Why Do Computers Slow Down With Use?

There are many reasons that a computer will slow down with use, and here, we will discuss and explain several reasons why. In addition to that, we will also discuss how to avoid and/or fix the problem.

Registry Entries

Invalid and corrupt registry entries can often lead to your system freezes and overall poor performance of your computer. To resolve this we recommend you scan your computer with a registry cleaner and repair invalid and corrupt entries.

Auto-Starting Programs

Programs with auto-start capabilities may seem like a convenience, but unless you really need them to run at startup, don’t let them. While it seems like a good idea at the time, it’s the same as what I like to call “The Bellhop Effect”: You arrive at the door, and the bellhop is there to greet you. He asks if he can take your coat and hang it up somewhere of your choosing, so you can retrieve it after you’re done. You agree, thinking all is well. In short order, you find yourself surrounded by an array of them, all offering you different services and/or requests. Before you realize it, you find the atmosphere thick with loud, yet indistinct chatter and instead of finding your way through the door, you find yourself at the center of a slow-moving train wreck. The same thing often happens if you allow multiple programs to initialize at startup. It’s best to only allow those programs which are truly necessary to auto-start.

Excessive Junk Files

Excessive junk files, along with prefetch or other cached data can significantly reduce hard drive performance, and in turn adversely affect the speed of your computer. A few extra temporary files here and there won’t really impact system performance, but several thousand can easily do this without even seeming to be the culprit. The reason is that when there are an excessive number of unneeded files in the system, some applications will literally choke, as they attempt to enumerate hundreds, and even sometimes thousands of files. These junk files can also take a toll on hard drive space, which can have an impact on other programs. To avoid this, clear your browser’s cache, run the windows disk cleaner every now and then, and delete any temporary or junk files.

Further explaining the dilemma, when critical data is not consolidated, this can also cause the hard disk to spin an extra time or two (sometimes more) to get the necessary data, since the platter only spins in one direction. While that might not seem like a lot, 4 extra spins can add up quickly. For instance, if the hard drive has a spin ratio of 7200RPMs, and we have 4 extra spins, that effectively “reduces” the hard drive speed to 6960RPMs. That’s nearly a 4% loss in optimal disk speed, which brings us into the next reason why a computer will slow down.

Hard Drive Fragmentation

Hard drive fragmentation is a common problem for windows users. Some other operating systems do a pretty good job at keeping appropriate files consolidated together. Unfortunately, windows is not one of them. The only thing that can impact hard drive performance worse than excessive, unneeded junk files is a fragmented hard drive. A good analogy of why fragmentation is a problem is to briefly illustrate The Tale Of Two Libraries.

One is currently using The Dewey Decimal system to keep track of their books. It may take some effort to maintain this system, but the visitors of the first library always find that the books they want in a relatively short period of time. In fact, some of the patrons find that by following this particular system from start to finish, they can find all the books they need in one pass, just like a defragmented hard drive.

The second library has decided to eschew The Dewey Decimal system on the grounds that it’s too complex and it takes up too much time, and have instead decided to implement The Laissez Faire System (French for “let it be”). In fact, taking out the trash or cleaning up every now and then also seems rather unnecessary. After a few weeks of this, they discovered a new problem, since some of the patrons are having trouble finding what they need, clearly, the lights aren’t really doing anyone a favor. So they decided to get rid of the light fixtures as a valuable cost cutting measure. In short order, most of their old patrons have started favoring the first library because of its efficiency. Somewhere, in a darkened corner of the second library, an exasperated voice cries out in disgust amidst the cackling of ravens and the rustling of waist-high paper rubbish, “Did I step into The Twilight Zone?”

As slightly humorous as the analogy may have been for some, it’s a pretty accurate representation of what can happen to system performance if an occasional defrag is not performed, along with routine maintenance.

Unneeded Services

Unneeded and/or unnecessary services are another thing that can potentially bog down your system. However, in most cases, an excessive number of services are rarely generated unless you’re installing an extensive list of programs. Services can be enabled/disabled either through MSConfig or services.msc. This approach is only recommended for advanced users or administrators. Disabling the wrong service can sometimes have disastrous results.

Lack Of Memory

Sometimes, a system needs a RAM upgrade. If you’re running a system with Windows XP, I recommend having at least 1GB of RAM installed. While a lower amount of memory is usually fine within reason, the reason that you should have at least 1GB of RAM available is so that windows and any other applications that you may be running will have plenty of memory to run. Also, having your pagefile set to three times the amount of RAM you have installed is usually sufficient enough for most paging operations: If you have 1GB of RAM, set your pagefile to have a maximum size of 3GB.

Hardware Issues

Sometimes faulty hardware, or hardware conflict can cause system instability or sluggishness. Occasionally, having the incorrect driver installed can also cause this. To avoid this problem, make sure that the hardware you’re purchasing is compatible with your system, and that you have the correct drivers installed on your system, and that the drivers and/or the hardware is compatible with all other hardware and software that’s installed.

While this article may not cover all of the causes of why a computer may slow down, these are the most common reasons for poor system performance.

PC Health Advisor addresses all the issues above with the exception of hardware issues and lack of memory. These are physical components and software will be unable to resolve them. The exception is if the hardware issue is caused by an out dated driver. The lack of memory issues may be resolved by optimizing your start-up menu to limit the amount of programs that auto start on you. So in reality PC Health Advisor can resolve all the above issues but not in every circumstance.

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