How to Boost Your Computer’s Performance

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There are various reasons for a computer’s sub-par performance. Usually, it is caused by one or all of three things — a malware infection, lots of unnecessary programs running in the background, and dust inside the computer. Most of the time, all of these problems can be easily remedied by the user completely for free.

Use Antimalware

This is a no-brainer — always use antivirus, anti-rootkit, and anti-malware software. There is an incredible amount of malware out there, so at least make it a little bit harder for them to get into your computer.

I am running several anti-malware scanners in the background at the same time. One doesn’t necessarily catch all malware at all times. Anti-malware databases get updated every day, that’s why you need to update your scanners every day as well.

But even with several up-to-date scanners running all the time, a minor infection gets through once in a while. That’s why it is very important to run whole system scans once a week. If a malware got through the scanners’ filters, with updated databases it’s very likely that they will identify and destroy it before it could cause any serious harm.

It goes without saying that you should not click on any weird web links, pop-ups, or open any unknown email attachments that might infect your computer. You should also think twice before you visit an unknown website with a random, weird, or scammy name.

Also, you should always scan everything you download from any website.

So far, I am very happy using these free scanners — Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG, and Malwarebytes’ tools. I recommend them all.

Careful What You Install

If you decide to install a program, make sure that you will really use it and that it comes from a verified source. How to verify a source?

When you launch a program that has the publisher’s signature verified, the User Account Control (UAC) prompt will have a blue header. Also, you will clearly see the software publisher’s name in the Verified publisher field.

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UAC Prompt

UAC is color-coded. If the publisher is unknown, the UAC prompt header will be yellow. And if the program is clearly dangerous, it will be blocked and the UAC prompt header will be red.

Some programs are packaged into other programs, so that they might get installed, if the user doesn’t untick a checkbox here and there during the installation process. Such programs are called potentially unwanted programs or PUPs for short and you should watch out for them when installing software, because they are a pain in the neck.

Decrapify

If you use a computer long enough, you will have software installed that you forgot about. While you might have needed a program once a few years ago, now it only takes up place, maybe even memory, and it is time to let go of it.

Even new computers come with a lot of crapware right out of the box. For whatever reason most computer vendors think that if they pre-install a lot of useless programs on your computer, you will get used to them, and buy them when their trial periods expire. I have not found this approach to be constructive.

A general rule of thumb is this — if you can’t remember why you have a program installed or you didn’t use a program in the last six months, you can probably uninstall it. To uninstall unused software, open Control Panel and click on Uninstall a program under Programs.

Slowly scroll down the list of installed programs and if you find something you don’t use, uninstall it by clicking on the program’s name and then clicking Uninstall. Be careful with this step. If you are not sure about uninstalling an item, don’t uninstall it.

It is also a good idea to run Ccleaner at least once a month. Ccleaner removes items left behind by uninstalled programs and other useless things tucked away in various corners of Windows.

Be careful when using programs like Ccleaner. If you don’t know what you are doing, it’s best to stop and exit the program.

Updates Are Crucial

Keep Windows up to date. Microsoft publishes security and performance improving updates on a continuous basis. Make sure that Windows Update is activated and checks in with Microsoft servers every day. Go to Control Panel > System and Security > Windows Update > Change settings to check whether you are set.

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Windows Update Settings

Also remember to keep your software, especially programs that use the internet, up to date. This includes Adobe Flash, Java, all your browser and email clients, instant messaging and video-conferencing clients, and all your networking software.

And most importantly, keep all your security software, including antivirus, anti-rootkit, and anti-malware programs, up-to-date on a daily basis.

Final Thoughts

I will return with a few more ideas regarding boosting your computer’s sluggish performance tomorrow. Until then feel free to share your ideas about improving computer performance below in the comments section.

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