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My machine is slow and unstable. What do I do?

I run Norton Utilities every time I open my laptop. When I clean files, then
even if I do it again almost immediately, there are more files to be cleaned!!!
When I open my laptop, it says Microsoft Corp and the cursor goes on for about
five minutes before opening. Finally, when I use Firefox, it keeps saying I’m
using too much CPU and then stops. Any help in speeding my laptop is greatly
appreciated.

In this excerpt from
Answercast #62
, I look at a machine that is slowing down and displaying
strange symptoms as it scans for viruses.

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Slow machine

Well, I just recently published an article called “Why is my machine slowing
down?
” that I would certainly point you at right away.

Depending on the age of this kind of a machine, it is possible that your
machine is simply trying to run too much software.

Symptoms of overload

If you’re automatically running tools like Norton Utilities at start up,
well, that’s gonna slow down start-up. There’s just no way around that.

Files being cleaned up? Well, it depends on the files that are being cleaned
up. There are definitely files that will either: return immediately or will
actually not be cleaned by the first pass (because they’re legitimately in use)
and then still reported cleaning up on a second pass.

Find out what’s running

With respect to Firefox saying it’s using too much CPU, you know what I’m
going to suggest you do? I’m going to suggest you go out and grab Process
Explorer and find out what program is using all of these resources.

I’ve got an article on it actually, “How
do I find out what program is using all my CPU?
” Find out what program that
is. It may very well be something that you hadn’t considered. Something that
could be easily removed or at least a data point for further analysis of
exactly what kind of thing is going on here.

Malware check

On top of this, I have to throw out the standard caveats on a system like
this. That is – check for malware!

Malware can absolutely do this kind of thing as well. Make sure your
anti-malware tools (both anti-virus and anti-spyware) are up to date and have
up-to-date databases. Run scans, complete scans with both of them.

Consider running the free scan from malwarebytes.org as well. Malwarebytes can often find things that other utilities can’t.

Deep cleaning

And finally, especially if this is an older machine (which my “spidey sense”
says it probably is), it may simply be time for a good old reformat and
reinstall.

It’s one of those things. For a machine that’s been around for a period of
time… that stuff happens. We call it software rot. Basically as you add and
remove software, as updates are applied, the system just kind-of, sort-of gets
unstable.

That’s one of those things that reinstalling the operating system from
scratch (after of course, backing up completely) will actually help a great
deal with. You’ll need to reinstall the operating system. Reinstall all of your
applications, and then restore all of your data from your backups.

So those are the kinds of things I think about it. Definitely have a look at
the article on “Why is this
machine slowing down?
” There are lots of reasons that it could be happening.
Many of them could apply to your situation.

Next from Answercast 62 – Is my browser tracking me?

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