[bct] Comments on PC maintanence cast.

  • From: "Jeff Armstrong" <jeffarmstrong1380@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <blindcooltech@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 7 Feb 2006 00:12:21 -0600

Hi Ris and everyone,

Very good coverage on the subject. A couple of quick comments, and I apologize if it's been said before, I had a gap of a few days twice when my email crapped out on me.

For simplicity, the File Allocation Table can be looked at as a Hard disk's Table of Contents. When disks get fragmented, its not only that spaces open up where files are flagged for deletion, its also where a file was parked in a spot and another was parked behind it, when the first file is added to, the File Allocation Table, (FAT) ends up storing the new data in a "fragment" somewhere else on the drive. Over time, this process may lead to the FAT needing to store and access a file by keeping track of many separate pieces. It maintains an address for each one and the computer has to go around gathering them all up and re-assembling them in memory every time the file is opened. That is really what seems to slow down a fragmented hard disk. Also, the System Restore is not to bring the computer back to a factory default setting. Windows maintains a set of data it calls a restore point. This allows the computer to recreate the settings as they were on that date. keep as many restore points as you like so that you can roll your computer's software configuration back to the way it looked on that date. This has limitations but is very useful for fixing problems caused by poorly written programs you might install on your system. I recently installed a program that allowed my computer to download album art for all my MP3's. It turns out that this "program" was badly written and corrupted my system so that Jaws didn't come up the next morning. By rolling back to a couple of days prior to that installation, my system was back to normal and functioning fine. Don't worry, any actual user files such as your documents or spreadsheets and so on aren't touched in this process.

I have found other ways to speed up the computer. Windows keeps a "swap" file or "paging" file which is a piece of hard disk space it uses like scratch paper when the actual system memory gets filled up. Windows dynamically allocates space to this file if it is allowed to manage it for itself. I won't go into detail unless someone needs me to but you can switch it so that you manage it instead of Windows and set the minimum and maximum paging file size to the same number, thus removing Windows' need to keep adjusting it all the time. I keep mine set to the same size as my actual memory installed in the machine. I'll gladly stand for correction if this method is not still as useful as it once was, I learned that trick back in Windows '95 and it was an obvious speed increase. Remember that memory upgrades and fixes will speed a computer up much more than CPU upgrades. Having at least 512 megabytes of system RAM will ensure that you are maximizing system performance. Also checking to make sure you know what is in your "StartUp" folder will give you the opportunity to remove programs that you don't need all the time. Some people get into the habit of loading the StartUp folder up with programs they "might" need opened but this not only slows down boot up, it also uses up system resources so that you are forced to use the swap file and other options that vastly slow down the computer. Remember that system memory, RAM, runs at about 1000 times faster than your hard disk and forcing your machine to use this method of operation will bring your machine down to a much slower operating speed. Another one is that many programs, even those written by Microsoft have poorly written memory handling routines and many times use a part of system RAM and don't release it back to the system for other programs to use when finished with it. Thus, over the day, opening and closing programs can pile up the parts of memory that are locked away from use and so rebooting your computer from day to day keeps it running faster as well.

Thanks, Ris for coverring so much and bringing up one of my favorite subjects. You've got me thinking about my backing up procedures again, after having a scare like the one I mentioned above, I'll make sure I'm following the good advice. Your right about needing to keep things tuned up. My opinion on cleaning up the History folder or Temporary Internet Folder is to set it to an amount of disk space you can afford to give up to that task and let the software manage it. If you take all the time to clean it up and delete everything, the program will just fill it back up in time. And when the program, like Internet Explorer needs more space it just removes the oldest files and stores the new ones. So, you are just doing busy work at that point and not making the program run faster, in fact, it may run slower, since it uses it's temporary folder to store some data to avoid having to re-aquire it.

Well, if I think of any other ways to add to PC maintenence, I'll be back to bore you all some more...

Jeff Armstrong

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