August 6, 2013

Unleash the Power of Your Computer

Someone asked me about some helpful tips to speed up their personal computer so I thought this is the perfect and undying topic to write about. My first thoughts are viruses and adware may be on the computer since it's for personal use. Here are the steps I take to help resolve this issue. 

Virus and Adware Removal

First let's define what is a virus and what is adware (also known as Spyware).

  • Virus-"A computer virus is a program or piece of code that is loaded onto your computer without your knowledge and runs against your wishes. " -Webopedia
  • Adware-"software that is given to the user with advertisements embedded in the application. Adware is considered a legitimate alternative offered to consumers who do not wish to pay for software. There are many ad-supported programs, games or utilities that are distributed as adware (or freeware)." -Webopedia

There are several types of software that help do this for you but in my day to day support these are what I would use. By the way, all of these are free.

I would start with MalwareBytes first. MalwareBytes tends to catch really unusual viruses that are hard to find and even harder to be discovered by Antivirus programs. MalwareBytes is somewhat an all in one solution. It catches Viruses AND Adware. It has 2 scan settings that can be used in the free version: Quick scan & Full scan. Quick scan can take 15 minutes or so depending on the size of your hard drive and the same is for Full Scan which takes about 2 hours but can vary.
SuperAntiSpyware is a good alternative but I prefer MalwareBytes.
How to

Spybot is a product that has been out for a long time (at least 7 years) and it's main purpose is to remove Spyware/Adware on your computer. These items are not considered as threats but they simply use up your resources (memory & speed) in order to serve it's purpose, to advertise to you.
How to:

Chkdsk (Check-disk)
This is a Windows utility that checks for hard drive for inconsistencies on the disk. I find it very helpful when Windows is unusually slower than before or even when strange errors occur on the system. It never hurts to run a chkdsk. I would recommend doing a chkdsk /r which would take about 45 minutes.
How to Command Prompt version:
How to visual interface:

Everyone's heard of that term. Defrag is what it says. It moves the fragmented files back to their correct locations. It's the Windows utility that brings all of the files back together where they belong which then makes it faster for Windows to locate them when needed. Defrag can take a long time depending on how much it needs it and/or the size of your hard drive. I would recommend you choose the Analyze option because it will tell you if a degrag is needed. 
How to:

Stop Start Up Items
Start up items in the end will cause your computer to be slow to boot up. It is common that when you install certain programs it can cause your computer to be slower on start up if you are not planning on using certain programs on every start up. Some programs try to be too helpful.
How to:

Clean Your Cache!
Cache (pronounced cash) are files you have previously accessed that Windows stores away for quicker access and it is also used to help free up memory to allow other resources on your computer to take priority. In the end having cache can make your computer faster but having too much of it can slow your computer down. CCleaner is a software I recommend to clean your cache efficiently.
How to:

Keep your Windows clean!

Mac Cache Cleaning
Keep your Mac Clean too! Onyx is a great Cache cleaning utility to that can help speed up your Apple computer.
How to: 

I would recommend users to do this once a week on their computers if they use it often, even if the computer isn't slow. These steps can be preventative measures for fatal computer problems in the future. In a sense it's like changing the oil in your car, it needs to be done.


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