Here at my shop in Louisville, KY I have lots of people call with a “slow computer” complaint. Any person who owns a computer knows that the speed often slows over time. While some can easily overcome these problems, many cannot. My computer, because of my heavy use, often requires daily maintenance. Thankfully for me this is almost always only a software issue (I did upgrade my ram when I purchased my laptop and I have upgraded my Internet Service twice). However, hardware can also be causing a problem. Below I have listed some of the reasons your computer might be running slowly and some tips on how to fix it.
Your Computer Is Out of Tune
Computers have a habit of getting “out of tune” I call it as time goes by. By this I mean that your computer becomes bogged down by fragmentation, partial uninstalls, software glitches and conflicts, registry errors, temporary file buildup, toolbars, browser add-ons and other clutter and problems. Windows has built-in utilities to solve some of these problems but others require aftermarket utilities and some computer know-how. For starters, pay attention to your browser and make sure toolbars haven’t been installed inadvertently (I avoid most toolbars altogether). Look in your control panel and uninstall software you’re not using anymore or any that looks suspicious. If you don’t know what a program is “Google” or “Bing It.” Run the free utility CCleaner from Piriform to fix your registry and clean up your temporary files. It’s also a smart idea to take your computer to a qualified repair shop for a tune-up on an annual basis. The computer repair professional should be able to give you insight on how you’re doing with keeping your PC in good running condition and should be able to tell you, based on examining your machine, how often you need to bring it in for a tune-up in the future.
You Don’t Have Enough Mbps (Megabits Per Second) From Your Internet Service Provider
Ever been in a situation when you are trying to catch up on your favorite soap, online documentary or YouTube Video and all you get is “buffering.” It’s frustrating isn’t it? Do you have endless “hour glassing” every time you try to do something on the web? You might not be getting what you’re paying for from your Internet Service Provider. Or you might not have enough service for your computing needs. For example, it takes about 3-6 Mbps service to stream a YouTube Video without buffering. Today’s busy households require, in my opinion, at least 10Mbps Service. Once you upgrade your service you also need to test your Internet Speed to make sure you are getting it. You can do this by going to speedtest.net and using the free on-site utility. And you shouldn’t have to download anything to do it. Simply hit “begin test.”
You Need More Random-Access Memory (RAM)
RAM is a type of data storage in your PC which directly affects speed. When you launch an application or software on your computer, RAM is responsible for running the software. If you do not have RAM your computer might not be able to open and run multiple applications or meet the demands you place on it. This problem can easily remedied by purchasing and installing additional RAM for your computer. When you purchase RAM, it is important to check with the salesperson which type of memory is compatible with your PC. If you don’t know how to upgrade your RAM call a qualified computer repair shop in your area.
Your Processor is Out of Date
Another hardware component closely related to computer performance is the processor. As new programs and software are created and take more and more updates, they requirements to run them increases. Often, people are trying to run newer or resource intensive applications on older machines with a processor that can’t handle the new software efficiently.
You Have Infections
People are often shocked to learn that computer viruses are almost inevitable. And, you can even get them while browsing on sites that you think are safe. I can’t tell you how many times people are stunned when I tell them they have over 100 infections on their machine . . .or I tell them I can see infections from across the room. They have no idea they have computer viruses. The best way to prevent this is to use anti-virus software with “real time” protection and research articles on “How to Prevent Computer Viruses.” There is an article on the blog about this subject and also many articles online about virus prevention. Learning better, safer, web browsing habits on a regular basis is nice addition a computer user’s skillset. And definitely a skill you will want to master if you want your computer to run better . . . and faster.
Nearly 100% of all computer virus infections and scams come from internet activity – nowhere else. Malicious software doesn’t magically install itself on your computer nor does it usually enter though a flash drive or disk. It comes in through the internet. Where else, right? There are many ways that you can improve security when it comes to your online activities. It is imperative to develop these habits now as doing so will help protect you from increasing problems with unsecure utilities, software and viruses that might seriously affect your security and computer health in the future.
