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8 Things That Could Be Slowing Your Computer Down

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High-speed internet and tablet products have gotten consumers accustomed to information-surfing without any hiccups. But if you’re a PC user, chances are you’ve encountered some sluggish performance that makes for an inefficient experience. Check out these eight common problems that can bring your productivity to a screeching halt—and how to fix them.

1. AUTOLOADING

PCs typically boot up a laundry list of programs during start-up. If too many are jockeying for memory and other resources, your interface will slow to a crawl. To clean up the menu, type “msconfig” in the Start prompt and uncheck any software you don’t want to launch automatically each time you restart.

2. VISUAL EFFECTS

Depending on your CPU's horsepower, a surplus of graphics demands can interfere with your PC’s performance: Even something as simple as displaying a shadow under your mouse pointer can take up resources. You can try minimizing some of the unneeded display enhancements by telling the computer to optimize settings for speed, not looks.

3. A FRAGMENTED HARD DRIVE

The more you ask of your PC’s storage, the more unevenly it distributes information, eventually resulting in fragmented data that can take the computer longer to retrieve. While some newer user interfaces defragment automatically, you might need to schedule your own by typing “disk defrag” in the Start box.

4. DUELING ANTIVIRUS PROGRAMS

While it’s always a good idea to have a malware or virus security program installed, it’s not so great to have two or more running simultaneously. If you’ve obtained a new monitoring service, make sure you disable the old one.

5. TOO MANY BROWSER ADD-ONS

If your slowed performance is limited to web browsing, it’s possible you’ve downloaded (intentionally or not) too many add-ons that are siphoning resources. To delete them, look for an “add-on” or “extensions” tab and disable any you don’t want.

6. THE HARD DRIVE IS NEAR CAPACITY

It’s best not to try to max out your available storage space with too many programs. Try deleting unwanted software, emptying the “trash,” or moving non-essential data to an exterior drive or cloud storage.

7. SHARED WIRELESS

Not all lagging computers are suffering from ailments inside their chassis. If browsing is a problem, check to see if someone using your internet connection is taking up bandwidth with streaming or if a neighbor might be piggybacking on your service.

8. YOUR PC IS JUST TOO DUSTY

Without proper ventilation, your PC or laptop is going to have problems cooling down. Check any exhaust vents for dust build-up. If you find any, try a vacuum nozzle or compressed air to clear the fan blades.

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History
The Queen of Code: Remembering Grace Hopper
By Lynn Gilbert, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons

Grace Hopper was a computing pioneer. She coined the term "computer bug" after finding a moth stuck inside Harvard's Mark II computer in 1947 (which in turn led to the term "debug," meaning solving problems in computer code). She did the foundational work that led to the COBOL programming language, used in mission-critical computing systems for decades (including today). She worked in World War II using very early computers to help end the war. When she retired from the U.S. Navy at age 79, she was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the service. Hopper, who was born on this day in 1906, is a hero of computing and a brilliant role model, but not many people know her story.

In this short documentary from FiveThirtyEight, directed by Gillian Jacobs, we learned about Grace Hopper from several biographers, archival photographs, and footage of her speaking in her later years. If you've never heard of Grace Hopper, or you're even vaguely interested in the history of computing or women in computing, this is a must-watch:

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holidays
The Plugin That Keeps the Internet From Spoiling Santa Claus
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During simpler times, the biggest threat to a child's belief in Santa was usually older siblings or big-mouthed classmates. Today, kids have access to an entire world wide web, full of potentially Santa-spoiling content. Luckily, there's a plugin that helps parents maintain their kids’ innocence through the holidays.

Created by the virtual private network provider Hide My Ass (HMA), the free software analyzes web activity for any information that might threaten to “bring a child’s belief in Santa crashing down.” In place of the problematic content, the plugin brings up an image of the jolly man himself. Typing the phrase “Santa is not real” into Google, for example, will instead take you to a web page showing nothing but a soft-focused St. Nick pointing into the camera and staring at you with judgmental eyes. The plugin is also designed to work for social media communications, internet ads, and articles like this one.


Hide My Ass

According to a survey of 2036 parents by HMA, one in eight children in the U.S. have their belief in Santa ruined online. Whether it's because of the internet or other related factors, the age that children stop believing in Santa is lower than ever.

The average age that current parents lost their faith in Santa Claus was 8.7 years old, and for today’s kids it’s 7.25 years. Concerned parents can download the plugin for Chrome here, though it may not be enough to hide every type of Santa spoiler: Of the parents who blamed the internet, 26 percent of them reported kids snooping over their shoulder as they shopped for gifts online.

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