Remember when your computer was new? It took mere seconds to greet you with the Windows desktop. Today, the time it takes for your computer to start seemingly takes forever.
This is pretty common. One area of your computer that gets bloated over time is the Start menu. Fortunately, it's fairly easy to clean up.
Your anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall should always be active. But unnecessary programs also start automatically. Less than five programs running in the background are okay. Too many programs running simultaneously will slow down any computer - no matter how fast the processor and regardless of the amount of memory.
So how do you know what is running? Check the lower right-hand corner of Windows--the system tray. You should see a few icons. Place your cursor over an icon, the program's name will appear.
The notification area only tells part of the story. There may be other programs (also called processes) running that are represented with an icon in the notification area. To find these, press Ctrl+Alt+Del.
This will show the Windows Task Manager dialog box. Select the Applications tab. Click the Processes tab. You might be surprised to find a long list of programs running.
Problem is, the processes aren't listed in clear English. How do you identify a process? Process Explorer is a free way.