Suffering from a slow PC?

We frequently get asked about slow PC’s and in particular we’re asked to increase the performance or at least determine why a PC that seems to be relatively new is now the donkey of the office.

The main reason for this is of course the spec of the PC and in particular the amount of RAM (Random Access Memory) installed. The other bottleneck is the CPU (Central Processing Unit) but it’s not usually the main offender.

But why when the spec of the PC hasn’t changed is it now running slower than when you first got it? Well, the amount of programs that are running on the PC will have a dramatic effect on the performance of the machine. It should be said as well that programs can run silently in the background without the user being aware. Task Manager is a good way to see what is running on the machine as it will show up all of the processes that are currently active.

Another point to make about slow machines is the expectation of the user. As technology advances and we’re subjected to faster, cleaner machines, it’s quite easy to expect too much from your existing PC. A high-end PC a year ago is probably only a mid-range PC a year later and most likely a donkey of a box within 2-3 years. Users tend to forget that while their PC’s hardware hasn’t changed over this period, the applications and software that are being used on them is constantly changing. Most of the changes inevitably lead to more processing power or memory being consumed even if (to the user) they see no real change.

So, what can you do as a user who’s experiencing a slow PC? Well there are a few things that you can check to try and understand what the main cause of the issue is.

Check the Task Manager and look at the overall CPU and Memory figures, if these are high (60%+ usage) then close down anything that you’re not using such as a every email in Outlook or maybe those 15 tabs you have open in Internet Explorer.

Look at the Spec of the PC, if you’re running less than 4GB of RAM I wouldn’t expect too much from the machine. With the price of RAM these days an upgrade to 8GB can be achieved for under £50 on some machines – money well spent in my eyes!

Scan for any nasties, this subject will most likely be covered in more detail at a later stage, however, for now it’s worth a mini-mention. Scan for Viruses and in particular Malware, Microsoft Security Essentials is a great free Virus checker if you don’t already have one. Malwarebytes (again free) is a fine program that looks for malicious software on the PC and may help remove some items that take up valuable resources without the user necessarily being aware of them.

The above notes are the basics and instructions on all of these points are readily available on the internet for anyone feeling like they want to tackle a slow machine by themselves however we are also happy to look over a PC and give our own diagnosis on it.