Why has my computer got slower?

So, you've had your new computer for a while and have started to notice that it's not as quick as it was when it was new. Why is that?

The short answer is that there is no short answer! However, we have set out some of the reasons why you computer may have slowed down, and what you can do about it.

Additional Programs - Since acquiring you computer, you will almost certainly have added some programs to do various things. These could include mesenger programs, programs to alert you to Skype calls or Facebook or Twitter messages, check for new e-mails or update the weather forecast or currency exchange rates... and there are many more. These are all loaded when the computer starts, which increases the start-up time. In addition, they will occasionally need to make use of the processor in order to do their job. While these types of programs are often quite small and undemanding on their own, if you have several of them, things can begin to slow down.

Another factor that particularly affects the start-up time is the number of programs that check for updates every time the computer starts. Your computer may have been supplied with a maintenance program that does this for the programs that came with the computer. In addition, you may have iTunes, Skype, Adobe Reader, Java and many others.

To improve the start-up time and running speed of your computer, you should uninstall the programs that you don't need or use (but if you are unsure what a specific program does then don't remove it!). You should pay particular attention to any programs you have installed to evaluate but are no longer using.

Anti-virus Software is an unfortunate necessity, for both PCs and Apple computers. All anti-virus programs will slow the computer down to some extent, although some are worse than others. As the suppliers usually bring out a new version every year, the 'best' one to have changes regularly. You can contact us for more information.

Temporary Files and Fragmentation - There are many components in Windows that create temporary files while they are working. Adding or removing programs usually creates temporary files too. These can build up until there may be many thousands of these files, which can help to slow the computer down. The Windows Disk Cleanup system tool can be used occasionally to remove them.

File fragmentation is the name for the situation where a file gets stored on the hard disk in more than one piece. It is quicker for the computer to load a one-piece file then to load the file is it has to find several peices. File fregmentation builds up over time in the same way as temporary files, helping to slow the computer. The Disk Defragmenter system tool reassembles files so that they are in a single piece and can be loaded as quickly as possible. It also optimises the layout of files used when the system starts up, which helps Windows to load more quickly.

These two system tools should be used every few months to help keep your computer performing as quickly as possible.

Viruses and Other Malware (sometimes called PUPs or Potentially Unwanted Programs) are programs that you don't want, running on your computer and using its resources. These are often badly written and consume far more processing power and other resources than they need to, making your computer noticably slower. If you suspect this problem, the first step is to update your anti-virus software and run a full scan of your computer. If this doesn't resolve the problem, look at our infection page, or contact us for help.