software
Sometimes, the problem is simply that the software you are using isn’t the most appropriate for the job or the system.
10. Applications running in the background
Chances are your computer is doing all sorts of unnecessary tasks in the background. These processes need identifying and removing.
11. Under-capacity servers
It’s easy for a business to outgrow its server. As you take on more staff and add more devices, the server has to work harder and harder, and there comes a point where programmes will run more slowly. To solve the problem, you can add extra server capacity, or move to cloud-based computing for at least some operations.
12. Old network devices
A network that’s been around for a while could well have elements that could usefully be upgraded. Many networks, for example, still contain switches that run at 100 Mbps. The modern equivalents run at 1,000 Mbs – and cost under £200.
13. Poor WiFi signal
Though Wi-Fi is never as fast as a wired internet connection, it is often possible to improve the network set-up and so speed up PC internet performance.
If IT speed problems are slowing down your workplace, we can help. Just call us on 0800 084 2575 or email us here