Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet

How to fix a slow computer

All of the Utilities mentioned in this tip are FREEWARE, readily available on the Internet. Some have "nags", but are still free. In the spirit of keeping things free, I will tell you, as a computer technician, what I do to keep my computers running smooth.
I am by no means pushing these FREE Utilities. I recommend them only because they are free and, most importantly, because they WORK. These Utilities are time tested. I have used them on many computers for many years with no ill effect.

Before beginning, it is highly recommended to set a restore point. That way, if you get carried away in your clean up, you have a restore point. In fact, once you get your computer running good, it's not a bad idea to set another restore point.
To set a restore point go to start>programs>accessories>system tools>system restore. Then look for "create a restore point" and follow it out. After creating the restore point, it's best to shut the computer down completely, then turn it back on.

Also, it takes time to do all these things, so plan accordingly. Your patience will be rewarded with a faster computer.

The FIRST thing that I do to fix a slow computer is get rid of all the junk. the free Utility for doing that is:
http://www.eusing.com/Window_Washer/Window_Washer.htm

Just skip the "nag" and click on "wash settings". Under the "windows" "system" tab, check "temporary files". Under the "browsers" tab, check "IE Cache (temporary internet files)" and "IE cookies" Do like wise for Firefox if you use it. You can check all the other stuff if you want, but these are the main ones that you want to clear. More info about cookies later.

2...Run an anti-spyware Utility such as mbam:
http://www.malwarebytes.org/mbam.php
Download it, install it, update it, run it, scan entire system.
Of course, you can use the anti-spyware/antivirus of your choice.
Some other good free anti-spyware:
http://www.superantispyware.com/
http://free.avg.com/us-en/homepage
http://www.threatfire.com/download/

3...Run defrag. Before running defrag, you want to shut down as many applications and processes as you can. Start by physically disconnecting your internet connection, then shutting down your firewall, antivirus, antispyware, etc. Plus, right click all that stuff in the lower right corner of the task bar and exit as much stuff as you can.

You can also run defrag from safe mode. Just push F8 when your computer first starts and select "safe mode".
Then run defrag: start>programs>accessories>system tools>disk defragmenter.

4...The next thing to do is run a little known Windows Utility, which is part of the Windows System File Protection called System File Checker (SFC). This program ensures that all of your Windows system files are intact and in the right place. Windows system files sometimes get corrupted or deleted in various ways, sometimes resulting in error messages like: "missing dll" and other nasties. Viruses and malware sometimes attach themselve's to Windows system files, so guess what happens when those files are deleted by your antivirus program? THEY GET DELETED TOO. That's the purpose of the quarantine...to make sure the system still runs without those files before deleting them.
To run SFC you must have a copy of your Windows installation CD. Insert the CD in your drive and wait for the Windows installation window to appear, then click on "exit". You must have the CD so the program can pull any files that it needs from it.
Then go to start>run type in "cmd" (without the quotation marks, then click "OK". Then type: sfc/scannow
Let that run until it's done.

5...Now you want to get all the junk from your registry. One must be very careful when running a registry cleaner, as some of them do too good of a job, causing problems. For this reason the only registry cleaner that I recommend is free and one that I have used for _years_ without a problem. Not to saya problem can't occur, but it also has a restore feature:
http://www.eusing.com/free_registry_cleaner/registry_cleaner.htm

Don't be surprised if you have 300 to 600 invalid entries.
Also, avoid the temptation to run this too much. Once a month is plenty.

6...Now go to the Windows update Website and download and install all updates.

7...Run defrag again.

8...Another program to run is one called "Autoruns" Nothing slows a computer down more than a bunch of stuff that just doen't need to be running until it's needed. You be amazed of all the stuff that is running unnecessarily on your computer:
http://www.sixfiles.com/dbase/files/sysinternals-autoruns.html

Once you get your computer running smooth, keep it that way with a little maintanance. Here's a schedule you can use:

Daily or when IE or Firefox seems slow: Run Free Intenet Window Washer (Eusing). It also has a cookies manager. Clear all your cookies, then go to ONE of your regular websites. Then go to the cookie manager and add those cookies to the "cookies to keep" column. Then clear all your cookies again. Go to your next favorite website and repeat the process. Once you have all your "good" cookies added to the cookies manager, you can then delete all future cookies while leaving the ones you need for quick webpage retrivial intact.

Weekly: Anti-malware program(s), defrag, Windows update,

Monthly: SFC, Autoruns, Eusing registry cleaner. The registry cleaner can also be ran after un-installing programs.

Some other good freeware:
http://www.revouninstaller.com/revo_uninstaller_free_download.html
For removing those pesky programs that won't uninstall.

http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/sbdownload.html
Spywareblaster.

http://www.zonealarm.com/security/en-us/zonealarm-pc-security-free-firewall.htm
This is a good firewall. If you have broadband this is a must!

http://duplicate-file-finder.en.softonic.com/download-version/duplicate-file-finder-3.4
Great for removing duplicate files.

Last but not least: Arovax Shield:
http://www.arovaxshield.com/

The secret to keeping a machine clean is not to let it messed up in the first place. Arovax Shield is excellent protection. In fact, it's too good. You want to shut it off when installing programs, as it won't allow any changes to the registry.

Again, my intentions are not to push any particular software, only to convey what free software that I have found and used over the years that work for me.

If you have done all of the above and still have a slow computer, I have the following suggestions:

1...Clean the inside of the computer. Explaining how to do this is beyond the scope of this article. There are plenty of websites that can tell you how to do it. One must be careful, though, as static electricity can kill a computer. If you are not comfortable doing it, have it done professionally.

2...Get more memory. The days of high price memory are over. Run the following program to see what memory you have:
http://www.gtopala.com/siw-download.html
Get the standalone version.
Or go to websites like crucial.com or similar website. Buy as much memory as you can afford.
3...Make sure whatever internet connection box (cable modem, fios, dsl, whatever) that you are using is getting plenty of ventilation. When they overheat, they usually keep working, but slowly.

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