Benefits of defragmenting your computer hard drive

Benefits of defragmenting your computer hard drive

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen someone explain the benefits of defragmenting your computer hard drive. I do see a lot of misconceptions out there. I explained defragmenting in my 1999 book, so I’ll explain it again.

Part of the misconception is that things have changed. The tools have changed, yes. But the need hasn’t.

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Optimize Windows 10 for better performance

Optimize Windows 10 for better performance

When I first installed it, I thought it was pretty pointless to try to optimize Windows 10. Of course, I installed it from scratch on a computer with an SSD and 16 gigs of RAM. Then I upgraded a couple of computers from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and I started to see why some people might not like Windows 10 all that much.

Upgraded systems almost always run slow, but I’d forgotten how much slower. And while you didn’t have to do much to Windows 7 to make it fast–that’s one reason people liked it–I find some Windows 10 optimization seems to be necessary.
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Cleaning a PC when fdisk-format-reinstall isn’t an option

There are any number of pie-in-the-sky pundits who will tell you when a computer starts to get slow, to format the hard drive, reinstall Windows, and go on your merry way.

Unfortunately it’s not always realistic. I don’t clean up PCs all that often anymore, but here’s what I do when I need to.

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Microsoft is offering some help in migrating off XP

Since there is no direct upgrade path from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 or even Windows 8, Microsoft has reacted to criticism by licensing a cut-down version of PC Mover and offering it to latter-day XP upgraders for free. It will only migrate three applications for you, but for most people, that’s probably enough.

The good news is that this version of PC Mover works with Windows 7 as well, so if you want to take the strategy of migrating people to $99 off-lease PCs running Windows 7, it will still help.

The linked article above criticized Microsoft for not developing its own migration tool, but that seems a bit harsh. I’ve used PC Mover before, and found it to be a very capable tool. I’d be surprised if Microsoft actually could do much better. And Microsoft has a history of licensing third-party tools anyway: Every disk defragmenter Microsoft has ever shipped was a cut-down version of something written by other companies.

Of course it’s best to rebuild machines from scratch–it will perform much faster that way–but when there’s a must-have program on an old PC and the installation media is long gone, PC Mover is about the only way to recover it and move it on. Most people probably don’t have much more than three programs in that category.

Deconstructing my conversation with “Computer Maintenance Department”

My tell-all about my encounter with “Computer Maintenance Department” was a little heavy on the jargon yesterday. It occurs to me that explaining what some of the terminology means, and the problem with their reasoning, may be helpful. I’ve also heard a few questions through various channels, and I think those are worth answering. Read more

Yes, SSDs are “finally worth the money.”

Slashdot asked today if SSDs are “finally worth the money.”

I’m wondering since when they haven’t been. I’ve been buying SSDs since 2008. And their price has been falling at a rate faster than hard drives did, historically. Read more

Living with a past-its-prime computer

I’m playing catch-up a bit. This weekend, Lifehacker ran a guide about living with a computer that’s past its prime.

I’ve made a career of that. One of my desktop PCs at work (arguably the more important one) is old enough that I ought to be preparing to send it off to second grade. And for a few years I administered a server farm that was in a similar state. They finally started upgrading the hardware as I was walking out the door. (I might have stayed longer if they’d done that sooner.) And at home, I ran with out-of-date computer equipment for about a decade, just this summer buying something current. Buying something current is very nice, but not always practical.

So of course I’ll comment on a few of Lifehacker’s points.

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What I would do to fix Dr. A’s computer

I left my conversation with Dr. A nearly convinced he doesn’t really need a new computer. The local store is pitching him a new $700 Dell Inspiron with a 1 TB hard drive and 6 GB of RAM and a 17-inch screen. But he could upgrade to a 1 TB hard drive for less than $125. If he doesn’t want to switch to Windows 7, his current Windows XP Professional will only use 4 GB of RAM anyway. Upgrading to 4 GB of RAM will cost less than $40. And looking at the new system, I don’t know that its CPU is all that much more powerful than what he already has.

To me, the clincher was this. I asked myself the question whether, if I were offered a machine exactly like his for $200 or $300, would I buy it. And it was an easy answer. I would.

I haven’t done a thorough analysis of the machine, but I’ve seen enough to have an idea what it needs. Much of it will seem familiar, if you’ve been reading me a long time.
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Defrag scareware

This isn’t exactly news, as word has been going around for a couple of weeks, but if you haven’t heard about it elsewhere, there are some fake defragmenters going around.

I heard mention of it today, and it reminded me that I saw one last week when I was working on my mother in law’s computer. This was especially obnoxious, considering that at the time, I was running Firefox and I was visiting a mainstream site.

So there are a couple of things you need to keep in mind.
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