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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Optimizing Your Hard Drive

    Your computer comes with “unnecessary software,” aka “bloatware.” Whatever you call it, this stuff can dramatically slow down a new PC and computer manufacturers are paid to include it. New PCs come with LOTS of pre-installed software and LOTS of annoying pop-ups! Even if your PC is a couple years old there may be a bunch of programs that were installed over time and then, for whatever reason, were deleted or perhaps not removed at all.
     To get rid of this stuff I recently read about a free program called PC Decrapifier, which claimed it will automatically remove known bloatware. Sounds good! I did some reviews before using it though and am very glad I did! By the way, before making any major purchase I suggest reading customer reviews on the product. When doing so it's a good idea to remember that no matter how good a product is, there will occasionally be an issue. The problem is, most people will not write a review when the product performs well, but if there is a problem they are quick to report it. That's why I always go back and write a review if I have researched a product and made the purchase and it turns out satisfactory. I write reviews on restaurants and hotels, too, if the experience was positive. It's only right.
     Complaints were that Decrapifier was, itself, crap; it installed some kind of backup software whose popup was more annoying than any others, it did absolutely nothing to help in singling out all the pre-loaded crapware and trying to find the crapware was no easier that using the standard Windows uninstaller and was not at all useful. There were also complaints that the software contained “viruses.” Read all the reviews on CNET.
     When you buy a new computer/laptop places like Best Buy will remove the stuff for a fee, but according to a Consumerist investigation from 2010, Best Buy doesn’t actually remove this stuff! They just delete the desktop shortcuts to it, making the PC look a bit less cluttered but run no differently. Whether you pay Best Buy or not, you’ll apparently have to remove all the bloatware yourself — so you might as well save the money.
     Speaking of Best Buy's Geek Squad, they have a lot of negative reviews but at the same time they also have a lot of positive. PC Magazine article. I have had a Geek Squad subscription for several years now.  It's like having insurance, you hate paying the premiums but if you need it, you're glad it's there.  When it comes to computer issues I have three choices: 1) try and fix it myself (bad idea) 2) run the laptop over to the zoo and have one of the monkeys look at it (better idea) or 3) let Geek Squad remote in and fix it (best idea).  I have needed to use them on several occasions for problems like printer malfunctions, wireless router problems and on two occasions viruses. So far, it has been worth the subscription price.     
     If you use your computer on a daily basis, you may not realize that it is getting slower by the day. The registry gets cluttered with useless keys that the computer cannot get rid of on its own. The hard drive also gets cluttered with useless files that can and will slow your PC to a crawl if not properly optimized.
     The registry has its own memory that remembers everything that is done and in time all that information will make it slower accessing information. A knowledgeable computer geek can optimize the registry manually but that is not recommended. If the wrong registry keys are deleted, the computer will become very unstable and possibly unbootable.
     Even when you uninstall a program, more than likely the folder for that program is still on the hard drive and referenced in the registry.  When you browse the Internet, temporary Internet files are cached on the system. Some of the cached files are okay because they are intended to make web browsing faster by not having to download an entire web page every time it is viewed. The problem is that it also stores files if you only go to a web site once and those files are unnecessary and will slow the computer down.
     Windows 8 forums has a tutorial with 36 suggestions that will provide you with a list of suggestions to help optimize, speed up, and improve the performance of Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows 8.1, and Windows RT 8.1.
     You can pick and choose which listed suggestions you would like to do, or feel comfortable doing. If you do not notice an increase in performance or have a problem with the suggestion, then you can always go back and undo the suggestion at it's provided tutorial link. My antivirus program, Webroot, has an optimization utility included.

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