Troubleshoot a Slow Computer

In the digital age in which we live, the term “slow” means something very different than it did to the previous generation of people. Movers and shakers today want everything delivered to them as quickly as possible. Our food is fast. Our mail is mostly electronic, and we expect all appliances and devices to keep up with our hunger for expedience. So when the computer begins to lag a few seconds between web pages, or it takes “too long” to boot up in the morning, we get impatient. Rather than toss that byte-dragging beast into the nearest trash can, take a moment to consider what might be slowing it down. There may be a simple way to fix it.

One of the biggest contributors to sluggish computers is adware and spyware. No one asks for these evil programs. They insidiously creep in when we’re not looking, and they begin to clog up the information highways inside our computers.

Adware and spyware programs are often hidden in downloads that we intentionally add to our hard drives. Toolbars and search assistant programs are often riding on the coattails of browser upgrades, anti-virus programs, or other “free” downloads that attract us. Once the adware or spyware program is in place inside your machine, it begins communicating over the Internet with its origin like an alien contacting the mother ship. Soon a flow of information is established between your computer and some unseen server, tracking your web surfing habits and reporting consumer data that you consider personal information.

These programs run under the surface, and they operate whenever your computer connects to the Internet. Once your computer is hosting a myriad of these little parasites, it is hard-pressed to accomplish other tasks. The only way to regain performance is to eradicate the adware and spyware with a reputable removal program.

As soon as the culprits are dealt with, a firewall must be established to prevent further attacks. Windows firewall is not secure enough. Seek a third-party firewall program, and be careful to choose one that carries a good reputation.

If you still notice sub-par performance from your computer, it’s time to dig a little deeper to find the problem. Use a highly-rated antivirus program to check for Trojans or viruses. These programs often disguise themselves as fine, upstanding applications, fooling the user to invite them into the system via internet download. Once inside, they quickly wrap their tentacles around vital system files, often overtaking the computer’s operating system and shutting down essential settings and applications.

These viruses can be very difficult to eliminate, since they are so deeply embedded into the inner-workings of the computer. Always run a virus scan after disabling your Internet connection, or run the scan in Windows Safe Mode. This may cripple the virus’ ability to control the computer while the scan is running, allowing the anti-virus program to clean and remove all of its nasty components.

Beyond adware, spyware, viruses and Trojans, damaged or altered registry files may be causing your computer to choke and sputter. Registry cleaning programs can bring back that symbiotic balance you once enjoyed, giving your computer the pep of a “newborn” model. Always perform a system backup before making changes to the registry though. Deleting or altering the wrong registry file can result in much bigger problems than a slow computer.

There are software programs available that combine all of the above troubleshooting functions into one seamless operation, scanning the system for adware, spyware, viruses, Trojans and improper registry files. For the novice computer user simply wanting a quick fix to a slow situation, this may be the best option.