Tag Archives: performance

How Will the Cloud Change Computers?

Kelsey Clark brings her perspective on “The Cloud” in this guest article.

The Cloud is one of the tech world’s most-discussed concepts. Embracing a wide variety of different paradigms, the Cloud is an evolving concept. The basics of what the Cloud means, however, are well established. Here are a few questions people are asking themselves about what the Cloud will mean for computing in the future.

1. Security Changes
With the data stored on remote hard drives and computation being done on remote processors, the Cloud promises to move most security issues to servers. Local security issues will not necessarily lead to data being compromised. However, server security will become even more important; compromising a major Cloud server will potentially lead to thousands or millions of users having their data compromised. Are current security measures enough to prevent hackers from accessing personal data?

2. Privacy
Having all data on a remote site will raises questions about how companies will use this data. Will minor encroachments on privacy be met with customer resistance? Will users tolerate having their data scanned and used for targeted ads? In the tech world, low prices help increase a customer base. Finding the right balance of low cost and sufficient privacy, however, may take some time for the market to determine.

3. Performance
For some types of programs, the Cloud paradigm works well. Whether all programs can be run in a Cloud environment, however, remains an open question. Some envision the future Cloud as a paradigm that takes advantage of local processing power and RAM, but others believe that this eliminates some of the advantages of Cloud computing. Further developments may be necessary to ensure that the Cloud performs as well as users demand.

4. Operating Systems
Some are speculating if the Cloud will remove the importance of having a modern operating system. A browser may be all that is necessary to run important programs, so will users begin to use alternative operating systems more often? Apple’s operating systems currently suffer from their inability to run certain industry-specific programs needed for work, and Linux distributions flourish in the server world but languish on the desktop. Will the Cloud increase these platforms’ presences?

5. Sense of Ownership
Many expect that the Cloud programs of the future will require that users pay a monthly or yearly fee to access the program. In this sense, users do not truly own the program. Studies have shown that people prefer to buy products outright instead of paying for access when necessary. Will this lead consumers to reject the Cloud?

The Cloud is clearly making inroads in the business world. For individuals, however, its impact remains unclear. With a number of programs expected to become available online in the coming years, the tech world may get some indication on how popular the Cloud will be.

Author Byline:

Kelsey is the editor in chief for www.findananny.net/. She loves to write article and ideas that parents & nannies would be interested in hearing. She helps society on giving information about nannies through nanny services. She is a professional writer and loves writing on anything.

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Filed under Cloud Computing, Connected Devices, Guest Writers, Opinion

Windows 8 Satisfies The Need For Speed

imageI’m a speed sensitive kind of guy – when it comes to computing, that is. Late last year, to satisfy my need for speed, I installed a Solid State Drive – running Windows 7 Enterprise – in place of a Western Digital HDD, as a boot drive.

The benefits of running with an SSD were immediately noticeable – faster boot times, faster system shutdown, faster application load times (including games), along with faster sleep and hibernation modes.

In the meantime, Windows 8 Consumer Preview was dropped on my doorstep – and, since there is some degree of SSD optimization built into Windows 8, taking the opportunity to race with this new engine was a natural fit.

It’s been quite a race – Windows 8 is perceptibly faster on my hardware than on the same configuration running Windows 7. Not milliseconds faster – but, measurable faster. Still, there’s little real value in a single user’s Windows 8 running experience. Hardware is a variable – system configurations are variable – usage factors need to be considered, and so on.

So, rather than write a full report on my personal experience running Windows 8, I gave Sandro Villinger from TuneUp Software (the developers of TuneUp Utilities 2012) a buzz to get his take on Windows 8.

Thank goodness for Skype – a planned 15 minute call to Germany turned into a 2 hour conversation – much of it focused on the state of Internet journalism. A conversation so satisfying, that it led me to craft an article on a number of issues raised in conversation, which I’ll post in the next few days.

But, I digress.

As it turns out, Sandro and his team had tested Windows 8 extensively – not just on a single system – but, on a mix of hardware which included Desktops, Laptop/Tablets, and a low powered Intel Atom Netbook.

