Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Computer Maintenance Part 1 - A few general tips - Tech Tuesday

Hey all my dear readers! :D I hope you all are doing great! ^_^

So I told you guys last week about this upcoming series to be alternated with the Security tips series, remember? At the request of a good blogmate of mine, I will be posting some Computer maintenance posts with how-to-dos, software that’ll help, etc. to guide you all towards a clean and speeded up computer experience. I would include things like Windows installation, backup, clean-ups, secure-erases, recovery, etc.

But for the start, I’ll be considering a few general tips. I know I am taking up this thing a little slow, and the one who requested this might find them to be a little too slow to be helpful for now, but eventually as the other posts in this series would come up you all will find these quite useful. But I can assure you, these general posts will give you headstart for the time being! Moreover, this last college semester is keeping me so busy that I cannot post much, so I guess you all would understand.

Let's first consider in brief the structure of this post.

  • Introduction
  • Why does your computer slow down?
  • Some handy tips to remember always
  • Conclusion/Comments


So starting with this post, I’ll be discussing with you all today some reasons why your computer generally slows down. It’s not always unwanted clutter, but there are more reasons. It’s not only that your hardware suffers from wear-n-tear, but your software too suffers from wear-n-tear. Computer maintenance is something if you take it up as a routine would not take much time and keep your computer using experience fast, speedy and wonderful!

So, let’s begin? Umm wait, I should first fold up my sleeves as the custom is ;)

Why does your computer slow down?

There are several reasons for a slow computer. When I say slow computer I mean, slow web browser, or slow booting up, or slow disk access, slow, slow, slow, etc. etc. etc.!!

  • You use a laptop, and just hibernate it, not shut-down

  • Background running programs – Well they take up RAM, Processor and keep your PC busy while you never know they were running :/

  • Low disk space – In these days where 1 TB hard disk is common, I guess if your disk has less than 4 or 5 GB free then you are some super lazy person who never cleans up their system! Get rid of rubbish or data that’s totally useless. Try to keep it clean!

  • Fragmented Hard Disk – This one is a big problem. You know your Windows is a great Operating system, but with recurrent creation of new files and deletion of old ones, there is a creation of holes in the disk space which is unusable cluster. To get rid of such wasted space, you should defragment the disk/volume regularly, like once in 3 or 4 months, that’d be good.

  • Malware – A big problem for those who visit unknown, unfriendly website regularly. That means visiting unsafe websites offering free games, free porn, free downloads of music, etc. For those using pirated software, malware is a troubling issue.

  • Hardware conflicts – Now this thing is a little technical, I’ll take it up in some later post.

  • Out-of-date software/drivers – This includes your Windows which you don’t update, or use old software/drivers just because you are too, rather toooooooo lazy to update!

  • Out-of-date hardware/incompatible hardware-software – So you are running Windows 8 on a dual core computer with 1GB RAM? Wow man! You are so cool. Now please buy a 9mm and shoot yourself! >_< Dear buddy! You need something better okay! Always make sure you have a hardware that supports what software you are going to run on your machine. For example, if you wish to play new games like the latest edition of Need for Speed, then you do need a nice graphic card, you cannot do without it. So don’t complain that your PC is slow if you are running a 64-bit operating system on a system with 1 or 2 GB RAM.

  • Overheating processor – There are sometimes problems with your CPU cooler that leads to overheating processor which means slow processor.

  • Too many startup programs – This imply that so many processes run at your system’s startup most of which are totally unneeded, that your booting time goes up sky-rocketingly!

  • Uselessprograms – You installed that free word processor because you thought it was cool. But then you came to know your good old Libre Office was better and came back to it. But you were too lazy to clean up your system, i.e. get rid off that unneeded earlier program! You should make sure your system has things you need. Else the clutter would eat up disk space, if it has auto-update features, it will eat up your Internet connection, it might be running background services, etc. etc. etc.!!

  • Registry Errors – Should I tell you how to fix registry? I guess a novice should never play with that. It’s like giving the 3-year old a vodka bottle instead of a cotton candy! I won’t touch this topic until late in this series of posts and let me warn you playing with registry => total damage to your operating system/installed software. So it is just not for beginners, even not of not so advanced peeps considering themselves pro users. Unless you know the inside of registry functions, hashes, et.c never play with registry!

  • You thought you bought a SSD and that should solve everything? But you were over smart and defragmented your SSD, now you complain a slow disk! A random access device should never be defragmented. Only your simple hard disks are meant for defragmenting, not your SSD, get it?

  • You are unaware – You think reinstallation of windows is the only solutions – NO! You need to change your ways to keep your system healthy

  • You love the free stuff – You are easily lures by free stuff. I know I took this up in an earlier point but I would like to add up. There are free things that are safe, and there are free things you would be lured to use and then, BANG!! TRAPPED! Free music listening might be safer than downloading free music; free games might be good as long as the source is trustworthy; free porn is safe as long as you are cautious!

  • When I said you guys have lot of clutter in your PC, I did mean a lot of temporary files and Internet cache. This not only slows down your PC, but also is potentially unsafe because it might have some data which can be misused to violate your privacy.

  • Some handy tips to remember always

    The major thing I had to share in this post is this list of general tips that always come in handy. I’ll come up with detailed tutorials in the posts to come. Though I’d like you read my blog, but if you are too restless to wait for the next posts, you can search these topics over the Internet to assist you if you need any queries sorted out. Else I’ll do detailed tutorials as I said, so I don’t think there will be any questions that will remain unanswered, okay? So just be a little patient and wait for the next posts in this series for detailed instructions. For the time being, make a note of these tips and always remember them:

  • ”Cleanliness is next to godliness” – Keep your system free of temporary files. Run disk cleanup from your disk properties to clean it up off the unneeded files. This helps you get rid of useless restore points, internet cache (if you use Internet Explorer), cookies, etc. For other browser users, you can do so from your respective browsers. You can use CCleaner to automate the process for you. Read about it, here: http://toxifier.blogspot.com/2013/07/ccleaner-is-great-solution-to-piles-of_9.html

  • ”Too many pieces spoiling my peace” – Just tell me if you have to carry 1000 pages, what way would be suitable? To organise them in a file, or to carry them as a pile? Okay, you carried them somehow and stuffed them here-n-there in your room. Now your boss needs you to bring them back now! And you know she’s a not-so-friendly lady and wants you to work quickly. What now? You know you are screwed if you didn’t organise them in a file. Now find them, and arrange them and bring them, just to see her being so angry that she’s already shouting at you. Sounds cool? No? Then why do you expect your operating system to be so efficient at finding those small clusters?
    It becomes a havoc for your Operating Systems to recollect those fragments and make them available to you speedily. What happens is that, consider this example:
    Your disk stores files as clusters of 4KB (say) each. You stored a file of 10KB (2.5 clusters). The operating system cannot work with such decimal addressing. What would happen is that, the file will use 3 clusters. Next you stored 100 such files, thus wasting 200KB in these stupid unusable holes! To make things worse, you deleted some of the files from here and there, and copied new files. You kept repeating this for a few months, and had around 200MB of holes. Due to holes, the Operating system wasn’t able to store the more incoming files in sequential order due to lack of disk space. So the operating system will store its pieces here and there. Now when you’ll request a file, the operating system will recollect and readdress all the pieces one by one and bring the file to you. But you know it’ll take much time. It was better if these pieces were sequentially arranged, right?
    Now don’t be so angry with Microsoft. People there are good people who gave you utility, and improved it timely to make it better, for reversing this fragmentation’s effects and making things speeded up again! They called this, simply, Disk Defragment and the placed it at easy, and accessible position. Just right click your volume in My Computer, and click Properties. Then defragment. Analyze the volumes and check if the fragmentation percentage is more than 10%. If it is so, defragment it!
    I have earlier posted an article on how to defragment your hard disk. So I guess there’s no point repeating it, so here is the link to that article: http://toxifier.blogspot.com/2012/04/disk-defragment-in-windows-7-tech.html

  • ”Too many cooks, spoil the broth!” – You are on a shared computer and things are not well managed. All users think they are the best at using computer and all have their ways to keep it clean. Do you think it will make the computer fast? NO! Make sure someone takes up this responsibility. Better, transfer it to some good software, like TuneUp Utilities or CCleaner.

  • ”Hey kid(app)! What are you doing here?” – So you downloaded and installed something and it is now long forgotten. Not that you forgot it because you are too busy with other things (wait a minute, let me stop laughing! :P) but because that software was totally useless! So what should you do now? Do I have to tell you? If you cannot remember it, open up Uninstall a program (or Add/Remove program) from Control Panel. Scan the list to find out what all is totally useless. Oh damn! What did I ask to open! Phew! Well but now I have said it. So what are the warnings? Not everything that seems useless is useless. You’ll see so many Microsoft Visual C++…. installed. DON’T REMOVE ANY OF THEM!! GET IT? IN ANY CASE! Only remove of things you are sure of you installed and are no longer required.

