Why Your Computer Is Slow–The Real Reasons
(A Slightly Tongue-in-Cheek Look at the Fine Art of Maintenance)
1. It was made that way. You wanted cheap, you got cheap. Manufacturers like to sell quantity, not quality, because they can turn over more stock faster. Walmart employees are paid to sell you stuff, not to know a lot. You looked at the price, not the bones and muscle, and you were impressed by the fat — that is, bundled snareware that you thought came along free, and other useless software.
2. It’s burdened with Windows, a notorious resource-hog. Since your cheap box has a puny processor and the barest minimum RAM to run Windows, it naturally horks up if you ask it to chew gum at the same time. It would probably be much happier running Linux.
3. Too much junk is running at startup. Not only all the normal default Windows bloat, but that lovely Norton or McAfee that came with, the other pre-installed junk you don’t use, and the 369 odds and ends that you let your printer (or other peripheral device) disk load on. A new video or sound card can be another great source of bloat. All you need is the drivers, Buddy; the rest of the load is 99% garbage.
4. You never think about maintenance until the poor thing can barely crawl. You’re always in such a hurry that you don’t even shut it down, you hibernate so that it comes back up faster. Then the humonguous hibernation file starts rotting and everything goes to hell. Temporary files? I bet you have 3GB and some of them are starting to smell.
5. On top of all that, you let installers/updaters do what they want. You hunt for popular stuff and download music and movies with Internet Explorer. Then you start trying out every computer tune-up program that comes into sight because your poor computer keeps getting slower because you (go back to the beginning of this paragraph, rinse and repeat).
I have a pet paranoid theory that malware programmers pay computer manufacturers to hobble their products, in order to encourage downloads of rogue cleaners etc.. Go ahead, laugh.
What Can You Do?
1. First, check whether your problem is slow computer or slow internet!
2. Maintenance! Clean regularly. CCleaner (get the “portable” version that you just unZip and run) is a very safe cleaner. Nuke the temp files othen. Clean the Registry once in a while; it’s not a big deal unless you do a lot of installing/uninstalling. Don’t defrag frequently, and when you do, clean first!
3. Get rid of pre-installed junk that you don’t use. Especially if it runs at startup and is always updating itself. Protect your computer with a HOSTS file. Use an ad-blocking browser extension. Do NOT use Internet Explorer. It is the #1 vulnerability of Windows. Firefox has better add-ons anyway.
4. Learn how to find safe downloads, and how to take care of your computer. Use DuckDuckGo instead of Google — you will not be tracked and shown “sponsored” links (ads) related to your searches. Even Google is often better than Yahoo or Bing. A search engine that runs on payola will give you what it’s paid to show first.
5. Don’t be a Software Cat Lady. Don’t run around picking up every new toy whether you need it or not. Research, find out what you really need, what works, what to watch out for. Find out what you can do with what you already have. Don’t just grab at anything that offers to do it all for you with no effort, no learning curve. There ain’t no such thing.
5A. You don’t need screensavers. You don’t need special smilies for your email. You don’t need Facebook games. Nobody needs toolbars or weather spy-bugs or shopping “helpers.” Grow the eff up.
6. Advertising is EVIL! NEVER use any computer speed-up or registry cleaning software that you see advertised anywhere. NEVER click on web-page pop-ups that tell you that your computer needs blah-blah, or is in danger of so-and-so. DO NOT DOWNLOAD from CNET, Tucows, Softpedia, FileHippo, or just about any major big-name download site if you can help it. They all bundle crapware. Sometimes you can find a small text link for a clean download, if you look hard enough. Most often, you will download a downloader which will then try to download a load of garbage and toolbars before it gets you the program you wanted.
If you end up with a crap-bundle-pack, Watch Closely! Quite often they use scary “Cancel” buttons that make you think clicking them will cancel the whole install. So what if it did. Do whatever you have to do to keep the crapware from installing. If it gets away, use JRT (Junkware Removal Tool) and/or Geek Uninstaller (free version works fine) to get rid of the pests. You might need Malwayrebytes too. Do not let Malwarebytes get away with the premium trial trick, however (yeah, it never ends).
7. There are safe sources. There is good freeware. Most software authors’ sites are fine; just make sure that’s where you really are. LOOK at those search results closely. Some, alas, only redirect to CNET. MajorGeeks, while not entirely bundleware-free, is at least still HONEST. Read everything before you click. FreewareGuide doesn’t have direct downloads, but tries hard to provide clean links; very few bad ones slip by. Ad-blocking will help anywhere, eliminating dangerous Big Green Download Buttons and flashing click-mes.
As for music and movies, legal downloads are safest but good ad-blocking in a decent browser will take you far…. At least you won’t get hit from so many “drive-bys” if you don’t use IE. Maybe you don’t need to collect so much anyway. Yanno?
8. Befriend honest geeks. Beware friends who think they know it all. And stay away from BestBuy and their often worse-than-useless Geek Squad.
9. Don’t let friends and family use YOUR computer! Especially if, like most lazy users, you run as Administrator. Even if you are careful, they may have sloppy habits, dangerous preferences, and an insatiable need for instant gratification of every desire.
10. Pay for what you use every day. One of the best ways to reward those who devote their time creating wonderful free software is to help them with a donation. It doesn’t have to be a lot — what you can, when you can. If everyone chipped in just a little, there would be less need for ad-blocking. Stay away from Starfucks a while and buy the other guy a coffee.
11. Install Linux. Your computer will breathe a huge sigh of relief. Ubuntu and Mint are extremely easy to use. Forget all you’ve heard about having to use esoteric commands; it’s all menus and eye-cons these days. And it’s all free! You won’t need to search out in the jungle for extras; you can get almost anything you want through your operating system’s own software channels. If you do need some Windows software, you will probably be able to install and run it with little more effort than in Windows.
Besides, then you can have a lol on the scummy scam callers who claim to be from Microsoft and tell you that your computer is “generating a lot of suspicious activity” or has been reported to be infected blah blah. Before I hang up in disgust, I tell’m, “I’m a hacker, I run Linux!” Doesn’t do much good for the machine calls, but the live ones — often rather amateurish — can be embarrassed.