Dorsetdog - Tips for your computer
Does your PC run slower than it used to?
Here are some tips to help your computer run more smoothly
I am slowly creating handouts in PDF format for the various PC maintenance processes show below, which viewers will be able to print off and work from. I am aware that some users get confused between the guide on the screen and the actual task at hand - so I hope that these "How to" guides will help people.
Mean whilst - In order to carry out maintenance work on your computer, and read the "On screen" instructions at the same time - it is advisable to reduce the size of the web browser window so that one can view the instructions by the side of the work that one is doing
Every time that we start a computer, it needs to open files in order to run. When some of those files close, they can be larger than when they were opened. If we create documents or edit existing documents, then they also have to be saved onto the hard drive. The problem is that the files are now larger than when they were first opened, so the whole file is unable to fit back into the same space. The result is that the files are split, with part of the file going into the original space, and the rest of the file is stored further along the hard drive. As the computer is restarted over time the files get bigger and bigger, and become scattered in numerous segements along the hard drive - or Fragmented. So the computer takes longer to find them, longer to work with them, and longer to save them.
The cure is to defrag your hard drive, so that the files are stored in individual places on the hard drive.
The same hard drive after defragging
The ideal is to have the hard drive at 0% fragmented, so even 10% is high and will cause the computer to run slowly. If it get seriously fragmented then one might consider formatting and reinstalling Windows.
This hard drive is so full that it does not have enough room to gather the files and relocate them as whole files.
You can download and print off the following PDFs, making it easier to follow the steps
Guide to defragging Windows XP
Guide to defragging Windows 7
To Defrag – takes a while
Click on – Start (or windows button)
Click on – My Computer
– right click on System (C:)
- left click on Properties -
Click on the Tools tab at top – then click on Defragment now
Click on Defragment disk – and leave it running
You may have to run Defrag a few times until the list of unfragmented files is reduced to no files.
Sometimes with Windows, it is necessary to start the defrag process twice. This is because on the first Analysis Scan – Windows does not think that the drive is defragmented enough to need defraging, so you can force it to defrag by clicking on Defragment Now a second time.
Ideally, you would run this once every 6 months or so. Newer versions of Windows do it automatically, but I still like to do a full defrag, even on windows 7.
Error checking checks your hard drive, finds any damaged sectors and tells the pc not to use them. Damage can be caused to the hard drive by such things as the mains being switched off, before the PC has shut down
To Error check your hard drive – takes a few hours and is best run overnight
Laptops should be left with mains power plugged in and switched on.
- Right click on C:
- Left mouse click on Properties
- Click on Tools tab at top
- Click on Error Checking
- Click on Check Now – tick both the Check disk options boxes
- Click Start – it will ask if you wish to schedule for next restart – click Yes and Restart computer
PC will restart with black screen and lots of text - 5 procedures will be carried out.
Once windows restarts, then Error checking has finished.
Unwanted programs take up hard drive space. That is storage space where you could store more pictures or files. Drives that are too full will work more slowly, and will not Defrag properly.
Never delete a program – always Uninstall from Control Panel
If you previously tried to delete a program that you no longer use, but it is still displayed in the Programs list, or keeps appearing – then you need to re-Install it, restart the computer, and then Uninstall it properly.
Click on - Start – All programs. Write a list of all programs that you have never used, or have stopped using, and wish to uninstall.
Note - Programs like Adobe Acrobat, and Quicktime, are needed to view specific files. If you find after uninstalling programs that something will not open, then go on line to reinstall the appropriate program.
Click on Start
Click on Control Panel
Then – *
*) On older versions of Windows, chose Add or remove programs
*) On newer versions of Windows, chose Programs - Uninstall a Program.
Click/highlight on programs from your written list and Uninstall.
Do not uninstall any programs that are not in the Start - All Programs list.
After all unwanted programs have been Uninstalled, restart computer – then run Defragmentation, and restart again.
