Electronic devices slow down with age; an inexorable truth which everyone has to accept sooner or later.
Contrary to what you think, there are only two main reasons as to why your devices slow down: software inconsistency and hardware degradation.
When devices get better hardware, the developers use it as an opportunity to update code and add additional features for the operating system and third-party apps. This increases the burden on hardware – it has to keep up with the increased demands – which slows it down as the software is usually not designed to work on older hardware.
This goes the other way around as well. When the operating system isn’t updated, bugs and unoptimized code start becoming a bigger issue. This is the reason devices with older software frequently fall behind: unoptimized code and features are too much work for them.
Another factor is a phenomenon known software entropy. In simple terms all software follows these laws:
- A computer program that is used will be modified.
- When a program is modified, its complexity will increase, provided that one does not actively work against this.
Complexity can often result in software slowing down due to inefficiencies, however, that doesn’t mean complexity is always bad. Devs can often improve an app by adding more features, thus making it more complex in general.
Another well-known contributor is user data. When you add preferences in a particular software and save info on applications, their data increases. This uses up space and makes it more difficult for these apps to run as fast as before. For example, the more data you save to your Drive or Dropbox – or the more extensions you add to Chrome, the slower they get.
Storage space, of course, makes a difference. Windows and other OSes need elbow room to manage running apps and files. Greater the number of apps and files you have, the more things will move at a snail’s pace.
When RAM is full, Windows uses hard disk space (the page file to be specific). If this space is low, it will take your OS a bit longer to get all the data settled – meaning a system slowdown.
Viruses and malware use up disk and memory space, too – and will tamper with system resources and programs. They randomly keep copying files, taking up disk space or may run in the background which uses up RAM.
Usually people resort to using an anti-virus to solve this problem, but it’s not the only way to fix this. Sometimes apps also remove redundant files due to bugs, crashes or even bad code, behaving like a virus. This results in false positives from anti virus software, that shows up as a virus raising even more problems.
While modern OS’s have learned to deal with these issues, old hardware can still be a problem – which leads us to the next topic.
Most slowdowns arise because software upgrades are frequent while hardware remains the same. Try running Windows 10 on an old pentium 4 and you’ll understand the gist of it.
While batteries in laptops and phones are not directly linked to system performance – they are crucial. All batteries lose capacity with time, so there is less and less time between charges.
Old batteries can end up in frequent crashes, but apps should run just as well either way. You should take good care of them. On phones though, a faulty old battery might cause slowdowns due to insufficient current flow.
Mechanical hard drives slow down right before they die, however, glitchy software and power cuts can cause corruption (also known as bad sectors) – and that means more work for the OS. Drives that are constantly in use or used at high temperatures are also quick to fail.
Solid-state drives – similar to those in smartphones – slow down with low storage space. They don’t deteriorate too quickly – but they don’t last forever either. They do have appreciable performance until they’re ready for the trash can however.
CPU and memory only slow down negligibly over time – so if your device is slow, it’s most likely a software issue. If you do upgrade your software and fix other issues with your phone or PC. For phones, installing custom ROMs is a great solution to these issues, however, you need to ensure such ROMs are stable though.
Here are some tips to avoid slowdowns:
- Install fewer applications.
- Free up space.
- Update both apps and OS, regularly.
- Reinstall OS or reset your device if things get out of hand.
It is important to note, however, that you can only delay slowdowns, not prevent them. Unless you never update your device or install applications. This is inevitable for now.