Posts Tagged ‘slow computer performance’
A Few Tips To Keep You Running Smart
Eliminate What You Don’t Need Start by eliminating what you don’t need. Whether it’s a program that’s set to start up when you boot the computer, toolbars that came along for the ride when you installed something else, or files you no longer need, get rid of them. They take up processing power, memory and disk space – all of which can come back to haunt you and slow your computer performance to a crawl. If you don’t need it and don’t use it, get rid of it.
Don’t forget the programs that come loaded onto the computer when you first buy it. Many of these programs are demonstration versions that are crippled or time-regulated. If you don’t pay for a full license for the program within a certain number of days or weeks, the program stops working anyway. Others are truly free programs, but they have little or no value. Again, if you don’t use these things, get rid of them.
Update Your Computer Regularly If you run a Microsoft computer, you should know that Microsoft comes out with regularly scheduled patches and updates on the second Tuesday of each month – Patch Tuesday. They also sometimes deliver an “out-of-band” update, often on the fourth Tuesday of each month. In addition, third party manufacturers distribute driver updates on their own schedules. Configure your computer to download these patches automatically and install them. Your computer will be better protected and will function better and more reliably over time. With drivers, don’t rely on Microsoft to distribute the drivers you need. Either check the manufacturer’s website yourself or use a driver management software package like Driver Detective to keep track of your driver updates.
Keep Your Anti Virus Software Updated Your anti-virus software has a tough job to do. Keeping your virus definitions updated is critical to ensuring that your computer remains free of viruses that will slow the computer down and rob it of performance. With a compromised computer, your personal data may also be available for the taking, so keep your A/V up-to-date at all times.
Photo Credit: skippyjohn, via Flickr
FBI Busts Malware Ring
Late last year, the FBI busted a small group of hackers operating outside of the United States who were running an operation designed to take advantage of a flaw in Internet Explorer. The flaw and malware redirected user’s website requests and sent unsuspecting users to a site run by the hackers instead. The hackers made millions off of ads sold on the site and viewed by hijacked users.
In some cases, infected computers were also prevented from updating their anti-virus software, which in turn, made the computers more vulnerable to other kinds of malware attacks. About 500,000 computers in the United States were affected by the malware, called DNSChanger.
At its core, DNSChanger reassigned users’ DNS server to one of its own, thereby forcing the computer to travel through the hackers’ illegal ad servers. When the FBI made its arrests, it substituted clean, working DNS serviers for the rogue DNS servers operated by the ring. The FBI recently announced, however, that those clean DNS servers will be shut down on July 9, 2012.
The FBI’s rationale for substituting the servers in the first place was to give affected users time to clean and patch their systems. Some users, however, may be completely unaware that their computers are affected by the malware. Unless these users determine they’re infected and take steps to fix their problems prior to July 9, the affected users will suddenly find themselves unable to access the Internet after the July 9 server shutdown.
To help avoid major slowdowns, users should visit a special website set up by the FBI to see whether their computer is using the FBI’s DNS server. The website address is http://www.dns-ok.us/. Users who visit the site will be shown their DNSChanger status. If the website displays an image with a green background, the user’s computer is not affected by the malware. If the user’s computer displays a red background, the user must take additional steps to reconfigure/clean his or her computer prior to July 9.
At this site, visitors can also find a more complete explanation of the problem, how it originated and what affected users must do to clean their computers.
Photo Credit: Steve A. Johnson, via Flickr
More Habit Than Anything Else
Preserving the performance of your computer is more about developing good habits, and using certain tools on a regular basis. If you’re good about performing regular maintenance, you’ll find yourself rewarded with a computer that performs well in all circumstances.
There are simple things you can do with the built-in tools provided by Microsoft. For example, disk defragmenting and disk cleanup are two simple tasks that you can perform regularly to help avoid problems and allow your system to operate more smoothly.
Disk Cleanup (or cleanmgr.exe) is one good example. This tool comes built into the Windows operating system, and when you run it, the tool finds temporary files that take up a lot of space but aren’t really necessary. The tool identifies these files and gives you the option of deleting them to regain hard disk space.
Disk Defragmenter is another similar tool that takes free space on your hard disk and “groups” it together for more smooth disk-reading and disk-writing operations. Again, this tool is built in and free to use. You can even schedule these operations to occur regularly. In the case of the two tools I’ve mentioned here – particularly with disk defragmenter – you’ll want to run these utilities when you’re not planning to use your computer. They can take a lot of time to run, so these can be scheduled to run in an overnight period, when you’re probably not using your computer anyway.
