Archive for May, 2010
What Goes Into A Slow Computer?
One reason computer speed problems can be tough to diagnose is that they don’t appear overnight. Slow computers seem to evolve and are often the product of many little problems rather than a few large ones.
If your computer slows suddenly, there are a few “triage moves” you can make to see if you can speed things back up. I’ll cover them in this post. First, if your computer is not responding, applications are slowing to a halt and things just suddenly seem to go bad for you, try rebooting your computer. Sometimes a quick reboot can clear the computer’s memory of whatever has bogged it down.
If a reboot doesn’t work, then do a little prodding on your computer. Find out how much RAM is actually available. If some portion of your installed memory fails, you can bet that you’ll see a sudden performance hit. Try reseating the SIMM or DIMM in the computer to see if that “recovers” your lost memory. If that doesn’t work and your computer can’t see or use the entire installed RAM, you may have to replace a memory module. If you have more than one module installed, you’ll need to determine which module has gone bad. Do this by rotating the modules into Slot 0 and rebooting. The computer will likely refuse to boot when the bad module is in Slot 0.
If your computer boots up and is able to access all of its RAM, you may find that your hard disk is very full. If this is the case, you’ll need to free of space on the disk to improve computer performance. As a rule, your computer needs up to 20% of your hard disk space for temporary files and paging memory. If your available disk space falls below 20%, consider removing files or adding external storage.
Check for viruses and malware. These nasties can be a persistent cause of poor computer performance. Viruses load themselves, but malware is invited onto the computer by the user. Do a quick review of recently added applications. If you suspect malware, do a little research (particularly on “free” applications) to see if you may have gotten more than you bargained for.
Photo Credit: William Hook, via Flickr
Device Conflict? Yes and No
Older versions of Windows relied on a limited system of IRQ’s (Interrupt Requests) to signal an interruption, or need for CPU services. Today, the architecture of the modern CPU has changed, so the old system, which had a high potential to create device conflicts, has been replaced with a much more flexible system that vastly increases the number of physical devices that a computer can manage. This newer architecture, combined with a more dynamic system of device communication, means that there are fewer opportunities for old-style device conflicts.
That doesn’t mean that all hardware devices get along with each other, though. There are plenty of other opportunities for devices to “conflict” with each other! More commonly today, devices may use shared libraries, which can cause some conflicts over resources. Too many USB devices plugged into the computer may cause power problems, especially if they’re plugged into a USB hub or an extended USB port found on devices like keyboards or monitors.
Some devices (and software) compete aggressively for hard disk space and physical memory. In these cases, some applications or hardware may find it difficult to access the resources they need to run properly. While this isn’t technically a device conflict, lack of memory and hard disk space can definitely impair the performance of the computer.
Generally speaking, the system of device management on a modern computer is designed to prevent device conflicts, or to make them much less apparent to the user. Newer computers and operating systems are outfitted with the tools they need to redirect hardware requests that might otherwise conflict with each other. Nonetheless, you can use the Device Manager on Windows to examine the peripherals your computer sees, and inspect how each device is handled by the CPU and operating system.
Old, outdated or corrupted information in the registry can also cause computer performance problems. Again, this isn’t exactly a device conflict, but this bad information can cause devices to misbehave, and can also slow down the CPU while it looks for resources that no longer exist. A good registry cleaner like RegCure can help remove these stumbling blocks so your computer doesn’t have to waste time executing abandoned code.
Photo Credit: Jon Ross, via Flickr
Slow Computer? Try These…
You can try a bunch of random things when it comes to speeding up your computer, but you’re in a much better position to diagnose problems when you have some information about what your computer is (and isn’t) doing. Before you jump into solving your slow computer problems, take a moment and think about the last ten things you added to your computer. (Installation logs may help at this point.)
Sometimes slow performance can be the result of something you’ve added or changed. Your computer hard disk could be badly fragmented or even close to full. If you don’t have at least 20%-25% of your disk space free, you need to consider whether this could be the source of at least some of your computer performance issues. Remove old files or store them on CDs or DVDs. Once you’ve made some room on your hard disk, use the Defragmenter tool to tidy up your files. You may find that simply clearing out old files and defragging your hard disk has put a little pep back into your slow computer.
If making more room doesn’t help, or wasn’t the problem in the first place, you need to know what processes and programs your computer is running, and what’s occupying most of the computer’s CPU time. You can use the Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) to get to the Task Manager. Take a look at the processes that are running. You may find that you’ve left a lot of programs open. Quit all unnecessary programs and restart your computer if necessary to see if that improves your lot. Reduce the number of programs that are configured to start automatically. As a general rule, starting and stopping programs manually will best allow you to optimize the performance of your computer.
If you find that you have a lot of processes running that you don’t recognize, or recognize some “bad actors” running on your computer, do a malware/virus scan and remove whatever you find. Please invest in a reputable A/V program and keep it up-to-date. Don’t rely on demo versions of A/V software to protect your computer.
Clean up the registry once in a while! Using a program like RegCure can help you avoid a buildup of useless, orphaned or corrupted programming code within your registry. Keeping your registry clean and backed up may provide not only an invaluable burst of speed, but also a bit of extra security in the form of a registry backup.
Photo Credit: Chelsea Oakes, via Flickr
The Registry Doesn’t Take Care Of Itself
The registry is a common area in which the OS and applications meet. The registry contains a lot of information about what’s installed and how the system is configured. The information in the registry is dynamic, meaning that it changes all the time. Each time you change the configuration on your computer a new entry is created in the registry. Adding, subtracting or updating applications and hardware can also require changes in the registry information.
Installers and uninstallers are supposed to clean up after themselves. They’re supposed to remove old, useless entries from the registry when they’re done. The registry is a common area and everyone is responsible for keeping it clean. (For those of you with roommates, does that sound familiar?)
Well, just as with your old college roommates, not everyone does what they’re supposed to do when it comes to maintaining the registry. As a result, leftover code that should have been removed instead gets abandoned in the registry. Installers add only what they’re supposed to add and uninstallers remove only what they’ve written into the registry, so if something gets left behind, it’s stuck there.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use a registry cleaner software program like RegCure. RegCure eliminates the leftover and abandoned registry code that should have been removed and wasn’t. RegCure also backs up your registry files before it makes any changes, so reverting to the former state is as easy as it gets. Removing the leftover code is essential. It can eliminate persistent errors and reduce the amount of time the computer needs to read and interpret the registry file.
People ask me all the time about whether or not a registry cleaner is useful or necessary. For a highly experienced technician, it can be a time-saver, although many professionals prefer to edit the registry manually. For the inexperienced user, a registry cleaner is like a miracle worker, so I recommend it for users who don’t have access to professional technical support.
Users who install RegCure are almost always surprised by how much faster and more reliably their computers perform.
Photo Credit: Suvodeb Banerjee, via Flickr
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