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Slow Computer/browser? Check Here First; It May Not Be Malware

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#1 quietman7


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Posted 02 April 2007 - 08:44 AM

Computer and browser slowness are not always malware related. Poor performance and other problems can be the result of disk fragmentation, disk errors, corrupt system files, unnecessary services running, too many browser Add-ons/toolbars, failure to clear browser cache, not enough RAM, dirty hardware components, etc. Incompatible browser extensions and add-ons can impact system performance and cause compatibility issues such as application hangs (freezing). As you use your system it becomes filled with more files/programs and has a natural tendency to slow down and behave oddly so cleaning and regular maintenance is essential. Listed below are a few things you can do to improve speed and system performance. Many of the these suggestions will apply if your using Windows Vista but may be done a bit differently. Near the bottom of this thread there is a section specifically devoted to Vista Users.

When was the last time you cleaned the inside of your computer? Dust restricts the airflow and prevents proper cooling. This in turn can cause overheating and faulty processor fans which can result in unexpected shutdowns, random restarts, booting problems, etc. If you use a notebook, they get dirty too and need to be cleaned.

  • Clean out the vents on the computer with a can of compressed air to ensure that they are not clogged with dust.
  • Unplug the computer, open the case and clean out any dust and debris you find inside. Be careful not to aim the compressed air directly at the circuit board or electronic components.
  • Check all the electrical connections and make sure the fans are all operational.
  • Remove the cards and RAM modules, clean the contacts and reseat them.
  • Check the heat sink on the processor to ensure it is not blocked with dust or debris.
  • Remove the CPU's cooling unit and clean the fins on the heat sink that sits under the CPU with a can of compressed air.
  • Feel the CPU heatsink when it powers down. It should be warm to very warm but not hot.
  • Inspect the thermal compound between the CPU and heat sink as it can deteriorate over time so. You may need to remove it, scrape away the old thermal gel that makes contact with the processor, then apply a very thin coat of fresh thermal gel on the surface and fit the heat sink back in place again.
  • Monitor the temperature of your CPU, motherboard, hard disks, voltages, and fan speeds.

How to Clean a Computer Tutorials with Screenshots:

For general browser issues, see Its not always malware: How to fix the top 10 Internet Explorer issues and How and Why to Clear Your Cache. If you are having connectivity issues or errors such as Page cannot be displayed see:

If you're using Vista or Internet Explorer 7, see:

If you have a lot of toolbars, add-ons/plug-ins, and browser extensions attached to your browser, you could try improving performance by disabling or removing those which are unnecessary. Sometimes Add-ons cause the browser to quit unexpectedly or not perform properly especially if it was poorly designed or was created for an earlier version of Internet Explorer. Incompatible browser extensions and add-ons can also impact system performance and cause compatibility issues such as application hangs (freezing).

Many toolbars, extensions and add-ons can be removed from within its program group Uninstall shortcut in Start Menu > All Programs or by using Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features in Control Panel, so always check there first. With most adware/junkware it is strongly recommended to deal with it like a legitimate program and uninstall from Programs and Features or Add/Remove Programs in the Control Panel. In most cases, using the uninstaller of the adware not only removes it more effectively, but it also restores any changed configuration.

Alternatively, you can use a third-party utility like Revo Uninstaller Free or Portable and follow these instructions for using it. Revo will do a more thorough job of searching for and removing related registry entries, files and folders.

The next place to check is your browser extensions and add-ons/plug-ins.

Note: Firefox will generally take longer than IE to start simply because it has more data to load. Also, due to the way Firefox caches pages it will use more RAM the longer the browser is open. Closing and restarting more often will clear that out and should lower your resource usage dramatically.

Tweaks to make Firefox load faster:

• For Network related issues, refer to:

Clean up your hard drive by removing unused programs and transferring old data, pictures, music files to a CD or an external hard drive. When you have moved/saved the files you want to keep, run Disk Cleanup and let it scan your system for files to remove. "Don’t clean out the Prefetch folder" - This is a common myth that will not improve performance.

As an alternative to Disk Cleanup you can download and scan CCleaner.
(Starting with v1.27.260, the standard build installs the Yahoo Toolbar as an option which is checkmarked by default during the installation. IF you do NOT want it, remove the checkmark when provided with the option OR download the toolbarfree Basic version instead.)

