My Computer is Slow - Reason 1: It's Old (Microsoft Windows Version)

I am assuming you read My Computer is Slow - Introduction (Microsoft Windows Version)

O.K. let's get down to learning some "geek". First, let's talk about hardware possibilities. If your computer has hardware issues, all of the software issues are probably moot, so I deal with hardware first to determine full potential.

If you have not bought a computer in the last 10 years, the number one reason that your computer is slow is... drum roll please... Your computer is old and decrepit and it can't handle all of the software that you have on it. This is just like our bodies folks, the older we are, the more impact age has on our agility and ability. Computers are no different.

Just like with us, depending on care and exercise and and a little luck of the draw with internal organs, some old computers are young for their age and some younger computers are old for their age. Some computers were just born old. You will hear polite geeks refer to these as having "design flaws" and impolite geeks will use the age old adage "pieces of ..." You can fill in your favorite reference to garbage there. You can still check things to be sure, but Rule of thumb: If your computer is 10 years old, it's likely you need a new computer.

But what can I check you ask... Remember through this, we are talking about a computer that is 5-10 years old.

The first thing you need to do is find out what you are dealing with. If your computer can get to the internet, visit one of my favorite free software sites Belarc.com. Look for the Free Download in the menu and follow the links to download Belarc Advisor. (If you don't know how to download, you'll have to wait for that blog to be written. In the meantime, you could schedule a 15 minute consult and we could help you with this and then you can continue on.) Once you have your Belarc report in hand, keep it handy we'll be referencing it all through these articles.

Check out your Processor. It's usually the second section in the first column. If your computer says Pentium (by itself) or Pentium II or an AMD K6, the solution is a new computer. Can't do that? For Heaven's sake, stop adding software to the poor thing. If your back is bent and you get winded running up a flight of stairs, you don't sign up for marathons!

Note, it might say Pentium other things too, so don't just look for that. If it says Pentium other things, we'll talk more about that in the next article.

In many cases, newer software (sometimes called programs or applications) is being written with no concern for the capacity of a machine. Geeks, who write software, think fast new hardware is cheap these days because we don't have to pay all the labor to get it to work right. We do the labor ourselves. The end result is people with old machine who try to run new software written by geeks who are not frugal, bring their old computer to its knees. If you want to run the new stuff, the answer to getting your old computer running faster is... buy a new computer.

Suppose you don't need the latest and greatest software. You just want your old stuff to act a little younger. Take a look at the memory. Memory is where the computer puts everything that it's working on. So it's like a notepad or a day planner is for humans. If it runs out of pages in it's day planner (for the younger set, that's like a paper calendar), it can't do anything until it finds another page it can write on. It has ways to find more pages, but it takes time... precious time. If you are really a glutton for punishment with this old computer, you can try finding more memory for it or clearing some pages by removing software that you don't use any more.

So how much memory does your computer have? Back to Belarc... Look in the second column about 3 sections down. Memory can be listed in GB (gigabytes) that means multiply by 1 billion, MB (megabites) that means multiply by 1 million, or KB (kilobites) multiply by 1 thousand. If it's in KB, and less than 1000, punt. Watch for something on the curb or stop in the computer recycle store and see what they have sitting on the pallet in the front hall.

If it's in MB, and less than 1000, it's possible that your computer can be upgraded a bit. You still won't be able to add anything new, but if you are happy with what your computer can do, just not how fast it's doing it, this might be an option. I don't think the big box stores will help you, but if you are good with a screw driver and the inside of your computer doesn't scare you, call us. It will probably take two 15 minute consults, but we might be able to help you put more memory in. We can tell you for sure in the first 15 minutes.

That's about it for you ten year hold outs, if your computer is 4-5 years old, check out the next article.