In addition to these built-in tools, you should consider a suite of tools like Speedy PC Pro. Speedy PC Pro combines the action of a powerful registry cleaner with other tools that are designed to optimize the performance of your computer. Once installed, Speedy PC Pro takes over the task of managing your computer’s performance, and you’ll be pleased with the results!
Keep your computer hard disk neat with the built-in disk defragmenter. Eliminate unneeded files from your hard disk and wipe out extra, unneeded lines of code in your registry that can keep your computer from performing at its best, or can even make your computer crash. You’ll also get great optimization tools that keep your computer running at blazing speeds while connected to a network, and you’ll also get anti-virus protection that will help you avoid nasty malware infections.
Download a copy of Speedy PC Pro and recover the performance your computer once had!
Photo Credit: jeffk, via Flickr
Applications Take Up Memory
Every application you open takes up a certain amount of your computer’s memory. This memory (RAM) is in limited supply. First, most computers are designed to work within a maximum limit of installed RAM. Each memory location in RAM has a unique address, and the hardware design of the computer determines how much memory a computer can actually use.
RAM, of course, is the “gold standard” of computer memory. Modern computer operating systems can create “virtual memory” to help add working memory. Virtual memory isn’t the same as RAM and the performance of the computer will slow noticeably when the computer is accessing information stored in virtual memory.
The OS gets the first crack at RAM and usually scoops up a significant portion of the RAM installed in your computer. This is ok because you want your operating system to have the fastest, best memory available for important OS operations. As your applications start, they also take a helping of RAM, if any is available.
Here’s the tricky part. Some users configure certain applications to start automatically at boot-up. This means your OS is competing with your applications for memory allocation. This competition is likely to be evident if your computer has only the minimum recommended RAM installed for your computer. The more applications you open the more your computer performance will degrade.
The cure? If you’re really short on RAM, add more. In fact, add as much as you can without breaking your bank account, and within the pre-determined limits of your particular computer. If adding RAM isn’t an option, or if you already have maxed out your complement of RAM, then you’ll need to be more judicious about automatically starting up applications, and closing them down when you’re finished with them.
Use the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) to determine what’s running on your computer immediately after you boot your computer. Remove (using the Add/Remove Programs tool) any toolbars or other “utilities” that have helpfully volunteered to load themselves onto your computer during the installation of some other application. From a performance perspective, toolbars are rarely (if ever) worth the “utility” they provide.
Close applications that you’re not using, or that you’ve finished using throughout your session. Getting into the habit of closing applications will help make more RAM available for other applications you may need to use during your work session.
Photo Credit: Julio Aguiar, via Flickr
Is The Problem Temporary?
The first step in finding a fix for your slow computer is to figure out whether your problem is temporary or chronic. Temporary problems that can slow down computers include processes that have gone wild or gotten stuck, transient instabilities in the operating system, memory allocation problems, and overload.
All of these problems are the “quick-fix” types, which can be cured with a reboot. Sometimes, rebooting isn’t even necessary to kick your computer back into high gear. This is true when processes get stuck or when you’re simply asking your computer to do more than it can handle.
There are a few ways to find and root out process problems. The Task Manager, which you can access using Ctrl+Alt+Del, will help you view processes that are currently running, those that are stuck and those that are consuming a significant amount of memory.
What’s “significant?” Sustained memory or processor consumption in the range of 80%-90% is definitely a suspicious sign of trouble. Processes can briefly consume a lot of CPU cycles or available memory, especially if they’re doing something heavy-duty, but if the processor or memory usage remains high, try shutting down the offending application. If the application won’t cooperate, that’s a good indication that something’s gone wrong. You can use the End Task function in the Task Manager to shut the errant process off. If your computer operation returns to normal, you’re probably going to notice an improvement in your computer performance.
While you’re looking at your processes, take a look at what’s running. If you notice that you have a lot of applications running that you’re not using, close them and see if that helps your computer performance. Each application takes up a certain amount of RAM. If you open too many applications, or your applications take up too much memory, your computer can slow down noticeably as it tries to accommodate all of your applications.
If you have applications running that you didn’t specifically start, chances are good that you have your computer configured to start your applications automatically. This also can chew up a lot of your RAM.
Next week, I’ll have more suggestions on what you can do to speed up a slow computer.
Photo Credit: denharsh, via Flickr