Support Guys

Slow Computers?

One of the biggest bug bears we see here at Support Guys, are complaints about slow computers. It is important to work out the where, why, and how of these situations.

Slow computers can be caused by software, networking or hardware problems - these are commonly known as bottlenecks; the slowest point which restricts the speed of the whole system. Bottlenecks can be very costly: 20 minutes a day lost to poor IT adds up to two working weeks lost a year (based on 220 days in the office - 73 hours a year waiting for your tools to work!).

Once a problem has been pinned down to a computer problem, rather than a network problem, there are common areas that need to be checked:

  1. Slow storage drive: This is super common - our sister site upgrades many hundreds of these a year. The drive is where local data is stored, if the drive is slow then the computer is slow, no matter how powerful it is - a bit like having a Ferrari and putting skateboard wheels on it. This is usually exhibited as a prolonged initial loading screen and increasing instances (on Macs) of seeing the spinning wheel.
    Particularly with Macs, up until about 2020 the models sold as standard office desktops often came with a hard drive as the base option. A hard drive is a moving mechanical part, and should be considered obsolete for this use (though it very much still has its place elsewhere). Not quick to begin with, over time it begins to slow down and degrade - eventually it will just stop. Sometimes this exhibits as slowly getting worse, other times they will just stop working. Upgrading these to SSDs (Solid State Drives) can give dramatic results, and mean putting off that hardware upgrade for a good few years. When visiting client sites, it is the most common issue we see.
    Performing drive upgrades on Apple iMacs is a reasonably difficult job, but it is something we have a great deal of experience in, and we can come out to you if you have a quantity of machines that need upgrading.
  2. Lack of RAM: RAM (memory) is short term storage that the computer needs for its operations. A phrase we say many times every day to customers is "Adding more RAM won't speed up your computer, but not having enough will slow it down." Also how much RAM is needed depends on the operating system, and the tasks that being asked of your computer.
    Usually Macs tend to last longer than PCs, and have a longer upgrade cycle. We see 10+ year old Macs in everyday useful service all the time. But as you upgrade the operating system and software, you place higher demands on the system, meaning the amount of RAM available from new is no longer enough. 8GB is the bare minimum for current Apple operating systems, 16GB is more ideal for general purpose use, and more demanding uses require more again. RAM can be relatively inexpensive to purchase, though if you have 21.5" iMacs, annoyingly difficult to fit (we can help!).
  3. Malware: This covers a wide gamut of unwanted software, at the high end being malicious threats to your entire business network. More commonly they are simply unwanted programmes that primarily serve to monetise the users activity, such as serving adverts and pop-ups. This can interrupt normal internet activity and slow the computer down dramatically. Running an anti-malware scan can show whether this is an issue. We can help your business ensure this is on by default on all your machines, along with Antivirus.

If your business is suffering from slowing Mac computers, book a consultation with our team today we can make a real difference to your employees productivity, without the expense of replacing an entire suite of machines.

If you have an individual machine you want to upgrade or repair, try our MacUpgrades sister site for a wealth of machine specific information and upgrades.