How To Deal With Computer Problems

by Fred Renoudet

It seems that nobody realizes that I'm alive unless they need something. I'm beginning to feel like Rodney Dangerfield - I get no respect! I always get the "I need" calls. As in - "I need a ride to go to Tako's Pig Roast or I'll starve to death" -

The other calls that I get are of the variety -
"My computer doesn't work" - "Excel is acting funny" - "My computer's locked up, what do I do?"

Well, I can't authorize you to go home or to the mall, so what about trying "the three finger salute (Control, Alt, Delete) or rebooting your computer"?

I have no idea why everyone asks me how to fix his or her computer problems. I can answer the easy questions like- "How do you fix Charbroiled Oysters?" or "Where's a good place to eat?"

To prove my point -
At home I have a 20Gig hard drive with a Pentium III processor, 500Mhz and I'm lucky enough to have a cable modem. I got fat, dumb and happy thinking I would have the resources to run any program.

I got a wake up call when designing our web site and my resources dropped to 30%. Some people in a similar situation would reformat their hard drive. But I would not - except as a last resort - because it is a real pain, time consuming and I'm too lazy.

Doing computer cleanup is not foremost in anybody's mind. What's the old saying - If it ain't broke, don't fix it? This is similar to "Backups" -

Everybody tells you to backup your data and the tendency is to wait till tomorrow. You become a convert real fast when you lose everything you've spent hours, days or weeks entering and you have to start from scratch.

If you suspect your system resources are low, you may want to try these options that I always suggest to those with similar problems. --- These are a layman's instruction. If you need help from a professional - call a professional, I'm not the one to listen to.

The first thing to do is CHILL OUT!

Have a glass of wine, beer, soft drink or whatever -
For Windows 95/98 - You may want to check your reading with a program running such as MS Access (or any program that eats your resources).

Try again with nothing but windows running to see the difference - go into "Control Panel", click "System", click "Performance" (or you can right click "My Computer" and select "Preferences").

If "System Resources" is above 50% with MS Access running, you should be in relatively good shape. With nothing running you should be around 88%. Don't fall for that garbage that says, "You are configured for optimum performance". If your resources are down - something ain't right!

While you're looking at the resources click "Virtual Memory" and make sure "Let Windows manage…" is checked. Unless you know what you're doing, don't try to change the settings (I don't). If your resources are running @ 90 %, you don't need to read any further.

Have another glass of wine, beer or whatever -
Look in the bottom right corner of your screen. You should see some icons like Volume, Virus protection, Time, etc., etc, etc, etc.

A lot of that is a lot of needless junk that is put in your startup group needlessly by programs. Stuff like Printer status, Real Player, Scanner status, AOL, IOU, DEQ, AEIOU or whatever - those use resources needlessly.

Try disabling them one at a time and check your resources again. If one of them is a hog, delete it from your "StartUp" group. You can check to see what's in your "StartUp" group by right clicking your "Start" button.

Click "Explore", in the left window look in the "Windows" tree (click if there is a + before Windows). Look for "Start Menu" (click if necessary to expand the tree). Look under "Programs" - you should see "StartUp". Click it.

In the right window is what is in your group. You can highlight and press "Delete" on your keyboard to get rid of what you don't need. All this is going to your recycle bin in case you change your mind. Unfortunately, when you reboot you will probably see a lot of the same junk you deleted back in the lower right corner.

This is the case with programs such as Real Audio, Printer programs and virus programs. To stop them from starting you usually have to open the individual program and look around. Nine out of ten times you can find a box checked under the options in that program.

Also in Windows 98, you can click the "Start" button, select "Run" and type "msconfig". A window will pop up with the upper right tab will be labeled "Startup". There will be programs listed in there with check boxes.

These are the programs that automatically start when you start your computer. I had 29 programs listed with check marks. I did not have 29 icons on the bottom right of my task bar. I only had 5.

If you recognize a program, you can remove it from automatically starting by removing the check mark and selecting "Apply". You will be asked to restart your computer. If you should change your mind, the programs will still be on your hard drive. To be on the safe side - check with your computer manufacturer.

Step 3:
Have a glass of wine, beer or whatever -
Delete your Temporary Internet files. In Internet Explorer at the top under "View", select "Internet Options"; select "Delete Temporary Files" (your cookies won't be affected). Close IE.

Left click the "Start" button (bottom left of screen), select "Find", "Folders", type "*.TMP", choose "Find Now". You can delete anything in your TMP list that pops up. Windows won't let you delete anything that it needs to run. Reboot - If everything is running fine, empty your "Recycle Bin".

Step 4:
Have a glass of wine, beer or whatever -
Double click "My Computer" (if you can still find it), right click your "C" drive, left click "Properties", Select "Tools",. Perform a thorough "Scan Disk" - (depending on the size of your hard drive this could take a while) - make sure "Automatically" fix error" is checked.

Go get something to eat -
(you need something to absorb the alcohol - don't drive!).

After this has finished - again under "Tools" - select "Defrag". Do a "Thorough" if you haven't defragged in a while. This will definitely take a long time. I suggest you do it before you go to bed - (you'll need to after the wine anyway).

Running "Defrag" groups all your data on your computer and helps programs run smoother. If you are in the habit of installing and deleting a lot of programs your data will look like a half-empty football stadium with people scattered. One member of your family is on the West Side, one on the East Side and one in the End Zone.

Defragging will group the family together - if the mother-in-law is there, that may not be such a good idea. I'm rambling again. You're probably wondering if there is a caboose to my train of thought. Oh well, if this helps one person - it was worth it.

Fred Renoudet is the Website Designer and Webmaster for Greater New Orleans Barge Fleeting Association (GNOBFA). He and Helen Raymond founded RightStuff Hosting. You may use this article on your website and in your newsletter as long as it is left intact with this by-line included.

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