I am currently working a one year contract for a large public school district. I have been supporting school districts now for five years or so. Every year it is the same thing. Almost like clock work. “MY computer is REALLY SLOW lately. Could you please come and reimage it?” First lets talk about what most tech people say causes slow computers.
(1) All computers should be reimaged every year. In my opinion, there is truth in this statement. As you use your computer, you will not turn it off properly (does anybody, really?) thus leaving bits files and data strewn all over your hard drive. While this does happen, and it could slow your computer down, it doesn’t happen every spring so this is not the reason for our slowdown.
(2) If your computer has slowed down recently, more than likely it is due to spyware. Again, this is true. Spyware will cause your computer to slow down. Way down. I mean, WAY down. Once again, though this is not a seasonal event. So it must be something else.
(3) Your computer will never be as fast as it is on the first day you buy it. Wrong. Actually, depending on the make and model you buy, the opposite may be true. Some manufacturers install so much junk (called bloatware by some)on their computers, it’s a wonder they run at all. I am pretty confidant that I can go in and uninstall 5 to 10+ GB of such nonsense. You can bet most are designed to report back to the manufacturer or someone else like About.com, Weather Bug, etc… So this isn’t the reason because its just not true.
So, I can talk to you about how you should maintain your computer in much the same way you would your car. A well oiled machine…
But for the sake of this article, the one reason I find causing a computer to slow down is heat. I’m not trying to offend anyone but when you enter a classroom, stop and try to find the teacher’s computer. Can’t find it? Look here: (1) jammed in between the desk and the wall, (2) quite possibly completely covered up with papers or books (or worse). On either side of the computer there is generally a whole half inch of breathing room. Haven’t you ever noticed the air vents and/or the fans on the side of the computer? (3) Or better yet, today I found the teacher’s computer in a locked cabinet with only a hole in the back big enough to allow access for the cables. I’m pretty sure this was actually constructed for the storage of your working computer.
Ok, so we admit that covering it up and/or stashing it in a corner of dead air is not a good idea. If a computer can’t get fresh air, it will heat up. As it heats up it will slow down. If the CPU gets warm enough, the computer will (you hope) shut down. If it doesn’t it will fry the CPU. But wait, the real culprit here is not any of the above. The real culprit is dust and dirt. I actually found a spider’s nest made of dust in a classroom once. This is easy to recognize (unless the computer is buried) because you can see dust clogging the front air intake vent, the side intake vents and probably the power unit’s outflow vents as well. Yep, you guessed it. A techy version of the dust bunny! As hot as RAM memory gets, or as hot as the hard drive gets, I never quite understood why they didn’t just combust.
So please, next time your computer starts to slow way down and it is in the Spring or Summer, submit a ticket and I will come out to vacuum your computer out.