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Resolved Question

Why do Computers Slow Down with Time?

by tomretterbush / June 22, 2011 1:01 PM PDT

I get the feeling that my computer is getting slower as it gets older.

Is it true that as a person surfs the web, with time they collect corrupted files, virus fragments, spy-ware and other data, that is sometimes undetectable or non removable by anti-virus and anti-software, which causes a computer to slow down?

I was told something like this, but I don't know how much of it is true.

Please, explain it to me and other tech ignorant users.
tomretterbush has chosen the best answer to their question. View answer
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All Answers

Best Answer chosen by tomretterbush

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No So Much Viruses But...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 23, 2011 2:06 AM PDT

... As a computer ages, it starts to gather junk files, additional programs which run at startup, plus other items such as Windows Updates and other program updates. Other programs such as antivirus and antispyware applications have also become more "needy" for RAM and processing power.. All these items require more of the computer such as processing power and RAM..

As just an example, when Windows XP originally was released, with no service packs, many of the computers were sold with minimum RAM amounts such as 256 MB - 512 MB. They didn't run fast with such RAM, but they did run. Now that Windows XP includes Service Pack 3 plus all the updates after SP3 was released, 1 GB of RAM is probably a good starting point..

Virus and spyware is removable when you use the right tools.. In addition, if you use your computer a lot, you should be able to see when you're infected. Use the free programs below to check for such malware. Neither of the free versions below will run in the background, so they won't slow down the computer, but you CAN use them as standalone, on-demand scanning tools.:

Malwarebytes Antimalware

SUPERAntispyware Removal Tool

Can you make your old computer run faster? Sure, but only to a point.. Clean out all the junk files, eliminate any unnecessary startup programs, choose less memory intensive antivirus/antispyware programs, defrag occasionally, run Chkdsk to fix any minor errors on the drive, and up the RAM a little and things might work a little smoother.,

Hope this helps.


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Thanks You Very Much
by tomretterbush / June 24, 2011 3:52 AM PDT
Thanks for the helpful info.

I already use Malwarebytes, but I had never heard of SUPERAntispyware Removal Tool. I have downloaded it in the meantime and am running it as I write this.

Thanks again!
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My Last Words to this Thread
by tomretterbush / June 24, 2011 7:25 AM PDT

To close this thread, I just wanted to thank you again, Grif Thomas.

I forgot to mention that besides Malwarebites I also use AVG's free version, Advanced System Care's free version, Spring Cleaning and Microsoft Security Essentials. And yet your recommended SUPERAntispyware Removal Tool still found some problems:

Browser Hijacker Deskbar
Adware HB Helper

They are all in quarantine now, plus I deleted some unnecessary programs, files and desktop icons.

Things are running a lot faster already!

Thanks again!

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I See A Problem There...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / June 24, 2011 10:26 AM PDT

First, it's best to use ONLY ONE antivirus program at a time.. Microsoft Security Essentials and AVG are performing the same task and can only cause conflicts if they happen to find an infected file.. Likewise, because antivirus programs "hook" deeply into the operating system, two of them running realtime will drag your system down. Keep one or the other and things will speed up even more.

Second, we see way too many problems with registry cleaners and optimizers such as Advanced System Care, etc.. I'll suggest uninstalling it and not using it until you personally have the skills to identify EVERY registry entry and file the program identifies as "bad".. We frequently have members on these forums asking for help because an important registry entry of file was removed by their favorite reg cleaner and their computer no longer runs as expected..

Hope this helps.


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Thanks Grif Thomas! Thanks everybody!
by tomretterbush / July 8, 2011 4:06 AM PDT

Sorry for taking so long to reply, but I had thought this thread was resolved. However, you did ad some useful info. For example, about using more than one antivirus etc. program, at a time. Because of your info, I have stopped using more that one a time, running only AVG continuously, with occasional scans using Microsoft Security Essentials and SUPER Anti Spyware (separately).

When using Advanced System Care registry cleaner I only delete files I know are safe (I am not a total dumb ***).

All and all, because of the tips you guys have provided I have been able to greatly speed things up.

Thanks everybody!

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You have not really offered
by roddy32 / June 23, 2011 1:03 AM PDT

any information about your operating system, etc which the note in red asked for when you posted your question. Your best bet would be to visit out Computer Newbies forum where there is a wealth of information posted particularly in the top stickie post.


