Slow Computer? It May Not Be Malware

Cleaning, regular maintenance, and updating are essential to a computers continued speedy performance


Remove unnecessary programs
  1. Click Start > Control Panel
  2. Click Add or Remove Programs
  3. Scroll through the list and examine each program.
  4. Click each program you no longer need, click the Change/Remove button, and then follow the prompts to uninstall it.

You may have to restart your computer after removing a program. After your computer restarts, repeat the steps above to remove more programs.

You may find a few Toolbars or a number of programs you have forgotten about or didn’t know were there.

If there are problems removing any programs from add/remove programs try the Windows Installer CleanUp Utility

Remove unused files from your system
Run CCleaner on each user account

Download CCleaner

It is suggested to download the CCleaner – SlimNo Toolbar which is the version without the Yahoo! Toolbar.

  • Double click on the ccsetup.exe file to start the installation of the program.
  • Select your language and click OK, then next.
  • Read the license agreement and click I Agree.
  • Click next to use the default install location.
  • Under Install Options, choose all the default settings
  • Click Install then finish to complete installation.
  • Double click the CCleaner shortcut on the desktop to start the program.
  • On the “Windows” tab, under “Internet Explorer,” uncheck “Cookies” if you do not want them deleted. (If deleted, you will likely need to reenter your passwords at all sites where a cookie is used to recognize you when you visit).
  • If you use either the Firefox or Mozilla browsers, the box to uncheck for “Cookies” is on the Applications tab, under Firefox/Mozilla.
  • Click on the “Options” icon at the left side of the window, then click on “Advanced.”
    deselect “Only delete files in Windows Temp folders older than 48 hours.”
  • Caution: It is not recommended that you use the “Registry” feature unless you are very familiar with the registry as it has been known to find legitimate items.
  • Click on the “Cleaner” icon on the left side of the window, then click Run Cleaner to run the program.
  • After CCleaner has completed its process, click Exit.
CCleaner Tour: After Installation

A common myth that will not improve performance is cleaning the Prefetch folder. Please see: Don’t clean out the Prefetch folder.

Defragment the Hard Drive

Over the course of regular PC use, your files get fragmented and spread out all over the hard drive.
Reading and writing data on a heavily fragmented hard drive is slowed down because the time for the heads to move between fragments on the disk surface can be substantial.
See: The Importance of Disk Defragmentation for detailed instructions.

In addition to running the Disk Defragmenter at regular intervals, monthly is optimal, there are other times you should run it too, such as when:

  • You add a large number of files.
  • Your free disk space totals 15 percent or less.
  • You install new programs or a new version of Windows

Microsofts built in Disk Defragment utility, does as good a job as any, but is known to be slow.

Here are free alternatives that do the same job in a much quicker time.

For defragmenting your pagefile and registry hives use PageDefrag

Note: It is recommended to shut down all applications including your antivirus before running a disk defrag to avoid the process from continually starting over.
For the best results it should be run from safe mode

Defragment the Registry

As a speed tweak defragmenting the Registry is probably not ever going to show an improvement in performance. But over time it can become very large and should occasionally be defragmented.

You can compact and defrag the registry with Auslogics Registry Defrag

Vista and Internet Explorer 7

The Phishing Filter could be causing your computer to respond very slowly as it evaluates Web page contents.
See The Phishing Filter may slow down the PC and Phishing Filter FAQs

Detect and repair disk errors

CHKDSK is best to be ran in SAFE MODE.

Vista

  1. Click Start, and then click Computer.
  2. Right-click the volume you want to check, and then click Properties.
  3. Click the Tools tab, and then click Check Now.
  4. Do one of the following:
  • To run CHKDSK in read-only mode, clear all check boxes, and then click Start.
    • To repair errors without scanning the volume for bad sectors, select the Automatically Fix File System Errors check box, and then click Start.
      • To repair errors, locate bad sectors, and recover readable information, select both the
      • Automatically Fix File System Errors
      • and Scan For And Attempt Recovery Of Bad Sectors check boxes.
      • Then click Start.

Windows XP and 2000 – Click Start > Run > type CHKDSK and click OK.

Windows 98 or Me – Click Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > ScanDisk.


Check for damaged, altered or missing critical system files

The System File Checker (SFC) searches for protected files that have been damaged, altered or are missing. It restores the correct version of the file from the cache folder.

  • You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to run sfc.
  • You may be asked to insert your XP Installation CD so have it available.

Win 98 Using System File Checker
XP Using the System File Checker Tool
How to automatically repair Windows Vista using Startup Repair


Manage autostart items

A huge culprit of computers loading and running slow is what is running in the background

CCleaner also has a startup manager.
Open CCleaner click Tools then Startup
You can delete any unneeded items from there.
Be careful, there is no backup.
Because the startup loads drivers and some programs you may need, be careful removing items you are unsure of.

You can either look up the program on Google or ask in our Support Forums what an item is for.

For quick reference use these online databases.


Some things to look for.

You will still be able to use these programs, you just have to launch them manually.

