Why is my computer so SLOW?!

Question: Why is my computer so SLOW?!

Answer: Have you asked yourself this question?  I’m going to give you a few tips that you can use to determine what might be done to solve the never-ending quest to make your computer faster (besides buying a new one!).

Let’s begin with starting your computer.  Does it take more than five minutes? Ten?  How about when you double-click or load any program like Internet Explorer (the big blue ‘E’)?  Do you remember how fast it was when you first got it? Those were the good old days…  If this process takes longer than five minutes, you may have:

Part 1 – Viruses

Any site or computer can be infected, and nothing can protect you 100%.
a. Antivirus Programs – Make sure you have an antivirus program that is up-to-date. If you have Norton or McAfee on your computer, but haven’t paid them within the past six months to a year-it has EXPIRED and you are no longer protected! There are FREE antivirus programs such as AVAST!, AVG, or Microsoft Security Essentials that are just as effective as paid ones.  It’s a good idea to schedule automatic scans at least once a week.
b. Windows Updates – If you picture the information on your computer behind a brick wall, this wall would be your Windows. The wall has bricks missing, and at least once every week or two Microsoft sends updates to your computer which fill in the missing brick-holes. It is imperative to do so because every one of these holes is a way that viruses and spyware can get into your computer!
(Note:  If you’re a customer of Mother Lode Internet, you can bring your computer in to us and we’ll clean it for you, free of charge! We’ll make sure there are no viruses, update your Windows, and install a free antivirus program on your computer.)
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Part 2 – Low Virtual Memory

Does it take forever to load programs? Is your computer lagging? Try picturing your computer having three main parts:
a. Processor – This is what moves information; think of this as your Hands.
b. Hard Drive – The Hard Drive is where permanent information is stored. We’ll call this your Bookcase.
c. Virtual Memory -Virtual Memory, or RAM, is all information seen on your screen. RAM holds only a small amount of info from your Bookcase at one time. We’ll relate the size of this to the area on TOP of a Desk, or how much space you have to work with at any given time.

Picture yourself in an office with your Hands, a very large Bookcase, and a Desk with 2′ x 2′ area to work on.  When you do anything on the computer, your hands take ‘papers’ from the bookcase and place them on the desk. You are limited by the space on top of your desk.  If you’re using Windows XP or Vista (and your computer is slow), picture the top of that desk already half-full.  Add your Antivirus program and all hidden programs-each will take a piece of that desk.  Say you want to check your email; you’ve got to constantly put papers back on the bookcase until there is room for it on the desk!  Your hands are moving constantly and that’s why you see the computer slow down.

Assume the desk is now 6′ x 6′; you can fit a far greater amount of information on it.  If your hands don’t have to put anything back, there is a much faster loading time.  Upgrading your ‘Desk’, or RAM, is one of the cheapest ways to increase the speed of your computer.  A decent amount to have (1-3 Gigabytes) can cost around $20-70.  And, at Mother Lode Internet we can assess your computer to see exactly what type, capacity, and cost of the RAM you need, then install it.

Part 3 – Maintenance

Coming soon!

Part 4 – Too Many Programs

Over the course of owning a computer you’ll definitely be installing programs onto it.  These range from Firefox, Antivirus programs, Toolbars, Instant Messengers, to Google Earth, etc.  A lot of the time, when these programs are installed, they want to automatically start up first so that you’ll use them often.  Over time the computer will acquire too many programs that all load each time you start your computer (you can see this by the number of icons in the lower-right hand corner of your screen), which makes the whole system very slow when starting up.  If you don’t use a program, it is wise to uninstall it; though, you want to make sure that you know exactly what you’re removing for sure before you do so!

Stay safe!

Jameson

J. Hightower
Technical Support Team
Mother Lode Internet

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Written by: Jameson Hightower
Mother Lode Internet
Technical Support Team
If you have a question for our technicians, please email us by clicking here.

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