6 troubleshooting questions for slow computers

A photograph of a man working on a laptop at a cafe counter.

In today's world of high-speed internet and lightning-fast applications, slow technology can feel frustrating and ineffective. So what do you do when your computer seems forever stuck in the loading screen?

While some issues can be fixed with a simple reboot or software update, others may require an expert's hand. So how can you determine what kind of issue is slowing down your computer? We've collected six self-assessment questions to help you find the answer.

WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of satisfied customers troubleshoot, repair, and improve computers, applications, IT systems, and office networks.

By reading this article, you will learn six troubleshooting questions for slow computers, what these questions address, and possible solutions.


6 troubleshooting questions for slow computers

1. Have I rebooted my computer?

If you call any IT helpdesk about a slow computer, its first question will be, "Have you rebooted your computer recently?" That's because reboots will fix most of your simple computer issues, like slow load times.

When a computer is on, it is constantly monitoring "events" (i.e., how you interact with the computer, opening or closing apps, plugging in devices, etc.) and allocating resources like memory to run applications.

A reboot sets the computer at its initial state and allows it to start fresh. Resources are no longer stretched thing between applications, causing slowdowns.

So, before you try other troubleshooting methods, first reboot your device. If that doesn't correct the issue, continue troubleshooting with your IT provider or internal IT team.

2. What are my computer's specifications?

Your computer's features, particularly the hard drive capacity and RAM allotment, affect how quickly applications load and function.

RAM allows you to access files and applications quickly while the hard drive stores data.

If your computer were an office, RAM would act like your desk. If you need a notebook or tool you use often, it's right within reach. The larger your desk, the more tools and information you can store and access without leaving your chair.

On the other hand, the hard drive acts as your computer's filing room. It's further from your desk, taking more time to reach, but it holds more information than your desk can.

Your computer's abilities must match the tasks required of them. For example, if you are a graphic designer, you will want a computer with enough RAM and hard drive capacity to run design programs and store large image files.

If your computer's abilities are mismatched with your tasks, you're bound for frustration. For example, if your RAM or hard drive space is too small, your computer will run more slowly.

To use another metaphor, you don't choose a car with a tiny motor to drive in a NASCAR race. The same can be said of your computer: you don't choose a computer with little RAM to perform large, complex computing tasks.

When purchasing a new device, you must talk to your IT provider or internal IT team to ensure you're matched with the correct computer specifications. It will most likely be a business-grade device because its RAM and hard drive capacities are greater than a consumer-grade device's.

3. What program, application, or tool am I using when this problem occurs?

Sometimes, slow load times are tied to specific programs, applications, or tools and not the computer as a whole. If this is the case, the application may need to be rebooted or examined by your IT expert.

It's important to note what you're doing when the slowdown occurs so troubleshooting can target the issue. For example, what applications are you using? Are you uploading or downloading files? Troubleshooting methods will vary based on what is causing the slowdown.

4. How's my internet connection?

If any applications or tasks require an internet connection, slow internet can make your device seem slow.

You can test your internet connection using a tool like Fast.com.

Talk to your IT and internet service providers if your speed is insufficient. Your IT expert may need to test and examine your network technology, while your internet service provider can help you determine the kind of internet service that best matches your needs.

5. Am I the only one having this issue, or are other people experiencing it, too?

If your computer is the only device showing a slowdown, it's an issue isolated to your machine.

However, if others are experiencing the same slow loading times when they use a specific application or task, that shows a more extensive issue requiring an IT technician's help.

6. How old is my computer?

As computers age, their components wear out, and they slow down. Most computers have a lifetime of only five years for optimal efficiency.

Once a computer nears the end of its lifecycle, a user can choose to replace the device or add individual upgrades to prolong its life.

If your computer shows a significant speed reduction, it may simply be old. Learning your device's age will help determine the next steps. A quality IT provider or team will have a record of the ages of all of your devices and proposed replacement dates in your organization's IT roadmap.


Next steps for fixing your slow computer

When you encounter a slow computer, ask these six troubleshooting questions to narrow down a solution:

  1. Have I rebooted my computer?
  2. What are my computer's specifications?
  3. What program, application, or tool am I using when this problem occurs?
  4. How's my internet connection?
  5. Am I the only one having this issue, or are other people experiencing it, too?
  6. How old is my computer?

Remember: rebooting your computer will correct most of your slowdown issues. Otherwise, bring the answers to these questions to your IT expert for additional troubleshooting and help.

If you and your team have consistent speed issues, your IT expert may need to investigate deeper to find the heart of the issue and solution.

For over 25 years, WEBIT Services has helped hundreds of clients find technology solutions and strategies to build efficiency and productivity.

If you are looking for a new IT provider, schedule a free 30-minute consultation to see how WEBIT can help.

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