My Computer is Slow - Reason 2: It's Sort of Old (Microsoft Windows Version)

I am assuming you have read My Computer is Slow - Reason 1: It's Old (Microsoft Windows Version)

The number 2 reason a computer is slow(drum roll please)... If you bought your computer 4-5 years ago it is middle aged and probably needs a little influx of either hardware or a little cleaning of software. It can't handle all of the software that you have on it with the hardware it has to work with.

Your computer should be able to run versions of most office software written prior to it's purchase without bogging down. If you are doing a lot of image processing, video editing or more data intensive things, it the speed of your computer will depend on a few things. We may never make it lightning fast, but we might be able to improved it. So now I need to teach you a little geek. We need an analogy to things with which non-geeks feel more comfortable with so you can understand 4 geek terms.

1. Computer Bus: The "bus" is basically all the wires that carry electrical signals (data) between the parts of a computer. They are like the roads that the data has to travel over. There are some major arteries that all the data must travel to get to critical places. There are speed limits on the roads too. Just like on a real road, when all the data wants to get to one place at one time and it has to obey the speed limit, you get traffic backups and everything can come to a grinding halt. (No, there is no road rage in a computer. Data is very courteous, stays in line, and only goes when it is its turn.) So the faster your "bus speed" or speed limit in your computer, the more fluid data can be.

2. Disk: The disk is the mega parking garage on out road that holds all the data when it's not being used by the computer. There is only a few entrances from the garage to the bus, so there is a potential for some backup issues there too. But thankfully, the disk uses valet parking, so data doesn't have to wait in line behind all the data that got in the garage first. The disk manager sends a valet to get the data to bring it to the entrance. The valets however for some disks are a little more energetic than others and can affect how quickly the data can get out on the road. The thing that effects the speed of the valet is the "disk rotation speed" and "access speed".

3. Memory: Memory is where the data has to be for the computer to work on it. The whole point of a computer is to do something to or with data. So in our analogy, the only reason you would take a car out of the garage is to go to the mechanic for it to be worked on. In order for the mechanic to work on it, it has to be on a lift and in position to be worked on in a bay. If the shop only has 4 bays with lifts, then when those bays are full, you data have to wait.

4. CPU (Central Processing Unit): The mechanics are of course the ones doing the work on the data. They are the CPU. Just like in the real world, the some mechanics are faster than other.

So how do these affect each other. Well, I think it's pretty obvious that if the speed limit on the road is too slow and there is a lot of traffic, then things will get backed up. That's straight forward, right?

And I think we have all experienced slow mechanics and some of us have probably experienced slow valets so you can kind of imagine that. Let's look at a couple of examples that can demonstrate how all of these things come together.

What happens if the speed limit is adequate to carry all the data. Then all the data can get to the garage as fast as they want. But if there are only 4 bays (memory spots), then it doesn't matter, in high traffic times, they will still have to wait.

But, I forgot to mention, data can't wait on the road, they have to wait in the garage. So when they get to the mechanics and there are no bays, They take a number, turn around and go back to the garage to wait for their number to be called.

When it's time, the garage calls, the valet goes and gets the data to put it back on the road... Wait... Stop and think here. What happens if we have a lazy valet... That will slow things down. It's even possible for the data to get to the mechanic only to have lost its turn. It's polite, remember, so it takes another number, goes back to the garage and waits for it's turn.

What can happen in high traffic times is your data spend all of their time traveling back and forth to the garage and the mechanic and if you have a slow mechanic on top of everything, you might as well just not bother turning the computer on.

So tune in tomorrow and we'll look at your Belarc Report and figure out if you have lazy valets and mechanics, or your speed limit is too slow, or you don't have enough garage bays, or all of the above.