Check for malware
Alexander Image/Shutterstock Make sure that spyware, malware (malicious software), or a virus hasn’t infected your computer. The symptoms include slow processing, a new home page on your web browser that you didn’t actively choose, or frequent messages saying that something is corrupt or flagging an error, according to Michael Schwehr, founder of JumpStart Computing in Alexandria, Virginia. “Viruses and malware will keep your computer running as slow as possible, while the virus is trying to spy on what you do online,” says Marc Enzor, owner of the computer repair company Geeks 2 U. “Be sure to have a good antivirus software, keep it up to date, and make sure it runs often.” Scan your computer with the anti-virus program you already have, or download an additional malware-detecting program such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware, which is free and which many experts recommend. Watch out for these other signs someone is spying on your computer.
Evaluate your antivirus software
Super Sports Images/Shutterstock While viruses or malware can certainly make your machine sluggish, a number of popular antivirus programs—McAfee, for example—can actually contribute to the drag themselves. “One of the main culprits of computer slow-down is anti-virus software (and computer clean-up utilities),” Burton Kelso, technology expert and blogger, tells RD.com. When it comes to protecting your computer, sometimes less is more. Kelso recommends using the software that comes with your computer since you should already have an antivirus program. “Windows users have access to Windows Defender and Macintosh users have XProtect. Both are free and already installed when you get your computer,” he says. You can also try a free alternative like Malwarebytes that won’t weigh down your system.