Imagine getting to work in the morning at 9:00, assuming that you have enough time to prepare for your 9:30 call, but your computer taking 20 minutes to boot completely throws you off track. As a result, you feel rushed and flustered. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. In fact, this common problem isn’t just an inconvenience; it also costs UK businesses a lot of money and productivity time. What’s worse is that if it takes a long time to log in upon arriving to work in the morning, it likely takes too much time to switch between computer programs throughout the entire day. Altogether, these problems are costing British workers 5.5 days per year in productivity, simply because they are waiting to do work that their PCs can’t accommodate.
It is without question that this repetitive inconvenience disrupts workflows and affects productivity. Thankfully, there are some things you can do about PC performance at your organisation, whether you’re the CEO, head of IT or an employee desperate for help. If you’re in the latter category, show your your IT team this article and explain the problems you’re having. There might be a simple fix they can apply to your workstation.
Within this article are also some things to consider as a last resort, as it may be time to upgrade your entire system.
Address Slow Start-ups
When employees boot their computers upon arriving to work, there are likely multiple programs set to launch simultaneously, regardless of whether those programs even need to be used. Since those programs need processing power, they all have to compete for it. As a result, the processor is spread too thin and everything takes more time to load. Since you likely don’t need every program running simultaneously, only program the ones you need to load when you first log in. As a result, it should boot more quickly. The same is true for any programs you need later in the day. Since they won’t be competing for processing power, it should be a much shorter wait time.
Here’s how to do it. Open the command, ‘Run’, and type ‘msconfig’. Next, click the ‘Start-up’ tab. You should then be presented with the actions that occur at start-up. Remove the programs that you don’t need, keeping in mind that they will still be available for access any time they are needed throughout the workday. Do not remove critical security programs from the start-up menu, however. They should always be running.
Put It to Sleep Instead of Shutting Down
If it takes too long to start up your computer, don’t shut it down. Instead, set it to ‘sleep’ or ‘hibernate’ mode. It will be unusable without a password, but when you’re ready to use it again, just log in and it will wake up instantly without rebooting.
Using the ‘sleep’ and ‘hibernate’ commands may slow down your computer eventually, so be sure to only do this during the workweek. On Fridays, shut down your computer entirely, so it can reset and automatic updates can be installed.
Delete Unused Programs
Since you’re removing programs from the start-up menu, this is a good time to take a look at the rest of your programs, whether in start-up or not, to assess whether they’re still needed. Even if not in use, they still take up storage on your PC, which could contribute to slower performance.
Install Operating System Updates
Failing to update your operating system doesn’t just slow down your computer. It also poses a host of security risks. Cyber-criminals seek out unpatched software vulnerabilities as an easy way into computer networks, so always make sure yours is up to date and that any vulnerabilities are addressed immediately. Although you might have automatic updates set to run, you should still check to make sure those updates are occurring.
The way to do this depends on your operating system, but doing a search for ‘software updates’ in your search bar should get you where you need to be.
Delete Your Cache (Temporary Files)
When visiting websites, your browser collects temporary files, also known as your cache. While these temporary files are intended to improve your web experience, they aren’t automatically discarded, and they consume valuable memory on your PC. The result is slower processing speeds, and you may notice that websites take longer to load. You can configure your settings to clear the cache on a regular basis, but you can also customise your settings to clear the cache no later than a particular chosen date.
The way to do this depends upon your browser. For Internet Explorer, open the Control Panel and then choose ‘Internet Options’. Locate ‘Browsing History’ and click ‘Settings’. This will show you your temporary files so you can choose which ones you want to delete or alter how often they should be deleted.
For Chrome, select the menu icon on the top right. Then, choose ‘Tools’ and ‘Clear Browsing Data’.
For Firefox, click the Firefox icon, then click ‘Options’. Choose ‘Advanced’ and then click the ‘Network’ tab. Finally, click ‘Clear Now’.
Adjust Visual Effects
Some operating systems include visual effects that enhance the user experience. But they can also take up an excess of memory by doing so. If your computer is slow, it may not have enough random access memory (RAM) for these effects. Try adjusting the RAM setting so there is enough memory for the programs you use.
Again, the way to go about this depends on your operating system. For Windows, go to the search bar and type ‘Performance’. Then, choose ‘Adjust the Appearance and Performance of Windows’. Then, go to the ‘Visual Effects’ tab and select ‘Adjust for Best Performance’. Click ‘Apply’.
