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My Secret Weapon

I know a little something about computers, and so I tend to “attract” people with computer problems of various sorts. I enjoy the challenge of finding out what’s wrong with their machine and on a few occasions it has even helped me save money The complaints I get range from their computer just not running as well as it used to, to it not starting at all or it crashes all the time for no reason, and I have had my share of “bug fixing” to say the least.

I recall one person who joked he was going to throw his PC away because it was so old that no matter what he did, it didn’t run well anymore (the PC was only 4 years “old”).

He had spent a lot of money on upgrades for more memory, larger hard drives, upgrades on all his software, etc. He had even re-installed everything using his restore CD and while all this helped, in a few weeks it was back to the “Slow-Ville Express”.

I asked the usual questions, like did he have and use antivirus and antispyware programs and were these updated continuously, etc. and he confirmed that he had them and used them liberally.

“How often do you defragment your disk?”

“At least once per month, if not more often” was his reply. He then added “all those things help, but it just doesn’t run as good as it used to.”

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Now when it gets to this stage, I just can’t help myself — here is a mystery to be solved and so I offered to look at his machine over the weekend.

I got his HP PC and sure enough it was s-l-o-w.

I updated the antivirus signatures and then updated the anti-spyware, and after a very long scan, some malware was found and eliminated, but it was still not as fast as it should have been.

The antivirus scan took a while, but no dice.

I downloaded a free registry checker and it found that his registry was a disaster. After fixing that, the machine was better, but still not quite there yet. I then ensured his drivers were all up to date but that didn’t help much.

I found that the only defragmentation software he had was the manual MS Disk Defragmenter, so I ran it and since it was taking so long, I went to sleep.

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It ran all night and did its thing.

The next day found the PC running a bit better, but still not quite there yet. Then it hit me. I don’t use the MS Disk Defragmenter utility; I use a specialized Defrag program!

So I Googled “disk defrag” and downloaded and installed a fully functional 30 day trial version of the best defrag program I could find and then I put it to work.

First I had it analyze the disk and though this took a while, I was astonished at the results: despite the disk being “defragmented” THREE times, it was showing A LOT of fragmentation! It also showed that the paging file was horribly fragmented and that it and the MFT were grossly misconfigured!

I had the program re-size the paging file and the MFT and then had it defrag the paging file at the next boot up. The difference was phenomenal, and it STILL hadn’t defragged the disk!

When it completed, I used the PC and it was completely night and day: It was running great!

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I then ran the anti-spyware programs and interestingly they now found and removed more mal-ware, which made the system perform even better! (I wondered if the fragmentation covered up the malware somehow….)

I like helping people with their computer issues and this experience makes it easy and I end up being a “hero” a lot more often because of it! (And as bonus, it doesn’t take so long to get a result for them….)

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