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My machine is slower than a snail. What can I do?

My computer is so slow, a snail could move faster than it can. I absolutely
do not know what to do with it. I restored it two days ago, but it did not help
me one bit. I can’t afford to buy one of those discs that’s supposed to fix the
computer and I’ve tried everything else. It takes me about four minutes to open an
email and go on to the site. Sometimes, even more like six minutes.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #52
, I look at a machine that is slow as a snail on the internet
and advise against fix-it-all programs.

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Computer fix-alls

So I’m definitely going to wave you off of even considering buying those
discs that claim to fix everything.

In my mind, in my experience, while there may be some good ones out there,
there are so many that are ineffective and misleading that there’s just too
good a chance that you would be wasting your money.

Slow system

Unfortunately, there are many, many, many different things that could be
contributing to your system being slow. Everything from malware (so I’d
certainly make sure that you’re running up-to-date malware scans) to just
trying to run too much software at the same time.

Too much running

If your disk is really busy, for example, it’s very possible that too many
different applications are all trying to do something on your computer at the
same time – and thereby slowing each other down. That would manifest as your
email potentially being very, very slow.

Disk & memory issues

Another thing is disk issues. If the hard disk itself is failing, that
sometimes manifests as extreme slowness.

It could be simply a lack of RAM. If your machine does not have enough RAM
in it (and you’re trying to do too much with it), it’s very possible that the
system is swapping so much to the hard drive that it effectively impacts the
performance once again of everything.

Overloaded internet connection

If this is internet only? In other words, if your applications (local
applications) are all responding well but it’s only when you’re trying to do
something on the internet (like read your email, or download your email, or
visit web pages), then I’d start looking at internet applications that are also
trying to share your Internet connection.

Your internet connection is, in fact, one of the choke points on your
machine. It’s probably the slowest thing on a well-functioning machine. It’s
probably the thing that limits what you can do the most.

So, I would make sure that there aren’t other applications trying to use the
internet connection at the same time.

If you share your internet connection with other machines, make sure that
all those machines aren’t trying to share the internet connection at the same
time. They will all slow you down.

So those are the kinds of things to look at. It’s a very complex problem.
There are so many different opportunities for things to go wrong. It’s hard to
say based on just “my machine is slow” that these are things that you need to
be looking at.

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6 comments on “My machine is slower than a snail. What can I do?”

  1. Check to see if the C drive is compressed.
    It will give you more space but those files have to be uncompressed to run. That will slow the computer down to a snails pace.
    If you running low on space on the C drive, get a larger hard drive.

    Reply
  2. “I can’t afford” points up a dirty secret of computer ownership. Similar to a car, a PC is complex and highly engineered, so problems often require expertise to fix. Paying an expert often costs a large percentage of the purchase cost, so it’s a tough pill to swallow. If you own a car, you budget for maintenance and repair. You really need to do the same for a computer. Most businesses understand this, but home users, as a rule, do not.

    Reply
  3. If there is a lot of disk activity while you wait, try a defrag on the C: drive.

    I believe Ask-Leo also has a guide for defraging the virtual memory page file. I once found a computer with a page file spread over 1000+ segments. Fixing that dramatically improved the computer’s performance.

    Reply

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