Okay Baltimore, let’s talk about your slow computer and how to repair it. It’s something we all struggle with from time to time and it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing you did wrong – slow computers happen to everyone. Thankfully, sluggish computer performance is totally fixable, even if the underlying problem is pretty complex. Never forget, you can always call Poindexter if things get hairy. We offer inexpensive computer tune ups for both PC and MAC and love a challenge.
Here are the top three things that can slow down your computer and simple ways to fix them.
Way too many programs are running
By far the most common problem we find on slow computers is the sheer number of programs running simultaneously. It’s normal for a computer user to add and install all sorts of neato programs, but if those programs run too often and aren’t closed properly, they’ll take a chunk out of your performance. Like people, computers have limited attention spans and the more things they have to keep track of, the slower they crawl. Programs aren’t an easy feat and each one requires some amount of brain power (the processor) and memory (the RAM). If there are too many programs running, the processor and RAM can get overloaded, bringing the whole computer to a crawl.
Not all programs tell you they’re running and finding the hidden ones can be tricky, but there’s a good, quick step to try first. In the lower right hand corner of your Windows PC, to the left of the clock, you’ll see a series of little icons. Each icon represents a program running (you might have to click the little arrow to see all of them). Look over each program and decide whether or not it’s worth having. If not, uninstall it or go into its settings and stop it from starting with Windows. If you absolutely must have each program or utility, consider investing in more RAM to free up some working space for your computer.
You Have a Virus or Malware
Viruses and malware are programs that run on your computer and, like any program, malware can gobble up resources. Some malware disguises itself as anti-virus or optimization software. We call these “potentially unwanted programs” and they should be uninstalled immediately. Software promising to update drivers, offer free backups, push you to buy something, or warn your of impending computer doom are almost certainly yuck malware and need to be kicked to the curb. If uninstalling them doesn’t work, consider calling Poindexter for a thorough cleaning. Beware that not all programs announce themselves to Windows and might be running in the background, hidden from view but still using up precious brain power. Some malware is front and center, leaving little doubt that they’re causing problems. Not all malware plays nice and let’s you uninstall it – in fact, some will reinstall themselves and their buddies immediately after you reboot. This can be very frustrating. But take heart! Poindexter can repair your computer.
Malware run amok can eat up memory, disk space, brain power, and make unauthorized changes to Windows and other programs, causing nastier problems than just slow performance. Crashing, weird errors, and other strange behavior all result from untreated infections and need to be dealt with quickly and completely. Uninstalling unwanted programs can free up lots of computer resources, improving stability, boot time, and system speed.
Your Hard Drive Needs a Tune-Up
A hard drive is the permanent storage of your computer; it’s where all files, images, music, movies… everything, gets stored. If you open up a hard drive, you’ll find a polished metal disc and a reading arm, sort of like a phonograph, but way more sensitive. Your data gets saved to this disc as a series of magnetic ones and zeroes. As the disc spins, the reading arm is able to read that code and send it to the processor which puts it all together as that adorable cat picture you saved four years ago and forgot about.
If your hard drive is running low on storage space, Windows can get claustrophobic. Windows loves having lots of elbow room to work – to do its job, Windows needs to make files, unpack stuff, and move stuff around. If there’s too breathing room, Windows can slow down severely or even crash.
Every file on your hard drive gets moved around as new stuff gets added and removed. With regular use, the contents of your hard drive can get disorganized, leaving stuff scattered around, forcing the hard drive and processor to work harder to put everything together correctly. We call this fragmentation and, naturally, defragmenting your hard drive every now and again can improve boot time and performance.
To defragment your computer’s hard drive, just search for defrag using your Start Menu’s search bar. The program “Defragment and Optimize Drives” or something like it will pop up. Select that and follow the instructions as they come up. If you haven’t defragmented in a long time (a year or longer), settle in for a long haul. This might take awhile.