Monday, November 28, 2011

Speed Up Your Older Computer For Free! Kill the Noise -- Make It Quiet Down.

You have an older computer with a single core CPU, and less than 2 GB of RAM and it barely works at all it's so slow, and the fan is running all of the time. What should you do? Well, assuming you are like most people, you have software creep -- over the past few years you've added programs that run all of the time using up your CPU's horsepower and your precious memory. Get rid of that stuff! Uninstall it! But -- know before you make it go -- don't just uninstall stuff if you aren't sure whether you need it!

Recently we ran into just such a situation. A 5 year old system had its fan running full blast, and the CPU was maxed at 100% most of the time according to Task Manager, so that it was pretty much useless. It wouldn't stay connected to the internet, booting it up took forever, and so did loading programs.

So. Using Add or Remove Programs, we uninstalled of the the unneeded AOL software, the VPN and IBM Terminal Emulation Software (now unneeded), the Enterprise Level McAfee software (and replaced it with the much smaller and less burdensome Microsoft Security Essentials), as well as a lot of other useless stuff. We were ruthless. If we didn't need it, it went.

We rebooted the computer and, lo and behold (I always wanted to say that), the CPU usage had dropped to less than 1% most of the time, with small spikes up to 2 or 3% occasionally. Cool! Well, not yet; the fan was still running fast and a bit noisily.

There was a visible build-up of dust at the fan intakes and around the front and back of the machine, so we opened it up, took it outside, and blew all of the dust out of the power supply, intakes, exhaust, and so on, until all of the air pathways were clear.

Buttoned the computer back up, rebooted it, and we heard ... almost nothing. Now it was cool! With the dust gone, the computer didn't have to suck air like a vacuum cleaner just to stay alive.

Mission accomplished. The computer is now usable, runs programs, stays connected to the network, and doesn't make any noise.

Total cost: $0.00. Except for me, of course.

You can do this, too. Probably without me.

If not, well ...


PS To load Task Manager just put your mouse cursor on empty Taskbar space and right mouse click -- the pop-up menu will list Task Manager as an option -- left mouse click on it and it will come up. The Processes Tab will show you which are using the most CPU cycles and the Performance Tab will show how busy your CPU is.

PPS To run Add or Remove Programs in Windows XP, go to the Control Panel and look for it near the top.

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