It’s Slowed Down

Many seniors in my neighborhood run some form of PC with Windows installed on it. And they always complain that after a while the computer has slowed down.

They never seem to be able to explain how or why. They just know that things aren’t the way they were when they brought the PC home from Staples or Costco. One of my friends decided to reset his Windows 10 machine. Although he said it ran better after the reinstallation of Windows, he also blew away all his installed programs. Fortunately he could reinstall them, and he was smart enough to save his data. But it was a major PITA for both of us.

Most of the “victims” are quick to blame Windows itself for the problem of slowness. It’s true that 15-20 years ago Windows did slow down because of fragmentation issues on the hard drive. Maybe they remember that problem. But fragmentation has essentially gone away since the advent of Windows 7 and later.

No there are many other issues that could cause the slowness – whatever it might be.

It’s a laptop.

Many folks in the ‘hood originally had a desktop system which they replaced with a laptop. Even the most powerful laptops are inferior in performance to an equivalent desktop system. The owners started off on the wrong foot to begin with, especially if they were just keeping the unit at home.

It was a cheap laptop when new.

Some of the worst systems I’ve seen are ones that contain cheap AMD, inferior Intel Pentium or (shudder) Intel Atom processors. I have never seen one of these machines that booted fast or launched even the lightest web browser in decent time. They were never good performers.

Not enough memory.

Some netbooks came installed with 1 GB of RAM and maxed out at 2 GB. That little RAM is pathetic today; even 4 GB is on the skimpy side. A laptop needs about 8 GB of RAM to run smoothly. I have 16 GB in my desktop. Windows 10 will use a fair bit just to run and it’ll take more to keep programs cached in memory if it has it available.

Slow hard drive.

Most desktops and laptops of a few years ago do not have a fast solid state drive as part of the original hardware. In fact, most cheap laptops have a very slow mechanical hard drive. Combined with low RAM this can be a lethal combination when it comes to booting and launching programs.

Too much security.

It’s great to have antivirus and malware protection, but some people overdo it – running combinations of heavy security software. On my machine, I have a fairly lightweight antivirus security suite and combine this with Malware Bytes anti-malware. Using a combination of Malware Bytes and Windows’ own security suite is another option.

Bloatware and startup apps.

Many new systems come with a lot of bloatware – these questionable programs are often trial versions, but they are added on by the computer maker to get extra revenue. Some of this stuff is set up to launch when you start your PC. If you don’t need it, delete it.

People add more programs that may launch when the PC is started up – things like Skype, Spotify and Steam for example. You can set these programs to NOT launch at startup if you want.

Another good way to avoid bloatware is to spend a bit more and get a commercial grade computer – either desktop or laptop. These machines don’t usually get as many superfluous programs installed by the manufacturer.

Slow Internet Connection.

It seems inconceivable in this age of broadband access, but some people buy the absolute minimum package for their Internet. For just a few dollars more they could drastically improve download speeds – and overall performance.

The Internet will also be slower using a wifi connection so if you have a desktop with your Internet gateway nearby, connect it by wire. You won’t be disappointed.

Bottom Line.

I have a six-year-old desktop system that now runs Windows 10. I never hear any complaints about slow performance. I was careful to buy a high performing commercial desktop in 2013. Since then I have added lots of memory, a solid state hard drive to launch the system and its programs, a separate video card. I also have a fairly fast Internet package, and I connect by cable to the router. I am careful about what gets launched at startup. I keep my security programs to the minimum necessary. I delete programs I don’t use.

If you follow some of the above, both in buying and upgrading a system you probably will never think your system is running slow and feel you want to reinstall Windows or buy a new system before it is time. That’s how I see it at least.

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