PC Maintenance Page

If your computer is running slow, there are several things that can cause this.

1) Poor computer configuration

2) Excessive startup items

3) Background downloads

4) Spyware/viruses

Below I will give a short explanation of how to check each one and fix it.

1. Poor computer configuration

This happens when Microsoft send certain updates to your machine, and needs a small adjustment making to allow your PC to operate more smoothly.

Go to the properties of your computer by holding the Windows key (next to alt key on the bottom row of your keyboard) and pressing the Pause/Break key (top right of the keyboard, right hand one of the 3 keys together)

Next, click on the Advanced tab at the top of the window, then under the Performance section, click Settings. Now select the Advanced tab in the window that appears.

Under the virtual memory section, click Change, then click on your C drive (usually the top one in the list)

Select the button that says "System Managed Size" and then the Set button.

Click OK, then OK on the next window, then OK on the last window, and when asked if you would like to reboot, click Yes.

This has given the machine permission to use your hard drive as memory to allow to carry out more complex calculations at a time. (Often known as page file, or swap file)

2. Excessive startup items

This occurs when you install several programs on your machine, as many programs have some kind of "assistant" or "helper" or “update tool” that will load in the background. Many programs claim these help it start their program faster, which indeed it may, but unless you use that program every time you use your PC, it really isn't worth having it start up!

To see the list of programs that run when your machine starts enter a run box by holding the Windows key and R together. Once a Run box appears, type "msconfig" (without the quotes) and click OK.

Click on the startup tab at the top of the window to see the list. There will be a lot of unfamiliar names in this list.

Widen the second column by dragging the right hand side of the title for it. As you scroll down the list you should be able to see the names of the applications which added the program to the list.

Turn the ticks off for any program which you do not run every time you use your machine. The only ones which really need to stay at the ones for your antivirus application, such as AVG antivirus.

If there are ones which you cannot recognise, the next step is to find out what they are, if you type the name from the first column into Google (or other search engine if preferred); the results tend to be explanations of what the file is and whether you really need it.

Once you have finished deselecting items, click OK and select the option to reboot your machine.

The next time you reboot, you will get a message telling you that you are using selective startup. Tick the box that says "Do Not Remind Me About This Every Time" and click OK.

If a program appears to stop working after you have turned these off, simply type msconfig into a run window again and turn programs back on, although it is very unlikely that you will need to do this (I’ve never needed to in about 8 years of PC maintenance!!)

3) Background downloads

This can occur if Microsoft have released a series of updates for windows. Your computer may be slowly downloading and installing these updates in the background, which can have a significant impact on your processing power. Stopping these being in the background and getting them over and done with can help significantly.

Go to the web address http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com or use the shortcut at the top of the All Programs part of your start menu.

Accept any downloads from Microsoft if these are needed, then click the Custom option when you get to choose between that and Express.

Once you are presented with a list of available updates, select them all and then click on the download and install updates link at the top and select install.

Once all the updates are installed, you may need to restart your PC. Repeat this process until there are no further updates offered to you, as extra ones may be offered once prerequisites are installed.

4) Spyware and Viruses

These are malicious programs operating in the background typically. you may be aware of their presence by a change to your internet surfing experience, such as additional pop-up's, blanks pages with the web address "about:blank", being redirected to sites other than the one you expect or other similar problems.

These are dealt with by the use of specific programs. For anti virus, I tend to recommend AVG antivirus from http://free.grisoft.com and Spybot Search And Destroy from http://www.safer-networking.org/en/download/

Once both are installed on your machine, run their separate update procedures followed by scans to search for any files or programs that should not be there, and then remove anything that is highlighted as an issue from your machine.

Once all these steps have been carried out, your machine should run like a dream!

Simon Kirkman