Miner Phil

The place where I unearth useful bits

Tutorial: Help! My Computer is Dying!

No, not my computer. This is something I hear said a lot. Generally, what happens is someone has a computer that hasn’t been opened in a while and still has the original bloatware installed from when it was first bought.

Assuming the physical devices of your computer (hard drive, power supply, etc) are in good, working order, here’s my advice I always give people (in order):

  1. Buy a can of air ($5)
    • This stuff really helps out by clearing away all the dust, hair, etc (ew!) out of your computer. Just make sure you do it outside.
    • Why is this important? Because dust acts as an insulator, keeping the moving air away from your heat sinks, it causes your computer to heat up faster since there’s no way for the heat to escape.
  2. Remove some of the useless programs that start up with your computer (free!)
    • If you still have the original operating system installed from 5 years ago, chances are that you have some of the original bloatware manufacturers pre-installed starting up with your PC.
    • Additionally, –and we all do this, by the way– you may have installed something 2 years ago that you no longer need. It may still get loaded whenever you boot up your PC. Uninstall it!
    • Doing this may bring to light some programs you know you didn’t install… chances are, simply uninstalling it will remove the threat, but you may also have other, unknown things running on your system. Which brings me to my next point.
  3. Scan for viruses
    • Personally, I use an arsenal of antivirus programs, namely:
    • I see you’ve mentioned root-kit, what is that?
      • This article goes into great detail about what it is and how to remove it (using RogueKiller), but generally speaking, you don’t want them running.
        Also, if running a scan using Malwarebytes Anti-Malware gives you something like this, then you probably have a root-kit installed.
        In my experience,  traditional anti-malware programs don’t remove the threat, but RogueKiller does.
  4. Replace thermal compound ($5 – $10)
    • Chances are that if you’ve gotten to this point and your computer keeps randomly restarting or is still slow, then your computer is still overheating. You need to replace the thermal compound.
    • What? How? Why?
      • Thermal compound is a thin layer of material separating the surface of your processor from its heat-sink. It helps the heat-sink do its job by directing most of the heat its way.
      • Replacing thermal compound can be a bit tricky, as too much or too little will not help your situation much. Here’s a good how-to video I recommend watching if you need help doing this.
      • Over time, thermal compound loses its effectiveness. Depending on the kind you use, it may oxidize (if you use silver thermal compound) or bubble (if you use a silicon thermal compound).

I’ve done all that and my computer is still slow as molasses!

  1. Operating System (OS)
    • You may want to reconsider your choice of operating system.
      • If you’re running Windows ME or Windows Vista, I’d heavily consider switching to a different OS.
        • If it’s Windows ME, look into Windows 2000 (NT).
        • If it’s Windows Vista, look into Windows 7.
      • Perhaps you’re running an OS whose system requirements are barely being met by your PC. Try downgrading to an earlier version of Windows.
      • If you want to be a hipster, try running Linux. My recommendation is Ubuntu, as it’s very user-friendly and you can try it out without even wiping your hard drive!
  2. Nuke and pave
    • If you’ve gotten this far, then my recommendation is to wipe and do a fresh install of your OS.
    • Before you do this, make sure you back up whatever you need somewhere
      • I recommend using a jump drive which will cost $5 – $50 usually, depending on how much you need saved
      • You could also upload to the cloud (I recommend using Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, or Pogoplug–all are free!)
  3. Hardware Problems
    • If you’re STILL having issues, then somethings likely wrong with your hardware.
    • This is a barrel of kitties and is outside the scope of this article, so I’ll just leave you with these tidbits:
      • If you hear clicking, replace your hard drive.
      • If your computer beeps a few times and doesn’t boot into your OS, re-seat your memory modules (RAM)
      • If your computer doesn’t turn on when you press the power button, plug the computer in to your nearest 110v (220v if you’re in the UK) wall outlet. :)

2 Responses to “Tutorial: Help! My Computer is Dying!”

  1. Amedar Says:


    I will right away take hold of your rss feed as I can’t to find your e-mail subscription link or newsletter service. Do you have any? Please allow me understand so that I could subscribe. Thanks….

  2. Phil Says:

    This should be what you’re looking for: http://www.minerphil.com/feed/

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