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Published on 12.28.05 by Brent Trahan

Why does a computer slow down over time?

You purchase a new computer, bring it home, turn it on and think man this thing is fast. You start installing software, surfing the net, checking e-mail, downloading games, and before you know it your new computer is running so slow you can’t do anything with it anymore. Sounds like something that happened to you? […]

You purchase a new computer, bring it home, turn it on and think man this thing is fast. You start installing software, surfing the net, checking e-mail, downloading games, and before you know it your new computer is running so slow you can’t do anything with it anymore.

Sounds like something that happened to you? Let me explain why that happened and what probably caused it.

When you purchase a new computer it doesn’t have much software on it. There is no spyware or viruses from surfing the net and checking e-mail. That computer is perfectly clean and running at its best.

After using the computer for a while you install new programs and games. Some of those programs and games are set to load when Windows boots up and takes up valuable memory and system time by running in the background.

You also might catch viruses and spyware from surfing the net, checking e-mail, and downloading stuff. Over time those viruses will make changes to Windows that could cause it to become unstable and not perform at its best. Spyware will take up memory and system time. This is the cause of most people’s computers loosing speed.

Windows handles files in a sloppy manner that can “fragment” your hard drive. Think of fragmenting like a child who leaves his/her toys out after playing. After a while of being played with they are placed out of order which makes finding them later a little slower. Windows handles files similar to this. Removing the trash and defragmenting the hard drive will let your computer run a little faster.

Listed above are the most common problems I see with computers that have slowed down over time. Check out the rest of my Speed Up That PC series to find out how to fix this problem.

Still need help? Ask your computer question now.

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11 Responses to “Why does a computer slow down over time?”

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  1. CMS says:

    Number of installed system fonts (>500) also can be a big culprit.

  2. Dub says:

    That is such a gross understatement of what makes your computer slow over time. How about programs installing themselves into startup, and services that run on startup.

    Theres way more than just fragments (which isnt really that big a problem on an NTFS disk, in fact ive read opinions of people to not even defrag on NTFS as its help is near nothing) Speaking of fragmenting as childrens toys? come on, thats not even near how it works, fragmented files dont get LOST, they are just out of order and pc has to look for all parts in different places, hence the slower performance.
    If your gunna write an article, write a good one

    • Brent Trahan says:

      Thanks for correcting this guide Dub.

      You’re absolutely right about there’s a lot more that goes into what makes your computer slow. If you notice at the bottom of the guide there’s a link to another guide that has an entire series of guides that show you how to speed up your computer.

      You’re also absolutely right on how defragmentation happens. I had a very bad choice of words and didn’t explain how it worked correctly.

      I’ve updated the guide to fix it’s errors.

    • Bill says:

      Come on, give the guy a break. This is obviously geared toward people who are a little more ignorant of technology than us. I think the article was just fine and if I had little or no understanding of file systems, system memory, etc. I would appreciate the analogies. In fact, I did anyway.

  3. MrSpikey says:

    Thanx for the pointers.

    Just one concern,isnt registry cleaning a helpful in this case?if yes,which one would u recommend?

    • Brent Trahan says:

      I don’t recommend registry cleaners.

      • Cold Canuck says:

        Forgive me for saying, but if you are going to make broad, sweeping statements like this one….an explanation of why you feel this way would be of value.

        Simply stating that you don’t recommend a particular action or piece of hardware or software without leaving any qualifying reason is not helpful in the slightest.

        • Bill says:

          Why is everyone so snarky on here? How about just asking for the rationale? Give Brent a break. He’s not writing a technical doc about this stuff, its just basic computer advice.

  4. Anthony says:

    ^agreed

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