Over time and use with a Windows machine, you may notice that it does not run as fast as when you first got it.
This is usually because of several problems that can occur with regular use of a computer. The smart computer user knows about these things and how to repair them independently rather than hiring a technician to solve the problem (costing you time without your computer and usually around 50 dollars an hour).
Possible problems usually include one or many of the following things:
They happen; even if you spend all the money you can on antivirus software, you likely don’t even know you have one.
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Loosely falls under the same definition as a virus but with negligible variations; it can also include programs that hit your computer with nasty pop-ups and redirect you to web pages you don’t want to visit.
This is a comprehensive list of all programs that have ever been installed on your computer; sometimes, when you uninstall a program, some information can still be left on this list. The longer you have your computer, the larger this list will likely be.
To much junk
Unused programs and applications (different browser menus and other programs)
On the bottom right of your computer, besides the clock, is usually a bunch of icons. These represent programs running on your computer at a given time; the problem is that not all running programs display an icon in the taskbar. You are usually unaware of many more programs running at a time.
So let’s get started, then. Below are some tips almost any computer user can perform to help speed up your computer.
1. Restore Point
Before we start, we will record a Windows restore point. If you feel you’ve made a big mistake, you can always go back into the Windows restore program and revert to where your computer was before you tried to fix it. This should give you the confidence to play and adjust settings on your computer without worrying about messing it up. To do this, go to the start menu -> Program files – > Accessories -> System tools -> System restore.
A new program will open from there. All you have to do is ask your computer to set a restore point; later, you can revert to it if needed. A restore point is a virtual snapshot of your computer’s settings. It may take a few moments to process.
2. Safe Mode
Because you probably have viruses and unwanted programs slowing down your computer, we will put your computer into safe mode to run quicker to make the clean-up process easier and more efficient. Safe mode is a basic Windows startup without all the extra bells and whistles that slow down your computer. If viruses or programs run on your computer, they will very likely not be running in safe mode.
To get into safe mode, restart your computer. Then, as the keyboard starts, a menu listing will appear for you. You need to select Safe mode with networking to access the internet.
It is important to press F8 precisely as Windows is starting up; some computers will prompt you on the bottom of the screen as it’s loading, but it’s OK if you keep pressing it until the menu loads; you can push it more than once.
3a. Windows Updates
Windows frequently releases security updates for problems they find with their operating system. It is usually set up to do it automatically, but most people ignore it for whatever reason. Even if this is not the case, go to [http://www.windowsupdate.microsoft.com] and run through their automatic updates program. It’s effortless. Keep clicking yes and next until it is complete. Once the updates are finished, it will prompt you to restart your computer; do so before you continue to the next step.
3b. Restart Again
The computer will likely restart you into normal Windows mode. We will continue to work on your laptop through safe mode as it will run the next steps quicker, and we can guarantee that the viruses won’t be running as well. So restart your computer again and enter into safe mode again.
OK, the easy step to do now is to run a virus scan. Even if you don’t have an anti-virus program, you can still scan your computer for free. I recommend antivirus.com, put on by TrendMicro; this company mainly profits from corporate clients but offers a free online scan to public users. Go to antivurs.com and look for their free online services for home and office use. Then follow the instructions to run the housecall program on all your local hard drives. This program will provide a current scan of your computer, removing all known viruses. It updates daily with new definitions, so you always know you have an up-to-date program.
There are a couple of other virus programs I should mention. Some commercial versions of virus software (Norton and McAfee) are usually expensive and require a subscription. In addition to the cost, they all use many of your computer’s resources to run. So, if you are trying to remove a virus to speed up a computer by installing Norton, you likely won’t notice a difference in speed as it is probably making it just as slow.
The solution is to get AVG free edition, a free virus program for all. They also have a subscription version with a few more features, but even the full version of AVG uses fewer resources on your computer than Norton or McAfee. So, after you’ve finished fixing your computer, if you want to install an antivirus program, you may choose to.
4b. Restart in normal mode
At this point, you will need to restart your computer and let it boot normally to get out of the safe mode
This program isn’t very well known to most computer users, but it is crucial to keeping your computer clean and organized. MSCONFIG is a Windows program that controls all startup settings on all Windows machines. To access it, go to your start menu and click on the run command, then type MSCONFIG and press enter.
This program will open in a new window, and there will usually be four tabs at the top. The startup tab is the main one you can edit with little difficulty or computer knowledge. Click on it, and you will see a list of all programs starting when your computer starts up. In reality, there are only 2 or 3 necessary programs. These are your systray and anything to do with Windows Explorer. At this point, you can go through the list and uncheck any programs that look suspicious or that you know are malicious or unwanted. When you apply the settings, it will ask you to reboot. Once the reboot is complete, if all is well, you can uncheck more of the programs from the list and see if your computer will still run as needed. Usually, I uncheck almost all of them, then add the ones I need back in afterward. You can also work in reverse, gradually remove a few at a time, and ensure your computer is still OK after each reset. You will need to perform this step several times until the computer runs as quickly as possible with the necessary programs.
Usually, some of the types of OK programs on your startup include your software for your burner, MSN, antivirus software, printer software, and Windows themes.
Tip: If you’re not sure what a particular program does, then you can Google all the information in the startup list on that program and usually get an answer.
Similar to MSCONFIG and the startup list. Your computer registry stores a list of all programs that have ever been installed on your machine. So, if you’ve had your computer for a while and added and removed a lot of programs, there can be a lot of entries in your registry. A handy program also available on the antivirus.com site is the Hijack This program. This program allows you to clean up and edit your registry.
Be careful with this step; only remove entries you are sure are old and unused. If done incorrectly, this can mess up your computer, so the Hijack program is a good tool. The risk of failure can be reduced by setting another restore point before you perform this task.
The Windows program that is used to allow you to perform the same task is called REGEDIT. I would only suggest this program for advanced users, and I only use it when I know specifically what program I want to remove from the registry, as I can search for it with the find and replace tool.