Grif has a stickie post with tips at the top of the forum plus you will probably see your qauestion already posted numerous times

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You have not really offered any help
by tomretterbush / June 23, 2011 5:29 AM PDT

Roddy, I'm sorry I forgot to put down my operating system. I didn't think it was relevant for this question. And just so you know, I did visit your Computer Newbies forum and even poted a test thread. Also, had I seen my qaestion already posted numerous times I wouldn't have asked it.

You might try a friendlier tone, sir. And you might try using a spellchecker as well.

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The OS does matter.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / June 23, 2011 5:33 AM PDT

Windows 3.1 for example had me doing some very interesting things to keep the speed up.

I don't do this nearly as much on Windows 7.

It matters and it's proper for folk to ask you for the missing details.

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In regard to your question..
by Carol~ Forum moderator / June 23, 2011 1:51 AM PDT


You asked, "Is it true that as a person surfs the web, with time they collect corrupted files, virus fragments, spy-ware and other data, that is sometimes undetectable or non removable by anti-virus and anti-software, which causes a computer to slow down?"

Personally speaking, I don't find that to be necessarily true. If you maintain your system, scan for "malware" on a regular basis, follow safe computing habits, and don't download a lot of applications and files, significant slowdowns don't have to exist over the years. With that said, it would be unrealistic to expect your system to perform the same way it did when "taken out of the box".

Roddy mentioned a sticky at the Computer Newbie forum. He was referring to "A Few 'Tips' For Computer Newbies", where you can find ways to limit slowdowns. An example being, "How To Shut Down Unnecessary Start Up Programs". Another example being, "How To Clean Unwanted Files From The Hard Drive".

The reasons/causes for slowdowns are many. I only touched upon a few. If you feel you're experiencing a significant slowdown, you might want to include some additional information, as Roddy also suggested.

My ¢ ¢ ..

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Hmmm......never seen such a thing.
by Bob__B / June 23, 2011 2:40 AM PDT

Start with being malware free.

I suppose if your HD is getting full that would cause a slowdown.

Windows has a tool called.....disk clean up.....works well.
Add "Ccleaner" and a lot of crud gets tossed.

Then there is uninstalling unneeded products and archiving of "your stuff".

Startup progs.

This is an area that can grow over time if you don't pay attention to it.
Seems that every product thinks it's a must have item to be in ram.
Try to keep this area skinny.

Give it a shot.......don't expect much.

Toxic mix.
If one anti-product is good then two must be better.
If two is better then three must be better better.
If three is better better then four must be............?
It might turn out to be an anchor.

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Computers Do Not Slow down By Themselves!!
by Dumbpeni / July 2, 2011 3:26 AM PDT

There is many reasons for that ... First of all, what is the speed of your computer? If you still have a 200 mhz IntelPentium III or 333 mhz AMD K-5 chip chips , then you are way long overdue for a upgrade of your computer!!! Everyone is having 2000 mhz or faster Intel or AMD chip INSIDE!!
As you should know ... newer and newer software demand faster and faster INSIDE chips. Even updates of your old softwares or your Windows 98, XP, Vista or 7, anti virus definition updates, accumulation of dust on the motherboard and RAM , loose connections, failing hard drives, clogged heat sinks, the long list goes on are the reasons you get worse and worse performances as tmie passes.
Just divorce your old computer and leave all the old files there . Copy whatever you want to bring with your new computer. Your old computer can come handy as storage for your very seldomly used or ancient files for you to revisit for your own amusement!! I dont understand why people ditch perfectly good ol' computers!!!
My advice on cleaning the guts of your very old dusty computer... Get yourself a one inch throw away paintbrush with yellow non plastic bristles for 79 cent and a decent vaccuum with a pointed nozzle used for nook and cranyy, you know? Gently brush off dust from evarything inside . and suck without touching anything unless the nozzle is made of plastic. Dont use any metallic nozzle as it can short circuit the guts of your computer..
If you have discrete graphic cards with fan , you must remove the card and put on cotton cloth or towel. get a tiny philip screwdriver to remove the thin cover that cover the heatsink (sometimes, there is none ) some heatsink is made of thin copper fin with hollow passages for fan to circulate air . Use your paint brush to free up dust bunnies out of the passages , gently then blow it out with your mouth. no vaccuum .
You also need to clean dust off your INSIDE chip cooling fan and sink with your paint brush. also the fan blades usually get coated with sticky dust that you can wipe off with dry kleenex or paper towel. no plastic cloth because plastic is static! no water.. just gently rub them off patiently @$@!!!
dust off all other PCI cards or PCI-E cards with your paintbrush. It is good practice to remove the cards and brush dust off than to try to brush with cards intact into the slots as they are too close to eachother for your paintbrush to reach effecitvely. Also be sure to brush off all PCI and PCI E slots , RAM slots,
Your powersupply case do get very dusty inside.. it is the toughest piece to remove dust. I use a moderate leaf blower to blow the heck out of the power supply case.. first, move computer outside before doing this.. You wont break anything inside the power supply case with your leaf blower but just dont blow it too closely start one foot away and aim through the vent holes of the powersupply case and observe if dust are getting out move closer until it start flying out. then stop where you are and keep the same distance till job is completed to your satisfaction.. I usuealy take power case apart and brush dust off once every two years or so. Of course, I unplug the powersupply case first..
Dust, loose connections, updates are the chief reasons for the slowdown of your old computer. The other possible reason is that your ISP provider sometimes decide that you are hogging up the Internet too much for the day that he decide to slow your computer down for the day.. Just wait till tomorrow before start over ..
I wonder whether ther e is such cleaning services for computers at computer stores?

