Q: My computer always seems to be working very hard and sometimes it takes a long time – about 30 minutes or more – to wake up and start working properly. Is there any way I can fix this as I can’t always remember that it was?
– Tom G., winter beach
A: Long loading times, as described above, or moments in which the system has suddenly stalled to a certain extent and works very hard for a while before it jumps back into focus, can often be the result of system aging or a virus infection.
With that in mind, the first step is to do a full system scan with your antivirus software and delete anything that comes up. If nothing is found or if it doesn’t fix it, chances are the problem is a hardware defect.
As with most devices, computers tend to perform best – that is, the fastest – when they are ready to use. At this point, the three components most responsible for system speed – the processor, RAM and hard drive – have the least amount of interference and are performing at their best.
Over time, as we add and remove programs and peripherals and install updates and add-ons and the like, these basic elements get bogged down with various processes and files (and junk), causing them to lose some of the performance they once had. Additionally, the requirements to run ever-evolving newer technologies on the same hardware – newer programs, websites, and the like – increase over time, which often results in these core parts of your system working harder to accomplish the same goals, which in turn overall performance slows down.
Usually the simplest solution is to update some or all of these pieces of hardware, or to look for a new machine with improved specifications that better suits your computing needs.
First, determine if your current hardware needs an update. Take a look at the basic system requirements for your existing hardware and software and compare them to what is installed on the computer itself. You can obtain this latter information by right-clicking the Start button and selecting “System” from the menu that appears.
If you find that your components are at or below the recommended specifications of your programs and peripherals, consider upgrading the processor and memory to better meet these specifications. As a result, you should notice an immediate increase in speed.
If your hard drive is low on space, you should also add more space or remove unnecessary files and programs to make more space, as this will also increase the speed somewhat.
Also, close all background programs that are running Windows in the background.
Take a look at the clock area on your desktop – any icon there represents a program that is open and running, consuming resources while you use the computer, even if there is no open window to match. By closing these items and also setting them so that they do not start when Windows starts, you are freeing up resources assigned to them on your system. This often increases the Windows boot time, as the operating system no longer has to open and wait for these programs during the boot process.
To do this, first click with the right mouse button over all the symbols on your watch (only your volume symbol and your antivirus program should be left alone, as the former cannot be closed and the latter must continue to run for your protection). When you do, a menu should appear above them with an option to “Quit”, “Close”, or “Quit” – click on them to close them. Do this for each available symbol.
After that, tell the system not to start these programs automatically when Windows boots. To do this, right-click on an empty part of your taskbar (bar at the bottom of the screen) and select “Task Manager” from the menu that appears. In the window that appears, click the “Start” tab, and then select and deselect the items in the list that do not need to start when Windows boots. Almost everything there, except for Windows-based tasks and your antivirus, can be disabled. If you are unsure whether or not to disable any of the items when Windows boots up, just search for the item on google to learn more about what they do and then decide whether to keep them active or deactivate them afterwards.
That is at least one starting point. It is difficult to provide additional advice without seeing the system firsthand, but if the steps above don’t work or if other questions arise, it is best to chat with a technician and move on from there.
Untangling the web
After Singapore’s Sonali Ranjit and Vaishnav Balasubramaniam spent more than a year in a pandemic lockdown and viewing the same views from their respective apartments, they decided to set up a simple video feed sharing program that would allow the two to communicate with each other seen from the window in real time. The idea became popular with her friends and soon evolved into this free global service that anyone can do the same regardless of location. Click the “Open a new window anywhere in the world” button at the bottom of the viewing window and moments later you will be (virtually) taken to Brazil, Scotland, Korea, New Hampshire and more, where the sights and sounds are available to you . Create a free account to submit your own window to the collection if you want – all you need is a webcam and window to enter.
Contact Eyal Goldshmid at [email protected]