Sandro has generously shared his extremely comprehensive report with me – which I’ve posted below. If you’ve had any questions regarding Windows 8 performance capabilities, then Sandro’s report is just what you’ve been waiting for.

Enjoy the read.   Smile

A Close Look at Windows 8 Performance: Winners and Losers

Don’t let the shiny new Metro interface of Windows 8 fool you—the new operating system (OS) has been improved not just with a spanking new outfit but also in the performance department. For instance, Microsoft’s future OS needs to work with both high-end PCs as well as small-factor devices like ARM and low-powered Intel tablets, which is why its overall footprint needed to be reduced drastically.

As VentureBeat noted, “Windows 8’s secret feature [is] resurrecting old PCs.” Microsoft promised that Windows 8 would run equally well or better on low-powered machines than Windows 7. This is a bold statement, but the real question is, did the company deliver? In this blog post, we’ll explore that with early benchmarks, showing if and how much Windows 8’s performance compares to Windows 7’s on the very same machines.

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Windows 8 has been optimized from the ground up to work great with low-powered mobile devices. But how fast is it really? Our lab tests will give you the answers.

Our Test Beds: A Broad Range

To get comparable results, we put Windows 8 through a variety of tests on several very differently equipped systems. We used:

  • Two Desktop PCs: We installed the Windows 8 Consumer Preview on both a 2007-era desktop PC (Core 2 Duo, 2.66 GHz) and a recent Alienware gaming rig (Core i7 930, 8 GB RAM).
  • Two Laptops/Tablets: We also tested a low-powered Core i7 1.8 GHz, 4 GB RAM 13” laptop, which includes a 256 GB SSD, as well as an Asus EP121 tablet sporting a Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM and a 64 GB SSD.
  • Netbook: We used a very common Samsung NC10 netbook running a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom and 2 GB of RAM.

We didn’t install any tools on those machines except for the applications that we frequently use for benchmarking. As usual, we performed all tests three times to get a good idea of the results. As usual, we put both OSs through the typical rounds of analyzing boot time, raw processing power and application launch speed. However, since this is a Consumer Preview, we just want to give a quick impression rather than perform a full-blown review—we’ll save that for later!

#1 – Boot Time Performance

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Windows 8 is widely known for booting up extremely quickly. I used a stopwatch to determine how long it took until the desktop under Windows 7 and the new Metro user interface under Windows 8 was visible. The results will blow you away.

On all machines, Windows 8 was able to surpass its predecessor—right out of the gate, the new OS booted much more quickly. Once the final version hits, we’ll go through our usual paces of running Windows Performance Analyzer to determine if and how much background activity during boot was reduced.

#2 – Processes on a Fresh System

Last September, Microsoft boasted about less processes and reduced RAM consumption. Obviously, the less things that are running in the background, the better performance and longer battery life will be, as idle times are much higher. Right after we clean installed both Windows 7 and Windows 8, we compared the usage.

What we found was not necessarily a big achievement, but an achievement nonetheless. We saw a decrease of five processes as well as a drop in RAM usage by about 100 MB. In your day-to-day routine, this won’t be of particular help. What is helpful, however, are the drastically reduced idle activities. On Windows 8, Microsoft managed to reduce overall background activity noticeably—both on the software and on the driver side. By default, the bare OS’s processes and services rarely cause any noticeable spikes.

#3 – Application Start-up Times

Application start-up times give us a good indication of the OS’s ability to pre-load data and quickly manage smaller file chunks. To test this, we “trained” Windows’s own SuperFetch feature by loading Outlook 2010 every morning at exactly 9 a.m. and keeping it running on both the Windows 7 SP1 and the Windows 8 OSs all day long. After a couple of days, Windows had adapted. Then, we were able to use the trusty AppTimer, which automatically launches applications and measures start-up times down to the millisecond.

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Now, how long does it take? We only performed this test on the Core i7 1.8 GHz laptop.

There was a difference in so called “cold” and “warm” startups – cold refers to the first startup of the application right after boot, and warm refers to subsequent launches that are all completely loaded from memory and, thus, faster. The differences were hardly noticeable, but there was a clear trend towards Windows 8 loading applications a tad slower; however, this could be attributed to hard disk controller drivers.

