Digital Insite Adelaide Computers + Support

Hi, I'm Mark Jansen from Digital Insite! Follow my adventures around Adelaide as I provide quality new computers and laptops + friendly and reliable home & office computer support

Month: September 2017 (page 1 of 3)

My computer is so slow! How to tell what’s causing it… (Windows 7 / Windows 10)

We’ve all had or worked on a slow computer at some stage and it can be extremely frustrating when you’ve got things to do and it’s slowing you down from getting there. The thing is, computers don’t think for themselves and only do what they are told so there’s not much point getting angry at an inanimate object – instead it’s better to take a little bit more of a better look as to why your computer is running slow.

The first place I tell my customers to look if their computer is running slow is the programs or apps on your PC or laptop. In a nut shell, the more programs you have running on your PC or laptop the more work your computer is doing and the slower it’s going to be. The less programs it’s running, the faster it is… funny about that hey 🙂 So, an easy way to get a speed boost (even if it’s just a small one) is to remove any programs or apps you don’t need any more. This can easily be done by using the control panel on your PC then look for “uninstall a program” under the word “Programs” or simply click on “Programs and Features” in Windows 10 and you should be able to work it out from there.

The next step to speeding up your PC is to disable unwanted programs in your computer’s startup. This can be done in Windows 7 by clicking Start then typing MSCONFIG and pressing enter. Go to the startup tab and look for any programs you don’t need always starting up when you turn on your PC and turn the tick box off. Don’t worry, this isn’t the same as uninstalling a program – it simply makes it so it doesn’t auto start when you boot up or log in. You can still manually run the program from it’s shortcut any time you need. In Windows 10  you can do exactly the same thing through ther Task Manager. Press the keys CTRL + ALT + DEL and click on  “Task Manager” on the screen. You’ll see a tab at the top called Startup – click on this and look for any programs you don’t need to auto start when you log in. Right-click them and choose disable. You should find this should help speed up your PC if it’s running slow.

Now the last section of this article covers the hardware in your PC or Laptop. If your PC or laptop is running slow and you’ve already done the steps above and it’s still painfully slow, then it might be that the hardware in your PC is worn out and possibly out of date. The best way to see if this is the case is to run your program of choice (eg. Word, Excel, Youtube, or your favourite game) and then press the keys CTRL + ALT + DEL and click on Task Manager. Go to the performance tab. Windows 7 gives you your CPU usage and your RAM usage which lets you see how hard the CPU (essentially the brains of your computer) is working or how much RAM (sort of like the short term memory of the computer) is being used. Windows 7 Task Manager won’t show you the hard disk usage on this screen but can be seen by clicking the “Resource monitor” tab then clicking on the “Disk” tab. Look for the small blue “Highest Active Time” box and if it’s percentage is very high then your hard disk is getting used to it’s limit. The Windows 10 task manager is much easier to read and gives you all of the things you need on the performance tab (CPU, RAM, HDD).

Basically, what you want to do is see which of these is hitting high percentages when you’re running your program of choice. If the CPU is 98% but the HDD (Hard Disk) and RAM are around 20% then you know it’s your CPU that’s the limiting factor. If your CPU is 5% and RAM is 50% but the HDD is 99% then you know that your hard disk is not delivering data quick enough to the other parts of your computer and it’s the limiting factor. The same above applies for RAM if it’s reading a very high percentage on the chart.

If you find your RAM usage is high then there’s a very good chance you can upgrade the RAM in your PC or laptop. Most PC’s and laptops usually have a spare expansion slot and if they don’t you can often remove a smaller stick of RAM and replace it with a larger one. Get a professional like myself to do this though as you can damage parts in your PC or laptop with static electricity etc if you don’t know what you’re doing.

If your HDD (Hard Disk) usage is very high in Task Manager then you’re probably an ideal candidate for an SSD upgrade (unless you already have one installed). Again, get a professional to install an SSD because if it’s done right by using cloning tools etc if can be a nice easy, pain free experience. Get it wrong and you may have to completely re-install Windows.

