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by Steve Faber

It's a common source of frustration for too many people; the slow computer. In many cases the thing will freeze up entirely, leaving you stranded in an electronic limbo. Thankfully there are some common causes for the freezing and slowdowns afflicting many computers and their frazzled owners. Here are some of the most common causes and some ways you can do about them.

Slow computer cause #1 - Insufficient memory (RAM). A lack of RAM will affect your computer the most when you are running multiple applications simultaneously. That's a fairly common occurrence these days. Think about how many times you run multiple apps at the same time. It's not tough. In fact, you're probably doing it now. In fact, it would be pretty difficult to run one at a time for most people.

Now that many computers ship with 1GB of memory or greater you may think that having computers slow down due to insufficient memory would be a thing of the past, but thanks to Microsoft's new Vista OS, we may actually see it continue or even increase. It looks like Vista has a prodigious appetite for RAM. For all but Vista Home Basic edition, Microsoft recommends at least 1GB, but you'd do well to double that, and bring 2GB to the party.

Slow computer cause #2 - Spyware and adware These sometimes malicious applications get on your PCs in all different ways, from legitimate applications installing them for tracking marketing data, to key loggers and other programs used to steal your passwords, account numbers, and other sensitive data. The bottom line is, the stuff is dangerous and slows down your computer. Even the stuff that's not malicious can easily be a culprit. It takes up valuable hard drive space and eats up clock cycles you could use for other things.

Slow computer cause #3 - Viruses and worms Hopefully you have a good antivirus application that's updated regularly. That will nip most virus problems in the bud, but it's still possible to get a virus. In fact, even if take all standard precautions, such as not opening unrecognized email or attachments, etc., you could still get one. If you're lucky, these malicious applications will only slow you machine down, in many cases, it will do that and much more, such as data corruption or deletion.

Slow computer cause #4 Too much stuff going on in there. You may just plain be asking too much of the old girl, or you may have to restructure your start menu so apps you don't use al the time aren't started automatically. That can not only impact your computer's speed as you're using it, but dramatically lengthen its startup time.

Slow computer cause #5 - Registry errors These are one of the most common causes of slowdowns and crashes experienced by most users. Registry problems can also make your computer take a longer time to start up. The registry is where, on a Windows machine, all the important settings and other information is stored that the computer and the applications use to run. It's actually a database that's created by the system itself.

As you constantly add and remove programs, it creates problems in the registry. When most applications are installed they put new entries in the registry that's used to run the application. One of the most common problems occurs when entries in the database called registry keys are missing or corrupted. These keys contain information that's sorted as either computer or user specific. This enables the machine to support multiple users and applications simultaneously, so it's easy to see how important the registry is. Incorrectly uninstalling an application is one of the most common ways a registry entry gets corrupted or deleted.

Thankfully it's not too difficult to find and repair Windows registry problems. There are applications available that will do it for you, or you can try to do it yourself if you're especially well versed in Windows. If take that path however, be careful, as a mistake here can really cost you.

These common causes of a slow computer are, in most cases, easily fixed, either through a little tweaking with your machine, or with a specific application designed to solve the problem.

About the Author

You'll probably never be so frustrated in your life as when your computer slows down, freezes up, or crashes. Sometimes you'll be unfortunate enough to experience all three, in that order. There are some common causes and solutions for these computer woes. You can solve your problems by checking out the fix a slow computer guide.


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