#4 – Office Performance

To test day-to-day performance, we used the dependable PCMark 7 benchmark tool that automatically performs tasks such as website rendering, virus scans, photo manipulation and video editing. It should easily prove how well Windows 8 can handle both CPU and hard disk heavy tasks.

We found mixed results. While Windows 8 achieved quite a leap in performance on the faster machines, the lower-end devices, especially the netbook, actually suffered a bit. This ran noticeably slower during the tests, which was also noticeable during day-to-day usage.

#5 – Gaming Performance

The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. benchmark is a very well established test program designed to measure frames per second in DirectX games. As usual, we performed all tests three times and averaged the results.

The gaming front seems to profit from Windows 8’s reduced memory usage and apparent optimization to DirectX. But, those results should be taken with a grain of salt: Windows 8 installed some more recent beta drivers that were not available for Windows 7 SP1.To compensate for the effect, we downloaded the most recent beta drivers for nVIDIA and Intel onboard graphics. Overall, the netbook suffered a small amount again, while the faster machines gained quite a bit of performance.

#6 – Overall Verdict: Good Improvements, Some Losses

The Windows 8 Consumer Preview runs well on higher-end devices, but we were surprised to see that it lost some performance on lower-end machines—the very exact devices that it’s supposed to run well on. However, I’ll wait for the release candidate to make a final judgment. We may have an odd combination of unfinished drivers and code and bugs that may affect benchmarks (which is exactly why I only used a handful of my tests to get a general feel for new OS’s performance).

Overall, Windows 8 is going in the right direction. However, judging bare operating systems can only reveal so much.We’ll find out how it really works when we’re able to test third-party applications and the Metro-style apps. Do these negatively impact performance over time? We’ll find out in part two of our Windows 8 performance series.

A Close Look at Windows 8 Performance: Winners and Losers (Part 2)

In last week’s blog post, we performed some early performance benchmarks and compared Windows 7 SP1 with the recently released Windows 8 Consumer Preview. While speed improved in some scenarios, other aspects suffered a bit. However, the important thing to remember is, performance doesn’t just depend on the underlying operating system (OS); it also relies on the applications that run constantly in the background.

Third-Party Applications: Still a Problem

I’ve now been productively working with Windows 8 for a couple of weeks! I have been using this OS day in and day out and have installed all of my applications.

While I was surprised by the system’s initial responsiveness, overall speed reduced after installing about 80 programs, which consisted of Skype, Live Messenger, SnagIt and games and office applications. It didn’t slow things down to a crawl, but it introduced quite a bit of lag and noticeably less performance—so I found myself again having to use tools such as TuneUp Program Deactivator, Autoruns, Startup Manager and Windows’ own service tools to turn off certain applications. This isn’t out of the ordinary though. It’s a fact of life, and Microsoft will likely stay away from this department, despite the fact that the company has introduced quite a nice Task-Manager that shows the impact of start-up applications.

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Closed Apps Still Run in the Background

Having worked with Windows 8 on both a desktop and a tablet, in addition to switching between a variety of apps, I noticed a bit of a lag when handling apps. First, switching between apps had a delay of between one second and several seconds. Second, the system slowed down in “classic desktop” mode although no applications were running.

Microsoft promised several times on its Engineering 8 Blog that inactive applications would be frozen and couldn’t consume PC resources. When looking at the multi-tasking switcher on the left, I was proven right. Windows 8 actively held about six apps at a time before apparently closing them. What I found instead, however, annoyed me a bit. The so-called frozen applications remain in the background.

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While only the most critical of those apps were active in the background (Mail, Messaging, Music, etc.), all other apps just sat there consuming memory. Overall, I had about 500 MB worth of apps sitting in memory and not doing a whole lot. That’s not as bad as some browsers, but it’s still not quite as effective as it could be.

Why is this happening? The memory is actually consumed by the frozen state of the app. This means that once an app is closed (which is done by a swiping gesture from the top to the bottom of the screen), it can be resumed instantly. Even though this is a good feature, most users likely aren’t aware that this instant resume may have a detrimental effect on performance—and there are applications that most people only start once, use for 10 minutes and don’t touch again. So why keep those apps =running in the background?

