General discussion

In plain English, how do I speed up a slow computer?

Aug 1, 2008 5:18AM PDT
Can anyone please explain, in plain English and step-by-step instructions, how to speed up a slow computer? In previous newsletters answers that cover this topic are very confusing. The posted answers say don't use register cleaners, de-fragging won't speed it up, and the most confusing one is, update the drivers! How does a person update the drivers and what exactly is a driver? The answer of "going to a manufacture's Web site to update a driver" is meaningless to me, cause don't know what I am to update or how I find the drivers installed on the computer. All I want is a simple list of methods (step-by-step instructions) for any nontechnical person like myself, to follow and understand in order to speed up my computer and also what routine and steps to take thereafter to keep my computer in good running state. Using a Dell desktop with Windows XP SP2. Thanks for the opportunity to ask a question.

--Submitted by Gail E.

Here are some answers from our members to get you started, but please read through all the submissions within this discussion thread for more helpful advice and information.

Here are a few member answers to get you started:

General cleanup --Submitted by waytron

Speeding up your Dell desktop --Submitted by Precede

Here is as easy as it gets. --Submitted by dukethepcdr

I strongly suggest you find a knowledgeable friend... --Submitted by rae2_2

What you're asking is not easy --Submitted by High Desert Charlie

If you have any addition advice for Gail, please click on the reply link below and help her out. Please be as detailed as possible when providing an answer. Thanks!

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things I use to speed up my pc
Aug 1, 2008 12:30PM PDT

Hi Gail,

A couple of programs I use for my pc are start up cop pro and startease. StartUpCop pro helps when I first log on to my pc. It starts certain programs I want running when I go online. Startease helps with the shut down. Even if your pc locks up a little Startease ususally turns it off in a few seconds. I downloaded both of these from where for a nominal fee you can download as many of their programs you want. On each one it explains something about the programs and how to use them.

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Speeding up your Dell desktop
Aug 1, 2008 12:33PM PDT

Hi Gail,

There are many reasons why a computer may lag in performance. You may not have enough computing resources to handle your current computing tasks. Each year, software vendors add new enhancements and security updates to their software packages. The more robust a software package becomes, the more resources (i.e., RAM, and hard drive space) it consumes. So, even with a perfectly healthy computer over time the performance may lag due to increasing computing workloads with no change in key hardware components.

My company builds custom computing systems. I tell all of my customers that the single most computing resource, in my opinion, is RAM. I always encourage them to buy at least 2GB of RAM.

Hard drive space is also very important. As you begin to fill your hard drive up with files and applications, performance may also drop due to a phenomenon called virtual memory.

So, here are my recommendations:

1. Add more RAM to your system. If you're running 512MB or 1GB of RAM, upgrade to at least 2GB. If your motherboard will accomodate 4GB, you should upgrade to 4GB. RAM is very inexpensive these days. Retails prices are roughly $50-$60 per gig. Maybe lower depening on where you source it.

2. If your hard drive is more than 85% of capacity, you should remove unused programs and files. If all these programs/files are critical, I suggest having a local IT provider install a second hard in your desktop chassis.

3. Windows hard drive properties - One of the easiest ways to boost performance of your PC is to use some of the included Windows utilities. If you right click on you "C" drive, you will see multiple tabs. on the "General" tab, you should do a "Disk Cleanup". The disk cleanup is an automated tool that shows you items on your computer that could safely be removed. After doing the "Disk Cleanup", go to the "Tools" tab. Run a "Defragment". After the defragment, you should check your hard drives for errors by clicking the "Check Now" button. The error checking will require you to immediately reboot your computer before the error checking will start. Once your computer comes back into error checking mode, it takes a long time. Roughly, it will take 45 minutes to an hour. When I have customers that have some program working improperly, this is the first thing I run and it has a pretty high success rate.

4. This last option should be done in lieu of number 3 if you have some time on your hands. Backup up all your data and reinstall everything on your hard drive. Most manufacturers have recovery tools built into your system. Or they supply you with recovery DVDs. Its a lot of work installing everything again, but your machine will run like new.

5. There are many 3rd party tools that claim to optimize your PC, but I don't have any first-hand experience to give a recommendation.

