A computer’s processing speed is determined first and foremost by its hardware capabilities.
Nevertheless, over time, computers can slow down—and this sluggishness can often be attributed to software issues. There are some steps that you can take to help you identify why your computer’s performance is slowing down and to keep your computer running faster and smoother.
1. Check for spyware, malware, and viruses. This is something that we recommend you do regularly. Not only is your computer at risk, but your personal information is as well. These malicious little buggers can affect how well—and how fast—computers perform. Installing the latest updates to your antivirus software will go a long way towards keeping your computer safe from harm, but when in doubt, a more thorough professional diagnosis may be necessary.
2. Defrag your hard drive. Over time, hard drives become fragmented. Fragmentation slows down the computer’s overall performance, since opening fragmented files means piecing together those fragments first—and saving those files becomes similarly slower and more complicated as well. There are software programs available that can defragment your hard disc and restore those fragmented files. Many of these programs can be set to run automatically on a regular basis. Defragmenting is standard procedure these days, and highly recommended for maintaining your file systems. It doesn’t take too long, and you’ll likely be amazed at the difference in speed afterwards!
3. Free up space on your hard drive. In short, the more space available on your hard drive, the faster the processing time. Get rid of temporary files and paging files, Java applets, and any installed software programs that you don’t need or use. Older files that you don’t need as often can be moved to an external hard drive and backed up on CD or DVD. (And in any case, you should always be sure to back up your files to an external hard drive or other media.) Also, don’t forget to empty the Trash or Recycle Bin—otherwise, all of those files will still be on your computer, taking up space.
4. Add more RAM. Adding a gigabyte or two of RAM (random access memory) can give your computer a second wind and is considered a cost-effective investment. The more RAM on your computer, the faster you can access your data, since the data doesn’t need to be continuously read off the hard drive. However, since the installation involves messing with the hardware a little, and it’s easy to get confused when choosing between different types of RAM, it’s best to leave the installation to an expert or repair person.
Taking these steps should help keep your computer processing time as fast as it was when you first got it. If your computer continues to act slow, consult a computer repair person.