In today’s digital environment, multi-tasking is a must. Over the course of an average business day, we bounce between different operating systems, software applications, and workflows, all of which require a standard of expertise and a powerful memory (both inside our computers and inside our brains).
Even though we train ourselves to plow through our to-do list, though, that doesn’t always mean our devices can keep up. One of the most common complaints heard in modern office environments is, “My computer can’t keep up with me!” Which might sound like a pointless protest, until you realize just how much time and money a business can lose due to increased inefficiency.
Say your employees earn on average $40,000 per year. Full-time workers generally log about 2,000 hours per year, which comes out to $20 per hour in compensation ($40K / 2,000 hours). If you have 10 staff members in your office and they each average just one hour of hampered productivity each work day, you could be wasting $200 a day due to a five-year-old computer that runs slow. The more employees you have, the more you could be wasting.
So what can you do to avoid such a pitfall and increase the performance of your company’s devices? First things first, don’t panic. Slow-moving desktops and lethargic laptops are more normal than you think — unless you’ve set up a new computer 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, browsing the Internet, and slowly accumulating data on your hard drive.
Older processors, many of which still come built in to that $300 computer at the big box store, are technically obsolete and can’t handle the multi-core, multi-thread demands of modern software. A typical $850 business-class PC with a current generation processor that will provide solid performance for five years can cost less than $20 a month. It doesn’t take much waiting for a computer to respond to cost far more than $20/month in lost productivity.
Below, we’ve included five of the most common problems that can cause your computer to lag, followed by five strategies for battling those problems so that your preferred device can keep pace with your work ethic.
1) Problem: Too many applications running or browser tabs open.
Yes, you can do a million things at once these days, especially since most employees average 2 – 3 devices a person. 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 any of them (like news feeds or live streams) auto-refresh or continuously download and rotate advertisements, you will notice a serious drain on performance. In addition, popular Internet-connected music apps like Spotify 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 stick with just one browser window if you can. Instead of leaving 50 tabs open, use the handy Bookmark option in Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, or Chrome to save pages and links for future reference.
2) Problem: Your hard drive or memory could be near or at capacity.
The biggest surprise here? Performance will start suffering long before a hard drive or memory is 100% maxed out. IT experts estimate that even at 85% capacity, your computer’s efficiency and productivity can be reduced to a crawl. Programs, application updates, Internet downloads, and temporary files are the main culprits for taking up hard drive and memory space, along with large industry-specific files for those working in industries like graphic design, architecture, and engineering. In other words, don’t try to run the latest version of Creative Cloud 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 same 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 in to the previous point, but it bears repeating and 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.
Solution: Consider a proactive monitoring and maintenance solution like CMIT Marathon, 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 in the morning and throughout the day.
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 program 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 health care data. Most consumer-grade anti-virus solutions cannot detect such illicit operations, which makes multi-layered, constantly evolving security software a must for any business in the 21st century.
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 breaking the budget? Contact CMIT Solutions — we worry about IT so you don’t have to.