If there’s anything for sure in life, it seems that computers never break or malfunction at the right time, and that they break and malfunction often despite the great advances that have been made in that type of technology in the past 20 years. The good news is that while not all breakage or malfunctions can be stopped, some can.
Admittedly, I am an impatient person. And there are few things in life that rouse my impatience more than a slow computer (other than driving maybe).
In that spirit, we’ll start by looking at a few things that cause a PC to run slow and some things that can also cause it to break or malfunction.
Is your computer running slow these days? Would you like it to run as it did when you first purchased it? There are many reasons a computer can run slower than it should, and we’ll go over some common ones here.
Let’s start with viruses, spyware, and malware: Most people already know that these malicious (hence the term malware) pieces of code can cause many different problems including security issues; along with the disabling of anti-virus software, firewalls, and internet connections. Malware can also slow your computer down to a crawl as it runs in the background and logs the keys you press, websites you visit, steals passwords, or turns your computer into a spam bot.
There is no magic bullet (or anti-virus / anti-malware program) that can honestly guarantee 100% that your computer will NEVER catch a virus. Of course, ONE good anti-virus program is a necessity; having more than one is a big no-no and can cause problems. There are many paid and even free solutions out there to fill this position. Many of them work well at catching malware and also work well to slow your computer down as they eat up clock cycles and memory just to run.
There are a few good ones though that seem to respect your computer’s limited resources a little bit better. AVG Anti-virus is one that I not only personally use on all my computers, but also recommend to my clients (I actually run a computer consulting business). There is a free version of this program, but if you want top-notch protection, the paid version can be had at a 20% discount by clicking this link: Get AVG Anti-virus.
In addition to a good anti-virus solution, it is a good idea to have a few other malware and spyware removal programs. These are NOT the same thing as an anti-virus program!
Hard drive issues:
There are many hard drive issues that can severely impact the performance of your computer. A fragmented hard drive is just one. Running Windows’ built in defrag tool is a good idea, but unfortunately, it misses a few things such as restore points and other areas. This may not be a big deal, but defragging a computer about once a month helps keep it running well either way, and it can often be automated.
Important note: to defrag, the hard drive needs to have at least 15% free space. Upgrading to a bigger hard drive can be easy, or removal of programs and other files can solve the problem if your hard drive is getting full. Otherwise your computer will take a serious performance hit if the hard drive starts to fill up.
Unnecessary files can also clutter the hard drive and slow it down. Windows comes with a disk clean up utility, use it a few times per month.
Power outages and improper shut-downs are a fact of life for computers. Running Windows’ error checking utility (a.k.a. check disk and scan disk) can help repair minor hard drive damage that results from improper shut downs. Do it every couple of months, improper shut down or not, or if an improper shut down did occur, do it as soon as you can.
Finally, a dying hard drive can also adversely affect the performance of your system by slowing it down. Not to mention the possible loss of valuable data. If your hard drive is noisy, or your PC just runs slow even though its malware free, has plenty of RAM, and has a defragged drive with sufficient space, this could be the culprit.
Extra (non-malicious) programs running in the background:
Often, a lot of unnecessary or seldom used programs are loaded into memory at start up. Not only does this increase boot time, but these programs suck up valuable RAM space and CPU clock cycles as they run. Disabling them can help increase performance.
Many of us remember the days of dial-up when a web page took forever to load and down loading video was often a process that could take several days. Many of us now use broadband connections such as DSL or cable. Aside from malware issues, if your browsing seems be slower these days perhaps it’s time to upgrade to a different broadband package (they are often sold as tiers; the slower connections are cheaper, faster are more expensive).
Give your internet service provider a call and see what they can do to get you a faster connection. When using a wireless connection many other issues affect the speed. The newer, better wireless routers support type N Wi-Fi and are faster and have a longer range. Other Wi-Fi speed factors include: distance to router, other devices that could be interfering (cordless phones, microwave ovens), things in the way such as metal duct work, the number of people using the wireless connection at once, and other things. If you’re using a wired (Ethernet) connection, your computer may have the older 10/100 network card installed. Upgrading to the newer and faster Giga-bit type card can improve performance. Just don’t forget to see what speed you are paying your ISP for first as all this won’t matter if you’re on the lowest tier.
Hopefully, you’ve resisted the manufacturers’ push to make PCs a throw away toy, and invested in a reasonably equipped, well made computer.
If you ran to Wal-mart, or any other big box store and bought their $300-$400 netbook or PC special, Then you’re probably to blame if you’re unhappy with your computer’s performance.
These disposable computers may run well out of the box, but install a few applications, try to run them, and after a while you’ll see how well they don’t run. Not to mention that the electronic components themselves are generally cheaply made on low-end PCs.
Moral of the story: you get what you pay for, even in computer land.
For more information on how to speed up a slow computer visit Computer Repairs “BBCR Company”.
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