Thursday, June 13, 2024

A messy computer desktop is a slow computer

How many icons do you have on your desktop? Is it just a few icons (like 15 or so) or it is so populated you cannot see your background?

The reason we ask is that each of the icons takes a finite amount of time to load and display. The further away the information that each icon represents, the longer it will take to update/load the icon. It may be just milliseconds per icon, but that does add up. This applies to folders on your desktop as well. We've seen systems with thousands of files in folders on their desktop, but after moving them to a regular documents folder off the Desktop, they noticed how responsive their system got.

Recently I was able to see a desktop on a monitor, and you couldn’t see very much of the background because of all the different icons that were there. This person was also complaining that his computer was no good because it just took way too long to start up.

Here are some questions that I asked this person about their computer.

  • How often do you reboot your computer?
  • Are all these icons on your desktop necessary?

Now these are the answers that I got.

  • I don’t reboot my system very often because it just takes way too long to start up again.
  • All of these icons are necessary so that I can do my job, and he immediately pulls up a photo that has nothing to do with work.

What is very important to understand is that a lot of the icons on the desktop were for files that he felt he needed to access quickly. Of course, these files were located on a server and not on his computer, so each took longer to load. I tried to explain to him that having all these file icons on his desktop was a major reason why his system took so long to startup. When you have icons on your desktop, what happens when the system starts up is it must look up each of these files so that it can draw it on the desktop. The more files you have on your desktop, the longer it is going to take for your system to start up and refreshes during the day. If you need access to these files quickly, it is better to have them in a folder elsewhere and then just the link to the folder on the desktop. Then the only time the files will be searched for is when you open the folder.

So, the best thing you can do to ensure that your computer starts up at a reasonable speed is to limit the number of icons that you have on your desktop, especially icons that are to remote files. Shortcuts can be useful but remember that they can also impact how you work. The convenience of all these icons has it's cost in time.


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