Happy computing.

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4 gb ram?
Aug 8, 2008 9:27PM PDT

Just a note, Windows XP virtual address space is 4gb which must be shared with other things such as graphics card, IO mapping, etc.

The 4gb of ram you suggest buying wont totally be seen by the OS (depending on OS flavor such as 64 bit) and wont make any difference.

For a pretty much any dell, 2gb is perfectly fine.

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Adding RAM to my Dell Inspirion 1100
Aug 9, 2008 5:55AM PDT

Reading today's Q&A was very informative - especially since my Dell is runing slower and slower. I run all the weekly diagnostics and cleanup but it is getting worse. We added RAM a couple of years ago and I check today to find that the poor thing currently has 640 MB of RAM - yikes.

My question is - how much RAM can we add? I want to increase it to 2 GB but I am not sure that I can add that much. I called the DELL support line and was told that the wait was over ten miuntes. Is there a quick wasy to find out this info?

Thanks - Karen

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Upgrading RAM
Aug 9, 2008 8:14AM PDT

You will have to look at your documentatioon to see how much RAM you can add. (This is a hardware limitation so if you have an old desktop it may not be able to handle 4 gig even though you have XP SP2.) To see how much RAM you have currently and how many DIMMS (slots for RAM) you have, use Belarc Adviser. It is great. It produces a complete report on your PC. It will also tell you the keys to your software. It is a good thing to print and file the report. Belarc Adviser is free and can be downloaded from CNET. I recently upgraded RAM on my Dell Dimension E510. I ordered it from Newegg and it was a breeze to install.

If you no longer have your documentation you can find it at the DELL website. Be sure to check this first as I made that mistake when upgrading an old laptop and ordered more RAM than the PC could handle.

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Answer to your 1100 Ram Question
Aug 9, 2008 8:59AM PDT

Although these posts are for Gail?s problem, here?s an answer to your Ram Question, another process a good tech will pursue.
To find out about your computer?s Ram, you need the manual.
Look on the back of your Dell for the Service Number, write it down.

Go To:

Select ?Choose Service Tag? and enter the number. This should take you to the information page about that specific computer. If you?re presented with the machine?s page, fine.
I suggest that you make the page a favorite, renaming (shortening the link name) to the reflect your model and service number.

Or, you can go to this URL direct:

One of the Categories is ?Manuals?. This will provide all the manuals Dell has available concerning that comp.
To Get the Service Manual (doesn?t include specs)
Choose HTML Documents / Service Manual / View. This will open the manual in Internet Explorer.
Immediately select File / Save As / direct your save to destination and rename the file as you wish, but importantly, under ?Save As Type?, choose mht, then save the file. This manual does show some different and same info as it?s Owner?s Manual pdf counterpart.

To get the User Manual which includes servicing and specs (also where you?ll find Ram Specs on page 115)
Download the Inspiron 1100 Owner?s Manual (.pdf) for more information about your computer.

The manual says 1 Gig max at 266 MHz (PC2100 Sodimm) with two sockets available, so you can utilize 2 x 512 sticks. I suggest two 512's as opposed to 1 x 1 gig.

Also, checkout this URL:
Or, Google using PC2100 Sodimm for more options. Stay OEM for the 1100, Kingston, or Samsung brands.

Hope this helps. Finge

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Adding RAM to my Dell Inspirion 1100
Aug 10, 2008 12:25PM PDT

hiya Karen:

go to they have a tool that will scan your computer and tell you if you can add RAM, how much, and of which type.

good luck.


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SpeedUp PC
Aug 9, 2008 1:46AM PDT

I have had very good experience in speeding up my Dell Inspiron 6000 laptop by doing the following:

Add RAM to 2 GB.
Add a second HD (external) that is big enough to get the utilization of each HD down to 50 to 60%. Migrate data from the system HD to the external HD to get the system HD to 50% or less capacity.
Defragment the HD. I use Diskeeper 2008 which is the expanded version of the utility built into Windows XP.
Run Registry First Aid Platinum edition to remove accumulated junk in the registry. This utility should be run a couple of times to be sure you get everything.
Run System Mechanic 8 to further clean out the junk and optimize the operation system.
I prefer SpyBotSD and XoftSpySE to some of the other spyware removal utilities, but several good ones are available. The thing to remember is that seldom will one spyware removal utility get rid of all spyware. Pick a couple and run them periodically.
And last, manage the processes running in the background using a utility such as Startup Inspector so that the system overhead is reduced.

