Tag Archives: Slow Computer

Softpedia’s Unlimited Giveaway for System Mechanic 10.5 – Today ONLY

System Mechanic (normally $49.95) can be had, today only, for FREE, over at Softpedia. A big “Thank You” to regular reader Charlie L., for one more super heads up.

System Mechanic is a highly effective performance-tuning application designed for the average user.  System Mechanic is the most inclusive system application I have ever tested. And, the developers have managed to do this in such a way, that an average user does not have to drill down through complex menu structures to correct performance issues that negatively impact his computing experience.

You can read a full, hands on review of System Mechanic 10, originally posted here October 29, 2010.

System Mechanic 10 – A One Click Computer Maintenance Solution

imageIt’s difficult 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 my favorite question – why is my computer so slow?

Usually, the “why is my computer so slow?” question, comes up because the user is fed up with slow, and unreliable performance. Surprisingly, the answer to this common question is pretty simple, and in most cases the problems are easy to correct.

As most experienced users know, PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable issues. Simple maintenance, practiced regularly, which is easy even for a non-expert, if he’s using the right tools, will keep a PC running smoothly for years.

Regular readers here are use to reading reviews on free, quality applications, that help users identify the most common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

That works very well for the kind of readers that this site attracts – generally high end power users, or users who are intend on learning. But, for an average computer user, putting together a toolbox of free system applications may not be a complete and effective solution.

And that brings me to System Mechanic – a highly effective performance-tuning application designed for the average user.  System Mechanic is the most inclusive system application I have ever tested. And, the developers have managed to do this in such a way, that an average user does not have to drill down through complex menu structures to correct performance issues that negatively impact his computing experience.

System Mechanic can uncover literally hundreds of issues that can impact a computer’s performance and reliability, and then correct identified problems – often, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run System Mechanic for the first time. On launch you will be presented with the following screen. You’ll notice that you won’t be left on your own to figure things out – System Mechanic has some great tutorials, including videos, to get you started.

(All screen shots are taken from my test machine – clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

image

First up is a System Analysis – available in two flavors: Quick Analysis, or Deep Analysis.

image

image

In this test,  the Quick Analysis took under a minute on my Windows 7 machine, and the Deep Analysis took less than 4 minutes on the same machine.

image

The application provides a breakdown of the issues that need to be addressed, and offers an automated solution.

image

Having corrected the 7 issues affecting overall performance on the test platform I then kicked in to “Active Care” mode, so that the program could automatically deal with additional issues that would, over time, negatively impact performance.

image

(partial list only)

Tool, tools, and more tools; each one designed to address specific system issues, are a strong point of System Mechanic – as the following screen capture illustrates.

image

For power users, each tool is broken down into sub- categories, giving the user fine control over relative issues.

image

Two weeks after installing System Mechanic on a test system that gets a very heavy duty workout on a daily basis, System Status remains “Good”.  Given the grind that this machine is put through every day, this is a very impressive result.

image

Fast facts:

ActiveCare – automatically and effortlessly fixes and maintains your PC during idle time, keeping your system running like new.

Optimize your PC for peak performance

Repair problems and errors, and prevent them from recurring

Clean up system clutter

Fix security vulnerabilities

Maintain reliability and speed

Cleans, defrags, & repairs registry

Accelerates PC startup 19 ways

Defrags & recovers orphaned RAM

Defrag

Complete low-level drive defrag

Turns off unused background programs

Perform dozens of performance boosting optimizations in one step

Straightforward actions to fix all problems or only those you want

PC Health Status Gadget for Windows 7 and Vista

For additional specific information please go to Softpedia.

System requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 or 32-bit).

Download a trial version at: The developer’s site – (Iolo).

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 downloads, Free Full Versions, Giveaways, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Tackle One of the Top PC Performance Killers: Low Disk Space

In this article, guest writer Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner of software developer TuneUp, (the TuneUp Utilities 2011 folks), takes the mystery out of why low disk space can slow your computer to a crawl.

imageNo matter how fast your PC is, low disk space can slow any computer down, especially newer ones with fast, solid-state drives (SSDs). In fact, low disk space is typically the #1 reason for a sluggish machine, and one that is even overlooked by IT pros. In order to tackle this issue, it’s first important to understand why low disk space significantly slows down programs, affects SSD drives, increases load times and causes dozens of error messages.

