Why is my computer so slow now?

Why is my computer so slow now?

This is a very common problem that most computer owners have faced. In several job interviews I have been asked this question: How do you fix a slow computer?

In the vast majority of cases I have worked on, malware was the cause of the slowdown. Malware is a broad term that includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses , adware, spyware and more.  I define malware simply as any software that causes harm to your computer. In the last ten years malware infections have grown exponentially. Just having your computer turned on and connected to the internet puts it at risk even if you’re not using it! Even using your favorite search engine may be dangerous because they sometimes inadvertently link you to an infected website.

Graphic of malware for last 10 years

 Image from: http://www.av-test.org/typo3temp/avtestreports/print_malware-last-10-years_sum_en.png

 

What can you do to keep your computer safe from malware? Prevention is the best medicine and if you follow these steps you will greatly reduce the risk of getting infected with malware.

  1. Turn on your Windows Firewall. All versions of Windows since XP service pack 3 have a decent firewall that will stop simple works. A firewall works by blocking ports of unauthorized internet traffic so that only legitimate traffic gets in. Unfortunately several forms of malwares hitchhike with legitimate traffic through a legitimate port. For example an infected website may send malware to your computer with legitimate website data straight through Internet Explorer . The firewall is important but only one piece of protection your computer needs.
  2. Make sure Windows is up to date. Microsoft releases new updates for Windows every month, many of which fix security holes and problems.  I recommend that you set Windows to download and install Windows updates automatically. And please don’t ignore the notifications to reboot your computer after an update. The sooner you apply the new updates the sooner you will be protected from those security problems.
  3. Keep anti-virus software up to date. It is very important to not only have anti-virus software installed but also to keep the virus definitions up to date. Anti-virus software companies release virus definition updates at least once a week. If your anti-virus hasn’t been updated in over a week your computer is at risk.
  4. Say NO when you don’t recognize the program. Pay attention when the User Account Control window pops up informing you that a program needs permission to make changes to your computer. If you do not recognize the program or know why more permission is needed click NO or CANCEL.  Normally you will see the User Account Control window when you are in the process of installing a new program or changing a setting on your computer and in these situations it is correct to click YES or CONTINUE.
  5. Be careful about what you download or open. Only download software from known good websites.  Don’t open email attachments from people you don’t know or that look fishy.

Here are some steps that you can follow if your computer is infected:

  1. Reboot the computer in Safe Mode. Malware often prevents you from cleaning it when in normal mode. Booting into safe mode only allows the basic windows programs and services to start and without the malware running active defense you have a better chance to uninstall it.
  2. Run a full scan in Safe Mode. While in safe mode use your up-to-date anti-virus program to run a full scan of your computer.
  3. Use a different program to run a second scan. Sometimes a second program can clean up an infection that the first cannot. This is a full scan again in safe mode.
  4. Hire a computer expert. Computer experts, like me, can perform more advanced steps to remove malware. Some of the advanced steps include manually disabling malicious Windows services, booting the computer from an alternate device to clean your computer without Windows running, editing and correcting the Windows registry and executing commands in the windows recovery console. Call me at 385-200-0750 or click here to message me.

Additional information about malware:

http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd632948.aspx

http://www.av-test.org/fileadmin/pdf/avtest_2013-03_search_engines_malware_english.pdf

http://www.av-test.org/en/statistics/malware/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware#Proliferation

http://www.trendmicro.com/us/security-intelligence/research-and-analysis/index.html#threat-reports

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zombie_computer

Posted in Slow Computer