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How to increase your computer’s speed (part 1) December 8, 2005

Posted by techandother in Software.

The thing people notice most when they have a slow machine is a slow internet connection. This article will show you how to increase your speed 5x, on average.

Your internet speed can be increased by the greatest amount by simply removing malicious programs that are using your connection to spy on you, send spam, attach other machines, etc. Here’s how to put you back in the driver’s seat of your internet connection.

Connection Counts
Those with a broadband (DSL, cable) connection are most vulnerable. If I were to take a brand new machine and connect it to the internet with no protection, it would be infected (on average) in under 16 minutes. Without me doing anything. AOL users are a little safer, as AOL acts on your behalf. However, if you have kids, all bets are off, because those downloadable mouse pointers, sound packages, etc. come loaded with spyware and viruses.

Virus Scanners are only as good as the last Update
No matter what virus scanner you have, it needs to be kept up-to-date on the latest threats that are out there. Make sure your virus scanner is set to update its “virus definition files” at LEAST 3 times per week, preferably every day. Our servers update every 6 hours. If you don’t have a virus scanner, turn off your machine, unplug the network cable, and go buy one of the ones in a box at the store. I recommend McAfee for home use. I haven’t had much luck with Norton’s home offering, and although their corporate/network version is very good, I’ll still stick with McAfee’s full product (not the web-based pay-as-you-go version).

Spyware is what makes the internet slow
Some spyware installs itself without your knowledge. Some trick you into installing by pretending to be legitimate. Most get installed along with other programs, like Instant Messaging and Windows Themes. The first step is to remove spyware with something like the free program ‘Spybot: Search and Destroy’. I know, goofy name. But a good program. Download it here. Again, this program is only as good as the latest definitions, so update the definitions first, THEN scan. Spyware studies have shown that your internet connection can be slowed to 20% of what it normally would be on average, so this definitely will help the problem. Spybot will probably find something on your machine. I’ve seen results ranging from 1 item to over 1200 on a single machine. Let me know if you break the record… 🙂

Protect yourself
Make sure the virus scanner is automatically starting when the machine starts. Spybot has something called TeaTimer, I would install it. it will tell you when anything tries to install itself on your machine. If it alerts you while you’re installing a program you bought from a store, it is probably OK to click ‘accept changes’. If you’re not doing anything, and all of the sudden it asks you to accept the changes, SOMEthing on your machine is trying to change something…don’t accept the changes if you don’t recognize what software is changing something. You’re better off being restrictive and having to re-load some game rather than allow something in that you didn’t intend to. In addition, make sure your machine is automatically updating itself via Windows Update. Also make sure the Windows Firewall is turned on.

If all else fails
If you run virus scan, and run spybot, and it can’t clean off the spyware, bring your machine to a professional. It’s not going to get better by itself, and if two good programs can’t clean it, that’s a bad sign. If you are able to clean everything off, but the machine is still slow, try a speed testing tool to see if it is the connection or the machine. If the connection is bad, contact your service provider or look into a higher-quality Cable Modem and/or router. (Standalone or Modem/Router Combo Unit) (Also keep in mind that wireless is more convenient, but 802.11g is 54Mb per second, while these wired ethernet products are 100Mb per second.)

If even that fails
If the connection is good, but your machine is slow, open ‘My computer’, right-click C:\, click ‘properties’. Click ‘Disk Cleanup’ on the ‘general’ tab. Follow the directions.
If your machine is still slow, click the ‘tools’ tab and click ‘defragment’. Follow the directions to defrag C:\.
If your machine is STILL slow, consider upgrading your memory to at LEAST 256MB of memory if under Windows XP, or possibly pick up a newer machine from someone cheap like Dell.



1. The Daily Technocrat » What to install on a new PC - February 21, 2006

[…] In additon, you’ll want to make some tweaks to the OS, of course. […]

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