The Virtual Tune-Up: Tips on Improving Your Computer's Performance

Is your computer running more slowly than it used to? Or perhaps it's sluggish when launching software or searching for files? A virtual tune-up could help alleviate such problems. By tune-up, we mean taking some relatively simple actions to make your computer run as smoothly as possible, thus making your daily computer commute less stressful. The following list should help you get started.

Add RAM to Your Computer: Random Access Memory (RAM) is your computer's short-term memory. It provides temporary storage for currently opened processes. There are many RAM types available, so you might want to talk to a professional, such as a consultant at a computer or electronics store, to help determine which type of RAM your computer uses.

Scan for Computer Viruses: To keep your computer virus-free, you'll want to obtain an anti-virus software program. Staff and faculty may download a discounted copy of Symantec AntiVirus at, but before doing so, should check with their department as a virus scan license may already have been obtained for office computers. Be sure to run your virus scanning software weekly.

Remove Adware and Spyware: Spyware is software that gathers and reports information from your computer without your consent. Adware mimics spyware, but often appears in the form of pop-up ads and redirected homepages. Two effective-and free-removal programs are Ad-Aware and Spybot Search & Destroy. As with virus detecting software, spyware programs should be run every week.

Shut Down Unused Services: (This relates primarily to Windows operating systems.) Identify which background processes constantly run on your computer. Some, such as anti-virus programs, are important, but others may just be slowing your system down. For help in telling the difference, consult, a Windows Networking article outlining "unnecessary services."