You just upgraded your high speed internet and got a new wifi access point. Internet still slow? It’s your Windows.
Frequently I get clients who mention the Internet is slow. The usual culprit is Windows 10 and the internet browsers.
Internet Slow? No it’s your Windows
I have been doing a lot of testing on this problem and the key seems to be how Windows and browser suck memory out of the computer. Memory as in Random Access Memory aka RAM. Both Windows and the browsers (I tested Edge, Chrome and Opera) manage memory allocation very poorly.
I tested first with Edge with only one extension/add-on installed (extensions or add-ons do eat up more memory).In the picture below you can from the Task Manager Microsoft Edge with 4 tabs open as managed to create a whopping nine processes.
Chrome is even worse. With only two tabs open and no extensions or add-ons installed, Google Chrome opened 15 processes and started eating up RAM like crazy.
I also tested with the Opera browser with one add-on installed (same one as in Edge). With three tabs open, Opera had 11 processes running.
Opera used the least amount of RAM per tab and in total.
Change your browser
You could change your browser. As the tests showed, Opera used the least amount of memory. As more and more developers only design for Chrome you will still be forced to use Chrome for some web sites.
Get one of those clean up programs
You could get one of those clean up programs. I don’t recommend them. First of all any changes they make will be rolled back the next time there is a major Windows update. Also I have had to do too many repair jobs undoing the damage some of those programs cause (particularly by users who don’t know Windows well).
Upgrade your memory
The best way to fix the problem is to upgrade the system RAM. Windows 10 Home version can use up to 128GB of RAM. Windows Pro and Enterprise can use up to 2TB. The only limit on those numbers is how much the motherboard can handle and how many slots you have for memory modules. Windows laptops usually have at least one slot for a RAM upgrade. Desktops usually come with 4 memory slots that can be upgraded.
How much memory?
How much memory do you need to run Windows? Unbelievably Microsoft still insists that you can run Windows 10 with only 4GB of RAM memory. In practice with all the services and processes that Windows itself runs (like that annoying news and weather bar, various silly apps like the Microsoft Store) not even 8GB is really workable anymore.
The below picture is from a Windows 10 machine with Office installed, Adobe Creative Cloud and Acrobat, and Kaspersky. With no apps open besides the Task Manager, half the RAM is eaten by processes and the Windows System has decided to hog the Disk.
This machine has no open programs (let alone someone working on it) and half of 8GB of RAM is gone just from Windows processes. Yes, you can turn them off but every time Microsoft releases another update they all magically appear to suck life out of your machine.
Realistically you need 16GB of RAM now to run Windows 10. Microsoft is still pushing 4GB of RAM as acceptable for the new Windows 11. I will be testing Windows 11 and browsers later this month.
As offices continue to have more workers at home or in hybrid, more businesses are relying on cloud based services running on internet browsers. Upgrading the RAM in work computers is an easy fix.
Internet slow? No it’s your Windows.