Why is my computer so slow?

This is a question that I get almost on a daily basis. There is no simple answer to that question. It really depends on a lot of factors in your computer. Some of these factors can be changed and improved, but some are just the way it is, and it might be time to buy a new computer.

Here are some of the causes that can be changed and improved:

☑️ Malware on your computer can cause it to run slow. This is usually where I start since this can also cause you a lot of other trouble if the malware is malicious and intended to damage your computer or steal your information.

☑️ Unnecessary programs running in the background can use up precious resources. Many programs think they need to be preloaded into memory when you start your computer. Sometimes they do need this to run properly, but many do not. By limiting the programs that pre-load, you can greatly improve your computer’s performance.

☑️ Lack of memory can limit the number of programs you can run at a single time making your computer run very slow when you max out the memory available. The minimum required memory for Windows 10 or 11 is only 4 GB. If your computer only has this amount, you will quickly max out the memory and run into problems. For minimal use, I suggest 8 GB and for normal to heavy use I recommend 16 GB or more. Memory is fairly inexpensive and can easily be added to most computers. There are some low budget laptops that come with the memory already soldered onto the motherboard and those cannot be upgraded, also every motherboard has a maximum amount of memory that they support.

☑️ Hard drive degradation can also cause your computer to slow down. When a hard drive starts to fail it will run very slow sometimes and normal at other times. As it gets closer to failing it will be slower more often. If it is caught in time, I can clone your drive onto a new drive and bring your very slow computer back to almost new running condition. This is also fairly inexpensive compared to replacing the entire computer.

The main thing that is not able to be improved on a computer is the processor. On laptops the processor is actually built into the motherboard, so it is impossible to replace it. In desktops it is possible but hard to find processors that will be compatible with older motherboards. If you have a slow or outdated processor the only option is to replace the computer and make sure you get one with a better processor.

How do you know if a processor is good? The easiest way is to contact me when you are thinking about a new computer. I can help you find one that will fit your needs without buying too much computer. This is a service I offer, and I have helped many people find just the right computer for their needs.

If your computer is running slow, set up an appointment with me and I will evaluate your computer, clean it up and help you decide the best course of action to improve your computing speed. I recently did a video discussing this.

Danger – Electricity

Too much electric current can destroy any electronic if it hits it. Computers, routers, printers, and other similar items are especially vulnerable to this due to the electronic boards inside them. During lightning season, this is especially important. This is the main reason to use surge protectors for all of these types of electronics. The purpose of the surge protector is to stop that surge from reaching your components.


Surge protectors have a fuse inside that will break the connection to the connected devices if it is too powerful. That means you only have to replace the surge protector and not all of the devices connected to it. This is great since most surge protectors are less than $100 and most devices connected to them are many times more expensive.


There is also another benefit to surge protectors. Some come with a certain amount of insurance for the items connected to the surge if it fails to protect them. To find one with this insurance you can look on the packaging or google “surge protector with insurance” I found an APC model on Amazon that has 11 outlets on it and offers $250,000 in insurance for connected devices and it only cost $42.99. Make sure you read all of the fine print, but this is just another reason to always make sure you use a surge protector. Yes, your homeowner’s or renter’s policy would probably cover this as well, but these policies also have a deductible that you must pay.


Most people do have a surge protector on their desktop computers since they never move them, and they are always plugged in. But people often forget to plug their laptops into a surge protector since they normally take it with them. Many people just connect it to the nearest outlet. If you carry your laptop around and you are in the habit of just plugging it straight into the wall, consider getting a small surge protector and keeping it in your bag with your laptop. It could save you a very big expensive headache.


Another great idea is to unplug all devices if there is a nearby electrical storm. Even though the surge should protect your components, why should you take that chance if there is a high potential for a surge in the area. If you are going on vacation and will be away for a week or longer why not unplug all components also. It only takes a minute and might save you from the hassle of replacing things when you get back.

Top 10 ways to get a virus or malware on your computer.

Many times, it is your online behavior that allows viruses and malware to infest your computer.  Here is a list of things that you might be doing that can increase your chances of getting a virus or malware.

10. You visit recipe sites and allow the site to install their “print manager”. It only takes a few seconds to copy the recipe into a word document. Then you can save it or print it.

9. You click on links offering free music.  I had a customer try this and he got a pop up that said, “I just stole your sound”, I had to find new drivers to get his speakers working again.

