This is a question that I get almost on a daily basis. There is no simple answer to that question. It really depends on a lot of factors in your computer. Some of these factors can be changed and improved, but some are just the way it is, and it might be time to buy a new computer.
Here are some of the causes that can be changed and improved:
☑️ Malware on your computer can cause it to run slow. This is usually where I start since this can also cause you a lot of other trouble if the malware is malicious and intended to damage your computer or steal your information.
☑️ Unnecessary programs running in the background can use up precious resources. Many programs think they need to be preloaded into memory when you start your computer. Sometimes they do need this to run properly, but many do not. By limiting the programs that pre-load, you can greatly improve your computer’s performance.
☑️ Lack of memory can limit the number of programs you can run at a single time making your computer run very slow when you max out the memory available. The minimum required memory for Windows 10 or 11 is only 4 GB. If your computer only has this amount, you will quickly max out the memory and run into problems. For minimal use, I suggest 8 GB and for normal to heavy use I recommend 16 GB or more. Memory is fairly inexpensive and can easily be added to most computers. There are some low budget laptops that come with the memory already soldered onto the motherboard and those cannot be upgraded, also every motherboard has a maximum amount of memory that they support.
☑️ Hard drive degradation can also cause your computer to slow down. When a hard drive starts to fail it will run very slow sometimes and normal at other times. As it gets closer to failing it will be slower more often. If it is caught in time, I can clone your drive onto a new drive and bring your very slow computer back to almost new running condition. This is also fairly inexpensive compared to replacing the entire computer.
The main thing that is not able to be improved on a computer is the processor. On laptops the processor is actually built into the motherboard, so it is impossible to replace it. In desktops it is possible but hard to find processors that will be compatible with older motherboards. If you have a slow or outdated processor the only option is to replace the computer and make sure you get one with a better processor.
How do you know if a processor is good? The easiest way is to contact me when you are thinking about a new computer. I can help you find one that will fit your needs without buying too much computer. This is a service I offer, and I have helped many people find just the right computer for their needs.
If your computer is running slow, set up an appointment with me and I will evaluate your computer, clean it up and help you decide the best course of action to improve your computing speed. I recently did a video discussing this.
Something that I am constantly working on is slow computers. I regularly get calls from people saying, “my computer is very slow, is there a way to speed it up or do I need a new one?” My answer is always “well, that depends.” As long as the processor isn’t ancient or low powered (kind of like a car engine – like the 3-cylinder models from a few decades ago) we can probably make it faster.
I usually ask them to get me information about the processor, memory and storage capacity of their computer and based on that information I can tell them if it can be upgraded or not. The upgrade that I am talking about is cloning their existing drive onto a new solid-state drive (SSD). Traditional hard drives are a number of discs stacked on top of each other and they run at about 6000 revolutions per minute. After a number of years these discs can get corrupt, and the response time gets worse as the corruption grows.
I recently worked on a computer that would take about 15 minutes from hitting the power button until you could actually work on the computer and even then, it was still sluggish. After about 45 minutes this computer would finally start moving normally. I tried to tune up the computer by scanning for malware, optimizing the memory and removing any unnecessary programs that could slow it down but none of that helped. Looking at the processor I found that it was a fairly current and a fairly fast processor, so this was a good candidate for cloning the drive.
I took the laptop home with me and removed the hard drive and loaded it into a dock connected to my computer; I also loaded a new SSD into the dock. The process of cloning takes an exact copy of the old drive and places it onto the new SSD. When the process was finished, I installed the new SSD into the laptop and turned it on. The bootup which was taking more than 15 minutes completed in less than a minute and I was able to log in and start working on the laptop right away.
The difference is really this dramatic. In addition, the cost is only a fraction of the cost of a new machine, so this upgrade is usually a no-brainer. I have done this for many people that were reluctant to give up their computer for fear they wouldn’t get it back for many days, but I normally run this cloning overnight and get it back to the owner the next morning.
If you are contemplating whether or not to get a new computer, give me a call and we can discuss this as a possible way to get a lot more life out of your current machine.
When your laptop isn’t able to upgrade to the newest operating system, it’s because it has outdated parts, that won’t be able to handle the requirements of the new OS. It’s time to save everything important on your machine and move onto a new one. Laptops can last 5,6, even 8 years, but then it’s time to move on.
2. Your Machine Frequently Crashes
If your machine crashes multiple times a month, run a virus scan and a software diagnosis to look for a software issue or a malware problem. Sometimes you just need to update the software that’s causing the crashes, or take care of the malware that’s causing the trouble. In case the latest versions of the software are not compatible with your laptop’s specs, you should replace your laptop in order to avoid more crashes and the chance to keep losing your work.
3. The Laptop Battery Won’t Charge or Dies Quickly
A laptop’s original battery may last 4-5 years. After that, you can replace the battery, but it will not be a successful method forever. If your laptop battery is experiencing charging or other power issues, then the problem could be your laptop. When the replacement battery models are being discontinued by the manufacturer, that’s usually the sign of you need a new laptop.
4. The Screen Gets Damaged
Laptop screens can’t be replaced easily. Once the screen is damaged, then most likely the entire laptop will have to be replaced. You could still use the laptop with an external monitor, but that would nix the portability of your machine, which most of the time the best feature of a laptop. It’s a great solution to save your files before you move onto your new laptop.
5. Clicking Noises Coming from the Hard Drive
Any weird noises coming from inside the machine are signs that your laptop might be nearing the end of its life. Clicking noises are usually a sign that the hard drive is failing. You should back up your files right away and go to a repair shop.
6. Your Laptop Overheats
Overheating is a sign that the fan inside your laptop isn’t working properly or stopped working overall. Fans are difficult to replace, so depending of your laptop’s make and model and the pricetag of the part and work, you might be better of shopping for a new laptop.
If you need help determining if your device can be saved, or it’s really time to buy your new laptop, call me at (720) 219-6720, I service the greater Denver area. Duane McHodgkins, owner and technician at Duane’s Reliable Computer Services