Q. My machine feels slower than before, what do I do?

Q. My machine feels slower than before, I have done all I know to make it feel like before but no luck – do I need to upgrade?

A. Performance slows when your software demands more than your hardware can deliver. This may be because you are running newer software with higher requirements, or you are running more software at once than you did before.

“Software” here includes all startup and background processes including anti-malware, cloud storage apps, communications apps like Skype, control panels for video cards, background downloading programs, as well as the programs that you actually have launched on your desktop).

Upgrading your drive and RAM are the fastest ways to restore speed to a machine without replacing the machine. We’ll go over some checklist items that you should do before upgrading, in any case.

Let’s cover one thing right away. If your hard drive or SSD drive is failing, a symptom can be extreme slowness across all applications. If you suspect that is the case in your situation, then backup your drive ASAP, and then test it and replace it with a new drive as necessary. How do I clone my hard drive to a new SSD (Windows 7)

The first order of business, which I assume you have already done, is to do a thorough check for malware. Run a full scan with a fully updated version of your main antivirus program, then do a second-opinion scan with Malwarebytes and/or SuperAntiSpyware.

Then go through your machine with a fine toothed comb, and disable or delete all processes that load up at Startup which you do not need. The programs CCleaner from Piriform and Autoruns from Microsoft, are convenient ways to investigate and turn off startup processes. If in doubt, Google the name of the process or software first to find out what it is, there are some which shouldn’t be disabled because the system relies on them.

One diagnostic to see if you have a software problem is starting your machine in Safe Mode with Networking. If the machine speed returns to normal when you are in Safe Mode, then it is a sure bet that your culprit lies among your startup items in your regular startup profile.

Sometimes, if you are having crashing problems as well as slowness, it could be your Windows installation has corrupted files. You can repair your Windows with the All-in-One windows repair utility from Tweaking.com (or roll your own repairs with command line tools such as CHKDSK, DISM and SFC – Google for instructions).
Alternatively, you could elect to do a repair install of Windows, or reinstall Windows from scratch, which involves a lot more effort at backing up data, then reinstalling your application software and restoring the data. The advantage is that you will know you have all fresh Windows and Application code on the machine.

The next step is to check your hardware environment, starting with Memory
Is your memory working properly? Check that the full amount is registering with Windows, and use a memory test application like Memtest86 to check that there are no errors.

How much memory do you have? Upgrading to enough RAM is the first and most essential part of restoring the speed of a machine. 8 GB is the functional minimum for running Windows 10, but if you do a lot of multitasking, 16 GB is better if your machine will take it. (If you have specific content creation software or engineering or scientific software, then your “enough” RAM level could be higher than that). Consult with your RAM supplier or Canadaram.com to find the correct RAM for your machine and what its capacity is.

Next, look at your Hard Drive.
Is it working properly? Do a test of the hard drive
Is it full? Check the Properties on the main drive.
When a hard drive (the spinning variety) gets over 50% full it starts to lose speed, and performance can be really compromised if it is over 90% full. Cleaning out unneeded files is the first order of business.

If you have a working, not over-full hard drive and are still suffering from speed problems, the next step is to replace the hard drive with a solid state drive (SSD) which can be up to 5 times faster than a hard drive. Most machines can be upgraded to a SSD either as a direct swap for an old 2.5 inch drive, or with a few parts to adapt the SSD to a 3.5 inch mount. Check with Canadaram.com for the SSD options for your machine.

You can install the new drive into the computer and put your old drive into a USB – SATA adapter or enclosure, and clone the old drive to the new drive, which preserves your operating system, programs and user information. HDClone or Acronis TrueImage are two programs that make the cloning process easier. Some models of SSD come with free cloning software available as a download from the manufacturer. Or, you could elect for a fresh install of Windows and applications as above.

Summary: Unless the machine’s CPU is so out of date it can’t run the software you want, upgrading to a SSD drive and enough RAM memory is the most effective way to restore performance and preserve your investment in your machine.

Q. I only use my machine to read Email and ran the occasional application, just as  always, but things have slowed down, why?

A. Quite often, you notice slow downs when you install an operating system upgrade, or a new version of a program, or a new program that runs in the background. With operating systems, you don’t have much say around how many resources they take. It’s not really an option to decline system updates, either, because they are often patching vulnerabilities and you don’t want to remain unprotected.

First thing is to eliminate malware and hardware failure as a cause. Go through the steps listed above. Then consider if you want to upgrade your machine to an SSD drive and/or extra RAM memory.

Q&A is a compilation of questions we have answered around the Web

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