Why is my computer slow?

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Computers can slow down due to fragmentation, a full hard drive, a damaged or full registry, insufficient RAM, or viruses, adware, spyware, or rootkits. Regular maintenance, such as defragmentation, adding more RAM, and using scanning software, can improve performance. Antivirus programs and firewalls should also be installed and regularly updated. Freeware and shareware programs are available for maintenance tasks.

There are many reasons a computer can slow down with use, and all are preventable or fixable. Often times the culprit turns out to be a combination of things, but in most cases, a little simple maintenance can help get you back on track.

Is your computer slowed down due to fragmentation?
Whenever a computer accesses information on a hard drive, it has to search for the required data. If files are placed contiguously on the drive, this can happen quickly. However, with continued use the files become fragmented. The time it takes to retrieve all parts of the file increases, slowing down performance. “Defragmentation” tools are built into most operating systems and are also available online.

Is the hard drive almost full? A full hard drive can also slow down a computer, leaving little space available for read/write processes. These processes use a portion of free disk space as a virtual drive or “scratch pad”. In this case adding a second drive and distributing the data can improve performance.

Is your Windows or Vista registry damaged or full of junk? Over time the registry can be littered with incorrect values ​​and false pointers from programs that don’t uninstall properly. This can be especially noticeable when booting into the desktop, as it may take much longer than it used to. A registry cleaner will restore your registry to a clean and efficient state.

Have you recently updated your operating system? If you’ve noticed that your computer has slowed down after installing a new operating system, it’s possible that the new system requires more random access memory (RAM) to run efficiently. For example, Microsoft Vista uses more RAM resources than Windows XP. Install more RAM to alleviate a memory-based bottleneck.

Is your computer slow down because it hasn’t been regularly scanned for adware, spyware or viruses? Assuming the issues mentioned above aren’t the problem, third-party programs may be eating up resources. Adware, for example, is “free” software that continually collects information and serves advertisements. This consumes both bandwidth and system resources. Adware can also be a source of security breaches.
Your computer may also be slowed down by spyware, commonly installed covertly, embedded in what appears to be a benign program or e-mail attachment. Spyware can hide its tracks while using your computer’s resources to its advantage. Spyware scanners can check for and remove spyware.
It could be that your computer is slowed down due to a virus that is interfering with system processes. Some viruses are just plain annoying, while others cause repeated crashes, spontaneous reboots, or deletion of important data. If your computer doesn’t have an antivirus program running or if its database is out of date, your system may have caught one or more bugs.
Is your computer slowed down by a root kit? A rootkit is another type of infestation. This small program, secretly installed by “hitchhiking” on your computer, allows a remote operator to control your computer without your knowledge. Hundreds, thousands, or in some cases over a million computers can be part of a single “robot network” known as a botnet. The controlling hacker can send a single command that propagates to all computers in the botnet. Victims’ computers are often used for illegal purposes, such as participating in attacks on websites or email accounts. A root kit can also delete files or erase hard drives.
To keep your computer running at its best, periodically defragment your hard drives, make sure you have enough space and enough RAM, and use scanning software to check for adware, spyware, and rootkits. Install a good antivirus program that provides regular database updates and keep a firewall active to block unwanted intrusions. Regular cleaning of the registry is also a good idea. These tasks can be scheduled to run automatically using any common scheduler.
There are many freeware and shareware programs available for scanning your computer, defragmenting drives, cleaning the registry, and scanning for rootkits. For recommendations on which software to use, try referring to current issues of online computer magazines and popular technology websites. Read publisher reviews and user reviews to find the most popular and proven programs.

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