Lately at the shops, we have seen a plague, of sorts, on the computers that are dropped off for us to clean up. They aren’t exactly infected, and they don’t have any hardware issues, but they are moving slow as molasses.
If we know that the hardware is good, and it is enough to keep the particular operating system running quickly, then there is only one answer: #SoftwareProbs.
Software issues can slow your system down just as much as a dying hard drive, or low memory. We have covered bloatware and software issues before but, this time, we want to talk about how to recognize it.
As I have said in previous post: When software is labeled as “free”, 9 times out of 10 you have a problem. If software on your computer is called something with “optimizer” or “cleanup” in the name, and you didn’t install it, you have a problem. If software magically appeared on your computer, and you don’t remember when that happened: You have a problem.
It takes years of experience to recognize and remove all of it, but we can go over some basics.
Believe it or not, your system probably came with bloatware. Computer manufactures are paid to install certain applications on your BRAND NEW system, so that you may later invest in that software. Also, they include their own so that, heaven forbid, you forget what brand of computer you are using. Granted some are necessary, like HP’s “wireless assistant”, but if most of them were removed, your system would run much better. Below is an example of a brand new system with applications like “HP Games”, “Vonage”, and an Ebay shortcut. Likely some of these applications are set to run on start-up, and will slow that process down.
Below is an example of a “toolbar”. These things are absolutely useless. Why would you need a web search, when one is already built into your address bar? Why would you need an ebay app, when you can easily type, www.ebay.com, or even create a favorite?
Luckily, we aren’t seeing toolbars as much as we used to. They are too obvious, and companies have moved on to new ways of slowing your system down.
These guys are one of the worst, and are technically considered “malware”, but can be lumped into the the term “bloatware”, as they are unwanted, and slow your system down. Some of these can even stop you from performing actions or deny internet access. These were created to fool people into believing they were infected, so that they would give personal info, or make some sort of purchase. So what do they look like? They will typically have very generic names, and again, if you don’t remember installing it, it shouldn’t be there. Below is a picture of “Antivirus 2010”, which covered several screens on our work bench at one time.
These can be just as bad as the fake antiviruses and cause many of the same issues. Unfortunately, if a user actually runs these programs, they can completely destroy their registry. The registry is an area of your computer that any normal user should never venture near. One change in your registry can cause severe system issues and it may not even boot into windows.
Browser hijacker’s do exactly what they sound like. They take over your browser’s routing, change your homepage, even change your search options. These guys are particularly nasty, in that, they reroute your searches to unreliable sources which usually just install more bloatware. Instead of a reliable search app like Google or Bing, you will end up with something like Conduit Search. This particular one will change your home page, and your actual address bar will search through it.
True Bloatware or Grayware
True bloatware is similar to the unnecessary software that comes on new systems, as mentioned above. This software may even be legitimate, but the way that it gets on your system isn’t. Bloatware typically isn’t harmful, but is software that you don’t actually need, and therefore is causing your system to run slower than it would without it. These applications may come in the form of “PDF Readers”, “Scanning Software”, or even “Screen Capture”. Again, the rule of thumb applies: If you don’t remember installing it, and it just shows up one day: You probably don’t need it.
Unfortunately, there is a ridiculous amount of this stuff on the internet, and we can’t possibly cover them all, or even all the types. Hopefully, this has given you some idea of what to look out for, and you will know when to take your system in for a cleaning. If you have ran into these programs already, don’t fret, you are not alone. Most systems that come into our shops have this stuff on them whether the customer knows it or not. Always remember that your computer is very similar to a car. Just like your vehicle needs maintenance every now and then; so does your computer. Have it checked up by a professional regularly to make sure all is well. For those of you in East Tennessee, Computer Depot Inc. will check it out for free!