By doing these things I returned my laptop to its like new speed. If you want to preserve this configuration, the make a bootable disk image of the HD containing the operating system and the applications software. Use a new, external HD. When finished disconnect the backup HD and save it for later use.

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In response to Precede answer
Aug 9, 2008 2:10AM PDT

Gail: Precede gave you and excellent answer. He has apparently had some of the same experiences I have in my 28 years of building custom systems, so I won't go over his good advise. Performance on new systems seems to be good regardless of who made it or where we got it. That is until we get updates, service packs, and a whole host of other stuff on our systems. Downloading "free" software is probably one of the most dangerous things we all do. Trust me "it anin't FREE". It costs us in many hidden ways, like spyware, trogans, keyloggers and gobs of other junk. If is "FREE" my advise is be wise and think twice before falling for the word "FREE", because there isn't any free lunch it is paid ofr in some manner sooner or later and in computers it is usually sooner.

Also, we all need to remember an basice fundamental performace is based on the foundation hardware on any system. On inexpensive off the shelf systems they are built to sell at a low price point. Therefore, low price (cheap) and quality are not in the same system it is one or the other not both. I have had personal experience in taking the CPU out of a working DELL or HP and installing it on a good quality motherboard and have a speed increase of anywhere from 25 to 45%. DELL is not known for quality hardware but rather to build inexpensive systems (for consumers or businesses). They want "market share" and when you have your sights set on that priority, rather than customer satisfaction, the word quality goes out the window because they are using price (low price) to gain market share

That said precede gave you factual and honest answers and there is no easy quick fix due the complexity of the computer. Kind of like an automobile, unless you are a mechanic it is difficult to fix a car today. I use to fix my own cars years ago when you could look under the hood and you could see the engine. Today it, too, is complex and best left up to those who have experience fixing them. Trust me I get systems in that people try to fix or have a friend fix, and they are in worse shape than if they had just brought them in here first.

Your local independant computer reseller can be your best friend in getting your system back to the way it use to be. And if he is good, and honest, he won't break you bank account either, because he wants you to recommend your friend to him/her.

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Note on resources needed
Aug 10, 2008 11:09PM PDT

Average users DON'T need more than 2GBs RAM. More will really be a waste unless you are a real intensive applications user. Maybe Windows Vista would benefit of 4GBs and that's depending on the version of Vista. I have 10 Windows XP Pro machines with 512MB each and they work perfectly fine. The secret? I only installed the really necessary apps (Office, IE, Firefox) and nothing else on them.
Hard drive space is normally not an issue today since they are big and again: Average users don't use it all. Of course if you have less than 2-4 GBs free in your HD, you should definitely consider freeing up some space.
The real problem with Windows machines is a worse one. Window's nature is to slow down over time. The more apps, drivers, dlls, etc you install over time, the slower the machine gets. Unfortunately the only real answer in a Windows world has always been: Format an reinstall. I don't know if any of the tools out there that offer optimization work well.

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Maybe you need more memory
Aug 1, 2008 12:47PM PDT

Many things can cause a system to be slow including a processor that is just old and slow, but what has always had the biggest impact in my experience is to add memory. That is certainly different than adding disk space. Memory is where programs run and data resides while a program is running. If there is not enough memory to run a program, then the computer will use disk space as "virtual memory" and will keep putting pieces of the program and data in that space as the program runs. Disks are much slower than memory, so the process of swapping code and data on and off the disk will definitely slow your system down.