8. You click on the first result in your search even though it clearly says it is an ad.  Many times, the first result, or the first few results in any search are ads. Usually, they have nothing to do with the company you are looking for. These can easily give you browser hackers.

7. In search results you pay attention to the heading and not the URL above it. The heading can be anything the website owner wants it to be. The URL is their actual website. If it doesn’t match what you are looking for, try another link.

6.  You install software using the Express “Recommended” option rather than the Custom “Advanced” option. In reality the custom option will only ask you a few questions and allow you to say no to extra junk.

5. You allow your young children to use your profile which is an administrator when they play their online games. You can easily set up a standard user for them so they can’t install junk.

4. You follow any links that you get in unsolicited emails. Curiosity killed the cat, and it will kill your computer also.

3. You use a free version of anti-virus. Many times, while I am adding a paid anti-virus to a computer it will find malware in the initial scan that the free version never found. With anti-virus, you always get what you paid for so if you paid nothing, you would get nothing.

2. You always play the goofy games on Facebook to find out, for example, what kind of car best suits you. Many times, these “games” are only wanting to use your information to try and sell you something or worse.

And the number one way to get a virus or malware on your computer – You click on the first “download” button you see rather than reading that this button is actually part of an ad.

If you don’t understand any of these items, I would be happy to explain further. Or you can watch this Youtube video

I also have a subscription newsletter that covers things like this on a monthly basis. If you know someone that is vulnerable to scams this would be a great resource for them. If interested here is a link to subscribe to it.

Safe Surfing While Traveling or Working from a Public Place

Photo by Canva

Summertime and the living is easy… Except many of us keep working even on vacation. Even if we don’t work, we still lug our laptops along and check email or other things. When we work from home, we are working on a fairly secure network. It has some type of encryption and a password. We don’t normally give this password out to very many people so that limits the possible people that could be on it.

This isn’t the case when traveling or even when you are down at your local coffee shop. Many public wifi systems don’t have a password and the ones that do usually have that password posted on the wall for all to see and use. In the coffee shop it is fairly obvious who is on the wifi, you can see all of the other customers sitting at tables with their computers open. When you are sitting in your hotel room, it isn’t so obvious, and you might even feel safer since you can’t see anyone else on their devices. Since you can’t see who else is on this network, you should be very concerned. Who knows what anyone could be doing in their room? With no one watching them they could be using some hi-tech equipment and watching your every move.

So how can you protect yourself when you are on public wifi? You need to add a software VPN. They are not very expensive, and they are fairly easy to set up. In fact, some anti-virus software comes with a VPN built in, you only need to turn it on. When you get onto an open or public wifi system you should immediately turn on your VPN. This will shield your computer from those on the same network that want to snoop on your computer.

Years ago, I had a customer that was retiring, and his goal was to spend months at a time in South American countries. His fear was sitting in an internet café and someone stealing his banking info. We set up a VPN for him and he made several trips and never had an issue.

If you want a recommendation for a VPN, please reach out to me, I have experience with a few and can help you get it set up. If this article was too long and you didn’t read it, (TLDR) here is a link to my YouTube channel where I discuss the same thing.

While you are on my channel, please subscribe so you won’t miss any of the videos that I post.

Bringing New Life to Old Computers

Photo by Canva

Something that I am constantly working on is slow computers. I regularly get calls from people saying, “my computer is very slow, is there a way to speed it up or do I need a new one?” My answer is always “well, that depends.” As long as the processor isn’t ancient or low powered (kind of like a car engine – like the 3-cylinder models from a few decades ago) we can probably make it faster.

I usually ask them to get me information about the processor, memory and storage capacity of their computer and based on that information I can tell them if it can be upgraded or not. The upgrade that I am talking about is cloning their existing drive onto a new solid-state drive (SSD). Traditional hard drives are a number of discs stacked on top of each other and they run at about 6000 revolutions per minute. After a number of years these discs can get corrupt, and the response time gets worse as the corruption grows.

I recently worked on a computer that would take about 15 minutes from hitting the power button until you could actually work on the computer and even then, it was still sluggish. After about 45 minutes this computer would finally start moving normally. I tried to tune up the computer by scanning for malware, optimizing the memory and removing any unnecessary programs that could slow it down but none of that helped. Looking at the processor I found that it was a fairly current and a fairly fast processor, so this was a good candidate for cloning the drive.

I took the laptop home with me and removed the hard drive and loaded it into a dock connected to my computer; I also loaded a new SSD into the dock. The process of cloning takes an exact copy of the old drive and places it onto the new SSD. When the process was finished, I installed the new SSD into the laptop and turned it on. The bootup which was taking more than 15 minutes completed in less than a minute and I was able to log in and start working on the laptop right away.

The difference is really this dramatic. In addition, the cost is only a fraction of the cost of a new machine, so this upgrade is usually a no-brainer. I have done this for many people that were reluctant to give up their computer for fear they wouldn’t get it back for many days, but I normally run this cloning overnight and get it back to the owner the next morning. 

If you are contemplating whether or not to get a new computer, give me a call and we can discuss this as a possible way to get a lot more life out of your current machine.

How to Extend the Life of Your Laptop Battery

Laptop use has steadily increased since they were first created and today there are many more laptops sold than desktops. According to an article on makeuseof.com – “In 2019, desktop sales totaled 88.4 million units compared to 166 million laptops. That gap is expected to grow to 79 million versus 171 million by 2023.” We all know that laptops are much more convenient than desktops due to the portability of laptops. Add to this the fact that some advertise their batteries will last more than a dozen hours before needing a charge and the number of people getting laptops is no surprise.

Even though most of us purchase laptops, many of us still use them like desktops and this can reduce the life of the battery and in some cases cause damage to the laptop. Laptops were made to be very portable, so it isn’t necessary to always be plugged in to power. In fact, if you always leave it plugged in you are definitely doing a disservice to your laptop and could be causing damage.

If you have a laptop and almost always use it at your desk, you should unplug it occasionally and allow the battery to drain. This will keep the battery from failing or losing its length of charge. I usually recommend charging it to 100 percent or close to it and then unplugging it and allowing it to completely die or at least get below ten percent before plugging it back in. When you keep it plugged-in all the time the battery will become damaged and won’t hold a full charge and sometimes won’t hold any charge.  

Occasionally I see laptops that start to have a bulge from the battery expanding due to always being plugged in. I worked on a Macbook that the entire bottom was beginning to pop off of the laptop. I removed the screws that hadn’t popped yet and when I removed the bottom the laptop swelled even more. It took me over half an hour to safely remove the battery without damaging other components. I believe this laptop was in danger of the battery exploding. See below. The silver battery is expanding and broke out of the plastic that encased it. The black plastic should be flat and even with the laptop frame.

I recently did a video about battery life and went into further explanation you can see it here or in the embed below.

National Backup My Computer Day

Yes, this is actually a thing. I guess there is a day for everything anymore. March 31st was National Backup Your Computer Day, so I decided to give some insight into what is a backup and what isn’t. Many people use OneDrive, Google Drive, iCloud, and Dropbox and think they have a backup. In one sense this will help you recover your files if your computer dies or is stolen, but it isn’t a true backup. It is a sync.

With a sync, the cloud service keeps an exact copy of your documents and each time you make a change on your device it will change in the cloud. For the most part, this is great except for a couple instances:

  1. If you have the sync turned on and you delete your computer copy, it will also delete your cloud copy. Years ago, I had a customer that used Dropbox to share documents with employees and she figured this was also a great way to back it up. One day she had to fire an employee that had access to this cloud, so she got the employee’s computer and proceeded to delete the drop box from it. This also deleted all files stored in the cloud version of her Dropbox. Luckily, she figured it out fairly quick and Dropbox was able to help her restore the files. If she had signed out of the drop box on the employee’s computer first, this would not have happened.
  2. If you get ransomware and it encrypts your file, it will also encrypt your cloud. With a true backup each time there is a change to a file it saves it in addition to the old copy of the file. This can be helpful in catastrophic ransomware issues or if you simply overwrite a file. I got a call one day because a customer could not open any files on his computer. Upon further discussion I learned that when he tried to open a file, he would get a pop up telling him how to purchase the “key” to fix this situation. It would only cost about $800 to purchase the key. He had opened a file that looked like it came from FedEx and it had encrypted his entire computer. Since he was connected to their server, I told him to immediately disconnect from the internet and also to disconnect the server from the internet. When I got to his office, I first checked the server and the virus had already infected about 20% of the files on the server. Luckily, this company had a true backup, and I was able to retrieve all of the infected files. If they were using one of the sync clouds, they would not have been able to recover their files.

When you have a true back up, the process is different. It is a one-way process, not a sync. It also keeps previous versions. It is like putting all of your files in a box and sealing it up and then putting it on a shelf. Then you make a few changes and those get put in another box and also get put on the shelf. The boxes don’t care if you delete a file or change a file the previous boxes are unaffected, but the changes will be in a new box on the shelf. Later on, if there is an issue with a file or many files you can go to a previous box and retrieve the files.

There are also a few kinds of backups. Most work like the cloud services where they charge a certain amount of money for a certain amount of backup storage. If you go over the limit you have to pay more. The one I recommend does it a little different. They charge by the computer, a fixed dollar amount regardless of how much you are backing up. I had a customer with two external drives connected to her computer. They were each 4 TB and my backup didn’t care as long as it was attached to this computer.

Watch this video I made about this:

If you want more information about this backup solution, you can call me or just use this link to get it for yourself.

Windows 11, Should You, or Shouldn’t You?

Microsoft released their newest version last fall and they have been advertising on television and you might have even seen a popup on your computer either telling you that you can upgrade, or you can’t upgrade. Here are the facts about Windows 11.

First of all, Microsoft will continue to support Windows 10 until January of 2025, so you don’t need to stress about upgrading just yet. If you are happy with your current version and you think you will replace your current computer before the support ends in about three years, you don’t have to upgrade. If you are curious and want to take the plunge it is free to upgrade, and you can reverse the upgrade for about ten days after you do it.

Before you pull the trigger, here are some things to consider:
  1. If you have any proprietary software, it is possible that it might not be compatible with Windows 11.
  2. Likewise, if you have any very old software. I have ran across many people that purchased Quicken years ago and never upgraded to a newer version. This could cause issues with Windows 11.
  3. If you run an old version of QuickBooks, this could cause it to stop working. Meaning you will have to purchase the newest version and worry about getting your company file to work in the newer version.
  4. While the user interface is similar to Windows 10, there are differences, and some features are difficult to find and require more clicks to get where you want to go.
  5. Recently There has been a noticeable lag in the file explorer. I am currently trying to work through this on my computer.

I am not trying to encourage or discourage anyone. I am just giving you something to think about. There is one added feature that I feel is great. They have improved on Snap Assist. It still works the same as it always did, but now when you hover over the maximize block on any window, it gives you choices to split your screen into six different layouts that can improve your productivity. This feature alone is enough to make the switch if you struggle with multiple windows at once. You simply click on the layout that you want, and the current window will snap into place and all other windows will be visible so you can choose which ones to add to the layout. If you use two monitors, you could have a different layout on each monitor.

A picture containing shape

Description automatically generated

For more about snap assist, see my video on it

It is time to have that talk…

with your aging parents. The talk about how to avoid becoming a victim of scams.

*The Federal Trade Commission received more than 2.1 million fraud reports from consumers in 2020, according to newly released data, with imposter scams remaining the most common type of fraud reported to the agency. 

*Consumers reported losing more than $3.3 billion to fraud in 2020, up from $1.8 billion in 2019. Nearly $1.2 billion of losses reported last year were due to imposter scams, while online shopping accounted for about $246 million in reported losses from consumers.

*Just over a third of all consumers who filed a fraud report with the FTC—34 percent—reported losing money, up from just 23 percent in 2019.

Your parents grew up in a different time. A time before the technology that is a part of our current daily life, was even invented. They may not understand it and that alone makes them an easier target for scams. They also were taught to be courteous and not rude. Today’s scammers will not stop for courteous responses. You must hang up and not answer when they call back. Your parents need to know that even if the voice on the phone seems like an expert, they should check it out with you or a trusted advisor before giving the caller any information or access to their devices. If the caller won’t wait for that they are definitely trying to scam.

Having this conversation with mom or dad doesn’t mean they are dumb. It means they haven’t been exposed to this newer technology very much and they don’t have the level of knowledge necessary to spot these very sophisticated scammers. Make sure they are aware of this multi-billion-dollar business and that there is no shame in questioning anything they think might be fake.

Here is a list of items you can use to start your talk:

Email 

  1. Verify the “From” address is from the domain of the company that supposedly sent the email.
  2. Read the email out loud. Does it sound like other emails you have read? Is there any broken English or typos?
  3. Don’t click on any links, hover over the link to see where it really is going.
  4. Contact the company or individual through their published phone number or the number on their bill, or if it is a friend use another method of communication that you know is really them or contact a mutual friend to verify the story.
  5. If the email claims to be a receipt for a purchase for Amazon or another online retailer, don’t follow any links, or call the listed number, login to your account like you normally would, to check for activity. The same goes for your bank or credit card.
  6. Do you have an account with this company that uses this email address? I occasionally get emails in my email for businesses that I don’t have an account, my wife has the account under her email.

Phone Calls 

  1. Call them back on their advertised number. Look on your last bill from them and use that number. Even if their number shows up on caller ID as belonging to the company.
  2. Never give them a payment over the phone especially an uncommon type of payment like a gift card or Bitcoin. Real businesses and government offices do not require or even allow uncommon payment types.
  3. Don’t give out personal information such as Social Security numbers, driver’s license number, birthdate or account numbers. Since they called you, they should already have this information.
  4. No government agency will call you about some new issue. They will send you a letter.
  5. Technology companies like Microsoft, Dell, HP, Apple or any others will not call you about your device unless you have purchased a maintenance support plan with them. Even if you have a support plan, they won’t call you about something going on with your device. They are not monitoring them in that manner. The only time they will call you is to return a call that you made to them.

Remember, scams are also happening on social media, text messages and can even pop up on your computer uninvited. When it comes to scams of any kind, education and being aware will keep you from becoming a victim.  Remember, if it seems too good to be true, or if it seems really bad, check it with a known source. Never follow a link in an email without first verifying it is real. Never accept an unsolicited phone call. Call them back on their advertised phone number to verify what they are telling you.

After you have “the talk” why not subscribe to my email newsletter – Scam Busters Monthly Report? I will email a copy to you and your parent every month to help you educate them and to continue the conversation. This subscription is normally $50 per year, but I will give both of you the monthly newsletter for this same $50 per year. I have been talking to my parents for years about scams and due to this they have successfully stopped a number of potential scammers. I want the same for your family.

Every month I highlight scams and show how to determine they are scams. I use pictures to show exactly why these are not real messages. I also occasionally interview experts in the industry to get the latest info to all of my subscribers. Subscribers can also look back at the previous newsletters in my archive. In addition to the newsletter, I allow my subscribers to send me emails they are not sure about, and I will tell them if it is a scam or not.

*https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2021/02/new-data-shows-ftc-received-2-2-million-fraud-reports-consumers

Has Your Computer Been Infected With Adware?

I get this question a lot. Here is what I tell people.

What to look for if you think your computer has been infected with adware:

All of a sudden, your computer is running very slow and your web browser (Edge, Google Chrome or Firefox) won’t load or takes a very long time.  Once your browser does load the familiar home page has been replaced by a different page and the search bar doesn’t say Google or Bing but some new search company.  There are also annoying pop-ups all over your pages.

Yes, your computer has been infected, but where did it come from?  Most likely you went to an unfamiliar website and it told you that you need something installed to run the video or some other element of their page.  If this happens, be very careful what you click on.  They sometimes use icons that look similar to the big names like Adobe.  If they want you to install “flash player” it might be their product not Adobe’s.  Don’t follow their link, instead close the page and go to www.adobe.com and download the real thing.  After you install it, go back to the same website, if it still tells you that you need their “flash player”, find another website to view whatever it is that you want to view.

This is one way these deceptive advertisers gain entry into your computer.  The purpose is to force you to use their search engine which gives them higher rankings and they can charge more for advertising.  They also open the door to others that want to give you more pop-ups and other unnecessary programs.  They also might include programs that keep track of your keystrokes in hopes of stealing your SSI# or banking information.

How to protect yourself:

Pay attention to your homepage (the page that loads every time you open your web browser).  If it changes without your knowledge, your system has been compromised.

If you try to go to a specific website and you are redirected somewhere else, your system might be compromised.

If you notice advertising where you didn’t see any before, your system might be compromised.

If you notice any of these things happening to your computer, you need to act quickly to prevent more damage.  The programs that have been installed need to be removed, but they hide in other places also.  The best thing to do is call me and I will remove all traces of these damaging programs.