In a press release today, HP outlined a rather extensive list of Windows 8 driven machines. Included are several varieties each of consumer notebooks, consumer desktops and of course business PCs. Read the whole press release here:
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The Layman’s Guide to Diagnosing and Fixing a Slow Windows Computer. Part Two – Viruses, Spyware, and Adware
There are multitudes of web pages written on identifying, locating, and removing viruses, spyware, and adware. This will be very much a 10,000 foot view of this issue since viruses are ever-changing and answers to specific virus-related problems can be found, in detail, elsewhere.
Prevention is the best way to not have to deal with this problem. If you are reading this, I assume you already have a virus so I will keep this short. Know what types of sites you are visiting! If you frequent known, low risk sites and searches you will have fewer problems. If you are constantly surfing the seedy underbelly of the web, you will need to learn to recognize risky sites or have some sort of in-browser type virus protection.
Get a good virus protection program. There are many free ones. My favorites are AVG, Avast, and Microsoft Security Essentials. You only need one. Norton, MacAfee, and Kapersky are some of the more popular paid virus protection programs. I have two issues with these:
- They tend to take control of the root of your system, blocking you from performing tasks on your computer as a means of preventing you from harming the system yourself. This is not necessarily a bad thing. If you are new to computing, this can help keep you safe.
- They tend to take up lots of resources (memory, disk space, etc). Sometimes the virus protection program can slow your computer more than a virus would.
If you believe you already have a virus.
1) Start your computer in Safe Mode
- Reboot your computer and as it is booting up slowly tap the F8 key at the top of your computer (some models use the delete key), about once every 3 seconds or so. You should see a black screen that with several boot options on it.
- Look for “Safe Mode with Networking”.
- Highlight it by using the up and down arrows, then hit enter. This will load only the essential programs needed to make your computer run (and connect to the internet). The screen may look strange since some drivers are not running. Safe mode should also be showing in the corners of your screen.
- Once at the desktop, look in your task manager to see what programs are running. Does anything look strange? Stop any unnecessary programs.
2. Download, Install, and Run HijackThis
Hijackthis from TrendMicro will help remove files that have “hijacked” your computer. These files can prevent your virus software from doing its job effectively. If you are able to get to the internet, download, install, and run HijackThis. If you are not able to get to the internet, it may be time to call a professional.
- Download and install HijackThis
- Run the program
- Look at each line. Look for the names of companies that you recognize. Companies like Microsoft, Yahoo, HP, or Norton. These files are usually safe
- Look at any lines that do not contain these company names. Do you recognize the program that is referenced in the line?
- If you find a line that doesn’t have a familiar program name in it, copy everything after the last “/”. This will be the actual file name, usually ending in “.exe” (executable).
- Paste that into a web search at Google or Bing or your favorite search engine.
- Read about the file. Is it safe? Often it is easy to realize that a file is bad because the top search results will contain words like “virus” or “how to remove”.
- Once you are certain that the file is bad, put a checkmark in the box next to it in HijackThis
- Once you have all of the bad lines checked, click “Fix Checked”
- If you are not sure, do another scan and this time save a log file. This file can be uploaded to many virus forums and the kind folks there will help you out.
3. Download, Install and Run Malwarebytes
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is an excellent program for finding and removing those really pesky programs that can keep your virus software from doing its job.
- Download and install Malwarebytes (There is a fee version)
- Update (just like with your virus program, an out of date malware database is of no use).
- Run the program
- Follow the prompts
- When the scan is finished (This could take several minutes).
- Click “See Results”. You should see a list of possible malware. Check these to see that Malwarebytes hasn’t misidentified a useful program for a bad one
- Click “Remove Selected”
4. Launch and update your Virus Program.
Always update the program before scanning. New viruses appear all of the time. A scan with an outdated virus database is not a complete scan.
- Scan your computer.
- Reboot the computer
- Scan the computer again
5. Download, Install, and Run a Spyware Program
Again, there are several good spyware programs out there. Many are free. My personal favorite at the time of this writing is Spybot.
One note about Spybot, it also comes with an optional add-on called TeaTimer that helps to protect you from future infections. As good a program as this is, I find that it can often take up valuable resources while running in the background. When I install Spybot, I decline the additional install of TeaTimer.
Follow the same procedures as above when running your spyware scan. Reboot, go into Safe mode, update, scan, reboot, and scan again.
6. Download, Install, and Run an Adware Program
Adware is not as common a problem as it used to be. I think many advertisers have found that this tends to alienate potential customers; therefore they don’t do it as often anymore. Also, most Adware is caught by a good spyware program such as Spybot. When I used to run a lot of adware scan, I would use Adaware. But I haven’t had to use it on years.
7. System Restore
I know people who swear by this method but I am always a little leery of losing data, it’s never happened but that’s my thoughts, so I use this as a last resort.
Windows contains a System Restore feature that allows you to rollback you computer to the status it was in before any tragic problems. To find System Restore
- Click the Start button
- Click “All Programs”
- Click on the “Accessories” folder
- Click on the “System Tools” folder
- Click “System Restore”
System Restore will ask you if you want to restore your computer to an earlier date. Follow the instructions. Microsoft has made this extremely simple. Pick a date that you know is prior to your infection and allow Windows to restore your computer to that date. The computer will restart during this process.
