A slow computer can be a pain to deal with. There’s nothing more excruciating than turning on a computer and having to wait what seems like an eternity before you can start using the darn thing.
This is one of the more common questions I get asked as an IT professional, and there are a variety of things that could have contributed to your computer system slowing down.
With the improvement of technology in recent years, there are also many different solutions to help alleviate this problem. I’ll dispel a few reasons why you’re computer is running so slow (the more common ones) and what you can actually do about it.
Low RAM (Random Access Memory)
So let’s talk about this integral component of your computer. I’ll try not to overwhelm you with tech jargon here. But in simple terms, the RAM on your computer is what temporarily stores information when the computer is on. Your computer can instantly grab whatever information it needs from RAM at any given time, for whatever application is running. It operates very similarly to our short term and long term memory in our brains.
So the more RAM you have on your computer, the better. This is usually one of the first places I go when a computer starts to slow down. Luckily, it’s one of the easier and cheaper components to upgrade. The average computer today has anywhere between 4GB to 16GB (Gigabyte) of RAM installed. If you’re a gamer, it’s more like 16GB to 32GB, plus the memory that’s needed for the video card.
If your computer is below the range I just gave, you definitely want to consider upgrading as soon as you can. Even if your computer falls within that range, but it’s still slow, start by getting the RAM upgraded.
I’d even take it a step further and install the maximum amount that your computer can handle.
Here’s how you can do that. Find out what type of RAM your particular computer uses by going to Crucial’s website. They are one of the largest RAM manufacturers and they can get you just about any RAM you need.
When you’re on the website, enter the make and model of your computer. If you have a custom-built system, then you would need to know the motherboard’s make and model. Crucial will give you all the details of the type of RAM your computer takes, and tell you how much it will cost. You can either purchase the RAM directly from their website or go to your electronic store and purchase it there.
Once you receive the component, you can either do the install yourself (there are tons of YouTube videos that’ll show you how) or get a technician to install it for you.
Optimize the Operating System
After some time of using your computer, it will eventually start to slow down from normal wear and tear. We’re always downloading and installing things on our computers each time we use them. Many times, we inadvertently install other unwanted programs and don’t realize it.
Those unwanted applications oftentimes place themselves in the startup folders of the Operating System, without our knowledge of it happening. Not only is this causing your computer’s hard drive to become fragmented, but also, the RAM gets used up unnecessarily upon startup. These programs are also running in the background, occupying computer memory, which negatively impacts your computer’s overall performance.
One of the best ways to remedy this is to…well uninstall these unneeded applications. Go to the Control Panel and look for “Uninstall a Program”. Go through the list of programs that are listed there and uninstall everything that you know you don’t need.
Another simple trick is to stop programs from starting up when your computer boots up. In a Windows 10 computer, here’s how to do that:
- Right-click on an open space on your taskbar. Your taskbar is typically located at the very bottom of your computer screen.
- Select Task Manager.
- When Task Manager opens, select the Startup tab.
- In that list, select any application that you don’t what to start up when the computer boots up and click Disable at the bottom right.
A really handy tool that can also help with the optimization process of your operating system is CCleaner. You can use the free version or get the paid version. This tool will help you clean out the Temp Files, empty the Recycle Bin, optimize all apps that are running slow, and lots more. Check out their website and see what packages they have available.
Getting Rid of Malware
Before we get into ridding your computer of malware, let’s first define what malware is. The term “malware” is a mashup of the words malicious software, which is a piece of software that was created to do bad things to your computer. Among the different types of malware are Viruses, Trojans, and the big one that’s creating so many problems for companies these days is Ransomware. There are many other forms of malware, but those are the 3 most common.
The best way to protect yourself from malware is to be proactive…which to the average user is not so easy to do because their main concern is to use their computers. In addition to the obvious virus software installation, here are a few things you can do to keep your computer from getting infected with malware:
- Be careful what you’re downloading off the internet. If you don’t trust the source from which you are downloading, then it’s probably not a good idea to download anything from that site.
- Similar to the first tip, be careful of what you’re clicking in the email that takes you out to the internet. Again, if you don’t trust the source, delete the email.
- Don’t share any sensitive information about yourself or the company you work for with strangers you don’t know. Whether online or over the phone. This is considered “phishing“, and it’s a way for people to get information about you that they can use to steal from you. If you’re not sure about the source that’s asking for your information, get a second opinion from an IT professional.
If you do find yourself a victim of a milder version of the malware, you can use Malwarebytes to remove any and all versions of malware that have infected your computer. Similar to Ccleaner, you can download a free or paid version. It is pretty robust and I would recommend using it if you feel your computer has been infected with malware.
Having a slow computer can really be a pain to deal with. Unfortunately, at some point, every computer will eventually start to slow down with just everyday usage. After some time of owning your computer, the best remedy in some cases is to simply replace your computer. But we all understand that’ll be hundreds to thousands of dollars that you may not have at that point.
Before you get to that point with your computer, consider these options of upgrades and you’ll notice a big improvement in the overall performance. These are effective and don’t cost nearly as much to replace your computer. Some of them are even free to do.