Hope this helps. Good luck, Marty Varon

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(NT) I Agree. More RAM always helps.
Aug 1, 2008 12:50PM PDT
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dell speed-up
Aug 1, 2008 12:57PM PDT

I recently went through the same thing with a Dell laptop that became s-l-o-w in its later years. I took it to a repair shop, which identified three issues: Memory / disk space, heat (overheating can cause the processor to slow down), and software running in the background. They did three things. 1. increase RAM to 1Gb, and took me from a 30Gb hard drive to 110Gb (the largest my unit will accept); 2. thoroughly cleaned the insides and replaced a broken cooling fan; and, 3. removed all traces of two anti-virus programs (one expired, one active), and installed AVG anti-virus. Labor on this was in the low $200s, including 'image-copying' everything to the new hard disk and testing. Unfortunately, the fan part was hard to find and cost $95. But, end of the day, for less than the cost of a used replacement, my computer went from unusable to very much usable, and I didn't have to re-install any software. So, step-by-step: pick up the phone and call a pro. It's not a straightforward issue, and time and heartache are worth something.

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Updating Drivers, cleaning cookies
Aug 1, 2008 1:06PM PDT

About updating your drivers, it could automatically be set up to do it on it's own, if it was set up that way. Go to start, then control panel once that is opened up, you will see in alphabetically order (Automatic Updates) click on that. It will open up a box and just make sure that Automatic is checked and you can choose the best time for it to update. (usually best when your not using it)
Another good thing to do is clean out the cookies, history and temporary files. On internet explorer 6 look for tools at the top of the toolbar (if have internet explorer 7, it will be to the right on the tool bar. left click on tools, go to the bottom of those options and click on internet options. This will open up a box with 7 tabs on top, make sure you are on the general tab. you will see where it says browsing history click by temporary internet files, where it has delete files, once you click on that it will bring up a box asking if you are sure (and you are) depending on how much is in there it may take a few minutes for it to clear them all out, you will know once the box disappears, next one will be cookies, delete cookies, then delete history. then at the bottom of this box you will see apply, click on that before you click okay. Once you do that, reboot your computer & they will clear out all that you have removed. If you don't find that your computer is any quicker, you may need to have some more memory/ram added.
Hope that helps!!

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Speeding up Internet Explorer
Aug 10, 2008 5:24AM PDT

The biggest drag on Internet Explorer is add-ons! If you are running IE7, then after awhile it becomes slower than molasses in January. The best solution to this is to run Firefox 3, but for those of you that are more comfortable continuing to use IE, then go in to Tools v Manage Add-ons > Enable or Disable Add-ons. Disable as many, if not all, of these add-ons as you want by selecting them one at a time, click on the Disable selector, then once done, click on OK. You will be prompted to restart the browser. Once you do, I think you will find a startup process from click to your home page go from about 15 or 20 seconds down to 2 seconds!

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Good advise about Add-ons
Aug 10, 2008 12:34PM PDT

Good advise rbHighTech. Think you might get a kick out of this.

(Consumer used IE7 - Some commonalities with customized Office Use of IE7) With all the tweaks we use, toolbars offered by Google, Yahoo, etc even through other program installers, we never allow to be a part of IE7. IE7 can do it?s job just fine without em and they basically just clutter the works. Preventing Toolbar extensions and applying certain tweaks is a few of the things that makes IE7 speedy and more stable. Some tweaks are available from knowledgeable sites and from Microsoft but again, in which order, why the selection, and considering what other internet accessing programs your running, makes the difference as what tweak is applied and their effect on speed and stability of IE7. I haven?t nor am I considering posting a Consumer/Office lineup of these. It takes too much time to compile the documentation. But the starter for Consumers and Office machines alike is this. Don?t allow a home page (customized for Office is the exception), rather a blank html with black background. The idea is when executing IE, only that page comes immediately showing that no site is highjacking IE nor does IE spend time on a homepage load. If a website is frequently used, make it a favorite, not an immediate execution. The second option is tell IE7 to "Empy Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed.".
Users can find that switch in: IE7 / Tools / Internet Options / Advanced, slide down the list and check the option, Apply and OK.

For users of IE7, creating a blank/black homepage is easy.
Open IE7 and save your current home page if you have one you want to keep, as a favorite.
You don't have to close IE7 just yet.
Select and copy these bracketed lines then open notepad and paste them in.

<body bgcolor="#000000">

Select File / Save As
Save In: C:
Name the file "blank.html" without the quotes.
Change "Save as Type" to "All Files" and save it, closing notepad.

