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Archive for January, 2010

Slow Computer? Could Be You!

Slow Computer? Could Be You!

Slow Computer? Could Be You!

When it comes to your poor typing skills, ff you’re hoping to blame a slow computer on stiff joints in your hands, hold that thought. A new study just published in the journal Arthritis Care and Research shows that people who suffered from rheumatoid arthritis could type just as fast as subjects who did not suffer from the disease. The study did show that the best predictors of typing ability were training and the age of the typist.

Improving Computer Skills Can Improve Speed

If you avoid using the computer because your data entry skills are lacking, consider taking a typing course or working with typing software. There are several free online typing test sites that can help you measure your typing speed and accuracy. Most sites are associated with a typing tutor program or software that is designed to help you learn how to touch-type.

In addition to online sites that can help measure your typing skills, you can consider using typing tutor software. The software will provide typing exercises that will help you learn the keyboard without having to look at the keys. Believe it or not, looking at the keyboard actually slows you down when it comes to typing! Your brain must verify the location of the keys you’re looking for. That visual confirmation actually reduces the efficiency of your data entry.

Worried about making mistakes? When you use programs like word processors, you can enable spell-checking and automatic error correction. Even if you type a word incorrectly, the computer can often figure out what you meant and make the appropriate substitutions. One word of caution regarding spell checking: the spell-checker won’t correct grammatical errors or word misuse. For example, if you mean to type “the” but accidentally type “she” the spell-checker will not flag the mistake because, after all, “she” is spelled correctly.

Some more advanced word processing programs also offer grammar checkers that may or may not flag misused words. Grammar checkers are not as sophisticated as spell-checkers, primarily because there is widespread agreement on the spelling of a word, whereas the rules of grammar are often circumstantial.

You can also benefit by working with tutorials or taking classes on more complicated computer applications, like spreadsheets and databases. Learning how to get the results you want from your software can improve your performance, which may make the computer seem to work a little faster for you!

Photo Credit: Dan Foy, via Flickr

Microsoft Publishes Fix For W7 Slow Computer Startup

Microsoft Publishes Fix For W7 Slow Computer Startup

Microsoft Publishes Fix For W7 Slow Computer Startup

If you’ve already made the conversion from some other version of Windows to Windows 7, you should have noticed that the boot time for the Windows 7 computer is noticeably faster than earlier versions of the OS. In Windows Vista, Microsoft played some games with how the OS loads to give the illusion that the computer was booting faster than it really was. Microsoft was hoping to leave you with the impression that you didn’t have a slow computer after all.

Boot Up And Wait

The shell game works until you want to use a part of the OS that the computer hasn’t loaded yet. You know the drill: click on something and wait… and wait… and wait. With Windows Vista, the OS would “guess” what you were interested in using based upon the applications you normally use. When you did something unexpected, your reward was waiting for the OS to finish loading.

With Windows 7, Microsoft has streamlined the bootup routine and has removed some bottlenecks that added precious second (which always feel like hours) to the boot time of the computer. No games this time; the computer really does boot faster than it did. (It shuts down faster, too but that’s a different post.)

Microsoft has identified a condition that could affect some computers running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 that will indeed cause the computer to boot much more slowly than it should. The bug occurs when computers running Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 are connected to a high-resolution monitor that is set to some value other than 96 dpi. Bootup can be very slow under this particular configuration.

For most users, this won’t have any impact because the default dpi display setting is 96 dpi. If you’ve gone into the Control Panel and tweaked the dpi setting to make your on-screen display smaller or larger than the default, you could have a slow boot experience the next time you fire up the computer. To eliminate the problem, switch the default dpi display setting back to 96 dpi. If you gotta be you and use a different dpi setting, Microsoft does have a hotfix available for this little gotcha.

Under most circumstances, your boot times should be pretty speedy with Windows 7. If you do experience slowness, or you want to avoid acquiring a slow computer over time, consider loading RegCure onto your Windows 7 computer. RegCure is a trusted registry cleaner and works on all versions of Windows. RegCure can help keep your computer running as quickly as the manufacturer intended.

Photo Credit: Cheon Fong Liew, via Flickr

Get More Speed Out Of Your Slow Computer

Get More Speed Out Of Your Slow Computer

Get More Speed Out Of Your Slow Computer

Everyone is looking to extend the life of computers and computer equipment these days, but one of the “costs” of doing so is that older equipment tends to be slower equipment, when compared to newer, more modern devices. There are many conditions that can slow a computer down, and a number of tried-and-true fixes to help recapture some lost computer performance.

Before You Try Other Things To Speed Up Your Computer, Try These

Reboot. It sounds almost trite, but this trick may work wonders, especially if you tend to leave your computer running for long periods of time between restarts. Software programs (and even operating systems) can cause what are known as “memory leaks.” A memory leak is a condition where a slowly but steadily growing amount of memory is devoted to a process or application incorrectly. Evenutually, the memory leak will consume all available RAM, leaving nothing for required processes. This can lead to excessive paging – the swapping of information into and out of RAM – and slow performance. A reboot will reset all RAM in the computer and eliminate the corrupted process.