Of course, a restart purges the memory of all app states, but many users go a long time without ever shutting down or restarting their PCs. In fact, Microsoft has designed Windows 8 to be more of an “Always On Standby” experience—they hide the restart and shutdown buttons in the charms menu and encourage users to use their power buttons to go to standby.

Is this really a problem? Well, it all depends on the usage of the user. If you’re just using three or four of your favorite apps, this doesn’t concern you. A hundred MB won’t make a huge difference. If you’re using a wide array of Metro-style apps and switch back to your classic desktop applications, this might affect performance. Having half a gig of apps sitting in memory just waiting for you to start them again is detrimental to performance. I wish apps would actually close if you perform the aforementioned swipe gesture.

Again, it’s very early to talk about these things. Windows 8 is in its Consumer Preview stage, but I am not sure if Microsoft really is considering giving back more control to the user who actually wants it. We’ll keep you up-to-date on this.

Sandro Villinger’s professional background – IT Journalist/Consultant

Managing Editor: Hewlett-Packard HPIO Germany

PR Manager/Technical Consulting: TuneUp Software GmbH

Publications US: IDG ITWorld, HP Input/Output, TuneUp Blog

Publications DE:  ComputerBILD, PC Pr@xis, MS Press, Windows-Tweaks.info

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Filed under Operating Systems, Reports, Software, Windows 8

Benchmark Your Computer’s Performance Capabilities With PerformanceTest

imageIt’s hard to be in IT and avoid being asked for advice on computers – everything from operating systems – (should I be running Windows 7?); malware – (is the Internet really unsafe?); problems – (what’s wrong with my computer? It’s always…..); and maybe my favorite question – do I need a new computer?

If you’re into the “keeping up with the Joneses” rat race, and I must admit it’s hard not to be, given the conspicuous consumer society we live in, the easy answer to this last one is – yes.

But, wouldn’t it be cool if there was a way to really compare your system, and it’s performance capabilities, with the “Joneses”, or anyone else for that matter – and in the process, answer that nagging “do I need a new computer” question? Well, there is.

You can benchmark your machine using the evaluation version of PerformanceTest – a menu driven benchmarking tool made up of six test suites (twenty-eight standard benchmarking tests), with an additional seven advanced tests available.

Following completion of the benchmarking tests, you will have the opportunity to compare your system’s results against similarly equipped machines, and more.

The version tested here, was the fully functional 30 day trial version.

The user interface is made up of the familiar tabbed based system – simple and easy to follow.

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The following screen capture illustrates partial completion of the 2D graphics test.

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The following screen capture illustrates a partial view of the System Summary screen.

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Following completion of the benchmarking tests, your machine will be assigned a performance rating which you can then use to compare your systems performance against similarly equipped machines. In fact, any machine.

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A list of suggested baselines are illustrated in the following screen shot.

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You are not restricted to only the suggested baselines. Additional, more specific baselines, are available by selected criteria.

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The developer’s site offers a range of additional charts and graphs   CPUs, Video Cards, Hard Drives, etc.

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Fast facts:

Find out if your PC is performing at its best.

Compare the performance of your machine to similar machines.

Measure the effect of configuration changes and upgrades.

Avoid paying big bucks for poor performance.

Make objective independent measurements on which to base your purchasing decision.

Since this application can be run directly from a USB drive you could use it to benchmark a new system you are considering purchasing – if the vendor was onboard with that. Sort of like kicking the tires on a new car.

System requirements: Windows XP, 2003 Server, Vista, 2008 Server and Windows 7. Available for both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

Download the 30 day evaluation version at: Passmark.com

Note: To continue using the application past the evaluation period it can be purchased from the developer’s site for US$24.00.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Audit Applications, Computer Tools, Diagnostic Software, downloads, Portable Applications, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tune Up Your PC With WinUtilities Free Edition 9.94

imageUsing WinUtilities free edition (last updated November 30, 2010), you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and, its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users. With more than 20 system utilities built into this all-in-one application, WinUtilities takes convenience to a new level.

