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Windows Quick and Easy Solutions

When you buy a new PC, it generally behaves very well. Your system boots and runs quickly, programs install without any problems and it all works just as you'd expect.

But then, quite often, things begin to change. Your computer starts to slow down. Odd things happen occasionally - some features stop working, for instance, and you can't understand why. Some of your applications - and maybe Windows itself - may begin to display cryptic error messages, or perhaps crash occasionally.

Some people say this is normal - it's just the way PCs are, and you have to put up with it - but we say no. You don't have to live with poor performance, desktop problems, misbehaving software and the many other hassles that might be troubling your system. You don't need weeks of spare time and a degree in computer science to solve these issues, either - most can be tackled with surprising ease once you know where to get started. That's where we come in.

We have quick and easy solutions for some of the most annoying PC problems, covering everything from sluggish speeds and desktop deficiencies to boot problems, installation issues, cryptic error messages and more. So don't just put up with Windows annoyances - take our advice, fight back, and you'll soon have your system running smoothly again.

Browse Faster

  • Using Namebench:
    Using Namebench(http://code.google.com/p/namebench) to find a faster DNS server can dramatically cut the time it takes to access websites.

  • Turned Off Flash:
    Flash pretty much saturates Web sites now. It's almost impossible to get away from this technology. Problem is, Flash can be slow, so it directly affects the speed of your browsing experience. You can have Flash turned off by default and then re-enable it to view what you need to view.

  • Learn Shortcuts:
    It is so much faster that you need to take the time to learn the shortcuts.

  • Defrag your hard drive:
    Many people overlook defragmentation as being the cause of slow speeds. Your computer will write a hard drive's data to wherever it chooses. Information is more easily found when your drive is defragmented.

  • Use tabs, not windows:
    Too many tabs can cause problems, but they're still your best bet for browsing efficiency. How do tabs speed up your experience? A couple of ways. The first is all about organization. With multiple tabs in a single window, it becomes quite a bit faster to locate the page you need to work on. You don't have to maximize a window, discover that it's not the right one, minimize it, maximize a new window... until you find the correct one. A single window open with multiple tabs is far easier to search. This is not the only way tabs can help you. Browsers like Chrome treat each tab as an individual process (instead of a child process of a parent). So when a Web site causes a tab to crash, you can close that one tab and not lose all the other tabs. This behavior is not a standard at the moment, so you'll need to switch over to the Chrome browser to take advantage of it.

  • Free up space:
    Sometimes, an older or smaller computer will begin to slow down due to the sheer amount of temporary Internet data or extra programs and files it's accrued over the years. This generally isn't a problem for any computer made in the last several years, but it never hurts to do a little spring cleaning. Start by deleting your temporary Internet data. This is usually pretty simple; guides for whatever browser you use can be found with a quick Google search. Afterward, go through your programs and remove those you no longer use or want.

    Mac users can simply scan through the Applications folder and drag unwanted programs to the Trash. (Be sure to empty the Trash when you're finished). Windows users should go to the Control Panel and find the Programs panel (also called Add/Remove Programs, or Programs and Features, depending on your edition of Windows), and remove programs from there by highlighting unwanted items and clicking "Uninstall."

  • Bookmarklets:
    Bookmarklets are like shortcuts to your favorite web services. You neither have to open the Gmail Inbox for composing a new email message nor do you have to visit Google Translate for translating a paragraph of text. Add relevant bookmarklets to your browser bar and reduce the number of steps required to accomplish a task.

  • Set up OpenDNS:
    OpenDNS is an excellent free service which not only speeds up your internet connection but also provides an extra layer of your security to your connection. Apart from that, it has some other cool features like parental filters, opening pages from keyword shortcuts, auto-correcting mistyped urls and more.

  • Update your browser:
    If you are using Internet Explorer, there are updates issued all the time. These updates are intended to close holes in security as well as optimize your system. Take advantage of the updates that are announced in the lower right hand corner of your screen.

  • Disable Unnecessary Extensions:
    Make sure you weed out any unnecessary extensions that you've installed on Chrome. Since some extensions end up using a lot of memory, its better to remove them and doing so will free up more memory for chrome to perform efficiently.

  • Check for Adware:
    Adware and spyware are programs that are free to install, but almost impossible to uninstall once you've made the mistake of doing so. They can range from mildly irritating to seriously invasive of your privacy, and they almost invariably hog your bandwidth, slowing down your Internet connection. To get rid of them, install a program designed specifically for the task.
    • The best way to avoid most adware in the future is to never agree to download anything other than what you're trying to download, even if it seems like the file you want won't download without the adware attached. No reputable site will force you to install a "toolbar" or any other extra program as part of a legal file download.

My Wi-Fi Slow

  • Find the Right Wireless Channel:
    If it shows interference from a nearby network, changing your wireless channel should help. If your wireless is weaker than it should be, you can try manually adjusting the broadcast channel to find one with fewer wireless routers competing for space. If your router is relatively new and automatically chooses which channel to broadcast from, then you won't get too much use out of pinning your wireless down to a single channel, but for older routers it's worth looking into.

