Fix a Slow Computer
This particular article deals with how to fix a slow computer. Which you can work on at your own pace … slowly but consistently.
Two of the most common complaints people make about their computers – “I have a Virus!” and “My Computer is slow!”
A virus is pretty straight forward – you have to address it – Right Now – Right Away – Do Not Delay! Review this information about viruses, phishing and spyware or contact Wuzzy for help.
How to Fix a Slow Computer
What’s Slow About It?
First of all – how do you know it is slow? Can you get a shower and have breakfast while it boots? Is it taking forever to open your email? When downloading files, does it take minutes when it used to take seconds?
You need to know what it used to do better before you can determine what it is not doing so well now.
Be aware that your computer is always doing something when it is powered on. A finely tuned XP installation may have 25 to 35 processes running at all times. A Vista system usually has 45 to 60 processes running and a Windows 7 system can normally have 50 to 80 processes running.
The Windows XP Operating System Will Be Our Guide
For this discussion, we will talk about the XP system. I know, I know – XP is old, yesteryear, archaic – but – it is a very stable, popular and viable operating system, even though Microsoft dropped support for it in 2011. The processes learned with XP can carry forward to Windows 7 (and beyond).
Notice I didn’t dwell on Vista – if your Vista system is giving you problems – upgrade – don’t mess around – upgrade.
What On Your Computer Is Running Slow?
After your PC completes its boot sequence, it should be sitting there waiting for you to tell it to do something. You can see this by looking at a Task Manager utility of some kind. I use Process Explorer. This utility will show you all the processes that are running. You want to see the “System Idle” process at a very high percentage – usually 97 to 100%.
If anything is running (like an automatic virus update) the idle process will be jumping around and you should be able to see what process is taking computer time. I used to work with a consultant that would tell our clients, “When we get done with your PC, it is in the best condition it will ever be in”. This interprets to –
You need to know when it is running well in order to tell if it is running bad.
If you don’t have the answer to this statement – you might consider having your PC looked at and optimized by a PC Consultant, such as myself (pat on the back). From that point forward, you’ll know when and why your PC is at its best (I’ll show you) and can quickly pinpoint small problems to tweak before they become major issues.
What’s Happening When Your Computer Boots (or Powers On)
When your PC boots there are three basic functions that “tell” Windows what to do:
1 – Master Boot Record
2 – Services
3 – Startup
Master Boot Record:
This is a combination of hardware, firmware, and software that gets your PC going. That’s all that you need to know. If this gets screwed up, the term “Deep Doo Doo” is appropriate and you need the services of a Computer Consultant.
These are “Built-In” programs that Windows uses to provide functionality such as Automatic Updates, DHCP, network services, printing, etc. Some of these are automatic, some are manual, and some are disabled. You will not normally get involved with these but it is necessary to know that they do exist.
This function takes place once the Master Boot Record gets Windows started and the Services prepares Windows to run. This is where you can make a huge difference in the performance of your PC – in “fixing” your slow computer.
The contents of this function are always being manipulated by the programs you install. For example, if you install AOL, it thinks that you want to run this each time Windows starts – so – it adds itself to the “Start-Up” function.
Keep this in mind – “There is nothing – except your virus protection – that needs to be in the Startup function. Nothing! Nada! You may want it to be there but it is not necessary for Windows to run.
Fix a Slow Computer Step 1: MSCONFIG
Run the program “MSCONFIG” (Microsoft configuration). Click on the “Startup” tab and notice all the items that are checked. Identify the one item that may be your virus protection. Leave that check mark in place and remove all others.
You will be asked to reboot. Do so and then note how much faster your system starts up.
Fix a Slow Computer Step 2: UnInstall
Once your system starts quickly it is necessary to remove all those programs you do not want or need. Use the systems’ “UnInstall” selection if it is there or use the Add/Remove programs in the Control Panel.
Fix a Slow Computer Step 3: Temp Files
After you remove all the unnecessary programs, it is time to delete all unnecessary, temporary files. Browse to www.google.com and type the filename TFC.EXE in the search box. This search will display a website where you can download this file. This is an excellent Temp File removal program. After you run the file, reboot the PC – even if it doesn’t tell you to do so. Run this new Temp File program on a routine basis to keep your temp files to a bare minimum.
Fix a slow Computer Step 4: Internet Cleanup
After you remove all Temp Files, open your Internet Explorer browser properties (or whatever browser you use) and delete all cookies and temporary internet files.
Fix a Slow Computer Step 5: Defrag
Before we go on to Defragmentation, you need to know how much space your hard drive is using. Click on My Computer. Then right-click on the “C:” drive and select “Properties”. This will show you the hard drive size, how much is in use, and how much is free space. My rule of thumb is that at 50% used, you should start managing file space. At 75% full, start deleting or moving data off your computer. At 90% full – Get Another Hard Drive – now.
Click here for instructions on how to run Defragmentation.
By following the steps listed above, once per month, you may find that you are no longer dealing with a slow computer. If, however, you are still having issues, don’t hesitate to give me a call.