Archive for March, 2011
Don’t Forget To Update
Remembering to update your computer can be easy, especially if you use Windows Update to accomplish this task. When you have Windows Update turned on, your computer will go out looking for updates and can automatically download and install them of you have your computer configured properly.
Some people don’t like the idea of allowing Windows Update to run system upgrade installations automatically, but here’s the thing. Some updates actually make the computer run faster and work better. Patches – as opposed to updates – are security holes that Microsoft is attempting to plug. Those patches should be applied as soon as they’re available. There’s no reason to wait on those.
Updates – more along the lines of Service Packs – are designed to extend functions, improve operations and make things work better. Again, some users have problems with service packs because they can “break” applications and hardware devices that work just fine under the old, non-updated system.
Patches may be released at any time and should be applied whenever they’re made available. Service packs don’t have to be applied right away, and they come out much less frequently – maybe once per year. Microsoft works with third-party developers on service packs. They don’t come as a surprise to anyone in the programming community.
That means a service pack might necessitate a driver update for certain Windows hardware. If you do a service pack upgrade, go looking for hardware drivers that may have been released co-incidentally. Once you have the service pack installed, install the corresponding driver updates.
It’s not a bad idea to go looking for driver updates periodically anyway. You can configure Windows Update to include driver updates (they’re optional), so you have a better chance of finding new drivers for your hardware right away. If you don’t have Windows Update configured to download driver updates automatically, or for some reason, want to take on driver management on your own, you can do that, but just remember that an operating system update may also produce driver updates.
By keeping both your OS and your hardware drivers updated, you may find that you get a little unexpected (but welcome) performance boost!
Photo Credit: comedy_nose, via Flickr
Active File Checking Isn’t The Only Slow Spot
The anti-virus software runs all the time. For some reason, people think that the activity of the A/V software is limited to the scans they set up. Realistically, the A/V software loads at startup, before anything else loads. When it loads, it reserves a section of memory for itself. That memory is no longer available to the rest of the programs on the computer, including the operating system. As time goes on, more programs are installed and some may be configured to run at startup. Each of these items – just like the A/V software – take a chunk of the available memory and reserve it for themselves. Ultimately, a large portion of the computer’s operating memory is reserved before the user even opens his or her first application.
Depending upon the A/V product you choose, the software could be doing active scanning, or it may just scan when new information is added to the computer from an outside source. It also interferes with each download to verify that the document or application is free from known viruses and other malware. These interruptions can take a while to complete.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a major proponent of anti-virus software. I never recommend disabling it or limiting what it does. Its job is to protect the computer, and if a user disables it because it appears to be slowing the computer down, a whole new list of problems can crop up. In this case, users may need to accept that certain necessary functions must take place and cannot (or should not) be interfered with. In the long run, having to clean up a virus infection will take a lot longer than sitting through whatever delay an A/V software package will cause.
If you really dislike the delay your A/V package generates, consider switching products, but don’t disable it, remove it or turn it off. Unless, of course, you like removing viruses and malware.
Photo Credit: Cyanocorax, via Flickr
Go With The Top Choice Among Registry Cleaners
The registry is a sensitive and highly essential part of any Windows computer system. When you fool with the registry, you’ve got the bull by the horns so you have to know what you’re doing. If you know what’s in the registry and how to make changes, you’re probably a technical professional. If you’re a home user, I don’t recommend editing the registry.
The problem, of course, is that the registry gets loaded up with bits of code that shouldn’t be there. New applications you download and configure make entries in your computer’s registry. If you remove the program or update it, the uninstaller/updater may not handle the existing registry entries correctly. Likewise, if you don’t uninstall the software properly, you could leave behind a lot of unnecessary information.
Viruses and malware love to make entries into your registry. Removing the malware doesn’t always remove the junk they leave behind. All of this accumulated code in your registry can slow your computer down, sometimes to a crawl. That’s where a trustworthy registry cleaner can come in handy.
RegCure is a great product that’s been downloaded more than a million times by users like yourself who are looking for a way to speed up a slow computer. RegCure is one of the most well-known and well-liked registry cleaners available today. One reason RegCure is so trusted is because it makes a backup of your registry before it makes any changes. With a complete registry backup on hand, you can revert your computer back to this starting point if you don’t like some of the changes RegCure has made.
You also have the option of accepting or rejecting suggested changes, so you’re always in control of what RegCure does. With RegCure, you don’t have to be a professional computer technician to take care of your computer. RegCure gives you the tools you need to modify and clean up your computer’s registry safely, quickly and accurately. RegCure is easy to download, install and use. You can even get a complimentary registry scan to let you know if any serious issues may be affecting your performance. Download RegCure today!
Photo Credit: Garry Knight, via Flickr
Diagnosing A Slow Computer From Memory
One of the first things I like to do with a computer accused of being slow is to restart it. This does two things. First, it allows me to observe the boot-up routine. Each computer’s boot-up period is unique. The speed with which a computer boots is determined, up to a point, by its hardware. By rebooting the computer, I can look at the “hardware-only” portion of the boot process to make sure something hasn’t gone horribly wrong with the computer’s working parts.
One example of a hardware failure that can impact performance noticeably is a memory failure. Whether a memory module has become unseated, or isn’t responding properly, this effectively cuts down the amount of available memory and can slow things to a crawl. Laptop computers are more likely to suffer a physical dislodgement, especially if they’ve been dropped (it happens!) or handled roughly – such as could happen when you’re moving through an airport.
In other cases, memory modules simply burn out. They’re integrated circuit boards, and they can experience component failure. The boot up process can reveal how much memory the computer thinks it has. You can also check for installed memory once the system is up and running. If what you have installed doesn’t match up with what the computer thinks it has, a trip to the repair shop may be in order.
Computers also seem to do better with an “even amount” of installed memory. If you have two memory slots, put something in both. If you have four slots, put an equal amount of memory in two or four slots, but don’t try to fill up one slot or three slots, even if the computer allows it. If you only have one slot, stick with an even amount of RAM (e.g., 2 Gb, 4 Gb). The computer can work with “odd” amounts of memory (e.g., 1 Gb, 3 Gb) but from experience, they seem to like even numbers better than odd ones when it comes to RAM.
In the next post, I’ll talk about benchmarking a computer to give some basis for comparing performance over time.
Photo Credit: Warrenski, via Flickr
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