I’ve had a lot of calls lately from customers whose PCs are running very slowly.
Firstly, it is important to separate a slow PC from a slow Internet connection and many people mix them up. So you need to check how the PC performs using non-internet programmes such as Word, Excel and generally clicking through menus such as the control panel.
Once you have identified that it is the PC that is slow, the causes can be split into two categories:
Windows versions have recommended hardware specifications. The important ones are processor speed, hard drive space and memory (RAM).
The biggest bottleneck for most users is RAM and this is also the cheapest upgrade. For Windows XP, I recommend 1GB of RAM and for Vista/Windows 7, I recommend 2GB. The cost of this RAM upgrade varies from week to week as RAM prices are notoriously changeable, but you can think of a guide price of £20-£30 plus labour for a RAM upgrade.
Other issues that can cause slowness are malfunctioning hardware, even something as simple as a wireless mouse/keyboard that is running very low on battery.
Nailing down the reasons for a slow pc due to software is much more tricky as there are a multitude of factors that can be responsible.
The following are some of the factors that can slow a PC down.
- Multiple Antivirus programmes (there can only be one!)
- Lots of unnecessary programmes running constantly (key offenders are Live Messenger, Skype, Adobe Reader, RealPlayer, BitTorrent programmes
- Surplus printers/drive mappings/network connections installed
- Heavily fragmented drives (unlikely to be a problem with Windows 7 / Vista)
- Fragmented page file and/or system files
- Driver conflicts
Work through these possibilities and you should find the bottleneck.