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Sick of Your Slow Computer?

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5 Ways to Improve the Performance of Desktops and Laptops

In today’s always-connected digital world, multi-tasking is a must. Throughout an average workday, most of us bounce between multiple applications, browsers, and even devices. As anyone who’s dealt with a slow machine or frozen program will tell you, not every computer can keep up.

A confluence of factors can make a huge difference here: the power of a device’s memory and processor. The number of tasks running or tabs open at the same time. The amount of battery life left. Even the temperature—outside, inside, and within the device itself.

Most members of today’s modern workforce know what it’s like to plow through to-do lists, pivoting between projects on the fly. Our devices should make this easier, not harder. One of the most common complaints heard today is, “My computer can’t keep up with me!” This pain point is particularly relevant as more of us work a remote or hybrid schedule, making it extra important to stay productive as we bounce between desktops, laptops, and smartphones as our busy schedules demand.

Why is productivity so important?  

Consider how much time and money a business can lose due to increased inefficiency. Say your employees earn on average $50,000 per year. Full-time workers generally log about 2,000 hours per year, which comes out to $25 per hour in compensation ($50K / 2,000 hours). If you have 10 staff members in your office and they each average just one hour of hampered productivity each workday, you could be wasting $200 a day. The more employees you have, the more you could be wasting.

So what can you do to increase the performance of your company’s devices—and empower your employees to do their best work?  

First, don’t panic. Desktops that drag and laptops that are lethargic are more common than you think. Unless you’ve set up a new machine at some point in the past few months, chances are you’re actually using one right now. But that sluggishness can be caused due to normal activity, as well: running multiple programs, opening too many browser tabs, and slowly accumulating data on your hard drive.

Older processors, many of which still come built into that $500 computer at the big box store, are technically obsolete and can’t handle the multi-core, multi-thread demands of modern software. A typical $1,000 business-class PC with a current-generation processor that will provide solid performance for five years can cost a business around $50 a month. It doesn’t take much time waiting for a computer to respond to exceed that $50 a month in lost productivity.

Below, CMIT Solutions has outlined five of the most common problems that can cause your computer to lag, followed by five strategies for solving those problems so that your company’s technology can keep pace with your employees’ work ethic.

1) Problem: Too many applications running or browser tabs open. Yes, you can do a million things at once these days. But at some point, that level of extreme multi-tasking will take its toll on your computer’s memory and processing speed, preventing the seamless switching from one open program to another that everyone desires. If you like to keep multiple tabs open in your browser for reference—and if any of them are news feeds or live streams that auto-refresh or continuously rotate through advertisements—you will notice a serious drain on performance. In addition, popular Internet-connected music apps can store a large cache of data that will similarly slow you down.

Solution: Shut down or quit any programs you aren’t actively using, and keep just one browser window open if you can. If you like to read or reference multiple tabs, use the handy Bookmark option in browsers like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, or Firefox to save pages and links for future reference.

2) Problem: Your hard drive or memory could be at or near capacity. Performance can start to suffer long before a hard drive or memory is 100% maxed out. Even at 85% capacity, your computer’s efficiency and productivity could be reduced to a crawl. Large programs, automatic application updates, Internet caches, and temporary files are the main causes of this problem, along with large industry-specific files for those working in industries like architecture, engineering, or graphic design. In other words, you shouldn’t try to run the latest version of AutoCAD or Creative Cloud software on an entry-level or old computer.

Solution: First things first, empty your computer’s trash. Then consider moving those aforementioned large files to a remote hard drive or cloud storage, or delete large files that aren’t being used. Teaming up with a trusted IT provider can help you navigate these changes safely and securely—and if an upgrade to increased RAM or a larger hard drive is necessary, that technology expert can install and implement it so that you can enjoy uninterrupted success.

3) Problem: Unnecessary software updates could be overloading your machine. This ties into the previous point but bears extra exploration. Many programs and applications come pre-installed with automatic updates activated, but these can take up valuable hard drive space and interfere with normal functions when auto-installers turn on. They can confuse computer users, as well, and put your company’s security at risk if someone opts not to install a needed patch.

Solution: Consider a proactive monitoring and maintenance solution like Managed IT Services, which keeps your computers running 24×7, handles all updates and patches remotely and regularly, and deploys software upgrades during off-hours so that computer users are not adversely affected.

4) Problem: Too many applications automatically open when your computer boots up. Similar to how some applications come preset with automatic updates, many (including popular ones like Spotify and Google Chrome) may be programmed to automatically load upon startup. If you are not aware that these programs are running, they could be a massive drag on your computer’s processing speed, both when you first fire it up and throughout the workday.

Solution: Altering a computer’s startup log is an extremely advanced procedure recommended only for IT experts. Working with a trusted partner, though, you can disable programs that aren’t necessary while devoting precious operating speed to those that are critical to day-to-day business functions.

5) Problem: Your computer could be infected with a virus (or saddled with an ineffective anti-virus solution). Usually, the presence of a computer virus makes itself immediately known through the encryption of files, a demand for ransom, or other nefarious pop-ups. But some viruses do run unknowingly in the background, collecting critical information like usernames, passwords, financial information, and other sensitive data. Most consumer-grade anti-virus solutions cannot detect such illicit operations, making multi-layered network security solutions a must for any business operating in today’s always-changing digital environment.

Solution: Never entrust your business’ critical data and computers to free anti-virus or anti-spam solutions—and don’t expect just one layer of security to keep you and your employees safe from data breaches, ransomware, malware, phishing, and other forms of cybercrime. Digital security is complicated, and cyberthreats are constantly changing. What worked yesterday may not work today, especially since hackers work tirelessly to stay one step ahead of basic security protections.

That’s why you need a trusted business partner to keep a close watch over your entire IT infrastructure. Is your computer running slow? Are certain programs inhibiting your employees’ efficiency? Would you like to learn more about enhancing cybersecurity while also boosting productivity, all without blowing your budget? Contact CMIT Solutions today—we worry about IT so you don’t have to.

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