Hugsies Blog!

December 9, 2011

Keeping your PC running smooth

Filed under: Gaming!, Second Life Shit!, There.com — Tags: , , , , — Hugsie @ 6:37 am

I’ve been doing tech support off and on for over a decade, and the majority of issues I run into is simple neglect. It isn’t necessarily about how some users are still using the same PC for the past 5+ years and assume their PC is just to old it can’t run Second Life, World of Warcraft, or any other semi recent video game.  Games like this are likely OLDER than the PC they are using, so they aren’t using outdated hardware.

Some of the possible reasons why your computer sucks could be damaged hardware.  Just because your PC seems to run fine, boots up and does email and youtube videos, dosen’t mean it won’t fail at other things. You can spend all day updating drivers but if your hardware has any damage it won’t matter. Most common hardware damage is RAM and video card RAM, and your hard drive due to long term excessive heat in your PC. There are applications that allow you to “burn-test” both system and video RAM and find any obvious flaws.

A common system RAM tester is MemTestx86. This comes as a .iso you can burn to a CD (or floppy, or boot USB drive) boot to it and it starts to automatically run pattern tests in your system ram looking for miss-matches. This can take some time depending on how much ram you have (about 2 hours) so let this run over night.

An app to test the ram on your video card is Video Ram Test. This app runs almost EXACTLY like MemTestx86 thats used for system ram, but this also comes as a windows app you can run. But for best results you should use the boot-iso version so that it’s accessing ram directly (and not though cache)

If you find ANY problems with your video card’s RAM or your system RAM using these tests, you should REPLACE them!  The only exception to this is if you’re overclocking, in that case you should step-down your overclocking to “stock” speeds and run these tests again and see if you still have these problems.  If not you shouldn’t overclock anymore, and by doing so you’ve already shortened the life of your hardware.

For harddrive testing, this really depends on what brand of hard drive you’re using. And if you’re using a normal mechanical harddrive or a solid-state drive (SSD). You could just run checkdisk from windows, and let windows scan your hard drive(s) which can take ALL day.  However any problems you MAY find on your harddrive can be corrected and you don’t need to replace your harddrive, assuming there is no major damage to the surface of your harddrive.

Should you Defrag?  no. I’m all my years of using PCs I’ve NEVER found any benefit from defragmentation. Only until the end of the 80s did defragging matter. Modern HDDs do not read and write in sequential pattern, which defragging puts your data in a sequential order, so defragging may SLOW DOWN your hard drive performance. Or does nothing other than add a little more wear and tear to your HDD for something that may not bring any benefit.

If you’re using an SSD this can shorten the life of your drive if you defrag, so DO NOT DO IT. With normal HDs it’s only with HEAVE HEAVY use does the data on your HD get fragmented and you MIGHT consider defragging if you have VERY large files that need to be read quickly. Otherwise it’s pointless, modern OS file systems tend to take care of these things for you automatically now.

One app i’ve found (not used) is called HDDScan. This should show you if there are any issues with your harddrive(s) but im not sure if it performs any surface tests for bad sectors.

Many end users buy pre-made PCs with windows preloaded and with that a ton of useless apps are pre-installed. Install and run PC Decrapifier. This should remove all those useless trial-run applications that are virtually worthless. This will also free up some hard drive space to boot! The reason new PCs come with this crap is because these software makers PAY these OEMs so that it lowers the price of the PC when they preload apps since you might be encouraged to pay for full versions of these useless apps. This is the main reason why windows PCs are so cheap now. Where as Macs still remain expensive since you do not get this sort of BS on Apple products.

The NUMBER ONE reason why most users have poor performance, and technical problems running SL, and games is their install of windows is just OLD and has collected a lot of “bit rot.” This dosen’t mean you need to update to windows Vista or Windows 7; you just need to do a FRESH CLEAN install of your existing OS. Be it Windows 2000, XP, Vista and yes even Windows 7.

What i mean by a “clean” install is not to install windows over what you already have, that won’t fix anything. This wont clear out any glitches with software, conflicts with drivers, and possible malware that might be preset on your harddrive. You want to FORMAT your boot C:\ drive (or better yet delete the partition) and install windows fresh from the CD/DVD.

Users should reinstall windows at least once a year to keep their system clean. This goes for ALL platforms, not just Windows. I don’t know how many times this has cleared up small annoying technical issues i’ve had that simply went AWAY after reinstalling my OS, cleanly.

Yes this means you will lose everything stored on your hard drive (on C:\ anyway) so it’s time to back up your stuff.  DO NOT backup applications since you can just reinstall those. But DO back up any media files, documents, and pr0n!  I don’t recommend doing a system transfer which is a windows function you can use. This can also transfer whatever problems/glitches you were having in the first place and would defeat the purpose of doing a “clean” install of windows.

The same goes system backups.. those backups will also have the problems. bugs, glitches and other technical nightmares stored on your backup too.  It’s actually pointless to back up your OS and your applications since you can always reinstall them again ANYWAY. You only need to backup things you simply can’t replace again (or it would be too difficult to get back again)

The best way to run your PC is to have two hard drives (or two partitions). Install, or create a D: drive and place all your downloads there.  Keep your media files and pr0n there. Only put your OS and your apps on your C: drive.  So when it’s time to do another clean OS install, everything you need is still on your D: drive for you to install and use after you’ve formatted C: drive and reinstalled your OS clean.

I did mention malware and viruses, but honestly I do not run anti-virus apps, nor a firewall, other than what already comes with Windows Security Essentials. Any other 3rd party apps will just cause MORE problems than it does from preventing them. If you use common sense when exploring the web, you will NOT run into viruses, and malware on the net.

Do not use Internet Explorer, do not let any thing download you’re not expecting as you surf the web. Do not RUN anything you’re not expecting. So not install any plugins you’re not expecting when you know you already have it installed (like Flash, Searchlight, Shockwave, etc.) Use a reliable web browser like chrome that can isolate you from the malware.

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