Fixing slow computers…
As part of the ‘How I do, What I do” posts: Slow computer issues:
The one thing that I get asked to look at on a computer, more than any other thing, is to figure out “Why is my computer running so slow?” Before we get in to this, a few disclaimers:
- The suggestions that I make here are what I do. Some cases they work others they do not but I am not responsible for any damage that may happen to your pc. Use these suggestions at your own risk.
- These suggestions are based on the idea that if you are reading this, then you have basic computer skills; you know how to turn it on, install programs, surf the web, download software, etc.
- This also assumes that your computer is less than 5 years old and is running a version of Windows, not Mac. Anything older than that probably is still on Windows XP and that is not longer supported. It’s time. Backup everything and make a trip to Best Buy for a new computer.
- If you continually visit websites that you know are inappropriate, (you know what I am talking about), you do a lot of online shopping from sites overseas, or your kids play a lot of “free” online games, your computer is going to be slow and it is going to stay that way until you stop. Most sites that say that they are free, usually are not. The ad supported sites load malware and spyware on your pc that uses up your resources.
- Internet speed and computer speed are 2 totally different things. Just because your pc is slow on the internet does not mean you have issues with the pc itself. More often internet issues are a bandwidth issue and can easily be resolved with resetting your router and modem by pulling the power cord on both plugging in the modem first and then the router once the modem is completely booted up.
If your computer knowledge, web history and computer system meet the above requirements, and it is still slow, you are ready to move forward with the basics.
The first thing, most importantly and the best thing that I ever learned in college, when your pc starts to slow down,
- Go to the bathroom. Sounds strange I know, but when you know its getting slower, close all open programs and power down your pc. Allow the pc to clear any programs running in the background, clear its cache and start fresh.
- Close any open programs that you are not using. Hit CTRL Start and Del at the same time to bring up the task manager. Click on programs and right click any programs that you know you are not using.
- Free up hard drive space: Empty your recycle bin and uninstall any software that you are not using. When your pc runs out of memory it will use hard drive space. Delete any temporary files, any backup files, etc. This is not really an issue anymore because hard drive storage space is cheap. Older pc’s probably had at least a 250gig hard drive which is normally plenty unless you have a lot of music, videos or photos. Those take up a LOT of space so you may need to back those up on removable media and free up hard drive space.
- Close programs that take up a lot of memory. Go back in to the task manager and click on the process tab. Sort the list by clicking on the memory tab. If a very small number comes up, click it again. If you see a program listed that is running in the background that you do not need, right click and end process. HP printers have a LOT of background software. If you are not printing, close it.
If these basic suggestions do not speed up your pc to an acceptable level, then chances are you have bigger issues. You may have too much spyware and malware, a virus, or your pc may have overheating issues. I can’t go into detail on each piece of software because they are updated often and this changes. Each one will have a help file and you can search for instructions on usage using Google.
- One of the best resources on the web is http://download.com. Here you can get free software that is spyware and malware free that can help you and your slow pc. There are four programs that you can get here that I run on every pc in my office.
- AVAST – This is without a doubt the best free antivirus on the market. It automatically updates itself and has not failed me yet in the numerous years that I have used it. In the past I have purchased some of the more well known antivirus software only to find out that it is more trouble than it is worth and failed me every time.
- Spybot Search and Destroy – This is the best anti spyware anti malware software hands down. IT pro’s that I have worked with don’t like it. I guess that it makes their job obsolete but that is a conversation for another day.
- Malwarebytes – This is a backup to Spybot. I run them both because as great as Spybot is, it catches almost everything. Malware catches things that Spybot doesn’t and spybot catches things that Malware doesn’t.
- CC Cleaner – While this is not a software for catching the spyware and malware software that slows your computer, it is the band aid and alcohol needed to fix the damage. It has a great option of cleaning up your computers files and most importantly, a registry repair that you need to run after Spybot and Malwarebytes to remove the corruption and keep it from reinstalling itself.
These programs fix almost all of the issues related to spyware and malware that I have found but they have to be run in a specific order.
- Even though your pc is slow, go to download.com and download all 4 programs
- As each one finishes, install them on to your local drive. If you are given the option to update immediately after install, do so. Otherwise once the program is finished installing, update.
- Once all 4 programs are installed and updated, power down your computer.
- Restart your computer in safe mode. This is done normally by pressing F8 as your computer starts. It will ask how do you want to start your pc. Choose the option for Safe Mode.
- Once it is booted up in safe mode, AVAST should have started. Perform a full scan. This is an option in the menu.
- Once AVAST has run, it may ask to restart, This is not necessary yet.
- Now run a full scan in Spybot also an option in the menu.
- Another reboot is still not necessary yet.
- Now run Malware bytes and do a full scan.
- Another reboot is still not necessary
- Once all three scans have been completed, run CC cleaner. There are 2 options that you will need to do here. Disk cleanup and Registry repair. Do both of these until they come up 100% clean. It should only take 2 or 3 attempts.
- Once these all have been done, power down your pc again and restart like normal.
- Spybot may need to do a cleanup on bootup. If so, let it run. The computer will boot normally once it finishes.
- When the computer is fully booted up, repeat step 11 again to clean the registry one final time.
Recently, I have had 3 computers in a week that were 1 – very slow and 2 – went to a site that “looked” like Google but obviously wasn’t. The address bar had a web address that said “search conduit.” This is a hijack. When you go to a specific site, like Google, it hijacks your browser and takes you to another. One of the best pieces of software to remove this that I have found is ADW cleaner that can also be downloaded from download.com. This alone will NOT remove search conduit hijack. You have to do a little more work in the registry. The steps to do this are pretty lengthy so if you don’t feel comfortable doing this yourself, it might be time to take your pc to someone who is. If you are ok with trying it before paying someone else to do it, the best instructions that I found for removing this are at:
If you follow this step by step, it worked on all three computers that I found this pain in the neck hijack on.
If the basic cleanup and the spyware / malware removal did not work, you may have overheating CPU damage. This will require some tools as you need to open up the computer case.
- Remove all cables plugged in to your computer.
- Remove the computer case. (I cant tell you how to do this as all are different. It may involve screws, or tabs. Check your manual on how to do this)
- Take a can of canned air and blow out the dust and debris from the inside of your case.
- Take the power cord only and plug it in to the computer and to the wall outlet.
- Attempt to turn on the pc.
- Notice there should be a fan on the case, on the power supply and on the CPU. If either of these fans are not turning or are turning slow then you have a fan issue. Worse than that, if you have a fan issue, CPU damage is probably the cause of your slow pc overheating and running slow and it will need to be replaced. The cost of this may not be worth the repair and you may be better off replacing the computer.
- If all fans are working, dust is gone, put the case back on and plug all the cables up as they were.
That’s it. Those are the steps that I go through to fix a slow pc. If you go through these steps and the pc is still slow running local programs, not the internet, or if the pc reboots on its on or gives the blue screen of death, chances are you have CPU or motherboard damage and the computer would be better off replaced.
I hope this fixes it!