Why is My Computer So Slow?

We’ve all been there, you need to get that email sent quickly or print off that document before you leave, and you’re already late. You fire up your Laptop and stand there waiting for seemingly decades as it slowly whirrs into life. You remind yourself to move “do something about the laptop” further up on your To-Do list, and then as soon as you’ve left the house with what you need, it’s back to square one and ready to repeat next week.

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In this post we’ll break down the following:

  • The top 3 reasons your PC may be slower than usual.
  • What on earth your “RAM, CPU and Hard Drive” actually do?
  • What can you do to improve your performance?
  • What can Provident IT offer to significantly increase your PC’s performance?

We see a lot of slow PC’s that we’re tasked with “speeding up”. We thought you’d be interested to know why your PC may be slow and exactly what ‘jiggery-pokery witchcraft’ we do to make a PC lightning fast. Here’s some of the assessment points we perform:

1. We run a full scan for adware, viruses, and malware.

This may sound like a cliché, but you’d be shocked at how many foreign applications find their way onto your PC when you install legitimate software and don’t notice a pre-checked “Also install XYZ as a free offer” box in the corner of your screen.

A lot of these applications pose themselves as “PC Scan and Repair” software. They typically pop up from time to time whilst running useless background processes with the goal of deliberately slowing down your PC – in an effort to get you to pay for the software! This type of annoying software is known as Adware, it’s not necessarily a threat to your documents and pictures but it’s frustratingly intrusive. Naturally, viruses and other types of malware can also result in degraded performance.

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2. We check installed software and for available updates/bug fixes

“But that’s what everyone says, everyone knows updates don’t actually fix anything.” We hear this frequently, this is true in a lot of cases, but again you’d be surprised. Just months ago, a major bug in Spotify for Windows was found, that caused Spotify to constantly read/write garbled data to the computers Hard Drive. This kind of bug would slow your PC down by up to 90% – and all it takes to resolve it is a simple update.

We also look for bloatware – A type of almost useless software that typically comes pre-installed when you bought the machine directly from a manufacturer or large retailer. Bloatware usually serves an advertising purpose or is very limited in functionality until you pay for it. Manufacturers typically get paid large sums of money from companies like McAfee to have their Antivirus software pre-installed on computers that consumers (and even businesses) buy.

Often, people don’t notice McAffee and they’ll go about putting AVG/Norton Antivirus etc. on their new PC for peace of mind – but there’s a critical mistake here… Having 2 active Antivirus agents running at the same time is disastrous for performance. They’ll constantly be detecting/fighting each other and looking to assert control over your PC’s protection and all of its data in order to keep it safe. This often results in severely poor PC performance!

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3. We check the RAM, CPU/GPU and Hard Drive.

These are the components critical to performance, but their roles vary significantly. You might have read “adding more RAM in your PC makes it faster” Does it? In reality, sadly not. We need to understand which component handles what, so let’s break down what each one does:

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RAM (Random Access Memory) – Think of this like a desk you work at, the bigger your desk (i.e. the more RAM you have), the more stuff you can have going on at the same time. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can work through your stuff faster than you could if you had a smaller desk (i.e. a PC with less RAM). A PC with a lot of RAM can have many background processes running without slowing down by much, but adding more RAM doesn’t necessarily make your PC faster!

CPU (Central Processing Unit) – The brains of the PC, imagine you’re doing an exam that you understand the questions for, but need time to think about them and work them out before writing them down. This component is the one that does the thinking, the faster the CPU, the quicker it can complete “operations”. Upgrading the CPU benefits your PC in many ways, but since you’ve still got to “read the questions” and “write down the answers” (similar to how a PC has to read/write data to the hard drive), it doesn’t always improve overall performance as much as you’d hope!

GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) – For this one let’s imagine you’re an artist, and you need to draw around 30 pictures a second that will be instantly shown to a user on a computer monitor. Your “CPU” has worked out exactly what it wants to draw, but now it’s time to put pencil to paper, and pretty fast. The GPU (commonly referred to as Graphics Card) is what determines how fast, and how detailed, images can be sent to your display. Simple images with less change or ‘movement’ in between each one can be done very well by the vast majority of PC’s, but when it comes to Gaming or High-end graphics design work, a powerful GPU is needed! This is why GPU’s are generally not responsible for a slow PC, only lag when performing a graphically intense task, like editing a video.

