My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?

Impossible Questions to Answer by E-Mail Rant

Introduction

I admit it. I enjoy people contacting me and asking technical questions. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with strangers (people that do not contact me but surf on in) as well as, sometimes, the desperate people asking me for help as a "last resort." As with anything, this also has its limits.

This page contains "all too frequent" questions that are "Impossible To Answer by E-Mail." The reason behind this is not to make anyone angry or shun people from contacting me. What it is an attempt at is to "answer" some of those questions that I do not have time to reply personally. Most of these E-Mails are novel length. Some are two sentences like "My computer crashes. What is wrong?" Regardless of the content, I fail to have enough time to remotely diagnose, sometimes, extremely complex issues. Often times, I will equate technical information to a car. People can relate to cars much better than "complicated" items like computers. In reality, I am not mechanically inclined.

Usually, the exact amount of information that I would need from the writer is the exact same information they would need to figure it out for themselves. I do not know how many times I have attempted a reply and asked items like "What kind of components does your system contain?," only to get an answer like "Dell."

Quick Links

 

1) My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?
2) Why does this game (software) not work?
3) I have AOL (Earthlink, MSN) and...?
4) My internet is slow. What can I do?
5) My computer crashes. What is wrong?
6) Do I need these particular files (insert list of files here)? Can I "safely" delete them?
7) What security measures do you take for your network, web site, and / or computer systems?
8) I cannot remember what tweak I applied 3 months ago from a different web site to break my system, but can you tell me how to fix it?
9) I have a 1500 node network, 2000 users, and numerous server and advanced server systems. Why can't I log in to the domain controllers on a few of them?

 

And the ever popular one

 

10) I have searched google.com, scoured forums, mined news groups, and asked everyone I know, including the neighbor kid for an answer to my problem. Can you help?

 

Answers

 

1) My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?

Performance is completely in the eyes of the beholder. It seems to me that, if you are unhappy with the performance of your system and you are asking "other people" for opinions on if you should spend money on the computer or not, yes, you should upgrade.

If the system does exactly what you want and you have no problem with running Windows 95 on a 486, then who am I to say "What you should do?"

As far as what components you should swap out... way too many factors are at play for me to give exact information on the needed change.

With a car in mind, should you:

  • Use "higher grade gas?"
  • Change out the exhaust system?
  • or just swap out the engine with a larger one putting out more horsepower?

Is all up to you and your wallet.

 2) Why does this game (software) not work?

I have no idea. I am not a programmer, nor am I employed with any software (or hardware) company or developer. What I am is a geek that enjoys making "other people's software and hardware run better."

The best thing to do is contact the publisher of your software package for technical support. No, I do not have every companies' web site memorized, nor do I know who published your game. The usual recommendation is to look toward the back of your manual for contact information.

I usually equate this question to dialing a random phone number and asking the answering party "How come my car does not start?"

3) I have AOL (Earthlink, MSN) and...?

 

Please contact your "major ISP" for what ever issue you have with them. I have never used any of the "Big Guy's" services, nor do I plan on it.

4) My internet is slow. What can I do?

 

Get cable/DSL connection, change to a different ISP, or move your home.

Upgrading your service to "broadband" is the simple answer to this question. If you are wishing for faster always on connection, DSL and cable is the only way to go. Check around your local area and your phone book for more information as "unless you live within 5 miles of my house, I cannot recommend a local ISP for you."

Understand this: most "phone companies," if you are on a dial up, will not help you in computer connectivity issues.

Changing to a different ISP is not all that big of a deal. If you are truly angry at your current providers service, by all means, vote with your money and go somewhere else! Most ISP's have "free trial periods" for 30 to 90 days. Test out the service. See if it is better or worse.

Moving is another option... drastic, but effective.. as long as you check to ensure broadband is available before hand. :)

5) My computer crashes. What is wrong?

 

It could be anything. I have absolutely no way of knowing exactly what is wrong with your system. Some causes of instability are:

  • Cheap components
  • Poorly written software
  • Outdated device drivers
  • Under specification power supply
  • Faulty components
  • OS "upgrade" installations
  • or even operator error

The best way to solve these issues are:

  • Do not purchase cheap hardware just to "save a buck." Really, you do get what you pay for.
  • Avoid "beta" software or ensure that you back up all data before attempting a new installation of any software package.
  • You must ensure that you are using the latest drivers provided by the manufacture of your hardware. I cannot guess what drivers you need for your system. Either contact your system vendor or computer system builder.
  • Ensure that your power supply can provide enough juice for your system. 300 Watts was an insane amount of "extra" power... now, anything below 400 Watts is "not recommended" by me unless you have very few components installed.
  • Faulty components can cause all sorts of problems. Take it to a qualified technician (for a price). I cannot possibly tell you what is wrong from my house.
  • I never recommend anyone to "upgrade" their existing OS installation with a newer one. I always recommend a clean install. I even had one person contact me that told me they went from Win95, Win98, WinMe, then on to installing XP and "are having problems." This does not surprise me in the least bit.
  • Be careful. Think before doing. Check the next question.

 

6) Do I need these particular files (insert list of files here)? Can I "safely" delete them?

 

I am not about to tell you that you can "safely" delete files. That is flame bait if I ever heard it.

Not long ago, when I was learning the computer in's and out's, I would randomly delete system files "just to see what happened." Help files, strangely named .dll's, temp directories... you name it, if I could see it, it was a target. As a result, I spent many late nights reinstalling the operating system. Just for your information, a few programs I have encountered actually required the help file to be available or it would not even start. I found that out the hard way.

With the low cost of storage (CD-R's and CDRW's) and even hard drives, there is no reason to save 5 MB by deleting a help file. Save yourself plenty of headache and do not even bother.

7) What security measures do you take for your network, web site, and / or computer systems?

 

Answering that question is like placing a sign on the front door saying "The door is locked. Either go around to the back or look under the welcome mat for the key."

Security is what you make of it. Some people do not run virus scanners or firewalls. Even others leave valuable accounts (like admin) completely open with no passwords because "no one else lives in the house." As long as you connect your system up to a larger network (as in, the internet), you are vulnerable to attack.

If you wish to have a secure system, do not install an OS, unplug it from the modem, disconnect power and lock it away. That is, of course, as long as you do not post a sign up.

8) I cannot remember what tweak I applied 3 months ago from a different web site to break my system, but can you tell me how to fix it?

 

If you cannot remember enough to tell me what you did, how do you expect me to do anything about it?

9) I have a 1500 node network, 2000 users, and numerous server and advanced server systems. Why can't I log in to the domain controllers on a few of them?

 

Yes, I have received several E-mails such as this one. If you are an "IT PRO" in charge of such a large network, you should not be relying on some stranger across the internet to answer issues such as this. Even though the amount of systems or the specific problem changes, I cannot help you out if "you are in a corporate IT environment." I am not employed in the "IT" field, nor dealt with any domain controller issues personally.

I equate this message to the manager of a new car lot dialing a random phone number and giving the answering party the following information "I have 1500 new cars, 40 mechanics and countless manuals: Why don't 20 cars start?"

And the ever popular one:

 

10) I have searched google.com, scoured forums, mined news groups, and asked everyone I know, including the neighbor kid for an answer to my problem. Can you help?

No. I am not psychic, nor do I have a magic wand to wave around and make everything better.