I hear that complaint from friends, relatives, business associates, and the occasional coffee shop customer about their computers running slower now than it did two years old when it was new.
Unfortunately, there are several reasons for this but I just want to cover the easiest ones here. Many computer users don’t realize that Windows needs plenty of room to stretch its legs.
In your daily computing, Windows will routinely swap out blocks of information to the hard drive from its memory (RAM or random access memory). If you start to run out of disk space on the hard drive it has to do too much swapping, thereby slowing the whole system down.
The first choice is to get rid of any programs or apps that you no longer use. Doing this may be different depending on which version of Windows you use. Open the Control Panel (in Windows) in icon view and click on the icon for Programs and Features.
The uninstall feature will show you all (or most) of the programs on your hard drive. If it is a piece of free software and you don’t use it very often, then uninstall it. If you change your mind you can always go back online and reinstall it.
For those of you who feel comfortable using the Windows Run (Win + R) window, type in cleanmgr and follow the instructions. This will get rid of data files and temporary files that are not needed.
The second choice is to subscribe to a cloud storage system. A system like this will provide you with additional space (for a price!) to store your data files.
There are many: Dropbox, Google Drive, Skydrive, etc. I will describe them in more detail in next week’s column. A big drawback to cloud systems is that you cannot run programs (.exe files) from the cloud without special software.
A third choice is to buy yourself an external drive. These drives are not expensive, they are portable and they plug directly into your computer via the USB port.
A USB port is a standard cable connection interface for personal computers and consumer electronics devices. USB stands for Universal Serial Bus, an industry standard for short-distance digital data communications.
If you are worried about someone stealing your stuff, an external drive is probably the safest way to go because your data is right there in the room with you and not out on the internet somewhere. My brother, whose paranoia extends to the furthest reaches of the universe, has an entire fleet of external hard drives. He believes that everyone wants his stuff so he keeps it close by.
A fourth choice is to add more memory. Sometimes this is easy, sometimes not. It depends on the individual computer. Smaller laptops cannot accept more memory. If you are a computer beginner, don’t add memory yourself. Take it to a dealer. Additional memory has the same effect on computer speed as additional hard drive space has.
Lastly, a virus or other malware can really mess with the performance of your computer. It goes without saying that you should be running antivirus software, either a third-party product or a built-in tool like Windows Defender in Windows 10.
Whatever software you use, make sure you run a full scan of your computer to see if any malware is detected. If so, your software should alert you and automatically get rid of it.
Come back next week and we’ll talk about cloud storage systems.
by Sabrina Hornung
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