If it takes longer than 60 seconds for your computer to turn on, or if you plan your chores around loading programs then it’s time to think about a tune-up. Unfortunately there can be hundreds of reasons why your computer is slow. Here are the most common culprits:

1. Lack of RAM – Every time you open a program, it gets loaded from the hard drive to the RAM which allows them to function without any lag of time. If you do not have enough RAM, then  your computer will lag and software programs will take longer to load. For more info on RAM see our Glossary.

2. Spyware/Malware Infection – Malware will log your keystrokes, steal your passwords, observe your browsing choices, spawn pop-up windows, send you targeted email, redirect your web browser to phishing pages, report your personal information to distant servers, and serve up pornography. This malware will operate invisibly, often without displaying itself in your Task Manager, thus stealing system resources and slowing down your computer. For more info on Spyware and Anti-spyware, see our Glossary.

3. Running 1+ antivirus system –  Traditional anti-virus systems like Norton, Microsoft Securtiy Essentials or McAffee acan slow down your system to up to 30%.  Now what if you have both Norton AND Microsoft running with pop-ups, updates and scans? An extremely slow computer. That’s why we recommend ESET. This antivirus program runs efficiently in the background without tying up valuable system resources, so you can avoid interruptions and lag issues. See http://www.eset.com/us/home/whyeset/ for more information.

4. You’re still running Windows XP (or some other ancient OS) –  Any operating system that’s 5+ years old, will not run programs efficiently forever. Newer versions of essential programs (Such as Microsoft Office & Quickbooks) often require more system resources that are accommodated for in newer OS’s. Microsoft will also phase out support for older OS’s and will stop sending updates because less and less people will run an old OS. Eventually Microsoft will stop supporting the outdated system all together. This also makes it an easy target for viruses and hackers.

Vista is infamous for being slow and possibly the biggest reason for Mac converts.  At the time, this OS was considered a major upgrade with a more “modern” interface and improved file navigation and system security but was quickly named a “RAM Hog” because of it’s extreme inefficiency at multi-tasking. Before Vista, motherboards came with maybe 1 GB of RAM at the most and thus could not handle the minimum requirement of 2 GB.

5. Too many programs are set to launch automatically when your computer turns on. – Most programs that you install on your computer have “helper programs” that automatically start when you turn on your computer. These helpers allow the original program to start up faster when you decide to open them.

So, imagine your watching a race and each runner is a “helper program” and when your computer turns on, the race starts. The more programs you have, the more runners there are at the starting line. The issue is that the track is only so wide, so the runners become crowded, start to trip and slow down. This is what happens to your computer when you have programs like Skype, MSN Messenger, iTunes and QuickTime set to automatically launch when the computer is powered on. These settings can easily be changed and can be found in the Help or Settings section of each program.

You know where we are. Stop by for a diagnostic test to see what’s keeping your computer from being a Speed Demon.  Send us an email [info@mysolidstate.ca] or a tweet us @mysolidstate. If you’ve got a question we’ll do our best to answer it quickly!