Slow PC - Take this Test!

Does your PC take forever to start up? Does it seem sluggish? Not quite the fleet race horse you bought two years ago but more like an old tired plow horse barely able to keep up with the demands of every day computing. As a PC repair professional this is probably the most frequent complaint I hear. Why is my PC so slow? Is it just getting old? Are the parts inside wearing out? Do I need a new PC?

In most cases the answer is simple but the cure is complex. There is no mechanical reason why your PC would run slower as it ages. Electricity still travels at the speed of light and your CPU and RAM still process instructions and data at the same speed they always have. The problem is in how many things you are asking them to do.

Take this simple test. Restart your PC then start Windows Task Manager and see how many Processes are currently running. In XP just Right mouse click on the Taskbar and choose Task Manager. You can also type TASKMGR in the RUN window.

If you have more than 30 Processes running you have too many! Processes are computer programs that have been loaded into RAM and are currently running. If you click on the Processes tab in Task Manager you will see a list of them along with how much RAM (Mem Usage) they have and how much work they are doing (CPU). A PC that has just been started and is doing nothing should have 0% CPU use (look at the bottom of the Task Manager window). I have seen many PCs with over 50 processes loaded into RAM at startup and the CPU never reaches 0%. Note: it is normal for System Idle Process to show 99% CPU and for Taskmgr.exe to take 2% now and then.

Where did all these Processes come from and what are they? Most of them are from programs you have installed since you bought the PC. That new printer will install several Processes, one to monitor ink levels, one to look on-line for updates etc. That new DVD player you installed will add a few. The new versions of Adobe™ Reader add them, even Microsoft updates. Viruses and Spyware also start Processes! Over time the number grows to the point where it takes five minutes instead of one to boot up and all your RAM is taken before you even start to use your PC!

This is where things get complex. The best cure is prevention. All nonessential Processes can and should be prevented from starting until they are needed. The difficulty is in determining which are essential and which are not then finding them and turning them off. This is a job for an expert with close cooperation and input from you. Only you know what software/hardware you use every day and what you can do without. A professional PC repair technician will have the software and experience to guide you through this process without losing essential data or crashing your system.

Quick Tip-Bit: I never trust automated software that promises to "fix" bad startups. This is a task that requires intelligence and awareness of your personal preferences, neither of which software can supply. And always start any repairs of this type by making a backup. If you have any questions please call Dean Hancy.

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