The intuitive GUI makes it a simple process finding the tool you’re looking for. Or, you can make it easy on yourself; skip the single tool usage, and employ the one click maintenance solution. If you’re more of a laid back user, then use the built in task scheduler to perform routine maintenance automatically.

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Fast facts:

Disk Defrag: Defragment your disks and improve computer performance and stability
File Undelete: Recovers deleted files on NTFS and FAT volumes.
Disk Cleaner: Cleans disks from information that clogs your system and reduces the performance of your computer.
Registry Cleaner: Scans the Windows registry and finds incorrect or obsolete information in the Windows Registry.
Startup Cleaner: Helps you to easily manage program execution at windows startup.
History Cleaner: Erases all traces of activity on your computer, save spaces and protect your privacy.
File Splitter: Splits any type of file into smaller pieces and rejoin them to the original file.
File Shredder: Erases files and make sure that no data thief can get his hands on your sensitive data.
EXE Protector: Protects any Windows executable file with a secure password.
Memory Optimizer: Optimizes the Memory Management of Windows. No special configuration is needed, Memory Optimizer will auto configure itself.
Duplicate Files Finder: Helps you to free disk space by finding and removing duplicate files from your system.
Shortcuts Fixer: Provides you with an easy way to address the invalid shortcuts and reports back to you so that you can remove it from your system.
Process Manager: Allows you to check your system’s performance and manage the running processes.
Uninstall Manager: Manages the programs installed on your system and uninstall unneeded software.
System Information: Shows you the detailed information for your computer hardware and software.
Registry Backup&Restore: Back up and restore the Windows Registry.
Registry Search: Searchs the Windows Registry by a specific wildcard. then you can delete or export them.
BHO Remover: Manages the BHOs that are currently installed.
Auto Shutdown: Schedules your computer for log off, stand by, hibernate, or shutdown at a specific time.
Windows Tools: Provides you an easy way to launch the utilities build in Windows.
System Control: Organizes and manage your Windows Settings
Task Scheduler: Configures the cleaning tasks that take place automatically.

As you can see from the Fast Facts, WinUtilities is an extremely inclusive and powerful utility. In a short review like this it’s not possible to discuss all of the features of this application so, to give you some idea of what can be accomplished running this application, here’s a few screen shot examples. Clicking on any screen capture will expand it to its original size.

Running the disk cleaner under Clean Up and Repair …

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found 23 additional junk files not cleaned by CCleaner, which I ran just before testing WinUtilities clean up capabilities.

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Running the Registry Cleaner produced the following – 364 errors not found by CCleaner.

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Because I’m a “just in case” kind of guy, I created a restore point automatically before executing the “clean” command.

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One of the built-in tools, found under the application’s Privacy and Security tab, provides a security rating on both running processes and services. This tool is a real bonus for security conscious users.

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A sub categories found under the application’s System Tools tab, System Control, will allow you to fine tune a number of system areas that are difficult to locate – especially for average users.

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System requirements: Windows 7, 2000, XP, Vista, 2003 Server.  32/64bit versions.

Download at: Download.com

Note: It seems as if ALL free applications now include the option to install the Ask Toolbar, as well as other Ask services, so pay particular attention to the End User License screen when installing this application.

We’ve often talked about older machines here, and this application is perfect to rehabilitate an older computer when one considers the minimum running requirements:

Graphics mode 1024×768 with 32-bit color
30 MB or more free hard disk space
Intel Pentium 3/4 or AMD Athlon processor with 500 or above MHz
128 MB RAM or more

If you’re looking for a free Windows maintenance solution that’s very easy to use, I think you’d be hard pressed to find an application that would outperform WinUtilities free edition.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an even more inclusive fee based solution then TuneUp Utilities 2011 is the application you need. Currently, we’re running a free license giveaway contest here. Checkout – TuneUp Utilities 2011 – Five License Giveaway! and get your entry in.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Duplicate File Finders, Freeware, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, New Computer User Software Tools, Registry Cleaners, Software, System Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Optimize Your Hard Drive/s With Free Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1

A  quick recap of disk fragmentation:

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Despite the fact that their is some disagreement as to the value of defragging modern Hard Drives, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Seven million downloads of Auslogics Disk Defrag from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application, and to the popularity of defragging.

