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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, not enough RAM, dirty hardware components, too many toolbars, BHOs, extensions and add-ons/plug-ins attached your browser and failure to clear browser cache. Sometimes Add-ons cause browsers to quit unexpectedly or not perform properly especially, if it was poorly designed or was created for an earlier browser version. Incompatible browser extensions and add-ons can also 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.

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:

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:step1: For general browser issues:
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 and Add-ons can be removed from within its program group Uninstall shortcut in Start Menu > All Programs or by using Programs and Features (Add/Remove Programs) in Control Panel, so always check there first. In most cases, using the uninstaller of the software 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 provides a listing of all installed software by installation date and when removing a program, Revo does a more comprehensive job of searching for and removing related registry entries, files and folders.

If the program is not listed in Programs and Features (Add/Remove Programs), and there is no uninstaller in the program's folder, the next place to check is your browser extensions and add-ons/plug-ins.


To reset the browser home page if it was changed, please refer to:


How to make Internet Explorer load faster:

How to make Goole Chrome load faster:

How to make Firefox load faster:

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. This is normal...but closing and restarting more often will clear that out and should lower your resource usage dramatically.


:step2: 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.

As an alternative to Disk Cleanup you can download and scan CCleaner. After installation be sure to read the CCleaner Tour: Using and Understanding CCleaner guide.


:step3: 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.


:step4: Check for problem entries (colored coded symbols) in Device Manager as described in How to Use the Windows Device Manager for Troubleshooting.


:step5: 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.



:step6: 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.


:step7: 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.

MSConfig (System Configuration Utility) is a troubleshooting utility used to diagnose and fix system configuration issues. In the Summary section Microsoft says "The System Configuration utility helps you find problems with your Windows configuration. It does not manage the programs that run when Windows starts."

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 the following reasons:

  • When uninstalling programs while disabled with msconfig, they may not be uninstalled properly and manually editing the registry will be required to remove everything.
  • Msconfig will often leave orphaned entries when software is uninstalled. When used to switch back to normal startup mode, these orphan entries can result in boot up errors.
  • Msconfig only allows you to disable entries. To completely remove an entry from its' list you have to edit the registry, or use a third-party tool like Msconfig Cleanup Utility or a startup manager.
  • Msconfig allows malware related items to hide in your registry which you may not see or affect your computer until switched back to normal startup mode. This could then result in reinfection of the computer.
  • Msconfig does not list all applications loaded in all possible startup locations (some entry points are hidden and unknown to the user).

A better alternative for disabling unnecessary startups is to use a free Startup Manager like one of the following:

If you use CCleaner, it has a built-in Startup Manager under Tools > Startup. Revo Uninstaller Free includes a Startup Manager under Tools.
 
Most of these tools are stand-alone portable apps in a zip file so no installation is necessary. They will provide 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. 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 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?.

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 your system. 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. Changing the default settings for services can be risky and might prevent key services from running correctly. Only change the status of a service if it is necessary. You should only disable services using the Services Management Console (services.msc) where you cannot disable services that may be vital to boot your system.
 

The reason is because with msconfig and Hardware Profiles, you can disable services that may be vital to boot your system. With the management console (services.msc) you cannot. Also, msconfig, while unchecking the box, is disabling the service.

Windows 7 Why can't I use msconfig to change my services?

Black Viper's warning: Why can't I use msconfig to change my services in Windows?


:step8: Check for any unnecessary running services. If you have a typical installation, many services are configured as "automatic" which means they will start automatically when Windows starts or when the service is called for the first time. This can cause a lag in system startup which some consider undesirable performance. If a service is configured as "manual," that means the user must start the service manually before it can be loaded by the operating system and made available for use. If a service is configured as "disabled," it cannot be started automatically or manually. Which Windows Services Can You Safely Disable? - Disabling Services? I Forgot How

Advanced users prefer to tweak (trim down) services using Black Viper's Windows Service Configurations as a method to help fine-tune and optimize system performance.

Safe Service settings recommended by BlackViper:

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:step9: Remove any third party "Memory Manager", Optimizer or "Registry Cleaner". Windows 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. There are numerous programs which purport to improve system performance, make repairs and tune up a computer. Many of them include such features as a registry cleaner, registry optimizer, disk optimizer, etc. These registry cleaners and optimizers claim to speed up your computer by finding and removing orphaned and corrupt registry entries that are responsible for slowing down system performance. There is no statistical evidence to back such claims. Advertisements to do so are a marketing ploy intended to goad users into using an unnecessary and potential dangerous product.

Bleeping 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


:step10: Disable Visual Effects in Windows 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.

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Finally 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.

One more thing...Never use more than one anti-virus program. See the IMPORTANT NOTE about not using more than one anti-virus program in this topic: Choosing an Anti-Virus Program


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 in the Preparation Guide For Use Before Using Malware Removal Tools and Requesting Help and start a new topic in the Virus, Trojan, Spyware, and Malware Removal Logs Forum.

 


Edited by quietman7, 12 December 2014 - 10:17 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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