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Archive for November, 2009

Slow Computer Can Be Caused By Slow Peripherals

Slow Computer Can Be Caused By Slow Peripherals

Slow Computer Can Be Caused By Slow Peripherals

Among the likeliest suspect for slow computer performance – after you’ve taken care of the obvious viruses, malware, bloated systems, insufficient memory, run a registry cleaner, etc. – may just be your peripheral equipment. Network connections are notorious for slowing down computer performance. This is because a computer that’s attached to the network is communicating with other computers (like servers) and may be waiting for a response from another computer.

Check Your Network Card

Computers normally use a network card of some sort to connect to a computer. Whether the network card is built into the device, or is added after the fact, it remains a potential for a performance bottleneck. Sometimes, network cards can get “confused” and start to behave erratically.

These network adapters can “chatter” incessantly, creating all sorts of unnecessary network traffic that other devices have to listen to by virtue of the way Ethernet networks are designed. In other cases, your networked computer may be a victim of a “rogue” device, and is simply unable to get proper access to the network.

If you are working with a laptop computer, the network adapter or “air card” you use to connect to a 3G or cellular network may be causing performance problems. While the network may be capable of a faster download speed, your adapter card may be limiting the network’s performance. Laptops pose a unique challenge because in many cases, they’re underpowered to begin with. Combining a slower processor with a limited amount of RAM, a slower graphics processor and a slower network card, may produce an unhappy result when it comes to performance.

If you’re not using a cellular network card, but you’re connecting to a network with a wireless adapter, you may find that your computer has trouble shifting gears between one wireless network and another. The computer may spend time fruitlessly searching for network devices like DNS servers that it may have encountered in a previous session. If you’ve moved to a different wireless network, the most recently available DNS server won’t be around any longer. You may try disabling the wireless adapter when booting up and connecting once your computer is up and running.

If you’re working with a desktop computer that’s slow and attached to a network, disconnect the computer from the network. You may have to reboot or manually shut off the network adapter. If your performance problems improve or disappear altogether, you can begin to search for network related causes for your computer’s slow performance.

Photo Credit: Marius Perijoc, via Flickr

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Tips For Improving Slow Computer Performance

Tips For Improving Slow Computer Performance

Tips For Improving Slow Computer Performance

Just about everyone wants to know how to speed up computers. With the economy in the tank, people are working hard to get as much out of their current computer system as possible. It doesn’t take long for a computer system to become obsolete; computers sold even 12 months ago can seem like yesterday’s news.

A Few Suggestions To Improve Computer Performance

If you’ve been reading this blog, you know that there are some tried and true methods to squeeze a little extra performance out of your computer. If you’ve tried all of those suggestions, there are still a few more things you can do to get your computer to move a bit faster.

Graphics processing takes a lot out of your computer. Most modern computers have an independent graphics processor, but it doesn’t hurt to pay some special attention to graphics. People who use their computer setups to play games understand the value of having a great graphics processor. While you may not play too many graphics-intensive games, you can follow the gamers’ lead by making sure that your graphics processor is up to the task. This will be especially important even for things like streaming video. The faster your graphics processor is, the more likely you are to be happy with the way your computer performs.

Reduce the number of applications you run at one time. This can be tricky, since some applications will configure themselves to run at startup. This isn’t nefarious action on their part; it’s often part of the install routine. When you install new programs, beware of Desktop shortcuts, and requests to run the new program on startup.

Save your files within your file structure. Don’t store files on the Desktop as that’s a sure way to lose valuable performance.

Clean out the registry periodically. Each time you add and uninstall programs, you run the risk of introducing stray bits of unnecessary programming code into the registry. Most install and uninstall routines leave things behind. As these lines of orphan code accumulate in the computer’s registry database, the computer’s performance slows. Removing these little land mines can improve your system performance and help speed up your computer.

Make sure your computer is running the latest patches and updates to its system. Make sure you have the latest correct version of your device drivers installed as well. Keeping things up-to-date, especially after system upgrades can provide a big performance boost.

Photo Credit: Thomas Edwards, via Flickr

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The Registry Can Slow Your System Down

The Registry Can Slow Your System Down

The Registry Can Slow Your System Down

In my last several posts, I’ve looked at common and uncommon causes of slow computer performance. The number of conditions that can affect a computer’s performance is almost limitless, so you may have to do some real detective work to figure out what’s ailing your own computer.

More Tips And Tricks To Speed Up A Slow Computer

If you’ve made it through the anti-virus and malware scans I’ve recommended, and you’re sure your computer is free of viruses and adware, here are some more basic moves that may give your computer a boost.
Defrag. Your computer has a defragmenting utility that will optimize the data that are stored on your hard drive. By putting pieces of files together, or at least near each other, you do two things: first, you make more useable space available on your hard disk and second, you reduce the amount of time the drive needs to spend finding the next bit of a file and repositioning the read/write heads to retrieve it and maybe write a fresh copy of it. The more fragmented the information is on your hard disk, the slower the computer will be when it comes to finding, displaying and writing new files. As a rule, if you use your computer a lot and files tend to come and go regularly, defrag your hard disk about once a month. If you use your computer less strenuously, defrag at least once each quarter.

