There’s nothing quite as frustrating as a slow computer particularly when you’re trying to get some bloody work done.
And look, none of us have the time to be dicking around with computers in our busy lives, but there are some potentially easy fixes to your slowness woes you can try for yourself. If they don’t end up fixing the issue, at least you’ll be able to tell whatever computer man you contact that you’ve tried all of the steps he was definitely going to ask you to do anyway.
Here are 8 questions you should ask yourself when your computer is running slow as hell.
1. When was the last time you restarted your slow computer?
Sometimes a quick restart is the simplest solution to a slow computer, regardless of whether it’s a PC or a laptop, and particularly if it’s has been running for more than a few days.
Restarting clears out a lot of junk that simply backs up over time, like running processes and things sitting in the memory that probably don’t need to be there anymore. You should probably aim to restart your machine at least once every 2 to 3 days.
Sure, you think it’s funny when they ask, “have you tried turning it off and on again” on The IT Crowd, but they’re asking that shit for a reason. Do it.
2. Is your hard drive fucking packed?
If your hard drive gets too full, it can really start to slow your computer down. This is mostly relevant to the drive your operating system is installed on.
You see, your OS – whether it’s Windows or MacOS – uses spare space to store and move temporary files around and when it doesn’t have a lot of room to do that, it takes more time. Have you ever tried to move shit around in a box when it’s already full of shit? It’s hard, mate.
If your drive is more than 90 or 95 per cent full, you should delete or move some unused files to an external hard drive, or uninstall some programs you don’t need. Big files like entire TV series or HD movies are a good place to start. You should also empty your trash files (called Trash on Mac and Recycling Bin on Windows).
Installing a solid state hard drive for your operating system is a great way to speed up your computer for a fairly low cost, as well.
3. Are you running too many programs at once?
I don’t care how new or top-notch your computer is, you can’t expect it to run a huge amount of processes without slowing down.
Every program you run will take up a portion of your computer’s memory and processing power, and if you open up too many of them at once, eventually you’re going to run out of resources. Of course, some things will require more power than others. For example, running a game will chew up a heap of RAM and processor power, so you wanna try and keep background programs to a minimum when you’re gaming.
I’m not saying you need to run one thing at a time, just try to keep it to what you’re using at that moment. There’s nothing wrong with running, say, Photoshop and Spotify at the same time, assuming you’re not running it on an ancient piece of gear. Eventually, you’ll start to figure out how much your machine can handle based on its specs. If it starts to struggle, just try closing a few things you’re not using.
4. Are you running too many browser tabs?
Like running a program, each tab you open will use a portion of your computer’s resources and depending on the tab, it could be a lot or barely anything. For example, running a tab with video players on them will use more than a tab with just text.
If your shit starts to slow down, just close what you’re not using. Easy.
Alternatively, there are plugins like The Great Suspender, which will automatically suspend tabs you haven’t used in more than an hour, which will free up resources on your slow computer.
5. Is something hogging all your processing power?
Sometimes it can be hard to figure out exactly what is using a bunch of your processing power, but there’s a way to figure it out.
If you’re on a Windows machine, hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete to bring up a window called Task Manager, which gives an overview of what’s running and how much of your processing power each is using, as well as memory. If you click on the CPU column, it’ll sort the programs running by percentage. From there, you can identify what’s slowing you down the most.
If you’re on Mac, hit Command + Spacebar to bring up a search window. Type in Activity Monitor and hit enter to bring it up. You’ll be able to sort the processes running in much the same way.
6. Is your antivirus running a scan?
Most antivirus programs are set up to automatically run scans at certain intervals, whether it’s weekly, monthly, etc. Because a scan usually involves inspecting every file on your hard drive (or within a selected destination), it can put a strain on your computer’s resources.
Open up your antivirus and check when it’s set to run automated scans. If it’s within the hours you generally use your shit, set it to run at another time.
7. Do you have a fucking virus, mate?
On the other side of the antivirus coin, maybe you bloody have one, and maybe it’s running train on your system.
There are so many different kinds of viruses, so it’s hard to say exactly how it’s going to act or how to identify it. Some simply replicate rubbish files to be a pain in the ass, while others might hijack your processing power to mine cryptocurrency. If you have an antivirus installed, it should alert you as soon as any malware is detected, but it’s worth checking every now and then to be sure.
8. Is your shit dusty as hell?
No, seriously, dust can clog up the ventilation on your machine and if air isn’t circulating properly, your hardware can overheat, which can result in a painfully slow computer. Apart from hotter hardware generally running much slower than it should, there’s also a risk of it overheating to the point of completely breaking.
Make sure you clean any dust from vents and if you have a desktop PC, it can also be worth opening it up and vacuuming the dust from time to time. BUT, opening up a machine can void its warranty, so make sure you check that first. Furthermore, if you don’t feel comfortable getting into the guts of the thing, take it to a professional so they can do it for you.
If your slow computer is still running like hot garbage after all of this, it’s probably time to get a professional involved, or shell out for a new computer. There are deeper elements to all of the above points, so this certainly isn’t an exhaustive list of steps, but rather, a good place to start for novices.
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