How to Clean up a Computer & Fix Problems for Free

07. December 2016 Software 0

The longer you use a computer without performing some basic maintenance, the more sluggish it will become. If you’ve noticed a significant decrease in your computer’s speed lately, or you’re trying to get an older computer running smoothly, there are several things you can do. If you’re experiencing errors or other issues, the solution may be as simple as rebooting your computer. If you have an adware infection, there are programs designed to scan for and remove these threats.

Basic Troubleshooting

basic-troubleshooting

Reboot your computer if you’re experiencing issues

This may sound like a simple suggestion, but rebooting your computer will solve more problems than you may think. Make sure to save any open documents before rebooting.

reboot-your-computer

Reset your network if you can’t connect to the internet

If you could visit websites, and now you can’t, try rebooting your network hardware. This will often fix connection problems with modems and routers.

  • Unplug the power cable from your modem, and unplug the power cable from your router (if you have one).
  • Wait about thirty seconds, then plug your modem back in.
  • After the lights on your modem have finished turning on, plug your router back in. Your network should be up and running again in about a minute.

connect-to-the-internet

Check your computer’s clock

if your system clock somehow got set incorrectly, you may not be able to load security certificates from websites. This can cause problems loading many webpages. Check your system clock and set it to the correct time.

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Reboot your printer if you can’t connect to it

If your printer is no longer appearing, rebooting it may get it to show up again. Either turn the printer off with the Power button or pull the power cord out. Wait about thirty seconds, then power it back on.

Removing Adware and Cleaning Browsers (Windows)

control-panel

Open the Control Panel

If your web browsers are running slow, or your plagued with pop-ups, advertisements, and toolbars, you may have an adware infection. Adware is unwanted software that is designed to hijack your web browser, leading you to different searches and littering your browser with ads. The first step towards removing these infections is by uninstalling unknown programs through the Control Panel. The process varies a little depending on your version of Windows:

  • Windows 10 and 8 – Right-click on the Windows button and select “Control Panel.”
  • Windows 7, Vista, and XP – Click the Start button and select “Control Panel” from the Start menu.

programs-and-features

Select “Uninstall a program” or “Programs and Features. This will display a list of all of the programs installed on your computer.

recently-installed-programs

Find recently-installed programs that you don’t recognize

You can sort the list by install date, which can help you find programs that may have been installed recently without your knowledge. Go through each program on the list and make note of the ones you don’t recognize. Perform a web search for each unrecognized entry to determine if it is an unwanted program.

uninstall

Select an unwanted program and click “Uninstall.”

Follow the prompts to remove the program from your system. Repeat for any additional programs that you want to remove.

  • This would be a good time to remove programs that you do recognize, but no longer need. Old games, unused browsers, utilities that you used once and then never used again, and other legitimate programs can add to your computer’s bloat. Remove them to free up some space and potentially speed up your computer’s start-up time.

download-adwcleaner

Download AdwCleaner

This is a free utility that will scan for common adware and malware, and then remove what it finds. You can download AdwCleaner from toolslib.net/downloads/viewdownload/1-adwcleaner/.

run-adwcleaner

Run AdwCleaner

Click the “Scan” button in AdwCleaner to scan your computer for infections. This may take 20 minutes or so to complete. Once the scan is complete, click “Clean” to remove any infections that AdwCleaner found.

Download and install Malwarebytes Anti-Malware

The free version of this program can find and remove most infections. You can download the installer by visiting malwarebytes.org and selecting “Download.” You can then click the “Download Free Version” button. Run the installer after downloading it to install the program.

Run a scan in Anti-Malware

Launch Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and download any updates if prompted to. Start a scan of your computer, which may take 20-30 minutes. Remove anything that the scan finds by clicking “Quarantine All” after the scan has completed.

Download and run a shortcut cleaner

Many adware infections will add links to your browser shortcuts, which will cause the wrong website to load even after removing the infection. A free shortcut cleaner created by the anti-malware community can scan all of your shortcuts and remove malicious links. You can download the scanner here. Run the downloaded program to quickly scan and fix your browser shortcuts.

Reset your web browsers

Your web browsers may still have lingering remnants of the malware removed by the scanners. Resetting your browsers will remove any additional software and return them to their default settings:

  • Internet Explorer – Click the Tools button and select “Internet options.” Click the “Advanced” tab and click “Reset.” Check the “Delete personal settings” box and click “Reset.”
  • Chrome – Click the Chrome Menu button and select “Settings.” Click “Show advanced settings” and then scroll to the bottom. Click “Reset settings” and then click “Reset.”
  • Firefox – Click the Firefox Menu button and then click “?”. Select “Troubleshooting Information” and then click “Refresh Firefox.” Click “Refresh Firefox” again to confirm.

Reboot your computer and run Anti-Malware and AdwCleaner again

After you’re finished cleaning and resetting your shortcuts and browsers, you should reboot your computer and run both scans again. There may still be lingering traces that show up again after a reboot.

 


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