If your computer has been getting progressively slower, here are some things you can try before throwing it out the window or dragging it into a repair shop.
The #1 cause of computers running slow is adware, spyware, viruses and trojans. Malware goes by several different names, but they are all bad news for your computer. Many of these malware programs run in the background eating up your systems resources. Even though you have been religious about updating your anti-virus, and have Windows Updates set to install automatically (you do right?), viruses can still get through.
When I worked in the corporate IT world, I was stunned at how many times computers got infected with viruses, even though they were protected by one of the big two anti-virus/anti-spyware programs. And, when the infection got through, the “big name” virus protection programs just could not remove most of the infections when we were trying to clean them up. After trying several different cleanup programs, I found that PCTools Spyware doctor with Anti-Virus was very effective.
PCTools offers a trial version of their software that you can download for free. It will locate the viruses, but to actually remove them you need to purchase the product. But, just running the program will let you know if you are dealing with viruses, or some other issue.
Programs Running in the Background
If you have a lot of programs running on your computer, this could slow your system down. Take a look at the bottom right hand side of your screen, if there are a lot of icons in your start bar, this could be slowing down your PC.
Hover your mouse over the icon and it should pop up what it is. If it is something that you recognize and know you don’t use, right click on it and a menu should pop up. Usually there is an “Exit” option. This will shut down the program. See if that makes any difference.
If you are a little more tech savvy, you can try running the MSCONFIG.EXE program. In here you can choose “diagnostic startup” to see if that helps or you can selectively turn off programs that run in the background under the “Startup” tab.
On Windows PC’s, the computer stores a lot of the control information in a collection of files called “The Registry”. The registry is great at storing information, but it is not so great at housekeeping. The newer versions of Windows are getting better, but registry issues are still a culprit of slow PC’s.
Over time, the registry grows and grows, and it takes the computer longer to process it. Also, the registry can get corrupted from viruses, brown outs (power sags), or other issues.
There are some commercial programs out there that clean the registry, but I have never seen one that worked very well. If the registry is the culprit, usually the only way to fix it is to back up your data, completely erase your drive and re-install Windows. Backing up, wiping and restoring is a pretty drastic choice, so this is usually the last thing to try.
Hardware/ Software Issues
In all honesty, the first three are usually the main culprits for Windows PC’s running slow, especially if you have been using your computer for years. But there are a few other things you can try before getting involved with a Backup/ Wipe/ Re-install.
– Clearing the internet cache may help. In Internet Explorer 8, click on “Safety” on the menu bar, and then “Delete Browsing History”.
– You can try a Disk Cleanup. Having a lot of temporary files has been known to slow down Windows PC’s. To do this, right click on your “C:\ Drive”, then click “Properties”. Next click “Disk Cleanup”.
– Also, if your drive is fragmented, it can cause your PC to run slow. To do this, right click on your “C:\ Drive”, then click “Properties”. Next click “Tools” and finally “Defragment Now…”
Lastly, your computer may be having driver issues (kinda rare nowadays) or hardware problems. If you hear loud noises or clicking coming from your PC, or if it is turning off by itself, you should get it checked out by a repair shop as soon as possible.
I hope this helps, sorry that the post is kinda long. There are several possibilities for computers running slow, and I just wanted to touch on each one. I have seen many computers thrown away or destroyed when they could be fixed fairly easily…