Do You Really Need a New Computer or Will a Few Fixes Do?
Do you find yourself constantly hypnotized by the spinning pinwheel or rotating hourglass on your computer screen? Does surfing the Internet feel more like paddling a canoe upstream? When what’s intended to make our lives easier actually makes it more difficult, it might be time for a new computer. Here are the top three signs:
- Consistently Sluggish Performance
The most common reason to purchase a new computer is poor system performance. Constantly saying, “This machine used to be so fast” and “It just can’t keep up with me anymore!” can be maddening! Glacial boot times, slow applications, and websites that take forever to load cause endless frustration. After attempting the standard tricks used to prolong a computer’s life, it’s probably time to bite the bullet and buy a new machine.
A frequently overlooked but critically important reason to consider upgrading an older computer is compromised security. This may not seem obvious, but older computers’ operating systems are often no longer supported by the software manufacturer. Windows XP is a perfect example. Microsoft stopped releasing patches and security updates for Windows XP in April 2014 yet millions of PCs continue to run it. These unsupported computers are vulnerable to malicious attacks that may compromise user data. One solution is upgrading to a modern, fully-supported operating system provided the computer’s hardware meets minimum requirements.
- Running Out of Disk Space
Older computers tend to have small hard drives compared to today’s models. With smartphones capable of recording high-definition pictures and videos, user-generated content is rapidly taxing computer storage capacity. If the machine can handle it, a simple solution is installing a second internal hard drive and migrating content to the new disk thus freeing space on the primary system drive.
A Few Fixes to Try First
If you’re not quite ready to make a new computer purchase, there are a few things you can do to improve an old computer’s performance. Here are our top three:
- Add Additional Memory
If your computer is not already maxed out, adding additional random access memory (RAM) often breathes new life into a sluggish machine. Adding memory is one of the most cost-effective hardware updates you can make and often yields the most significant performance improvements. Additional RAM helps a computer’s CPU keep more programs and data in physical memory instead of constantly swapping out to the much slower internal hard disk.
- Delete Temporary Internet Files and Clearing Your Browser’s Cache
When visiting different sites on the web, pieces of data get written to your computer’s hard drive to optimize performance or track your browsing activity. When you move from site to site, a little trail of data “crumbs” gets stored on your machine. Left unchecked, this data cache can use a large amount of space on your hard drive. Clearing these temporary files on a regular basis often improves your system’s performance.
- Defragment Your Drive
If you have a standard (vs solid-state) hard drive, defragmenting it can improve your computer’s overall performance. When a computer writes data to its disk, pieces of information that should be contiguously grouped sometimes get separated or “fragmented.” This causes the CPU to take longer to find and knit the data fragments for a particular task. Older operating systems, such as Windows XP, do not automatically defragment themselves. Over time, this results in a jumbled hard drive, which dramatically impacts your computer’s overall performance.
Hopefully these fixes extend the life of your older computer while you research a new model that better meets your needs.
Anderson Technologies provides IT services in St. Louis with services ranging from system and network administration to custom software engineering solutions.