A slow computer is more than a test of patience. It can actually hurt work productivity, which translates to reduced profits. In fact, an Oxford Economics study showed that many employees waste more than 10% of their workday — about 48 minutes — just waiting for their computers to respond. That’s a lot of time looking at hourglasses and spinning wheels! The same study estimates that slow computers account for a total of $7.5 billion a year lost in the United States alone.

Save yourself from unnecessary wasted time and money by applying these tips to make your computers run faster.

#1. Minimize the number of programs that run on the background

Random access memory (RAM) allows your computer to switch from processing one program to another as well as run multiple programs simultaneously — but only insofar as there’s enough RAM to do so. If the demands of open programs are outstripping your computer’s RAM, you might experience some of these symptoms:

  • Unresponsive software
  • Frozen or barely moving mouse cursor
  • Prolonged computer shutdown
  • System crash

To limit the number of running apps, head to the Task Manager (Ctrl+Shift+Esc) to see which programs are open and using up memory. Shut down those you don’t need.

#2. Cut down on startup programs

“The most common cause of a slow computer is too many startup programs,” says LaptopMD’s computer repair doctor Aaron Schoeffler. Since most programs often try to weasel their way into your startup menu, you could have dozens of unnecessary programs vying to be ready and running as soon as your computer boots up.

While you should allow some programs such as anti-malware and firewall software to run from startup, keep your other apps closed until you actually need to use them. To do this, go to the Startup tab of your Task Manager and right-click on the programs you want to disable from running upon bootup.

#3. Upgrade your RAM

If you’ve had your computer for more than a year, it’s likely no longer meeting your current memory requirements. Over time, you might have installed apps that take a lot of RAM to run, such as photo or video editing software. And as programs become more sophisticated or graphics-heavy, they require more and more RAM.

Boosting your existing RAM is one of the easiest ways to get more memory space. You can either add new RAM modules in open slots (if there are any) or replace the existing memory with models with greater capacity. For most office applications, 8 GB will suffice, but you’ll want 16 or even 32 GB to run more demanding applications.

#4. Clean out your hard drive

Hard drive space is taken up by programs, program updates, and downloads, as well as temporary files and associated files of deleted programs. IT experts estimate that once your hard drive reaches 85% capacity, your computer’s performance will start to drop. And when your hard drive gets to 95% full, computers can slow down by 50%. “At this point, there is no space to save the temporary files required for operating programs, so it’s as if the OS doesn’t know how to run properly anymore,” says Schoeffler.

Free up storage space by doing the following:

  • Empty the trash bin.
  • Transfer big files, especially videos and photos that tend to take a lot of disk space, to an external hard or flash drive.
  • Uninstall apps you don’t use including bloatware that manufacturers preload onto computers.
  • Delete temporary files from web browsers, unnecessary files from unused programs, and defunct downloads by using the Disk Cleanup tool.

#5. Run an anti-malware scan

Malware uses a lot of RAM to do things like hijacking your browser and pushing advertising or phishing sites. It can bog down your computer’s overall performance so much as to even make it crash.

If you think your computer is infected with malware, disconnect from the internet immediately to prevent it from spreading to your network, then run an anti-malware scan to detect and stop it. Make sure to set up regular scheduled scans and enable automatic security software updates. For more complex malware, you should turn to IT experts like Red Key Solutions to remove the infection.

Let the professionals fix your slow computers

Although these tips are good starting points, there are still plenty of other causes of slow computers that require different solutions. That’s why you should leverage the IT expertise of Red Key Solutions. When you partner with us, we’ll make sure that your PCs are running at their optimal speeds. Get professional help today!

Red Key is a leading cybersecurity company serving New York City, Westchester County, Fairfield County Connecticut, California & beyond. Click here to learn more