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What to do if your computer is running slowly

Submitted by Craig Rabe, president and CEO of The Computer Café

My computer is running slowly. Should I fix it or buy a new one?

The answer varies depending on your circumstances. If your computer is less than 3 years old and you are not demanding more from it than you were when you bought it, upgrading your RAM (memory) and giving your computer a tune-up is probably all that’s needed.

To significantly speed up a computer, most people need to give their computers a tune-up and to possibly remove some software that might have been recently installed. Certain antivirus suites are major culprits as far as software slowing down computers. The main reason these programs slow computers down is because they install a lot of processes as part of the suite and use a lot of memory.

Then your computer is low on available memory, it will run very slowly. Available memory refers to the RAM in your computer, not the hard drive space, so deleting files from your computer will not speed up your computer. If your computer has less than 1GB of RAM, you will want to upgrade to at least 1GB for better performance.

If you are simply browsing the Internet and checking emails, a 3- to 5-year-old computer will most likely suit your needs just fine with at least 1GB of RAM and a tune-up. However, if you are demanding more from your computer, it may be time to consider a new system. If your computer is more than 5 years old and it is running slowly, your money would probably be better spent on buying a new one.

The Computer Café has operated retail computer stores in Arlington and Winchester, Mass., since 1996. The Computer Cafe is a computer store that sells and repairs computers and supports the IT needs of small businesses. Rabe received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical and computer engineering from Clarkson University in 1992. He started his career as a technical sales representative for Arrow Electronics selling semi-conductors and computer systems.

As of July 6, 2011, The Computer Café was was a highly rated service provider on Angie’s List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check AngiesList.com for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie’s List.


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Comments

Upgrade RAM, drive tune-up (software cleaning), upgrade RAM again?, a new system... hmmm.. Don't try to evaluate or fix any of the suggested items or spend a dime until the system has been properly cleaned. It's amazing that CLEANING THE DUST OUT is not mentioned. This is the very first thing that is done before beginning to determine if the machine is any good. Heat is the #1 culprit for a slow machine. A simple experiment will reveal that heat slows current in a circuit. Low current will slow any electrical device. It will even dim an incandescent (any non fluorescent type) light bulb. Here's what to do... Get an air compressor, not a can or vacuum, and set the pressure to 35psi or more. 35 psi is the maximum safe and minimum effective pressure for this type of cleaning. I use the word safe because it is very dangerous for pressures higher to come in contact with cuts in the skin. Thoroughly blow the dust out of case vents, case fans, the cpu heatsink, the power supply fans and off of memory modules. Remove the side panel cover first of course :). Also if the computer is older than 2 years, remove the cpu heatsing and refresh the thermal compound that transfers heat away from the cpu AND remove the power supply and its cover and blow it out thouroughly then reassemble. Anyone can perform these steps fairly easily with the aid of only a Philips's screw driver. A simple google search will reveal vast amounts of imformation with photos of these steps. Reassemble, plug it in and boot up. You will see a major improvement in speed. This should be performed at least once every 3-5 months.

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