TECH Q AND A: Computer lost its pep? These may help
Question: My PC's hard drive seems to be running almost continuously, and I'm wondering what's causing it. Is there software I can use to fix the problem? I used a trial version of one program, but it told me I had 1,500 errors on my hard drive a...
Question: My PC's hard drive seems to be running almost continuously, and I'm wondering what's causing it. Is there software I can use to fix the problem? I used a trial version of one program, but it told me I had 1,500 errors on my hard drive and had to buy the program to fix them. Even then, the company can give me no assurances that its program will solve my problem. What should I do?
Answer: It sounds like someone is trying to scare you into buying disk-cleaning software by listing an unrealistically large number of errors on your hard drive. Before you buy any programs, try these free alternatives.
First, get a free diagnosis. Microsoft explains, at tinyurl.com/optgx2, how you can tell whether your PC is slow because of hardware or software issues. Microsoft also explains how to improve PC efficiency by erasing software you've installed or by using System Restore to return your computer's settings to the way they were a few months ago.
If that doesn't work, try programs that hunt down malicious or junk software on your PC.
You can find AVG Anti-Virus Free Edition at tinyurl.com/yknjwbx. Another free program, Spybot -- Search & Destroy, eliminates spyware and adware, and can be found at tinyurl.com/clbek4. Or you can download the free Microsoft Security Essentials (handles both antivirus and antispyware chores) at tinyurl.com/yewgwqn.
If those things don't work, you can find free and for-pay registry cleaner programs at tinyurl.com/ydehzg2. Registry cleaners may be able to speed up a PC's operations by removing old, unused computer code from your PC's registry (a database that contains the settings and options for Windows.) This automated approach is safer than tinkering with the registry yourself, because deleting the wrong thing can cause real problems.
Q: My Windows XP computer is starting up much more slowly than it should, and I believe it's because too many software applications are starting automatically when the PC is turned on. How can I limit the number of applications that start up when the computer does? Also, where can I find your previous columns?
A: It's fairly easy to reduce the number of programs that begin when you start up Windows XP. Doing so may speed up your PC, both by loading fewer programs and by freeing up RAM those programs use, even while idle. For step-by-step instructions, see tinyurl.com/2pux2a. You can find my previous columns and stories at tinyurl.com/yfx5cgx.