The Free Advice Zone

April 30, 2009

Here’s to a healthier YOU!
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Everybody needs a computer and plays games
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Slow Computer? Backup your files before you set about fixing your slow computer.

December 30, 2008

Prior to attempting to fix a slow computer, you must make certain that the information on your computer will be protected. A few of the procedures applied to fix a slow computer can cause existing but as yet hidden problems to surface, which may either keep Windows from starting or even prevent your computer from starting.

However, before you can start with the process of cleaning and repairing your slow computer, you must first make sure your data files and other info is safe,

Pay attention to this word of advice! It is imperative that you make sure your data will be secure. Some of the procedures used to fix a slow computer may cause existing but as yet concealed problems to show up, which may either keep Windows from starting or even prevent your computer from starting.

The initial steps involve backing up your data files, but even prior to that, you have to get your files ready. Make sure all your crucial data files are stored in one, easy-to-find location.

Windows generates a personal profile for every user account, which consists of a set of subfolders in the Documents and Settings folder. Your profile holds your personal files, usually your photos, music and videos.

After you have done your first backup, additional backing up and setting up a backup schedule is quick and easy and will take as little as ten minutes a week. Besides, you will be able to let Windows do nearly all the work.

Your Outlook Express e-mail messages, Internet Explorer Favorites and cookies, and information about your settings and preferences are also stored in the My Documents folder. Move all data files stored elsewhere into the My Documents folder to make backing up easier. You could for instance move it to the “D” drive, where your other data files are stored. This is if either you have two hard dives or the one you have is partitioned.
Setting up a backup schedule after you have done your first backup, is quick and easy and will take as little as ten minutes a week and it will be done automatically by Windows.

Windows includes Backup, which does the backups adequately, although you may need to install it if you are using XP Home edition. If you use Windows XP Professional, the Windows Backup utility (Ntbackup.exe) should be ready for use. If you use Windows XP Home Edition, you will need to install the utility.

Insert your Windows XP CD into the drive and, if necessary, double-click the CD icon in My Computer. On the Welcome to Microsoft Windows XP screen, click: Perform Additional Tasks. Click Browse this CD. In Windows Explorer, double-click the Value Add folder, then Msft, and then Ntbackup. Double-click Ntbackup.msi to install the Backup utility.

To start Backup:
Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, point to System Tools, and then click Backup to start the wizard. Click Next to skip past the opening page, choose Back up files and settings from the second page, and then click Next.

Decide what to back up
Don’t check the All information on this computer to back up all the data on your computer. Think again prior to deciding on this option. If you’ve installed heaps of software, your backup could add up to several gigabytes. For most people, the My documents and settings option embodies a better alternative. This option preserves your data files (including e-mail messages and address books) and the personal settings stored in the Windows Registry.

If several people use your computer—as might be the case on a shared family PC—select Everyone’s documents and settings. This option backs up personal files and preferences for every user with an account on the computer. If you know that you have data files stored outside your profile, click Let me choose what to back up.

Decide where to store your backup files:
On the Backup Type, Destination, and Name page, Windows asks you to specify a backup location. Your computer’s hard disk. The easiest but not ideal backup location is a separate partition from the one you’re backing up. If your hard disk is partitioned into drive C and drive D and your data is on drive C, you can safely back up to drive D. However, if this hard drive runs into a problem you may have difficulty in restoring the backups.

Unfortunately, the Windows Backup utility can’t save files directly to a CD-RW or DVD-RW drive. You can backup to the following;
- A Flash memory stick or other removable media. This is an option if you don’t have multiple gigabytes to back up.
- A shared network drive. You’re limited only by the amount of free space on the network shared drive.
- An external hard drive. External hard drives have dropped in price lately. Consider getting an 100 GB or larger drive and dedicating it for use as a backup device.
- You may be able to find a website to which they will let you backup for a nominal fee.

After you’ve chosen a backup location, enter a name for the file, click Next to display the wizard’s final page.

Setting up a Backup Schedule:
You can repeat the backup steps once each week and perform regular backups, but it may be better to set up an automatic backup schedule for Windows. When you get to the final page of the Backup Wizard, don’t click Finish. Click the Advanced button, and click Next to open the When to Back Up page. Choose Later, and then click Set Schedule to open the Schedule Job dialog box. You can set almost any schedule you want by looking at the options available in this dialog box.

