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Sunday, 3 January 2010

Speeding up my PC--the cheap way

Personal computers, in my experience, tend to silt up and slow down. My Dell at home was little more than a year old and already noticeably slower than when I first booted it up. Of course, I look at what's running in the background from time to time, and remove anything that looks suspect or unnecessary (such as the Adobe and QuickTime quick start tasks), but it never seems to have much effect.

I'm toying with the idea of buying a solid state hard drive, of which I've heard many good things. Trouble at the moment is that they're still so pricey that it wouldn't be much more expensive to just buy a faster PC.

Last month I lost it during a particularly slow session, and decided to take drastic measures. I would often hear the hard drive working, even though Process Explorer (this is a brilliant program, that replaces Task Manager with something really informative--highly recommended) showed no significant CPU activity, and I decided to remove stuff I'd installed that might be responsible. First to go was 'Everything', a nifty program that indexes the files on your hard drive. It's really quick at finding files, but I hadn't made much use if it, so I ran the uninstall program. "Uninstall Everything?" came up the prompt. With clammy palms I clicked on Okay. That didn't seem to do much, so I moved on to Google Desktop.

Google Desktop is another program that indexes the hard drive, as well as your e-mails and any web sites you've visited. It too is really fast, and, on the occasions I've needed to find a lost e-mail, has proved invaluable. However, I was desperate, so out it went. From now on I shall rely on the fact that all my e-mails come in via a Google Mail account. I'll search through them there instead of on my Dell.

And amazingly, that seemed to do the trick. My PC is once again a fast machine, and the hard drive doesn't (often) sound busy when nothing's supposed to be happening. Is this a known drawback with Google Desktop, or just a side effect of my PC configuration? All I know is that I feel like I've saved two or three hundred pounds.

Still, those SSDs do look tempting.