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Archive for November, 2011

Should You Upgrade Your Slow Computer?

Should You Upgrade Your Slow Computer?

Should You Upgrade Your Slow Computer?

Everyone’s computer slows down over time – or at least it seems that way. And let’s face it – there’s something attractive about getting a new computer. But do you really need to spend the money to buy a new computer, or are there things you can do to improve the performance of the slow computer you have?

You Can Speed Up A Slow Computer

Before you make up your mind on buying a new computer, consider the things you can do to remedy the old, slow you computer you have. First, let’s be clear: there are some computers that should be upgraded – no questions asked. When a computer no longer meets your needs – when it can’t run the applications you need, perform the functions you need it to, and you’re limited to software that’s no longer even supported by the publisher, it’s probably time to consider buying a new computer.

If your computer hasn’t arrived at that point yet, you can probably get better performance from your computer by addressing the issues that slow your computer down. Here are a few things to do to improve the speed and performance of the computer you have.

First, do regular maintenance on your computer. Regular maintenance includes clearing old files from the hard drive, removing temporary files, applications you no longer use, repairing bad sectors on your disk and defragmenting the hard drive. You can do all of these things using the built-in tools that Microsoft provides in the Windows operating system. While you’re at it, set up a regular maintenance routine to ensure that this kind of housekeeping is done regularly.

Second, briefly disable your anti-virus software and see if your computer performance improves. If it does, look for new, more up-to-date or just plain faster anti-virus software. A/V software is notorious for slowing down computer performance, but these packages are getting better. If your A/V software is just to slow, look for something faster.

Third, clean your registry using a trusted registry cleaner like SpeedUpMyPC 2011. You’ll be surprised by how much better your computer performs after running SpeedUpMyPC 2011. That’s because this software does more than just clean your registry. It also optimizes your computer so that you get the performance you’re looking for.

SpeedUpMyPC 2011 has been downloaded more than a million times by satisfied users who simply want better performance without having to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars upgrading their computers. Download it for yourself and try it. You’ll be surprised by the real difference in performance this software makes!

Photo Credit: Peter Huys, via Flickr

Virtual Memory Can Cause A Slow Computer

Virtual Memory Can Cause A Slow Computer

Virtual Memory Can Cause A Slow Computer

When you talk about “computer memory,” it’s sometimes hard to remember that computers have different kinds of memory. The “working memory” is called random-access memory (RAM) and is supplied by physical components that plug into the computer. Read-only memory (ROM) is hard-coded in chips on the computer. Virtual memory is actually hard disk space that doubles as RAM. There are other specialized memory units that computers use for specific purposes. The interaction between these different kinds of memory can cause a slow computer.

Memory Fills Up Fast

A computer’s RAM tends to fill up fast. Because RAM is in such demand by the operating system and applications in use on a computer, the computer also uses virtual memory to help shoulder the load. Virtual memory is hard disk space that is set aside and used like RAM. The size of a computer’s “virtual disk” is adjustable, but if you plan to adjust the size of the virtual memory allocation, you need to understand what you’re doing.

In order for virtual memory schemes to work properly, the computer has to have a minimum amount of hard disk space free and available. Once the memory is allocated to virtual use, it cannot be used for long-term data storage. If a computer’s hard disk becomes too full, the computer may not have enough free disk space to accommodate the virtual memory configuration. This can lead to performance problems, slowness and even system freezes and crashes.

To ensure that your virtual memory addressing function works properly, you’ll need to keep your hard disk well maintained. This means limiting the amount of data you store on your hard disk. Trimming data can be a little tricky. You want to keep your information nearby, but you also want to keep your computer free of digital debris.

Periodically, clean out your Downloads file and rid yourself of the downloaded information you no longer need. Clean out the temporary files that sometimes accumulate on your computer as well. Consider moving photographs, videos and other large file-size items to a DVD or CD for “nearline” storage. Having a backup copy of these kinds of files is probably a good idea anyway.

If you do a lot of copying or file transfers, you’ll want to defragment your hard disk regularly to ensure that you have contiguous hard disk space available for virtual addressing. This alone can help keep your system running smoothly and quickly. You’ll also want to use a recommended registry cleaner like SpeedUpMyPC 2011 regularly to help keep your computer’s registry file tidy.

