How Operating Systems Can Slow Your Computer
Modern operating systems such as Microsoft Windows 7 & 8, can over time create issues that may create a slowing effect on your computer. One of the main reasons is due to the amount of updates that most systems now apply through the lifecycle of the system. Microsoft in particular is releasing “patches” and “updates” approximately every fortnight as they struggle to keep ahead of computer hackers. This is a really good thing for computer security and reliability, but has a slightly negative side effect.
Each time a new update is applied, the system is changed in a minor way, and this can add a cumulative slowing to your system. Without becoming too technical, your systems files can become disjointed creating additional burden on the disk drives to read in commonly accessed files, and the programming of the system undoubtedly becomes more of a jumbled mess. This is called fragmentation. Disjointed files create performance losses, but if those files are accessed very often (like the operating system) the performance loss is much more noticeable.
Lastly often Windows will leave behind some files from the update to allow your system to move “back” to undo any changes being made. At times some updates have created issues with computers and this feature has been very welcome to those affected. Over many updates these issues can increase the time it takes to operate common tasks resulting in the slow computer syndrome. At home you can do a few things to repair some of this damage. For example you can perform a “Clean Up System Files” which will delete a proportion of the leftover files after updating. The inbuilt help function will explain how to achieve this, just search for “Disk Cleanup” in Windows.
Make sure you are regularly defragmenting the disk, especially after performing major software changes. Defragmentation attempts to reorder files in a method that reduces the time the disk takes to read files that become a jumbled mess. An online search for “Windows defrag” will quickly teach you how to perform this function manually. The last task that is easily achievable at home for most users, is to remove unwanted software. Ideally you should never fill a hard disk more than about 70% full to maintain performance levels. When disks become close to being full sometimes the system has to work harder to find temporary space to perform functions. By using the “Programs and Features” menu option in Windows, remove any software that you don’t use. Each piece of software adds some additional load onto your system.
Resolving “slow computer” problems is an issue that is often encountered, but unfortunately the reasons for a computer slowing down over time are rather complex. For an onsite technician the problem can actually be one of hardest to resolve, in some cases the root cause of the issue cannot be determined, and the technician is only left with major decisions such as wiping the computer and rebuilding the software from scratch (known as a re-rollout in the industry). It may be the most cost effective solution, but unfortunately it doesn’t always completely solve the issues. At the last resort replacement becomes the only solution.
Unfortunately some computers die slowly!