Why Is My Computer Running Slow

March 14th, 2009

There are many different problems that may cause your computer to slow down, but you can sum it up into two categories: software or hardware. The computer hardware is the tangible parts, like the motherboard, RAM, or CPU. Computer software is all the installed applications or programs in your computer. Software includes programs such as Photoshop, Microsoft Word, or even games. If your computer is running slow, here is a list of things to check.

  • Hard drive running out of space
  • Startup programs
  • Internal dust causing overheating
  • Virus scan or spy ware scan
  • Corrupt files
  • Fragmented hard drive

You should make sure there is plenty of room left on your hard drive. If it is running low on space you can either get an upgrade or delete old files or unused programs. It would also be helpful to erase all your temporary files as well as cookies.

The most common occurrence for computer slow down is forgotten or unnecessary applications constantly running in the background. It is very likely that when you get a new program or application it automatically adjusts its settings to run every time you start your computer. Open up the task manager and see what applications you have running. If you find anything that sounds unfamiliar or that you would just prefer not to have running, you should go to the add or remove programs manager in the control panel and remove them.

An overheating computer can greatly slow down its processing. Your computer should be ventilated to allow air to flow through and keep it from over heating. This is helpful but also problematic since it brings dust into your computer which can greatly add up over time. You should occasionally open up the case of the PC and blow any dust out.

If pop-up windows are constantly bombarding your screen, even when you’re not using your computer, that can be a big factor in the lack of speed of your computer. Pop-ups are usually caused by spyware or a virus that has infected your computer. The solution to this problem is purchasing an anti virus program and have it running at all times.

Although it doesn’t matter which anti virus program you use, it is important to make sure it is always up to date. Regular scans of your system can be scheduled to be performed automatically, or you can initiate them manually.

A corrupt file can also seriously slow down your computer and can even keep it from working properly or booting up at all. The solution to this is running the scan disk utility.

Fragmented files are files or documents that may have not been stored in the most efficient way and will make it hard for your computer to open them. To take care of your fragmented files, click on Start, then programs, then go to accessories > system tools > disc defragmenter. Defragment all of the given drives. Defragmentation may take a while to complete, but the possible resulting increase in speed makes it very worth while.

Why do I need a Firewall?

February 14th, 2009

A firewall is essentially a security application that regulates information and access between the internet and a computer. Firewalls are also used to regulate traffic between computer networks, but for the average home computer user, a firewall is a tool specifically to protect them from the dangers of the internet. Windows operating systems come with a built-in firewall, so, why would you need to enlist the aid of a 3rd party firewall?

Not to take anything away from Windows Firewall, which is an effective basic product, but it does not offer anything close to the protection of the firewalls provided by leading antivirus and internet security companies. With the sophistication of hackers increasing all the time, youíll want a firewall that is also constantly evolving and being updated with the latest security information.

One common misconception is that only computers connected to the internet via broadband or some other type of high speed connection need a firewall. While it is true that these types of computers are more frequently targeted by thieves, that does not mean that computers on a dial-up connection are necessarily safe. Any computer connected to the internet needs to have an effective firewall running.

Without a firewall, your computer would be completely vulnerable to attack from the internet. Hackers could easily connect to your computer, transmit harmful information, and even steal your personal information and data.

One big difference between the basic Windows Firewall and more advanced firewall programs is that Windows Firewall only regulates incoming requests. The reason this still leaves you so vulnerable is because if you happen to contract a virus or some other type of malware, that malicious program may take your information and attempt to relay it to the criminal that distributed the harmful code in the first place. For instance, if you contract spyware that steals the online usernames and passwords you have saved in your browser, the virus will then attempt to send that information back to the source of that malware. If you have an effective firewall application running, however, such a transmission may not be allowed to occur.

Similarly, having a router that controls access to your home computer network is similar to the above scenario. You computer router will not allow non-trusted incoming requests, but it has no way to regulate outgoing requests. A powerful firewall is still needed to totally protect all of the computers on your network.

Another reason that the basic firewall as well as the firewall protection provided by routers is inadequate is simply because the technology is somewhat outdated. Hackers, for the most part, have already developed ways to get around these basic types of firewalls, and routinely do so in efforts to steal information or harm computers.

Upgrading to a full service firewall will give you the peace of mind of knowing that you are being protected by the latest technology that is constantly being improved upon by antivirus experts. Many internet security suite software packages include powerful firewalls that are regularly updated along with the rest of the software to keep it up to date and keep you safe from the latest threats.

If youíre unsure of which firewall program is best for you, take a look at some of the reviews online to get a better understanding of which products offer the best service and value. You might start by researching the security products of the top companies such as Norton and McAfee, both trusted names in PC security.

Where Antivirus Software Does Not Protect You

January 14th, 2009

Although there are several benefits of having antivirus software installed on your computer, you should never assume that you are 100% protected simply because youíre running an antivirus program. There are many instances where antivirus software alone cannot protect you.

Behavior Blocking
The process of technology blocking malware from accessing certain parts of your operating system is known as behavior blocking. Due to the fact that all antivirus applications function by detecting, cleaning, and preventing infections using virus definitions that are signatures of known threats, they have to be updated in order for you to be protected against new threats. A good example of behavior blocking is in an instance where the technology is used to prevent a virus from sending infected emails to everyone in your address book by blocking access to your address book. Another example is when behavior blocking prevents a virus from being able to terminate any of your systems key processes.

In-Memory Threats
Most types of viruses infect a file, and then the associated viral code runs whenever the application is running. Antivirus scanners scan all the files and folders on your system looking for such an infection. Certain types of infections, such as the W32 Slammer, infect an application as it is running and are never actually written to disk. Since antivirus scanners work by looking for infections in files as opposed to application memory, these types of infections go undetected. If an in-memory security exploit is known to exist in any application, it should be disabled or corrected as soon as possible.

Hackers
Hackers are a very real threat for anyone that has a computer connected to the internet. Basic antivirus software does not provide protection specifically against hacker attacks. In order to best protect your computer from hackers, you’ll need firewalls, intrusion alert systems, and general awareness of what is going on with your system. Some major antivirus software developers offer total security suites that do provide protection against hackers and other online threats, as well as protection for your home or work network. While these types of software usually cost a bit more than traditional antivirus software, they are a wise investment, especially for people that regularly transfer personal information over the internet.

Spyware
Spyware is an often malicious although sometimes simply annoying type of application that records information about your habits on the computer. Spyware is usually designed for either criminal or commercial purposes. As it stands now, most antivirus programs do not scan for these types of applications. However, there are several spyware removal tools available online, and some are even free. Spyware can be very annoying and it can also use up valuable system resources that may result in reduced overall PC performance. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes spyware is bundled with software and is required to be left installed on your machine in order for you to continue using the software that it came with. Information about such spyware can usually be found in the terms of service you must agree to before installing the software that it was bundled with.