Monitor Browser Health
Your web browser is your gateway to the internet world. Therefore its health and security is your first line of defense against threats coming in from the internet. There are three common web browsers that most people use today. MS Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. IE comes with your OS and can’t be uninstalled. It should be an adequate browser if kept clean and free of corruption and infection. From the menu or command toolbars you can check your add-ons and see if anything unexpected is ominously lurking in your browser. Oftentimes people inadvertently install add-ons (usually toolbars) while downloading utilities they think might be useful. These add-ons can seriously compromise browser security and affect browser performance, as well. To see if you have add-ons go to: Tools >Manage Add-ons >Toolbars and Extensions. Here you can disable the add-ons and then remove them from the control panel. If you see many add-ons that you do not recognize you should reset IE completely. To do this go to: Tools >Internet Options >Advanced >Reset. It is easy to do and you do not lose your bookmarks/favorites. Afterward remove unwanted software from the control panel.
Be Aware of Phishing Scams
Phishing schemes commonly delivered in the form of email is a type of scam where you are potentially tricked into downloading junk utilities or software (which often asks you for money later) a virus, or providing sensitive information. These messages are made to look as though they have originated from your bank, social media or payment sites such as Paypal or other legitimate people or companies. The phishing message often contains a link that will then lead to a counterfeit version of the site or ask you to open an infected attachment or download an infected utility. Or it might contain an attachment that it says you should open to continue. Don’t allow your curiosity to kill your computer. Delete all unsolicited mail. Never click links in emails or open email attachments unless you recognize the sender. And don’t give your credit card information over the internet unless you do it directly on a website (not from your email Inbox or a pop-up message) and you’re sure you trust the company.
Avoid Most Free Utilities
It’s very tempting to install that snazzy fish tank screen saver you see flashing on the sidebar of your favorite social site. DON’T DO IT! These types of free utilities usually come with a catch. In order to use them you give up something . . . usually your browser health or internet security in return for the favor. Video players, music converters, game toolbars, chat applets, screen savers, pc optimizers and cleaners and the like are all very tricky utilities to use without getting toolbars and viral infections. Next time you want to get that utility that makes your Facebook like an Electric Light Orchestra concert . . . .think twice about it. . .
Run a Malware Removal Tool Regularly
Even though you may think you’re protected because you have antivirus software you’re not. It is about as effective as a safety on a gun – not very effective at all. Especially where people are not adequately trained on computer systems or there are multiple users on a single machine. In this case, I often find that the computers have multiple virus infections present. It is important to run a virus removal utility such as AdAware or Malwarebytes (both of which are free) on a regular basis in addition to updating your Antivirus Software. Antivirus software alone is not enough. Yes you read that right. The antivirus software that you are relying on to protect you from virus infections is inadequate to protect you in all circumstances. Therefore I recommend you use separate virus removal software for removal on a regular basis. Caution: Be careful when installing a malware removal tool that you do not install another full antivirus suite. If you have any question uninstall the malware removal utility when finished. For more free information on computer repair topics you can visit my website here or blog called PC News.
There are many anti-virus programs that you can download or purchase at BestBuy, Staples, Office Depot, Amazon, Ebay or anywhere else you shop. As with cars or any other personal property there is always a lively debate about which is the best. And, that is always a matter of opinion, right? Nevertheless, here are five free antivirus programs that are arguably just as good or better than the paid stuff.
Avast is a popular anti-virus program designed for Microsoft Windows, Mac and Linux computer users. It is available in 41 different languages and has won awards for 100% detection of viruses. This software specializes in blocking viruses and spyware and has the ability to secure your personal information and all of your stored data as well.
AVG is highly popular software available to download onto your computer. Many people use AVG not only on their PC’s and laptops but also on their mobile phones. It detects malware, viruses and other infections and attempts to stop them before they populate on your machine or device. An added feature of AVG is that it also claims to keep your banking and shopping records safe and untraceable so no one can get access to your credit card information or banking logins.
Avira is a nationally known and family owned business that specializes in anti-virus software and protecting your computer with its services. They have over 100 million customers and are ranked at number six on the list of the largest anti-virus vendors worldwide. The free system runs background checks on each file stored in your computer and updates itself automatically when the system has new updates.
