It used to be normal to run a personal computer on just 128mb of memory. Oh, those were the days! Now operating systems like Windows require at least 512mb of memory before it can run on your computer. And even when you have 512mb, you would probably need to upgrade to 1gb or higher so you can run memory-hogging applications without your computer lagging, or freezing up.
With each version of a software program, higher level requirements are needed. Even more so when the program is a computer game. Graphics and sound effects may need more memory for your gameplay to run smooth and unhindered. Aside from that, internet speeds are better handled by your PC when it has enough memory to handle browsers that require a lot of memory space.
If it’s not memory, then what is it?
But a PC that is running slow may not always be lacking in memory. The problem may be caused by another factor. The most common culprit, of course, is a virus. A virus can occupy space in your memory and run stealthily in the background. It can easily be detected by your anti-virus program. There are times when the virus is relatively new and may not be detected immediately, but if your antivirus updates regularly then you don’t have to worry.
If it’s not a virus, then what is it?
A good thorough investigation into your PC’s processes will reveal what’s happening. Normally, you can see the processes running in the background using the Task Manager. But this Windows application does not readily inform you what those files are and what they are for. To do this, you can use a software program called Process Explorer. With this program, you can easily identify which file is not needed and which are important for the system to function.
If there are no hidden processes, then what is it?
Aside from viruses and hidden processes, another culprit that can cause your computer to run slow is a malware that connects to the Internet to send information about your computer. These are called spyware and are dangerous because your personal information may be used by scammers to deceive other people and steal money. Another set of malware can also automatically download and install virus programs into your PC. These malware programs can only do this when the account you’re using has admin privileges that allows software installations and when your PC’s firewall is not blocking these intrusions effectively.
The Windows Firewall is alright as it is, but if you want a more secure PC, you would need a stronger and more reliable firewall such as Komodo or Zonealarm. These firewall programs will log every event and can be configured to either allow or block certain programs from connecting to the Internet.
When you have gotten rid of the offending viruses, malware and hidden processes and you have upgraded your memory, it’s time to do some maintenance. Use Spybot Search and Destroy to periodically clean out the unnecessary files in your PC and to detect bad registry entries. You can also use Lavasoft’s AdAware to regularly check the presence of spyware and adware. Aside from these two, there are other effective programs that can help you keep your PC clean and free from viruses. Use them regularly and your PC will surely be safe.