SLOW COMPUTERS

We came a across a good new book called “Speed It Up,” from Que Publishing. The speeding up in the title refers to your computer of course.

Speed It Up

Normally we never start the column with a book, but this subject covers such a universal complaint that it’s worth getting right to it. There’s a common perception that computers get slower over time. This is often true. It’s not because the computer itself gets slower but because it starts to fill up with digital junk and useless little routines that have been installed by other programs and eat up memory and processor time. Do you really need to have Adobe Flash Player running all the time? Do you need Real Player running or iTunes helper? What’s a person to do? Well, actually, there are several things.

— One of the first remedies is to reboot your computer when it starts to act markedly slower. Just doing that can free up memory. To do more, click “start,” “run” and type “msconfig”– if you use Windows XP– or just type “msconfig” in the search box if you use Vista. Then go to the startup tab and stop unnecessary programs from starting up every time you reboot, by unchecking the boxes next to their names. You can always go back and re-check boxes, if you change your mind if it turns out you’re now missing something you wanted.

— If you want to stop a program from running temporarily, usually because it’s stuck and won’t respond, press control-alt-delete together. A list of what’s running will come up. Highlight the one you want to stop. Choose “end process” or “end task.” This will clear that roadblock. If you’re not sure what that running process is and what it does – and who is about all this stuff? — you can go to processlibrary.com and type in its name.

— A prime speeder upper, so to speak, is adding more memory. This means more RAM, not hard disk memory. We’ve mentioned this several times, but it’s always worth mentioning again. Adding RAM is like expending your brain. It allows the computer to remember more things at once and means it can do more things at once. Memory is cheap, and you can add a couple of gigabytes of RAM for around $30-$40 these days. Windows Vista also lets you add memory by putting a memory stick in one of the USB ports, instead of opening up the case to add memory sticks to the motherboard. Select “Speed up my system” from the box that pops up.

— Adding more of the other kind of memory – hard drive space, also helps, but not as much as RAM. It means getting a bigger hard drive, but most computers let you add another hard drive without having to remove the old one. — Delete unnecessary files. Clean out the trash bucket, temporary files, etc. Windows has a “disk cleanup utility. Click on “Start” on the main desktop page, click on “help and support” and type “disk cleanup.” — Remove unused programs. If you don’t use it, why is it still sitting there? We know: it’s because you might use it some day, like the stuff you save in the kitchen junk drawer, or the closet or down in the basement. Okay, if you feel that need, don’t fight it.

— If you have a slow Macintosh, go to Google.com and type in “Speed up a Mac.” This takes you to several articles about how to do it. There’s a good one from last June’s issue of Wired Magazine.

— Defrag the hard disk. The computer stores files willy-nilly, as they come up and are worked on and closed again. Over time, these are scattered all over the hard drive and the computer takes time to pull them together again when you call them up. You will find the defrag utility though the “help and support” button on the start menu or under “accessories” and “system tools.” Windows Vista defrags the hard drive automatically on a regular basis.

There is much more information in the book, which covers things like getting rid of spyware and viruses, upgrading your computer, and cleaning up your web browser. It’s $22 from the web site informit.com/que.

One Response to “SLOW COMPUTERS”

  1. Hi, I found interesting information about system processes or malware processes at Process-info.org.