Tag Archives: tune-up

Fact or Fiction? Busting Common PC Optimization Myths

Guest writer Tibor Schiemann, President and Managing Partner of TuneUp, the developer’s of TuneUp Utilities, shines a light on some commonly held computer tune up myths. Checkout which ones you believed.

image People are often looking for ways to improve their PCs’ performance or speed, but not all of the tips out there really work. In fact, some are outright wrong and can even slow down your system. Let’s go through some of the most popular, enduring myths.

Windows Prefetch folders:

The Prefetch folder memorizes the data a program needs when it starts, so that your system can easily get this data and load the program more quickly. There’s a theory lurking around that deleting this data saves memory. But the truth is, this forces the PC to search for the information it needs every time you want that program to start, causing it to actually slow down.

Some people believe that Windows automatically loads Prefetch information for all of the programs you’ve ever started on your computer into memory, filling your RAM with unused data.

But this isn’t true. You don’t need to delete this folder because, contrary to popular belief, if you don’t run a program, Windows does not access the Prefetch information. And what’s more, Windows only maintains a maximum of 128 entries in the Prefetch folder and automatically cleans itself.

In fact, TuneUp has even tested this. We looked at the boot-up performance, as well as the load times, of the three, most used applications—Outlook 2007, Windows Media Center, and Internet Explorer 8—on a particular PC, before and after cleaning out the Prefetch folder. We actually found a noticeable slowdown after removing the Prefetch contents.

The “Dr. Watson” program:

“Dr. Watson” is a debugging tool for applications. If a program crashes, “Dr. Watson” jumps in, collects data and, if you choose to do so, manually transfers this data to support personnel to diagnose the problem. The data is stored in a file and can be immediately sent to Microsoft. There is a rumor that “Dr. Watson” slows down your computer.

But based on a productivity benchmark we conducted with PCMark Vantage, we found that there weren’t any noticeable differences, regardless of whether “Dr. Watson” was enabled or not. “Dr. Watson” doesn’t affect performance in Windows XP, and it’s not even a factor if you’re using Vista or 7, as it doesn’t even exist in these newer Windows versions.

“Secret” CPU settings:

There’s another myth circulating in the Windows community that a “secret” CPU setting can improve boot-up time. The rumor claims that Windows Vista and Windows 7 only use a single processor core during the boot-up process. Yet almost all of the machines built today have at least two, four, and sometimes even six processor cores. So, it may make sense to think that, by enabling the other cores, you can speed up the boot-up time.

However, TuneUp tried to enable the other cores on three different machines and didn’t find any difference among the PCs’ boot-up times, even when we just used one core. Your best bet is to leave this setting alone. We found out that sometimes modifying this setting may actually cause a user’s machine to crash, and instead advise that you stay as far away from this “tweak” as you can.

People are always looking for ways to optimize their PCs and are sometimes susceptible to schemes that sound good initially, but can actually harm their machines. TuneUp will continue to look into credible ways to enhance PC performance and let you know what works best. To keep up with our tips, check out our blog.

Note: I posted a full review of  TuneUp Utilities 2010 here on Tech Thoughts, in October 2009, in which I said:

TuneUp Utilities 2010 is one of the very few commercial applications that I have, or would recommend. Despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of free software, there are times when only a commercial application will meet all of my needs in one interface.

This program is overwhelmingly inclusive, and provides virtually every tool and applet, that a computer user is ever likely to need.

You can read the full review here. Alternatively, you can download a fully functional 30 day trial version Of TuneUp Utilities here.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, downloads, Guest Writers, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Get to Know Your Computer! – Get Free Belarc Advisor

belarc2.jpgIn order to effectively maintain your computer and proactively deal with problems that may occur, it is essential that you have as much information about your system as possible.

If you need help from a computer support group, from a tech support line, or from a computer knowledgeable friend, you will need to provide specific and accurate details of your computer. Without these details, it can be very difficult for even the most knowledgeable computer tech to be time efficient. 

So it is important for you to create a detailed profile of your computer system before problems occur, and retain a printed copy of the report. Generally, creating such a profile can be very time intensive. But all is not lost! 

Belarc Advisor is a program that automatically generates a detailed report of the hardware and software on your computer. It records essential information such as, operating system and processor details, the amount of RAM installed, and drive specifications.

The report also includes a comprehensive list of the software installed on your system, as well as software license numbers and product keys.  In addition, it lists the status of the Microsoft hotfixes on your system.  If any hotfixes need reinstalling, you will be advised of this.

Critically important is the category in which your computer is given a security rating based on the Center for Internet Security (CIS) benchmark test which involves testing for: System Security Status, Virus Protection, and Microsoft Security Updates. 

The results are displayed in a formatted HTML report. The report is clearly formatted for ease of understanding and divided into appropriate categories. Hyperlinks within the report allow you to quickly navigate to different parts of the document, find out more about a particular hotfix entry, or see where a listed software product is installed. 

I have been using this program for 5+ years and find it invaluable for troubleshooting and diagnostics. 

Belarc Advisor is free for personal use. 

Operating Systems: Windows Vista, 2003, XP, 2000, NT 4, Me, 98, and 95. 

Browser Requirements: Internet Explorer, Netscape Opera, Mozilla, and Firefox. 

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under Diagnostic Software, Freeware, Security Rating Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools