PC Workshop perform what I call ‘computer M.O.Ts’ for customers as a way of improving the speed of a laptop or desktop computer that has become very slow over time. In these situations, one of the most regular things that I see that has an impact upon performance – and that is easy to avoid – is that they almost always have lots of unnecessary programs installed on them. Many of these programs are, essentially, junk and a good number of them are trying to get people to pay money for a service that is completely unneeded. As an example, there are a huge number of programs that are available that claim to ‘Speed up your PC’ if you pay for the full version.
The main question that I get asked by customers when I point out these programs is “How did it get onto my computer? I didn’t install it!”. In some cases they may have been installed by another family member, but usually they are programs that get installed when you are installing something else. If you choose to install a program – ANY program that you download from the Internet, especially if it is free – then always check the pages that are displayed while you are installing it rather than clicking ‘Next’ to get the installation over as quickly as possible. I know, we all do it – and I’m not asking you to read all of the pages and pages of ‘Terms and Conditions’! – but this is how a lot of the unwanted ‘junk’ gets installed on your computer. A lot of free programs make their money by bundling other programs in with their own program. These extra unwanted programs then get installed onto your computer when you are installing the program that you actually want. This happens because when you just click ‘Next’ when installing the program that you want to, you miss that it says ‘By clicking Next you agree to install the ‘Speedup my PC’ software from our partners’! Then ‘Speedup my PC’ gets installed, sets itself to automatically start the next time you start your computer, and your computer starts to slow down. After this happens many times and your computer gets filled with many of these programs that you don’t want, all starting and running automatically when you start your computer, you’ll start to notice that your computer gets slower and slower over time (and you have to keep closing annoying programs).
So how do you avoid this happening? The main things are:
- Check where you are downloading programs from – for example, if you want to download and install Adobe Acrobat Reader then check that you are downloading it from adobe.com (look at the address in your Web browser to check that it says adobe.com). There are other Websites available that repackage freely available software and bundle other software in with it by default. In these cases the Website owners make money from bundling software together, and you get a load of unwanted programs on your computer. You want to avoid these wherever possible and go to the original producers of the program (e.g. adobe.com for Adobe programs).
- After you have downloaded a file and are installing it, ALWAYS look at the pages that are displayed when you are going through the installation process (particularly any free program that you downloaded from the Internet). Look for any boxes that are ticked when you are installing something and see if it says it is installing some other program. For example, ‘By ticking the box below, you agree to install the PC Speedup application’ – if so un-tick the corresponding box before clicking the ‘Next’ or ‘Install’ button.
- Generally, avoid installing any software that claims to be a ‘toolbar’ or ‘Internet Explorer Toolbar’. These toolbars are displayed at the top of your browser when you go onto the Internet and might display weather or news information, or claim to give you extra smileys to put in your Facebook posts, for example. The problem is that they slow down your Internet browser and in the majority of cases come bundled with some other software or even viruses in some cases.
- Always have an active anti-virus program installed and running if you are downloading and installing ANY program. However, in the majority of cases of bundled software your standard anti-virus program won’t stop them getting onto your computer as they are not actually viruses, just junk that slows down your computer (and by just clicking ‘Next’ and leaving the box ticked saying that you agree to install all the extra software when installing something else, you have unwittingly asked to install the junk!).
If you follow the above rules then you should (it can’t be guaranteed!) avoid the majority of unwanted software and programs. If you have already got a lot of this junk on your computer, you can try to uninstall them using their own uninstallation programs or through the uninstall programs option in Microsoft Windows.
However, if you find that your computer is full of junk, slow, and you are having problems getting rid of the unwanted stuff, then ring PC Workshop, I can help, with an “MOT” after which your laptop / computer will be a lot better and faster. I can also advise how to avoid these issues in the future.