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Your Device Is Super Slow? Here’s Why.

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There can be many reasons why your device is running slow. In this post, I’m going to cover off the most common ones and then explain what you can do to get it back to normal! There are a number of security and non-security issues that can cause painfully slow machines, I’ll cover both.

There are 5 reasons why your device can be running slow...

1. Viruses & Malware
2. Spring Clean!
• Start-up Programs
• Too much software
• Disk clean-up
• Clear your cache and cookies
• Remove temporary files
3. Cryptominer Infection
4. Spyware & Grayware
5. Old Software & Hardware

Let’s explore these five now and run through what you need to do for each to improve your performance! Ensure that you run through each of the below in order as they are prioritised by likelihood (i.e. do ‘Viruses & Malware’ first, then ‘Spring Clean’, etc.).

1. Viruses & Malware

One of the main reasons your device might be slow is because it is clogged up with malware. Follow the steps below to scan your device to rule out this possibility;

Solution
a) Download a Decent Malware Scanner: if you have a second device, use this download a decent ‘on-demand’ scanner (either Bitdefender or Malwarebytes as they are both free and tend to catch everything) onto a USB drive. Load the anti- virus scanner onto the infected device from the USB. If you don’t have a second device to do this with, use the infected machine to download the scanner directly. Not ideal but you should be OK. If even this fails (unlikely), reboot your infected machine and enter safe mode as this can help stop the malware loading.

b) Run a Scan: choose the most comprehensive scan possible. It should detect and remove anything malicious that is found. If viruses are found, reboot and have a play around to see if all is back to normal.

c) Re-Scan with Another Scanner: it’s best to validate the “all-clear” with a different Anti-Virus (AV) as some scanners pick up different malware than others. I’d recommend finishing with either; Kaspersky TDSSKiller or HitmanPro. Some clever malware strains will automatically kill any attempt to download or run an anti-virus program so if you see the program quitting halfway through a scan and not reopening, this could be why. If this happens, choose a custom scan and manually scan individual folders at a time (doing your PC in bite size chunks). These will complete much quicker before the malware has chance to close the scan down.

If you did find malware, ensure you checkout the “I’ve Been Hacked!” manual here to ensure it is fully removed (and you put some things in place to prevent it happening again!). If your scan didn’t find anything then move on to step two below. Often slow devices can be caused by a multitude of problems so even if you did find something, unless your device has seen a dramatic increase in speed following the removal of the malware, it would be a good idea to read the remaining steps below anyway!

2. Spring Clean!

It might be that your device just needs a good old fashioned spring clean. Over time our machines get clogged up with all kinds of superfluous stuff that if left to build up, can over time significantly impact the speed of the device. Try doing the following;

Solution

Hard Disk Clean-up – from Windows 8 onwards, you no longer need to use the disk defragmentor function to clean up your harddrive. Mac users have never needed to do this. To clean up your hard disk just follow the steps below;

o Mac: click apple icon in top left of your screen > About This Mac > Storage > Manage
o Windows: Start > Computer > right click your C drive > Properties.

Start-up Programs – check which programs automatically load when your device boots up. Many programs load at start-up silently and then stay running in the background, hoovering up system resources when we don’t even need them! Checkout the information below to learn how to check your start-up programs for your specific operating system;

o Mac: Systems Preferences > User Groups > Login Items.
o Windows 8 & 10: Task Manager (Windows key + X) > Startup > right-click on the programs you want to remove.
o Windows 7 and older: Start > type ‘System Configuration’ > Startup tab.

Too much software – having software loaded on your device takes up memory and having a lack of memory causes slow performance. Review your installed programs periodically to ensure you have only what you actually use and need installed.

o Mac: Finder > click on your device in the left-hand tab (usually called something like “Macbook Pro”) > Applications > select program and click the trash button. If you struggle to find the Applications find, just press the Command + Space Bar and type “Applications”.
o Windows: Start > type “add or remove programs” > Add or Remove Programs (or it may be Start > Control Panel > Uninstall a program)

Top Tip: You check how much memory specific software/apps are using! For windows users go to the ‘Task Manager’ or Activity Monitor if you have a Mac and select the ‘CPU’ menu tab. Get rid of anything you don’t actually use. If you’re unsure what a particular program is, do a quick google before ending it as it might be a fundamental system program!

