I have been to computer labs across Uganda, both big and small and mainly for one reason – servicing and repairs. It gets worse when students are about to sit for their practical exams. You get calls for help from Busia to Kibaale because the computer are slow and this is what we solve every day as computer technicians.
As we look forward to school reopening, there are things we as teachers need to do in order to have our classes ready. Apart from preparing notes and practice exercises, we also need to ensure that the computers in the lab are in tip top shape. It’s only when computers are in perfect shape that practical lessons can go on smoothly. When you go back to work, chances are that the computers will need servicing. For some schools, they will call us to fix these issues but for some, it’s the teachers to figure out what to do.
Obviously, as you report to school, some computers will either be completely down or just slow. But what makes them slow? Below are some reasons that could slow down your computer’s performance.
1. Not enough memory
When your computer is slow, the first culprit could be its memory. A computer with a low amount of RAM will definitely run slowly. We have a tendency to want to have the latest programs installed on our computers and yet ignore to furnish them with enough memory to run these programs. According to the Microsoft website, the minimum amount of RAM needed for Windows 10 (64bit) is 2GB. If your PCs are running windows 10 and you have less than a GB of RAM, you will definitely have a slow running computer.
If you are running thin client technology, you will need a really good amount of RAM. I recommend a minimum of 8GB for a 10 user environment using NComputing. This therefore means including RAM on your department’s requisition.
2. Over heating processor
There are chances that the computers in your computer lab have been exposed to poor conditions. Perhaps the heat sink compound over dried or the fans were blocked by dust, or even some components are rusty. In this case, when switched on, the processor will heat yet there is no cooling component. This will affect its speed or even shut down abruptly. This will affect your computer’s efficiency and therefor giving you mediocre performance.
If you are technical enough, it is advisable to blow out the dust and put some heat sink compound. This will help the PC work more efficiently and therefore faster.
3. A full hard drive
For computers to work optimally, they need some space on the hard disk. When your hard disk displays red, it is high time you backed up and freed up some space. Recommended back options are on external hard drives or in the cloud.
4. Fragmented hard drive
When your drive is fragmented, performance goes down. In simple terms, imagine you are asked to sort out only beans in a sack that has a mixture of maize, beans, soy, millet and rice. It will take you time to come up with a kilo of one of the grains. This is what happens when your PC is asked to launch a particular program in a mixture of many.
To solve this, you will needs to defragment the hard drive so that programs load faster.
5. A faulty hard drive
Hard drives have a life span. After using them over and over again, their health goes down. One of the factors that speeds up hard disk failure is improper shutdown either by the use of power outages.
In this case, it is safer to replace the hard drive if your computer is to work faster.
A common cause of computers responding slowly is viruses or malware. You should solve this by installing an updated antivirus to clean any malware and protect the operating system from any attach. A cheap antivirus you could start with is SMADAV although this offers just second layer protection.
How to solve software related causes
While some causes for computers working slowly are hardware related, some of them will be software related. To help you deal with software related issues, buy yourself the ITAU Master Flash v.2022 which has all the software needed to comfortably manage a school computer lab. The list of software on this flash is here.
Order for the ITAU Master Flash v.2022 here.
Stephen Dumba is the National Coordinator of the ICT Teachers’ Association of Uganda. Besides teaching ICT, he repairs computers and builds websites. Steve is a speaker and facilitator at tech events and and CEO of senior1.org and a consultant on education technology.
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