Slow Computer Syndrome

Common complaints from computer users is that the machine “is soooo slow”. Depending who you talk to, you will get a variety of answers on what to do to improve your experience. There are a number of variables at play here, so the important thing is narrowing down where exactly the problem is before doing anything with hardware. Things you should ask yourself should include:

  • Is the problem persistent among multiple users on the same computer?
  • Is the problem only at start up?
  • Is it only when I’m working online?
  • When was the last time I defragmented my hard drive?
  • Is it possible I have a virus?

It is always a good idea to have more than one user account on your computer. With both Windows and Macs, permissions can get messed up, viruses can attack, and preferences can get messed up. Having a second user on your computer is a great way to test if the problem is tied directly to a particular account, a specific application, or the entire machine.

Computers can really chug at start up. Some processes begin and end and others start and continue to run until you shut down your computer. The user interface needs to load, anti-virus software, printer interfaces, wireless services, etc. Not to mention anything else that you’ve added including software that might check for updates including iTunes, Google Notifier, etc.

A great user-friendly (Windows) app is called CCleaner. There is a section there were you can disable different start up options. For instance, on my laptop, I’ve disabled several processes that I don’t want running at start up including: SugarSync, Google Update, QTTask to name a few.

Aside from having more than one user, you should always have more than one browser. Things sometimes can get weird with Safari or Internet Explorer … it’s really not a bad idea to have Firefox, Chrome, or even Opera installed as well. Not to mention, not every internet browser supports the latest web standards. You will have a different experience using Google+ (for instance) if you are using Firefox than if you are using IE7 for example.

A fragmented hard drive can slow performance down, though with increasing disks sizes, that is becoming fairly negligible (and moot if you are using an SSD). A fragmented hard drive is analogous to a newspaper. You get partway through the article and then there’s a message that says, “Oh, the rest of what you are looking for is over here.” When you defragment, you recover lost space and increase efficiency because all of the data (in most cases) becomes one contiguous chunk.

You should never rely on just one anti-virus program. I learned this a number of years ago when working for a client. The machine had over 600 found viruses and it took several different applications to remove all of them. That being said, you should only have one always running … the rest can just hang out and you can use them when you want to do a really good scan. If you have more than one running at a time, they can actually point fingers at each other saying the other is a virus … not to mention using twice the anti-viral resources.

When all else fails, utilize task manager (Windows) and Activity Monitor (Mac) and see who the culprits are. Until next time (system bottlenecks) …

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