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Why Is My Computer Running Slow?
by Dominik Szuksztul

Computer slowness can be caused by a variety of issues, which can be categorized in 2 categories: hardware or software. Computer hardware are the physical parts of the computer system, for example motherboard, CPU, RAM, etc. Computer software are all the programs and applications that are installed on your PC. Software includes the operating system like Microsoft Windows XP or Vista and all of the applications such as Microsoft Office, Photoshop, etc. Viruses, spyware and malware are software as well.


Things to check:

* Startup programs
* Virus and spyware scan
* Hard Drive out of space
* Fragmented hard drive
* Bad sector or corrupted files
* Overheating due to dust

Most common reason for computer slowness is unnecessary applications running in the background. When new programs & applications are installed many times they will be configured to start automatically when your computer starts.

These applications are not always needed, and will take up a portion of your computer's memory (RAM) which in turn will slow your computer down. To check what applications start automatically, clicks on the start button, then click on run, then type 'msconfig' and click on OK. Once the Systems Configuration Utility is open, click on the Startup tab. On the startup tab you can select the programs that you want to start.

Unselecting any of the programs in the startup tab will not remove them from your computer; it will merely keep them from starting automatically every time you turn your PC on. I recommend unselecting all the applications that you don't need. If you see software that you don't recognize it could be indication of virus of spyware.

If your computer is running slow and you're getting a lot of pop-up windows, even when you're not using the computer, your computer is most likely infected with a virus and/or spyware. Everybody should have antivirus software installed, updated and running at all times. There are many antivirus software packages, the best one on my opinion is Nod32 from ESET.

Regardless of antivirus software that you use, you should always keep it updated, and regularly scan your system for viruses. Most antivirus software don't check for spyware, so if your computer is infected by spyware, you should download a specialized spyware removal software. There are 2 programs that I use myself all the time, Spybot and Adaware they are absolutely free to use. Once you download and install these programs, make sure to run the updates and scan your entire computer.

Make sure your hard drive is not out of space. If it is, it's a good idea to get an upgrade, or delete some programs and files. Delete all of the temp files, temporary internet files and cookies, you could do it manually or use another free program called "ccleaner".

When files are stored on your computer's hard drive they are not always stored in the most efficient way and can become fragmented. Fragmented files take a lot longer for your system to open or save. To start the defragmentation utility click on Start then programs -> accessories -> system tools -> disc defragmenter. Defragment all of the drives listed. The defragmentation process can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to a couple of hours, and sometimes needs to be repeated. I recommend defragmenting the computer hard drive about once a month.

Another cause of computer slowness could be a corrupted system file or a bad sector on the hard drive. Bad sectors can corrupt systems files which can slow down your PC or even keep it from running.

To check and correct bad sectors run the scan disk (chkdsk) utility.

Make sure the computer is not overheating or running very warm. Most computer allow air to flow through the computer, this is great for cooling but also causes a lot of dust to accumulate inside of computer case. Dust will cause poor air circulation and might overheat your PC. Open up the case of the PC and blow all dust out using compressed air.

Dominik Szuksztul runs TekScape Solutions a computer repair and network support company in Orange County, CA

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