Joey Needs More Speed
I just love your newsletters and the great information and freeware.  I used Zappit for the first time (thanks for that), and was hoping it would help speed up my computer.  Lately everything is taking forever to load.  I have no unnecessary programs running at start-up. Only SpySweeper, firewall and antivirus.  Still it's all running like molasses on a cold day.  Do you know (obviously you do) of anything else I can try?  I would appreciate any info you can give me.  Thanks again for the wonderful newsletter.

Answer
I wish we could live up to your high expectations and give you one single tip that would have your computer running like brand new, but, alas, we're not able to do that.

Before we give you some ideas and our thoughts about your problem. We're aware that SpySweeper's latest version requires at least 256MB of RAM. If you don't have at least 256MB of RAM, that could be the cause of your problem. If this is the case and you don't have at least 256MB of RAM go to www.webroot.com and download SpySweeper 4.5. You will continue to receive updated definitions with this version and it does run on less than 256MB of RAM.

Next: What anti-virus are you running? You don't mention it, but we can tell you that if you're using Norton or McAfee, there's the first place to look for your computer's poor performance. Recently (as all of you know by now) we bought two new computers. TC being bright and thoughtful, formatted the new Dell (which came with McAfee pre-installed) and proceeded to clean install Windows XP -then reinstall the drivers and was up and running. EB, for reason being characteristically recalcitrant, fended off TC's advice to format and clean install Windows. EB left McAfee on --- for one week. EB's computer was taking forever to boot up and was slower than a Siberian Tree Sloth slinking through a sea of half-frozen mud. EB finally overcame the stubborn resistance to TC's advice and formatted and cleaned installed Windows. What a difference a format makes. EB's computer was running as fast as it could run (which is pretty darn fast too!). Keep in mind these are two identical Dell computers; same components, same everything. So check your AV - if it's Norton or McAfee consider switching to AVAST or one of the other free ones we recommend. Your wallet will thank you, your computer will thank you, and we will thank you.

And, a second thought - (Assuming you have at least 256 MB of RAM) Have you kept your SpySweeper up-to-date? Do you have another anti-spyware installed (as we recommend you should always have two - no one anti-spyware is going to grab everything). We'd recommend that you verify that SpySweeper is current and do a full scan. If it finds anything, let it remove what it finds. Also, if you don't have a second anti-spyware installed, install Spybot Search & Destroy (free for personal use from www.safernetworking.org ). Scan you computer with Spybot and let it remove what it finds. Spyware and adware are by far, the biggest cause of computer slowdowns and eventual computer failure.

Also, how much RAM do you have? How old is your computer? If your computer came with let's say 256MB of RAM and it was running well when you got it, think of how much software you've installed since you first fired it up. If you're like most folks, you've put many new programs on it since the day you got it. While 256MB of RAM might have been OK then, it might not be OK now that you've installed more programs. Consider investing in more RAM for you computer We recommend that you install as much as your computer's motherboard will accommodate. One of the best places to buy RAM is called Crucial.com www.crucial.com . Notice we didn't say "cheapest" we said best. Not that Crucial doesn't have good prices it's just that you might find RAM cheaper somewhere else. (We do not receive any commission or remuneration from Crucial - we just happen to like their service and we think you will too.) But you'll find Crucial supplies you with great instructions on exactly how to install RAM (which is very easy so don't go paying the "Geek Squad" $50.00 to do it!). Not only does Crucial ship your RAM to you quickly, the include easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions on how to install the RAM, and they provide an easy way to determine exactly which type of RAM you need and will even tell you how much RAM your computer can handle. All motherboards have a limit on how much RAM you can install. Most modern motherboards will accommodate two to four GB of RAM. You probably don't need two, three or four GB of RAM, but you will really notice a difference if you increase your RAM to 1 GB. And it's not as expensive as you might think. Especially when you install it yourself - and don't shrug and say you can't do it. You can do it. Opening up a computer is not hard - there's no lizards or other biting things inside - we promise!

Finally, if you've been running the same installation Windows XP for more than three years, it might be time for the ultimate user experience - formatting your hard drive and reinstalling Windows XP. Yes, it's big deal because you have to back up all your information - otherwise you're going to lose it. But, nothing runs better than a new computer (especially one that has been formatted and Windows clean installed). If you've been running the same installation of Windows XP for three years or more, it might be time for the big deal. We've covered "reinstalling Windows XP" before, so if you're interested in this option please visit this page.

Speaking of formatting and reinstalling Windows: here's a little tidbit which sort of follows the timeline and evolution of Windows. When we had Windows 95 installed, we figured on formatting every three months (really). Because after three months of use, Windows 95 would either start running poorly or not at all. Windows 98 was better (especially Windows 98 SE). We figured on a format every six months. Windows ME was a waste of time and money. It was, if anything, worse than Windows 98. Windows XP brought huge changes with it. EB formatted once in 4 years. TC formatted about six times in four years, but that's because he's the guinea pig for InfoAve - he installs all the software that gets tested for InfoAve - and sometimes he's just too lazy to install it on the test machine so he puts it on his main machine - which sometimes results in catastrophe. With Windows XP you can figure on about 3 years + of good service before formatting and reinstalling Windows might become the only way to get your computer out of the molasses-mode and back into the lightning mode.


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