I’ll be honest.  Your computer might just be too old to be running all the new software you are installing on it.  A computer can be expected to be running at peak performance for around 5 years depending on several factors.  Often you can get much more good use out of it, but you can expect thing to start to slow down.

Sometimes you can swap your old platter hard drive for a speedy sold state drive (SSD) and reclaim your glory days of speedy web browsing.  Or you may be able to add some memory to help that new Operating System or new program you are trying to run.  Both solutions are fairly inexpensive fixes to extremely common bottlenecks on computers.

Malware is a common culprit of system slowdown.  My favorite program for scanning your system for malware is MalwareBytes.  You can scan your system manually for free and you can download the software from https://www.malwarebytes.com/.  It is available for both Mac and PC.

If you are running Windows 10, their included virus scanner is good for the average person.  Just make sure it is up to date and active by typing ‘Windows Security’ in the run bar and opening the app.  Address anything not showing a green checkmark.

For system optimization and cleaning I recommend the free application CCleaner to friends and family.  This is a one-stop program that will clean up old files and settings which may help with a slow computer.  There is a paid version, however the free version does everything most people need.  Again, there are versions for both Mac and PC and is available for download at https://www.ccleaner.com/.

If trying the free software solutions do not help, adding memory and SSD drives are both are generally able to be done at home with a screwdriver, YouTube and patience.  Crucial (https://www.crucial.com/) has a really good website which can tell you what kind of memory or what kind of SSD your current computer can accept.  They have good products, but you do not necessarily need to buy from them.  If you are comfortable, you can take their recommended hardware and shop around.  Otherwise, we have great local computer shops who can perform these upgrades for you – and maybe more valuable - may be able to tell you if the upgrade would be able to help or not!

If you are shopping for new computers, my comment would be that like most anything else you will get what you pay for.  While an Intel Celeron PC may be an inexpensive solution for surfing the net and sending email, you are not going to get nearly the lifespan or performance of an Intel Core or AMD Ryzen system.  You may not need a gaming powerhouse system, but at the same time, most should not be settling for low-end systems either.  Visit your local computer shop for expert assistance for what you need and local support if you run into problems!  

Christopher Carlson, MA, MBA is a Grand Rapids native.  He leads the critical database team for Optum, a part of UnitedHealth Group.  He has an undergraduate degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato as well as graduate degrees from St. John’s University and St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.  He resides in Grand Rapids with his beautiful wife and wonderful daughter.

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