  • ”Why does that Printer Addon loads during startup?” – Be it that HP digital monitor or any such thing that does not comes in handy but takes up a lot of time during system startup. It’ll be better if you could minimize the number of programs that run during startup. I’d suggest using TuneUp Utilities or CCleaner to help you again. Though there is another powerful tool inside windows called msconfig, but it is not for novice users since it shows some processes which user should not try to stop from running at startup. Thus you should make sure you know what you are doing. So instead of using msconfig, some software utility is better so that you don’t touch something you should not.

  • ”Love at first sight? You just love the looks, you don’t know the person’s nature as yet” – Exact is the case with windows. You think all the good looks are cool, but hey! They come at a price. If you need better performance, you have to give up your ‘eye-candy’ behaviour, okay? Now how to do it? Right click My Computer, click Properties -> Advanced System Settings -> Advanced -> Performance - > Click the radio button next to adjust for best performance. Of course it’s not a good idea since it’ll totally mar the looks, so you can select which visual enhancements you need and which you don’t need.

  • ”Even polar bears come out of hibernation after 6 months” – Occasionally shut-down or reboot your computer if you are resorting upon Hibernate feature since very long. Many of my friends, who use laptops never shut down their laptop, just hibernate their PC. This doesn’t let the RAM getting free of useless clutter. So sometimes atleast do a good deed, shutdown a PC :D

  • ”Dust-bin is for crap. But you need to clean it occasionally!” – Don’t pile up useless files in Recycle Bin. Occasionally clean it, okay? Also make sure you uninstall useless applications.

  • CheckDisk Utility – It helps you check if your hard disk is clean. The partition is aligned properly. The filesystem is healthy. There are not S.M.A.R.T. problems. Etc. etc. etc. :D Microsoft has included an awesome utility named checkdisk with windows that keeps the drives healthy by letting you know of ay errors, and fixing them in process. Right click your volume, click properties -> Tools -> Check Now

  • ”A healthy mind rests in a healthy body” – Just like your body needs to stay away from viruses so does your computer so that it functions smoothly. Install a good antivirus program. If you don’t want to pay much, I suggest using Avast. I have done a detailed post on antiviruses, you can refer here: http://toxifier.blogspot.com/2014/01/guidelines-for-securing-operating_14.html

  • ”Go green is the need of the hour, but for how long? You cannot celebrate Earth-hour every single minute!” Your computer’s energy settings might spoil things. If you want a better battery life, you might have changed system power plan to something more energy efficient. But, be a little realistic. Not the best energy setting is good for performance. If you want better performance, you’ll have to give up that go-green habit for the time being :P So do change to performance plans when doing some processor intensive task, okay?

  • ”Up-to-date means ready for the new world and new challenges!” – The point is if you want your machine to compete with the ever changing needs, you need to keep it updated. No software is built sans bugs. Thus updates are necessary to fix issues that keep getting uncovered during the use and feedback cycle. Turn on automatic updates if your operating system is genuine and you have a good Internet Connection. Always use latest version of your web browser. Always keep antivirus updated.

  • ”Living without air?” – Your processor does a lot of work. So it needs nice cooling and ventilation. Make sure your CPU fan has no issues. I mean all fans, which includes the fan of your Power Supply Unit, Processor, Graphic Card, and any other fans you use in your cabinet. In case you are a laptop user, I hope you don’t like to use a furnace-hot keyboard, do you? Get rid of any blockages in the ventilation. So occasionally clean the casing with dry air, you can buy a low-power blower for that.

  • ”32bit for less than 4GB, 64bit for more than that” – This is the mantra! Always remember this. If you have less than 4GB RAM, you don’t need 64-bit version of your operating system. So be wise. And if you are using a 64-bit windows on a machine boasting less than 4GB RAM, then change it now. Don’t worry! the same key would work for both version of windows. Though software versions for 64-bit version of Windows won’t work on 32bit operating systems, so be cautious! Increase your RAM if you need to. It doesn’t cost that much.

  • Good Luck – With all that said with images for your reference, I don’t think I have to say anything else :D Remember them and be a wise user, and nice user :)

  • Conclusion/Comments

    I hope you find all the relevant information and tips I discussed with you all today. I hope these small and not so small things help you keep your PC working great :) For any queries or suggestions please feel free to comment here.

    I hope you all have a great day ahead! :) Happy Tuesday :) See you all soon! :D

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