My Computer is Slow - Introduction (Microsoft Windows Version)

So you don't want to pay me for 15 minutes to figure out why your computer is slow. O.K., then you will need to do a little reading... Sorry, that's the rules. I didn't spend 5 years at the University of Illinois College of Engineering, 12 years at Eastman Kodak Company, and the last 15 years supporting small business and home computing to learn something trivial. If you want to do what I do, you need to learn what I know.

I find the reasons for slow computers are about as varied as the number of computers, but this series of articles will cover some common things that you can check for yourself. Each article builds on the the previous, so unless you read (or at least skim through) the first ones to make sure you know all that stuff, it will mostly be "geek to you". I do have to use some geek, but I have tried to give some analogies to not geek to help you read through the geek.

So first a little vocabulary introduction. I have broken the issues of speed into hardware, meaning the physical components of the computer (all that wire and stuff), and software, meaning the stuff that makes the hardware work together. Hardware has to talk to other hardware to do it's thing. Hardware doesn't understand English, so geeks have invented stuff that translates English to hardware language. We call the general category of translation stuff, software.

In most cases, you will find that the best speed improvements, if they can be made, will be a combination of both hardware and software. Watch carefully for specific operating system (that's a special category of software that is very elemental) version issues in these articles. The operating system is the mess of software that ties just about everything together and some things might not apply to all operating systems. So it's important to pay attention when I get specific about operating system version.

Some other geeks might tell you I am over simplifying some discussions. To them I say... "Yes, I am. If you know enough to be critical of what I say here, write your own blog and see how hard it is to decide how much information is too much and how much is not enough." If nothing else, these articles should save you from hauling your computer to your local "geek store" to be abused and confused by them. In addition, when you do go to your "geek store" after reading these, you can ask some good questions and speak a little geek. Mind you, if "geek" is the native language of the tech at the store, he or she may still have trouble understanding you and expressing English concepts. Talk slowly to them. Asking them to rephrase until you find some common vocabulary that can bridge the language barrier. Just keep repeating to yourself, "Diversity is a good thing."

If it turns out it is time to invest in a new computer, a KBM consultant can help you with that too. That might be a good time to spend a little money for 15 minutes or watch for reviews of machines offered by the big box stores in these blogs.