Gadget Setup and Configuration for Christmas

Pre-Christmas Device Setup and Configuration Have you ever been in that situation where you receive a shiny new present for Christmas, but don’t know how to set it up? Wouldn’t it be nice to just open the box and start … Read More

Slow WiFi or Broadband Problems in Ireland?

Having slow WiFi, or broadband problems that make your internet connection in your home unreliable, is a challenge that most of us in Ireland have faced. Thankfully, in many parts of the country, it is no-longer an unsolvable riddle. However, … Read More

Contact-DeGeekIT

DeGeekIT, Dee Geek It, /diː’ɡiːk’ɪt/ , DG kit, DJKit, Technical Support Ratoath

This post is primarily for the purpose of Google, Amazon, Apple and Microsoft so that Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri, and Cortana will hopefully learn that DeGeekIT is pronounced /diː’ɡiːk’ɪt/ ! … Read More

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Google Home vs Amazon Echo in Ireland

Smart homes and home automation are becoming more commonplace. Google have released Google Home, Amazon Echo has been around for a while, and soon Apple will launch HomePod*. Let me be clear, these devices are all amazing. However, there are … Read More

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Back-to-School photos: Warning to Parents

In the Independent today: CyberSafeIreland CEO, Alex Cooney, warns about sharing back-to-school photos of our kids on social media. It’s hard to know where to draw the line here, but I’d suggest these areas of caution if you are going … Read More

Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.

cleaning-up-computer
Cleaning up a computer

At the very start of this article I mention that it’s not really age that makes a computer slow.  More than anything it is a build up of files and applications that are stored or run unnecessarily.  You could think of these files as “digital dust”. There are no shortage of cleaning up utilities available to download online so I won’t re-write what so many others have done justice to.  However, do make sure you use reputable apps.  Windows 10 does a fairly good job of keeping itself clean and tidy, but there are many things that you can look out for yourself such as:

  • Clearing browser caches
  • Deleting temporary files
  • Preventing unnecessary start-up applications from loading
  • Scanning a Hard Disk for errors and Defragging.

If these basic steps still leave you unhappy with your computer speed, then the chances are that something slightly more serious is impeding its performance.

DeGeekIT can help you identify the root of your computer performance problems and help you identify the best solution. If you do need to buy a new computer or component, talk to us first and find out what’s best for your needs. Empower yourself! Spending a bit of time and money with DeGeekIT will help prevent you from wasting money on poor computer purchases! Contact us today!

Book Appointment

Read on to find out more: Previous PageBack Home

  1. Computer slow down over time? Why does it happen?
  2. CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Motherboard… The Brain and Central Nervous System.
  3. Memory (RAM)
  4. Hard Disks
  5. Graphics Cards
  6. Network, WiFi, Internet Connection
  7. Heat and Dust
  8. Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.

Dust Heat – Warm and Cosy, but not not good for computers.

Computer performance can be affected by so many factors, but one that you don’t hear about so often is simple dust heat!

dust-heat-computer-slow
Dust heats up and slows down computers

If you ever stop to listen to your desktop computer or laptop, you’ll usually hear a quiet fan or two whirring away. You may also notice that they’re quite a bit noisier than they were when you bought the computer.

Why do computers have fans?

Computers have fans to provide heat dissipation from components in the machine that would otherwise get too hot. When a component overheats, it slows down or sometimes burns out. The fans either blow cool air into the machine, or more often, suck heat out of the machine. In a well-built machine, all open air vents and fans are covered with filters.

Because of the constant air flow, they act like vacuum cleaners and clog up with dust. Once clogged, the machine gets less air flow and gets hotter inside. This slows it down and increases the risk of damage to a component. Inevitably, some dust gets inside the machine and if you’ve got pets… dog and cat hair can be regular battle, damaging fans or stopping them spinning efficiently.

So what do I do to prevent my computer overheating?

dust-heat-monitoring
Monitoring temperatures for heat problems

Prevention is always better than cure. Keep your computer in a clean and relatively dust free location. Gently clean with a vacuum cleaner around the air vents (with the cleaner on a low power setting if possible). Filters can often be removed and washed or replaced.

Be very careful if you decide to clean inside the machine. Static electricity on your body, cleaning cloth or vacuum can easily fry many of the chips in your computer. Always earth yourself or get someone to do the job who is comfortable with the inner workings of a computer.

DeGeekIT can help you identify the root of your computer performance problems and help you identify the best solution. If you do need to buy a new computer or component, talk to us first and find out what’s best for your needs. Empower yourself! Spending a bit of time and money with DeGeekIT will help prevent you from wasting money on poor computer purchases! Contact us today!

Book Appointment

Read on to find out more: Previous PageNext Page

  1. Computer slow down over time? Why does it happen?
  2. CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Motherboard… The Brain and Central Nervous System.
  3. Memory (RAM)
  4. Hard Disks
  5. Graphics Cards
  6. Network, WiFi, Internet Connection
  7. Heat and Dust
  8. Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.

