You might not think of your home computer as being part of a network, but it is. Your internet speed, router, network complexity, phone, TV, extenders, additional computers, and other devices can all impact the speed of your computer while using the internet. Let’s see if your network is degrading the speed of your computer.
Your computer network can limit the speed of your computer:
- Signal Strength: Up to a certain point, a stronger WiFi signal results in faster upload and download speeds. So, the strength of your WiFi signal can impact your computer’s speed while using the internet.
- Download Speed: Even if your WiFi signal is at full strength, your internet connection might be slow. This is one of the easiest issues to check. There are several websites that can do a speed test on your internet connection and provide you with the results. One example is https://www.speedcheck.org/
- Extenders: A WiFi extender can be handy for extending the range of your WiFi signal, but extenders can drastically reduce the speed of your internet connection. Some can cut the effective internet speed by as much as 50%. It depends on the design of the extender, but all extenders result in some speed loss.
- Number of computers on the same system: Your internet connection, no matter how fast, has a limit on how much information can pass back and forth. With enough computers using the same network, there can be a significant loss of internet speed.
- Complexity: How complex is your system? Phones, TVs, virtual assistants, home automation devices, WiFi thermostats, wireless security cameras, and any other device that uses your WiFi connection can reduce the speed of your computer while using the internet.
- Phones: Many home and business phone systems use the computer router to make and receive calls. This can also reduce speed.
- Television: With more streaming options available today, many people are using their internet connection to watch TV instead of using satellite or cable TV. This can also slow down your internet access.
If you’re using the internet, your computer is part of a computer network. Every device on that network has the potential to make your computer slower. The strength of your internet connection, the use of extenders, and the download speed of your internet connection can also be factors.
Most casual users fail to take their computer network into account when diagnosing poor computer performance. However, as the internet becomes more relevant, the quality and size of your computer network becomes more relevant.
It’s not just hardware that can make a computer slow; software can also bring a computer to its knees. While hardware issues are very straightforward, software issues can be more troublesome to identify and rectify. However, if you want to maximize the speed of your computer system, it’s important to take a hard look at any possible software-related issues.
Is software making your computer slower?
- Bloatware: Have you ever purchased a new computer or smartphone, only to realize there are a bunch of included programs or apps that you have no use for? Those are perfect examples of bloatware. Often, the manufacturer of those programs or apps pays a fee to the computer or phone manufacturer to have that software included with your device.
- New computers also include additional programs that the manufacturers believe offer important functionality.
- Trialware is another type of bloatware included with many new computers. You know those deals where you get three months free and then the payments start.
- Adware is still another type of bloatware. Everyone has suffered from adware at one type or another. This type of software often results in popup ads or directs you to websites with ads.
- All types of bloatware can slow down your computer, some dramatically so. Unfortunately, bloatware can often be challenging to remove from your computer system.
- Spyware: Spyware is software that monitors your activity and relays that information to another party. The transmitted information can be personal information, such as bank account information, or web browsing activity. The data is frequently sold to marketing and data firms, advertisers, or to those with more criminal intentions.
- Spyware isn’t just an invasion of your privacy, it can also slow down your computer. Spyware can also be difficult to remove.
- Software conflicts: Software conflicts occur when two programs can’t run efficiently at the same time. This is commonly the result of both programs competing for the same resources. It could be that both programs require an excessive amount of memory, for example.
- Antivirus software: Antivirus software can be one of the biggest obstacles to computer speed. It takes a tremendous amount of computer resources to constantly scan for viruses. The updates required to keep virus software up to date can also be a burden to speed.
- There’s a good chance that your operating system includes anti-malware features. A third-party antivirus program is often unnecessary.
- Garbage software: Most computers have a lot of software that serves little purpose. Not only does this software take up valuable hard drive space, it often runs in the background and requires RAM and and processing power to maintain. All of this results in a slower computer.
- Any unused software should be removed. Any programs that needlessly launch at startup should be disabled.
Unless you’re known as the computer guru of your social circle, these can be difficult issues to resolve on your own. This is especially true when managing any bloatware, spyware, or software conflicts. The most important takeaway is that the software on your computer can negatively affect your computer’s speed.
In part 3, we’ll look at how your network can affect your computer’s speed.
If your computer has become slower over time, there are several possible reasons. In this three-part series, you’ll learn the primary reasons a computer isn’t reaching its full speed potential. First, we’ll examine the hardware-related reasons that might be preventing your computer from keeping up with your workload.
There are several hardware upgrades that can positively impact your computer’s speed:
- Processor: If your computer is older, this is one of the likely reasons your computer isn’t satisfying your need for speed. The speed of the latest CPUs increases by a considerable margin each year. An older computer obviously has an older, and slower, central processing unit.
- Keep in mind, that a motherboard will only accept a particular “family” of central processing units. A processor upgrade might require the installation of a new motherboard in some cases.
- Random Access Memory (RAM): While RAM does indeed have a speed rating associated with it, it’s the amount of RAM in your computer that is more important. Many computers have open memory slots that can be utilized to add additional memory. There is also the possibility of replacing memory modules with modules of greater capacity.
- Hard Drive Speed. Not all hard drives are created equal. There are two basic designs utilized for modern hard drives: Hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD).
- Hard disk drives are mechanical and use one or more rotating disks to store information. HDDs operate at either 5,400 or 7,200 RPM, depending on the model. A slower speed drive has the potential to slow down your computer. There are a few models capable of 10,000 RPM, but these are quite rare and expensive.
- Solid state drives don’t have moving parts and are more reliable than hard disk drives. An SSD uses flash technology similar to the common USB stick. Solid state drives are more expensive than hard disk drives, but are considerably faster. The typical SSD is more than 10-times faster than the average 7,200 RPM HDD when it comes to reading and writing data.
- To save on cost, putting the operating system on a smaller SSD drive and storing the other programs and data on a conventional HDD is an great option.
- A hard drive that is near capacity can also hinder a computer’s speed. Your computer needs a fair amount of free hard drive space to operate at peak efficiency.
These are the primary hardware culprits to evaluate if your computer seems to be lagging in performance. Take a look at your processor, the amount of RAM, and the type of hard drive(s) in your computer.
Next, we’ll consider the impact software can have on the speed of a computer system.