My computer is running slowly, how do I speed it up?

If your computer isn’t as fast as the day you bought it, you’re not alone. This happens to everyone. While this may be true, it doesn’t make it any less annoying. The real question is: ‘How much slower is it today than when you bought it, and can you tolerate the difference? Realistically, if you notice a difference in your performance, you are most likely looking for a solution. Look no further, you have found your first step. If you’re reading this, you’re on the path to knowledge. Your first step is to get informed.

Find the cause.

From time to time I can say the obvious. Often, the obvious answer is the easiest to overlook. All life’s challenges come with a cause. There has probably been a decline in team performance due to a recent change. Changes to your system may come from a newly added application, a Microsoft system update, a specific vendor application update, changes to your hardware, changes to your startup, changes to your registry, or any number of other astrological changes in the universe.

The point here is to recognize which change or combination of changes affected your system. In important cases, system restoration may be a consideration. Although this solution is not the first in my list of immediate actions, if the change in your system is less than 24 hours old or can be attributed to a specific application immediately after installation, system restoration may be your best friend.

If changes in the performance of your system have been slow to arrive over a period of time, you can simply benefit from a good cleaning. Many independent technicians will come to your home or office and perform these services with a minimal investment (typically between $50 and $100). Before running to the big store for them to do the cleaning for your $29 special, recognize the time and effort to disassemble your system and restore it (something they won’t do for you). In addition, most retailers will not offer a follow-up service if the cleaning causes “unforeseen” problems in the system.

Don’t immediately assume you have a virus. Viruses can take any form. As the name suggests, viruses can be as difficult to detect as determining which flu strain you have contracted. At the end of the day, such a distinction is not as important as simply finding a cure.

If you have reason to believe or strongly suspect that you have a virus, as well as calling your doctor’s office, stop doing what you’re doing. If you value the information in your system and don’t want to lose it or share it with information thieves, the best thing you can do is turn off your system – DO NOT restart it until you have it in the hands of a professional trained to remove the virus or corroborate its existence. Err on the side of caution.

Finding the cause is a process, not a task. Making a misdiagnosis can lead to information loss or susceptibility to information thieves. Don’t let it scare you. The probability of an intentional attack is comparable to the probability of home burglary. They occur, but being targeted without cause is reasonably infrequent.

Fixing common causes.

Once you have determined the cause of your dilemma, you only have three options. You can repair the computer yourself, have someone else repair it, or abandon the system altogether.

I compare repairs to your computer to repairs to your car or home. If you know how you can really do it right. If you don’t, don’t be fooled… trying and failing often leads to more expensive repairs.

Imagine changing the oil and accidentally drilling a hole in the crankcase. Your $20, half-hour maintenance has become a hundreds of dollars repair of a few hours. Imagine fixing a hole in your roof and spilling the adhesive on the side of your house covering the side of the house and several windows. Your ‘simple’ repair is now anything but simple. The same goes for the computer.

A friend suggests that you reinstall the operating system on your computer to improve its performance. During the process, you are asked if you want to format the drive (a step in reinstalling Windows XP) if you inadvertently pressed the wrong key. Congratulations, you have already deleted all the information from your computer. In many cases, the loss of information is not irreversible, but its repair can be REALLY expensive and time-consuming.

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