Speeding up a slow computer -- without spending too much

David asks:
My wife and I have an IBM-compatible computer that uses Windows XP. We recently switched from dial-up to a higher-speed line, giving us 1.5 mb/second. The problem is, it still seems to take forever to start our computer (and download e-mails). We suspect that we have a ton of programs that are slowing us down.

Can you recommend a low-cost software to scan our computer, delete unnecessary programs, and increase our computer's speed? Thanks for your consideration.

Brian's answer:
Can I recommend a program to do this? No. But I can offer you a series of steps that won't cost you anything and create the same result.

First, you'll need to run a full backup of anything valuable on your hard drive. You should do this anytime you're about to do any technical work on your computer, just in case anything goes wrong.

Once you've completed the backup, run a complete scan of your computer using your antivirus and anti-spyware programs. There are usually several different levels of scanning available. Use the most thorough one and plan to let it run overnight some night (this will take at least two nights, since you'll run antivirus one night and anti-spyware the next night). If either scan picks up anything nasty, allow the program to clean it up, then run it again the following night. As it says on the side of the shampoo bottle, "lather, rinse, and repeat." Repeat these scans until both of them come up clean.

Next, you'll need to learn how to enter your computer's system configuration utility and shut off those programs that automatically load themselves. It's not difficult, but it does involve following some pictures in order. I've prepared a guide to cleaning up the system configuration utility. Print it and follow the instructions.

Finally, to reduce the likelihood that you'll have these problems in the future, set up your computer to operate in a limited-access mode for most of your routine use (like web browsing and checking your e-mail). This will help make your computer more resistant to viruses and other malware that are often the culprits slowing your computer.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Brian Gongol published on February 25, 2010 10:34 AM.

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