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A computer is like a car: as soon as you take it away from the store, or dealership, it loses value and there is something better and more powerful that is released. Computers are constantly being updated with more powerful processors, better graphics cards and even more RAM. Computer power doubles quickly as upgrades come along, but you still run into slow systems occasionally.

 

Like a car, a computer needs regular maintenance. So many things contribute to the slowing of a system that it's hard to know where to start. We have laid out a few reasons your computer may be slowing down and give some suggestions to increase your speed.

A Bloated System
Bloatware is software that uses excessive disk-space and memory when you use it, but is rarely ever used. Consider Norton 360. This is very useful software when looking for an antivirus program, but it has too many features that slow computers down. When you buy a new computer, there are a lot of applications on there that you will never use, not even once. Uninstall software can find all the little pieces that aren't being used and remove them from your hard drive. This uninstaller tool not only frees up space, but programs will load quicker.

An Overloaded Startup
Every time you start up your computer, it checks the registry and other parts of your computer to find and preload the applications that will start up with Windows. Preloading makes programs start faster, but this increases the time that passes from pushing the power button to seeing your desktop. If a large number of programs are set to launch automatically when Windows powers up, your system's resources may be unable to manage all the executions and your startup could take minutes instead of seconds.

Operating System Updates
Windows is infamous for their constant updates. Service packs, OS and security updates seem to be an almost everyday thing. Most of these updates address security flaws or fix minor bugs, but if you don't engage in risky behaviors (downloading torrents or visiting other questionable websites) you won't have a problem and probably don't need these updates. Turn off automatic updates and only update if there is a major release.

Antivirus Software
Whenever you install a program or open a file, your antivirus software will scan it and compare files to virus definition files. The definition files tell the scanner how to recognize infected files. When you update your antivirus, more definitions are added, stealing system resources and slowing your computer down. Plus, the antivirus software constantly interrupts your commands. Most antivirus software can be turned off whenever you want. Learning when to scan for files and running system scans only when you need to will lead to improved computer performance.

Too Many Temporary Files
Whether you are looking at webpages, viewing videos, looking at photos or even typing in Word, your computer stores temporary files so they can load up faster the next time around. These files build up over time in your Temporary and Windows Prefetch folders. While it isn't as necessary to clean up the Prefetch folder, you should clean up the Temp folder often. I cleaned out my own folder after just six months of use and was able to remove 3GB of files.

It doesn't matter if your computer just came out of the box or you've had it for years – bloatware, excessive files, preloading and even antivirus software can slow your system down. If you want, you could buy a new computer every few years, but simple management of your system better will save you time, money and frustration down the road.

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