Checking RAM amount.
Auto scan your PC "on line" for advice on upgrading PC memory - Please see the NOTE at bottom of thread
If your PC is generally slow, or slowly displays your own pictures – then it might need more RAM memory. RAM is just as important as processor speed and hard drive size. 3 Gigabytes or above is better for a smooth working computer.
Hard drive is the permanent storage memory, where programs and files are stored until you delete them. RAM memory is where files and pictures are placed whilst you work on them, and are lost if you forget to save them before switching the PC off.
RAM is a module or strip that plugs in to a specific slot inside the computer. See thumbnails below.
On Laptops, and desktops with “Onboard video chips" rather than separate dedicated video cards – a proportion of RAM is also used as display memory, as they do not have dedicated video memory (VRAM). So if you have say 128 Mb of memory, a large portion of that (maybe 32 or 64 Mb) will be unavailable to windows.
To see how much installed RAM you have, go to
- Control Panel
- System, where it will give you details of your machine.
Please see below, for different versions of Window.
The length of RAM, and number of memory slots in a computer, has changed over the years – so it is important that if you do buy more RAM, that you buy the correct size and correct speed for your PC.
Laptop memory on the left and Desktop memory on the right
Crucial are a recognised memory manufacturer. They can scan your PC’s configuration, and advise if you can install more memory. Simply click here and click on Scan my System.
Note – a standard version of Windows runs at 32-bits, and can only see, and use, so much memory.
Please note. The older the PC, the smaller the maximum amount of RAM that can be installed in it.
If you wish Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc, to recognise and use more than 3.5 Gb of RAM, then you need to install a 64-bit version of Windows.
1024 Megabytes (or Mb) = 1 Gigabyte (or Gb)
If you are apprehensive about opening your PC, then places like PC world charge to install memory for you.
If you do open your computer’s case - Ideally, you would not wear any jumper or other clothing that creates static. One would do the operation sat at a table, rather than stood with your feet moving around on a nylon carpet – as that builds up static.
It is imperative that you discharge any static electricity from yourself before opening a computer – this is usually done by touching the earth wire connected to the water pipes below the kitchen sink.
You must not use an electric screwdriver, or magnetic screwdriver tips – as you will cause magnetic damage to the PC and render it useless. If a screw sticks to a screwdriver – then the screwdriver is magnetic.
On a desktop - The mains lead must remain plugged in, but switched off at the wall socket. You should touch the metal screws near to where the power lead goes in, before opening the case. This ensures that you are static free, and, by the case being earthed through the mains lead, usually prevents any build-up of static.
Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
You can download and print off a PDF document to make it easier to follow these instructions
Start by going to Microsoft’s Malicious Software Removal Tool page
Note - the web address starts www.microsoft.com/en-us
and click on Download
Click on Save
Depending on what Web browser you use, you may be asked to accept download. Internet Explorer 8 does some funny things, which one simply accepts. Accept the download
It will usually save the program to Computer – C:\ - User – your pc user name – Downloads
Once it has downloaded, right click on the program and choose Run as administrator. On Windows XP and older versions, just Run
A User Account Control message will pop up, asking to make changes to your computer. Click on Yes.
At the Welcome screen, click on Next
Choose Full scan and click on Next
Note - this will take hours to complete, so ensure the electric supply is left on for laptops.
You will receive a report once it has finished
If you find that the scan finishes really quickly, then there might be a problem, and you should re-scan.
There was a nasty bug once that forced the scan to finish and report no problems, but I think they have fixed that one now.
The Microsoft Windows Malicious Software Removal Tool checks computers running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows Server 2003 for infections by specific, prevalent malicious software—including Blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom—and helps remove any infection found.
Microsoft releases an updated version of this tool on the second Tuesday of each month, and as needed to respond to security incidents. The tool is available from Microsoft Update, Windows Update and the Microsoft Download Centre.
I hope you found this of use