Go back to IE7 and enter this address.
C:\blank.html and enter it.
Once the Black Page is up, go to IE7's Tools / Internet Options / and select "Use Current", Apply and OK.
Close IE7 and bring it back up. There's your home page. From here, you can go anywhere you wish.
It?s easier on the eyes with a black background than IE7's default ?Use Blank?.

( Concerning IE7 Add-ons) For the general user, to help IE7, I suggest uninstalling every toolbar you see in ?Add and Remove Programs? accessed from the Control Panel, including the MSN Toolbar. You don?t need them. As far as Add-ons in IE7, only a few are suggested keeping and the rest can be disabled. Leave any downloaders you?ve chosen to use. Leave Sun?s Java and it's SSV Helper, and for example, if running SpyBot, leave it's IE Protection. You can Disable all others including Windows Messenger (including Live) but only if you don?t use it or use it to access hotmail-livemail email. Research can also be disabled. For those using AVG, it?s add-ons need to be removed via reinstalling AVG over itself, choosing custom, and unselecting things like Link Scanner. All add-ins that are used to configure a particular program which have their own configuration shortcuts or can be configured from within the programs themselves can be disabled.

Another important safety option is found in IE7 / Internet Options / Programs
Check the box, "Tell me if Internet Explorer is not the default web browser.

( a discovery )
The biggest speed problem in IE7 is Microsoft (the middle man). Back when (IE6), Microsoft was sorta in the middle, but with the event of 911 and Microsoft?s stab at getting hold of Googles Database, which Google continues to say no, Microsoft had to get around that. Therefore, via some MS updates post these events, Microsoft has placed themselves in between IE7 and the rest of the world. When you go to Google, you go through Microsoft first, then Google to where ever, with the return also via Microsoft before it gets back to you. This is accomplished via various means including Live Search. Some colleagues and I have come up editing IE7, the registry, and ?startup? in that order, that guarantees when Google is accessed from either IE7's search or address bar, the hop bypasses MS going directly to Google or any other site we choose, and back direct. The result is an increase in IE7's response time by at least 30%. This includes the registry elimination of Live Search leaving Google as the search default in every instance. Interesting discovery. It?s a benign thing but does cause IE7 slowdown.

It all falls back on a famous saying known by good techies and Trekies, ?The more they overtake the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drain?. Good techs are also good plumbers. (Finge)

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Did you ever find a solution to your computer running slow?
Nov 28, 2009 4:33AM PST

If so, could you please share it with me? My email address is:
and I need help. I tried deleting emails. Please help

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Speeding Up a Slow Computer
Aug 18, 2008 11:57AM PDT

The first thing I would do is click on the Start Menu
Go to Run and type in MSConfig. Once it's up and running
go to the startup tab and click Disable all and Restart.

Once your computer restarts, if there are any programs you use alot
and actually want them to run at startup, then you can run MSConfig again and click the checkmark next to them. For Laptops you need to keep SynTPEnh running so that the touchpad will scroll.

That step alone will greatly speed up most computers because half the time they are bogged down with too many startup applications.

You can look into registry cleaner software which is all easy to use,
and reducing the number of icons on your desktop is also a good idea.

In the Control Panel under Add/Remove Programs you should go through the list and uninstall any applications that you are sure that you don't use or want anymore to free up hard drive space. If there are any apps that you don't know what they are, just google them and you should get a detailed description of what they do.

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Aug 18, 2008 3:52PM PDT

Good post, Eagle. I was scouting MSCONFIG SERVICES and I noticed the windows firewall service is running. I checked the control panel security and it says the windows firewall is off. I have a MCAFEE firewall running and from what I can gather there should be only one firewall running as more than one executing at a time will ball up the system. What gives?

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Computer speedup
Aug 1, 2008 1:12PM PDT

I don't claim to be a super geek but I HAVE had a lot of success on many hard drives that were so slow as to be nearly useless.

My opinion is that clutter is usually the problem, but bad stuff from the Internet can also be your problem. Clutter can mean: too many fragmented files (defrag the drive); too many invalid entries in the Registry (happens mostly during uninstalling programs, but seems to be part of the sloppy housekeeping that exists in all versions of Windows)... my experience covers versions from 98 through XP Pro; or your hard drive may be too small.

