sickcomputer.jpg"I go on FaceBook and now my friggin computer is soooo slow when I try to do other things!"

If you only knew how often I hear this!

Or -- "FaceBook has given me a virus and now everything is soooo slow!"

The tendency is always to blame the computer (and sometimes it is actually at fault), or the internet or Microsoft (and sometimes it is), or the least likely suspect of all, FaceBook. But usually -- and I'm not being sarcastic here -- the culprit stares back at you from the mirror :)

Oh, it may not be intentional. You may have launched that "straw that breaks the camel's back" application that saps all the available memory; someone else on your network has logged on to the single overworked router you both share; or there's a background service that's been previously approved and it suddenly kicks into gear -- a Windows update, a virus scan, or another open web page that refresthes itself automatically.

But poor, maligned FaceBook -- all by its lonesome -- is seldom the problem. Their reputation and future success depends upon them being virus-free and above reproach. Oh, its happened, of course, but they dispatch their army of techno-geeks to stamp out and eradicate all malicious creatures of the night before it gets out of hand. In fact, I've seen them shut down the entire system for 4-6 hours to ensure they've resolved the problems.

Like any popular website visited by millions, the virus writers are continually targeting FaceBook. To keep a watch on REAL viruses that make it past the FaceBook defenses, keep an eye on http://reface.me/?s=virus . There's a commonality in all the viruses listed there in that they require human interaction to activate them -- the FaceBook website is seldom the real source. Always look at the URL of the website you're being directed to (just hold your cursor over the link); if it ends in a foreign country designator, like .bg (www.badwebsite.com.bg or www.badwebsite.bg) or .ir or whatever, try to ignore it. The virus killer I list below, AVG Free, will cut the majority off before they infect your system.

So I'm going to make some assumptions here before you read much further:

1) You're not playing games or videoconferencing or watching the latest episode of American Idol while on FaceBook. Any graphical application will slow down a bad connection more than anything else.

2) This isn't an internal networking issue. If you share resources with anyone else, or a batch of printers, and thats the real problem, only your system administrator can solve this. Or you can examine the network traffic itself. I have software tools which will do this, but I -- and them -- cost big bucks.

3) You're not on a Macintosh. Any solution I'm about to tell you about is Windows specific, and Mac's require a different set of tools. I'd refer you to other folk.

4) You actually have enough physical memory (at least 2-3G) and FREE disc space (at least 40-50G) to be playing with the big boys.

It sometimes helps to know what version of Windows you're running and how much RAM and harddrive space you have. In all Windows you can find this in your control panel under system. In Win7 -- which I'm on -- you go to Control Panel, then System and Security, then System, where it'll tell you both the amount of RAM and the Windows edition. For harddisk space, there should be an icon on your desktop that says Computer; you click on that and your harddrive (usually C:/) will say something like "40G free of 137G".

So, the least technical steps simply involves making sure everything is up to date -- and that you don't really have a virus.

virus.jpgANTIVIRUS

Make sure there's an antivirus package on the computer -- and its up to date. If there isn't, you're doomed. No ifs, ands or buts. Hang it up, cash in your chips.

Most corporations tend to buy a package from McAfee or Norton, but then cheap out and neglect to purchase the update subscription once the original one runs out. I'm not a fan of either of these two packages anyway.

I usually tell everybody to grab Avast or AVG Free, which are indeed free and does an active scan of incoming mail, website downloads and any process loading on your system. It also can coexist on your system with MOST other antivirus packages, even though during installation it tells you to uninstall any others.

Avast is at http://download.cnet.com/Avast-Free-Antivirus/3000-2239_4-10019223.html
AVG Free is at http://download.cnet.com/AVG-AntiVirus-Free-2013/3000-2239_4-10320142.html


Note: some versions of Internet Explorer might try to block all downloads, but up top you'll see a message to "allow blocked content and/or download". Just say yes. Trust me -- I'm a trained professional :)

Install Avast or AVG and run at least one complete system scan to see if there are any viruses on your system. If it finds any, then clearly the package you have installed isn't doing the job.

If you keep Avast or AVG, you'll get periodic reminders to update its antivirus package. ALWAYS do this. It will also try to get you to upgrade to the professional version. This really isn't necessary; the free version does everything you ever need.

Now lets see if your Windows components are up to date. Go to Geeks r Us 2