Scientific American presents Tech Talker by Quick & Dirty Tips. Scientific American and Quick & Dirty Tips are both Macmillan companies.

The question “Why does my computer slow down?” is a perennial concern for computer owners.

You’ve probably seen TV ads for software that promises to speed up your computer back to how it used to be when you bought it. Unfortunately, that is a myth.

The truth is that computers don’t slow down with age. They slow down with weight…the weight of newer software, that is.

New software requires better and bigger hardware to run properly. Say you bought a computer 5 years ago. Back then, it was top of the line and could play any video game you bought, run any program you installed, and not even hesitate for a second. Then, as the years went on, you began to wait on it, longer and longer until it got to the point where you could take a shower in the time that it would take for your machine to start up!

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