Photo Credit: pravin.premkumar, via Flickr

More Slow Network Protocols

More Slow Network Protocols

More Slow Network Protocols

In my last post, I gave a very basic overview of DNS, a system that’s in use on the Internet and matches up computer names with their numerical addresses. DNS relies on the use of servers outside of your local network, and as such, problems with DNS have the instant (and often complete) ability to shut down your Internet access. DNS problems can be big news, especially during severe “outages.” I suggest strongly that you consider configuring your computer to seek out backup DNS services to help keep you connected. This week, I’ll talk about another protocol that has the potential to create a slow computer: IPv6.

What Is IPv6?

If you haven’t heard of IPv6, you’re not alone, but you’ll be hearing a lot more about the new Internet addressing scheme as time goes on. Under the current addressing scheme, known as IPv4, computers have a numerical address in the form of XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX. Each “XXX” is a number between 0 and 255. The first, first and second, or first, second and third number groups are used to represent the network the computer sits on, and the remaining numbers are used to identify the computer itself.

This addressing scheme has worked for a long time, but the explosion of computers and networked devices – including mobile devices that can join and leave networks easily – has created more demand for network addresses than are actually available under the addressing system. To accommodate the growing number of network devices, the powers that be developed a new addressing system called IPv6. The IPv6 addressing system has many more numbers available – 340 undecillion to be exact – addresses which means it will be around for a long time, but switching over to the new system will not be easy. And yes, in case you’re wondering, “undecillion” is a word. It means 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.

Many computers and other devices don’t understand IPv6 or simply don’t use it yet. IPv6 was announced in 1998, so it’s been around for quite awhile. Network device manufacturers have, for the most part, incorporated IPv6 support into routers and other lower-level network devices, to help ensure that the routing infrastructure can manage IPv6. ISPs are now beginning to request and distribute IPv6 assignments.

Only a very small percentage of computers on the Internet use IPv6, but that will change soon enough. What happens in the mean time, however is that network operations (like DNS lookups) will actually slow down until the issue is addressed at the OS level. That may be a bummer for you in the short run, but eventually the new addressing scheme will not only make Internet operations faster, but will also allow many more computers and network devices to join the Internet.

Photo Credit: DBreg2007, via Flickr

Slow Computer? It’s Not Always The Computer’s Fault

Slow Computer? It's Not Always The Computer's Fault

Slow Computer? It's Not Always The Computer's Fault

If you’re vexed by a slow computer, especially when browsing the Web, you should know that it’s not always the computer’s fault. Sometimes, your browsing experience can be derailed by other things that have nothing to do with your computer. Worse, they’re usually things you don’t have a lot of control over!

One Thing That Can Hang Up Your Computer

Networked computing is relatively new (at least in the Grand Scheme Of Things). The type of networking we use today (as in Internet networking) was developed about 50 years ago. (Really!) Since that time, advances and changes have been made, but the underlying technologies, network designs, and network protocols are positively ancient by today’s technology standards. Their saving grace, of course, is that they work.

When the forerunner of the Internet was originally developed, it was envisioned as a communications network that could withstand a devastating attack. The network was to be distributed, meaning that if one data pathway was down, others that were still up could shoulder the extra load.

At the time of the network’s original designs, computers had addresses made of numbers, not names. As time went on, the numbering system became more complicated until it reached a point where people couldn’t remember the addresses of the computers they wanted to contact. To fix this, a new system was developed that allowed people to assign names to computers, but computers still needed numerical addresses. Part of the new system requires a translation between the computer’s name and its numerical address. The system, called the Domain Name System (DNS), relies on computers that have information about how to find any computer on the Internet.

Occasionally, a major problem develops with the domain name server you (or your Internet provider) use. One way to ensure that you can still get to where you’re going is to configure your computer with an alternate DNS server, in case your primary DNS loses its marbles! Some companies – like Google – offer public DNS servers that will look up addresses for the computers (like Web servers) you want to visit on the Internet.

Google’s DNS server – 8.8.8.8 – is available for anyone to use. You can make this server your Primary DNS server or use it as a backup for your ISP’s DNS server. You can easily program your network configuration to include a backup DNS server. You may not often find a use for a backup DNS server, but having a working DNS server could mean the difference between surfing the Internet and curling up with a good book!

In my next post, I’ll take a look at some other network protocols that can slow down your surfing experience.

Photo Credit: abdallahh, via Flickr