Have you ever found that your PC is becoming increasingly slower over time, and you wish that it would perform with the same lightening responsiveness when it was purchased? Well you are not alone, and I guarantee many others wish the same thing. Ever since the introduction of personal computing, there has always been a concern towards optimizing and preserving the fresh error-free state that existed when a computer first interacts with the world. No matter how hard you try to be careful with the applications you install, or the websites you visit, it is inevitable that your computer’s performance would slowly start going downhill. Eventually it would plummet to its demise and will need a fresh reinstall/re-imaging of the operating system. Of course this would be expected. It’s without saying that if you don’t take care of something then obviously it won’t last long. Your PC is just like the human body. There are things you can do to prevent illness such as eating healthy, staying fit, or being vaccinated, and ignoring these steps will just make it harder to bounce back in the long run. It’s the same thing with a PC. There is so-called routine maintenance to be followed, but it’s unfortunate that a lot of people either don’t know how or don’t care to learn the preventative measures.
Computers can be really complex and at the most, difficult to diagnose. Although everyone should be aware of the basic computer maintenance knowledge. Typically there are three things that can slow down the performance of a computer: Cluttered or corrupted files, malicious software, and hardware failure. Whether it is Windows, Mac OS X or Linux, they all generally have the same susceptibilities. A computer operating system is a very complex structured set of programs that all have some interconnection and function with each other. You can imagine that there are tons of instructions being sent back and forth for various things like where the user data is being stored, which applications are using what resources, hardware monitoring and so many other things, making it impossible to list them all. Often fragments of these instructions are scattered and left behind for later use or just plain forgotten. This is where the first set of problems can begin.
Over time as these fragments build up, the computer has to sift through all this useless data just to find what is considered important. It’s a time consuming process because the hard drive needs to be scanned back and forth, and if you are using a mechanical drive you are bound to the limitations of how fast the drive can read/write per rotation. If you are using a Solid State Drive then this concern doesn’t apply because it uses integrated circuits instead of mechanical disks. On top of that, if you are running or trying to access multiple applications at once, then everything practically slows to a stand still as each item is given sequential priority. To address some of these issues, it is recommended to clear unused data, reorganize the file structure for faster accessing, and repair broken references to applications. One powerful little tool is CCleaner. It will scan and delete all unnecessary data and repair broken references to applications in the registry. A cool feature of CCleaner is that it can be configured to run silently at boot up without the need for user intervention. Also, the built-in Disk Defragmenter in Windows can be used to restructure the file system and improve waiting time.
The second set of problems involve vulnerability. With the complex state of an operating system, what would happen if something unwanted managed to find its way inside? A very common scenario is the infestation of malware or spyware, or simply put, a virus. These terms refer to malicious software that has one goal: To wreak havoc on everything and anything that maintains the sustainability of the operating system. Malware can come in many different forms. Mostly it’s used to highjack your computer and capture personal information such as banking and account information, and then spread to other systems to repeat the same task. Cleaning up malicious software can be tricky once it has buried itself, and often times re-imaging the operating system is the only way to cleanly destroy all traces. Although the best way to combat against it is to install antivirus protection beforehand. There are many antivirus software options that are available for purchase that claim to offer full protection against all threats. However, a lot of them provide unnecessary features, and very often can also contribute to the slow responsiveness that you were trying to eliminate in the first place. The best choice would be to use something free that’s less bloated with features. Two recommendations would be Avast and Malwarebytes. Both actively scan your computer, and anything that looks suspicious is blocked or deleted. These programs do offer paid versions, but please do not feel like you must buy them. The free versions are just as effective.
The last thing that can cause performance issues is the start of hardware failure. No matter how hard you try, every computer system at one point in time will experience some type of hardware failure. The most common occurrences are faulty hard drives and memory (RAM) modules. The early signs of hard drive failure can be read and write error messages appearing when trying to read/write data to the drive, or random lock-ups where the computer freezes entirely. If a RAM module is becoming faulty, you might experience sudden Blue Screen of Death lock-ups at random intervals. To diagnose some of these problems certain hard drive manufacturers have utilities that you can download to test the health status of the drive. One such utility, which is provided by Seagate, is called SeaTools, and works to test both Seagate and non-Seagate drives. Another two utilities for testing your memory are Memtest86 and Windows Memory Diagnostic (already available with Windows 7 and 8.) Both are free and can be used by a bootable CD or USB thumb drive. In any case, if a hard drive or memory module is failing then they can easily be replaced. Just use System Information for Windows (SIW) to find out the specifications of what type is needed.
Everything I have mentioned above is primarily focused around the Windows operating system. However, that’s not to say that some of this can’t be applied to other operating systems. Macs also experience fragmented hard drives and on rare occasions, viruses. There is a lot more that can be covered, so for any questions about using the software I mentioned above or finding out what’s available for other platforms, feel free to contact me at email@example.com.