Windows and most third-party programs need disk space to breath. Windows, for example, needs space for its paging file, which extends a PC’s physical memory (RAM) in case it runs out. When there is low disk space, the paging file can’t grow when required and impacts PC performance. Low disk space can also reduce SSDs’ speed, as it requires these flash-based disks to read single data cells into memory before writing new data. This will even crash read/write performance.

Depending on its demand, the paging file dynamically increases and decreases in size. Imagine if your PC’s disk space were to fall below the 500 to 1000 MB limit. Once the paging file tries to increase and hits the disk space limit, you can expect terrible performance, and your system will most likely crash.

Windows isn’t the only system depending on at least a couple GB of free disk space; many applications create files to store data temporarily. PhotoShop, for example, is known to create a “scratch disk” when running. This disk has a dynamic size ranging from a couple of hundred MBs to several GBs. Expect PhotoShop, or any other application for that matter, to run poorly or not at all once this temporary file takes up the rest of your hard disk limit.

Unfortunately, this problem persists on modern machines as well. Take a netbook, a low-budget notebook or even a high-end machine with an SSD drive. Your music libraries or even stored photos might just be enough to hit the limit quickly—add the regular size of a typical Windows installation (20 GB) and applications, and you’re working at the limit of their disk’s capacity.

Of course, I wanted to test this theory to make sure that low disk space is, in fact, a serious performance threat. For the tests, I used an Intel Penryn C2D with 3 GHz, 4 GB of RAM and an SSD. In order to run low on disk space, I simply duplicated a couple of files that were several hundred MB until I hit the disk space limit.

Surprisingly, once my disk space sank below the dangerous 100 MB mark, the PC didn’t suffer. This is probably due to the fact that both my RAM and the default paging file compensated for the current memory need. However, things got shaky once I started to work more heavily. Programs and applications suddenly wouldn’t start, and those I was currently running didn’t react. For example, iTunes didn’t respond to any clicks—it froze yet kept playing music in the background.

And the PC’s performance continued to take a turn for the worse when I maxed out disk space. The boot procedure took more than twice as long, according to XPerf from MicrosoftsWindowsPerformanceToolkit. Since many of my regular programs refused to launch, I couldn’t benchmark the start-up times for many applications. After trying Outlook, PhotoShop, Indesign and even Live Messenger, I was finally able to get Internet Explorer 9 to launch. But, time basically stood still the moment I clicked on the web browser icon—nothing happened. After about 13 seconds, the web browser appeared on the screen and started to load a website, and that was all I could do—the system was unusable.

Given my test results, low disk space is certainly a performance killer. Luckily, there are several tips to follow that can help you quickly rescue your system from low disk space. First, TuneUpUtilities 2011’s Gain Disk Space feature can be used to remove unnecessary files and old backups, while TuneUp Disk Space Explorer can help you find huge data hogs. It’s also helpful to do some routine maintenance and use Microsoft’s Windows Disk Cleanup tool. Additionally, uninstall unnecessary Windows features and remove large programs that you no longer need to free up your machine’s disk space. This “FiveWaystoGetRidofDataClutter” blog post provides step-by-step instructions on how to implement these tips.

It’s important to keep a close eye on the amount of free disk space your computer has. When disk space starts running low, make sure to take the necessary steps to improve performance and get your machine back up and running again in no time.

For additional tips and tricks on maintaining PC performance, I invite you to visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows (http://blog.tuneup.com).

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 Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Guest Writers, Hard Drive Maintenance, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, Software, System Memory Management, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

System Mechanic 10 – A One Click Computer Maintenance Solution

imageIt’s difficult 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 my favorite question – why is my computer so slow?

Usually, the “why is my computer so slow?” question, comes up because the user is fed up with slow, and unreliable performance. Surprisingly, the answer to this common question is pretty simple, and in most cases the problems are easy to correct.

As most experienced users know, PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable issues. Simple maintenance, practiced regularly, which is easy even for a non-expert, if he’s using the right tools, will keep a PC running smoothly for years.

Regular readers here are use to reading reviews on free, quality applications, that help users identify the most common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

That works very well for the kind of readers that this site attracts – generally high end power users, or users who are intend on learning. But, for an average computer user, putting together a toolbox of free system applications may not be a complete and effective solution.

