Internet speed not what it used to be

Q: I have a Dell computer that’s about 5 or 6 years old, and I have Internet access through my local cable provider. I really don’t have a LOT of programs and external hardware loaded, but it seems to be running extremely slow lately. I have to wait for pages over the Internet to load for a much longer time than I used to have to wait. What can I do to speed things up?

turtleA: There are several reasons why you could be experiencing the slowness issues you described but let’s start with the most probable causes.

You mentioned that your computer is 5 or 6 years old. Unless you have done a memory upgrade recently, you are probably under-powered when it comes to memory.

Your computer most likely had more than enough memory when you bought it but new software installations and software updates, including Microsoft’s own Windows updates, have probably bloated your computer’s memory.

If you want to verify this, take a peek at the Windows Task Manager by pressing Ctrl-Alt-Del on your keyboard and selecting Task Manager from the window that appears. When the Task Manager appears you can look at the Processes tab to see how many programs you are running. You might be surprised just how many there are when you add up every little process your computer is managing. You can also see exactly how much memory each process is taking up.

Next, click on the Performance tab to see how much memory you are currently using versus how much physical memory you have as well as how hard your computer, referred to as the CPU, is working.

If you find that memory is your problem, you can consider a memory upgrade but you will want to first make sure your computer can handle the memory upgrade and second, that it won’t cost you more than the price of a brand new computer.

Now if web page load times are the only thing that appears to be slow on your computer, I would recommend calling your Internet provider to see if they can check out your connection. There may be slowness issues in your area or they may be able to walk you through tweaking some of your settings to speed things up again.

This post was originally broadcast Friday, February 9, 2007 on “Tech Talk with Noobie”, a weekly radio show on WCBK 102.3 FM in Martinsville, Indiana. Tech Talk with Noobie airs every Friday at 11:30 a.m. If you have a question you would like Noobie to answer on the air, simply e-mail your question to [email protected].