What Affects the Speed of a Computer?

By Megan Sayers

A frozen screen or a program that grinds to a halt can be frustrating for any computer user, especially when there's no obvious reason for the system to be running slowly. The key to improvement lies in understanding the components that affect a computer's performance, from the available memory to the internal processor.

Processor Speed

The central processing unit, or CPU, is often referred to as the "brains" of a computer. It carries instructions and oversees all main functions. The CPU speed, which is measured in megahertz, is one of the major factors that affect the performance of a computer.

System RAM

RAM, or random access memory, is the temporary storage of a computer. RAM is especially important when multiple applications are running. More RAM means faster performance.

Hard Disk Speed and Size

The size of the hard disk determines the amount of data that can be saved. As the space is filled up, the system slows down. The hard disk processing speed, or how quickly the drive can transfer and store information, directly affects the time it takes for the computer to boot up and load programs.

Graphic Card

The graphics card can increase the performance of a computer, especially if the system is frequently used to play games or watch videos. Graphics cards that are specifically designed to handle high-quality images can be bought at many electronics stores and separately installed.

Spyware and Viruses

Spyware programs make computers slower because they run silently in the background, using system resources. Malware and viruses can corrupt essential data and programs, causing the system to slow down or even crash.

Temporary Files

Temporary files can build up on the hard disk, taking up space and affecting performance. This can be avoided by regularly emptying the recycle bin or trash and clearing the Internet history, including cookies.