Software going on-line slows down computing

Has anyone noticed that the speed of computing has declined ever since all the software has gone on-line? I have searched CHOICE Community forum topics but this subject doesn’t seem to have been mentioned, so I’m posting this question now. Hope I’m not wasting anybody’s time.

Some software and products are available as online - ‘cloud’ based services. Most of what I use is installed locally and runs without any need to have an internet connection.

Are you able to provide examples of the specific products and applications that appear slower?

It may also be useful to indicate the type and speed of internet connection your experiences relate to. Australia’s broadband services are far from achieving for most users speeds common elsewhere. They are however generally faster now than 5 years ago.


It also depends on the capacity of the cloud server (which in turn might depend on how much you are paying towards the underlying cloud service that is associated with the software).

If the cloud server is overseas, particularly, it also depends on the available bandwidth to the cloud server.

Of course it’s not just performance that has declined. Privacy and security may also have declined.

Reliability may also have declined, since there are more points of failure.

Economic efficiency could also have declined because the cloud option can more readily make it harder for the customer to migrate from one service to another. That is to say, the customer becomes locked in to that service.

What’s not to like? :wink:

The possible upsides are:

  • your data may be backed up for you (and the cloud storage hardware may be better monitored and managed)
  • your data may automatically be accessible to you anywhere, any time.

I have noticed too. But understand why.
There is a network involved, and that introduces a delay in doing things that otherwise would be local to your own computer.
But I guess you would be asking about applications that once were on your own computer, like word or excel, but are now ‘cloud’ in things like Office 365…


My understanding is that you can still install the local applications when you subscribe to O365. If that’s where you are encountering problems, check to see how you can download them. (This advice does not apply if you use the Google equivalent, which I think is pretty much online-only.)


Thanks for all your responses. I am experiencing delays mostly with the Microsoft suite of software, whose performance on the whole has declined. It tends to happen when the applications first open. It almost feels as though the system needs to check with Head Office to authenticate my user licence and a million things before I can proceed. In terms of my broadband connection, it is 50Mbps there seems to be no problem with file download or movie streaming.

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If your MS software is installed and run on your own computer, then it could be “phone home” activity that seems very common these days when apps are started.
Are there any updates to your current version? Then for your convenience our wonderful system will download zigabytes of files without asking you and use up CPU, disk, and network. Of course, this will be at the highest dispatching priority and slow everything else down.
They make it very hard to turn off this activity and many keep a watch on network availability.


Have you compared this to opening without a connection to the net? Either by disabling the wireless network connection on your PC/laptop/device or unplugging the Ethernet cable if that is how it functions. Assumes your content is stored on the same device?

I’ve an 8 year old laptop with SSD. I’ve a choice of MS Office 365 (installed subscription service) and Apache Open Office 4. Our NBN is a Fixed Wireless service which varies in performance. To open and begin creating a new spreadsheet is two steps with each at worse 3-4 seconds for the first step and 1-2 for the second observed. What has @kcw151 observed?

The one service I know does take time opening a doc or other is on the iPad. It’s not the Apps that are slow to open. It’s that some of the content is offloaded to iCloud. Note MS provides OneDrive. Assume this would also slow down opening a specific office doc if used.


Out of the box Microsoft 365 assigns Documents, Pictures, Videos, and Downloads to OneDrive storage if the user has logged in via Microsoft username. In this case when a document is required it is pulled from storage to the local machine. A user can make a document etc store locally as well as the cloud if it is required while offline or they can store it completely locally with no cloud. On smaller storage devices the idea was to increase the capacity for programs and OS over the storage of data, this remains the same with larger storage however. To store locally requires the user to mark the data for local storage.


I think you are right. It could be time to upgrade my computer so that the hardware can cope with the zigabytes of files processed while the software upgrades itself without my asking. Thanks.


Thank you, once again, to all of you for your responses. Cheers!


I have my software installed locally, (not on the cloud) but it has slowed down considerably in the last 2 years. I believe this is largely because of the virus control and other windows processes. Note: my windows system gets regularly patched.
I do believe that the overall standard of the operating systems, and the software itself. is going down. and that is a real concern for the future.
It is hard to tell how much of the problem is caused by bad design, and how much by essential security screening processes.

I don’t think it is the software that is getting worse. It that the hardware is changing.
10 years ago a home level computer would have much less RAM, and slower, and a physical hard drive much slower than today’s solid state drives.
Lots of RAM today means Gigabytes of data can be kept in buffers, avoiding disk access. On older computers, you couldn’t do that without causing lots of paging to a slow hard drive. Today’s SSD hard drives are orders of magnitude faster at disk access.

The complaint is that the system is slower. You are telling us that modern hardware is faster. I’m confused.

Memory in computer systems is a hierarchy. The fastest but smallest is CPU cache. Multiple levels.
Then RAM. Considerably slower but bigger Then disk, an actual rotating disk is usually 100,000 times slower than RAM. A SSD slower than RAM but not by the amount of a hard disk

Operating systems, and applications would be tuned to get the best performance out of the typical memory configurations.
10 years ago that was less cache, less RAM, and slower disk for, say 90% of computers. Now maybe only 10% of computers would still have those hardware resources and the OS and apps will be tuned for the 90% with more cache, more and faster RAM, and SSDs…

Can we assume your references are to the same PC or laptop over those years?

