So, JDawg's 1st Law is as follows:
Computer speed is inversely proportionate to the length of time a body spends on a better computer.
i.e. Is your computer actually getting slower or is it just in your mind?
Okay all you people with real computer problems. Let me help you. Here is a list of my top-hated programs:
- Webshots. It has got to be one of the worst things you can do to a computer. Constant use of your internet and system resources just so your background picture can change? There is a 98% chance that you will not be able to uninstall this program ever. How is that not a virus?
- Weatherbug. A close second. If the weather is that important to you, go to weather.com or buy an atomic clock. Or look outside. There is no need for a processor that does 5 billion calculations per second to spend 50% of its time letting you know that the temperature is 1 degree different than it was 5 minutes ago.
- Norton anything. Norton has what's called a "monster resource footprint." That means it stomps your system into submission any time that it's running. Which is all the time. Let me put this into perspective: you are afraid your computer is going to get a virus(es) that will slow it down. So, you install a program that does a mediocre job of catching viruses in the first place and does a great job of slowing your computer down all the time! I hate Norton and almost every other virus program out there. Use a good firewall, be smart ("being smart" will probably call for another post) and you probably don't need a virus program.
But reinstalling sounds like a very hard process! It is and it isn't. You have to change the oil in your car every three months. You have to change tires, brakes and put gas in your vehicle. You accept that as life. If you know where your Windows disc is, you have backed up your data and you know what programs you use, it's about a 3 hour process once a year. That's not bad compared to your car and I bet you spend more time using your computer.
Back up my data? Yeah, it's tough to actually do that. I don't even do it as often as I should. But consider this: your hard drive is a collection of thin metal discs that spin somewhere between 5400 and 7600 revolutions per minute. The reading heads of a hard drive are nanometers (fractions of the width of a human hair) away from those silver, speedy, spinning platters. If one tiny grain of dust or flaw in a microscopic bearing makes that reading arm brush your hard drive you are, quite politely, up a creek. All those pictures you took of your grand daughter last Christmas, your carefully balanced checkbook file, your passwords (securely stored on your desktop in a file called passwords.txt) are all GONE. FOREVER. Buy a bulk pack of CDs at WalMart for $5 and back up your stupid files. Whether or not you ever intend to reinstall.
Windows disc? Yes. Your computer should have come with one. It's probably on some dusty shelf or in the back of your disorganized file cabinet. You will also need the Windows serial number which might be on the CD package or on a sticker on your machine itself. If you simply do not have it you can usually order a replacement from the computer manufacturer or something.
What else should I back up? Well, do this: use your computer for a month. Every time you click a favorite, open a program, access a file, listen to an mp3 or read an email, think "Oh, maybe I should back this up," and write it down. You will need the discs for all of your programs, the serial numbers if they have them and you will need to burn all of the files you have created with those programs to disc. Other things that people frequently forget to backup are your Internet Explorer or Firefox favorites (bookmarks), Fonts you may have added, anything in the My Documents folder or in other folders that you put there, serial numbers and installation files for programs you might have downloaded.
Once you have this installing is not that hard. You format (that means ERASE so make sure you have backed up what you need to) your hard drive, reinstall Windows, immediately update it with all the latest security junk, and begin reinstalling all the programs that you use. Don't reinstall programs that you don't use. I generally install the programs I need as I need to use them. That way you don't put a bunch of junk back on your machine that you weren't using before the reinstall anyway.
If you use Outlook for email I guess you should probably keep Norton because Outlook is one of the biggest security holes in cyberspace. It's not that Outlook itself is that bad if you keep it updated. It's just that it pulls all email and files to your hard drive. This is bad for two reasons: first of all if your drive dies you lose all your email, second of all if someone accidentally sends you a virus it's automatically downloaded right to your computer! I always suggest that people use a free webmail service like Yahoo or Gmail. You can access your email from anywhere, they have embedded virus protection and many other features that add convenience and security.
So to wrap this up: no matter how good your favorite computer wizard is they just can't fix some things. Windows sucks, it's a law of the universe. People say that a computer's lifespan is about 2 years but for most people who just use it for 'net, email, photo storage and documents you can get many years out of your little compy. But you do have to invest some time in upkeep. Windows is guaranteed to grind to a halt over time. Be ready and willing to reinstall your system when it gets close to unmanageable. No hacked-together repair jobs can compete with a nice fresh install. Just don't be surprised when it's still not as fast as your work computer. Maybe you should just buy a new one.