Wednesday, October 01, 2008

My PC now 40 times faster than before - how I did it

My PC (Windows Me, IE6) had gotten to the point where the browsing was unbearably slow; also, a few times a day the computer would freeze ('program not responding', 'system is waiting for the close program box to appear') and I would have to restart explorer or the computer. Something had to be done.

I succeeded, without anyone except the internet helping me, and without spending any money, in repairing my computer amd speeding up the browsing,-- the browsing (of the net) is now lightning fast, about 40 times as fast as it was before I fixed it. I explain to you what I did.

I was not able to run disk defragmenter. I read on the internet (and knew from experience) that a prime cause of slow browsing was disk fragmentation. I decided to get disk defragmenter running again. I downloaded the enditall program which showed that the problem was not other programs running while disk defragmenter was running, which is what the Microsoft Windows message box told me.. I read on the internet that a cause of disk defragmenter not working was the lack of hard drive space, something the Microsoft texts I encountered did not say. I remembered how there had seemed to be problems with programs such as scandisk and disk cleanup not working when there was too little disk space. I looked for softwares that would defrag my disk; I found nothing that I thought would be worth the time and energy much less the money.

I downloaded a good free program Windirstat, that revealed to me exactly the size of all the folders and files on my computer, ordered from largest to smallest. I discovered that although disk cleanup was telling me that I had only 20 MB in the temporary internet files browser cache folder, I actually had, amazingly, 10.5 giga-bytes in that folder; meaning that actually the contents of the folder were more than a thousand times what disk cleanup (which apparently was unable to keep up with huge numbers) said they were.

I utilized the internet explorer tools-internet options-temporary internet files settings-delete files option to delete the gigantic number of files in the internet cache. Though the hourglass froze while I was doing this for about 45 minutes, and though the close program dialog box told me that the page from which I had opened 'tools - internet options' was 'not responding', I patienty waited 45 minutes and took a shower; I realized that the computer could take a long time to delete so many files; I realized that it could be that the close program dialog box accessed through ctrl-alt-delete might tell me a program was not responding while the program was taking a long time to get some big task accomplisehd.

From searching the net I was aware of how programs like disk defragmenter can be more likely to succeed in safe mode. I was unable to put the computer into safe mode by pressing control of F8 during startup, but by searching the net, I figured out how to get into safe mode by using the start - run -msconfig - system configuration utility - advanced troubleshooting - enable startup menu approach. I finally succeeded in running disk defragmenter. Disk defrag took at least 8 hours to defrag my computer (not sure how many hours I took a nap). When I woke up disk defrag was done.

For the first hour or so after disk defrag the browsing was still slow, not much faster than it was before disk defrag, but after about an hour, after a couple of restarts, the browsing became lightning-fast, taking at most a half second to load pages-- the computer was like it was when I first bought it; the excess of computer freezing, program not responding etc was no longer present.

The paragraph after this one is not intended to be boastful; it is intended to show what kinds of qualities one needs to solve problems such as a computer being at a snail's pace.

I was savvy enough to realize that Microsoft message-box messages and Microsoft help texts, can be incorrect and advise overly complex solutions to problems with Microsoft softwares. I was cunning enough to realize also, that much of the advice given on the internet sounds expert but is incorrect re the facts and advises solutions (trying to impress?) that are excessively complex. I avoided softwares that did not pass 'the smell test' (having developed a kind of sense of smell for softwares that end up simply at best wasting my time and energy). My approach was to first work as if the simplest solutions were correct and progressively go on to more complex solutions. I was street-wise enough to download good free softwares that caused no harm, were useful, not a waste of time and energy. I understood how a huge browser cache and defrag not being run for a long time could slow down browsing. I realized that often there is more than one way to do something without downloading additional software. I was able to find info I needed searching the net. I was patient with a program (Internet explorer delete temp files) that seemed to have frozen while working on a big task.