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Archives for : February2009

Why is my Computer so Slow?

From time to time, a lot of people wonder why their computer is running “so slowly.” The usual reasons for this are as follows: (1) using virtual memory resulting from a lack of physical RAM (Random Access Memory); (2) too many programs utilizing a lot of CPU threads; and/or (3) bottlenecks that can be in the form of a CPU bottleneck, a slow spinning hard drive (5,200 RPM and less, for example), or even a full hard drive. For instance, a 500GB hard drive with a fresh installation of Windows Vista will be more responsive than a similar fresh install on a 50GB hard drive of the same speed. The reason for this is because larger hard drives generally have: (1) more platters; (2) smaller magnetic flux reversals; and (3) greater aerial density. The smaller flux reversals are what allows the head of the hard drive actuator/arm to move shorter distances, and thus providing a noticeable speed difference.

My hard disk activity LED is going crazy, the actuator arm is thrashing back and forth crunching away for hours at a time. What is my computer doing? How can I find out what exact data is being retrieved and what program(s) are responsible? We need to identify just what, exactly, is running. For this purpose, look no further than Microsoft Sysinternals’ Process Monitor (procmon).

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PC ER: Blue Flash Followed by Restart in Endless Loop

Symptoms:

System attempts to load the Windows XP operating system, cuts to black and very quickly flashes a blue screen full of text and reboots in an endless loop. Due to the brief stint of the blue screen, no specific identifiable error messages are retrievable.

Hypothesis:

The system is attempting to display a “stop” error message, commonly referred to as a BSOD (“Blue Screen Of Death”) due to the frequent occurrances of them in the legacy versions of Microsoft Windows. However, because there is a setting in WindowsXP which allows it to “automatically restart” after a catastrophic error, it becomes impossible to read the “stop” error. The BIOS may need updating (as indicated by other issues, such as the need to “start” the computer twice. The hard disk may have a corrupted cluster/sector in a critical area containing Windows system information. If the hard disk checks out fine, then the system memory may have a corrupted area causing a data mismatch and thus needs to be checked.

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Norton Internet Security 2009

The Symantec Corporation, makers of the decades-old Norton Security/Productivity suite, has been around a long, long time. I happened across an advertisement for Norton 2009 in Time magazine.

What struck me about this ad, was that Symantec seems to have finally admitted that their Norton suites wreaks of bloat. By stating: “Norton Internet Security 2009 is the fastest security suite anywhere…delivering fewer, faster, shorter scans” tells me that maybe Symantec has learned from their mistakes.

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