Q: I recently noticed that all the Microsoft Office 2016 programs on my Windows 10 PC had slowed down. None of the programs open quickly, and the first Outlook e-mail, Excel spreadsheet or Word document also takes a long time to load.
I have eight gigabytes of RAM (computer chip memory) and 813 gigabytes of available hard-disk space, so memory shouldn’t be the problem. I ran the Malwarebytes Premium and McAfee Total Protection software several times and they didn’t discover anything wrong. A Microsoft technician reinstalled the Office software, but that only helped for two days. What’s wrong?
Nolan White, Lakeland, Fla.
A: I think your PC slowdown is caused by two competing antivirus programs rather than by a flaw in Microsoft Office.
Malwarebytes Premium and McAfee Total Protection are both running constantly on your PC and both are trying to do the same job. As a result, they are competing for processor time and memory capacity and slowing down other programs, such as Office (see tinyurl.com/y8vczc4e).
This is a relatively new problem because, until last year, Malwarebytes was only a security accessory program, not a replacement for antivirus software such as McAfee. The for-pay version, Malwarebytes Premium, ran constantly to provide proactive protection against malware, but it didn’t interfere with antivirus software.
But now that’s changed. Malwarebytes Premium has been given more capability and is being marketed as a replacement for antivirus programs (see tinyurl.com/y8dg4l6v).
Note that this interference problem doesn’t exist for the free version of Malwarebytes, which is a remedial program rather than a protective one. It runs only when you activate it — and only long enough to scan the PC for malware.
There are two possible solutions: Choose only one antivirus program, either McAfee or Malwarebytes Premium. Or keep using McAfee and downgrade to the noninterfering free version of Malwarebytes.
Q: You recently offered suggestions about storing passwords (see tinyurl.com/y8ym43fe), all of them involving some risk. But you didn’t mention another possible solution, which is storing passwords in a Microsoft Word document that has been encrypted and can only be opened with a password. Isn’t that a safer alternative?
Mark Poirier, Pawtucket, R.I.
A: The solution you suggest comes with considerable risk.
Why? If you store your passwords in an ordinary Word document, and they are “stolen” by a hacker, you still have the document containing the passwords. You can go back to every website or service you use, let yourself in with your existing compromised password, then change your password. That locks out the hacker who stole your original passwords.
But if you store your passwords in an encrypted Word file, then lose the password that unlocks the file, you have permanently lost all your passwords and all hope of ever using the websites and accounts. You would have to create new accounts with new passwords. I can’t recommend your solution, but those interested can see tinyurl.com/y8fnzvbl.
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