If you are finding that the CPU usage in Task Manager is very high then it’s showing that the processing (maths computation) side of your PC or laptop is not being able to keep up with the workload. CPU’s can be upgraded but it’s not a common thing to do as it often requires a whole new motherboard. Laptops don’t usually tend to CPU upgrades very well so if your CPU is the limiting factor in your laptop it’s probably just old or a bit of a weak CPU and it might be time to look at upgrading to a new model.

I hope this helps give you a little bit of insight into why your PC or laptop is running slow and what you can do about it.

Have a great day guys 🙂

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE
Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Dying hard disk recovery in a 7 year old HP pavilion PC

A customer of mine contacted me saying her husbands PC had crashed the night before and now won’t boot up and is coming up with pages and pages of “bad block” errors while trying to load up Windows 7.

The PC is a HP Pavilion i7 2600 series from around 6 years ago so I immediately had suspicions of extensive hard disk wear as I’ve been seeing a lot of PC’s and laptops lately around the 5 to 7 year old bracket have issues for the same reason. Basically, if a computer system has a single hard disk and is “thrashed” for years on end through regular large downloads from the internet or sustained pagefile usage (as a result of not enough RAM) it eventually starts to give way and critical errors will begin to occur in the read/write heads.

In a nut shell, this hard disk was dying… fast. I was able to get around the boot up issue and look at her data by using a unix boot disk and at least confirm that it was still there and then and begin the recovery process. The hard disk was in such bad shape that I found if I started to copy the data off to another external USB drive the original hard disk would heat up after about 15 minutes and then essentially turn itself off and become invisible to the system halting all data recovery.

I ended up having to create a script to copy data for 10 minutes, wait for 10 minutes to give the drive a chance to cool down and then run the data recovery for another 10 minutes. I left my custom script running for about 9 hours and after about 300 odd attempts at copying the data in the end I got back for her at least 95% of the data on the drive. She was absolutely stoked and ended up buying one of our new Powerhouse PC’s with an i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM, 240GB SSD + 1TB SSHD Hybrid hard disk. All up, her husband is back in business on a blisteringly fast new system and all of his important data back.  

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE
Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

NBN issues for a mechanic in Lonsdale

A mechanic in Lonsdale called me up today saying he was having all sorts of problems with his internet connection since the NBN roll-out started a few weeks back in his area. Telstra had switched him over to the NBN a week ago but a few days later a guy from the NBNCO messed with the node and killed their connection all together (and likely all the other businesses nearby too).

Since then they’ve gone dark and haven’t been able to do anything online which in this day and age for any business is an absolute nightmare. He wasn’t able to look up parts, watch instructional videos, send and receive emails or invoice any of his customers.

As you can imagine he wasn’t too happy at all. I helped him by installing a few USB Wi-Fi adapters in his office PC’s and connected the PC’s and his wireless printer through his iPhone as a hot-spot. It’s no replacement for a good high speed broadband connection but at least right now they’re back online and can keep the cogs of the business turning.

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE

Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Enjoying the awesome weather in Blackwood

Seriously how good is this weather today? Awesome day to be out and about in the car enjoying some much needed Adelaide sunshine. My day started in the lush green hills of Blackwood helping a nice lady with a few issues on her laptop – namely photos being replicated two or three times by some issues that had developed between the icloud, dropbox and onedrive apps on her laptop.

Once I had sorted and some helped her set up her wireless printer to scan to multiple PC’s and laptops in her home she was good to go. Now I’m back to the workshop to finish off fixing a computer with a dying hard disk and of course enjoying this awesome day. Hope you’re all having a great day too 🙂

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE

Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Fun and games with SQL in Lonsdale

Fun and games trying to get some circa 2005 Point of Sale SQL based software to network to the two other sales PC’s at a catering business in Lonsdale today. Windows 7 64bit and any versions above that really don’t like to play nice with apps designed around the older SQL builds and have a huge hissy fit when you try to run them as they were originally coded for 32bit environments. Upgrading the whole software package to the latest version wasn’t an option as it would have cost thousands of dollars and would require my customer to upgrade their old but perfectly working sales terminals in the store… so that’s where I come in 🙂

A whole lot of tweaking, hot fixes and some plain old trial and error got me there in the end and now the main point of sale PC that handles all of the stock levels and sales is talking nicely and sending and receiving packets to and from the sales terminals in the shop and behaving just like it should – except it’s now running like lightning thanks to Windows being installed on an SSD and much better hardware in the system.

