Sweat Your Assets Windows PC Performance Troubleshooting

Sweat Your Assets Windows PC Performance Troubleshooting

Sweat Our customers and prospective customers at frequently come to us and ask that we suggest either upgrades or whole new PC’s that will solve their current non-performance nightmare with an aging PC. It’s amazing how sometimes as the conversation and understanding of requirements.

Tip! Before making any serious system changes such as some of these are its wise to take a backup or restore point of your system before each change. Then should you subsequently find something is ‘broken’ you can restore back to a previous working configuration.

Analyse the problem before Sweat the solution:

Use monitoring tools regularly – get in the habit of watching Task Manager and lookout for tasks and processes that are hogging your system memory or CPU. Task manager displays both in the process view as you can see below, you can also sort by clicking on the column headings. Even if you only use the Internet and eMail both these applications are renowned for memory leaks and processor bound loops.

New Software invariably uses more Memory:

Finally, if you need an upgrade the one that makes the biggest difference in 80% of cases is simply adding more memory. RAM is now fairly cheap and you should consider 2GB to be the minimum of practical RAM to have installed. Every time you upgrade it try to double it or you’re unlikely to really notice the difference. On 32-bit systems there is little advantage to having more than 3GB of memory but usually it makes sense to upgrade to 4GB due to the size of memory kits available.

If you need more than 4GB you will also need to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system. You can see your memory utilisation by consulting the Task Manager, ctrl-alt-del presents you an option to start the task manager.

The page file is actually virtual:

Memory on disk as tasks become active and inactive they may be swapped into and out of memory into the page file, hence that pause sometimes when you switch to another task as the disk is accessed to bring it back out of the page file. Activity in the page file and virtual memory is complex and I won’t go into any more of that here as it doesn’t help you with performance issues. The key point to remember is if Windows is swapping memory out to the page file on disk then your system will be going a lot slower as you can be sure however fast your disk is it’s an awful lot slower than physical Sweat memory.

What we care most about is activity in real physical memory and the point at which we might run out of it and the page file becomes more active hence slowing down the system. Crucially the Commit Charge Peak should balance the physical memory available otherwise it means an awful lot of page file swapping is going on (known as ‘Page Faults’). If it was the yellow line in Page File Usage history would be bouncing around, or worse just steadily Sweat.

Adjust Total Page Sweat File size:

Sweat Following on from the point above if your system page file size is too small your system will slow down or even fail to start tasks (usually with a system message to tell you the computer is out of memory). You can check this Sweat looking at the Page File Total versus Peak size. If they are close to each other then you need to increase your page file size. With most windows default configurations this will happen automatically.

The exotic world of Deadlocks, Infinite Loops and Cartesian products – are all programming jargon that essentially describe bugs (though not always). The programmer of an application or product you’re using (and that includes the ones you take for granted like Windows and Device drivers) has likely made an error in designing or implementing the code such that logically it can never get past a certain point in its Sweat execution.

The consequence of this Sweat:

Designed code can be that the processor cycles used in this ‘loop’ consume all the available resources of your PC (check your task manager, which process is using 99-100% of the processor!? Or just ‘not responding’). You will notice this as your machine will suddenly lock-up, go dead slow, or the application in question will just hang. Thankfully with multi-core PC’s hanging is less of a problem as the other free cores can be used to KILL the task off and bring your PC back to life.

Also bear in mind just because you can’t see an application doesn’t mean it’s not using up any processing cycles, it will be. All applications process events which might be system activity, emails being sent/received, diary alarms going off, keyboard or mouse movements, activity from external devices like printers and USB drives. They also monitor activity in the background even when you aren’t doing anything with them. This Sweat consumes more of those valuable clock cycles.

Typical solutions to try or consider

De-install and delete any unused software – take a look at your control panel Add/Remove Software icon and go through the list of installed applications line by line. If you don’t need or use it remove it. It may be taking up valuable space or cycles on your machine.

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About the Author: Duncan Barret