One of the most common problems we hear about when tackling business IT systems is that things are running slow. An individual user’s computer is at fault or something else in your network is slowing everything down.
But before you shell out for replacement hardware, there’s a few things you should try, to see if they fix the problem.
Here’s 9 ways you can speed up your IT network. We’ve split them into 3 sections too: basic overall checks, a simple health check for your PC and some other considerations you may not have thought about.
Basic ways to speed up your PC
These are checks that anyone can do with limited IT knowledge. Make sure you’ve checked these things off before tackling anything more complicated.
1. Are you getting the internet speed you’re paying for?
Most of our work now is done using an internet connection. As such it’s pretty essential that you can rely on your internet speed.
Wherever you’re working you should be getting the amount of download and upload speed you are paying for (or near enough). To check this, you can do a speed test. There’s plenty of tools that do this, but one example is speedtest.net. This will give you your download and upload speed.
For most things it’s the download speed we want to know about. This should at least be within a few mb’s of what you’re paying for as minimum, if not over it. If it isn’t, contact your broadband provider to sort this out.
2. Reboot your PC
It’s a bit of an IT cliché but ‘turn it off and on again’ does often work. If your PC hasn’t been turned off in a while, it could be causing everything to grind to a halt.
Your computer’s cache is where short term memory is stored from the different applications or files you open. How much you’re storing here will increase the longer a computer is on, resulting in it slowing down. It’s a bit like when you’ve got a lot on your mind. You will struggle to operate effectively, and the computer works in a similar way.
Rebooting your computer will clear this cache and give it a clean slate to operate on. It’s also an opportunity to install updates. These will often speed things up. More on that in a bit.
We’d recommend rebooting your computer at least once a week (this will be an increase on what most people are doing) but it wouldn’t do any harm to turn off at the end of each day.
3. Can you hard cable your internet?
Most people use Wi-Fi to access the internet, but you don’t have to. Your internet usually enters your building via cables so there will always be an option to plug directly into that.
In some cases, this can end up being 10 times faster than receiving your internet via Wi-Fi. Using cables won’t be convenient for everyone but if you’re in a situation where relying on Wi-Fi is causing problems and you mostly use a computer in a fixed location it may be worth considering this as an option.
Sometimes the router for your Wi-Fi is far away from your access point or the signal is disrupted before it gets to where you are. Physical obstacles can disrupt wireless signals.
It certainly won’t hurt to run another test and see if it ends up being faster.
Simple health checks for your PC
These checks can usually be done without assistance, but some may require a conversation with an IT professional to ensure you’re doing the right thing. Still, no major IT knowledge is needed and most of these tips could result in a completely revamped system.
4. Review your apps
It might be time to review the programs, software, and applications on your computer. You’ve probably downloaded programs, used them once or twice and then not used them again.
Those unused programs are needlessly clogging up disk space and potentially taking up some of the computer’s memory. It might be time for a tidy up. Here’s how you can do that: https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/windows/uninstall-or-remove-apps-and-programs-in-windows-4b55f974-2cc6-2d2b-d092-5905080eaf98
It’s also worth looking at your start-up apps. These are the apps and programs that start running when you boot up. Some of these, such as those you use every session or apps that are integral to your computer’s security are useful to have. But there are likely some programs you don’t need to be up and running straight away and will immediately slow down your PC. Be sure to edit what programs are opening at startup in your settings.
5. Decrapify your PC
And what of those pesky apps that come with your brand-new computer that sit there never to be used? Well, these could also be slowing everything down and as such are a bit of a nuisance.
We’re talking free sub-par software that is made redundant by your better enterprise level version, trial software and even silly games (that you’re obviously not going to be using at work, right…).
If we’re sorting out computers for a client, we’d make sure this junk is removed before you get your hands on it by wiping it completely and reinstalling from scratch, but we know that’s not the easiest process for everyone. Removing unwanted junk is bound to have a positive impact on your computer’s performance. This is called decrapifying. It’s a technical term, honest.
Unfrotunately, the most popular of these tools (pcdecrapifier.com) is no longer supported so after reviwing your apps and removing anything you don’t need another great step to take that doesn’t need a huge amount of technical knowledge is to remove software that automatically loads when you start your PC. This software sits in the background and can cause your PC to run slower than it should so it’s definitely worth checking to ensure you want everything hat’s in there running all of the time. To remove software ffrom the start up process you can follow our guide to remove Microsoft Teams from start up and apply to any software you wish to remove instead – https://thehbpgroup.co.uk/it/tech-how/how-to-disable-microsoft-teams-from-start-up/
6. Install updates (not always guaranteed to work)
Software and operating system updates are good things to download, usually. They will include one or all of the following: security fixes, performance enhancements or functionality enhancements (new features).
It may be that the problems you’re facing are due to issues in your system or software that have been fixed in the latest update. Security fixes and performance updates will certainly improve your performance.
The area where it could have a negative effect is with functionality enhancements and new features. Sometimes when adding new things to your network it can end up slowing things down. Unfortunately, you’re only likely to find out about this, once you’ve had the update or if you happen to be in the know.
The good news is a fresh update that fixes that issue should be around the corner, so be sure to get on that asap!
7. Run a security scan
Rather than having a specific update for security, it may be that you need to run a scan.
One possible reason things might be running slow is the presence of viruses or malware. A lot of cyber-attacks aren’t necessarily going to bring a business to its knees. Some smaller viruses are designed to steal a small portion of your performance to fuel another operation, such as crypto mining. This would certainly slow down your computer.
To find out if this is the case, you need to run a scan, locate the problem, if there is one, and neutralise the threat.
Some other considerations
Before or after you’ve tried the above options there’s a couple of other things you should consider. Sometimes the issue isn’t with your computer or hardware but rather your working situation. Here’s two more things to consider that may have only recently become a problem.
8. Are you working from home?
With the global increase in people working from home, some people may not have considered this as a reason why their computer is running slow. The issue may not be the business network at all.
Even if you’re using a VPN to jump into your business network from home, your home broadband might not be up to the task. The router you use, often provided by the broadband supplier, is probably not at the same level as the one you use in the office.
Now, if your plan is to work from home for the foreseeable or at least more of the time than in the office, then there’s probably some changes you need to make if you haven’t already
Firstly, make sure your broadband package is a decent one (at least 100 mb download). You should also get a decent Wi-Fi router and have it close to where you work, or as we mentioned above, think about wiring straight in to the internet.
You should also consider something called Contention Ratio. This is how much bandwidth your household can access at any one time from the internet connections in your area. So, when things start to slow down at 3 o’clock, when the kids come home and jump on Roblox or start watching YouTube videos, you’ll know why.
Generally business premises will get a dedicated connection and therefore a CR of 1:1. Most houses have historically got around 50:1 although there’s no way of knowing for certain.
All these things combined could be an argument to work from the office more than at home but it’s certainly something to bear in mind.
9. Do you need a new device
One thing that cannot be avoided is the age of your device. At the start we said before you shift your old kit, you should try a few things. But if all else fails, it’s possible that you will need an upgrade.
It’s not so much that devices age, but that the world moves on. Updates, features, and software all get bigger and more powerful and older machines struggle to handle what you’re asking them to do.
You should probably look to change your devices at least every 5-10 years. If you upgrade at the latter end of that, you’ll definitely see an improvement.
However, you can start to see warning signs after 3 years. Ultimately, the higher the spec of your kit, the longer it’s likely to last.
Whatever machine you go for depends on your needs. We’ve got a handy guide below to help you decide.
We hope you’ve found these tips useful and as ever, if after all this, you need more assistance, you know where we are.