The application (last updated October, 2010), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and best of all, it’s free.

Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can be run on a  “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – but they’ll get to it – eventually. But they don’t have to – Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can do it for them on a continuous basis.

The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen. The following graphics illustrate just how easy it is to get Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1 up and running.

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Fast facts:

Optimizes file system

Disk Defrag will speed up your computer by moving system files to the fastest part of the disk. It will also move data files from the MFT Reserved Zone to prevent MFT fragmentation.

Consolidates free space

In addition to defragmenting your files, Disk Defrag can defragment free disk space. The free space is merged into a large contiguous block, which is an effective way of preventing file fragmentation.

Can defrag automatically

This feature ensures that file fragmentation is eliminated as soon as it occurs. You can set Disk Defrag to run automatically when your system goes idle. The program will analyze the disks and defragment them in the background if required.

Provides flexible scheduler

Defragmentation yields better results when it is performed on a regular basis. Disk Defrag is supplied with a flexible scheduler that will help you to schedule defragmentation according to your needs.

Can defrag a single file or folder

Have no time for defragmenting the entire hard drive? With Disk Defrag you can defragment a single file, several files or a folder.

Supports multi-terabyte volumes

Disk Defrag is supplied with a powerful engine that can easily defragment large multi-terabyte volumes. It can also defragment several drives at once, which makes the defragmentation process a lot faster.

Compact & Fast

Smart defragmentation algorithms allow Disk Defrag to run much faster than similar defragmenters and consume less system resources.

Before you begin the defrag process, I suggest that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista/XP/2000/2003, 32-bit and 64-bit and dual-core CPU supported.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Defrag Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Tools, Slow Computer, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

WinUtilities Free Edition Maintains And Optimizes Your PC

imageUsing WinUtilities free edition (last updated September 26, 2010), you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and, its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users. With more than 20 system utilities built into this all-in-one application, WinUtilities takes convenience to a new level.

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The intuitive GUI makes it a simple process finding the tool you’re looking for. Or, you can make it easy on yourself; skip the single tool usage, and employ the one click maintenance solution. If you’re more of a laid back user, then use the built in task scheduler to perform routine maintenance automatically.

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Built-in Modules:

Disk Defrag: Defragment your disks and improve computer performance and stability
File Undelete: Recovers deleted files on NTFS and FAT volumes.
Disk Cleaner: Cleans disks from information that clogs your system and reduces the performance of your computer.
Registry Cleaner: Scans the Windows registry and finds incorrect or obsolete information in the Windows Registry.
Startup Cleaner: Helps you to easily manage program execution at windows startup.
History Cleaner: Erases all traces of activity on your computer, save spaces and protect your privacy.
File Splitter: Splits any type of file into smaller pieces and rejoin them to the original file.
File Shredder: Erases files and make sure that no data thief can get his hands on your sensitive data.
EXE Protector: Protects any Windows executable file with a secure password.
Memory Optimizer: Optimizes the Memory Management of Windows. No special configuration is needed, Memory Optimizer will auto configure itself.
Duplicate Files Finder: Helps you to free disk space by finding and removing duplicate files from your system.
Shortcuts Fixer: Provides you with an easy way to address the invalid shortcuts and reports back to you so that you can remove it from your system.
Process Manager: Allows you to check your system’s performance and manage the running processes.
Uninstall Manager: Manages the programs installed on your system and uninstall unneeded software.
System Information: Shows you the detailed information for your computer hardware and software.
Registry Backup&Restore: Back up and restore the Windows Registry.
Registry Search: Searchs the Windows Registry by a specific wildcard. then you can delete or export them.
BHO Remover: Manages the BHOs that are currently installed.
Auto Shutdown: Schedules your computer for log off, stand by, hibernate, or shutdown at a specific time.
Windows Tools: Provides you an easy way to launch the utilities build in Windows.
System Control: Organizes and manage your Windows Settings
Task Scheduler: Configures the cleaning tasks that take place automatically.

