It’s a tale as old as time itself: you bought a brand new laptop, took it home and turned it on for the first time — what speed, what quick startup, look how quickly the software opens! After a few months or years of use, all this efficiency becomes increasingly absent, giving way to a slowness that makes your once state-of-the-art machine seem to work at the base of the crank and rope so slowly.
We’ve all been through this and, unfortunately — it’s important to mention this —, this is an inevitable process: time is cruel even in information technology, and personal computers will have their performance compromised. However, there are cases where this drop in performance can be minimized or even postponed.
Law of technology: innovation demands resources
First, we must point out one thing: you can’t prevent your computer from losing capacity and performance over time. No matter what you do, any solution is palliative and will, at best, extend your machine’s life; eventually, you will have to invest money in new parts or even an up-to-date machine.
That’s because technology evolves in a matter of minutes: at all times, new features, functions, pieces of hardware, and new software are launched, each with innovative features that further advance the fine line of evolution. The problem is that, for it to evolve, computing will need more memory, space, video, and processing. Want proof? Try running, say, any game from three or four years ago and compare it to a recent release of any game. Even on settings specially crafted for your machine, the newest game can and probably will stutter when faced with a lagged setting.
Therefore, no matter how many control actions you implement, a more drastic measure will eventually be necessary. The good news, however, is that some steps will make you not have to spend a lot of money every time a new processor or video card comes out.
Low disk space
One of the most apparent problems is also one of the leading causes of slow performance on your personal computer: data and file storage are good for you, but too much is bad for your computer. Every time a file is saved, your operating system stores it in a folder, and the hard disk (the famous “HD”) memorizes the “path” that leads to that file.
Over time, your downloads saved files and browsing data stored on disk cause it to memorize too many “paths,” effectively taking longer and longer to run its processes.
How to fix this: Do you know when your phone is low on space, and you need to uninstall apps or delete photos to make something new fit?
The same principle applies here: empty the recycle bin, delete files and programs that you no longer need, or, if you have any impediments to permanently deleting them, invest in sharing that storage, be it an external HD, pen drive, or any other online cloud storage solution such as Dropbox or Google Drive.
This way, you free up your disk and allow it to run processes more efficiently.
Your disc is old.
Sometimes the problem is not even with the amount of files and data stored but with the physical disk itself. A hard disk (HD) consists of a “disc” that rotates several times a minute, being read by a metallic arm with a needle at the end.
Whenever you “open” something on the machine, this is what happens. The problem is that, over time, the disk starts to spin more slowly, signaling that it is reaching the end of its useful life. Performance slowdown is often the first indication of this.
How to fix this: well, you don’t fix it. Unfortunately, hardware degradation is an incurable problem. What you can do is invest in a new piece. Here is the recommendation to modernize your apparatus: instead of a standard hard disk (HDD), Boost your computer with an SSD, or buy a new machine.
This component has become the standard for virtually every major global manufacturer because it does not read like an HDD. Still, it operates within what is convenient to call “flash memory”, using the processor’s capacity to read files.
This increases your efficiency on two fronts: the first is that everything starts up much faster; the second is that the physical part is conserved for much longer.
Lack of memory
An essential aspect of any computer is the amount of RAM available. Today, newer models with intermediate configurations bring 8 GB, which is usually enough for most tasks.
However, depending on your usage habits, it is easy to get very close to this limit, which causes processes to slow down almost immediately: do you usually browse with several tabs open? Or does it run several heavy programs simultaneously, like Photoshop, Skype, and some streaming music?
This demands RAM from your PC; the more stuff you run, the less memory is available.
There is also the need to evaluate the execution of processes in the background: much of what you do not see is running in the operating system’s background, which also consumes much memory.
The Steam Store client is usually the culprit of this: the store is updated daily and the access software runs checks without the user noticing, taking up a lot of RAM.
How to fix this: try closing some things you see right away but aren’t using (or don’t need to use) at the moment. Do you need 16 Chrome tabs open? Alternately, entire close processes via the Task Manager (CTRL+ALT+DEL on Windows / CTRL+SHIFT+ESC on Mac OS). If you don’t plan on opening Steam today, the update could be delayed tomorrow or over the weekend.
