One thing seems to be certain: It’s just a matter of time before your brand-new computer goes from speed demon to speed bump. If your machine has slowed to a crawl, here are a few things to check:
Too Many Programs in the Start Up Routine
If you aren’t paying attention, your computer’s start up routine could automatically open programs that you don’t even use every time you boot the machine. While this is a good practice for programs and utilities that you use all the time, running unnecessary applications could clog your CPU and memory even though they don’t actually do anything. Carefully review the start up directory as well as the Windows registry to make sure your machine doesn’t automatically open anything you don’t use.
A slow computer could be the result of spyware. All you have to do is click on the wrong link or download an infected piece of software to pick up a piece of malicious code. Sometimes, it even comes embedded in a useful piece of software you downloaded for free. In the meantime, this nasty little program is watching your every move and reporting it back through the Internet. In addition to risking identity theft, the overhead on these programs is substantial. Spyware can make your computer grind to a virtual halt.
A Corrupted or Cluttered Registry
Over time, the registry can become cluttered with duplicate information, orphaned keys, or blank spaces. Improper shutdowns can be caused by power outages and impatient users; as a result, the Windows registry can become corrupted. Any of these issues can cause Windows registry errors that slow the system. Although users can manually change the registry using the regedit.exe utility, this solution is time intensive and risky. Instead, using a registry cleaner to automatically correct the information stored in the Windows registry is the best course of action. Using this program from time to time can help keep the registry clean and organized.
Fragmented Hard Drive
As you create, update, and delete files, the data is written to new sections of the hard drive, and the older sections are marked eligible for reuse. As these random blank spaces build up, it becomes harder for the file system to find enough contiguous space to store a complete file in one area. Once files begin to be spread across multiple portions of the disc, it takes more time to retrieve the data and place it in memory. A hard drive that becomes extremely fragmented can result in a slow system. Use the Disk Defragmenter under System Tools to repair your hard drive and speed up your machine.
Bad Security Programs
Although no one should ever connect a computer to the Internet without a robust security program and firewall in place, a poorly designed program can use a lot of resources. By monitoring your every move as well as how every website interfaces with your machine, these programs can make your system run so slow that you may never be able to do enough to become infected. You can speed up your computer by installing a better program or by adjusting your settings to a reasonable level.
Partially Uninstalled Programs
Uninstall wizards lead you to believe that programs have been completely removed from your system as if they had never been there in the first place. However, this isn’t always the case. Some of these utilities only remove the executable and the associated icons while leaving the registry keys intact. This can be caused by a poorly written uninstall script, or it could be by design. Some free programs want to know if you’ve installed the software in the past to eliminate a second free trial.
Once these common problems are corrected, your computer will typically be restored to its previous speed. A variety of utilities, including registry cleaners, are available to make this troubleshooting process faster and easier.