Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Computers running s-l-o-w ?

More times than not, I am asked about why computers that formerly zipped along doing their thing have slowed to a virtual crawl. There are several answers, but most have to be determined by a spate of different questions. Are you running anti-spyware? If not, has the computer been compromised by downloading a spyware program that seems innocuous, but in fact is acting like a parasite on your system? Many times a flashing box warns "You have been infected. Check your system now!" and end users scared into thinking they are doing something wrong click on the "scan" only to find out that they now are truly infected with a spyware that demands $29.95 for removal of suspicious files. More times than not, the suspicious files are anything but and these programs will remove non-infected files to appear to be doing something important and vital. Spyware is not unlike a virus in the way it compromises a computer's ability to function, but unlike a virus it does not replicate itself by sending itself to other nodes on the local area network or by e-mailing itself to contacts derived from a computer's address book. With viruses no longer able to compromise many of the security holes in Windows products, virus alerts have become fewer and fewer. Even if a new virus rears its ugly head, anti-virus script writers are able to bash it in little time. The adventurous virus writer finds his moment of glory or ignonimy has faded. Aside from the vile threat from spyware, another problem with aging operating systems is the fact that temporary Internet files and cookies need to be deleted on a regular basis. The way to accomplish this easy task is to go to the Control Panel and click on Internet Options. Then click on the General Tab of Internet Properties, go to Browsing History and click on the Delete button. Click on Delete Files and wait a while. Then click on Cookies and delete those as well. If you're not running Windows XP Service Pack 2, it is slightly different. You'll have to click on Internet Options and go to the middle of the General Tab and click on View Files. Click on Select All, which should highlight them all. Then delete the Files with the Select All and delete keys found under File and Edit. Once they have been deleted, delete the Cookies in the same fashion. This should increase the speed of most computers, but in many cases the difference will be noticeable, but slight. Sometimes a reboot of the computer will yield great results because it will free up the RAM that has been allocated previously by other applications. Again, it may be a slight increase in speed, but could be just what you need. These are fairly simple practices, but should be considered from time to time (at least once a month) to keep computers running faster than they are at present. A good anti-virus and anti-spyware program is vital today. Good practices of deleting temporary Internet files and cookies and an occasional reboot will also help. Good luck.

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