While most computers can last 5–8 years, they slow down with age. Today, desktops and laptops have a minimum life span of three years. By then, some may already show issues, such as slow processing speed and inability to run new applications smoothly. Why is that?
Possible Answers to “Why Is My Computer So Slow?”
Brand new computers are always lightning fast because they don’t contain anything. The more files you download, software you install, and sites you visit online, the more your computer gets bloated with system resources.
System resources refer to all the things (files and such) that your computer needs to open saved files, run programs, or see all of the components of websites. Without them, your saved files may get corrupted, disallowing you from opening them. The software you installed may not run properly, or the sites you access may have missing components (videos, photos, or more complex content) as well.
While the reasons why computers slow down over time may vary depending on how they’re used, some common user mistakes could be the culprit.
Every computer has a random access memory (RAM) where files and components necessary to run programs are stored during use. When you open an application, every file it needs to let you work on a document, for instance, uses up RAM resources. Every computer has a fixed RAM capacity, which is used up faster when several programs run simultaneously. Opening other applications won’t be possible when your computer’s RAM runs out of resources unless you close one to run another.
Determining how much RAM you need could be tricky. In general, though, 4-8GB is enough for typical users. That needs to increase based on how many applications (especially resource hoggers) you run simultaneously.
Lack of Disk Drive Space
Just like RAM capacity, every computer also has limited disk drive space. Every file you save on it takes up space, and when that gets filled, it will start to slow down or, worse, hang.
A good rule of thumb to prevent your computer from freezing up would be leaving 10% of disk space free constantly.
Malware or malicious programs you may have inadvertently downloaded while visiting an infected website or attaching an infected hard drive to your computer often run silently in the background. Some use up a lot of your computer’s resources, causing it to slow down or even freeze.
Other reasons computers slow down with age include an old and fragmented hard drive, too many background and startup programs, failing to install necessary updates and patches, and complex special effects and visual features.
While all computers are bound to become slow over time, there are still plenty of great tips you can try to speed up your Mac or PC and prolong their life span.
How to Speed Up a Slow Computer
You can take these steps to prolong your computer’s lifespan or prevent it from running too slow by following the tips and tricks below.
Restart Your Computer
If your computer is still relatively new but is running more slowly than it should, the first thing you can do is restart it. It may just need to shut down properly, meaning all the programs you used should be closed first. Otherwise, the applications that weren’t shut down properly keep running, at times, even after you restart.
Clean Up Your Hard Drive
Much like cleaning can keep your home, appliances, and furniture last longer, so too can regularly getting rid of stuff your computer doesn’t need to run periodically. Cleanup tools are readily available for download to speed up your computer. Using these solutions ensures that you won’t delete files and applications your computer needs to run smoothly.
Clear Cookies from Your Browser
While each browser cookie doesn’t take up that much memory space, the number can accumulate until it eats up a considerable chunk of your computer’s resources. Regularly erasing your browsing history can keep the space cookies take up on it to a minimum.
Avoid Running Too Many Programs at the Same Time
This practice is especially true for computers that don’t have a massive RAM capacity. Each application takes up memory space, so limiting the number of software running can help speed up things.
Scan for Malware
Using an anti-malware solution is the most effective and least time-consuming way to do this. Running it ensures that no malicious programs are running on your computer, taking up much-needed resources and space, and more importantly, putting your data at risk.
There are other ways, some more technical than others, to keep your computer running fast, such as defragmenting your hard drive, upgrading its memory or hard drive, installing system updates, or reinstalling your OS. Still, the ones we mentioned above are the easiest to implement.
Like any gadget, computers, no matter how advanced, are bound to slow down with age. Everything has wear-and-tear limits. Doing the suggested best practices above, however, can elongate your system’s life span.