Where does the time and money (not to mention the memory) go?

FI-Log-On-With-Larry-SchneiderDear Larry,

My computer is running so slowly. At someone’s suggestion, I tried defragmenting my hard drive and deleting temporary files yet that didn’t seem to have much effect. What now? —R.F. 

Dear R.F.,

Sorry to burst your bubble, but contrary to popular belief, defragmenting your hard drive and removing those temporary files these days do little to speed up your computer.

For some reason, even computer professionals and other columnists I know love to spread these fallacies. The truth is that while such tasks may be somewhat useful, they typically do very little to help a PC work noticeably faster.

Ultimately, what’s probably slowing down your computer are background tasks. A Windows PC is a multi-tasking machine. Its processing time and memory are shared among a myriad of chores, all seemingly running at the same time. But what in fact is happening is that Windows is managing the power of your PC in such a way that it gives a slice of time and memory to one task, then sets that aside and offers a slice to another, so quickly that it really does seem as if it’s all happening at once.

All that is fine in and of itself, but computers and their users are greedy and they’ll just keep piling up the responsibilities until the PC cries, “Enough already! Give me a break!” Adding insult to injury is the fact that lower-end PCs out there have little processing power to begin with and are frequently supplied with slower memory. So it doesn’t take long for memory-hungry programs to start eating away at what’s there, leaving very little horsepower for you to get anything accomplished at all.

Now complicate this with the fact that most programs today are written by companies who are dying to use your computer as their marketing billboard. Not content to simply install a useful tool on your machine, they insist on running one or more background tasks to keep their name popping up in front of you, sometimes on a daily basis. And do they write their software to share and share alike? Of course not.

As far as they’re concerned, their program is the only one running on your machine.

But I digress. You did ask how to speed up your PC. To do that, you’ll have to review every task that starts up automatically with Windows and consider extricating it.

Knowing what’s safe to do away with and what’s not often requires the help of someone who knows what they’re doing. Consider having an expert take a gander at your machine and make some sound suggestions. You might find it’s time to remove your anti-virus protection altogether. Or it may simply be time to give up on your clunker of a computer and move on to a newer model … and start the process all over again.

This is Larry Schneider, logging off.

Larry Schneider is the owner of Accent on Computers, a Greenwich-based consulting firm — now in its 15th year of business — catering to individuals, businesses and professional offices. PC and Mac services include computer setup, training, troubleshooting, virus resolution, networking, Internet, database, and programming. Call 203-625-7575, visit Accentoncomputers.com or send email to [email protected]

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