Hard Drive – Where all your stuff goes when you hit save! This is the component that is home to Windows itself, all of your installed programs, those embarrassing photos in your pictures library, and a few unfinished Word documents. There’s something in that last sentence that most people overlook…

“Home to Windows itself, and all of your installed programs.”

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If you’re at home (like Windows), and you need to get to work in the morning (“Boot up”), how long would it take you if you woke up and your house’s contents were littered around like a dump? Good look finding your car keys and those printed documents you need!

Once you do get out the door, how fast do you think you’ll get to work if you have to drive down congested streets compared to a dual-carriageway with no traffic directly from your house to your office?

This is when we start to realise what the biggest cause of a slow PC is! Hard Drive’s are responsible for the organisation and storage of data on your PC – and everything from Windows, to installed programs and files, are all examples of data that it stores. If your Hard Drive hasn’t been organizing things properly, how can it find the files your PC needs quickly? Also, Hard Drive’s degrade physically over time, meaning that it gradually get’s slower and slower all by itself.

How can I combat this?

You could try to help your PC “organise” itself better, almost like cleaning your house, not by throwing stuff out, but by spending a bit of time consolidating things and finding better places in your house to put things, so that you’ll remember where they are in the future and don’t have to waste time looking for them. Now, we don’t mean reorganising your picture library or where your documents are stored; we mean moving all of the data on your physical disk closer together and in the right order. This process is known as “Defragmentation” – and you can do this yourself very easily!

Go to your Start menu by clicking the Start Button in the bottom left of your screen, or by pressing the Windows Logo on your keyboard

In the search box, type in “defrag” and open the first result

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A window will pop up showing you all the drives connected to your PC, you should go through each one (Especially C:) and once it’s selected, press “Defragment” or “Optimise” in the bottom right, depending on which version of Windows you use and what kind of drive you have.

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This may take a while (~2hrs) to complete, but once it’s completed you should see a noticeable improvement in the performance of your PC – congratulations, you’ve just told a computer to go and tidy its room!

“But my PC is still slow!”

If you’ve investigated everything we’ve mentioned above and your PC is still slow, your Hard Drive is most likely degraded, and you need to look at replacing it. IT specialists such as Provident IT Solutions can supply the right Hard Drive for your PC and clone all of your data from your old Hard Drive onto your new one, before installing it inside your PC. This process would result in nothing changing with your PC – except it’s now faster and could potentially have more space available than before if you decided to go with a bigger Hard Drive than you previously had!

However, there’s a much better solution available than just replacing your Hard Drive, and that’s replacing it with a much faster type of Hard Drive called an SSD (Solid State Drive). SSD’s solve all the problems of mechanical Hard Drives, such as:

  • SSD’s don’t degrade in performance over time
  • SSD’s aren’t as fragile (your data can be easily lost if you drop your laptop with a standard Hard Drive)
  • SSD’s don’t need defragmentations to keep them tidy
  • SSD’s are 10x faster at reading/writing data

SSD’s do exactly the same job as mechanical Hard Drives (storing your files and programs), but they go about it completely differently. Whilst Mechanical Hard Drives read and write data magnetically onto a spinning silver Platter, SSD’s store data in Flash Storage chips, just like a USB stick. They have no moving parts and are up to 10x faster than Hard Drives.

SSD’s have been around for a while but are only now becoming increasingly popular, since PC manufacturers have only started endorsing them recently as they used to be very expensive. The cost of an SSD is more than a Hard Drive of the same capacity, but the prices keep improving and the advantages of an SSD greatly justifies the extra costs.

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If you’d like any help improving the performance of your PC, or would like to discuss upgrading your PC to an SSD to benefit from 10x faster speeds; feel free to Contact Us on 01664 650 100 or by email via [email protected]

All the best,

Harvey Bolton

Managing Director

About Provident

From ad-hoc technical support through to fully managed IT support, the Provident IT team can be your own internal IT department – but with more resources and lower costs. We work with businesses of all sizes and in all kinds of different capacities, with a proven track record for improving productivity, increasing security and reducing IT spend for our clients.

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