Monday, March 8, 2010

Explain What Slows Down a Computer - 4 Causes

By: Jed Jones

Things aren't what they used to be! When you first bought your Windows-based computer (PC), it was the latest generation of its computer lineage - the newest, the best, the fastest. Remember how fast it was? Your computer booted up within 1-2 minutes. You could find and open files with agility and grace. And the darn thing never froze up.

Nowadays, you are lucky to see it boot up in 4 or 5 minutes - that is, if it doesn't completely freeze up in the process. Sometimes, it can get so bad that if you type too fast, there is an actual delay before the words show up on the screen. And Internet access - what a joke! Web sites seem to take forever and a day to open. Very frustrating.

What's going on here? Did your computer's manufacturer secretly install a "planned obsolescence chip" that started slowing things down once the computer got to a certain age? Or, maybe gremlins really do exist and have taken over your machine, intent upon seeing to it that it meets an demise? Unlikely!

More likely, you face a problem with your computer that almost all other computer owners face sooner later: getting a bit senile with age.

Of course, computer's don't really have brains and therefore cannot actually get senile. However, there are a number of factors that lead to diminished computer performance.

Listen carefully as I explain what slows down a computer:

Problem 1 - Your hard drive has gotten disorganized: Over time, your hard drive has been responsible for saving, opening, closing and moving thousands of files. As this happens, the hard drive becomes cluttered and disorganized. There are two ways this can happen: the accumulation of unneeded files and the inefficient use of space.

Unneeded files: Over time, your hard drive has collected temp files and other files that your computer no longer needs but that are taking up space.

Inefficient use of space: Just like a poorly-organized book shelf, your hard drive does not store files close together in an efficient manner. Rather, there are big gaps and holes between the files. This not only renders much of the space unusable, it also results in your hard drive taking longer to retrieve files it needs.

Solution: Run these two handy (and free) utilities, which you can find in your Windows control panel: Disk Defragmenter and Disk Cleanup.

Problem 2 - Your system is running spyware: Spyware is a type of virus which sits on your computer and sends information about your activities to other computers on the Internet. Not only is this an invasion of your privacy, it also slows down your computer by using the processor for its own devious needs.

Solution: Install and launch a good anti-spyware software program. There are both free and fee-based versions available online.

Problem 3 - Your memory and processor have not kept up with your software: As memory and fast processors have gotten cheaper, software developers have continued to make heavier and heavier applications requiring higher-capacity hardware.

Solution: If you have not upgraded your memory or processor since you purchased your computer, doing so will almost surely give you a big boost in performance.

Problem 4 - Your Windows registry is full of errors: Your computer operates on many levels at once. One important operational level works just below the level of your operating system: the Windows registry. The registry is like the control center for your computer's software applications, hardware and user settings. Over time, errors in registry "keys" (bits of information or files) crop up and accumulate. Most aging computers have thousands of these registry errors.

Solution: Run a free registry scan to find out how many registry errors you have. Run the registry fix if the scan unearths a large number of errors.

If you follow most or all of these solutions for your older PC, you will undoubtedly end up with much faster computer performance. This will restore things back to the way they were in the good-old-days, but without having to buy an expensive new computer.