Let’s tune up our computer, for free!

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August 14, 2012 by quirkyuncle

Several people have complained to me recently about problems with their Windows PCs being sluggish. All of them run anti-virus programs and use care during their daily operations: not opening suspicious email attachments, being careful with downloads, etc. Careful as you might be, your computer slowing down is pretty much inevitable. Some of this is natural evolution, but some of it is preventable.

Unlike people, computers don’t just age and slow down. Your computer only seems to get slower over time because the programs you run keep becoming more complex. We all love having cool new features, but they do come with a performance cost. Not much you can do about this, other than staying with older programs that are less resource intensive.

What I’ll speak to here is some tools that will help you avoid the dark side, potentially putting off the need for a total system rebuild that is time consuming and a real pain… not to mention the potential for data loss.

There are lots of antivirus programs out there that work well. Some are free (yay!) and some Internet providers provide the paid versions to their customers at no charge. Features vary between offerings, so do your research and see which one best meets your personal needs. Just make sure you pick one and use it.

I currently use a free version of Avast antivirus (www.avast.com), in case anyone is curious. Apple recommended it to solve a device synchronization issue I was experiencing. I’ve been running it for the past couple years and have had zero problems.

What most folks don’t realize is that anti-virus is just a start. There are other issues, non viral in nature, that can impact performance. Here are links where you can download two other programs to fix your computer or keep it running clean. Both have paid and free versions.

The free versions are the same programs our IT guy at work uses to fix machines in the office that are acting slow or weird. Sometimes they can prevent the need to format the hard drive and start over – a complete computer rebuild is an ugly proposition. I run these programs at home, periodically, in addition to antivirus.

  • Malware Bytes finds and removes malware from the computer. Malware is similar to viruses, but sometimes gets missed by virus scans.
    http://www.malwarebytes.org/
  • CC Cleaner looks for rogue entries in the system registry and removes them. The registry is where your computer keeps track of pretty much everything in it, so keeping it healthy is super important. Registry issues can be caused by lots of things. They are not necessarily viral in nature, but can impact system performance. When using CC Cleaner, I always do the registry backup – better to be safe than sorry.
    http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner

Running these tools should help improve performance of your computer. If you know of any other neat tools, please let me know. I’d like to check them out and possibly add them to the list.


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