A/V Scans Computers are especially vulnerable to viruses and malware that gets loaded onto the computer. These programs are notorious for consuming memory and generally wreaking havoc on the operating state of your computer. Malware can be eliminated by uninstalling, (not always though), but viruses require the special assistance of an anti-virus program (and sometimes a well-trained technician). Viruses can leave a nasty mess behind even when they’ve been disabled or removed.

Defragment Defragmenting your hard drive is a “regular maintenance” item and should be conducted monthly if you do a lot of downloading or file creation, and at the least, once per quarter if you don’t use your computer that heavily. Keeping your disk organized in this way will cut down on the time required by the computer to read and write files and may also improve the performance of virtual memory caches.

Registry cleaners Do they work? Yes. In a perfect world, the uninstall routines would work flawlessly to remove (rather than just disable) unneeded registry entries. Our world, however, is far from perfect, so a lot of unneeded information remains in the registry. The computer has no way of knowing that the information is no longer valid, so it can waste time reading (and waiting for phantom device responses) information that doesn’t amount to anything important. There are several registry cleaners available. I always recommend RegCure. I’ve found it to be an exceptional tool that works well, especially for PC users who don’t have the benefit of knowing a PC technician.

Photo Credit: The Truth About…, via Flickr

Speed Up Your Computer By Paring Down

Speed Up Your Computer By Paring Down

Speed Up Your Computer By Paring Down

If you think about it, there are just as many ways to speed up your computer as there are to slow it down. In this post, I’ll provide some tips on paring down your system to help improve your computer’s performance.

Running Unnecessary Services Slows Your Computer Down

Most people stick with the configuration their computer had when they first received it. Few people take the time to go through a computer and turn off the services they don’t need. In fact, most people don’t know what services they do and don’t need.

The result is that many services get run that users never use. Each service requires a little bit of memory, so these unused services can add up to slower computer performance. If you’re looking for a little extra performance boost, or you just want to pare down the list of things your computer must do when it boots, take a look at the services your system is running.

I never advocate shutting down services you don’t recognize. There are many services your computer needs to function properly, so simply pulling the plug on services you don’t know about is bound to lead to trouble. Instead, take a look at the list of services your computer is running. Write them down or print them off if you have to, and do a little research on what each service does.

You may find that you can safely disable services that are designed to support remote computing if you (or someone else) never access your computer from a distance. Other services, like indexing, for example fall into the “toss-up” category. Indexing is a way for your computer to keep track of what files are present, what they contain and where they are. It helps the computer to produce a file you’re searching for quickly, especially if you’re searching by what the file contains rather than by what the file is called. On the other hand, indexing takes a lot of time. So much time, in fact, that many people get tired of waiting for the computer to finish indexing. Indexing can be run as a “background” task, but that will produce a noticeably slower response when indexing is occurring.

If you don’t search for your files by content, or you use file names or other basic data (like file type, creation date, etc.) to locate your files, you may want to turn off the indexing service. You can find out what services are running by going to Programs/System Tools/Services. As I said, don’t just start eliminating the services you don’t recognize, but instead use this as a starting point for research to determine what (if anything) you can do without.

Photo Credit: Paul Keller, via Flickr

Start Your Year By Speeding Up Your Computer

Start Your Year By Speeding Up Your Computer

Start Your Year By Speeding Up Your Computer

If you still haven’t settled on a New Year’s resolution, I have one in mind: keeping your computer clean. Now “clean” can mean a lot of different things, so I’ll clarify what I mean. A clean computer has several benefits, not the least of which is improved speed. Yes, you can speed up your computer by observing a few housekeeping rules.

A Clean Computer Is A Fast Computer

“Clean” computing means making sure that your computer doesn’t have any nasty viruses, malware, root kits or other similar applications that will slow your computer down, limit the amount of control you have over it, or instruct it to do things that you have not authorized.

Don’t assume that you have a working anti-virus program simply because one is loaded on your computer. Make sure your A/V software is turned on, scanning your hard disk and updating its virus definitions. If it isn’t, there are a number of Web sites run by reputable A/V companies that will scan your computer for free. Make absolutely sure you’re dealing with a reputable company. Several free anti-virus scan sites are just scams that are trying to sell you useless software you don’t need.

Move all files off of your desktop and place them in the file system. Storing files outside the file system actually causes your computer to allocate additional memory to these files. It does this by taking away memory from your applications. A seriously messy desktop can really slow your computer down by forcing it to give away memory it would otherwise use on applications.

Get rid of programs you don’t need. Use the uninstall function rather than just throwing the files in the Recycle Bin. If you simply recycle the application, you’ll leave a lot of files and configuration information behind.

Get rid of files you don’t need or move them to some other form of storage, like a CD or DVD, or even a USB drive. You can keep these files close at hand, but out of your permanent file system. Reducing the size of your file system will also help speed up your computer.

Finally, after you’ve done your cleanup, run a registry cleaner like RegCure. RegCure will remove the abandoned code that uninstall routines are notorious for leaving behind. You’ll be surprised by what RegCure discovers and the impact a clean registry can have on the performance of your computer.

Photo Credit: Nate Bolt, via Flickr

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