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For the past several weeks, it seems everybody is coming to me to fix their computers, or update them, or clean out old programs etcetera, etcetera. I thought, ‘Ok, this would be a great article of the first steps I take when a PC or laptop has slowed to a crawl.’

These steps are the basic steps I take. Though they can still be a little bit technical. There are others I take which are even more technically-oriented, (video cards, increasing memory on the motherboard etc.) but for the most part, I see new life injected into previously slow systems by the time I get through three or more of these steps.

These steps are for Windows-based systems, but the software suggestions below apply to iOS systems as well.

Disclaimer: Ok, I have to do it, but if there is anything that makes you scratch your head or worry, then DON’T make any changes and ask a friend to help that might know computers. I wouldn’t want you to mess up your system.

So this said, I am going give the most common solutions I implement. Here we go.

5 steps to take when your computer slows down:

Uninstall all of your virus protection programs

Wait, what??? You might be saying. Honestly, I can say that EVERY SINGLE time that I have helped someone with their computers, they will have several virus protection programs. The biggest offenders are McAffee and Norton Antivirus. These programs are fine, but I find them extremely annoying with the level of pop-up notifications and intrusiveness into my system.

How do you uninstall? Click on your windows home button and type in ‘control panel’ go to applications and uninstall programs. Uninstall every anti-virus program you have. In my opinion, install Malwarebytes. It is the best, they have a free version which works perfectly well. It will initially install as a premium but you have the option to pay for a full-fledged program later on. The free version is perfectly fine, but the paid version has a few more bells and whistles for multiple computers. They provide a great service, I am glad to pay for it.

Clear out your registry, old program info and internet histories with one program

Install the free version of CCleaner and clear out your computer registry and other info which can bog down your system.

There is an option to clear out your registry, which removes a lot of old language that once told your computer what to do — but doesn’t need to any longer. There is also a tab to update old programs and wipe drives.

If you want to do a deep clean you can check or uncheck boxes that control how much information is cleaned or left intact. If you aren’t sure which ones to check, leave it at default, or ask a 13-year-old. They are smart with computers.

Disable startup programs

Simply hit CTRL-ALT-DEL and select “Task Manager.” 

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An example of the Task Manager panel. Notice how some programs are enabled and some are disabled.

An example of the Task Manager panel. Notice how some programs are enabled and some are disabled.

In the Task Manager panel, you will see a list of programs that are enabled to start when the computer does. Many times, new programs will “hijack” your startup menu and enable themselves so that when you start your computer they are ‘alive’ and ready for you to use. These programs slow down your system. I don’t need Skype, for example, to start when my system does, as I only use it occasionally. Therefore I disable it.

Replace your hard drive with an SSD internal drive

Ok, admittedly this is arguably the most technical but this could literally increase the speed of your computer 10 times. SSD stands for solid state drive. The difference between an SSD and regular hard drives is that an SSD is more similar to a camera’s USB card, with no moving parts. An internal regular hard drive has a spinning disc to grab information, which uses electrical power to spin at thousands of rpms, while an SSD doesn’t have to do that.

Desktops can take a bit of time, but laptops have an access panel to the hard drive accessible by loosening a few screws. So it isn’t too tough to do this.

Now actually getting this done will require help or a bit of familiarity with a computer - but I recommend it highly. Have someone with a bit of computer skill clone (copy without losing files) your operating system’s hard drive onto an SSD, replace it and voila! Welcome to your much faster computer.

P.S. Make sure the SSD you select is larger or at least the same size as your current hard drive.

Last resort but an easy fix - Reset your entire computer

If there is nothing you need on your computer that is important, a entire system reset can breathe new life into a slow-moving computer.

Simply go into system settings and reset it. Boom, fast computer again. If you have files you need, move them to an external drive or USB device. If you are not sure how to do this ask a friend to help.

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