    First you'll want to go into the router's graphical user interface (GUI), by typing the router/gateway address into the address bar in a browser window while your computer is connected to the router's wired or wireless network. You can usually find the router's address on the router itself, in the instruction manual, or online if all else fails. For example, if you have a D-Link router, you'll type; if you have a Linksys, you'd type The browser will prompt you to enter your user name and password.
    The exact navigation through the GUI for each router is different, but once you find the router's wireless options (usually under headings like "LAN" or "Network"), you should see a "wireless channel" option. In North America, you can broadcast from channels 1, 6, and 11. Try switching to one of those three channels that's not currently in use and see if it speeds things up.

  • Make your computer run Faster:
    An overworked processor will bog down even the fastest internet connection.

  • Lift your router up off the ground:
    There are two reasons why it's not a ideal to have your router directly on the floor.
    One is that most are designed to broadcast signals slightly downward as they travel from its antenna. Additionally, they can't easily penetrate some solid materials - metal, concrete, and cement - which may be present in your floors.
    As a result, experts recommend having your router at least a few feet off the ground - perhaps on a table or bookshelf. This is also why you shouldn't put it in the basement, especially if you have a multi-story house and a concrete foundation.

  • Update Anti Virus:
    Make sure to turn off auto update of any software other than anti virus software on your PC. Schedule to get the downloads at a time when you are not working. This way your connection will remain active and you will continue to have updated software version as well.

  • Router to Reboot on a Schedule:
    If you're one of the many folks that has to reboot their router every so often so it doesn't drop out, there is a solution. You can run a few tests to make sure the problem isn't caused by heat, old firmware, or excess downloading, but an easy way to solve the problem is just automatically reboot it once a day or so. You can do this with DD-WRT or just a regular old outlet timer. When you're done, you shouldn't have to reboot your router so often (which is great if your router's all the way up in the attic).

  • Test to see if your bandwidth is being limited:
    If your connection seems to drop off during peak hours or partway through downloads, Comcast may be throttling your bandwidth.

  • DNS Server:
    The DNS (or Domain Name System) Server is sort of like the phonebook for the internet. Your computer will choose one to use automatically, but using a bad one can be like the difference between using a 20lb paper phonebook and using Google. If nothing else works, consider manually finding a better DNS server. This can improve your internet speed by a significant amount.

  • Network Share:
    Stop sharing your Wi-Fi network's name with your neighbors. How? By turning off its Service Set Identifier (SSID) broadcasting option. Doing so blocks people (strangers!) in your vicinity from seeing your network - and mooching off it and slowing it down. More importantly, it reduces your risk of getting hacked. Speaking of security, if you haven't already, take a moment to password protect your Wi-Fi network.

  • Upgrade Router's Antenna:
    Packet loss and weak throughput is often caused by weak antenna design. Good news: You can replace the built-in antenna of your router with something much more powerful. It's a bit of a hassle, but it may make the difference between a slow connection (or none at all) and a speedy line to your router!

Folders take an age to Open

  • Deleting any files you don't need can sometimes help speed things up, but sorting out the folder's properties usually delivers the best results. Right-click the folder, select 'Properties → Customize', set the 'Optimize this folder for' list to 'General items' and see how this works for you.

Navigating folders takes too long in Explorer

  • To see a folder you've used recently, just right-click the Explorer icon on your Taskbar and select it from your Jump List.

Explorer windows close when I Reboot

  • In Explorer, click 'Tools → Folder options → View', then scroll down and check 'Restore previous folder windows at logon'. When you next restart, any Explorer windows you had open before will appear again.

Desktop Clock is not Accurate

Microsoft Windows has long had the ability to set its date and time clock by synchronizing with a timekeeping server via the Internet. This means that most users never have to worry about setting the date and time in Windows, or correcting the time after events like power outages or a switch to daylight-saving time. But sometimes a user's Windows clock can go awry and display the incorrect date or time, usually due to hardware issues, a temporary loss of Internet connectivity, or online synchronization problems. If your Windows clock is wrong, but you're currently able to connect to the Internet, you can easily set the correct time by re-synchronizing your PC with an online time server. Here's how to do it.

Head to your Windows desktop and locate the clock on the far right side of the Taskbar (note that your clock may appear slightly different from the screenshots depending on your specific version of Windows and your Taskbar configuration settings). Click the clock once to bring up the detailed time and date display, which shows you a mini calendar and analog clock. You may also see clocks for additional time zones here if you have previously enabled that feature.

  • An incorrect PC clock isn't just annoying, it can also cause significant problems with networks and some applications that rely on it. If you notice yours is out, right-click it and select 'Adjust date/time → Internet time → Change settings'. Check 'Synchronize with an internet time server', then click 'Update now' to correct it.