Speeding up a slow PC By Kielon Hilaire. So you come home to stream the latest episode of “The Walking Dead” or maybe just to complete a class project or a last-minute presentation for work, only to find that anything you try to do on your slow PC seems to be taking its cool time as though you’re begging it for a favour. You become angry.
“Move nah, man. Move!” You rapidly slide your computer mouse from left to right as though expecting the cursor on the screen to hop to life. What happens instead is the sudden appearance of a mysterious circular icon that spins and causes your machine to freeze, which makes you even angrier. You smack the screen of your slow PC and an instant blue screen of death appears.
You then hold your head and scream. This is exactly what happened to someone I know. “The computer was moving too slow,” he said, so he hit it and it died. But you certainly don’t need to go through a similar experience with your slow PC.
PCs often tend to slow down for various reasons and you’re often left to figure out why and what to do to speed them up. But you don’t always need to sink into depression at the first sign of trouble or rush to call your IT guy. There are many things you can do to either ensure that your computer is much less likely to experience a slowdown or at least quickly recover from it.
First it’s important to pinpoint the reason for a slow PC. No, it’s not always because of some dreaded virus so when it comes to speeding up your computer it’s best not to jump to conclusions before conducting a proper diagnosis. With that said, from the beginning it would be in your best interest to restart your slow PC, defragment your hard drive, update your web browsers and drivers and run a virus scan (install a virus scanner if you don’t have one) to rule out the possibility that some of the simplest of issues are not affecting your speed.
If either does not improve performance with your slow PC then it’s possible that one of the following software fixes will.
- Remove Malware/ Spyware: Even if you have an anti-virus installed it is still possible that it won’t remove all forms of malware and spyware from your computer. Spyware is software that secretly gathers information about you and your computer and malware essentially causes strange errors to occur with a specific emphasis on getting your computer to malfunction. Both malware and spyware utilise system resources at your expense, which causes slowdown. Install and run a malware/spyware remover to rid your system of the nuisances and you can restore some speed to your machine.
- Delete temporary files: The average computer performs endless processes to ensure basic operation and execution of your programmes. Unfortunately as a computer runs these programmes, it stores temporary files on your hard drive, which are not always automatically deleted and tend to build up over time. These files consume precious storage space and cause your machine to slow down, similarly to what occurs when hard drive space eventually becomes critically low (average less than 20GBs). Deleting these files will speed up your machine but to do this you need to use Disk Cleanup software (which comes built-in to modern day Windows machines).
Your slow PC may have too many temp files
Those running Windows 7 or higher can click on the Start Menu (or its closest alternative) and type %temp% in the search box then hit the enter key on the keyboard and a folder will immediately open up.
Delete all temporary files located in that folder with the exception of any files that the computer warns you may be unsafe to delete. Your computer’s speed could then significantly increase depending on how many files you have in that folder; as an example, I was able to delete 15GB of temporary files just before writing this article.
- Deactivate background programmes: While this one is a common issue that significantly affects speed, a lot of people don’t know that some programmes that are installed set themselves to launch automatically each time you boot up the machine.
A typical culprit is a resource intensive anti-virus scanner that is set to start up and run for hours each day, thereby sucking the speed out of your PC until it’s finished scanning. Any programme you don’t need to start up upon booting should be deactivated through the Start Menu or otherwise. You can also press Ctrl+Alt+Delete simultaneously on your keyboard to open up the Task Manager, at which point you can then click the “Processes tab” at the top of the active window and evaluate the list that appears to see which background programmes may be utilising the most memory and ultimately affecting speed.
If none of the above issues seem to increase your computer’s speed (especially after restarting your machine afterwards) then there’s a good chance that the problem is hardware related.
Typical problems include you needing to install more RAM (4GB minimum is recommended these days), a corrupted or failing hard drive, a hard drive that has passed its prime and can no longer keep up with the processing power required for today’s software (Solid State Drives are always better), hardware conflicts, a failing motherboard or CPU or your CPU overheating.
Yes, that last one actually happens because several years ago after ignoring my computer’s slowness for weeks, one day while watching an action movie I began to smell smoke; I didn’t realise what was happening until the computer shut off, and then I inspected it and saw a small fire extinguishing itself at the back of the tower and part of the power cord had melted and turned green. Days later I was able to joke that it probably melted because the movie was so hot but it certainly wasn’t funny when it happened.
Finally, if after implementing all of the latter your PC is still acting up then you might want to consider that maybe it could be a sign that it’s just time to get a new machine. But before you do that, there’s one method (my favourite) that just seems to work wonders and can buy you as much as extra years sometimes: wipe the entire machine and start fresh.
All you need to do is to create a bootable flash drive or CD with an Operating System of your choice and run it on your machine. However, if attempting this be sure to backup all of your important data on an external storage device first. This may not be the most ideal solution for every little problem you encounter but when it works it works, potentially restoring everything to full speed. It may even make you wonder why there wasn’t a “wipe and start over” method for curing slowdowns in relationships and all.
April 2016 – Issue 21 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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