Inevitably your computer slows down. You try to open a website and it grinds to a halt, or read an email and it churns along sluggishly. A slow computer, in many ways, is worse than a broken one -- or at least infinitely more frustrating.
Tagged With system maintenance
Drive space isn't as big a concern as it used to be, but if you're sporting an SSD as a main drive and it's on the smaller side, every megabyte counts. Once you've squared away the low-hanging fruit, you'll always come back to Windows itself. Usually, there isn't much you can delete from the operating system folders, however, with some finesse and the right tools, you can banish old, bit-hungry drivers.
Knowing the difference between HDMI and USB qualifies me as the local tech "expert", so folks often invite me around to fix their computer problems. I'll let you into a little secret though: Most of the time, I'm not doing anything all that impressive or magical. Troubleshooting basic computer problems is actually pretty straightforward.
What's the first thing you do with a shiny new Windows notebook? The only answer to this question is "format and reinstall the OS". It'd be nice if you could just, you know, use the gadget you bought, minus the vendor-installed and mostly useless software. Windows 10 might be Microsoft's first OS to make this possible.
These days, graphics drivers don't just install the software your OS needs to communicate with your GPU. With hardware accelerated video decoding, game recording and other services being provided, you might find a lot of unneeded odds and ends running on your system. Fortunately, disabling them is easy.
Everyone has their own bag of diagnostic tricks when Windows decides to chuck a wobbly. While OS corruption isn't as big a problem as it used to be thanks to journalled file systems and tools such as System Restore, you can still be caught with your pants down by malware, viruses and other nasties. In those cases, a utility called SFCFix might get you out of trouble where other options fail.
These days, a new operating system can be downloaded from the web and installed in a couple of reboots or "purchased" for free from an App Store. It might seem like a clean install isn't worth the time and effort. Nothing could be further from the truth. Upgrades may be convenient, but sometimes it's better to give yourself a clean slate and not just for that "fresh out of the box" feeling.
When it comes to upgrading my operating system, I've always been a fan of the clean slate. That way you can be sure nothing remains of the previous installation, providing some protection against future hiccups. However, if you were running the Technical Preview of Windows 10 and just took the plunge to the final release, you might be missing a few gigabytes of drive space.
Automatic updates sound like a great idea in theory, but having a newer driver install itself behind your back, cause a problem and force you to troubleshoot for a few hours is no fun at all. Fortunately in Windows, it's possible to tell the operating system to apply platform patches only and leave the driver updates to you.
Dedicated system cleaners are good and all, but sometimes a more surgical approach is needed for freeing up disk space. Take Chrome -- while you can nuke its history and cache from orbit, you might find a single folder or directory created by Google's browser is hogging your drive.
Squeezing more juice from your hardware is an ever-present task for the dedicated PC gamer. A number of companies, including Razer, Wise and IOBit, have tossed their hats into the ring with so-called "game boosters", which boast the ability to speed up your system automatically for the tasks of slaying dragons or shooting terrorists. But do they actually do anything?
When you disconnect a device from your Windows PC, it'll magically vanish from Device Manager -- out of sight, out of mind as it were. However, in the Registry, the entry for that gadget remains, in case you decide to attach it again. While leaving these entires isn't harmful, if you're a stickler for keeping your system as fresh as possible, you can use Device Cleanup Tool to get rid of redundant ones.
Unless you make a disk image immediately after a fresh install and tweaking session of Windows, it can be tiresome to disable all the services you don't need with every reformat or major hardware upgrade. Fortunately, we now have tools such as Sordum's Easy Service Optimizer to take the grunt work out of these micro-tweaks.
Task Manager can't replace dedicated tools such as Process Manager, but the application has seen incremental improvements with each major Windows update. In 8 and 10, it even includes a new tab, called "Startup", that lets you see which applications are slowing down the boot process.
So the answer is definitive when it comes to SSD endurance: you have nothing to worry about unless you're running some kind of unrealistic torture test. If you need further proof and you're running Windows, you can track for yourself the amount of data being written to your solid state drive.
CCleaner is one of those reliable system tools that always finds a way onto your Windows install. Most of its tasks can be done manually, sure, but it's the height of convenience to have your PC scrubbed at the click of a button. Developer Piriform this week pushed out version 5.0 and while there are some nice enhancements, it's nothing to write home about.