Defragment Your Hard Drive
When files are stored as separate fragments of data on your hard drive, it takes longer for the files to open for use. Consider defragmenting your hard drive, which brings the separated fragments together and reorganises the hard drive so there are fewer files to load. This should be done monthly.
In the search bar of whichever operating system you use, type ‘defrag’ and select ‘Defragment and Optimise Drives’. You should notice options to either start the defragment process immediately or schedule automatic defragment sessions.
Run a Disk Clean-Up
Just like it sounds, a disk clean-up does a thorough cleaning of your PC. It can empty the recycle bin, remove cache, delete webpages stored offline and more. If you haven’t done this before, your computer should perform much better afterward.
In your operating system’s search bar, click ‘Start’ and then ‘All Programs’. Next, click ‘Accessories’, then ‘System Tools’, and lastly, ‘Disk Clean-up’.
Check Your Anti-Virus Software
If your anti-virus software is outdated, there could be malware or viruses affecting the performance of your PC. Open the anti-virus menu and make sure it is set to ‘Update and Scan Automatically’. Your IT staff should be aware of any issues, but cyber-criminals will always try to get through undetected.
In addition to making sure your anti-virus software is up to date, you should remember to never share USB drives between computers, and never click on suspicious links or emails. Your IT department might find it beneficial to conduct penetration testing as well.
Physically Clean Your Computer
You’ve already done an internal clean-up, but when is the last time you physically cleaned your computer? You’d be amazed at how much dust can accumulate in workstations. A small vacuum can remove dust from your entire workstation quite effectively. Just make sure your PC is unplugged, and run the vacuum hose over your PC, keyboard and then your entire workstation. Just make sure you get permission from your IT department before disconnecting cables and pulling your machine apart.
Consider Hardware Upgrades
Some work computers are designed only for basic tasks, not visually rich environments or apps based in the cloud. Keep in mind that what is accessible over the internet is always evolving, and requiring more resources in order to do so. An outdated PC may need additional hardware in order to keep up with the demands.
You don’t necessarily need to replace your entire workstation to get better performance. There are hardware upgrades that could help instead. For example, solid-state hardware could be installed. It is faster and doesn’t require defragmentation. You can also upgrade the RAM, which could lead to a noticeable speed increase.
If All Else Fails
While the aforementioned tips can help PC performance temporarily, it may be time to invest in new, modern technology, especially if you’re using old equipment, or if your business is growing and trying to keep up with increased demands. In order to decide whether replacing your system is a wise economical decision, ask yourself or your IT team the following questions:
- Are you consistently having problems completing tasks due to slow PC performance, even after following the recommended tips above?
- Has your server capacity been upgraded to accommodate additional or remote employees? Keep in mind that a network that was designed for a small staff won’t be able to accommodate additional employees without an upgrade. And the demands of accommodating remote workers will also be a drain on the system, affecting performance and the amount of time it takes to load programs.
- Are you using powerful new software on old, incapable computers? Remembering that older PCs may not have been designed to accommodate evolving software, you may need to upgrade to machines that have enough computing power to allow the new software to run as it should.
It may be difficult to justify paying for new technology, but focus on the positive. Efficient technology benefits the entire organisation as well as its clients. By taking the leap and making an investment in a new system, you should experience a boost in efficiency and a reduction in downtime. Employee satisfaction will increase as well, which is good for retention and engagement. Keep the following in mind, however, to make sure you’re upgrading your system to your benefit:
- Make sure that only a trusted IT team performs any hardware upgrades. If you aren’t 100 per cent positive how to do it, and simply guess, you could end up losing data and experiencing critical damage. You may also be voiding existing warranties and insurance in the process Do it right the first time.
- Don’t cut corners where expenses are concerned. There is a balancing act between saving money and investing in technology with a big price tag. Always remember your long-term goals. Buying the best equipment you can afford can ensure that you get an ideal amount of processing power and memory. Don’t just consider your immediate needs either; you should invest in tech that exceeds the current capacity needs of your business, in case you grow or your needs change.
- Invest in the technology that can be modified when performance demands and needs evolve, and be sure to think about your long-term goals as well. For example, is there something you want to implement in five years? Get the technology to accommodate it now.
Saying Goodbye to Poor PC Performance
As you can see, you have many options when it comes to improving the performance of your PC. There’s no reason to suffer through excessive load times and poor overall performance if you make routine adjustments and conduct regular maintenance on your technology. Before doing anything, discuss it with your IT team. You may be able to make the adjustments yourself, but they should always be kept in the loop, especially since other users may be affected as well.
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