Wednesday, September 14, 2011
It’s easy to have a computer get loaded up with junk that slows it down. The worst part is, we invite this garbage into our lives by installing “helpful” utilities, toolbars, and other add-ons. I could easily write a list of 10 kinds of computer-stalling junk. Here are some of the things you’ll want to seek out and remove for best performance:
- Automatic update systems for various applications (but be careful: some apps, like Flash, Acrobat, QuickTime, and Web browsers are prime malware targets and you will want to keep these up-to-date)
- Things that run on startup
- Windows services you don’t really need
- Crapware from the PC maker
- Browser plug-ins (the Skype browser plug-in is an especially bad offender, I’ve found)
- P2P applications
- Web servers and database servers that were installed by since-removed applications, but left behind
Most ISPs love to brag about how much bandwidth they are giving you. But they don’t mind letting the rest of their infrastructure slowly get overwhelmed or deteriorate. Among the biggest offenders are the DNS servers our ISPs use. If you want to know why things seem to take forever to start loading, slow DNS servers are often the cause. Consider adding a fast DNS server as your primary DNS server in your TCP/IP settings. Google’s Public DNS server is a great option.
Defragging your hard drives is a great way to get some more performance. While modern Windows systems automatically defrag on a regular basis, I’ve found that the Windows defragging is fairly unaggressive. We’ve reviewed a lot of different defrag apps here at TechRepublic. I suggest that you check out your alternatives and find one that does a better job for you.
Time and time again, “system slowness” actually is caused by networking issues. Our computers do so much on the Internet that slowness there can affect just about everything you do on a regular basis. While there isn’t enough space to write an exhausting troubleshooting list here, some of the things you should try (or investigate) are:
- Replacing the network cables, switches, routers, WiFi access points, etc.
- Calling the ISP and checking the distance from the CO (for DSL) or the local segment’s current load (for cable); the ISP may need to rewire or rework its connectivity. Satellite customers will want to double-check their dish installation and ensure that it is tightly locked down and pointed in the right direction.
- Malware scanning on all PCs to see if malware is burdening the network
- Inspecting the wiring of the phone lines (for DSL) or coax (cable customers) to look for loose connections, corrosion, or flaky wires
- Cable customers will want to find out how many splitters are between the line from the pole and their modem. If it is more than one (and preferably only a two-way splitter), they should rewire so that they have only a single two-way splitter between the pole and the modem to ensure the cleanest signal possible.
By Justin James
September 9, 2011, 2:17 PM PDT