Many of us in Colorado are enjoying unseasonably warm weather as we move into Spring. While you are out unexpectedly replacing mulch, watering the lawn or dodging wasps, don't forget about the laptop or PC that got you through the Winter. Without giving away too many of our secrets, PC Pro will introduce you to many of our tips, tricks and favorite 'click-it-and-forget-it' solutions for a fast-running, well-protected computer.
Laying the Foundation: Actual, Physical Cleaning
This doesn't have to be as hard as it sounds! Laptops and PCs both suffer from performance issues if not properly cleaned and maintained- dust and other particles get trapped in vents and fans and prevent proper heat dissipation, throttling your performance as the PC slows down to prevent internal damage and keep the temperature under control.
For the blue bloods out there, a simple can of canned air (around $5) will be enough to clear out all but the most stubborn particles. Keeping the can upright, spray into the vents on the front, back, sides, top or bottom of your laptop or PC until no more dust is seen coming out. A simple rag will clean up the rest.
If you don't have canned air or simple don't want to use it, you can use a (barely) moist rag, some cotton swabs and your own breath to get the job done. If you're using this method, make sure to power down and completely unplug your device before attempting to clean it. Take care to avoid touching any electronic components with the moist rag- only clean around vents and fans to clear up the worst of the problem.
Setting the Stage: Advanced SystemCare
Many devices we work on are so slow or virus-ridden that we must take steps to make them more functional before we can even attempt to solve the underlying issue. Advanced SystemCare by IOBit is our go-to program in this situation. ASC is not a slim or lightweight program by any means, but contains some powerful tools for getting you back on track.
Most casual users will be most comfortable using the "autoclean" function in ASC, which runs through several tools including a registry scan, junk file cleanup, privacy scan and others. Once scanning is complete, a simple check box allows the program to auto-clean all of the suspect items. ASC can also be set up to run periodically, removing the user from the situation entirely and keeping your PC clean without any effort at all.
While ASC is a powerful tool, it is not meant to do everything. If you need to uninstall junk programs, find and remove adware, viruses or spyware or defragment your hard drive, you will need to do so with another program. The good news, on the other hand, is that IOBit will constantly remind you that they offer solutions to these problems. I personally keep only ASC and IOBit Uninstaller on my laptop, but programs such as Smart Defrag and Driver Booster are representative of the full spectrum of support IObit can offer.
One final note: ASC offers both free and paid versions, much like all other IOBit programs. All any casual user needs is the free version! The pestering to buy the product is well worth the utility offered in return. They also offer utilities for Mac devices.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
Once your device is moving smoothly enough to let you navigate through menus and programs freely, it is time to begin hunting down the root causes of the slowdown. While there are some truly creative viruses with equally abstract methods for removing them, almost all users will be able to eliminate their problems using a combination of two programs: Malwarebytes Antimalware (MBAM) and BitDefender, both free.
While these two programs offer a lot of the same capabilities, I have found that I personally benefit from running both of them on a suspect computer. Both scans can take quite a while, so set them up and go take care of something else for 1-2 hours while deep scans are performed. Both of these programs will find viruses, malware, spyware, adware and other unwanted software, quarantine them and provide continuous, uninterrupted protection.
Once the scan and quarantine/removal is complete, at least one of the programs should be allowed to run periodic scans. Personally, I choose BitDefender as my antimalware solution- it runs silently in the background, never bugs me to upgrade or pay them, and generally just stays out of my way. You can feel free to uninstall the option you didn't pick or leave it on your device for on-demand scanning when necessary.
Finishing Up and Protecting Your Device
The suite of software containing ASC, MBAM and Bitdefender has never failed to solve or help solve a computer issue, at least for me. In order to prevent any additional problems, it is highly recommended that, if you use the Windows Operating System, you enable Windows Defender, Firewall and Update. These built-in Windows features will keep your network connection secure, can scan individual downloads and files for malware, and keep you up-to-date with the latest security definitions for your device.
Since Windows Defender can interfere with or against commercial antivirus software, I highly recommend you DO NOT purchase an antivirus solution (Norton, Kapersky, etc.). The free offerings from Windows and the vendors described above are, in my opinion, far better at fixing and preventing these issues, are free, and are for the most part less invasive. Running antivirus software simultaneously with Defender can cause internet outages as the programs compete to block each other, both thinking the other is a virus. Windows Defender, ASC and Bitdefender all work well together, which is why I recommend installing them rather than commercial software.
Still Having Problems?
If you have attempted to fix your PC but cannot quite seem to complete the job, we are here to help. Our team of professionals shares decades of experience and loves helping the members of our community. Obligation-free estimates and home visits are available by calling (888)557-2776, e-mailing us at ColoradoPCPro@Gmail.com, or filling out our support request form found here. Good luck!