Troubleshooting Performance Issues-Part 2
Adding memory and testing memory
Faulty memory can cause a number of different symptoms. Many manufacturers such as HP, Dell and Lenovo among others have a built in utilities that will test the hardware on your computer and report any errors that are found. Each manufacturer is different in how to run the tests. Go to the manufacturer’s web site for specific instructions for your computer. If you suspect a bad memory module, there is a program available called Memtest86 that will run a memory test and report any problems.
Go here to download the installation package http://www.memtest86.com/
For Windows choose “ISO image for creating bootable CD (Windows - zip)”
The file save as window will open.
Choose a location on your computer to save the file.
When the file has finished downloading, open the folder containing the file.
Right click the compressed folder and choose “extract all” from the right click menu.
Use the browse button to choose a location to save the extracted files. Click extract.
Open the folder containing the extracted files.
Build a boot-able CD-ROM using your CD burning software to create an image from the un-zipped ISO file. Be sure to use the create from image option. Do not simply copy the file to a CD.
Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 allow you to burn an ISO image without the need to install additional software.
Right click the ISO image, from the right click menu choose “burn disc image.”
The Windows disc image burner will launch. In the disc burner drop down choose the disc drive you would like to use to burn the ISO image. Select the option to “verify disc after burning” to verify that the ISO image burned correctly.
After creating the disc, insert the disc into the disk drive and restart your computer. The computer will boot from the disc. If the computer does not boot from the disc you may need to adjust the boot options in the BIOS to use the CD/DVD drive as the first boot device.
Memtest86 will run a test on the system memory. Any errors found indicate a memory problem. Go here for a detailed description of the test results http://www.memtest86.com.
Windows Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 memory diagnostics
Windows Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 have a built in utility that will test the memory for problems.
Close any programs you have open and save your work.
Click start > control panel > administrative tools > windows memory diagnostic. Or click start. In the search box type memory diagnostics. In the search results window click “Windows memory diagnostic.”
The windows memory diagnostic dialog will open. You can choose to “Restart now and check for problems.” Or “Check for problems the next time I restart my computer.” Choose restart now and check for problems. The computer will reboot and the memory test will begin and run automatically. You can make adjustments to how you would like to use the tool, when the computer reboots, press F1. You will have the option to “test mix” which will allow you to choose the type of memory test that will be run. You can choose from basic, standard or extended. You can adjust the cache settings and pass count settings. Press F10 after making your choices to begin the test. Normally there is no need to adjust any settings. Just let the tool run automatically.
Installing additional memory
Adding more ram (memory) is one of the best ways to speed up a computer. If you are running Windows XP you need at least 512 MB of ram to run well. Windows XP will run on less, the actual memory requirements for Windows XP is 128 MB but you will not be happy with the performance with less than 512 MB of ram installed. For Windows XP I prefer to have 1 GB of memory installed.
Windows Vista, Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 require more ram that previous versions of Windows.
The requirements for Windows Vista Home Basic Edition is 512 MB of ram.
Windows Vista Home Premium, Windows Vista Business, Windows Vista Enterprise, and Windows Vista Ultimate require 1 GB of ram. For all versions of Vista I would recommend 1 GB or better.
Windows 7 requires 1 GB of memory for the 32-bit version and 2 GB of memory for the 64 bit version. I prefer 2-3 GB for either.
Windows 8/8.1 require 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
There are several ways to determine how much ram your system currently has installed and how much your motherboard will accept.
To view the amount of ram you currently have installed, click start then right click my computer.
From the right click menu choose properties. The system properties window will open. You will see your operating system information, amount of ram installed and information about your processor.
Belarc Advisor is a free system information utility. Not only will it show you how much memory you currently have installed, it will show you very detailed information about your entire system. Details about the hardware and software you have installed.
You can download Belarc Advisor here
Crucial is a web site that sells memory. They offer a free online scanner that will scan your computer, tell you how much memory you currently have installed and how much memory your system can accept. It will also show you what type of memory to buy for your system. They have quality memory and excellent prices.
Clean the inside of your computer
Overtime the inside of your computer will accumulate dust and other debris. When the fans and other hardware are dirty you may suffer performance problems and over-heating issues. Before cleaning the inside of the computer, unplug the power cable and all other peripherals connected to the computer. Mouse, keyboard, printers, USB devices, network and phone lines, etc. It is a good idea to wear an anti-static wrist band as static can damage the hardware. ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) is the transfer of static electricity from one object to another. Our bodies produce static electricity. Although you may not be able to feel it, the hard drive and other components in a computer can be damaged by the transfer of static from your body to the hardware. One way to release static electricity is by wearing an anti-static wrist band. You can read more on ESD here: http://www.build-your-own-cheap-comp...ectricity.html
You can use a vacuum cleaner with small attachments, a can of compressed air a soft cloth and q-tips to clean the inside of the computer.