Trying to keep my solutions simple as you requested, these are the steps I take.
1. Locate your C: drive in My Computer, right click for Properties and hope that you have at least 25% free. If not, try to delete stuff not needed. Be sure that you know how to remove clutter safely. A simple DELETE can be very harmful if you don't know what you are doing.
2. A pretty safe way to clean up a drive is Norton System Works (my current version is 2006 Premier) which contains Cleanup, DiskDoctor, and WinDoctor. These features will run from the CD so don't install these programs on your hard drive.
3. About a year ago I bought "SpringCleaning" ver. 3 and love the way it not only cleans out the Registry, but will help you uninstall files that have corrupted uninstall files.
4. If you don't scan for junk that the Internet puts on your computer, this can be so bad as to make a full format and a clean install of Windows the only real cure for slow drives. Do not try this without professional help. YOU MUST SAVE ALL OF YOUR DATA FIRST, to DVDs or another hard drive.
There are a number of good & free programs for scanning harmful files. LavaSoft offers AdAware 2008, SpyBot Search & Destroy has been a favorite. Look for reviews on this kind of assistance. Hope this helps. I am running 2 computers with about a dozen slide-in hard drive trays using Windows 2000 Pro and XP Pro. My preferred backup is Norton Ghost cloning drives in DOS. I don't trust Windows to do anything as important as cloning a drive.
Hope this helps. VidVibeMan

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Keeping a system running well
Aug 1, 2008 1:29PM PDT


Simply put the easiest way to speed up your computer is to once a year reload your operating system and all of your application code. This is quite easily done if you separate your data files from your operating system and application code. The second hard drive in my system is where I keep all of my documents, pictures, spread sheets, music files etc. The first hard drive has a boot partition of 40 GB in which holds my operating system and all application code. I often back up both the code partition and the data partition. The backup code I use is Acronis True Image 11. The backups are stored on a third hard drive which in my case is a 320 GB USB drive.

This sounds more complex than it is. I have suffered several hack attacks and several hard drive failures. Yet my ability to keep a high performance system running well has never been compromised.

I hope this helps,


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Reloading the operating system
Aug 9, 2008 8:53AM PDT


Reloading the operating system IS the best way. But trying to separate your data is a pain. I'm a "power user" and I recently did it and it's just a pain. Every program has a default place where it stores data. You would have to manually change the defaults for every program. Some programs don't allow that. Reloading the OS will reset all you preferences. The more you use your computer the more annoying that is. The cookies that remember website passwords, etc., will be deleted, so you'll have to re-enter all your passwords.

Plus, I GUARANTEE there will be SOME program where you thought you saved the settings and you didn't and you'll wipe out either a downloaded installer, a license, or something else and you won't be able to reinstall the program or activate it or you'll have to create a new user account and you won't be able to access data from the old account.

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Gail: PC Secret Formula
Aug 9, 2008 4:43PM PDT

Hi Gail, Not to worry Gail, help is available. I consider myself technology advanced and have even built a few computers in my day. Yet I was intrigued by an eBook with an 8 week money back guarantee. Claiming that what it could do would make a tune up by Geek Squad or Fire Dog a waste of a money. It was written by Kris Manieri and is called PC Secret Formula. It cost $14.97 and I couldn't resist trying it. It's written in plain english with pictures to guide you and not only gives the best tune up I had ever had seen it hacker proofs your computer at the same time. It is about 25 pages of lifetime updates and the last page has a maintenance schedule. My first computer was slooow and took about 2 hours taking my time. It improved it overall by 300% so I tried it on a fast rig that was tweaked pretty well. It improved overall by 100%. It reloads in under a minute. The beautiful part of this Gail is that you can do it yourself, and you'll be learning about your computer also.

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Buy a Mac!
Aug 9, 2008 9:05PM PDT

I know some of you will see this as a smarta** answer, but it really is the fastest way to speed up your machine. The Intel Macs run Windows software *faster* than Windows based machines.

I was tired of ad/spyware on my PC and just switched over (reluctantly) a few years ago, and I just don't have these problems anymore. It took me about a day to migrate my documents fully to a Mac and now I rarely use the "Windows" side of it.