Remove temporary files – use a program called CCleaner to do a deep clean of your device. It’ll identify everything usually considered non-essential and give you the choice to get rid of it or not.

3. Cryptominer Infection

Cryptojacking is a term used to describe the secret hijacking of your device, to ‘mine’ for cryptocurrency. Cryptocurrency is a digital currency you can buy and sell over the internet. ‘Bitcoin’ was the first cryptocurrency but thousands of others now exist. To cut a long story short, cryptomining requires maximum effort from the device in order to mine quickest and as such if you have a cryptominer infection your device is going to be super-slow as the vast majority of memory will be taken up with the mining it’s doing.

The simplest way to protect yourself from cryptojacking is to have anti-virus software on your device. To be super-safe you can also install a cryptojacking blocker extension into your browser like ‘NoCoin’ for Chrome and Firefox but if you use the BitDefender anti-virus I recommend in this article, you’ll likely find the plugin surplus to requirement.

If you suspect you may have an infection, simply follow the steps under 1. Viruses & Malware (above) and that’ll remove it.

4. Spyware & Grayware

Spyware records what you do on your device. Nasty stuff. Grayware is slightly less invasive but can bloat up your device with unnecessary software like toolbars and programs you never wanted. Spyware and grayware are really a type of malware but they can be particularly persistent so sometimes need treating in a slightly different way. Only do the steps below if you have already scanned for malware (step 1 above).

Solution
a) Check if you can manually uninstall the malicious software in the normal way (i.e. via Control Panel for Windows or in Applications in the Finder for Macs). If you can, great! But still continue to step 2 below because often this is done to make the user feel like they have removed the threat but actually something more malicious is going on below the surface!

b) Double Check - spyware by its very nature can be stealthy and persistent. It might look like all has been fixed but actually it is still operating in the background. Run a specific spyware removal tool. The two I favour are either HijackThis or SpyBot SearchandDestroy.

5. Old Software & Hardware

New software and programs are increasingly memory hungry and that’s usually OK because if you get a new device every few years or so, your hardware keeps up with the pace of technological change. However, if you have a device that is particularly old (more than 6 or 7 years old) the hardware it houses inside might be struggling to keep up with the new software you have loaded on it.

Solution
a) Update Your Software: If you’ve had your device for a while, the likelihood is that it is your hardware slowing things down. Unfortunately, the best solution here is to buy a new device. But before we do this, let’s try updating all our software to see if that helps before we commit to buying a new device. Update web browsers, applications and most importantly, the operating system itself (Windows / macOS).

Top Tip: Reinstall your operating system for the ultimate deep clean. For more guidance on this do a quick google search for your specific operating system.

b) Buy a New Device: Having outdated devices can be a real security concern anyway as hardware and software stops being security patched as the company’s focus on their latest models so it’s always a good idea to run a relatively modern device. When you buy a new device ensure you buy one with lots of memory (especially RAM memory) and ensure it uses a SSD hard-drive. An SSD is a Solid State Drive and not only are more reliable, they tend to be faster processors as well.

c) Update Your Current Device: If you didn’t want to buy an entirely new device you could add new memory (RAM memory specifically) to your device but you’d have to ask an ‘IT man’ to do this and would cost you money both in terms of buying the new hardware to insert into your device and the service cost of an expert to install it for you.

How much RAM do you need? Well at the time of writing, 2GB for the general user tends to be fine. If you’re working a lot with graphics, 3D modelling, video editing, gaming, etc. then you may need 4GB-8GB.

Whatever changes you’ve made, remember to restart your device to ensure the changes can take effect.

I hope now your device has been restored to lightning fast! If you’re still experiencing issues, don’t hesitate to get in contact in our forum here for further help!

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