Pare Down Startup Items. Users never seem to believe that even “small” applications can take a lot of performance power away from your computer. Sometimes, application installers ask if you want to start your new program up automatically each time you boot the computer. (Unless you’re talking about the OS itself, or anti-virus software – something that directly affects the performance of the computer – your answer should be No. Each time you say yes, that program “reserves” a bit of your operating memory for itself to use at startup. Pretty soon, all of your memory will be divided among users

Clean Your Registry Little bits of useless programming code accumulate in your computer’s registry over time. Keeping these bits from piling up can help your computer run more smoothly. Removing these orphans tends to reduce the amount of time the computer needs to read the rest of the information in the registry, and helps to prevent it from getting stuck in annoying time-out cycles that can really slow things down.

Photo Credit: technowannabe / Todd Baker, via Flickr

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Curing Slow Computer Performance

Curing Slow Computer Performance

Curing Slow Computer Performance

In the last few posts, I’ve written about hardware-based causes of slow computer performance. If you’ve done your share of searching for the cause of slow computer performance and still haven’t been able to locate your trouble, it may be time to get serious about the software your computer is running.

Slow Computer Performance Can Be Cured

If you haven’t already checked your system for viruses and malware. , that should be the first task you undertake. Don’t assume that you’re safe because you have a virus scanner or malware scanner running on your computer. Often users think they have the right software loaded on their computer and they don’t. Worse, they have the right software loaded on their computer and it’s never been configured or updated, or it’s been disabled.

Yes, there are viruses that work to disable anti-virus software. That’s why it’s exceptionally important to have the latest version of your virus definitions and software updates at all times. Computers often come loaded with a virus scanner, so people assume that they’re protected. What they may not understand is that their virus software may be a free, time-limited trial, or subscription that will expire at some point in the (usually) near future.

With PCs, you definitely need anti-virus and anti-malware software. You also need to keep this software updated, even if that means paying a subscription fee for updated virus or malware definitions.

Your anti-virus and anti-malware software should be running at all times. The software should be configured to perform regular scans on your computer, and should be configured to download updates on a regular interval. If you think you have a “set and forget” anti-virus software package installed or you never seem to have to do anything with your anti-virus or anti-malware software, sit down immediately and verify that your virus definitions are updated.

Once you know you have the latest virus definitions, scan your computer for viruses and malware. If your anti-virus software isn’t doing minimally this much, your performance problems could be the result of malware or viral activity that’s either robbing your system of processing power or redirecting your system to do something you don’t want it to do.

Viral and malware infections are often the first conclusion that users jump to, often without scanning their computers. A reasonably competent anti-virus program can usually find some evidence of infection. If you’ve run your anti-virus program and it’s coming up empty, there are a few reputable sites on the Internet that will scan your computer and give you some independent results. Be careful however. Some sites run fake anti-virus scanners in an effort to sell you products you don’t need.

Trend Micro, a well-known name in anti-viral products, has an online scanner you can use to check or double-check the results of your virus scan.

Photo Credit: Danny Thompson, via Flickr

Having The Wrong Equipment Can Slow Computer Performance

Having The Wrong Equipment Can Slow Computer Performance

Having The Wrong Equipment Can Slow Computer Performance

In my last post, I talked about the impact of not having enough memory or having the wrong kind of memory installed in your computer. Proper computer function often depends upon complex timing relationships among the installed and peripheral components. Having memory that is “too fast” or “too slow” for the rest of the system can seriously slow computer performance.

The Right Tool For The Job

Memory is only one component that can affect the performance of the computer. Ultimately, users need to understand that a computer is a system. If you purchase “off-the-shelf” systems, you’re purchasing a system that has been designed with a specific purpose in mind. Some computer systems are designed for office work; others are designed for graphics-intensive tasks. Still others are designed for gaming. Portable computers, netbooks and laptops are designed with office functions in mind, but they may only really excel at certain “low-power” tasks like checking email, editing simple documents or surfing the Web.

The point I’m making is that computer systems are designed for certain tasks. If you purchase a computer system because it has a low price, but you really want the computer to play graphics-intensive games on, you’re likely to be disappointed because the low-cost office computer isn’t really up to the task of processing a lot of graphic information that changes frequently.

If you have a specific purpose in mind for your computer, you should do some research on what exactly you’ll need your computer do be able to do. If you really want to edit videos on your computer, you’ll need a different computer setup than you would if you wanted to edit documents.

The price of not doing this kind of research is inevitably disappointment. If you purchase a new computer and it doesn’t seem to do what you want it to do, it may be because the computer was designed with different capabilities in mind. You may need to modify your hardware to accommodate the kind of software you want (or need) to run.

If you’re going to research computers before you buy, start with a list of what you really want the computer to do. If the computer needs to support wireless network connectivity, expanded hard drive space, intensive graphics processing, dual monitors, simple applications… whatever the case may be… put it on the lists of “must haves.” Generally, if you plan to run large applications, do design work, play graphics intensive games, etc. you’ll need something with more memory and faster processors than you would if you’re simply checking email, editing simple documents and surfing the Web.

Starting out with the right kind of hardware can make for a much more pleasant (and faster!) computer experience.

Photo Credit: jon_a_ross, via Flickr