Tip & How-To about Computers & Internet
There are many things that slow your computer down to a crawl. Any application running needs a degree of system resources in order to function. Some applications are necessary, though most are not. I will give you a breakdown as to the "haves" and "have nots" of resource sucking, background running, applications and services running within windows. Software is not the only culprit of poor running machines. You also need the hardware required to run such applications. Imagine the hardware as a dwindling bank account and the software as blood-sucking bill collectors. You have two options. You can eliminate the bills or increase the bank account. Here, I will teach you how to do both.
Since hardware upgrades are the easiest to explain, I will start there. There are two main links in the hardware chain that affect performance. The processor and the RAM or memory. The processor, simply put, involves serious changes to your system if you want to upgrade it. You must, at the minimum, replace the motherboard. If you replace the motherboard, you must have a power supply powerful enough to handle it. Which if you have a reduced form factor case, you may have to replace the case as well. Not to mention, you might have to get a new hard drive and CD-ROM drive, as IDE/PATA is getting phased out in exchange for SATA. By the time you are done, you might as well have replaced the whole computer. So, if you feel you need a new processor, you actually need a new computer. The memory, on the other hand, can be upgraded with ease. There are three main types of memory in modern systems: DDR (pc-xxxx, 1GB Max/chip), DDR2 (pc2-xxxx, 2GB max/chip), and DDR3 (pc3-xxxxx, 16GB Max/chip). Desktops use DIMM, whereas laptops use SODIMM. Also, RAM operates at different clock cycles as well (hence pc-xxxx, where x is the clock speed in MHz times 4). To make sure you purchase the right memory, consult your motherboard manufacturer (User Guide) or your local PC Repair Shop. Installation is simple... Ground yourself first (preferably with an anti-static wrist strap). Then, it's out with old, in with the new. I don't care what Microsoft says, they're posted minimum requirements in regards to memory for Windows are, to put it politely, incorrect. So here are my revised, recommended requirements:
Windows XP (Service Pack 3) - 1GB
Windows Vista (Service Pack 2) - More than 1GB, preferably 2GB-4GB
Windows 7 (Service Pack 1) - 2GB Min, Preferably 4GB-8GB+ to make use of windows 7's full potential
There is a lot of software out there. Most of it is useless and just takes up space and resources, ultimately slowing your machine down. I have categorized a few of the bad ones:
Adware/Spyware (and viruses, Oh My!)
This software makes it way onto your computer via "free" games, websites, porn, and poor surfing habits. If you read the End User License Agreement (EULA) of the "free" software, you will find out that you give these companies permission to install this stuff on your machine. It gathers up your surfing habits in order to profile you and dish you a helping of advertisements. Completely useless to you and slows your machine down. To remedy this, beware of anything labeled as "free". Some can be removed through add/remove programs. Others need to be removed via anti-virus. A few may require you to perform a factory reset on your computer.
I have worked on machines that had so many toolbars, that you could only see 2" of the website at a time. I mean Google, Yahoo, Ask, Norton, mywebsearch, you name it, it was on there. Most (if not all) of them Useless. Simply don't install them. IE 8 comes with a search box that you can assign to a search provider of your choice.
These programs are NOT useless. However, they are usually set to startup with windows. So, unless you are chat happy and talking to everyone you know from the time you sign on until you shut the computer down, you should disable this feature. Only open them when you use them. This actually applies to any software that you don't use regularly. These programs should have a setting that disable them from launching upon windows startup or you can actually disable them in the Microsoft System Configuration Utilty. Simply click start, then run (or the search box in Vista/7) and type "msconfig" without the quotes. The startup tab will list all programs that run upon startup (go figure). Just uncheck the box next to the programs you wish to disable.
That's not a crack at Microsoft. It's just there are so many unneeded services and features running in the background. *Note* This section is directed at the advanced users. You can do damage to your machine, lose data, and wind up with costly repair bills if you do not know what you are doing here. With that said, you can type services.msc in the run dialogue and it will show you all services that are installed, running or not. If you read each services description real carefully, you can determine whether or not you will use it in your current configuration. For example, if you have a Windows XP Desktop that is hardwired into you internet connection, there is no need for the "Wireless Zero" service. Also, no matter how pretty they are, you should disable the visual effects as well (I had a girlfriend like that once... real pretty but terribly useless). If you right click "My Computer" and click properties the click advanced ("Advanced System Settings" in Windows Vista/7) under performance click settings. Under the "visual effects" tab change the radio button to "Best Performance". That will free up some resources as well.
The Page File (Virtual Memory)
This section is aimed at users who have lower end machines. The page file is part of the hard drive that your system uses as if it were RAM. Typically, you want to base the page file size on the amount of RAM a system has (commonly 1.5 times). So, if your machine has 1GB RAM, then you want your page file to be 1.5 GB (1536 MB). However, the more RAM a machine has, the less it needs to utilize the page file. Thus, if your machine has more than 2GB, it may be wiser to just let windows manage your page file. To adjust your page file, right click "my Computer" ("Computer" in Vista/7) then click properties. Next, click the advanced tab ("Advanced System Settings" in Vista/7). Under performance, click settings, then the advanced tab. Under "Virtual Memory" Click "Change". Then, select "Custom size" under the minimum and the maximum enter a number that is 1.5 times your system memory in MB. Then, click set.
Keep it clean
Windows likes to hold on to junk worse than those hoarders you see on TV. By performing a disk cleanup and an occasional defrag, you can keep your computer junk free and orderly. Both are in "start" ---> "programs" ---> "Accessories" ---> "System Tools"
I hoped you learned that by keeping your hardware up to date and your software under control, your computer should be a nice running machine. Thanks for reading my tip and best regards,
Posted by Jonathan... on
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