What Makes a Computer Fast?


Now I don’t have access to any neat-o statistics proving this, but I’m willing to bet that the number 1 gripe most people have with their computers is that they’re too slow. Conversely, the number one computer related web search is probably “how to make my computer faster”, a question that has no shortage of answers. While the blogging community is perfectly happy to spout off the same list of Windows tips and tweaks to speed up your PC (I’ve even done it here) they’re slow to answer the underlying question which is, “why is my computer so slow?” or maybe “what makes one computer faster than another.” Rather than add another clean-your-registry-and-defrag article to the pile, let’s talk about the elements of your computer that contribute to the overall speed of your machine and how to identify which changes will make the biggest difference in your situation.

Here’s a simple equation to get us in the right mindset before we get started:

(Your computer’s ability to do stuff) – (Stuff your computer has to do) = Speed

I love to compare computer speed to the amount of time you spend waiting in line at the DMV or post office. The minutes you spend tapping your foot in those lines depend on the number of people in line in front of you, the complexity of their issues, as well as the number and capabilities of the employees that deal with it all. Compare the people standing in line to computer programs, and the employees waiting to help them with computer hardware and BOOM! We’ve got a nice little example on our hands.

Now, since I can’t seem to write anything without making it a million words long, I’m going to break this blog post down into two parts, and we’ll dive really deep into each of them.

Part 1: Stuff your computer has to do (a.k.a. Software)
Part 2: Your computer’s ability to do stuff (a.k.a. Hardware)

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