Network, WiFi, Internet Connection

Many times these days when somebody says that they’ve got a slow computer, the root cause is not actually the computer itself at all. Whether you’re shopping on Amazon, eBay, DoneDeal or Groupon, watching a movie on Netflix, or even reading your gMail, they’re all “in the cloud”. This is just industry jargon for them running on servers on the Internet, not locally on your computer, tablet or smart phone. They depend on your local network or WiFi performance, and Internet connection.

WiFi-performance-internet-test
Internet Connection Testing

Regardless how fast your iPhone, PC, Mac, or iPad are, nothing that relies on the Internet will be fast if your home network, WiFi or Internet Connection are slow. Unfortunately, there is a huge variance in the availability of high speed broadband in Ireland. You may have heard of the “digital divide”, well it is all too real in the green isle. Broadband providers will sell packages advertising speeds “up to” a particular speed, but many of them cannot supply anywhere close to the named speed. If you only have access to copper based phone lines and happen to be too far away from the local exchange, you may only be able to get very slow speeds.

Upload Speed

The advertised speeds often only mention the “download” speed and neglect to mention the very important “upload” speed. If you want to make an internet phone or video call over tools like FaceTime, Skype, WhatsApp you need a respectable upload or upstream speed too. If you want to upload photos or videos to Facebook, that too requires upload bandwidth. Some of the technology used by Internet Service Providers (ISP) like Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) does not fully allow for full duplex connections, or simultaneous bidirectional traffic. This means that if you upload a video over your 1Mbps* upload bandwidth, your 15Mbs download speed is slashed too. (*mega bits per second)

In other cases, bandwidth is shared between subscribers. The more people near you that are using the same provider, the slower your connection becomes.

Understanding what the real options are for Internet connections near you is important before you get stuck in a contract. If Fibre broadband is available where you live, it is a very good choice in most circumstances. Thankfully, fibre rollout is happening across the country and is starting to reach more and more remote areas.

WiFi-performance-diagnosing-issues
diagnosing-WiFi-issues

WiFi Performance

Even if your Internet connection is solid, your experience online can be dramatically slowed down by poor WiFi performance, configuration or a broadband router that is struggling. Conflicting signals, poor range and electronic noise can all impact the network performance. All these can produce that horrible spinning “buffering” signal in your movie or Spotify playlist.

Identifying the cause of your slow network or online experience takes a bit of time. You may need to survey your network to pinpoint the bottlenecks. Before investing in a new router, or signing up to a new ISP, it’s a good idea to talk to someone knowledgeable in the art. It may just be that another device on your network is using bandwidth without you knowing! When it comes to your internet connection, talking to your neighbours about what works for them, can also be very useful.

network-usage
Monitoring network usage

DeGeekIT can help you identify the root of your computer performance problems and help you identify the best solution. If you are changing Internet Provider or WiFi Router, call us first and find out what’s best for your needs. Empower yourself! Spending a bit of time and money with DeGeekIT will help prevent you from wasting money on poor computer purchases! Contact us today!

Book Appointment

Read on to find out more: Previous PageNext Page

  1. Computer slow down over time? Why does it happen?
  2. CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Motherboard… The Brain and Central Nervous System.
  3. Memory (RAM)
  4. Hard Disks
  5. Graphics Cards
  6. Network, WiFi, Internet Connection
  7. Heat and Dust
  8. Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.

Graphics Cards – GPU

graphics-cards-gpu
A Graphics Card or GPU

Remember the days when computers had green text on a black background? You’re lucky if you don’t! Before graphics cards or Graphics Processing Units (GPU), that’s all that a computer could manage to output on a screen.

A graphics card or GPU is a secondary “brain” in a computer, smart phone or tablet, that is dedicated to managing graphical processing for displays. The GPU is also used for some graphics intensive activities like photo or video editing, graphical design, or computer based art.

Integrated Graphics Cards

Most laptops and some desktops these days use GPUs that are integrated into the CPU or motherboard. They are generally slower than add on graphics cards, but are often adequate if all you want to do is web browsing, email and occasional photo editing.

graphics-cards-monitoring
Monitoring a graphics card

Integrated GPUs will, however, typically struggle with modern games or video editing.

In a desktop machine, it is usually quite easy to upgrade the graphics card. Sadly, this is not the case for laptops.

Can’t stand the heat?

GPUs typically have memory dedicated to them, and have many processing cores. They run at extremely high speeds and can get very hot. It’s crucial that they get the required cooling, and sometimes come with their own fans or even water based cooling systems. When they get too hot, they have to slow down or can even burn out. Keeping a computer clear of dust can be essential for the performance of some graphics cards.

Determining if the graphics card is the cause of a computer slow down, involves some monitoring during real world use. It’s not particularly difficult, but very much depends on what you use your computer for.

If you are buying a new computer specifically for gaming or for driving high resolution displays or multiple monitors, it is very important to choose the right graphics card or GPU.

