A Velocity Problem
By Charles Miller
The Computer Corner
It’s sooooo slooooow! A couple of weeks ago I warned readers that I frequently hear this complaint from clients about their computers and that I was sure to have more to write on this topic than would fit into one column.
Every time I hear a client say, “It’s so slow,” I have to start the investigation grammatically by attempting to determine the antecedent of the pronoun it. In the abstract, it refers to the computer, of course, but my job is to determine more specifically what it really is so that it can be fixed if that is possible.
It tends to fall into one, or sometimes more than one, of three broad categories. These are hardware, software, or connectivity. The first step in the direction of fixing a slow computer is to narrow the field and determine in which of these three areas the problems lie.
If it is hardware, then you will likely be looking at the repair or replacement of your computer. Some hardware failures such as hard disk, memory chips, or network interface might be repaired at a reasonable cost. Unfortunately, today’s laptop computers are not as easily repaired as those old, boxy desktop computers, and many owners of a malfunctioning laptop find that the practical solution is to replace the damaged computer with a new one.
If it is software, then you have many more palatable options because most software-related issues are fixable. A computer infested with virus or malware is going to run slower than it should. It is also true that perfectly legitimate software can slow down operations if the computer is not configured correctly.
If it is connectivity, this problem can sometimes be the most frustrating of all. If the it at the root of your slowness complaint is that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is delivering less than expected bandwidth and performance, it is up to them, and not you, to fix their problem. Of course, they may need some encouragement in the form of your continuing to pressure them to do something. A slow or intermittent internet connection caused by a problem outside your house is not something that can be remedied by a new computer or upgrading software. This must be dealt with by your ISP.
In addition to the three likely categories I have outlined here, there are also some rare environmental circumstances such as the one I addressed here two weeks ago. Playing music at ear-splitting levels can cause enough vibration to slow down your computer, and excessive heat can produce the same result.
As you can see, there are many different things that can lead to substandard performance of your computer. Over the next few weeks in this column, we will look at some of the causes and fixes for slow-running computers because nobody today has the patience to wait for a computer that is “sooooo slooooow!”
Charles Miller is a freelance computer consultant, a frequent visitor to San Miguel since 1981 and now practically a full-time resident. He may be contacted at 044 415 101 8528 or email FAQ8 (at) SMAguru.com.