Why Are The Computers So Slow At Work/School?
It’s most likely true that your computer at home runs circles around the computer in the office or in the classroom. You sit at the computer assigned to you and reel in agony due to the slowness. Doing things as simple as loading google.com take up to 20 seconds whereas at home the page is loaded less than a second after you press the enter key.
The box itself you use is old. Really old. In some cases, as old as a Dell Optiplex running a 1.6GHz Pentium 4 processor with only 256MB RAM on board. In addition, the network crawls whenever you try (keyword there) to do some work.
Questions enter the mind such as: "Do people here purposely want me to do my work slower? Why does everyone have to use these crappy boxes? Why is the network so frickin’ SLOW? What’s the deal here?"
Here’s the 101 on how computers are deployed in the office, and why the network is so unbelievably slow:
The purchasing process
The way in which computers are purchased on an enterprise level is, said honestly, stupid.
Corporations and educational institutions by nature are cheap. As such they will only purchase computers for their employees that are "adequate". Not good and certainly not great. What this means is that any brand new computer that is placed in the office environment is already slow on delivery.
That brand new computer is part of a lot. Could be 50 PCs or 100 or more. Each PC in that lot is configured the exact same way, meaning all of them equally crappy.
Your company/institution made a deal (most likely with Dell) on purchase to have extended warranty service on all these boxes for five years.
On paper this looks lovely. The company just saved a ton of money by getting extended service and doesn’t have to purchase a new set of boxes for five years. Three cheers, right?
All those boxes are woefully obsolete after the 2nd year. If the company had purchased good machines they would have at least stayed somewhat current until the fourth year. But no, the bottom line is all that matters. So you’re stuck with an ancient piece of crap that the company absolutely will not upgrade or replace "until the refresh". And yes this means three years of using an agonizingly slow PC until that "refresh" happens.
Remember: That crappy box you use is crappy because the company who bought it configured it as such. If that same box had a better processor and double the RAM it would actually be tolerable to use.
Corporate networks are slow for three primary reasons:
- Lack of network resources
Security on a corporate network is required but the way in which it’s deployed is usually bungled beyond belief. What normally happens is that a network security system was purchased by the company several years ago that absolutely cannot be removed from the system because it’s tethered to something "important". But then something else is introduced into the network that isn’t compatible with the old system. So now you have two logins that you have to remember. Do you have to connect to a mainframe also? Make that 3.
All these different systems have to somehow work with each other but rarely do and do nothing but slow down the network.
You’ve probably thought "Why doesn’t the company just get one system that works with everything?" Easier said than done. You’ve got the Exchange server that doesn’t "talk" to the AS/400. The AS/400 doesn’t "talk" to the SAP system. And then there’s that idiot who no longer works for the company that has a Microsoft Access database that no one’s been able to figure out how to migrate somewhere else, HAS to exist and resides on a network share.
Your company/institution hates internet. They hate everything about it and deem it an evil thing that should be banned like asbestos. The only reason they use it at all is because it is in fact one of the most cost effective ways to conduct business. Were it not for that fact, internet wouldn’t even exist in the office.
What your office does is put a "nanny" filter on the network like this one. Every time you want to go to anywhere on the internet from work, the filter kicks in and slows everything down. Combine that with the fact your Internet Explorer is "secured" so much that you’re lucky you can even type in a web address and you’ve got a bottleneck both locally and on the network each time you use it.
Concerning lack of network resources:
The network room at your company/institution is set up the same way PC boxes are deployed – only to be "adequate" at best. The routers are old and ancient. The wiring looks like spaghetti-tangled multi-colored mess. When something goes down it takes at least a half-hour to fix it.
Where networks fail the most is in the lack of space. Do you have an Exchange account that’s only limited to 80MB? I wouldn’t be surprised if you did. You might think "Since hard drives are so cheap.. why is it such a bother to upgrade?" Good question. The answer is that it’s not in the budget. Yes, it’s true – the IT Manager is fully aware he could pop in a few server-grade hard drives for less than $500 that would relieve just about all of the space issues, but the CIO says "No can do – not in the budget."
What will happen in the future? Will these dopey issues ever be resolved?
Yes. The future resides in cloud-based computing. Some larger corporations have already taken to this but small-to-medium sized ones have a few years before they realize that the cloud is the way to go.
The cloud will allow for a near-infinite scalable network architecture. What does this mean to you, the guy or girl who works in the office? It means that the brunt of the speed issues will be handled by the cloud itself rather than from your crappy box or a "boxed" network.
Until then, wait for your "refresh" and hope your company or school puts some actual cash into decent PCs for a change. 🙂