Check for disk errors by running CHKDSK in "Safe Mode" or from the Recovery Console. In the Check Disk dialog box, select the "Scan for and attempt recovery of bad sectors check box, click "Start" and have it repair anything it finds. As you use your hard drive, it can develop bad sectors which slow down hard disk performance and make data writing difficult. Check Disk scans the hard drive and verifies the logical integrity of a file system by checking for system errors, lost clusters, lost chains, and bad sectors. When encountering logical inconsistencies in file system data, it will perform the necessary actions to repair the file system data.

Check for problem entries (colored coded symbols) in Device Manager as described here. Vista users can access Device Manager by referring to these instructions. Driver issues are a known source of conflicts that can cause stop errors, BSOD's, system crashes and affect performance. Check for any updates that may be available for your drivers. If you're not sure how to update a driver, please read How to update a Windows hardware driver. Also check to ensure Direct Memory Access (DMA) is enabled. When the hard disk uses DMA to access information, it reduces the load placed upon the CPU and speeds performance.

Check for damaged, altered or missing critical system files by running the System File Checker. If SFC discovers that a protected file has been damaged, altered or missing, it restores the correct version of the file from the cache folder. You must be logged on as an administrator or as a member of the Administrators group to run sfc and it may ask you to insert your XP Installation CD so have it available.

Defrag your system. Disk fragmentation slows the overall performance of your system. When files are fragmented, the computer must search the hard disk when a file is opened. Disk Defragmenter consolidates fragmented files and folders on the hard disk so that each occupies a single space on the disk. This speeds up reading and writing to the disk. Read The Importance of Disk Defragmentation for instructions.

Note: It is recommended to shut down all applications (including your Anti-virus) before running Defrag to ensure that no programs attempt to write to the drive while it is being defragmented. Not doing so may cause you to have to restart the entire process. If you have disabled all running programs and still find that the defrag routine is constantly interrupted, you can defrag from "Safe Mode".

Defrag the Page File. Standard defragmentation programs can neither show you how fragmented your paging files or Registry hives are, nor defragment them. Paging and Registry file fragmentation can be one of the leading causes of performance degradation related to file fragmentation in a system. A free and easy way to do this is to use the "PageDefrag" utility which also defragments event log files and Windows 2000/XP hibernation files.

Check for any unnecessary running services. If you have a typical installation, many services are configured as "automatic"; that is, they start automatically when the system starts or when the service is called for the first time. Use Black Viper's Windows Services Configuration guides to help fine tune this area.

Disable the Windows Indexing Service. The indexing service catalogues files on the computer by building and updating the Index catalog to enable faster file searches. However, it can also slow down the computer as the process typically uses a lot of CPU time. If you use the Indexing Service, this might explain the cause of high CPU utilization and slow performance according to Microsoft's article: Windows XP may run slowly. If you are experiencing this such symptoms, see How to disable the Indexing Service.

Note for users of Vista: This service is not installed by default. If it's present, then the service has been deliberately added for reverse compatibility reasons so just leave it alone. If you must disable it, refer to How to Enable or Disable Search Index in Vista.

Disable Ctfmon.exe if its not needed. This is a process that installs with Windows when you configure the language options and is is installed with IE7's Language Tool Bar or Office applications. Ctfmon monitors the active windows and provides text input service support for speech recognition, handwriting recognition, keyboard, translation, and other alternative user input technologies. If you do not use these features, then this process is not required. To prevent it from running, follow the steps to disable provided in What is ctfmon.exe And Why Is It Running?. Also see How to turn off the speech recognition in Office.

Disable Mdm.exe if its not needed. Mdm.exe is Microsoft's Machine Debug Manager programwhich is included in Microsoft Visual Studio .NET, Microsoft Office 2007, Microsoft Office 2003, and a Microsoft Office XP post-Service Pack 3 release to provide support for program debugging. This process starts when script debugging is enabled in Internet Explorer. It runs as a service with the local system account and is loaded when the computer starts but sometimes tends to slow system performance. This is a non-essential process and if you do not use your computer for debugging purposes, you can Disable Machine Debug Manager.

Check for any unnecessary applications loading when Windows Boots with the System Configuration Utility (MSConfig). Almost all applications you install want to startup when Windows loads. If you allow all them to do this, they will compete for and use system resources resulting in poor performance and a slow computer. Many of these programs are not required and disabling them can improve overall performance and speed. When needed, they can be accessed via Start > Programs or an icon on the desktop.

