Top 5 tips to speed up your office computer

Waiting for chrome to open? Does your email program seem to take forever? does it seem like your computer has lost a step or two over the years? Is your accounting software slowing you down? Read on for our top 5 tips to speed up your office computer. Be sure to share this page if you find these tips helpful!

Tip 1: Check your PC specifications

Don’t expect to take a 8 year old, low end computer (when it was new) and tweak it to perform miracles. Anyone who’s ever wanted to get “in shape” will tell you that hard work over time is the only way to get you the body you want. There is no pills or magical overnight effortless miracle solution. Computers are like that as well: old is old. Even a top of the line 8 year old computer is outclassed by the low end machines today. It may just be time to replace it.

When your core components age out, it’s likely more cost effective to replace the computer than upgrade each component. However, this applies generally, so you’ll want to get some advice on your situation. Don’t spend a ton of time doing optimizations in Windows to “fix” what is really just a hardware limitation. Your 8 year old computer needs replacing, plain and simple. You’ve reached the limit of what your machine is capable of.

A rule I like to follow is: every 3 years of age drop a series in terms of performance. For example: its 2021. If you have a 2018 Intel i7, it’s going to perform like a new i5. In 2024, that 6 year old i7 may appear to be closer in performance to a new i3.

One way to check the age of your computer is to look at the model number of the computer and go to the manufacturers website. Alternatively, you can also check the age of the CPU by using it’s model number (if you’ve not upgraded it). You can find the model in Task Manager under the CPU tab. Intel’s CPU information site is a great resource for this. AMD also has a great resource page for this.

Tip 2: If you have less than 16 GB of memory, upgrade your computer.

If you’ve bought a new office computer with 8GB of memory, don’t waste the next couple years working with that. Upgrade it immediately so you can see the benefits. We see a lot of office PCs in the “Tiny” or “mini” form factors. Don’t be fooled, they all will take at least 16GB of memory.

Besides, why wait to upgrade memory? It’s cheap and you can see an immediate benefit. Don’t wait until the machine “needs” it, because then you miss out on potentially many years of use with reduced performance.

8GB gives you the ability to operate Outlook, Chrome with about 8 Tabs, Windows and perhaps Word and Excel. 16GB allows you to operate Chrome with over 100 tabs, all your primary office programs Excel, Word, Outlook as well as Adobe products all at the same time.

Why is this important, after all you can only do one thing at a time… It’s about waiting and delays when opening programs and starting your computer. Its about paying staff to sit idle while they wait and it’s about squeezing another year out of your equipment. 16GB of memory improves your boot time, allows the system to pre-load applications in memory and your staff the ability to switch between them without delay. In some workflows it can save 30+ minutes a day just waiting! A one time investment of approximately $100 in a memory upgrade could save you up to 115 hours per year! At $20/hour, this works out to $2300!

You can check your PC’s memory (used and total) in Task Manager on the Memory tab.

Tip 3: if you have a mechanical HDD, upgrade to SSD immediately!

Just like tip 2, don’t wait to upgrade. Most desktop office computers come with 256 or 512GB HDDs. Usually this size is more than adequate because folks are storing their data on a server, NAS or in the cloud anyway. SSD’s in the 500GB variety are under $100 now and offer a 5x performance boost over a traditional mechanical drive. While there is still a place for mechanical hard drives (large storage requirements for example), SSDs are a must-upgrade for office computers and could reduce your boot times from 1 minute to 20s or less and your application load times will improve up to 5x faster.

I often will recommend doing this upgrade before the 16GB memory upgrade because it will have such a dramatic effect on your PC performance. This is an upgrade that will so dramatically speed up a PC, that it can potentially get you another couple years out of older office computers.

The HDD model will appear in the HDD tab under Task Manager. Pop that model into Google and you’ll be able to find the hard drive manufacturer, specifications and type.

Tip 4: Don’t waste time or money upgrading the processor in an office computer

I would only consider replacement of the processor in an office computer in very limited situations. Two of these are: the computer is re-issued to another employee with a more demanding job function or alternatively a recent vastly underspec’d new equipment rollout. Often that run-of-the-mill workhorse i5 is going to do just fine for it’s 4-6 year lifespan for your receptionist, accountant, bookkeeper, call center team, administrative assistant, managers, technicians and others.

