why do computers get slow?

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I mean, not only slow and unresponsive over time, but also within a working session. Does it have to do with the amount of programs running, the internet tabs open, the amount of time turned on, or just the physical materials wearing off? I’m both genuinely curious but would also want to know to see if there’s anything I can do when my computer gets slow

Thank you guys:)

In: Technology

8 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

Most modern machines you really shouldn’t see any slowing down throughout the day unless you’re reaching the limit of your hardware.

Computer parts just eventually slow and become obsolete because as software keeps getting updated and changing your hardware stays the same.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are several things affecting speed over time. Probably the most significant one is that software developers tend to write updates to programs that assume most people are running newer systems and therefore, have more resources to exploit. Another big factor could be malware (viruses, Trojans, spyware, etc.) and, as you mentioned, programs running in the background at startup. Physically, computers are designed to run at a set clock speed that doesn’t vary over time. This means physically, your computer is just as fast as the day you obtained it. The exception would be if it has “thermal throttling”, which most systems do. Basically, if the system gets too hot, the processor, graphics card and several other components will reduce their speed to avoid damaging themselves. One way to avoid this is to regularly clean dust and debris from your system and reapply thermal paste to your processor every ~2 years. There are several other inexpensive or free things you can do to help, but that should be a good start.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are many reasons that can slow down a computer

Imagine you’re in a large bookshop.
In this bookshop, there’s a librarian, and books on shelves.

Here’s a rule: if you want to read a book, you have to ask the librarian to go and read it himself, and then, he has to come back and tell you all about it.

The librarian represents your processor. He got the speed to find the book, read it, and tell you what he read.

The shelves and bookshelves are your hard disk (ROM).

To remember what the librarian reads, he holds it in his brain. In computing, this corresponds to random access memory (RAM).

If you’re alone in the library, the books are well arranged and the librarian is “in shape” and has a good brain, everything goes smoothly.

On the other hand, if the books are badly arranged, he’ll take longer to find them.

If the librarian lacks brains, he’ll have to go back and forth several times to tell you all about the book.

If you ask your librarian for too much information at once, he’ll be overloaded with work.

Another customer may ask the librarian to do anything. It’s a (computer) virus

Anonymous 0 Comments

The answer is all of the above.

How you use your computer and what you’re experiencing as slow will help narrow down exactly why.

Internet browser tabs can take a lot of memory, which will slow almost everything down. Close tabs, close other browser windows. Chrome and Edge have improved this behavior considerably with recent updates.

Other (non browser) apps running on your computer will use up your processor.

Running out of drive space on your main (C:) drive can really slow a computer down. Make sure you’ve got at least 20% free.

In Windows, start Task Manager to see what’s getting over used. Ctrl-shift-escape. Check the performance tab and look for graphs that are staying near max – that’s the resource you’re running low on.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The computer is the same speed as the day you bought it. To within billionths of a second. If you bought it at 3Ghz, then if it’s working 20 years later, it’s still 3GHz.

The reason it *seems* slow is that it ends up *doing more*. All the junk you have installed on it over the years, all the accumulated background processes, things like Windows Update making it do more stuff over time that it never used to do, all the legacy configuration brought forwards for decades.

It’s still processing at 3GHz, but now you’ve given it twice as much to do.

If you were to take an “image” (i.e. a copy of the machine) when you bought it, and put that image back on 20 years later, it would perform *exactly* the same. Until you installed more software, or allowed those updates to take place, or whatever.

Thus, the only way to stop your machine “going slower” is to manage it well. That means not installing unnecessary software, uninstalling software completely, making sure that you’re not using all the latest tweaks (e.g. search, copilot, etc.) just because it’s been put into the OS, etc.

As an IT manager, I want my images *perfectly* clean. I image machines with fresh Windows, I keep all installs to a minimum, remove as many background tasks as possible (Windows services, scheduled tasks, always-running apps, taskbar icons, etc.) and keep it like that and when I want to add new software, I get that clean image, add only the new software, configure it appropriately, and create a new image immediately. Thus the systems I deploy all perform identically – because they’re all based on the same image – and they don’t get significantly slower over their lifetime (which is about 5 years, generally, before you buy new hardware or upgrade to the next OS anyway).

