Speeding up a Computer
Speeding up a Computer
When browsing the Internet, computers can pick up cookies and other useless junk causing the computer to run slowly. Easy tune-up’s can help speed them up!

Computers are constantly bombarded by useless junk that is usually “picked up” while browsing the Internet. The Internet is a necessity in today’s world but there’s a lot of websites that can (and are) hazardous to computers.

Without the computer user knowing, some websites will – secretly – install cookies, adware, viruses, Trojans, and a number of other potential harmful data on computers!

The Slow Computer

Attacks on computers happen every day. These attacks cause computers to run slowly; sometimes so slowly that it seems that the computer will not do anything! Even though viruses are most feared by computer users; a combination of other non-necessary “add-on’s” are the primary cause of a slow computer.

Computer Cookies

Computer cookies are really not harmful. But, every website visited (if security settings are not properly set) will install cookies on the computer. Cookies are small text files that contain something similar to an identification tag that is installed on the computer by a website. This text file (which is stored on the computer) is, in a way, an “identification stamp” placed in the computer.

When that website is visited again, it checks the computer to see how many times the computer has visited the website. Computer cookies are basically harmless, but if one is installed every time a website is visited, they can begin to take up hard drive space.

Computer Viruses

A computer virus is not exactly as most people think – such as similar to human viruses. Computer viruses are simply a program which is written by a person who intentionally plans to cause harm to a personal computer. Virus programs are simply a set of instructions telling the computer to cause harm to itself. While computers do not know that they are causing harm, they are only doing what they are told from the virus program. Viruses are the most common cause for slow computers.

Computer Adware

Adware is most commonly associated with viruses. The virus is unknowingly installed on the computer and the virus contains a “script” that automatically causes the computer to visit other websites or even change the desktop background or screensaver into some form of advertisement.

The most common issues associated with adware is “pop-up’s”. These pop-up’s normally contain advertisements pertaining to other websites – especially pornographic websites! The pop-up’s will usually appear randomly – and can appear whether the computer user is on the Internet or just using the computer. If this happens, it can be assumed the computer is infected.

Speeding up the Computer

Initially, all computers (especially those who are used on the Internet) should use some form of Virus Protection Software. Even though some newer viruses can “sneak past” the anti-virus software, nearly all viruses can be prevented with a quality anti-virus software package. They are well worth investing in!

A quick search on the Internet will produce a number of websites where anti-virus software can be purchased, and often free anti-virus software can be found. While purchasing a quality anti-virus software package will normally provide more protection, free anti-virus software packages can provide good protection.

The Internet Cache – Temporary File Folder

The Internet Cache is where cookies and other temporary Internet files are stored. Un-needed files build-up in the temporary file folder and over time they can take up hard drive space. As a rule of thumb, clean these files at least every week. If Microsoft Internet Explorer is used, these files can be found under Tools > Internet Options, or Tools > Delete Browsing History in newer versions of Internet Explorer.

Scanning for Viruses

Purchased anti-virus software packages such as Norton or McAfee are most commonly more effective against viruses. These software packages update (normally automatically) their virus definition library every day. Since new viruses are commonly introduced to the Internet every day, the purchased anti-virus software programs are constantly updated to help prevent contamination from these.

There are also many free anti-virus programs available for download on the Internet. These, such as AVG, come in a purchased or free version. While the free version of these anti-virus software packages will prevent *most* viruses, the purchased versions are normally more successful for protecting and removing viruses.

For the computer that is constantly being used on the Internet, it is recommended to scan the computer with the anti-virus software at least twice per week or every time a virus is suspected.

Disk Defragmenter

The disk defragmenter is found under the Start menu > Programs > Accessories > System Tools. Over time, files on the computer hard drive can become “scattered” or defragmented. When this occurs, it causes the computer hard drive to work harder – further slowing the computer.

The disk defragmenter will find these fragmented files and re-organize them into a more organized method allowing the hard drive to access these files more quickly! It is recommended to defragment the computer hard drive at least once per week.

The Recycle Bin

When a file is deleted it is normally placed in the Recycle Bin. Most often, the Recycle Bin is located on the desktop and is identified by an icon representing a “trash bin”. Over time, the Recycle Bin can also become cluttered with files that are no longer needed – also using up more hard drive space.

A simple “right click” and select “Empty Recycle Bin” will remove all these files while freeing hard drive space. Tip: when deleting a file that is no longer needed, right click on the file; press and hold shift; and click on delete. This method will bypass the Recycle Bin and simply delete the file.

Excessive and Unused Programs

A family-used computer – especially if children use it – is often filled with unused programs. If there’s software on the computer that is not used and there’s no plans for these programs to be used – uninstall them! When removing a program from a computer, do not delete it; uninstall it if possible.

Programs are uninstalled from the Add or Remove Programs function on the computer. The Add or Remove Programs function can be found under Start > Settings > Control Panel > Add or Remove Programs. Click on the program to be removed and select “remove”. The computer will then remove the program as well as all of the files associated with the program.

Cleaning the Computer Registry

The computer registry contains is basically a database system that stores configuration files, settings, and options. These files contain information about software that is used on the computer. Quite often, when software is removed from the computer, bits and pieces of the registry files from these software packages are left behind in the computer registry. Removing these useless files will allow the computer to work more quickly. There are a number of free registry cleaners available on the Internet and most of these are just as effective as purchased registry cleaners.

A Dusty Computer

Dust accumulates – especially where some form of air flow is present. Computers have fans inside them to help maintain a proper operating temperature. These fans are normally located in areas where air can flow across heat sinks (components added to allow extra cooling). While computer fans forces air through the computer, the air contains dust. Over time, dust accumulates on fans and heat sinks, preventing proper cooling. When components such as the processor begin to overheat, they will automatically begin to run slower to prevent overheating – causing the computer to run slower.

Removing dust from a computer is easy and should be performed at least two to three times per year. Simply removing the cover of the computer normally allows easy access to the fans and heat sinks. Canned air can be purchased to “blow out” the dust from these components allowing more air to flow – resulting in better cooling. **Before performing this computer tune-up, make sure it does not affect the manufacture warranty.

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