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

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.

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