And that brings me to System Mechanic – a highly effective performance-tuning application designed for the average user.  System Mechanic is the most inclusive system application I have ever tested. And, the developers have managed to do this in such a way, that an average user does not have to drill down through complex menu structures to correct performance issues that negatively impact his computing experience.

System Mechanic can uncover literally hundreds of issues that can impact a computer’s performance and reliability, and then correct identified problems – often, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run System Mechanic for the first time. On launch you will be presented with the following screen. You’ll notice that you won’t be left on your own to figure things out – System Mechanic has some great tutorials, including videos, to get you started.

(All screen shots are taken from my test machine – clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size).

image

First up is a System Analysis – available in two flavors: Quick Analysis, or Deep Analysis.

image

image

In this test,  the Quick Analysis took under a minute on my Windows 7 machine, and the Deep Analysis took less than 4 minutes on the same machine.

image

The application provides a breakdown of the issues that need to be addressed, and offers an automated solution.

image

Having corrected the 7 issues affecting overall performance on the test platform I then kicked in to “Active Care” mode, so that the program could automatically deal with additional issues that would, over time, negatively impact performance.

image

(partial list only)

Tool, tools, and more tools; each one designed to address specific system issues, are a strong point of System Mechanic – as the following screen capture illustrates.

image

For power users, each tool is broken down into sub- categories, giving the user fine control over relative issues.

image

Two weeks after installing System Mechanic on a test system that gets a very heavy duty workout on a daily basis, System Status remains “Good”.  Given the grind that this machine is put through every day, this is a very impressive result.

image

Fast facts:

ActiveCare – automatically and effortlessly fixes and maintains your PC during idle time, keeping your system running like new.

Optimize your PC for peak performance

Repair problems and errors, and prevent them from recurring

Clean up system clutter

Fix security vulnerabilities

Maintain reliability and speed

Cleans, defrags, & repairs registry

Accelerates PC startup 19 ways

Defrags & recovers orphaned RAM

Defrag

Complete low-level drive defrag

Turns off unused background programs

Perform dozens of performance boosting optimizations in one step

Straightforward actions to fix all problems or only those you want

PC Health Status Gadget for Windows 7 and Vista

For additional specific information please click on links to the developer’s site.

Individual Tools

Such as Startup Optimizer™ and EnergyBooster™ for users who want total control.

All-in-one Tools

Such as PC Accelerator™ that supercharges your PC up to 300% by running multiple performance-enhancing and speed boosting tools at once.


Patent-pending 

ActiveCare®

Automatically and effortlessly fix and maintain your PC during idle time, keeping your system running like new.

If you’re an average user, disappointed with your computer’s performance, or you’re just tired of having to deal with reoccurring unexplained issues, you’ll find that System Mechanic is worth every penny of its $39.95 purchase price.

BTW, a  single product license allows installation of the application on all of your personal PCs. Since many of us now have more than one computer, hopefully, more software vendors will follow Iolo’s innovative pricing structure.

System requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 or 32-bit).

Download a trial version at: The developer’s site – (Iolo).

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 64 Bit Software, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

System Mechanic – A One Stop Pit Stop for Computer Maintenance

Life is full of the inevitable – that’s just the way it is. One such inevitable occurrence is – a computer running a Windows based operating system will slow down over time.

Most Windows users, at one time or another, will be faced with this common occurrence – a misbehaving machine which is no longer the speed demon it once was; slow to start up, and operating at less than maximum efficiency.

The net result? Let me give you a couple of quotes from a recent study published by the Customer Experience Board

“The reality is that numerous, persistent problems are troubling most computer users, creating unnecessary anguish and anxiety as a result.”

“Digitally dependent users are getting fed up and frustrated with the current state of computer related stress, and clearly looking for a better way to address and reduce it.”

But, let’s face facts; PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable, issues.

The key is – proper maintenance. Proper maintenance, practiced regularly, can keep a Windows based PC running smoothly, and at peak performance, for years.

Part of what we do here regularly is: we seek out free, quality applications, that help users identify the most common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

So does this type of approach work for an average user? Not according to my friends, it doesn’t. Most of my computing friends, who are typical users, do not read my articles.

The most common reasons I hear are “it’s just too complicated”, “even the free tools you recommend are hard for me to understand”, “I don’t have the time, or the patience, to follow your advice”, and more.

So what have I taken away from this? I’ve come to the conclusion, that in today’s more complex computing age, most average users, like my friends, do not have the skill set required to drill down through complex structures to correct performance issues that negatively impact their computing experience.

