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What can you do to avoid computer slow down? – Part Two

Posted Friday, April 29, 2005

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“The Hidden Tiger:

What can you do to avoid computer slow down? – Part Two”

By Kevin J. Vella

Uniblue Systems


Even the most experienced computer users find it extremely difficult to control all resource and system settings of their computer. How do they do it? The answer is simpler than one might think and anyone can bring out the tiger that is hidden in your PC!


Avoiding computer slow downs, degradation of performance, long boot-up times, delays or stuttering and crashes is a question of controlling your hardware and your system settings, and (c) tweaking other areas such as installed software, internet connection and browser settings, etc.. Therefore, the areas you have to look at are:


1. CPU: The central processing unit of a computer processes the code that makes up computer programs like Windows and Word or Excel. The lines of code that make up any program run into the tens of thousands and are grouped into different tasks or processes to enhance the efficiency of a computer since a CPU can only process one task at a time. The more tasks a CPU has to perform, the more delay you will experience – if you manage to control or reduce the number of applications working at any one time, you will immediately notice a boost in performance. Yet sometimes, you will be unable to switch off all applications because you are using all – in these cases there are automatic performance optimizers that will help you do the trick.

2. RAM and Page File Memory: The CPU needs RAM to store instructions and data needed to complete tasks – it does this to make sure that the tasks that make up any application are performed as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Obviously, the more memory available, the less time you spend waiting for the computer to perform certain tasks. A computer system increases its performance when you add more memory. Controlling the number of applications running at any single time is a means of freeing up memory and not taxing RAM. However, when a CPU does not have enough room in RAM for all the information it needs, it sets up virtual memory or page file memory on the hard drive to simulate additional RAM. CPUs also load certain tasks into page file memory because they need to prioritize among tasks requiring more RAM than others. All this is known as swapping and slows the computer down drastically. Most computers do not handle page file memory efficiently and often leave information there that is not needed anymore. You must balance the amount of RAM available with the amount of page file memory the computer creates. This may be difficult and aside from getting your hands dirty to tweak the system physically yourself, there are automatic optimizers that will do this for you.

3. The hard drive: A fast hard drive and its connection to the CPU is also extremely important. The faster these two elements are, the less delays you will experience because of page file memory allocation. Given your present hardware configuration, however, you need something that warns you when the hard drive is overloaded and needs attention. Some performance optimizers, like SpeedUpMyPC, help you do this quickly and easily.

4. Starting up: Over the lifetime of your PC, you will find yourself installing a portfolio of programs. As this collection increases, so will the number of shortcuts in your automatic start-up list increase without your knowledge and approval. As you add more programs that must be started when you switch on your computer, you will see a general degradation of performance and a slow down in boot-up times. Controlling what you install and making sure that you have cleared all unwanted residuals from uninstalls is a good way of reducing start-up times. However, sometimes there are so many processes to control and keep track of that good start-up management becomes difficult if not impossible. Some performance optimizers list all the auto-started applications allowing you to stop those that you don’t need anymore.

5. Background applications: Spyware and other malicious programs work in the background and are invisible even to the Windows Task Manager. Aside from privacy and security issues, they cause your PC to start executing tasks indiscriminately thus reducing the priority of legitimate programs and causing serious slow downs. A few performance optimizers help you make sure that you block any of these threats to ensure that your PC is more stable and powerful.

Next week, I will take a look at how these performance optimizers work and what you need to look out for when choosing one for your new tiger!