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Why is my computer so slow?!

The most common and often most frustrating IT performance problem, and why there's more to it than just an old pc.

One of the most common complaints from users is slowness. Usually users put this down to having slightly older hardware, or having too many different programs open but it's often more complicated. Spending thousands on a new network may have some success but there is usually a better and more cost effective solution.

Are you a 'Power User'?

In 99% of businesses and organisations there are varying users that have differing IT requirements. Tenacity's designer Jack for example, will often have Photoshop, his website design software and maybe even video editing software open at the same time. Jack is highly proficient with his usage, and so is operating the software at high speeds and is constantly saving his work. We would call Jack a 'power user' as he has a high level of requirement from his computer system in order to carry out his everyday tasks. In contrast a user that maybe just needs their outlook inbox open, with a web browser and some tabs to perform their job, would require a vastly different computer system when compared to Jack. Unless you are lucky enough to have a very generous IT budget, it is key to understand which users in your business will be fine with an i3 processor, and which would benefit from having an i7 or higher for example.

Always consider the server

Unless all your services are online in the cloud and you are running a "serverless" network, the server is likely to play an important role in the performance of all networked computers. Servers usually have many "roles", including network file services, authentication, policies and credentials, application servers, database servers, DNS servers, and these servers also contribute to Internet access and other functions. Providing all this information to multiple workstations at the same time means that they work very hard to process and process requests and responses. The performance of a dedicated server is always better than that of a shared server on the network, but it is also necessary to specify the dedicated server appropriately. Does the server have enough CPU power, enough RAM, and is the underlying disk architecture suitable for processing, accessing, and saving data at a fast enough speed?

The network is often a bottleneck

An often overlooked cause of a slow PC is a problem in the network, though this will often require correct diagnoses. Bad network infrastructure means that your devices may not be achieving gigabit connectivity between each other and the server, and this significantly impacts client/server based applications and their performance. Even if gigabit is being achieved, it may not be error free and this can massively hurt load times and even cause applications to time out or crash.

The workstation specifications

A major factor however is often the workstation and other hardware. As a general rule, Tenacity recommends pc's with a minimum of a Core i5 processor, 8GB Ram and an SSD drive. A very common fix for an older PC is to upgrade them with an SSD instead of the old school mechanical disks. This is a very cost effective fix- often better than buying a new pc!

Other bottlenecks

Without a proper in depth diagnoses it is impossible to know exactly what the issue it. There a whole host of other factors that could also cause a slow PC; applications, faulty hardware and even viruses. How long has the problem been going on for? What kind of user is being affected? These are all questions to ask to achieve a fix and also to implement a better IT system for your business.

© Liam McNaughton & Elliot Cheeseman, Tenacity, May 2021


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