No one wants to deal with a slow desktop computer or a lethargic laptop, but unfortunately the issue of a slow running PC is actually quite common.

Unless your computer is brand new, chances are the computer you’re using right now could be slower than when you first purchased it. Why? Sluggishness is caused by normal, everyday activities such as running multiple programs, surfing the web and slowly but surely filling up your hard drive.

It’s always a good idea to regularly conduct small maintenance checks to ensure productivity and to keep your operating system clean and functioning properly. At SouthEast IT we offer several managed services options designed to eliminate the guesswork from maintaining your company’s computers, and we are always here to help if you are unsure where to begin, what to do, and what should be in a regular maintenance plan.

For now, we have come up with a list of the five most common reasons why your PC might be running slow, and our tips on the best way to fix them.

1. Email cache is taking up too much space and resources

One reason your PC is running slow could be that your outlook OST file cache might be getting too large. Your OST file stores a local copy of your inbox to make searching faster. The OST file is a local copy of your emails and can get very large especially if you store a lot of attachments. Microsoft Office 365 gives you 50GB of storage per mailbox and so your OST can be this big. Also when you delete an email from outlook it is not removed from the OST file.

Thankfully you can do a clean-up of your cache files in Outlook via settings, to ensure your PC is running smoothly and not filling up the hard drive with all your emails. We can compact the OST for you or reduce the amount stored in the cache. Determining how best to clean out your Cache does require technical skills to know where to look and to ensure you don’t delete the wrong files, so if you’re not sure – please contact us for help.

2. Your disk is full

Your PCs’ hard drive could be filling up, causing the operating system to slow down. Essentially your PC needs a certain amount of available space, at least 10% free space, to allow the system files to run Windows into and out of the RAM and store temporary files.  If it doesn’t have enough disk space the system will wait for free space or hang.

An easy fix would be to free up space by deleting old and unnecessary files, deleting temporary files, moving photos and videos to an external storage device and uninstalling programs you no longer use. you might want to consider using a NAS storage device or cloud storage  to house all your important data, along with a robust backup system to ensure you always have a copy.

Network backup

3. Not enough RAM

Your PCs’ operating system relies heavily on RAM to run smoothly and take on tasks without trouble. Not having enough RAM can cause your computer to slow down. It’s important to remember that RAM memory is the temporary memory in your PC that only works when the PC is turned on. Browsers need a healthy level of RAM to function at their best. Chrome and Microsoft Edge are notorious for using a lot of RAM especially if you have multiple TABs open.

It’s recommended to have at least 8 GB of RAM and preferably 16 GB for systems used for anything beyond basic office work. If you’re unsure about the RAM you already have in your PCs and if upgrading might improve speed, get in touch and we’ll help you out.

4. Too many programs running on start-up

There are many programs that are pre-set to load upon start-up. Your computer’s processing speed can take a big hit from too many programs trying to load and run from start-up.

Altering a computer’s start-up log is an advanced procedure recommended only for IT experts. In the meantime, you can disable some programs that aren’t necessary, allowing the operating speed to focus on those that you use all the time.

Microsoft Startup Apps

5. Programs running in the background or “bloatware”

Much like those unnecessary programs that run during start-up, your PC could be running background programs without you even knowing. Things such as vendor specific programs for instance most often will run in the background.

You can review the programs your PC is running using the Task Manager utility and shut down any unnecessary programs. Within the Task Manager under the performance TAB you can even see how much processing power each program is using. This can help you to decide which programs don’t need to be running.

As detailed above, while you may be able to fix some of the computer speed issues, it’s always best to seek the advice of an IT specialist.  Some issues such as malware, viruses, bloatware, CPU bottlenecking and others are not immediately obvious, and must be detected and fixed by a trained specialist.  You only need to accidentally delete one file you shouldn’t have in the operating system, and the whole system could crash and give you the dreaded blue screen error.

We’ll get your computers back up to speed

We certainly understand the frustrations that slow working computers cause, and the impact on your workflow and productivity. For fast help with these performance issues please contact us today.