Tuesday, July 16, 2013

How to Clean up a Slow Performing Computer ~PLUS~ a few Mac tips too ;)

Many think that when a computer starts performing poorly that it's time to buy a new computer. Does your desktop or laptop often hang on the hourglass or swirling circle for several minutes at a time? Does "Not Responding" sound familiar to you? Is it slow to load files or applications, and does it take a long time to boot? Even if you're extremely careful about how you use your computer and never download questionable material, over time it is inevitable that your system will accumulate unwanted registry entries, errors, clutter, and debris. Here's how to clean your computer up and get it running faster again!

Steps To Take:
  1. Update your antivirus software and run a full scan. Antivirus software helps protect you from viruses and other suspect files that can spread by simply opening an email. It performs regular system checks and detects when foreign files are trying to infiltrate your computer. Click the link below for a list of the security software that Pacific Northwest Computers recommends and uses:

    **Do not use Registry Optimizers or so called Clean Reg Tools.!! 
    Most of these cause more harm than good in the future with your PC!!!

  2. Clear up some space on the hard drive. Deleting unnecessary files that your computer stores is an easy and simple way to free up memory and improve overall performance. To do this, access Disk Cleanup in Windows and delete Temporary Files on a Mac.

    *For Windows XP, Windows 7, and Vista: Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click Disk Cleanup. If several drives are available, you might be prompted to specify which drive you want to clean.

    *For Mac: Go to Applications, click Utilities, and click Command Prompt. In the Command Prompt, type in "sudo rm -fr /tmp/*" and hit Enter. The temporary files that have been left behind on your computer will now be cleared.
  3. Uninstall useless programs or programs you rarely use. These can include games or media files that you or your children never use, as well as programs that have become redundant or obsolete.

  4. When uninstalling programs be sure you don't need them! Some programs are needed for the operation of the computer. So if you are unsure about a program then leave it alone or do a quick search on Google to see if you can find out whether it's good or bad.
  5. For Windows: Follow the Start Menu to Settings and then to Control Panel. From this screen click on Add/remove programs or Uninstall a program and uninstall programs that are no longer needed.

    *When uninstalling programs, be sure you don't need them before removing them! Some programs are needed for the operation of the computer. So if you are unsure about a program then leave it alone or do a quick search on Google to see if you can find out whether it might be good or bad.

    *For Mac: Kill unwanted or redundant programs by dropping the program files into the Recycle Bin.
  6. Remember to empty your Recycle Bin after deleting these files because they are still on the hard drive and taking up space; just right-click the icon and navigate to “Empty Bin.”
  7. Download and install and run spyware removing programs like Spybot Search and Destroy. Spyware is a kind of malicious software installed on computers that track certain information without the user's knowledge. For both privacy implications and the health of your computer, it's best to delete spyware and other "malware."

    *You can download Spybot and other security software for your computer for free by using this link:

  8. Defragment your hard drive. Fragmentation basically is when your computer's files get disorganized, hurting your computer's ability to lay data out sequentially. Defragmentation is the correction to this process.

    *For Windows: click on My Computer, then click Properties, then click the "Tool's" tab. From this tab just click on the Defragment button and then run the program. You can set it up so that your computer automatically defragments at set intervals.

    *Besides the Windows Defragmentation utility, we recommend MyDefrag (formerly JKDefrag). MyDefrag is a disk defragmenter and optimizer for Windows 2000/2003/XP/Vista/2008/X64 computers. It's very easy to use, fast, low overhead, with several optimization strategies, and can handle floppies, USB disks, memory sticks, and anything else that looks like a disk to Windows!
    *For Mac: Mac operating systems rarely, if ever, need to have their disk space defragmented.

  9. Check your RAM. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. These are the computer's memory chips. If there are not enough of them or they are not very large in size, your computer will use your hard disk to store intermediate results. But this is a much slower process. The computer will appear busy and will also be slow to write and read things from the hard disk. You can hear it, and the LED on the computer itself will light up and just stay on. Right-click on the My Computer icon, then select properties, then read what is said on the 'General' tab. For Windows XP it should be 1GB or more and 2GB's or more for Windows 7 or 8. Anything less than those numbers might be the problem.

    *If RAM is the real problem, your computer will be slow whenever you start a new application. If your computer is only slow when you turn on your computer or reboot, it is more likely that it is some other problem.

    *Before you rush out to get some additional RAM in a computer shop, make sure you know exactly what type fits in with your computer, and convince yourself that there are still empty slots (inside your computer) that can be used to put the RAM in. For most people it is best to make a computer repair shop responsible for all this; you can give us a call and you can bring your system if you need help!!

  • Never install software that you don't intend to use regularly.
  • Be careful about what you install; most free downloads from certain sites can come with some form of spyware/malware/grayware or possibly a virus.
  • Make an effort to defrag your computer weekly.
  • To ensure safe broadband internet browsing install a firewall program (Microsoft has one built in with XP) or buy an external firewall router.
  • Always perform a spyware scan and virus scan weekly if you do minimal file/program downloads. If you do many downloads weekly, then the suggested performance is daily.

  • When uninstalling programs be sure you don't need them; some programs are needed for the operation of the computer.
  • When using the spyware removal program, be sure to go over the directions thoroughly. Since this program makes changes to the registry you can actually make the computer perform worse than before. If you are not an avid computer user, just clean the detected items that appear in red, or consult a friend who knows about computers.

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