The computer doesn’t get slow. It never has. The ZX Spectrum in your cupboard from 40 years ago – if it’s still working – will still run at the exact same speed as the day you got it. If it didn’t, you’d have serious operational problems with peripherals, software, etc. and things just wouldn’t work.

And the same applies even today. The PCs in my storage from 20, 15, 10, 5 years ago perform identically to how they did back in the day. 100%. To within literally billionths of a second. 5GHz is 5GHz. If the speed changed that much, you would have bus-speed problems, memory would start to fail, etc.

There are small outside factors, depending on how old the machine is, that will affect the speed but these are all a function of maintenance. Such as:

* dust clogging up the processor, fan, heatsink, power supply etc. Clean them, it solves the problem.
* temperatures
* failing components (e.g. capacitors, failing hard drives, etc.). Rare that a machine will keep working with these for long anyway,

But those are not purely age-related and can happen day-one if you’re careless, or they can never be an issue if you take care of the machine.

(Also, the subject of some confusion: It pretty much doesn’t matter “how many files you have” on the disk, or the obsolete “defragging” advice… that contributes almost nothing to performance degradation, especially nowadays. It matters far, far more how many programs are running and how much they are consuming, how much RAM and CPU they use, and how that changes over time – e.g. old Adobe Reader is significantly faster than new Adobe Reader because it’s “doing less” in the older versions).

As I’ve had to prove professionally many times, there’s almost no such thing as an computer “going slower” when it’s maintained in even a minor fashion. It’s just doing more. What your computer was doing on Windows 7 was FAR FAR less than you’re now asking of it on Windows 11. And it’s easy to prove… you can just go back to former images, IT guys tend to keep them around for a while, and I’ve shown that many times.

But the actual speed of the computer? It basically doesn’t change one iota even over decades.

Anonymous 0 Comments

The real ELI5 is “it depends.” Usually when someone sees slowdown within a given session it’s due to running out of RAM (random access memory). RAM is faster than your hard drive and so your computer keeps as much as it can there for the stuff you’re using. Loading stuff from your hard drive into RAM is why applications take a while to “boot up.”

If you’re using too much stuff (tabs/windows open), then your computer runs out of RAM and is forced to work directly with your hard drive, which is much slower.

Anonymous 0 Comments

First, if your computer is slowing down over the course of use in a single day, this likely speaks to your computer already being very old or that your doing something like leave a thousand windows open, never closing games, etc. This is not typical usage.

Otherwise, its a few factors. As computers age, there parts do degrade. Heat is the biggest offender for this. If you don’t ever clean your computers air intakes and fans of dust, your computer will steadily start running slower as its unable to get good airflow. Cleaning it with compressed air every so often will extend the life of your computers parts and help it run cooler. But under heavy loads, your CPU is still going to run hot, and can easily be 70-80c or higher under load. This, over time, will degrade the parts.

Next is bloatware and disk space. As your computer ages, you’ll have started installing more and more programs that are run on start up. This can drastically reduce your boot times. You can disable on-boot programs in task manager, under startup. Loads will also naturally slow as your HD or SDD begins to age and some of its memory becomes corrupted. Theres not much you can do about that.

And of course, feature creep. As your computer ages, the world doesn’t stand still. 5 years ago, the Ryzen 9 3900x cpu ran at 3.8ghz on 12 cores, boosting(being stronger for short bursts) to 4.6ghz. 5 years later, Ryzen’s 7900x runs at 4.7ghz on 12 cores, boosting to 5.6ghz. Thats a rough 25% power increase, with its base speed now being what the old CPU could only do for short bursts. With that new power, companies want to utilize it. Games get better graphics and most intense effects for example. Updates to its software stop coming as it gets too old to support. This can only be solved by upgrading your computers hardware now and then, or starting anew.

Anonymous 0 Comments

There are 4 factors

– battery , if its a phone it needs juice, old battery can’t do that as well

– cooling , most of modern-ish components are heat limited, there will be dust collected that will limit performance

– new features , the extra animation, the new format support or new apps that you have running in background

– security , any holes that are found need to be fixed, sometimes that takes away from the speed, famously heartbleed/spectre in CPUs that costed 10% of performance in some cases