They’re back in business so I’m happy. On to the next job…

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE

Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Aberfoyle Park, Clovelly Park, Lonsdale, Torrensville, Plympton Park then Hallett Cove… All in a days work :)

Another busy day that started out at Aberfoyle Park dropping off a laptop I repaired for a family from a school then down the Clovelly Park to help a business with getting their security camera system connected to the Internet so they can access and monitor their cameras after hours and anywhere in the world.

After that it was down to a catering business in Lonsdale to set up a brand new PC for them to replace their main laptop that had died and was controlling all of their their point of sale stock and sales synchronization between their sales terminals.

Next, I was on the road again to Plympton Park to help another customer with his wireless printer and some website issues and lastly Torrensville to deliver a laptop I had upgraded with a high speed SSD and then back to the workshop to build another PC. All in a days work 🙂

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE

Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Busy day in the workshop!

A parent from the school I provide computer support at gave me a laptop that was running slow and needed a good tune-up. Another customer called this morning saying their PC wasn’t booting up and was displaying hard disk errors so I’m running some disk repairs on that one. I’m also cloning another laptop with a super slow 5400rpm hard disk to a new high speed SSD while building an i3 desktop and another i5 desktop for two more customers… Phew! 🙂

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE

Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Dead laptop in Lonsdale

Saturday morning call out to one of my business customers in Lonsdale today. They run a busy catering business and their main laptop that controls all of their stock and sync’s the sales between all of their point of sale terminals just died. It was a Toshiba Satellite laptop that was over 7 years old so it was no real surprise it died but the need to get something up and running in it’s place asap is the real issue now. The laptop itself won’t power on at all but there’s a very good chance the hard disk is OK so it looks like I’ll be building them a new PC monday morning and transferring their data across to get them back in business.

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE
Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Water… The arch nemesis for any laptop

I’m on-site today providing computer and network support to students and staff at a school in Aberfoyle Park and was given this laptop that had some water accidentally spilled on the keyboard during a lesson. Sadly accidents do happen but if you’re ever in this situation the very best thing to do is to shut down your laptop, PC, phone or any electronic device that has come in contact with water and remove the battery immediately. The reason behind this is that if you try to operate the device with water on the motherboard you’re very likely to have a short circuit happen which will most certainly damage the device and quite often render it inoperable. If you’re quick enough to shut down the device and remove the battery then I suggest opening any service panels you can and attempt to dry the internals with a hairdryer on very low heat.

Leave the unit to dry for at least 24 hours and then repeat the drying procedure with a hair dryer. Resist the urge to test it before 24 hours then as it could mean the difference between having a device that works again or one that is nothing but a bricked throwaway. This laptop I’m working on was powered off quite quickly but it looks like there was unfortunately immediate damage to the motherboard.

The device itself is powering on but the backlight behind the LCD isn’t illuminating the screen which is a sure sign that damage has occurred to the motherboard. Sadly, this one will have to go in for repair to get a new motherboard. The best advice I can give is to keep all liquids away from your laptop or PC – trust me when I say it’s not worth the risk.

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE
Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023

Glen Osmond Laptop tune-up

Today took me to Glen Osmond to help a former work colleague and customer of mine for over 14 years with a few issues on his laptop, some email syncing problems using IMAP and a few strange wireless printer quirks. He’s all sorted now and back in action so I’m back on the road again on to the next job!

best regards,

Mark JANSEN

DIGITAL INSITE
Adelaide Onsite Computers + Support

Mobile : 0404 110 526
Office : (08) 8387 9023
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