Why do computers get so enragingly slow after just a few years?


I watched the recent WWDC keynote where Apple launched a bunch of new products. One of them was the high end mac aimed at the professional sector. This was a computer designed to process hours of high definition video footage for movies/TV. As per usual, they boasted about how many processes you could run at the same time, and how they’d all be done instantaneously, compared to the previous model or the leading competitor.

Meanwhile my 10 year old iMac takes 30 seconds to show the File menu when I click File. Or it takes 5 minutes to run a simple bash command in Terminal. It’s not taking 5 minutes to compile something or do anything particularly difficult. It takes 5 minutes to remember what bash is in the first place.

I know why it couldn’t process video footage without catching fire, but what I truly don’t understand is why it takes so long to do the easiest most mundane things.

I’m not working with 50 apps open, or a browser laden down with 200 tabs. I don’t have intensive image editing software running. There’s no malware either. I’m just trying to use it to do every day tasks. This has happened with every computer I’ve ever owned.


In: 5988

Several reasons.

1) People don’t take care of their computers. Just because you ‘think’ theres no malware, there might be. Also there’s probably a lot of junk, and stuff cached, and just general buildup of stuff.

2) Stuff changes over time. Updates. Upgrades of software. Changes how software works for security reasons. The file manager program it came with is not the same one it has now, even if it looks the same.

Most of our computers in our house are ~7 years old, and they all run great because I maintain them. Almost none have been upgraded. They weren’t some crazy top of the line back then either, they were mid-range. You just have to take care of them, like a car.

Often it’s background programs running, at least on windows. Often you install lots of software over time, almost all of it wants to start background tasks on at computer start up so it has a head start and opens fast when you click it. That would be fine if one or 2 aps are doing it. But you end up with like 10+ 20+ and now idle ram and cpu usage are high.

It really, REALLY depends on a lot of factors. It could be that the demands of the OS/applications you’re using are outpacing what your components are capable of. It could be that there’s data issues someone in the chain where it’s just not running as efficiently as it used to. It could be that you need to clean out your device (De-dust and what not). It could also be that, frankly, the software developers working on the OS/ applications are just not taking your specs in mind anymore because they’re slowly being depreciated. Apple stuff has been slowly moving onto completely different hardware with their own chipsets that they have better understanding and control of. And they REALLY want you to upgrade to their stuff just because they have better control over those systems as opposed to what was the case before with Intel chips having to be designed for a more broad demographic.

Also, frankly, tech just gets better over time. It runs more efficiently (uses less power for the same amount of work), has newer features, better cooling solutions, better thermal limiting or turboing functions, etc etc. We just get better at doing things the more and more we do them and that’s very true with tech and how we manufacture them. Your device is 10 years old, that’s honestly pretty good but there are just going to be limits in an industry that’s always trying to get better, faster, more power, etc etc.

If you’re installing current generation software/games etc, those applications are more resource intensive than the ones you were installing when you first got the computer

The software updates, though they’re often necessary to keep you safe, will also slow machines down. Just choosing to only install critical updates can result in snappier response times