When I swipe a credit card the system enters the characters slowly one by one into the credit card field – is there a way to make this go faster?

This sounds like the system for some reason is running slowly, or you could have a problem with the MSR Reader. Start by attempting to clean the MSR Reader. If that does not help at all I would check your windows task manager to see if any of the systems processes are using somewhere between 90%-100% of the CPU and if it is I would end the process and see if the problem continues.