Why Is My Computer Slow?

Upset with slow computer

Does your computer take forever to start up? Does it seem sluggish? Not quite the fleet race horse you bought two years ago but more like an old tired plow horse barely able to keep up with the demands of every day computing. As a computer repair professional this is probably the most frequent complaint I hear. Why is my computer so slow? Is it just getting old? Are the parts inside wearing out? Do I need a new computer?

In most cases the answer is simple but the cure is complex. There is no mechanical reason why your computer would run slower as it ages. Electricity still travels at the speed of light and your CPU and RAM still work at the same speed they always have. The problem is in how many things you are asking them to do.

The problem can be spyware. Do you have anti spyware software? If not you will be host to dozens of spyware cookies watching what you do and calling home to their evil owners to "report" on you! They keep track of what programs you use and what Internet web sites you use. All this extra work and traffic can slow you down. See Hot Topics Spyware.

Likewise the problem can be computer viruses! Do you have up-to-date anti virus software? If not you will be infected! Today, viruses don’t crash your computer they use it. They use it to send spam, they use it to store and sell pornography, and they search it for personal identity information. They use your computer to attack other computers and they force spyware on your computer to receive commissions! See Hot Topics Viruses.

The problem can be a fragmented hard drive. After time all hard drives become fragmented. This means that they are now very slow to answer requests. See Hot Topics Defragging.

The problem can also be in the number of "Processes" you are running. Take this simple test. Restart your computer then start Windows Task Manager and see how many Processes are currently running. Just Right mouse click on the Taskbar and choose Task Manager. You can also type TASKMGR in the RUN window.

If you have more than 30 Processes running you have too many! Processes are computer programs that have been loaded into RAM and are currently running. If you click on the Processes tab in Task Manager you will see a list of them along with how much RAM (Mem Usage) they have and how much work they are doing (CPU). A computer that has just been started and is doing nothing should have 0% CPU use (look at the bottom of the Task Manager window). I have seen many computers with over 50 processes loaded into RAM at startup and the CPU never reaches 0%. Note: it is normal for System Idle Process to show 99% CPU and for Taskmgr.exe to take 2% now and then.

Where did all these Processes come from and what are they? Most of them are from programs you have installed since you bought the computer. That new printer will install several Processes, one to monitor ink levels, one to look on-line for updates etc. That new DVD player you installed will add a few. The new versions of Adobe™ Reader add them, even Microsoft updates. Viruses and Spyware also start Processes! Over time the number grows to the point where it takes five minutes instead of one to boot up and all your RAM is taken before you even start to use your computer!

This is where things get complex. The best cure is prevention. All nonessential Processes can and should be prevented from starting until they are needed. The difficulty is in determining which are essential and which are not then finding them and turning them off. This is a job for an expert with close cooperation and input from you. Only you know what software/hardware you use every day and what you can do without. A professional PC repair technician will have the software and experience to guide you through this process without losing essential data or crashing your system.

PC Bits specializes in speeding up slow computers. We remove all spyware, viruses, and unneeded Processes. We teach you how to prevent these pests and how to keep your computer running at its very best. Our motto is, "Better than new!" See our section on Home Computer Services Complete Tune Up.

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