What is a bottleneck?

by Miriam Tocino

We love it when tasks run smoothly. We enjoy multitasking, long breaks, and moving with the flooooow...

Some days though, things get busy in the Binary World. Tasks start piling up, queues get longer, and it takes us Megas of nanoseconds to visit any component! 

zerus and ona welcome to our world

Our book Welcome to our World - about to hit a bottleneck

In this episode, you'll learn:

  • What bottlenecks are
  • Where bottlenecks happen
  • Some ideas to deal with them

Let's begin with some computer basics for kids!

What is a Bottleneck?

Computers tend to slow down from time to time. This happens when we ask them to take on more tasks than they can handle. That's when bottlenecks happen.

You can think of them as the neck of a bottle slowing down the overall water flow. In the case of your computer, what flows isn't water, but data (or bits and bytes of zeros and ones). 

what is a bottleneck

Where do bottlenecks happen?

Bottlenecks can happen when either the CPU (Central Processing Unit) or the RAM (Random-access Memory) have to handle tons of tasks at once.

When the CPU is overloaded, it can take a long time to respond to requests in a fair time. You, humans, like to say, "this computer is soooo slow!!", while we're hard at work!

If your computer suffers from this, you might consider increasing its CPU power, adding more RAM to it, or trying not to use your computer for so many things at once.


Hooray-bits! You just learned what bottlenecks are, where they happen, and some ideas to deal with them.


Now, it's arts and crafts time!

Download this bottleneck comic strip and start coloring in. Where could this bottleneck be happening inside your computer? What's the estimated waiting time?


Remember, understanding computers is a superpower. So, keep on learning!

Lots of Megas from The Binary World,

Zerus & Ona


P.S. We're on a mission to make computer science accessible to every little human on Earth! If you liked this episode, share it on Twitter with your friends. <3

Complement your reading with what the CPU is, what the RAM is, and how to raise your kids' interest in technology.


Want to learn more about computers?

Have a look at the Zerus & Ona collection - our books teach computer basics for kids with adorable characters, fun adventures, and a hands-on approach for parents and educators. Visit the shop!

zerus and ona computer basics for kids