Upgrading the processor provides a boost to the computationally expensive tasks the computer does. It can also provide a boost to video performance (upgrading from HD to 4K for example) as most office PCs use integrated video. For job functions that perform marketing or editing functions for video and photographs, layout/design and for teams using Autocad, Visio or software/web developers using Visual Studio products, they will see a benefit of a faster processor. But… you bought a machine with that i7 or i9 for them anyway right? Processor upgrades won’t improve boot times or delays caused by antivirus scanning, windows updates, software upgrades, network downloads etc.

Get your staff member the proper performing computer so they can be efficient, happy and perform to their capabilities.

Tip 5: Perhaps the computer isn’t that slow after all….

Look at all the factors in your office to determine if the computer is in fact the cause of the slowness. Factors can include (but are not limited to):

  • Internet Service
  • File Server/NAS/Server performance
  • Network infrastructure – Switches, Access Points and Routers etc.
  • Band-Aids – IE: desktop 5 port switches scattered throughout the office

Every one of these can appear to slow down the computer as it waits to receive data and often the best place to spend your money is in this area, on an upgrade that can impact the entire office.

Internet – offices are often stuck with 100mbps or less internet connection speed. Establish a performance rule that works for you on this, but for me – For every 5 staff in the office, make sure you have 100mbps download and 20mbps upload on your internet service. If you have 20 users, you’ll want 400mbps down and 100mbps up.

The more reliant you are on cloud backup or storage the faster your internet service needs to be.

Bonus tip: don’t upgrade to 400mpbs on one connection and call it a day. Consider bringing in a redundant service so that you have 2x 200mbps from a separate provider on separate infrastructure IE: Broadband and Fibre. That way when one goes out you’ll still have service.

Bonus tip 2: Don’t upgrade the internet if you plan to keep your existing router. Many routers/firewall or UTM devices have maximum performance ceiling and it’s usually significantly slower than the advertised wire speed. Don’t bother getting a 200mbps service if your router can only handle 100mbps without first upgrading your router.

Your network switches and access points could also be the problem. Access points that do not WiFi support 802.11ax (current) will not provide your new laptop the connection speeds it’s capable of. Likewise with switch infrastructure. That Gigabit switch that’s 5 years old probably doesn’t have the backplane performance to provide switched gigabit speeds to each port at the same time. So although you are connected at 1GB/s, you’ll not see performance that high.

Network performance will be slow if you have a lot of those 5 port desktop switches (which can be great only in a pinch!) scattered throughout the office. Each one has an up-link of 1GB/s which might sound fast but it is shared among every device on it. Not a problem if you’re the one using it and your office printer is attached, but with 4 employees PCs on it, your speeds could be as low as 250MB/s!

Finally, evaluate the device that has the information on it that you are accessing. That may be a file server, Network Attached Storage (NAS) device, or other server. If it’s got just one network interface at 1GBit/s, it’ll only be able to transmit data at that rate regardless of how many PCs are requesting it. You could have 10 computers at 1GBit/s working off of a machine with a single 1GBit/s up link. Have you ever tried hooking up 10 sprinklers to one water tap? You can imagine your lawn won’t get watered very well! The same is true here.

Add a second network card with multiple ports to speed up server access for your desktops using Teaming or Bonding. Adding a 10GBit interface will have the same effect. In addition, IO performance on storage devices on that server is important. 1Gbit/s is the equivalent of about 100MBytes/s of real world performance. Many mechanical drives struggle to reach speeds of 150MBytes/s so consider which area – network or storage is your primary bottleneck before upgrading.

Wrap up

I hope you found these top 5 tips to speed up your office computer helpful. If you’re in need of some advice or think your computers should be performing faster we’re here to help. Don’t hesitate to give us a call and we’ll be happy to provide our evaluation and recommendations. If you know anyone that could use these tips, be sure to share this page!

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