Many times when a desktop PC or laptop comes to me for repair, the only instructions I get are along the lines of: “Could you have a look at it? It’s running slowly and I’m not sure why”.

If this sounds like you, then this tip might save you money on a repair: turn the computer on, then walk away.

Patience is a virtue

This gives your desktop or laptop a chance to catch up with itself, and has been the first thing I do with many of my patients before I start work on them.

But why does this help?

  1. It gives automatically-updating programs the space to breathe, do their thing, and get out of the way. Examples: Adobe Reader, antivirus software, Java;
  2. It lets some programs connect to the Internet to do what they need to do. Examples are: email, Twitter desktop clients, Windows Update Check;
  3. If your computer is a little low on memory (RAM, not storage) then all these things happening together, along with you trying to update your Facebook status, can bring an otherwise well-behaved PC to its knees;
  4. These automated tasks can build up if they’re not allowed to finish, until your computer is asking to clear its backlog all at once. Let them finish, and they’re less likely to bother you in the future.

So: turn on your computer when you’re not desperate to use it. Log in to Windows and give it 15-30 minutes connected to the Internet, and see if that little activity light on the front stops flashing after a while.

Once you’ve let this backlog of tasks clear itself up, your computer could suddenly return to the darling you remember it to be. It might turn out that there’s nothing wrong with it after all! There, I’ve saved you some money. 🙂

Solving persistent speed issues

But what if this keeps happening? What if this tip keeps trouble at bay for a week or two, but then the problem happens again. Is there a permanent fix?

There are wrong ways to go about speeding up your computer, and right ways:

  • If you know what you’re doing, you can uninstall or de-activate programs which seem to update every day. This is a good solution if you’re not using the programs which are taking up your time;
  • If your PC has a small amount of RAM  (say, 1 or 2 GB with Windows 7 or 8) then you should really consider an upgrade. They’re cheap, and will make a world of difference;
  • Declutter your machine. These are the classic actions such as defragging your hard drive and clearing out the Windows Registry (but remember to be very careful which software you use for this!).

At Ship Shape, I deal with these tasks all the time. They’re not for the tech-faint-hearted, and can lead to a slower and less stable computer, rather than a speedy one.

So if you need an expert in PC repair to sort out these problems once and for all, and skip that 15 minute delay just to get your computer back, then get in touch. Permanent speed increases like this are just £55, plus parts if necessary.