Note: MSConfig.exe is a troubleshooting utility used to diagnose system configuration issues. Although it works as a basic startup manager, msconfig should not be used routinely to disable auto-start programs. It is a temporary solution and not a good practice for several reasons. When uninstalling programs while disabled with msconfig, they may not be uninstalled properly and orphaned entries often will be left behind. When used to switch back to normal startup mode, these orphan entries can result in boot up errors. Msconfig does not list all applications loaded in all possible startup locations (some entry points are hidden) and does not allow the complete removal of disabled entries from its list.

You should not use msconfig to disable startup applications related to services. Doing so alters the registry and there are services that are essential for hardware and booting. When you uncheck a service in msconfig, you completely disable it. If you uncheck the wrong one, you may not be able to restart your computer. You should only disable services using the Services Management Console.

A better alternative is to use a startup manager like:

You will be provided with a list of programs that load when Windows starts. If you untick an entry it will no longer run at startup. This will allow you to experiment and see how your system performs with any of them disabled.
-- Note: some startup programs are necessary so be careful what you disable.

If you are unsure what any of the program entries are or if they are safe to disable, search the name using Google or the following databases:

To remove common trial and promotional software, Toolbars and junk programs often installed on a new computer by OEMs, use PC De-crapifier which provides a wizard style interface with step by step instructions. For other programs you don't recognize or know whether they are worthwhile to keep or be removed, use Should I Remove It?.

Remove any third party "Memory Manager" or "Optimizer". Windows XP memory management was designed to make the best use of RAM and these memory management utilities defeat that purpose. They push applications out of RAM into the pagefile, creating holes in the RAM and by doing so, slow down your computer.

Disable Visual Effects to improve performance. While visual embellishments may be attractive, they tend to consume system resources and disabling some of them will make the operating system perform better.

  • In Windows XP. right click My Computer, choose Properties > Advanced, click on "Settings"
  • In Vista go to Start > right-click on Computers, choose Properties > Advanced System Settings > System Properties > Advanced tab.
  • In the Visual Effects tab, select "Adjust for best performance" or uncheck all of them, except for the last three.
  • Click "Apply", then "Ok", then "Ok" again.
  • Then right click your Desktop and choose > Properties > Appearance > "Effects.
  • Uncheck the first two boxes and click "Ok".

Are you using a custom HOSTS file? If so and you are not part of a domain, you can disable the Windows DNS Client Service to improve performance.

Adding more RAM is a quick solution that can have a dramatic affect on your system's speed and responsiveness. You can check how much RAM you have by going to Start > Program Files > Accessories > System Tools > System Information and look at your System Summary. For detailed instructions on adding more RAM, you can refer to Understanding, Identifying and Upgrading the RAM in your PC and the How to Install RAM Video Guide.

Never use more than one anti-virus program. The concern with using more than one is due to conflicts that can arise when both are running in real-time mode simultaneously. Anti-virus software components insert themselves into the operating systems core and using more than one can cause instability, sluggish system performance, unresponsive behavior or crash your computer. Further, each anti-virus will often interpret the activity of the other as a virus and there is a greater chance of them alerting you to "False Positives".

• For more suggestions and performance tips read:

• For Vista Users, read:

When you are all done be sure to Create a New Restore Point to enable your computer to "roll-back" to a clean working state keeping all the changes you just made. Then use Disk Cleanup to remove all but newly created Restore Point. Doing this also reduces the amount of space they take up on your hard drive as by design Windows will automatically create a new restore point every 24 hours (system checkpoints).

Windows 8, Vista and Windows XP users can refer to these links:

NOTE: If you are still having problems after performing the above steps then you may be dealing with malware. In that case please follow the instructions in the Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help.


Edited by quietman7, 15 September 2014 - 09:10 PM.

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#2 quietman7


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Posted 25 April 2013 - 08:44 AM

How to Optimize Performance in Windows 7: ignore any recommending for using optimizing toolsHow to Optimize Performance in Windows 8: <- ignore any recommending for using optimizing toolsBleeping Computer DOES NOT recommend the use of registry cleaners/optimizers for several reasons.
Please read: Why you should not use Registry Cleaners and Optimization Tools
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