Latency is the answer?

I think we all know that computers get slower over time.  It could be dust or aging parts.  There’s also the operating system issue.  If your computer gets really slow, the best solution is to reinstall the operating system and starting fresh.

At least until the next time.

Around here, I’ve had some observations.

I have one computer – a Sony VAIO that dual boots Windows 10 and Linux Mint.  Windows 10 recently became totally unusable and I took the hammer out and did a fresh restore to it.  It did come back and is now usable again although it does have its moments in latency when it’s noticeably slow between the time a key is pressed and the character shows up on the screen.

This computer also boots into Linux Mint which is considerably quicker.  I have installed two user interfaces on it – Cinnamon and Mate.  The general word on the web is that Cinnamon is newer and fuller featured.  It can also be slower to respond than Mate.  Consequently, I tend to use Mate more often.

I have another computer – a Chromebook that runs Google Chrome (obviously) and also Android.  On the Android side of things, I use the Opera and Firefox browser and both of them seem to be a bit faster than the Chrome side.

All of this leads to a ramble about choosing the right tool for the right device to do the right job.  I always attributed the differences to operating system – for example, under Windows, I run a virus checker and you know that it’s doing its thing in the background and so does consume resources.  When you look at resources used, it’s not uncommon to see multiple things with sometimes strange names doing things that take resources.

When things get too bad, I upgrade.

It’s just the way that I do things.  Then, I read this article.

Computer latency: 1977-2017

It starts …

I’ve had this nagging feeling that the computers I use today feel slower than the computers I used as a kid. As a rule, I don’t trust this kind of feeling because human perception has been shown to be unreliable in empirical studies, so I carried around a high-speed camera and measured the response latency of devices I’ve run into in the past few months. Here are the results:

It’s an interesting read and offers an interesting theory…

And then there’s this –

Design flaw found in Intel chips; fix causes them to slow: report

What’s a user to do?  How do you handle a computer that gets slow?


Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: Follow me on Twitter: I'm bookmarking things at:

2 thoughts on “Latency is the answer?”

  1. I can never resist a question, so I had to comment. I do one of four things when faced with a slow computer:

    1) Try to delete items to free up space. I don’t know if this speeds up a computer, but I always feel as though it’s the right thing to do.

    2) Take a deep breath and try to wait patiently for the computer to do what I want it to do.

    3) Click repeatedly on the mouse and utter a few choice words when the hour glass continues to spin or the whole thing freezes (this is when my deep breath in number 2 doesn’t work 🙂 ).

    4) When all else fails: buy a new computer. It seems like it’s time. 🙂

    Curious to know what others do.



  2. Good morning Doug!

    With the goal of brevity in mind, I’m going to compose directly in the comment field. If this comment makes it through, then I will have been successful!

    1) Historically, add more RAM.
    2) In recent years, using an SSD as opposed to an HD to run the system off of gives the best ROI.
    3) Upgrade to a new device that can support the latest OS.

    These ones require attention on my part from time to time:

    4) Offload files from the system drive to give the OS the required space it needs for swap files. That little warning that the drive is full can be a real nag.
    5) If it’s a Mac, remove the 50 to 60 (to 70 to 80) screen capture files that have gathered on the desktop during a particularly productive work session.
    6) Back in the olden days, I would periodically defragment the hard drive. I’m glad we don’t have to do this anymore!

    And in closing, the great old standby:

    7) Restart of the device (or force quit a particularly slow app on my phone). For decades now (imagine!) I have referred to this strategy simply as “Go away and come back.” Sometimes the device or the application just needs a fresh start.



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