Unfortunately over time the changes in software can affect performance in a number of ways. Hard drives if your device is that old can slow due to fragmentation. More modern SSDs can also reach a point where they slow with the need to rewrite sections once they have reached a full cycle. The Windows registry can acquire errors and orphaned entries. Also true, one can add new programs/Apps that a pre poorly implemented and slow the system. And there is so much more …

While it’s not for the average user certain advice is there is a point where a clean install (refresh) of Windows can resolve many of these concerns. It’s not my recommendation, but something an experienced service provider might offer. It all depends on many things we cannot know here in this discussion. For cheaper devices most often targeted at home users, the initial specs may be great for the day.

As your use grows, some devices have more spare capability than others. Simply a decision of paying more initially for a device with higher specifications (eg more RAM, larger SSD to note 2 items @Gregr has mentioned). My personal choice has been to not spend excessively on over specifying for the future. Reality is that the technology changes faster than my modest needs increase.

My experience with open source software not slowing the laptop EG Open Office, Firefox web browser etc, has been generally positive. The recent performance and history of MS systems and products varies. But not sufficient to create any angst. An Intel 4th gen dual core laptop CPU with only 4GB of ram but a very fast for the day Samsung SSD. It runs the current version of MS Office 365 as needed, with Norton etc without issue.

As I read it @slicker did not say there has been any change in hardware, so whether your somewhat unconventional view that faster hardware produces slower performance is true or not it is not applicable.

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Otherway around. The software changes over time to take advantage of improvements in the hardware resources.
For example. I am a software developer 10 years ago. I develop an office program that runs in under 1Gb. Now the typical computer of that time would have maybe 2Gb of RAM so I could use that extra RAM for buffers to store files that otherwise would be on disk. Much slower on disk than in RAM.
But it is now 2022.
The typical computer would have 16Gb of RAM. My program still runs in under 1Gb but I could expect to have more than 1Gb for buffers and now I could allocate say 8Gb.
On a computer with 16Gb RAM fine. On a computer with 8Gb, then slight performance problem with paging to disk if those buffers were completely used.
On old hardware with 2Gb RAM, total performance problem, as most of those buffers would need to be on slow disk and blocks continually paged in and out.

Other things that can hamper performance are:

To many temp files not cleaned out (internet and local temp). Use disk clean (Windows built in clean up tool) to select and delete unneeded files, there are a few choices that can be selected but temp files and temp internet files are always good choices to make at the least. If you have updated Windows use the cleanup system files option to clean out old OS updates that may remain.

If a rotational drive then defragmentation (optimising) may not have been done. If any type of SSD then the trim command may need to be run. Windows since 10 usually schedules the trim and or defragmentation (optimise) weekly, but may have been disabled by users.

More than one resident antivirus product installed for use at any time is not a good idea. If using MS Defender (Security Essentials) it is an effective AV tool these days and other AV products eg Norton, AVG etc are not needed. Malwarebytes which is not strictly AV can be used in manual mode to detect other issues that AV are not great at identifying.

Run SFC /scannow from an administrative level command prompt or administrative level powershell. If it responds at the end that there were errors that could not be repaired then run dism /online /cleanup-image /restorehealth and after it finishes run the sfc again. Run sfc repeatedly until it states no problems found.

I would run the following before any of the other steps above except the removal of any more than one AV product (which should be done first).

Run chkdsk /f on the operating system drive (usually c:) then restart the pc and wait for the chkdsk to finish, or if using Win 10 or 11 use chkdsk /scan instead and it will scan without a restart being required. If it is a rotational drive use chkdsk /r instead and restart the pc when ready, this chkdsk will take some time to finish as it will check the platter surfaces for bad sectors and try to recover information from damaged sectors before marking the sectors bad (unusable).

I run optimise (defrag) usually as the very final step so that any changes made to files, space made free, and any damaged sectors marked are accounted for before the defragmentation occurs. Never defragment any solid state drive as this will decrease it’s lifespan but new Windows know how to handle SSDs and will only run trim on them when optimise is chosen.

The above steps may improve responsiveness if not a usual routine.

Also ensure the ventilation fins and fans are clean as blocked airflow in a computer can lead to thermal throttling of components and thus a slower computer. Compressed air in a can is useful to help clean out dust build up on motherboards and other components. Do not brush the board or other sensitive components as Electro Static Discharge could damage them. If unsure and components are “fluffy”, take it to a competent computer shop or person to get it cleaned.

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Going OT but still about slowing down. So many good replies but I prefer the conspiracy theory that Microsoft and Intel are working together to sell each other’s product. ‘The Cloud Companies Inc and P/L’ have enthusiastically joined in.

Microsoft releases bloatier bloatware (and the 3rd parties follow its lead) so the users have to buy faster ‘bigger’ hardware to run it. Intel (and AMD) profits. In return Intel (and AMD) adds new capabilities to the chips for Microsoft developers to add features so users need to in turn update Windows (and the third party applications). Put them in a cloud and voila, new stuff every few months just to stay even! Win-win-win :rofl:

While this article correctly trashes a mythological quote it documents ‘the bloat’ in its early stages. :laughing: