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SYMPTOMS:   Windows Computer is running slower after years of use
POTENTIAL:   -  Memory is insufficient for your current use
                     -  CPU power is insufficient for your current use
                     -  Network speeds are insufficient for your current use
                     -  Disk capacity or disk performance is insufficient for your current use

Understanding the Problem(s)

Most PCs are configured to meet most of the demand for computer resources at the time of manufacturer.  There are exceptions as some can be sold below the prevailing standards and/or have limited or no means of growth.  Yet over time some expect a finite resource to have infinite means to meet the increased demands of newer software and more software on our PCs and our expectations of working even faster.  In technical terms everyone can understand, this is called a fantasy.

It is possible you may be facing not one but multiple problems listed above or even others.  This is not the "red flag" for you to stop now but setting expectations as you use simple processes to explore a complex world that exists inside your computer.

Your PC comes with a finite amount of disk, a pre-set disk performance capability, a pre-set amount of memory, a specific type and speed of memory, a pre-set number of processors and processor speed, a pre-set amount of cache storage for added performance, a pre-set network interface and speed capacity (sometimes with multiple speeds but still pre-set) and other finite quantities and performance capabilities.  Software does not often worry about these limits as they are in business not to sell hardware but to sell their latest and greatest software with the pretty flashy screens and ease of use.  Fixed hardware (or hardware with limited expansion abilities) when using software that will continue to grow in the demand for more and faster hardware creates the problems listed above.  We want more but the hardware and network can only go so far before it needs to be changed.

This is rarely a good time for most PC owners as they are now in a place often foreign to their experiences, trying to understand the challenges and options before them, and often trusting people they have no prior experience with to make a financial decision and technical decision.  The good news is with a little effort on your part, you can gain insight into what your area of problem is by using tools already in your Windows PC.  From there you can explore options to fix your problem and be an informed consumer.

Determining the Problem(s)
Determining the problem can be more an art than a science.  The good news is gathering information to determine the problem can be rather easy once you know where to go, how to do it and understand what the numbers tell you.  As such this section is rather lengthy.  Yet the more you know the better decisions you can make and the more options you can explore for a better result at potentially a lower cost.
  • Checking for Insufficient Memory 
Computers do their and your work with the program and data when it is in memory.  Computers are designed to help you when you start running low on memory by "swapping" information in memory that is not currently being used out to your disk drive automatically then bringing it back into memory when it is needed.  This creates a virtual or seemingly unlimited amount of programs and data you can put into memory.  The performance impact you experience is in moving the data between memory and disk that significantly slows your computer if it exceeds a certain level.  The ideal is to have sufficient memory to minimize "swapping" to achieve the maximum performance from your computer by having enough memory for everything to stay in memory.  Excessive swapping of programs and/or data from memory to disk to memory is called "thrashing".  It robs your computer of its ability to provide good performance to you and place additional wear on your disk drive.  This is not a good for you or your computer.

Task Manager is a tool that has been provided with Windows since the early days.  It is a wonderful "dashboard" of what is going on inside your computer if you know how to read it.  For our purposes this guide will side step the heavy technical stuff and focus on looking at and thinking about utilization numbers and looking at graphs as they are generated in real-time for your examination.

You start Task Manager by pressing three keys all at the same time.  They are: (1) the CTRL key, (2) the ALT key, and (3) the DEL (or Delete) key.  When this is done your screen will change to a menu displaying 5 different options plus Cancel.  The last option is Start Task Manager.  Click on Start Task Manager.

While the fundamentals of the tool have changed little over the years, the appearance has but you can still navigate and use this tool easily.  Please see the attachment below for a discussion and screen shots on a computer running Windows 7 on an i7 computer (which contains 8 processors.  Your computer may have less or more depending on when and what your purchased your computer).  The shown computer has 8 GB (Gigabytes) of memory configured.

You simply cannot take your computer into to someone and say upgrade it.  There are many areas an upgrade can be made at depending on the rules for your computer, how it was hardware equipped and availability of parts to name only a few.  A blanket service directive to "upgrade it" can result in very high costs with very little benefit.  Sometimes the cost effective upgrade is a new computer but you then have to determine how you can move your data, files and licensed programs to the new machine if that is even legal under your license agreement.  Getting good information and using solid planning will make things easier.


Over time we add new software and we add more software.  Newer software often needs more processing power (CPUs and/or CPU speeds) and more memory
If the above Potential fits your situation, this may be a free cure versus paying $50 to $100 or investing in a "magic stick" to cure your problems with little insight as to what it really does for you.
The CT Groups or anyone connected with The CT Groups cannot be held responsibe for the outcome or use of this process.  This information is provided as a public service and uses established programs from Microsoft on Windows PCs.  It is recommended the process be used when there is a low risk of a power outage to avoid potential problems.  As an example, if there is snow and ice falling everywhere or a storm in the area, reschedule the work.

NOTE:  A computer may also run slower over time from the existence of a virus or
           other malware.
  These processes are not intended to minimize the impact of
           a virus or other malware and not intended to remove such from a computer
           or other devices that may be impacted.  These tools should not be perceived or
           viewed as a substitute or an equivalent to a firewall and antivirus software
           which are kept updated by the manufacturer or provider.  If you believe you
           are infected please view PCFIX-002 (when written) for a process involving
           your anti-virus and firewall software to potentially remove the problem.
  • ACTIVITY 1:  Perform Disk Cleanup
                        Deletes unneeded files which naturally accumulate on your PC
    Why should I do this?  Why do I need to do this?
    Over time your computer collects files you don’t know about and normally don’t care about.  A common source is from browsing the Internet.  In time this growing volume of files causes the disk drive to become slower hopping over files that are NOT bringing any value to you.  YET they are still there and you don’t know about them.
    Disk Cleanup Looks for these files in well known directories, identifies them to you along with now much disk space will be available to you once they are deleted.  Fewer unneeded files will contribute to making your PC faster.
    You will be informed what files are "targets" to be deleted.  You may elect to delete all files listed, you may elect NOT to delete anything or you may select individual files for deletion or continued retention on your computer. 
    Double click on Disk Cleanup to start this process.  A pop-up menu will appear.  The image below [waiting time to capture the image] is the result of clicking to open the drop down menu to show all disk drives available.  In many cases you will want to Disk Cleanup the drive marked (C:) which is normally your main disk drive.  If you have other drives it is possible you could have files needing cleanup there but that is not likely for the average PC user.