Q: I use Microsoft 365 for word processing, spreadsheets and such. Lately it has been extremely slow on my computer and I’m not sure why. What can I do to speed it up?
–James T., Fort Pierce
A: Microsoft 365 is the subscription-based version of the software giant’s popular Office productivity suite.
For it, one purchases an annual subscription (typically between $60 to $100 per year depending on the version installed) and for that you get full installations of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and the like, along with cloud-based access to those programs, 1 TB of cloud-based storage space on the Microsoft OneDrive and continuous updates to the programs for the length of your subscription.
By comparison, the standard Microsoft Office suite includes all of the above, except for the 1TB of cloud-based storage and continuous program updates — meaning that what you install is what you get until you purchase and install a newer version of the suite.
For more information on Microsoft 365, please visit this URL: microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365
Given the cloud-based foundations used by Microsoft 365, program speed for its applications can indeed fluctuate at times, with the main causes for slowed performance often being substandard system resources, network congestion with your internet connection, or a combination of the two.
While 365 updates regularly to ensure its programs are working their best for you, this feature can sometimes increase the base system requirements for the program suite over time. Thus, if your system is already bordering on the minimum specs needed to run 365, then these updates might absorb any remaining free resources after installation and cause performance slowdown. This is especially true for older computers.
Further complicating this issue would be regular usage of large files and databases (including large email profiles) within the applications. These also require a lot of resources to catalog and run, and if the programs themselves are already taking a set percentage of your specs just to stay open, then these files will most likely absorb the remainder of those specs, causing lower operation speed all around .
Realistically, the best course of action here is to upgrade your computer’s hardware, such as adding RAM and/or installing a faster processor, both of which should increase system speed overall. However, in some cases, and especially if you have an older machine (more than five years in age), it may be cheaper to purchase a new computer versus upgrading an older one. Consider chatting with a local technician about your options if interested.
On a different front, because much of 365 is cloud-driven, performance speed will also be dependent on the strength and reliability of the internet connection you are using. If your connection is unsteady or weak, either continuously or intermittently, then it will take longer for the programs to connect with their servers whenever needed, and that too may hang applications or stall the system for a spell.
In this case, you’ll want to work with your ISP to gauge your signal strength and to see whether or not you need to upgrade your modem, router or other connectivity equipment so as to maximize internet speed for the programs themselves.
Having said this, if these two factors are not to blame, then the next step would be to look at what program add-ins are active for the various applications within the suite and then disable any that may be taking up too many resources. The plug-ins referred to here are little tasks that often automatically launch within the programs themselves as a means to help the user with functionality. Examples include connecting bluetooth devices to the suite, incorporating expanded autocorrect functionalities within Word, PowerPoint and Outlook, and displaying real-time screen tips, to name a few.
Because many of these add-ins use both system resources and an internet connection to work, they can at times hog resources and slow performance, especially if they stall on an unfamiliar task and/or have trouble connecting to their server base. Disabling them avoids this possibility. The following site offers several tips for disabling items like these: https://www.easytweaks.com/speed-up-word-2010-performance/
Beyond this, then your next step would be to work with Microsoft’s support team, since your subscription to 365 includes their services. They can be reached via the information found at this URL: https://support.microsoft.com/contactus?ocid=IA-4027136-CU
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