I think the "Mojave" ad campaign that Microsoft has mounted reflects the fundamental problem with Windows-based technology --- too many problems to fix and a perception that it's complex, messy and troublesome.

Like I said, buy a Mac (and I *don't) work for Apple...

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I strongly suggest you find a knowledgeable friend...
Aug 1, 2008 1:35PM PDT

Gail... I've been messing around with, building, fixing, teaching computers since the mid 1980s and some things about them still confuse me. But I know enough to know there are NO "easy instructions to speed up my computer."

Rather than get into all the whys and wherefores in this forum, let me strongly advise you to find someone who does know what he or she is doing re "speeding up your computer" and have them sit with you and your system and fully explain what you need to know. Be prepared to spend many, many hours.

A computer isn't termed a "system" for nothing. EVERYTHING about them is somehow interdependent and interrelated to every other thing. Change one thing and it's almost a given you'll affect something else. Sometimes the effect is benign, sometimes catastrophic. There is no way to explain all the complexities in writing unless you want to read a 500 page book of technospeak. And there's no way to know if you're doing the right thing until you understand the complexities. I know it's frustrating unless you're really "into" computers but that's the way it is.

You can read a list of "easy to follow instructions" on how to drive and maintain a car but you won't get far trying to negotiate today's traffic from "book learning." Same with computers. How you "speed them up" depends entirely on what's slowing them down... and that could be a thousand different things. Each computer system, although it may look identical to another, is unique.

Most people who simply want to turn on the machine and use it and who couldn't care less about understanding how it works or maintaining it are well advised to bite the bullet and hire an "expert" to periodically tune-up their systems.

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I respectfully disagree
Aug 8, 2008 11:50AM PDT

I've been using computers for a long time but only got my own 8 years ago and have had to learn about things like hard drives, hardware, software, tweaks.....When using computers at work all I did was use the software provided.
I believe that asking questions in forums such as this one is how I've learned to overcome many problems and also how I've solved many problems without having to ask again next time those problems occur.
I am not answering the OP's question, that has been answered in this forum.
I am saying keep asking, keep trying to learn these things and don't worry about finding a knowledgeable friend. If you do it, you will learn, I did and if I can anyone can.

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Agreeing to disagree
Aug 8, 2008 4:25PM PDT

Can I add my two pen'north specifically to agree with the post "I respectfully disagree".

I started with computers in my teens back in 1964 (when mercury delay tubes were still in use!). I got very expert with BBC microcomputers in the 1980s, then was abroad when the PC revolution took off completely. Since the early 90s, I've been little more than a PC user and I find the average IT persons determination to fix a problem rather than help me learn more so I can do it and deal with other problems as well, very frustrating. I used to write machine code at one time - surely I can learn "PC nerd" (my wife's name for the language used).

So please, I'm on this forum to learn. Don't just tell me to pay someone else to fix my machine - I want to learn to do this myself.

Finally, any advice on other cheap/free sites which give loads of information and little disinformation to help me learn more quickly would be gratefully received.



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Perhaps you misunderstood my advice...
Aug 9, 2008 12:05AM PDT

I suggested that to have her system "fixed" and working properly NOW she absolutely MUST find someone knowledgeable. My advice was not intended to deter her from learning... quite the contrary.

But learning piecemeal how to "fix" computers is really doing things the hard and most-likely-to-screw-things-up way. I suppose an interested, talented individual could learn BRAIN SURGERY by book learning, trial and error, and advice from friends as well, but I sure wouldn't be calling that doctor to help me!

IF... big IF... she WANTS to learn the complexities, then I would combine your advice with mine. But learn the easy way - get advice from experts FIRST - then experiment on your own home computer (preferably a second one that if and when you royally screw it up, and you will, it won't take the only copy of important data with it). NEVER experiment on the computers at your workplace unless you have permission in writing from your boss. Work systems will likely be networked and have other MAJOR differences that most home systems won't have. Two different systems doing two different tasks.

