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Maintaining your Machine

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#1
Artellos

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I've heard a lot of comments from the malware staffs that there are a lot of people thinking that a slow computer is caused by malware. However, a slow PC might have several causes other than malware. In this thread I will be giving you a step by step guide on how to speed up your PC. The main thing that slows your PC down, if it's not malware, is clogged up Temp files.

Here's a list of common causes of slow machines:
  • Low amount of memory (RAM)
  • Multiple protection systems installed
  • Many programs on startup
  • Full temp folders
  • Fragmented hard drive
  • Forgotten programs
  • Multiple of the above

1. Low amounts of memory (RAM)
I have had a lot of people in my neighbourhood asking me why their PC was slow. One of the highest causes was the low amount of memory in their PCs. A lot of old PCs still have 256 MB RAM in their machine while Windows XP already has a recommended of 512 MB and Vista is even more demanding with a stunning 1024 MB (1GB). Having a low amount of memory can cause the PC to take ages in performing what we would think to be simple tasks. While this is usually true, the PC doesn't only have to run the simple task, but at the same time keep services up, your Protection software running and possibly more programs that are running in the background. Therefore it is a good idea to have at least the recommended amount of memory in your machine for the operating system that you are running. If you are going to be running a lot of programs at once, consider taking at least 512 MB above recommendation to keep everything running smoothly.

2. Multiple protection systems installed
As I'm not trained in Malware Removal and do not know a lot about how Protection Systems work I shall quote from a blog post by Miekiemoes found here. (Also worth reading!!)

This is a common mistake many users make. They think that having more than one Antivirus and Firewall installed will protect them in a better way. It won't.. On the contrary..
Rather than giving you extra protection, it will seriously decrease reliability and effectiveness ! The reason for this is that if both products have their automatic (Real-Time) protection switched on, your system may lock up due to both software products attempting to access the same file at the same time. Also, if more than one Antivirus and Firewall installed are not compatible with eachother, it can cause system performance problems and a serious system slowdown. It happens quite a lot that a system won't even boot properly because of more than one Antivirus and Firewall installed.
When having general computer problems and you have more than one AV/Firewall installed, this can be the main cause of your problems.

Concerning Antispywarescanners, it's ok for you to install more than one.However, it's not advised that you let them all start up with Windows, running as a Real Time scanner. Only keep one running in the background and disable the rest, because AntispywareScanners are also resource hogs. They are actually all doing the same, so it's really not needed to have more of them running in the background. After all, you do not use more than one different vacuum cleaner either to clean your carpet with.
Just let the Antispyware scanner(s) scan once in a while on demand.


3. Many programs on start-up
Having many programs in the startup will slow your computer down. Taking out programs that aren't necessary on startup will reduce the resource requirements on boot and will generally make the PC run faster. To remove programs from your startup list, follow the instructions below.

XP Users:
  • Open Start Menu and select "Run..."
  • In the run box type: msconfig and press enter.
  • A window will appear, go to the Startup tab.
  • In the startup tab, disable tick boxes on all the programs that don't necessarily need to be started at boot.
Vista Users:
  • Open Start Menu and in the white box type: msconfig
  • Click msconfig.exe that appeared in the list and confirm the UAC.
  • A window will appear, go to the Startup tab.
  • In the startup tab, disable tick boxes on all the programs that don't necessarily need to be started at boot.

4. Cleaning the Temporary Folders.
As a lot of you might know, the more Windows has to load the slower a PC will be.
The temp folders can fill up quite quickly and having a temp folder of 2 Gigabyte won't do windows any good.
The steps below are easy steps using a simple program to clean out your temp folders.

Please download ATF Cleaner by Atribune.
Double-click ATF-Cleaner.exe to run the program.
Under Main choose: Select All
Click the Empty Selected button.
If you use Firefox browserClick Firefox at the top and choose: Select All
Click the Empty Selected button.
NOTE: If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click No at the prompt.
If you use Opera browserClick Opera at the top and choose: Select All
Click the Empty Selected button.
NOTE: If you would like to keep your saved passwords, please click No at the prompt.
Click Exit on the Main menu to close the program.
For Technical Support, double-click the e-mail address located at the bottom of each menu.

5. Defragging your Hard Drive.
While temp folders are one way to clog the speed of your system, fragmented files are another. The more fragmented your files are the slower the hard drive will be to run programs smoothly. A defrag is recommended to keep your hard drive clean and fast. It is recommended that you do not run any programs whatsoever when you are defragging your hard drive as running applications will make them unable to be moved.

Please download JkDefrag by Jeroen Kessels
  • Unzip the program to a folder.
  • Reboot to release most of the files in use.
  • Double Click JkDefrag.exe to run the program.
Note: Everything is done automatically the moment you run JkDefrag.exe

6. Keeping it clean!
Something that is highly underestimated is the simpleness of 'Keeping it clean!'. Installing a lot of programs will eventually use up your resources that you could use to keep your PC fast.Removing old programs that you never used, or those 'one-day-fly' programs that you try out but don't meet your criteria, will free up space and memory to be used elsewhere. Whenever you are done with a program, remove it from your system so the resources free up. Below are some steps to get rid of some unused programs.

  • Open Start and select Control Panel
  • Open Add/Remove Programs(XP) or Programs and Features(Vista)
  • Go through the list carefully and see if there are any useless programs that you can remove.
  • Remove all the programs that you don't need any more.