Take the computer outside and remove the side panel or case cover. Be careful working on the computer. The motherboard and other hardware are fragile and can be easily damaged. Pay particular attention to the case fan, CPU fan and power supply. These become coated with dust and debris very easily. You should clean your computer every 4-6 months. Do not place your computer on the floor or in a cabinet that is not well ventilated. When your computer is on the floor it is more susceptible to dust and other debris. Placing the computer inside of a cabinet does not allow for proper ventilation and will cause the hardware to overheat which will lead to failure. Place the computer on a table top in a well-ventilated area.
Trojans, viruses, spyware, grayware, rootkits, backdoors and worms. All of these can slow your computer down and cause other problems.
Understanding how malware gains access to your system is important so that you know how to prevent an infection and remove an infection if necessary. Malware is malicious software that infiltrates your system causing damage without your knowledge.
Virus: A virus is malware that infects a computer with the intention of propagating itself and spreading to other computers.
Worm: A worm is more sophisticated than a virus. A worm can spread without any user intervention. Worms are designed to copy themselves from one computer to another.
Backdoor: A backdoor is a malicious piece of software that allows the attacker to gain control of the system. Once they have control they can make changes to the computer without the users knowledge. A backdoor is capable of changing settings, browsing the computer and other computers on the network, sending and receiving files and gathering information about the system. A backdoor allows the attacker to control the system.
Trojan horse: A Trojan horse often gains access to the system when a user downloads and installs software they believe to be legitimate. Once installed a trojan horse can add the computer to a botnet, install additional harmful software, send files from the computer, steal personal information, modify files and record keystrokes.
Adware and spyware: Adware and spyware often gain access to the system when the user downloads a program they believe to be legitimate. Once installed it can wreak havoc on the system slowing it down, causing lockups and decreasing system performance. Adware and spyware can cause popups and other annoyances and steal information from the computer without the user’s knowledge.
Rootkits: Rootkits are dangerous and often hard to detect. They can be installed without the user’s knowledge and can take control of the system. The three most common types of rootkits are user-mode, kernel-mode and firmware.
User-mode rootkits are probably the easiest to remove. A user-mode rootkit runs on the computer using administrator privileges. User-mode rootkits are able to access files and other resources on the computer. They add themselves to the startup list so that they run each time the computer boots up.
Kernel-mode rootkits are more dangerous. They are installed at the same level as the operating system. This allows unlimited access to all software and hardware on the computer.
Firmware rootkits are the most dangerous. Firmware is software that is embedded into a piece of hardware. Even if you remove a firmware rootkit from the operating system it is still attached to the piece of hardware so each time you reboot it reinfects the system.
This is just a brief description of some types of malware. The way each one infects a system is different but there are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself.
Keep your operating system up to date. Download new service packs when they are released, download all critical and security updates. In Microsoft Windows you can set the system to automatically update which will install updates when they are released or notify you of the updates so that you can install them.
Keep other software on your computer up to date. Many times malicious programs gain access to the system through security holes and flaws in a program. Vendors release patches and fixes when a problem is detected with the software.
Secunia is an online scanner that will scan your computer for vulnerabilities in the programs you have installed. It will check to see that all Microsoft patches are applied. Secunia will display a list of the updates that are needed and assist you in applying the updates and patches.
Secunia online scan http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/
Install WOT. It is a browser add-on which rates web sites based on safety.
Do not open email messages from someone you don’t know or that seem suspicious.
Do not respond to any email messages requesting personal information such as your password, social security number, address, bank account number, etc.
Do not forward chain letters or other email messages to groups of people. If you do forward a message to a group use Bcc.
Change your online passwords often and use a secure password. Passwords should be 6 or more characters long and contain a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.
These sites offer online safety information
Always have a good antivirus program installed. Configure your antivirus software to update and scan automatically on a schedule. There are several free antivirus programs available.
I use Avira Free. Be sure to download the software directly from the manufacturer’s web site.
Spyware Blaster is a free spyware prevention program. It prevents the installation of spyware and other dangerous programs.
Use a firewall. Since the release of Windows XP SP2, Microsoft has included a firewall in the Windows operating system. The firewall that is included in Windows XP is inadequate. It does not monitor or block outbound traffic making it insecure. The Windows Vista firewall offers two way protection but still lacks the features to make it a strong firewall choice. Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 made many improvements in the firewall. It offers two way protection and has more configuration options than previous versions of Windows. I feel the firewall that is included in Windows 7 & Windows 8/8.1 offers enough protection without installing a third party firewall.
Last edited by Sunny; 05-28-2014 at 09:03 AM.