Finally - in my experience, about 80% of the "Easy-to-fix-your-computer" software packages, are AT LEAST as likely to cause as many problems as they purport to solve. The most popular, such as NORTON's bloated suites, are, for the most part, the MOST COMMON CAUSE OF COMPUTER SLOWDOWN. I could write a book full of horror stories regarding the NORTON stuff from Symantec, especially the garbage published in the last ten years. When Peter Norton himself was authoring and publishing software to help "fix" systems, the stuff was really very good and useful. But it's been all downhill for the past 10 years. I won't even work on a system that has Norton installed - it either comes off, or I walk.

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I Agree...Step 1 -Remove Norton
Aug 9, 2008 9:20PM PDT

I totally agree, the first thing I do with any computer that is having problems is uninstall Norton (if it has it installed) and the second thing I do is use the Norton Removal tool (Downloaded From Symantec) to remove any remnents left behind as well as old versions of Norton.

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rae2_2? I?m with you
Aug 10, 2008 2:17PM PDT

rae2_2? I?m with you and this is for anyone else reading this. I can?t tell you how many systems I?ve been into that were ?compounded gacked? by the user trying to fix their own stuff, making it very difficult to fix because they can?t tell you what they did, how they did it, no or poor documentation. You have to find out for yourself, and in the majority of cases, the OS could have been economically fixed, but now it?s a no choice rebuild.

Take those recommendations on msconfig, turning off all the startups. There goes your security if you had any before that. Printer access gone, and a host of other problems. You have to know which ones, finding the programs and preventing that in the first place or get rid of the program all together. Turning off all startups is a test tool, not a permanent preference.

Reloading your entire OS from a restore disk. Now there?s there?s a novel idea for a non-tech. Let?s just go back to 3, 4, 6 years ago. Bad move. I had a guy use his restore disk because his printer wouldn?t work. He lost it all. You and I both know, reloading your own OS if you?ve never done it before is an act of desperate measure and won?t fix the current OS, it just resets it to ground zero and all the programs it started with including the trial crap, all previous settings gone, security scrapped, and playing catch is a Bit**, I don?t care if you do have backups of your data. Best let a knowledgeable tech decide on that one, because if not done right, the user won?t like what happens next. A good tech won?t even use the restore disk unless there are drivers or programs on it he can?t download. A good tech will use a matching original Windows Installer disk and the keycode from the unit itself if there?s no choice but to reload the system, and the hard drive gets some tests, including a zero?ing out before that. And if the tech really knows what they?re doing, the only partition on the next load won?t be just C:. That?s a rookie setup. The tech will also provide a really good restoration system in case something screws up after the user has it back, and you can almost count on them or their kids, or (it ain?t my machine friends) screwing something up.

All office and consumer machines I do are dual boot, XP Pro SP2 twice (not Sp3 and certainly not Vista). One XP?s for the user, and one for servicing. Both remote available and boot choice switchable from either. If the machine only had one hard drive, now it has two, either inboard or a USB outboard. If they screw the OS, loose data, foul a program, I can remote in and if the problem is not fixable economically time wise, I can restore from the clone selection, then catchup post the clone from XP?s Backup?s previously set to routinely get backups of specific files and folders sent to the backup drive, then it?s a simple matter of catching up security updates.
But in most cases, I have enough tools sitting on the system to correct most problems without restorations.
Data default saves are never in C and neither is any software not pertaining to the OS. So if C (the OS) gets screwed, I don?t have to reload any programs nor fool with the Data when restoring the OS. C only users can?t grasp that one.

Another bad move is multiple users on the same machine. That?s OK to a point but little do they know that an added user?s profile comes in default settings for nearly every program loaded on the machine, including security in most cases, meaning, every setting necessary for a program or the security or the OS for that matter has to be reduplicated to match the main user and that includes tweaks. This also includes the Administrator account if it?s never been set. They don?t assign passwords to the OS access points or weak ones at best. It?s just a mess.

I agree with you on Norton but there?s one thing they did right, Ghost. Although I have every version they?ve made, Ghost8's ghost32.exe and it?s companion Ghostexp.exe, not to mention Ghost.exe for Dos from the same package, great stuff. I?ve got Aconis and a host of others but I use these three files without the installation on just about everything except Windows 2000. Got Ghost 6 for that one. No knowledgeable tech works on machines without a cloner, ever.

You sound like you got it (who ever you are). Like to collaborate with you sometime.

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