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by Byterrr / July 6, 2011 6:19 PM PDT

Much of the information above is moderately helpful but I decided to chime in anyway. There are many factors that can create 'bottlenecks' and slow down the response time of your computer. Starting from old or failing hardware components, onto the usual culprits of fragmentation, trash left behind by uninstalled applications both in the form of files and registry entries, and simply having too many things loaded on start-up.

Unless you have a newer SolidStateDrive fragmentation will always be an issue. Add onto that the increased usage of the drives space on a HardDiskDrive, and the HDD must cover more ground in order to find all the bits of the files it needs to access at any given time. Generally speaking windows will not put a file onto the drive in one large piece and may have it split up onto several places on the drive. Programs such as PerfectDisk12 help to not only defragment your drive but also to help prevent fragmentation buildup by redirecting writes to minimize such archaic writing practices making it easier for the HDD to locate the information in fewer seeks.

As you install programs not only do they take up drive space, they generally (not always-but mostly) also add registry entries. The registry is essentially the backbone of a book gluing the pages of your copy of windows together. Applications create/modify and occasionally delete entries contained in the registry. Usually even after a uninstalling an application, some remnants can be found in the registry. The more applications you add/remove the larger your registry grows once again resulting in more seek time from the drive, as the registry also exists as a set of files, and more processing power to sift through the information it contains. Though not something you want to do often, or without first making a backup...a thorough registry cleaning may help. The formerly suggested ccleaner is a decent freeware that will do this in addition to searching for unneeded temporary files.

Unnecessary startup-entries are a real issue on a lot of computers that I look at nowdays. While theoretically they shouldn't be an issue for anything but a slight increase on the booting/startup time of your computer (or if you have a low amount of RAM) I find more and more of these poorly written or aggressive applications consuming CPU time while it should be idle or eating your internets bandwidth by constantly phoning home. I once found a computer loading five different search engine bars on bootup and the person used none of them.... More and more applications today also install such things without asking you so this may be something you wish to check on. Just look up startup cpl on google and you should find some free programs that will help you explore most of the programs that have added startup entries. Another place to check, though I wouldn't suggest doing so lightly is your services in the administrative tools of the control panel. Some applications also add things here that start automatically but could be changed to manual and be loaded only when needed as the application is actually launched. Other software, particularly Anti-virus, firewalls, etc need such services to function correctly.

Finding the right software is key. There are literally thousands of poorly written or unsupported applications available out there. Test many, find the one that does what you want and ensure it plays nicely with your other software! This is especially true of Anti-Virus or Firewall programs!!! While all anti-virus programs with real-time protection enabled will result in a minor slowdown as they must process/scan files before they are used some are worse than others.

If you don't use an anti-virus then of course virii, malware, etc can also have major impact on your system not only in speed, but security. They could grab your passwords, take control of your computer with a trojan. Modify system files and cause errors or BlueScreensOfDeath. In fact your computer could be used to route their hack attacks on other users resulting in even more trouble for you down the road.

If you download and test alot of software like me I would suggest the use of a program like Returnil System Safe which allows you to begin virtualizing a session and discarding ALL changes upon reboot. Meaning I could download ten programs, activate the virtual session, install all ten, test each, reboot and when I start my computer again they were never actually installed! That function is free but if you want more advanced functions as saving a session to disk to make it permanent or the virus-protection (which I disable in favor of my own AV) you will need to dish out some cash :-/ One drawback of this program is that if the program requires a reboot after installation before you can test it, you won't be able to use it for that. I also noticed that this one does not play well with Eset's NOD32...

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