Posts Tagged ‘improve computer performance’
Viruses and Malware Can Cause Problems
If you keep your anti-virus software up-to-date, a computer virus might not be the first thing to consider. On the other hand, if you’ve done the standard maintenance and made other improvements in your configuration and you’re still experiencing slowness, then it might be time to consider a virus or malware cause.
Step one would be to do a careful malware/virus screening with your anti-virus software. First, update your virus definitions, then do a malware/virus screen. If anything turns up, get rid of it by following the steps provided by your anti-virus/malware software.
Viruses are malicious tools that you don’t go out looking for, but malware (and spyware) can be different. Often, malware is disguised in other software that you might actually want, or agree to load onto your computer. Malware can be disguised in the form of a free game, utility, toolbar or application. You may get the utility you’re looking for, but you may also get other software (malware) that loads onto your computer invisibly.
To combat malware, which your anti-virus software may not recognize, install a program like Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is available free of charge and can spot malware from a mile away. There are two versions of Malwarebytes – free and Pro. The free version must be run manually each time you want to scan your computer for malware. The professional version runs all the time as a background process and scans your computer continually for new malware intrusions.
Either way you go, you can’t go wrong with Malwarebytes – unless, of course, you download it from someplace other than the developer’s page. Visit http://www.malwarebytes.org to get the latest (and guaranteed clean) version of Malwarebytes. Once it’s installed, make a malware scan a regular part of your computer maintenance routine.
If Malwarebytes finds one or more malware applications, it will inform you of its discovery and clear out any offenders. One note, you’ll need to download new definitions each time you run Malwarebytes. The new definitions take just a minute to download and will help to ensure that you’re protected against the latest malware threats.
Photo Credit: CHUCKage, via Flickr
Don’t Forget To Update
Remembering to update your computer can be easy, especially if you use Windows Update to accomplish this task. When you have Windows Update turned on, your computer will go out looking for updates and can automatically download and install them of you have your computer configured properly.
Some people don’t like the idea of allowing Windows Update to run system upgrade installations automatically, but here’s the thing. Some updates actually make the computer run faster and work better. Patches – as opposed to updates – are security holes that Microsoft is attempting to plug. Those patches should be applied as soon as they’re available. There’s no reason to wait on those.
Updates – more along the lines of Service Packs – are designed to extend functions, improve operations and make things work better. Again, some users have problems with service packs because they can “break” applications and hardware devices that work just fine under the old, non-updated system.
Patches may be released at any time and should be applied whenever they’re made available. Service packs don’t have to be applied right away, and they come out much less frequently – maybe once per year. Microsoft works with third-party developers on service packs. They don’t come as a surprise to anyone in the programming community.
That means a service pack might necessitate a driver update for certain Windows hardware. If you do a service pack upgrade, go looking for hardware drivers that may have been released co-incidentally. Once you have the service pack installed, install the corresponding driver updates.
It’s not a bad idea to go looking for driver updates periodically anyway. You can configure Windows Update to include driver updates (they’re optional), so you have a better chance of finding new drivers for your hardware right away. If you don’t have Windows Update configured to download driver updates automatically, or for some reason, want to take on driver management on your own, you can do that, but just remember that an operating system update may also produce driver updates.
By keeping both your OS and your hardware drivers updated, you may find that you get a little unexpected (but welcome) performance boost!
Photo Credit: comedy_nose, via Flickr
Most ordinary users don’t, so their option – sad as it is to say – is to take their PC to a technician for help, sometimes paying a lot of money in the process. Registry cleaners vary in ability and worth, but I’ve always liked, used and recommended RegCure.
Improve Windows Performance
There are other things you can do to keep your PC working well and combat the inevitable slowdown that makes you think your PC is slogging through sludge. If you’re in the mood to do a little spring cleaning on your PC, you may find that your performance improves with a little tidying up.
First, go through your file system and throw out the files you no longer use. This includes temporary files (just empty these… don’t throw out the folder they’re in), old applications you don’t use anymore, etc. If you’re adventurous, try paring down your operating system to eliminate things you don’t use like foreign language support, thousands of fonts, programs that start automatically when the computer is turned on, etc.
If you can’t bear to get rid of old files, archive them and burn them off to a CD. If, after six months or a year, you still don’t use them, then you can feel better about throwing them away.
The big reason for reducing your file system size is that the bigger the file system, the more work your OS has to do to manage it, and the more likely you are to accumulate corrupted files that slow down your computer for no good reason.
After you’ve reduced your file system, defragment your hard disk using the Defragmenter Tool that comes with Windows. That will tidy up your disk and improve performance measurably. Plan to defrag your disk about two or three times per year.
Make sure your anti-virus (A/V) and anti-spyware (A/S) programs are up-to-date. Don’t assume that they are. Check for updates. If your subscription has expired, renew it and keep your virus descriptions updated. Once you have updated A/V software, check your disk for infections. Clean up anything you find.
After the A/V check, run Check Disk, a disk repair tool that comes with Windows. Also run a registry cleaner like RegCure to reduce your registry size and remove any residual virus code.
If you perform this maintenance regularly, you’ll notice improved performance in your PC, and better overall reliability.
Photo Credit: Dale Chumbley
If you’ve noticed that your computer is freezing, crashing or just plain slowing down, there are several things you can do to make sure your computer stays in good working order.
Preventing Problems Is Easier Than Fixing Them
First and foremost, you need virus protection for your computer. Most computers – upwards of 90% of new computers today – work on the Windows platform. Keeping a good anti-virus program on your computer is a must. Don’t assume that your computer is protected because your computer was shipped with an anti-virus program.
Anti-virus program need to be updated regularly. Computers used in offices and in workplaces are updated daily. That’s a great lesson for you to take away. Configure your anti-virus program to download updates regularly. Also configure your AV software to run each time you start the computer. Most AV programs are subscription-based, so you’ll pay a periodic fee for updates. They’re worth it. Don’t try to save money by letting your AV program go. You’ll soon end up with a non-working computer.
Along with AV programs, you’ll want to run at least one anti-spyware program. (And no, AV and anti-spyware programs aren’t the same thing, though you may find utilities that do both.) Keep your anti-spyware program(s) up to date, just like your AV software. Make sure these run when you turn the computer on, and look for an anti-spyware package that can detect spyware on-the-fly.
Periodically – as in at least once each quarter – run Scandisk. It comes as part of the operating system and will seek out problems with your hard disk and file structure. There’s no need to run this daily or even weekly, but you should run this utility at least four times each year, and more if you do a lot of downloading or file creation and deletion. Scandisk is in your Accessories/System Tools folder. You’ll need to exit every program before running it.
Defragment your hard disk at least once per quarter. You could combine this maintenance with Scandisk. If you decide to do that, run Scandisk first and then defragment your disk afterward. “Defragging” takes a long time. (This is a good overnight task, or one that can run while you’re out of the house for the day.) Disk Defragmenter is also included with your operating system, and is found in the Accessories/System Tools folder.
If you don’t turn off your computer very often, at least reboot it once in awhile. Rebooting will clear out any temporary gremlins that have taken up residence in your computer and will kill temporary, “zombie” and “orphan” files and processes that may be slowing your computer down. Think of it as the functional equivalent of letting your computer take a shower!