If you notice that your computer or laptop starts working much slower then it used to, there are some simple steps you can take to check what could be causing the slowdown and also eliminate whatever is slowing it down. You don’t have to worry, because not every checkup and cleanup of a computer needs a qualified techninican, some of the things – not all of the things – that can do wonders for a computer’s speed – on any computer or laptop running almost any flavor or version of Windows – are quite simple to perform and require little to no technical knowledge at all.
Funny system message from a slow computer
So, let’s see what are some of the most important factors that can slow your computer or laptop running Windows (meaning anything from Windows ’95 to Windows 7). First and foremost, the amount of RAM – random access memory – or simply called “the memory” you have in your PC, determines to a great extent how fast your system runs. If you think that the amount of RAM you have in that computer when you’ve purchased the system 2, 3 or more years ago, would also suffice today, think again. Even if you use the PC or the laptop for the same activities like back then, and your routine online or offline hasn’t changed much, the programs that you use to access and perform your daily computer-aided activities have changed, and the most significant of changes is in the case of almost all programs that they simply require more memory to run efficiently ? Why ? Well, because they are capable of “doing” or “knowing” more.

Take a simple word processor like Microsoft Word, or Open Office Writer, for example. A few years ago, they ran just fine with 32 MB of RAM, and you could perform all the tasks that you were capable of performing with them in that little amount of memory. However, there were things you wished that these programs allowed you to do, but they didn’t allow you…yet. As programmers and companies that release software programs learn from their userbase, what the needs and ever increasing expectations of end users are, they start building more capable, more sofisticated programs, and build into the same software new and more evolved functions and capabilities. To accomodate those new capabilities though, the computers on which the newer versions of any program runs, has to have more memory. So, check your system, and if your PC or laptop still has under 1 GB (gigabytes) of RAM, make sure you buy some more and have a technician install it, or if you’re a little more tech savvy… install it yourself.

Tipically, the recommended amount of RAM for the average computer users with a PC or laptop these days, is 2 GBs. With two gigs of RAM, you can watch movies both online and offline, surf the net, do your office or home office work, emails, etc., without any problems.

Next, and most obvious, is processor speed, make, and model. So, again, if just 5 years ago, a single-core processor, a Celeron of 1500 Mhz or so, was enough to perform all of your computer-related tasks, today, that speed is simply not enough anymore. If you have any activity that you want to perform online, such as browsing the net, reading news or catalogs, or even blogs online, you have to reconsider purchasing either a more powerful processor if your PC or laptop supports upgrading, or in most cases, and a much better choice, a newer and more powerful system altogether. Typical requirements for a day-to-day online use for a laptop or a computer would be a Pentium 4 or similar processor with at least 2.4…2.6 Ghz speed, 2 GBs of RAM, and a harddrive of around 160 GB or more if you store a lot of multimedia, otherwise, a smaller HDD will do just fine. So these are two of the things that might – will ? – slow down your computer and for the solving of which, you might need technical help.

In the next article – Steps to take if your computer or laptop slows down part II – I’ll take you through some steps you can take, to eliminate some possible causes of PC or laptop slowdown, and for which you most probably won’t need any outside help.