That Sluggish PC You Want To Set On Fire – How To Get It Running Like A Ferrari

by Richard Cameron

You are reading this because your computer is running like a slug

and that might be an over-generous assessment. So, let’s get down to business, because I’m not going to tease you with promises of a solution if you will only watch some manipulative video and ask you to subscribe to some subscription newsletter or any such nonsense. It’s all here and it’s completely gratis.

First – these guidelines to troubleshooting and fixing a computer with a case of the slows, apply to owners of PCs with Windows based operating systems. If you have a Mac, there’s not much here that is going to apply. Do an internet search for “rolling beach ball” and you are sure to find some tips.

Obsolete and Outmoded Operating Systems –

The good news and the bad news. The bad news first. If your computer is still running on Windows 98 (God forbid!) Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7 – your first step towards efficient and brisk computing is to either upgrade the operating system to Windows 10 – or, the simplest fix of all – mothballing your desktop or notebook and purchasing a new computer. But a new computer might not be in your budget, which is why you should apply the fixes outlined below.

The other, alternate possibility in this situation is to download a Linux based operating system called Ubuntu and install it on that older computer. Before you do so – please back up all your files and folders, so you can import them back when Ubuntu is installed. To support an Ubuntu install, your existing PC will need at least these minimums:
Recommended system requirements:

  • 2 GHz dual core processor or better
  • 2 GB system memory
  • 25 GB of free hard drive space
  • Either a DVD drive or a USB port for the installer media
  • Internet access is helpful

The advantage with Ubuntu is that it is a lightweight (in a good sense) OS that the older Windows PCs can run and run well.

The second advantage is that Ubuntu is inherently more secure than Windows. If you are presently running any of the Windows operating systems I listed above – you should know that none of them are supported by Microsoft anymore and your files and browsing are especially vulnerable to malware and other malicious attacks. I took a Windows 8 computer, a still nice Toshiba and converted it to Ubuntu and now it’s a handy extra notebook to just surf the web on.

But if you have anything now running Windows 8 to Windows 10, it will make sense to put these below listed time tested apps and methods to work for you. I’m happy to say that none of this requires any deep cyber know how; the developers have streamlined them for any level of computer maintenance illiteracy. Here they are:

The Internet Cache – Empty It

Use CC Cleaner. What this is, is a dashboard to clear out your internet cache and most cookies, web surfing history and empty the recycle bin, without having to make a lot of separate trips here and there on your computer to accomplish it. Why is this important? When the internet cache accumulates in the neck of the woods of around 350MB, your web browser will become lethargic and sites like Facebook will exhibit odd behavior of various sorts.

A bloated up internet cache can also give you headaches trying to log in to sites that you ordinarily have no trouble with. Another nice feature of CC Cleaner is that you can review the software programs you have on your computer without having to go to the Control Panel and delete any that you no longer want or use.

If your PC takes a long time to finish startup, you can look at what programs are running on start up that you don’t need and disable them. It doesn’t mean you can’t use them, just that they don’t automatically start themselves. It’s also good to occasionally run the registry cleaner that comes with CC Cleaner.

There are many other maintenance items that CC Cleaner centralizes for your convenience. It’s a must have and should be used, if not daily, at least 3 or 4 times a week. Check it out here for a download.

Use MalwareBytes. There are various programs out there that seek out, isolate and remove malware and spyware from your computer that you may have picked up here or there, but MalwareBytes is a great example and one I have used for years now. Install it, run it and follow the prompts if it identifies any risks. Simple.

Overloaded RAM and CPU

Another major culprit of slow computers is overloaded and insufficient RAM (Random Access Memory). Besides obsolete operating systems, this is the main reason folks purchase new computers every few years or so. The other bad actor is the CPU – otherwise referred to as your computer’s processor chip.

What typically happens if your habits are anything like mine, you have several tabs and even maybe two browsers open simultaneously. The CPU and the RAM can’t keep up and your computer slows to a screeching halt and may even crash, causing you to lose projects you hadn’t yet saved.

The way to discover if this is the problem is to right click on the lower taskbar and open the “Task Manager”. Doing so, will show you how much of your CPU and RAM are being consumed. If you happen to notice that you are running above 80 percent of CPU and or RAM, that will be evidence of why everything is crawling.

Two options if you can’t afford a new PC. One – keep Task Manager open and shut some tabs and processes that you don’t absolutely need open. You will see RAM and CPU consumption drop accordingly.  Here is what Task Manager looks like on Windows 10:

RAM Upgrades – DIY

The second fix I am going to mention here,  is only helpful if your CPU isn’t constantly maxing out and that is to purchase some additional RAM and install it. You can go to Crucial.com and run a check of what RAM your computer is running currently and they will tell you if there is extra capacity to add more. They provide you with a tutorial on the installation process, so for $50 or less, you can pump some more life into your PC.

Last but not least, try a faster and more efficient browser. In my personal experience, Opera is more friendly to computers with limited RAM and CPU capacity and I noticed a dramatic difference switching from Firefox (an old standby) to Opera.  Opera is faster and videos on YouTube and elsewhere work a lot more troublefree – really without a hitch.

Hope these recommendations work well for you – I really believe they will, because they have made a major difference in my own experience. Happy computing is here again!

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