DeGeekIT can help you identify the root of your computer performance problems and help you identify the best solution. If you do need to buy a new computer or component, talk to us first and find out what’s best for your needs. Empower yourself! Spending a bit of time and money with DeGeekIT will help prevent you from wasting money on poor computer purchases! Contact us today!

Book Appointment

Read on to find out more: Previous PageNext Page

  1. Computer slow down over time? Why does it happen?
  2. CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Motherboard… The Brain and Central Nervous System.
  3. Memory (RAM)
  4. Hard Disks
  5. Graphics Cards
  6. Network, WiFi, Internet Connection
  7. Heat and Dust
  8. Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.

Hard Disks and Solid State Drives

So we’ve already identified the RAM as being the equivalent of your brain’s short term memory. Well to stick with the analogy, a Hard Disks (HDD) are the long-term memory.

What are hard disks?

Hard-disks-hdd
An open hard disk showing the platters and heads

A typical hard disk is an extrapolation of designs that date back over 60 years! You can think of it like an old turntable (record player), with a double-sided disk, with needle and arm on either side of the disk. However, there are always multiple disks (platters) and two heads per platter (one for each side). Instead of grooves and a needle, they are magnetic (like an old tape recorder) and as such are susceptible to being wiped by magnetic fields.

They are mechanical devices and while each platter spins, the head very rapidly moves backwards and forwards from place to place on the platter (it doesn’t just sequentially move from the outside towards the inside). That’s why you sometimes here a spinning noise and a rattling noise inside your machine. When parts of the hard disk starts to fail, you’ll sometimes hear clicking noises as the head tries to read a part of the disk which is damaged.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hard disks DO die. They have a limited life span and some last much longer than others. They’re very susceptible to bangs and knocks, extreme temperatures (inside your computer) and the amount they are read from and written to will influence how long they last.

Since hard disk do not last for ever, and I’ll say it again… they DO die, and they store all of your data (photos, music, videos, documents… everything), it is crucial to keep backups. How frequently you back up your data depends on how frequently you write new data to the disk.

They also slow down over time depending on how full they are and how the data that is written to them is arranged. Remember that I said that they do not read data in a sequential spiral like an old vinyl? Well that’s true: they can randomly move the head to any track anywhere on the disk in any order. However, moving the head from the outside of the platter to the inside of the platter to the inside takes a small, but measurable amount of time.

The more the head has to move to open a file or application, the slower it will load. As the disk gets fuller, data on it gets more and more fragmented across the platters of the disk drive. This causes ever increasing slow down and a partial temporary way to mitigate the problem for a while is to defragment the disk (modern operating systems sometimes do this automatically from time to time).

Monitoring-Hard-Disks
Monitoring hard disks performance

Your computer will dramatically slow down if it is “swapping” a lot (due to insufficient RAM), to a fragmented page file. The page file is an area on the hard disks reserved for RAM offload.

Bring on the Solid State Drives (SSD)!

solid-state-drive-ssd
Inside a solid state drive (SSD)

Thankfully, in recent years, there has been a revolution in long term storage. Mechanical Hard Disks have been superseded by Solid State Drives (SSD). A Solid State Drive is much more akin to the little SD card you might have in your digital camera. It contains no moving parts and even a cheap one is typically at least 10 times as fast as a hard disk drive.

High capacity SSDs are still quite expensive compared to HDDs, so sometimes desktop computers come with both a small SSD and large HDD (or a drive that combines both).

If your HDD is constantly rattling away or running near its maximum transfer rate, you will inevitably have a slow computer. Occasionally you can find the process that is causing the constant activity and shut it down or lower its priority. Sometimes it’s a crucial activity but it is not unusual to have a malicious hidden piece of malware such as a virus rattling away in the background. It’s important to identify the cause before choosing a solution.

Should I replace my Hard Disks?

Replacing a painfully slow HDD with a fast SSD in an ageing computer is often a relatively easy task. In most cases will make a very dramatic (and cost effective) improvement in your computer speed. It will improve both the boot up time of your computer and how it performs while you are using it.

Buying a new computer without an SSD is highly inadvisable these days. Unfortunately, computer stores will still palm off machines to the unknowing shopper. Keep an eye out for SSD or HDD labels and avoid any machine that only has an HDD.

DeGeekIT can help you identify the root of your computer performance problems and help you identify the best solution. If you do need to buy a new computer or component, talk to us first and find out what’s best for your needs. Empower yourself! Spending a bit of time and money with DeGeekIT will help prevent you from wasting money on poor computer purchases! Contact us today!

Book Appointment

Read on to find out more: Previous PageNext Page

  1. Computer slow down over time? Why does it happen?
  2. CPU (Central Processing Unit) and Motherboard… The Brain and Central Nervous System.
  3. Memory (RAM)
  4. Hard Disks
  5. Graphics Cards
  6. Network, WiFi, Internet Connection
  7. Heat and Dust
  8. Cleaning up a computer and preventing unnecessary applications from running.