QuickTime Task
Musicmatch Jukebox
iTunesHelper
TkBellExe – RealPlayer Update
ISUSScheduler or ISUSPM Startup – InstallShield Updater Service
DVDLauncher – CyberLink PowerDVD
Adobe Reader Speed Launcher
Google Updater

StartUp Tool is an easy to use start-up items editor, which allows you to identify, add, edit, remove or disable start-up items using an intuitive graphical user interface.

MalwareBytes StartUpLite is a lightweight program that can disable or remove all known unnecessary startup entries from your computer and thus quicken the startup procedure of your system.

Startup Delayer allows you to setup how many seconds after Windows has started, to load each program.

Note: MSconfig should not be used as a startup manager. It is meant to be used for trouble shooting only. For more information see: How to deal with startup processes – Do not use MSconfig



Disable unnecessary Services to free System Resources
Services are programs that run when the computer starts up and continue to run as they aid the operating system in functionality.
There are many services that load and are not needed which take up memory space and CPU time.
Disabling these services will free up system resources which will speed up your overall computer experience.
It is recommend that you sort through the list and read the descriptions to decide if you need that service depending on what you want to do with your computer.

  • Remember, you can always turn the service back on if you find that you need it in the future.

Below is the procedure to turn off a service.

  1. Click the Start button.
  2. Select Run from the bottom of the right column.
  3. Type services.msc in the box and click OK.
  4. Once the services window has loaded you are ready to turn off unneeded services.
  5. Find this service you wish to disable in the list and select it with the mouse.
  6. Right click and select Properties.
  7. Once the properties windows has loaded locate the Start up type drop down box and select Disable.
  8. Then click OK and the next time the computer starts the service will not be loaded.

Disable some visual effects

While visual enhancements may be attractive, they can slow a computer down. Disabling some of them will free up system resources and makes the operating system perform better.

  • Right click My Computer, choose > Properties > Advanced, click on Settings
  • In the Visual Effects tab, select Adjust for best performance or uncheck all the visual effects, except for the last three.
  • Click Apply, then OK, then OK again.
  • Then right click your Desktop and choose > Properties > Appearance > “Effects.
  • Uncheck the first two boxes and click OK.


Update! Update! Update!

Many people do not like automatic updates. If this is the case get in the habit of frequently checking the Microsoft website for critical security updates.

Go to http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com and install ALL critical security updates.

Protect Your Computer – Microsoft Update – Microsoft Security

Secuna Software Inspector is an extremely useful tool which is strongly recommend to use at least once a month.

Clean the dust out

Always turn your computer off before you begin and unplug all power cords

Heat is the biggest cause of component failure in computers.
Dust clogs the vents behind your computer, which causes your CPU to overheat and cause faulty processor fans which can result in unexpected shutdowns, random restarts, booting problems, etc.

Regular cleaning could save you costly maintenance fees down the road.

  • Remove the cover touching as little as possible inside the computer and take a moist towel and wipe any dust from the interior of the cover.
  • Blow compressed air around all of the components and along the bottom of the case, keeping the nozzle four inches away from the machine.
  • Blow air into the power supply box and into the fan (from the back of the case).
  • Blow air into the floppy disk and CD drives.

Last, check that your connections are secure.

Cleaning the Interior of your PC
Curing Laptop Overheating

Create a Restore Point

When you are all done be sure to Create a new Restore Point to ensure you keep all the changes you just made

You must be logged on to an administrator account.

  • Go to Start
  • All Programs
  • Accessories
  • System Tools
  • System Restore

Choose the radio button marked Create a Restore Point on the first screen then click Next.

Give the new Restore Point a name, then click Create. The new Restore Point will be stamped with the current date and time.

  • You may want to keep a log of this so you can find it easily should you need to use System Restore.
Then use Disk Cleanup to remove all but newly created Restore Point.

  • Go to Start > Run and type: Cleanmgr
  • Click OK.
  • Click the More Options tab.
  • Click Clean Up in the System Restore section to remove all previous restore points except the newly created one.


More suggestions and performance tips

Restore Your Computer’s Performance with Windows XP
XP Performance Tweaks
Performance Boost for XP
How to fix the top 10 Internet Explorer issues Rust Never Sleeps: How To Deal With Moisture And Corrosion In Your PC


Add more RAM

This is a quick solution that can have a dramatic affect on your system’s speed and responsiveness.

You can check how much RAM you have.
Right click My Computer
Choose Properties > General tab.

If you have 512MB
Pay attention to what software you install.
Every computer needs Security software installed (Antivirus+Firewall) and they should start up with Windows and run in the background.
If you have 512MB or less choose an Antivirus and Firewall that doesn’t require that much memory and processing time.
Don’t install “heavy” Security Suites like Norton, Panda, McAfee, TrendMicro…

Understanding, Identifying and Upgrading the RAM in your PC

PC Pitstop

  • Is your PC acting sluggish?
  • Do you have to reboot your computer because of errors and lockups?
  • Stop by PC Pitstop for a free computer checkup and diagnostics that can help you detect and fix many common computer problems.
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5 Responses to “Slow Computer? It May Not Be Malware”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    thanks for everything

  2. Anonymous Says:

    This is a really great resource, I learned SO much, and only wish EVERYONE would read & follow these steps!

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  4. lectrocrew Says:

    Thanks EF, Great info. You’ve been helping me in particular since 2006 and I’ve always had sucess with all your suggestions.
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