Isn’t it amazing? When we first get a new computer, it seems blazingly fast – and much faster than our previous computer. But, then, as we start to use it and install the antivirus, antimalware, and firewall programs, they start running a bit slower. Then, we install the programs we really want to use, you know, the ones we bought the computer for…
Many of those programs automatically install one or more other programs to assist them, except that they install them so that they run all the time. Or, maybe those extras just take time to load while the computer boots, slowing the process, and then stay in memory in case they’re needed, using some of the computer’s memory all the time.
All these running programs and memory hogs slow up our computers by making the computer’s CPU work harder. If we don’t have a lot of memory, Windows will really slow down, since Windows will take part of your hard drive and treat it as if it were additional computer memory (additional RAM). Of course, hard drives are a lot, lot slower than real RAM, so that translates into even slower computers.
What can we do about slow computers, other than buying new ones?
One way is to get more memory. If you’re running Windows XP with less than 1 GB of RAM, check to see if your computer can use more. Even with 1 GB of RAM, you may find that increasing the memory helps. By the time you get to Windows 7, you need even more, especially if you’re using the 64-bit version of Windows. The good thing is that the 64-bit version of Windows 7 really can use the extra memory (I’ve got 8 GB in all my desktops and 4GB in my laptop).
Increasing the RAM can make a big change in your computer’s speed and usability. Crucial Technology‘s web site is a great reference on how much memory and what type of memory is required by computer models and even motherboard models, for those of us who build or upgrade our own computers.
Another way to pep up your computer is to reinstall Windows. It’s a drastic step, though. Basically, this step is throwing in the towel and starting all over again. Of course, you’ll have to do all the Windows updates again, as well as reinstall all your programs. Don’t forget to back up your data files first and either find or download the drivers for your video card, ethernet card, motherboard and other hardware devices, if you choose to go this route.
What if you don’t have Windows Operating System CD’s or DVD — that is, maybe your computer came with only a Recovery DVD, that resets the hard drive to the way it was when it came from the factory?
In that case, you can still do the “reinstall” but you’d only revert to the factory-loaded hard drive. Then, you’d still have the step of removing all the junk and trial-ware that was installed by the manufacturer.
I mentioned that antivirus, antimalware and firewall programs tended to slow computers, too. That should be very obvious, since their purpose is to intercept program activities and make sure that they aren’t being done by viruses, trojans, or other malware. But, all antivirus/antimalware/firewall systems are not equal. They vary dramatically in the load they place on the computer.
I use VIPRE Antivirus Premium for my antivirus, antimalware and firewall needs — and am very happy with the small load that it puts on my computer. I’ve used VIPRE since it was first released in 2008, and I was amazed at how peppy my system became when I changed to it.
The last couple years, I’ve used the Unlimited Home Site License (unlimited number of PC’s, with 1, 2, or 3-year license subscription). Now, GFI (formerly Sunbelt Software) offers a "PC Lifetime" option in addition to the 1, 2 and 3-year options. I just bought the PC Lifetime Unlimited Home Site License.
But, what about those other programs that are running, the ones taking all the memory and making the CPU run harder?
Read more in the next article (below) Getting Control of Auto-Starting Programs.