System requirements: Windows 7, 2000, XP, Vista, 2003 Server.  32/64bit versions.

Download at: Download.com

Note: It seems as if ALL free applications now include the option to install the Ask Toolbar, as well as other Ask services, so pay particular attention to the End User License screen when installing this application.

We’ve often talked about older machines here, and this application is perfect to rehabilitate an older computer when one considers the minimum running requirements:

Graphics mode 1024×768 with 32-bit color
30 MB or more free hard disk space
Intel Pentium 3/4 or AMD Athlon processor with 500 or above MHz
128 MB RAM or more

Similar free applications include:

Glary Utilities

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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Filed under Windows Tips and Tools

How’s Your Hard Drive? – Check It Out With These Free HD Tools

Hard Drive DiagAll modern Hard Drives are equipped with a feature known as S.M.A.R.T. that provides real-time analysis and the reporting of any developing problems and potential issues. The big question is: can you read the warnings?

The following free application can take the guesswork out of the equation, and make it easier to diagnose what’s really occurring inside the complex environment of the Hard Drive.

Ariolic Disk Scanner

Disk Scanner is a tiny freeware utility to check the hard drive for read errors. Sometimes, you may notice, that some files on the disk cannot be read. This may happen for several reasons, but the most important one is the hard drive degradation, that may be the first typical sign of the disk failure.

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Fast facts:

Read-only test of hard drive volumes for read errors

Scan hard disk, flash drives, USB hard drives, CD/DVD, floppy

Disk Scanner does not require a setup – it’s portable. Run it directly from CD or a Flash drive

See the check result at a glance

Works with hard drives, flash disks, CD, floppy

Simple user interface

Download at: Ariolic Software

Hard Drive diagnostic software is offered free from all the major Hard Drive manufacturers. Check out their sites.

Western Digital Support

Samsung

Seagate

Please note that since Seagate purchased Maxtor, the download sites are identical.

Maxtor

Hard Drive Maintenance: Repair, Defrag and Disk Cleanup Tools

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Hard Disk fragmentation makes the disk drive heads move more than necessary when reading files which can degrade performance over time, and can lead to system slowdowns, computer crashes, slow startups and shutdowns.

Auslogics Disk Defrag

The program (updated August 10, 2010 ), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and it’s free.

In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.

auslogics_disk_defrag

Fast facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in minutes

Disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

Download at: Download.com

CCleaner

Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner (updated September 27, 2010), can optimize systems by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.

ccleaner2

Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Glary Utilities

Using Glary Utilities, you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

You can quickly find the tool you’re looking for: disk cleaner, uninstall manager, secure file deletion, memory optimizer, (a gentle) registry cleaner, duplicate file finder, tracks eraser, and empty folder finder.

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Fast Facts:

Disk Cleaner Removes junk data from your disks and recovers disk space

Registry Cleaner scans and cleans your registry to improve your system’s performance

Shortcuts Fixer eliminates the errors in your start menu & desktop shortcuts

Startup Manager manages programs which run automatically on startup

Memory Optimizer monitors and optimizes free memory in the background

Tracks Eraser erases all traces, evidence, cookies, internet history and more

File Shredder erases files permanently

Internet Explorer Assistant manages Internet Explorer Add-ons

Disk Analysis provides detailed information files and folders

Duplicate Files Finder searches for space-wasting duplicate files

Empty Folders Finder removes empty folders (I love this feature)

Uninstall Manager completely uninstall programs

Download at: Download.com

A portable version is also available which you can download at GlarySoft.

Disk Heal

Disk Heal is a free Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista utility that may be able to restore the condition of your Hard Drive, or a USB Flash Drive.

This application is a very useful tool that has a host of additional capabilities, including recovering hidden files and performing system tweaks; all can be accessed with just one click.

disk heal

Fast facts:

Fixes disk problems

Fixes task manager inaccessibility

Fixes folder options inaccessibility

Fixes registry editor inaccessibility

Recovers hidden files and folders

Changes the default icon of any drive, external, internal, or a partition

Security and system tweaks

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Hard Drive Tools, Portable Applications, Software, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools