Setting up your computer correctly to avoid future problems is, of course, a good thing. But occasionally some aunt or uncle might ask you to take a look at their device, because “it’s been behaving odd recently.” And straight away it’s clear that
they have never heard the words “digital” and “hygiene” in the same sentence. What to do? How to bring the traumatized device back to life?
Generally speaking, there are three main reasons why a computer might start acting erratically: it could be infected with malware, littered with rubbish, or simply outdated. The third reason involves either buying a new computer or upgrading the old
one, so let’s focus on the first two.
How to know if a computer is infected? By checking it, of course. This can be done with an antivirus or a special utility like Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool (available only for Windows, however). If an antivirus is already installed on the computer,
that should suffice. First make sure that the antivirus databases are up-to-date, and then run a full scan. It must be a full one so that the antivirus scans every single file and its dog. If it complains loudly about something, delete this “something”
If there is no antivirus, your best bet is to download Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool, make a bootable USB flash drive with it, and restart the computer from this drive.
When Kaspersky Virus Removal Tool loads, run a full scan. Everything that the tool objects to can be safely deleted. After the scan, it’s worth rebooting the computer again (normally this time, without the flash drive) and then installing a full-fledged
antivirus – the tool does not monitor what happens in real time, so Kaspersky Internet Security or similar is required.
The above procedure will mop up any malware and give the machine a clean bill of health.
If you scanned the computer for viruses and cleaned everything up, but it’s still spluttering, check to see if it’s littered up with junk.
Start with the hard disk space – if there isn’t enough, the computer may slow down. Make sure that at least a quarter of the space (but not less than 20 GB) is free on the boot drive (usually C). If there is too little, remove programs that no one
has used for a long time, and transfer some non-essential files (say, old photos and videos) to removable media, such as a USB flash or external drive.
Now let’s take a look at the list of startup programs: the longer it is, the more applications will be running simultaneously and the harder the computer will have to puff its cheeks.
In Windows, you can find this list by pressing the Win+R keys, typing “msconfig” in the window that pops up, and navigating to the Startup tab. On a Mac, just enter the settings, select Users & Groups, and go to the Login Items tab. Mac users
can remove any programs from the list, and the system will continue to work, but on Windows it is recommended not to touch anything with Microsoft’s stamp on it. If you see something in the list of startup programs that the computer owner does
not use (excluding Microsoft system services), most likely it can be removed.
Now let’s look at applications that do not load automatically at startup. The rule is generally the same: if it’s not used, it’s not needed. So let’s get deleting.
On a Mac, look for the list of programs in the Applications folder; on Windows, the easiest way is to type the word “apps” in the Start menu search bar and open Apps & Features (in Windows 10) or Uninstall a program (in the now unsupported Windows
7). Sort the list by date of installation or last use. Starting with the oldest, read the names and, if you recognize the application and know that you never use it, feel free to delete it.
However, there is no need to remove unnecessary software manually. Instead, you can use a special feature such as PC Cleaner in Kaspersky Internet Security. It is better not to experiment with standalone cleanup programs, or at least read the reviews
very carefully before you do, since they are often a front for malware.
A separate mention goes to browser extensions – modules which, as the name suggests, extend the browser’s capabilities (for example, ad blocking or instant translation). Sometimes they get installed automatically with useful programs, so over time
you can unknowingly accumulate an entire collection of unwanted tools. Therefore, go to the browser settings and get rid of unnecessary extensions, especially from panels and toolbars.
Now that only essential software is left on the device, you can set about updating it – outdated versions may be full of bugs and vulnerabilities that cybercriminals are eager to exploit. This concerns primarily the operating system. It is a good
idea to update it automatically so as not to miss important fixes; for this, go to the settings and make sure that automatic updates are enabled. Then update applications you use often, such as messengers and browsers. The simplest way to do this
is in the programs themselves (usually in the settings or the About section).
So, all vital first-aid procedures have been carried out. If after all that the computer still refuses to play ball, it’s time to think about getting a new one or upgrading individual components. For example, the computer will speed up considerably
if you replace the magnetic hard disk with a solid-state drive (SSD). But that’s going a bit off topic.
Suppose a relative asks you to take a look at their sluggish computer, and you smell malware. You decide to scan it with an antivirus. Which scan do you choose?