Saturday, January 02, 2010

Dr Bill’s Prescription for a Slowing Computer


Check Add/Remove Programs and Remove all programs that you do not use.

Keep your computer running lean, keeping only the applications that you actually use. Also look for programs that were not intentionally installed, and applications that do not uninstall properly.

  • Process:
  • Start
  • Control Panel
  • Add/Remove Programs

Check for Spyware and Viruses

Check your antivirus program to make sure that it is getting updates, and that your computer is getting scanned occasionally. Run Spybot Search and Destroy, Lavasoft Ad-aware, making sure you update them first before scanning (see Dr Bill’s Prescription for Spyware and Viruses) If you have persistent recurring adware or viruses, seek the help of a professional.

Clear off desktop

Keep your desktop clear of files and folders. Keep only shortcuts on your desktop. Use the same logic with your email inbox. Try to keep the inbox clean, leaving only action items, and saving the rest in appropriate files, that are not in you inbox.(See Dr Bill’s Prescription for an Overflowing Inbox).

The logic behind this is that when your operating system boots up, it needs to load all those files. When the email is opened, it needs to index all the emails that are in the inbox for display.

Run Disk Cleanup


  • Start
  • Programs
  • Accessories
  • System Tools
  • Disk Cleanup This will scan for a little while (the longer it has been, the longer it will take). The items that it will display vary, but usually include
  • Downloaded Program Files
  • Temporary Internet Files
  • Office Setup Files
  • Recycle Bin
  • Temporary Files
  • Compress Old Files I would check all but the Office Setup Files. The Compress Old Files option is not usually on by default, but should be. This takes old files that are rarely accessed, and compresses them, much like a zip file does. This saves space on your hard drive, and followed up with a Defrag, can really boost your disk performance.

Run Disk Defrag


  • Start
  • Programs
  • Accessories
  • System Tools
  • Disk Defragment


This will start a long process that places related files and bits next to each other, reducing hard disk “thrashing” (searching back and forth for files). I also moves files closer to the center of the disk, the left of the progress display. The closer to the center, the faster the access will be.

The ideal, never reached of course, is all the bars to the left, all blue or green, no spaces.

Repeat Steps 4 and 5 daily, until speed has cleared up.

If you are obsessive, you can do it several times a day.

If you are forgetful, you can set it up to run automatically with task scheduler.

Step 6 (optional)

CCleaner (Crap Cleaner, use slim edition) is a program that scrubs your registry for things it doesn’t need, and really cleans out old temporary files that Window seems to want to hold on to forever. There may be some risk, but if you only use the default options you should be safe. I have never had any issues.

Keep Your Computer Running Well

Microsoft/Windows Updates

You’ve seen it there in your program files. If you have updated to at least windows XP, you have probably been prompted to setup up automatic updates. That’s a good thing. If not, run them. If you can’t find it, use internet explorer to go to microsoft update. Don’t worry about optional updates.


I recommend Avira (free) to anyone who needs excellent antivirus protection, or I recommend ClamWin (free, open source) for older, slower computers or lower risk computers. I use ClamWin because I put a premium on the performance, and am willing to take the risk on a product that doesn’t protect as well.

[Edit: 2011] Use Microft Security Essentials


I use Windows Defender to prevent spyware. Once you have used Spybot Search and Destroy and Lavasoft to clean up spyware, remove them, and make sure Windows Defender is installed and running.

Cleanup Virus Trojan

There is a spyware program that is very common right now, that tells you have multiple viruses, and want you to buy their software to get rid of it. Here’s the cleanup for that.


Anonymous said...

Hey Dr. Bill,

Great advice! You ROCK!

Best Regards,


Anonymous said...

快樂是你與生俱來的權力,它不應該取決於你完成什麼。 ........................................

billcreswell said...

Microsoft Security Essentials and Microsoft Defender Firewall should take care of most virus/spyware issues.