In 2012, it’s fair to say that most people in the United States have some sort of personal computer in their home, whether it’s a desktop or laptop, PC or Mac. And while each new generation becomes more and more computer and technologically savvy than the last, we still encounter general computer problems from time to time.
One of the oldest and most well known computer issues that everyone encounters is the “slow computer.” Just turn on your TV and you’ll see commercial after commercial recommending software and programs that will address this common problem. But what affects your computer speed? And how can you address it? Well, there are a couple different ways to keep your computer fast and efficient:
• Use respected, effective anti-virus software
• Keep your computer clear of unnecessary files
• Look into a registry cleaner
This is probably one of the simplest, but most controversial, computer software issues. Most computers you purchase these days will come pre-loaded with the anti-virus software of a major brand name, like Norton Anti-Virus or McAfee Anti-Virus.
This pre-loaded software is a free trial which will protect your computer for a short time period, generally about 30 days. At the end of the 30 day trial, you will begin seeing repeated pop-ups, telling you that it is time to renew your anti-virus software, though this time you must purchase it. If you choose not to purchase the software, you’ll continue receiving the – often annoying – pop-up messages.
Here’s the truth: you do need an anti-virus program, especially if you have a PC. If you do not have something protecting your computer, you will end up with lots of little, irritating viruses that will quickly slow your computer to an infuriating lack of speed, and that’s if you are lucky enough to not end up with a virus that crashes your entire hard drive.
But you don’t need to subscribe to a major anti-virus software provider; thankfully there are many free anti-virus software programs out there that do an excellent job of protecting your computer. PCMag.com rates a list of free anti-virus programs that will do a great job of clearing your computer of existing viruses, and protecting it from future viruses.
As for those pre-loaded programs and their pop-ups? In order to stop those from happening, you’ll need to manually uninstall them from your computer. Simply go to your Control Panel, find Programs, select Uninstall a Program, select the trial software, execute the Uninstall, and you’ll be set.
Another common problem that impacts the speed of your computer is simply not clearing out your old, unnecessary files. The more your computer has weighing it down, the slower it will be.
As you conduct your regular business off and online, your computer begins to store temporary files. These files are intended to actually help your computer run more efficiently, because they record places you go and make it easier for your computer to access this information the next time you need it.
But these files can build up over time and start to interfere with your RAM, inhibiting it from doing its job. Luckily, clearing out these files is very easy, and something you can do yourself.
If you have a PC, Microsoft Support has instructions on how to clear out these files yourself, or they even provide a link you can click and they’ll clear them out for you.
The new Mac operating systems are said to automatically delete their temporary files on a regular basis. If, for some reason, your Mac operating system is not doing this on its own, the Mac Support team has directions on how to perform this function manually.
Registry cleaners are a type of software meant for PCs, not Macs. PC operating systems maintain something called a registry, which is essentially a catalog of all programs and functions that your computer performs.
The theory behind registry cleaning is that PCs often retain duplicate files in their registry, and that deleting these duplicate files will help increase your computer speed.
However, registry cleaners are considered controversial. All registry cleaners are offered by third party companies, and are not affiliated with Microsoft itself. Microsoft does not recommend them, and even goes so far as to say they are unnecessary.
Registries keep track of millions of functions performed by your computer, and of the millions of functions, Microsoft claims that only somewhere in the range of 2,000-3,000 of them can be considered duplicate or unnecessary. These files make up such a small percentage of the registry that many people say deleting them makes no difference at all.
However, third party companies push registry cleaners as an answer to the slow computer problem, frequently advertising their software online and on television. If you are interested in looking at registry cleaners, make sure to find one that’s well reviewed and well respected. Looking at what CNet’s review of free registry cleaners isn’t a bad place to start.
Just remember that while these software options will optimize your registry for free, they often have paid versions that will update your computers in other ways. Make sure to do the research before you choose to invest money in anything.