Comodo is an anti-virus protection software that includes anti-malware protection, personal firewall, sandbox and intrusion prevention. It can be installed on Microsoft computers and Linux systems as well.
Microsoft Security Essentials is perhaps the easiest and best free antivirus solution out there. It is from Microsoft itself. Unlike the old, pared-down “Defender” antivirus program this is a fully functional antivirus software suite that provides “real time shields.” It protects against computer viruses, spyware, Trojan horses and even rootkits. It can be run on Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. It is light and does not slow down your computer by draining system resources like some of the other products on this list. This is my personal favorite as it is light, effective, and does not try to get users to upgrade to the pro-paid version every time they look up.
Does your computer ‘hourglass” constantly? Do error messages frequently pop up on your screen? Do webpages load slowly? Some of this is normal but if it occurs regularly your computer might need a tune-up. Your car, for instance, reliably transports you to and from work, to get your food, to the doctor when you are sick, and to your relatives when you want to visit. Important stuff! But, it only does these things if you tune it regularly; if you change the oil, check the battery change the spark plugs, brakes etc. Why would a computer be different? It’s not!
It only remains a useful tool for exchanging email, communicating, researching topics, and creating and storing your pictures and other important files, if you give it the proper care and maintenance that you would give any other expensive tools or possessions. Do you know how to keep your computer in tune? How much did you pay for your computer? How about the software? What value do you place on the files saved on its hard drive? The figure is probably in the thousands, so learning how to keep your desktop computer or laptop in tune is important. Here are my suggestions on how to do it.
Uninstall Unnecessary Software
Most of the computers that come into my shop are full of software that has been installed, accidentally. Updates, honest utilities, and even purchased software often comes with add-ons, tool-bars and additional software bundled that is unnecessary and can wind up bogging down your computer. Go to start >Control Panel>Programs>Add/Remove and review the software on your computer. “Google” or “Bing” any software that is not from Microsoft or another known source and read about it. If you determine it is an accidental install — uninstall it. Especially look for toolbars which tend to be intrusive , pervasive, and “pre-viral.” Just make sure you don’t uninstall any of your system software that is necessary for your computer to operate. Again, if you have any questions about the software, Google it or Bing it and see what it is responsible for before you uninstall it.
Delete Temporary Files and Fix your Registry
Over time your computer will build up a long list of temporary files associated with your web browsers and other software on your computer. They accumulate as a result of programs shutting down incorrectly and forgetting where they left their temporary files, browser hiccups, tracking information kept by websites to monitor your activity and a for a myriad of other reasons. To clean these fragments up, download the free utility called CCleaner from Piriform to delete temporary files. The website is http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner and the free version is all you need. It’s not necessary to upgrade, in my opinion. Also, use the registry repair tool to fix your registry which also becomes fragmented over time from normal use.
Run Virus Removal Utilities Often
Malware, Trojans, Spyware, and Viruses often build up on computers over time. Computer viruses are like human viruses. You probably have some living on your computer at this moment. Some never cause much problem and some can stop your computer in its tracks. But, usually I see a slow accumulation of infections over time that eventually render a computer nearly useless. This can be prevented by running virus removal utilities on a regular basis. There are plenty of these programs that you can run on a weekly or monthly basis to remove small viruses that might have slipped in. A good one for consumer use is Malwarebytes. The free version is available at http://www.malwarebytes.org. Just make sure to stick with the free version –don’t do a free trail of the professional version by accident (remember I was just talking about accidental downloads). Note: Many viruses require professional virus removal to be removed completely. If your computer is redirecting you to websites that you didn’t command it to, playing sounds randomly, or running extremely slow you might have serious infections and you should call a local computer repair shop immediately.
Eliminate Aftermarket Browsers and Reset Internet Explorer
Browser health is an important aspect of keeping a computer in a well-tuned state. In fact, it’s one of the most important components. Aftermarket browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome can be great. Sometimes they provide functionality and “bells and whistles” one can’t get with ‘plain ole’ Internet Explorer. But often over time these browsers can harbor and hide a myriad of infections which can degrade your computer internet browsing experience. For a minor tune up learn how to reset IE, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. For a major tune up you can eliminate Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox – then reset Internet Explorer. You can reinstall aftermarket browsers later.