After you click OK to save your changes, Windows runs the backup automatically. Don’t forget to leave your computer on. You can back up 5 GB of data in about 10 minutes. In addition, you don’t need to worry about shutting down running programs, either, thanks to a feature called volume shadow copy, the Backup utility can safely create a copy of any file, even if it’s currently in use.

Except for Windows backup, there are other options you can use. In fact, just about any type of backup is better than doing nothing and hoping that your data will magically take care of itself. We copy our data files to DVD, because we can then delete older data files on the hard drive, which take up a lot of space. It also comes in handy if you need a certain file again for, say, a reprint.

Now that you have done the backup of your files, you can start with the process of fixing your slow computer.

To really speed up your slow computer you need to:
- Remove unused applications.
- Clean your browser’s history, temp data and your Favorite or Bookmark list.
- Optimize the Windows Registry
- Scan for and remove threats like viruses, malware etc.
- Make the boot process considerably faster.
- Kill all those superfluous startup applications.
- Free your PC’s memory whenever possible.
- Schedule your cleanup programs to run automatically.
- Place all your data files together in one easy to use location.
- Defrag and organize your disks so that your most used files are in the fast lane.
- Optimize, tune and tweak your PC for optimal speed and stability.

I have researched and tested several products over a period of several months and in order for me to get our slow PC’s performance up to speed again, I made use of not less than 17 different products, each of which is designed to do a certain task on the computer. Eventually we ended up using 11 of these apps (all freeware) on a regular basis, which keeps our PC’s performing clean and error free. Read more at http://slowcomputerfix.tmmarketing.co.za

In forthcoming articles, I’ll explain to you step by step, how to get rid of unnecessary startup programs, how to clear out forgotten programs, unused, unnecessary and junk files and how to clean and streamline the Windows registry.

Is Your Slow Computer Wasting Your Valuable Time and Money?

December 13, 2008

Google the term slow computer or improve computer performance and what do you get most of the time? Fix your Windows Registry with this fantastic new Registry Optimizer and it’ll run like new.

It is my experience that repairing the registry only, serves little to speed up the PC and in numerous cases I could not see any difference in speed.  It was still taking, what appeared like forever and a day, to boot and it was still freezing every now and then.

There are several reasons why a computer will be slowing down: files become disordered, unnecessary software fills up useful space, there are too many files not being used anymore, the Windows registry is overflowing with rubbish or you have a computer trying to load all the applications installed on it at startup.

A sudden slowdown and instability might be caused by a malicious program you picked up on an internet surfing expedition. The threat of malware infections to your computer is ever present and if you surf the net without updated anti-malware programs, you can be sure you’ll pick up something dangerous sooner or later.

Windows’ has some utilities like Disk Cleanup, Check Disk and the Windows Disk Defragment which Microsoft tells you to use on a regular basis, but it definitely does not do a thorough job to keep your PC from losing performance and stability.

In our print and sign shop we run graphic design programs and large format printing programs. When working with these exceptionally large files, you need all the speed you can get as well as steadiness, which means stopping freeze-ups and system failures.

Several cleaning and tune-up products are needed to keep your computer’s performance and stability up to scratch. Except for the ever present registry optimizer, you need utilities that can do much more, like disk cleaning, disk defragging, registry cleaning, virus, worm, trojan and malware removal and clearing useless information and files as well as tweaking the system to get it lightning fast and steady as a rock.

To really speed up your PC you need to:
- Remove unused applications.
- Clean your browser’s history, temp data and your Favorite or Bookmark list.
- Optimize the Windows Registry
- Scan for and remove threats like viruses, malware etc.
- Make the boot process considerably faster.
- Kill all those superfluous startup applications.
- Free your PC’s memory whenever possible.
- Schedule your cleanup programs to run automatically.
- Place all your data files together in one easy to use location.
- Defrag and organize your disks so that your most used files are in the fast lane.
- Optimize, tune and tweak your PC for optimal speed and stability.

I have researched and tested not less than 30 programs, utilities and methods over a period of several months, to get top performance from our PC’s without any hang-ups or system crashes. There are 17 products I recommend, each of which is designed to do a certain task on the PC. We use 11 programs and utilities on a regular basis to keep our PC’s ship shape. It seems as if Windows is on steroids.

In forthcoming blogs we’ll have a look at the seriousness of guarding your computer from viruses and malware, how to safeguard your data files stored on your PC, how to get rid of unnecessary startup programs, how to clear out forgotten programs, unused, unnecessary and junk files and how to clean and streamline the Windows registry.

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November 22, 2008

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