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How Well Does Your System Run?

Your Computer Had Better Be Able to Keep Up!

Almost any new computer will outperform the computer it replaced, but that great performance gain frequently doesn't last long. The slowdown can be very rapid or it can come so slowly and steadily that people don't even realize it until it's seriously bogged down. There are more reasons for the drag on performance than I have room to explain but we'll touch on a few.

No matter how old your system is it still runs as fast as the day you bought it. (We can imagine some people leaving now). Think about this for a moment. Did you take out some of the memory, replace the processor with a slower one? No, then the statement I made is true, it's just as fast. The problem is that as you have found new and more productive things to do with your computer. You continued to protect yourself from infections of one type or another, installed updates for your software, with more features, you are now asking far more of the system than ever. If you took the system back to its original state when you bought it you would see what I mean. Today's software can bring the best of systems to a screeching halt. The particular software you're using determines how well your system will be able to run it. .

Most businesses purchase consumer class computers which are underpowered from the start. Consumer systems are geared toward people who are mostly interested in price or who don't really know what they are buying. These are the ones you typically find at retail stores. In other words, no matter what the label or how it's described at a store that sells computers, it is a consumer grade computer. See our hardware section on the differences. Your local office supply or computer stores don't sell the better systems the major manufacturers build. They are dedicated to selling a mass market low cost system.

A large number of icons that appear in the system tray, (the area in the lower right of your screen by the clock), puts a serious drain on your performance. A simple way to explain the icons in the system tray is that most of them are running programs that are consuming resources such as memory and CPU time. A general rule is that the more icons, the faster the system needs to be to keep up. This goes to a statement elsewhere on this site that mentions uninstalling software you don't use frequently. If it's software that appears in the system tray and it's not essential, get rid of it.

A really big problem and getting bigger all the time is outside influences that force you to install more software to compensate for perceived or real problems. You can't operate without anti virus software and some anti virus programs are harder on your system than others. But people also install pop-up blockers, SPAM blockers, software provided by their Internet service provider, (that is typically unnecessary and a real drag), desktop search software, fancy backgrounds, screen savers, weather forecasting programs and who knows what other software that all have an adverse effect on the performance of the system. In a business, since the employee doesn't own the computer, they have no authority to install software anyway. They may think it's nice but it's costing you money because it's taking them longer to get their work done

There are ways to eliminate the need for some of this software and when we have done that for some new clients we left them with a really broad smile and a better computing experience.

I'm not suggesting you do this but every time we have uninstalled Norton Internet Security from a system, (and replaced the necessary components with alternatives), the user couldn't believe the performance improvement. For some reason nobody notices the decrease in performance when the software is installed as much as the increase in performance when it's removed. That's one of the mysteries of computing we've never understood.

Some of our customer's computers almost never change after we set them up because they have the tools to do their work and don't need anything else. Others have had problems with a small number of employees gumming up the works One customer had an employee who used an Internet site to sign up for a newsletter that ended up flooding their system with SPAM, that's a small example. Every piece of software installed on a system makes it more difficult for the computer to keep up, in one way or another and some software will slow things down more than others.

Here's a tip, never do a typical or a default installation of any software, you will frequently install software that duplicates software or functionality of software already on the system or it may be something that just isn't needed. Look through the list and anything that's obvious, or even questionable, don't install it. The worst that could happen is you may need to install an additional component in the future.

As time goes by, newer versions of anti virus software, accounting software, security fixes and patches get installed that all contribute to the slowdown. Every new feature or newer program adds extra memory use and CPU time requirements. (In he computer industry this is called software bloat). Check out our hardware section to learn more about getting the best computer up front.

If you add multifunction printers to your system the software installed to operate them is huge and there usually isn't a way to delete any portion you won't use. You may give up 10% or more of your performance. The same applies to multifunction all-in-one (AIO) software like Norton Internet Security.

Your best option is good anti virus software and an "easy on your system" firewall. We show people how much software and how many files are running in the background and we haven't found anyone who wasn't amazed. Some of that software, (and associated drivers), hangs around forever, even if you uninstalled the program, it's still loading in the system and still loading the system down. July 2007, installed Adobe Dreamweaver from the Creative Suite 3 (CS3) on one of my systems. Decided 3 days later I wanted it on another system so I uninstalled it. It left a whopping 327 MB of files on my hard disk that were not there before it was installed.

There is software available, (much of it free), that will show you what is running in the background that isn't required. Windows XP doesn't do a very good job of showing you more than a fraction of it and even then it's hard to determine if it really is needed or not. Did I mention free? That's a good thing..

Side story. Many years ago when I was suggesting that people start using Microsoft Word products instead of Wordperfect it was for good reason. (..more)

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