How to Speed Up Computer

By: Nathan Segal

Q: My computer is running slowly. How do I speed it up?

As I'd mentioned last time, a couple of quick fixes were to reduce the number of programs that load at startup by using msconfig from the Start menu (assuming you're working on a Windows platform) or to defrag your hard drive.

If you're running a Macintosh with OS 9 or earlier, your programs use extensions upon starting the computer. Having too many of those running will bog down your system resources. The way to deal with that is to create different startup options so that only the programs you need will have the relevant extensions loaded. That will improve your system performance. OS 10 and later performs differently, so it's unlikely that you'll have problems there.

Assuming you follow the steps outlined in the previous article and your computer is still running slowly, then your problem might be spyware.

For those of you who don't know what spyware is, it's software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes.

It resembles a Trojan horse in some ways as users unwittingly download the software. Among other things, spyware steals steals from resources on your computer  and also eats up bandwidth. The result can be a slow running computer, system instability and crashes.

Some spyware has the ability to scan your hard drive, snoop your applications, hijack your web browser and more. Some of the worst offenders monitor your keystrokes (aka keyloggers that capture your keystroke data and send it to a third party without your knowledge), and extortionware (where you have to pay a fee to get the spyware remvoved from your system).

Hence, the need to eiminate (and prevent) future incursions on your machine is extremely important, not just for performance, but for your personal security.

Here's one fast way that you can find out if you have spyware on your computer. Visit the Trend Micro Web site at: and run a scan for spyware on your computer.

The results may surprise you.

On an ongoing basis, I recommend that you purchase two anti-spyware programs for your computer. These are  Pest Patrol  and Spyware Sweeper Spyware Sweeper. Pest Patrol works fairly quickly and takes a snapsot of your hard drive. It's good for many spyware issues, but if you have a persistent problem, I recommend Spyware Sweeper for an intensive system scan. I don't recommend using Spyware Sweeper on Startup, as it slows down your system. Pest Patrol is a better option.

Next time, we'll look at other options for speeding up your computer.

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