8. Really tough stuff
The procedures above tend to get things back in order most of the time. However, if you are still having troubles there is a possibility that you have a rootkit, a program which reloads itself every time you boot, and if your virus and spyware scans cannot seem to find and root out (pun intended) the small file that allows this to happen, then you will continue to experience virus symptoms. The solution to this is often more drastic in nature and more risky and I will not go into it here. This is when you get out of the “layman” category and start becoming an expert. If you are looking for more information on these issues, begin by looking for the following softwares. A word of caution, though, before using them read everything you can about them. Read forums and articles from other people who have used them and proceed carefully.
The very first thing I look at when my computer is running slowly is the processes that are currently running. Often times there are programs and processes that are running in the background that I forgot to close, or are somehow stuck in a loop, or were snuck in by some malicious software. To assess this follow these instructions.
Close all programs
Every program that you have running is eating up resources. If you have programs that are running, shut them down as you normally would. This especially includes your email program, (like Outlook) your web browser (like Internet Explorer), and any image manipulation software (like Photoshop) as these tend to be memory hogs.
Ctrl+Alt+Del, aka the 3 finger salute
This process will help you assess what is running and whether this is what is slowing down your computer. This may also help you identify viruses or malware that have been placed on your computer by unscrupulous programs.
- Press the Control, Alt, Delete keys on your keyboard at the same time.
- Click on Task Manager. A box will open.
- Click on the “Applications” tab at the top. See what programs are running. Do you want them all running? Can you stop them without losing important work? If so, stop them by highlighting them by clicking on them once and then clicking “End Task”
- Important: Many of the processes you will find in this next step are necessary for the normal operation of your computer. Do not stop processes if you don’t know what they are. Click on the “Processes” tab at the top and then click “Mem Usage” twice. This should arrange the processes by the amount of RAM memory they are currently using. The higher the number, the more that process is slowing your computer down. If you recognize the process, for instance Microsoft Outlook or Internet Explorer, it is probably safe to stop it, (you will lose any unsaved work). If you do not recognize the program, do not stop it! If you can get to the internet, do a search for the process name (including the file extension, usually .exe) and see what the process is. Only then should you consider stopping it. How much is a too much? Different program use different amounts of RAM but if you see something that is using way more memory than the other programs, this could be the culprit. Check it out. Do you recognize the process? Did you want the process running? Is the process part of a program that is stuck? Can you research it online? If you determine that you want to stop the process, highlight it (click on it) and click “End Process”
Many programs that you will install over the life of your computer have an overinflated sense of importance. They feel that you will want them to run every time you start your computer. After a while, your computer can get bogged down with many programs that launch in the background “at boot”, meaning every time you boot up the computer. You may not know these programs are running. Often you can see their icons in your system tray at the bottom right of your desktop. Each of these programs is using resources and memory.
To trim these down, most Windows based operating systems come with a utility called MSCONFIG (short for Microsoft Configuration, obviously). If you go through the steps below and your computer cannot find this program, you may be able to download and install it. Search for it online.
- Click “Start”, then “Run”. A dialogue box will open up.
- In the box, type “msconfig” (without the quotes).
- Click on the “Startup” tab at the top. This shows you a list of the programs that start in the background each and every time you start your computer.
- Determine if you need these programs to run every time you boot your computer. (If you don’t know what the program is, look it up online). Usual culprits here are ITunes, QuickTime, Google Update, and Printer monitors. Know what you are turning off! You may not want “ITunes” to launch on boot, but if you turn off “ITunes Helper” your computer may not recognize when you plug your phone in to synch it. This is just one example.
- Turn off the program by un-checking it and then clicking “OK”. Note: You will have to reboot. Also, some operating systems will not allow you to stop certain programs from running “on boot”.
Often times a slow running computer is caused by programs that are running in the background. Streamlining these programs is one of the first steps in identifying any issues.
The past couple months of rain have brought unbelievable devastation to the country of Thailand. Lives have been lost, property has been damaged and infrastructure has been washed away. Too much damage has been caused by the flood waters. The damage will have an inescapable effect on the manufacturing industry including the computer hard drive industry.
Thailand manufactures a quarter of the world’s hard drives. The flooding has a very high potential to threaten the supply of hard drives starting as early as November 2011 and lingering on into 2012. Hard drive suppliers are warning people of the possible shortage and increased prices as the flood waters continue to rise and enter their manufacturing facilities.
The hard drive shortage will include large suppliers such as Thailand’s Western Digital, Seagate, Origin Storage, Nimec, Fujitsu, IBM/Hitachi, Hutchinson Technology, Verbatim, LaCie and others. The distributors are trying to be responsible by limiting the available supply. By limiting doing so, they hope the available inventory will last longer and help them through the demands of 2012.
Here at EDGE Tech Corp., our thoughts and prayers go out to the country and people of Thailand. We also hope the flood waters recede and manufacturing can return to normal for all the industries affected.