If even so, your computer is slow, it may just be that your memory is too low for so much volume of use. Or else her physical combs are old. Investing in extra memory sticks (if your motherboard allows new sticks to be inserted) or a machine with a more “strong” configuration is good in both cases.
Or you have a virus…
Does your machine have the strongest configuration? You don’t go around writing to disk everything you see on the internet, and you routinely close things you don’t intend to use, and yet the machine is slow as a bus in rush hour? So it’s good to confirm whether your PC has any viruses or malware installed.
It is common for third parties’ actions — or even ours — to install malicious software that prevents our hardware from working effectively. Cryptominers are the latest evil here: this type of action involves “stealing” the processing of another computer to obtain bitcoins (or another cryptocurrency). And get this: they spend absurd amounts of computational resources.
How to fix this: Download a good antivirus and run that full scan to see if anyone else is using your computer with you. But do this with a caveat because…
…or your antivirus is the problem
Undeniably, some protection software sins for being too zealous with the health of your operating system: an antivirus usually has a tool to check the integrity of your entire machine — which you run manually —, but it also brings real-time monitoring capabilities to keep you free from threats.
This is a very good thing, of course. Nobody wants someone to use their innocent browsing to steal resources and data.
But as the saying goes, this is a double-edged sword: while you have an extra layer of protection for your security, this protection runs in redundancy. That is, it is on all the time. This consumes processing and memory resources; in the case of antivirus programs, the consumption of these two resources is enormous.
How to fix this: mark in your routine use of the computer those moments when you do not use it online, as in certain games with a campaign mode for one player or in online games in games whose producers already have their defense mechanisms.
It is perfectly acceptable for you to turn off the real-time antivirus scan in these cases to save money or direct resources to more important areas at the time. Just don’t forget to activate it later when navigation requires you to go through pages on the internet.
You have updated your operating system.
Believe it or not, even updating your operating system brings difficulties to the performance of your machine. As we said at the beginning of the text, new features usually require more processing, storage, and memory consumption.
This also goes for system updates: even security patches tend to inflate the consumption of computational resources, and eventually, you may reach the limit that your configuration can support.
As a rule of thumb: the machine you bought today will perform incredibly fast, especially if your benchmark is an older, used PC. As manufacturers release new updates to their products. However, even the most advanced machine will experience performance bottlenecks, and sluggishness will be a natural effect.
How to fix this: this is yet another case of no fix. Keeping the machine updated in all its aspects is still a more valuable precedent than saving computational resources.
You can even refuse to install updates, but some companies cut functions in the face of this — preventing you from fully using them — apart from an outdated machine opening the way for intruders to take advantage of exploits and flaws that the update you ignored would solve.
You use windows
May Microsoft and its fans forgive us, but there are some little problems that only the operating system designed by Bill Gates can cause us. Take a good look: Windows was not designed to carry out functions that other systems promote automatically, such as defragmenting disk partitions, cleaning the registry, and eliminating temporary files.
Since, by default, operating systems save everything they can to create navigational shortcuts for accessing specific files — in the case of Windows, this data never goes away and accumulates periodically.
How to fix this: Here, user attention is required. You can schedule some essential tasks to run periodically (defrag your disk once a week, for example). With that, you should notice some performance gains with your machine. Or, if you’re the type who likes to experiment with other avenues, install a different operating system:
Linux tends to be lighter than Windows, and it’s distributed free. If you have some spare cash, you can also invest in a macOS machine from Apple.
I already took care of all this, and nothing helped!
The problems listed above are the most common ones impacting your computer’s performance. However, they are not the only ones: there are cases in which the static electricity of the carpets and rugs in the room where the machine is installed can cause some choking. Or else the room is dusty, accumulating dust on the machine’s cooling fans, impacting its operation and increasing the processor’s temperature.
It’s always good to check the cleanliness of your machine and where it is stored to ensure that the problem has no cause outside the operating system or the hardware itself.
And in the last case, when all else fails, you can still resort to the best-known feature: formatting the PC. If the earnings are negligible, check your finances and release the limit on your credit card: it’s time to buy a new computer.