Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Looking for tips to speed up your PC? Windows is slow? Articles on various issues that can affect performance and in turn can help you improve Windows speed.

Can I delete Microsoft Office updates to free up disk space?

Deleting updates and folders might be okay if you do a backup beforehand, just to be sure. There are better ways to free up disk space that will be less problematic.

Can I delete all these Visual C++ Redistributables?

A C++ redistributable is a run time that is used by other programs. Deleting them could easily break a program.

Can I delete extra copies of MSXML or C++ Redistributables?

Redistributable files may look like they are not being used. But if you delete them, the results are often problematic.

Can I delete the contents of my TMP folder?

Windows maintains a folder for temporary files but it doesn't always get cleaned up. With a little care you can delete the temporary folder's contents.

Can I delete what appears to be redundant entries in the updates list?

The rule of thumb is to not delete things from your system unless you are certain what they are. If you do, back up first!

Can I encode video faster with quad core processors?

Quad core processors might process a video faster... but let's look at the software that you're using and see how it uses multiple processors.

Can I install the VC++ 2008 runtime even though I have the 2005 version installed?

Runtime versions are a bit of a mess, absolutely! Fortunately, you should be able to have both of them installed at the same time.

Can I move this green block of files in disk defragmenter?

A green bar in disk defragmenter shows files on the hard drive that cannot be moved. Usually nothing to worry about.

Do I need to worry about memory fragmentation?

Memory fragmentation is a thing of the past. It's best to avoid sites that want to sell you a cure!

Does accessing my computer's hard disk over the network impact the computer's performance?

In most cases, remote file copies to and from a machine impact that machine very minimally. However, there are scenarios that might be noticed.

Does having too many files on my computer slow it down?

Lots of files on your computer is not going to slow it down. There are several other factors to look at that may be causing your performance issues.

How can I tell what program has begun to download megabytes of data without being asked?

There are several tools that can help you analyze the data coming into your computer and control the activity.

How do I defrag my external drive?

You can defrag your external drive either directly from Windows Explorer or from the command prompt.

How do I delete keys in the Windows registry if I don't have permission?

It is very dangerous to be deleting or changing things in the Windows registry. That's why it requires special permissions.

How do I find out how much RAM is being used?

Process Explorer is a useful way of determining how much RAM in your system is actually being used.

How do I find out what all these programs are in Process Explorer?

I often recommend Process Explorer because it's a really good way of identifying programs that are misbehaving.

How do I identify this flashing window at boot time?

A flashing message during boot-up is not necessarily worrisome, but it is worth investigating.

How do I make my C: drive 'not dirty'?

A dirty machine is the result of improper shut downs. There are ways to clean it up, but getting control of your shut down process is important.

How do I stop this constant disk activity?

Constant disk activity is not always a sign of a problem; it depends on the cause. We'll use Process Monitor to identify the source of disk activity.

How do I tell what program is slowing down my machine?

When your machine slows down, it can sometimes be traced to a single misbehaving program. We'll use Process Explorer to try to identify which one.

How much memory do I REALLY need for Windows XP?

There is no one answer on how much memory you really need for Windows XP, but we'll look at a few things to consider when deciding.

Is a dual core processor really better? Or is it just a gimmick?

A computer with a dual processor can finally do several things at the same time. That gives programs a lot more options for speed.

Is the registry the root cause of Windows malware issues?

Windows registry certainly has it's issues... but causing malware is not one of them.

My firewall is slowing down my system, do I really need it?

A number of steps have increased the internet speeds of an older computer; we look at a few more tweaks to get it in top shape.

My machine has slowed down even more after a reinstall. Why?

Slow computer after an install? This feels like either malware or the beginnings of a flaky drive.

My machine is slow and unstable. What do I do?

Depending on the age of this machine, it is possible that your machine is simply trying to run too much software.

My machine is slower than a snail. What can I do?

There are many different things that could be contributing to your system being slow. Everything from malware to running too much software at the same time.

My machine will often crash on or after booting, how do I resolve this?

Crashing on boot can be a symptom of many different problems. We'll work through some troubleshooting steps that might help.

My webcam suffers from poor performance even at small resolutions. What I can do to make it work?

A webcam with poor performance could be caused by computer resources being overloaded. There are a few places to start the diagnosis.

Someone from Outlook Express offered to clean my machine, should I let them?

Outlook Express is a program. It can't pick up the phone and give you a call! Find out why I think this is a scam.

What's hogging my machine for so long on startup?

When you first start up your machine many programs are run automatically. If one hogs resources it can make your machine temporarily unusable.

What's the difference between Closing and Killing a program?

Closing and Killing programs are both ways to shut down programs from current use, but the ramifications are very, very different.

Where did all these other temporary files come from?

Many programs will scatter temporary files throughout your hard disk. It's usually accidental, but cleaning up temporary files becomes a little complex.

Why am I getting "Windows cannot find" messages on startup?

On startup Windows automatically runs certain programs. If those programs aren't found, it tells you. Often the question is "how did they get there?"

Why do all my programs crash with "stopped working"?

Using overly aggressive registry cleaners can lead to numerous errors. The solution might be painful.

Why do registry errors keep coming back?

Registry cleaners will often report multiple errors on every run, even after having recently 'cleaned' the registry. The registry is ... complicated.

Why does defragging appear to lose disk space?

Defragging does not use up disk space; it only moves data around. That display you are looking at is at best an approximation of what's going on.

Why does my computer slow down dramatically between midnight and 2am?

Mysterious CPU usage in the middle of the night isn't all that mysterious. There are a number of things that are automatically configured to run when you might be sleeping.

Why does my computer sound like it's running away sometimes?

What this normally means is that there is some software on your computer that is essentially trying to hog all the CPU.

Why is Outlook so slow to receive email?

Slow Outlook downloads could indicate problems in writing to the disk. I walk through a series of steps to clean things up.

Why is Windows Explorer slowing down?

There are several things to look at. One is folder size. If files are accumulating in the folders, then Windows Explorer has to do more work to enumerate the list of files.

Why is my 750GB external hard drive full when it has only 70GB on it?

An external hard dive is showing full though it has a small number of visible files. First we'll look for hidden files.

Why is my Windows Installer not running?

It's hard to say why or how Windows installer might stop running, but some simple steps ought to get you back in service.

Why is my audio choppy?

This could be anything from out-of-date drivers to an overloaded computer. We'll look at both.

Why is my computer uploading and downloading when it's doing nothing?

Most often, uninitiated connections to the internet are the result of your computer updating itself. Occasionally, it is malware and there is a good tool to help you sort it out.

Why is my new computer's internet access slower than that of my old computer?

A new computer's internet access can be slowed down by the internet connection itself or by trying to run too much software. There are a few places to look.

Why is my system slow if only the system idle process is using nearly 100% of my CPU?

The system idle process's purpose is to get out of the way to let other processes run. So what does it mean if the SIP has 100% CPU on your slow system?

Why might streaming music play only with starts and stops?

Music that starts and stops while streaming indicates some resource is overloaded. We'll check for overloads on both the internet and locally on your computer.

Why would one disk defragmenting program take so much more time than another?

Disk defragmenting can take minutes or hours; I'll look at why that might be and what I recommend for regular defragmenting.

Will adding RAM to my system solve my problems?

Windows loves RAM, but whether or not adding RAM will resolve the issues you're experiencing depends on the issues. We'll look at an example.