PC Made EZ Mike Smothers

“Hi, Mike? I am so glad I got a hold of you. My computer is running so slowly that I turn it on, make coffee, take the dog for a walk, and bake a few dozen cookies then maybe; just maybe the website will be fully loaded. This computer is running terrible! Can you help?”

Sound familiar? It should, I get this call nearly every day from frantic customers. Let’s look at trouble-shooting 101 and see if any of these things ring a bell.

The main objective of trouble-shooting nearly anything is to eliminate variables and what is left is usually the issue. First of all, we need to determine whether the computer is running poorly or a slow Internet connection is the culprit.

• Unplug the Internet cord or turn off your modem. Click “Start” and then run a few programs and see if performance of the computer is passable or not. For the sake of this discussion, let’s say the computer is still running slow. We have now eliminated the Internet as the cause.

Look in the lower right-hand corner of your desktop by the time and see how many icons you have. If the lower part of your taskbar is full, you may have too many programs starting when Windows starts. Click “Start-Run” and type in “msconfig.” Once the window opens, click the “Start up” tab and see if there are any programs you do not need to auto-start. Things like Skype, iTunes, Windows Media Player, GoogleTalk, Roxio WatchTray, etc., do not need to start when Windows starts so place a checkmark in the box to the left of the file name and click “Apply” and “OK.” Your computer will ask to restart. Upon restart a window will open and say something to the effect that changes have been made …. and in the lower left-hand corner will be a box to not show this again. Click that and you will not see this warning. Does your computer run better? If not, plug the Internet cable back in, update your Malwarebytes or whatever anti-spyware program you use and run a full scan to get rid of any viruses or spyware. On this same note, if you are running Cox supplied McAfee, uninstall it and replace it with Malwarebytes or SuperAntiSpyware and you will see a HUGE boost in performance.

• If you feel the Internet is the issue, there are a few things you can do speed that up as well.

If you are using Internet Explorer, try another browser like FireFox or Google Chrome and see if the poor performance persists. Internet Explorer has been around forever and all the hackers and spyware guys know how to circumvent the security.

If this does not restore good performance, open Internet Explorer and see how many toolbars are present. If you have more than one or two, there are too many. Toolbars are constantly accessing data from the Internet, robbing you of what is called bandwidth. This can make a huge negative impact on your Internet speed. Get rid of excess toolbars either using the program uninstall feature in “Control Panel” or click “Toolbars” in Internet Explorer and uncheck the toolbars you no longer want.

You may also want to check your Internet speed to see if you are getting what you are paying from your Internet provider. To do this, go to http://www.speedtest.net/ and wait until the “Begin Test” button appears on the laptop screen. Click “Begin Test” button and check your speed. My download 33.28 Mbps (MegaBytes per Second) and Upload of 13.22 Mbps. Yours should be similar. If not, call your Internet provider and have them check your line for any breaks.

As always, if you feel these things are out of your realm of comfortability, call and we will be happy to help get your computer back in top operating condition.

• Mike Smothers is president of Ahwatukee-based Smothers Computer Services, a mobile computer repair company. Send questions to mike@smotherscomputers.com or call (480) 753-7667.

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