Make Sure you Only Have One Antivirus Suite
The software conflict that causes the biggest resource drain on computers is double anti-virus installations. Often this happens because when a free trial ends, or new antivirus software is purchased, users fail to uninstall the old antivirus software before installing the new. Antivirus software is one of the most resource-intensive applications you will run on your computer. It runs all the time attempting to scan and detect viruses in “real time,” which translates into a big drain on system resources. Therefore, if two antivirus suites are installed on a single machine, it can become practically unusable. Make sure to look in the add/remove section of the control panel and completely uninstall any old anti-virus installations before installing a new one.
Tuning up a computer gets rid of all of the excess garbage that has built up on your machine over time. So, try your own computer tune-up. “Google” any questions you have and read what others are saying about it. Next time you’re slamming your keyboard in frustration, think twice about buying a new computer or taking it to the repair shop. It may just need a good tune-up, and now you know how to do it yourself!
A Computer virus is software embedded with a particular code intended to hack a system or network so as to steal, corrupt, or control against the will of the user. The origin of viruses can be traced back to the advent of the computer itself. Although you might not be aware of it you probably have viruses on your computer as you read this. Here are some simple tips to help keep malicious software away and keep your computer running the way it is supposed to.
Ensure Your Firewall Is On
Firewalls prevent unwanted programs from getting access to your computer from outside. According to Wikipedia “a firewall is a software or hardware-based network security system that controls the incoming and outgoing network traffic by analyzing the data packets and determining whether they should be allowed through or not, based on a rule set.” A firewall establishes a barrier between a trusted, secure internal network and another network that is not assumed to be secure and trusted. If you are using Windows it is best to turn Windows Firewall on. It’s a simple settings issue in the control panel.
Use Effective Antivirus Software
There is preventative medicine for these virus infections in the form of anti-virus software – which is abundantly available. There are both paid and free versions of them which you can either buy or download freely from the internet. The key here is that the software has “real time protection.” which should prevent many viruses from populating on your machine and keep you fairly protected. Notice that I have underlined “many” and “fairly” in the previous sentence. A variety of viruses can skirt anti-virus software with relative ease; therefore, it is imperative that computer users monitor their behavior – adopting and developing good web browsing and “computer hygene habits” in order to ensure immunity from viral threats.
Use An Antimalware Utility Regularly
While antivirus software seeks to prevent viruses “on the front end” or before they populate on a computer. Anti-malware utilities remove virus infections after a machine is infected. There are plenty of anti-malware programs that you can run on a weekly basis to remove small viruses that might have slipped in. Two that I use include Malwarebytes and Spybot Search and Destroy. Note: Many viruses require professional virus removal to be removed completely.
It is quite obvious that viruses like any other programs continually seek new ways to hack systems and hence the resistance of the operating system needs to be reviewed and updated regularly. Manufacturers of such operating system meticulously do that; therefore, you should download and install the latest patches and updates released by the operating system manufacturer.
Learn Good Web Browsing Habits and Computer Hygiene
Last and perhaps most important: strive to improve web browsing habits and PC maintenance and hygiene regimens. A gun has a safety and roadways have guardrails but they provide limited protection. Ultimately, we are responsible for our own computer health. A few things you can do to improve web browsing habits are to avoid websites with numerous pop-ups related to them. Don’t open suspicious emails, and be wary about free so-called “useful utilities” (media players, picture viewers, Facebook enhancers, “game helpers”, coupon printers, etc.) Furthermore, you should read-up on, and implement a program to keep your computer clean and “in tune.” CCleaner from Piriform is a good free system cleaner that should be used on a weekly basis. Learn to do things such as keep your browsers free of extra toolbars and add-ons, keep temporary files deleted, and keep files and folders organized on your machine so you can recognize any changes, etc. For more information on how to keep your computer “in tune” and virus free visit my website and blog here.