Not surprisingly then, most typical users that I meet, including my friends, run computers that underperform in virtually all areas. They could get so much more out of their system, if they only knew how. And that brings me to System Mechanic.

System Mechanic is an overwhelmingly inclusive application that encompasses virtually every tool, and applet, that a computer user is ever likely to need to maintain and tweak a machine.

I kid you not when I tell you System Mechanic has the ability to carry out literally hundreds of tests that have the ability to uncover virtually every possible issue affecting a PC’s performance, and reliability.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run System Mechanic for the first time. On launch you will be presented with the following screen.

(All screen shots are taken from my test machines).

System analysis is extremely fast. The Quick Analysis took under a minute on my Windows 7 machine, and the Deep Analysis took less than 6 minutes on the same machine.

System Mechanic 4

System Mechanic 5

The following screen partially represents the results of a Deep Analysis

System Mechanic 6

Tool, tools, and more tools; each one designed to address specific system issues, are a strong point of System Mechanic – as the following screen capture illustrates.

Additionally, each tool is broken down into sub- categories, giving the user fine control over relative issues. This option is more for power users, in my view.

System Mechanic 7

System Mechanic 8

Fast facts:

ActiveCare – automatically and effortlessly fixes and maintains your PC during idle time, keeping your system running like new.

Optimize your PC for peak performance

Repair problems and errors, and prevent them from recurring

Clean up system clutter

Fix security vulnerabilities

Maintain reliability and speed

Cleans, defrags, & repairs registry

Accelerates PC startup 19 ways

Defrags & recovers orphaned RAM

Defrag

Complete low-level drive defrag

Turns off unused background programs

Perform dozens of performance boosting optimizations in one step

Straightforward actions to fix all problems or only those you want

PC Health Status Gadget for Windows 7 and Vista

Fix:

  • Registry errors and fragmentation
  • Unnecessary startup programs
  • Dangerous startup programs
  • Hard drive errors and fragmentation
  • Excessive system clutter
  • Broken shortcuts
  • Unoptimized internet speed settings
  • Security vulnerabilities
  • Antivirus and firewall issues
  • Old or missing registry backups

Conclusion: I have to admit I was astonished by the inclusiveness of this application. If an issue exists that System Mechanic does not have a tool for (either automatic, or manual), I’d be very surprised, and I looked – hard!

Despite the fact I keep my test machines well tuned (not quite as well as my principal machine, though), the two machines I tested System Mechanic on, ran noticeable faster after System Mechanic had its way with them.

If you’re an average user, disappointed with your computer’s performance, or you’re just tired of having to deal with reoccurring unexplained issues, System Mechanic is worth every penny of its $39.95 purchase price.

BTW, one copy of System Mechanic can be installed on up to three machines.

System requirements: Windows 7/Vista/XP (64 or 32-bit).

Download a trial version at: The developer’s site – (Iolo).

Update – May 9, 2010: Reader, Mike, has advised me this morning, Iolo currently has a limited time special offer – both System Mechanic and Search and Recover (combined value $90), for $39.95. For access to this special offer go here.

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 Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, downloads, Hard Drive Tools, Registry Cleaners, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Auslogics Disk Defrag – The Best Free Defragger

To paraphrase Shakespeare “To defrag or not to defrag; that is the question”. You wouldn’t think that defragging a hard drive would be an issue which is open to much discussion; but it is.

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.

A fairly common point of view holds that defragging a hard drive is pointless and provides no measurable increase in system performance.

One example of this type of thinking taken from a forum I visit frequently is as follows: “Disk cleanup is pretty useless, and defragging should only really be done if you recently moved around very large files on your hard disk”. This point of view has some support in the tech community.

On the other hand there is also considerable support for the following point of view: “Disk fragmentation leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startups and shutdowns”.

So which point of view then is more likely to be accurate given that hard disk fragmentation makes the disk drive heads move more than necessary when reading files which leads to reduced performance in file input and output?

Despite the fact that it is difficult, if not impossible, to measure an increase in system performance following hard drive defragmentation, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Personally, I defrag with Auslogics Disk Defrag a free disk defragger from Auslogics Software on a weekly basis. The program 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.

Before you begin a defrag process it’s important to 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 might consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use.

Quick 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

 

 

Two million downloads of this application from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application.

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

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Disk Cleaners, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools