Common Defects on PCs We all use computers every day in our home and work lives. This means that, at some time or another, all of us suffer from common PC defects and problems. Computers are complex, interrelated systems but most of the everyday issues commonly faced can be traced back to these three causes. Too Long Since a Reboot A restart should be the first step to troubleshooting any computer issue. It will fix some problems, especially "one-off" abnormalities, right away. A lot of temporary things happen while a computer is running. Programs and drivers open in memory and stay open, RAM is consumed and never given back, temp files are created and more. This is just how computers work, but it all adds up and compounds over time. A reboot clears all these temporary files and operations, offering a fresh start that might clear up strange problems. Malware Many computer defects, such as constant freezes, popup ads, slow performance and crashes, are caused by malware. This is a blanket term that stands for "malicious software" and it covers both viruses and adware. Viruses are malicious programs designed to steal data, hijack your computer for nefarious purposes, crash your system or any number of other negative effects. Adware usually redirects your browser and homepage to unintended sites, causes popup ads and installs unwanted software filled with advertisements and code that downloads more adware. The big problem with adware is that it's specifically written to be hard to remove. Free anti- malware programs like Malware Bytes, Avast and Super Antispyware do a decent job, though. They should be installed, updated and run until their results come back clean. If malware persists despite your best removal efforts, it's time to back up your data and reinstall Windows. Too Many Background Programs Over the life of our computers, we install many programs. A big problem with programs is that many, by default, add themselves to your computer's Startup list, meaning they start at boot and run in the background. This is convenient because they will start faster when you need them but it also means they take a certain amount of memory. Too many programs running in the background could mean your computer doesn't have enough memory left for the programs you actually are trying to use right now. The easiest way to eliminate unnecessary background programs from stealing resources is to turn them off. A Windows utility called "MSCONFIG" is a simple way to do this. The easiest way to get to it is to click "Start, Run" and type "msconfig." From there, click the "Startup" tab. Unchecking an item removes it from startup. A word of warning: keep a web browser window open and double or even triple check each item before you turn it off. Some of these programs are absolutely necessary. If you're uncomfortable with doing this yourself, consult a repair professional.