7. Little tweaks for speed.
There are a few tricks that you can use to speed up your computer if need be. Below I will make a list of tweaks for either XP or Vista (watch the title) that will help you speed up your PC. Some tweaks are for both XP and Vista, others are for a specific OS.

Disabling Indexing Service (XP)
Quoting from the Windows Help and Support:

By default, all of the most common files on your computer are indexed. Indexed locations include all of the files in your personal folder (such as Documents, Pictures, Music, and Videos), as well as e‑mail and offline files. Files that are not indexed include program files and system files. The locations that contain those files are not indexed because you rarely need to search those files, and so not including them in the index makes your searches perform faster.

Like many other people, I know where my files are located, so I never use the indexing service. Therefore, I turn it off.
The indexing service is a service that scans your personal files and folders and stores which files are there in an index (hence the name).
Then if you perform a search, the search will then first go through the index to see if it is there. This will speed up searches drastically.
Though if you never use the search function, you're better off turning it off. Below is how.
  • Open Start and select "Run..."
  • In the run box type services.msc and press enter
  • Scroll-down to Indexing Service and double-click it.
  • If the service status is "Running", then stop it by pressing theStop button.
  • To make sure this service doesn't run again, under Startup Type:, choose Disabled
Disabling Indexing Service (Vista)
Not much different from the XP Indexing service. Here is how to disable it.
  • Open Start Menu and type: services
  • Click the Services program that popped up in the list and confirm the UAC.
  • Scroll down to Windows Search and double click it.
  • If the service status is "Running", then stop it by pressing theStop button.
  • To make sure this service doesn't run again, under Startup Type:, choose Disabled


=========================

I hope this post is a good resource on how to keep your PC fast and smooth.
If you have any suggestions, please Message me on the boards.

Regards,
Olrik

Edited by Artellos, 01 May 2009 - 10:23 AM.

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#2
wdc202

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Per your advice I get this listing when I RUN msconfig and go to StartU tab.

Posted Image

Can I safey uncheck all these programs? Whatever are they anyway? Thanks for the tutorial.


















Can I safely uncheck the checkmarks on these items? Whatever are these programs? Thanks for the tutorial.
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#3
wdc202

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When I RUN msconfig and goto Startup tab I get this screen. Can I safely uncheck all these programs?

Posted Image
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#4
wdc202

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I seem not to be able to attach my screen shot? Can someone please show me how? Thanks.
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#5
Artellos

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It's "safe" to uncheck these, however all your programs that are actually supposed to start at startup will stop starting.
Choose the programs you don't want to start carefully.

A tutorial on how to add screen-shots can be found elsewhere in the tutorial section.

Regards,
Olrik
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#6
Transcriptionist

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Thank you for all these invaluable tips. Is defragmentation once a month sufficient?
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#7
Artellos

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Once a month should be sufficient depending on how much you move files around.

Regards,
Olrik
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#8
kingair_87

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Hey there.

You suggest using ATF Cleaner but is CCleaner just as effective? Also, you mentioned using jkDefrag (or something along those lines) but is defraggler the same as this program? I'm just curious as I want the best programs, obviously.
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#9
sari

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We actually prefer ATF Cleaner over CCleaner. It's a very small and light program, and it doesn't have any options to clean the registry, which makes it safer, in my eyes.
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#10
Anthony19

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I agree with sari 100%

ATF "User-Friendly "

CCleaner , can be a bad mix with the not so knowledgeable folks , cleaner feature is fine , but with the added registry "Cleaner " is not the best idea for anyone...

Stay with ATF and Defrag :)

Good luck , and best of luck !

Anthony19
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#11
kingair_87

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Alright. Sounds good. I'll take your advice. But how about for the second part of my question about Defraggler and JKDefrag? Which is better? I like Defraggler because it's quick and only defrags fragmented files rather than scanning over EVERY file. But if JkDefrag is better, then I'll be happy to switch!
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#12
Anthony19

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Hello kingair_87

Cannot quote on that sorry lol , never used "Defraggler "

Someone else may be able to assist you there...

Sorry for any inconvenience

Anthony19
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#13
Artellos

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You suggest using ATF Cleaner but is CCleaner just as effective?

Like sari said, I'd stick with ATF Cleaner is a lot safer.

Also, you mentioned using jkDefrag (or something along those lines) but is defraggler the same as this program?

I prefer jkDefrag. It might take a bit longer but it gets the job done. I must say I have not used defragler but reading what I can I would personally take jkDefrag.

Regards,
Olrik
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#14
kent rogers

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:) I am trying to follow these tips and have a couple questions.

I am running the AVG anti virus (free version). Can I turn off the windows security center anti virus, firewall.......etc......???

I started to download the ATF cleaner and a window popped up warning me that the site or program has been reported as containing virus's or things that can be harmful. Has something happened at this site (ATF cleaner) that makes it a bad idea to use????

Thanks for any help, Kent
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#15
Artellos

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I am running the AVG anti virus (free version). Can I turn off the windows security center anti virus, firewall.......etc......???

The windows security center only checks if you have a valid Anti-Virus running, I suggest you leave this option on.
As for the windows firewall.. unless you have a firewall of your own I suggest leaving this on too :)

I started to download the ATF cleaner and a window popped up warning me that the site or program has been reported as containing virus's or things that can be harmful. Has something happened at this site (ATF cleaner) that makes it a bad idea to use????

I can guarantee you that ATF Cleaner is a legit program and that it's not harmful. This could also be called a "False Positive" and happens from time to time with the heuristics of Anti-Virus programs.

I hope this helped :)

Regards,
Olrik
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