QUESTION: I have two laptops and one PC. I would like to uninstall anything that is slowing these down. There have been numerous programs/downloads that came on all of these or have been added since I bought them. Can I uninstall some of these? For instance, Adobe flash player 10 plug in. I have 11 Active x and Active x 64 bit installed. Also stuff like Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 (lots of them), Best Buy PC app, and lots of other stuff. Or I am not smart enough to know that much about this and should have an EXPERT do it for a huge price? Any help would be greatly appreciated. – Juanita from New London, Ohio
ANSWER: You have the right idea here but perhaps the wrong approach. It’s a common misconception many people have with their computers—they mix up hard drive storage and memory. And it is more likely memory usage than hard drive storage that is slowing down your computer.
But let me quickly address hard drive storage first. The list of programs you mentioned in your question are all stored somewhere on your hard drive. They aren’t necessarily running on your computer. Uninstalling and/or otherwise removing them will free up space on your hard drive but won’t necessarily speed up your computer. Your best bet on doing something with your hard drive to speed up your computer is to run the built-in disk defragmenter.
On the other hand, programs that are running on your computer, and therefore using up your computer’s memory, are directly affecting its speed. And the biggest culprits are the little icons you see next to the clock, usually on the lower right hand side of the screen on a computer running one of the Microsoft Windows operating systems like XP, Vista or Windows 7.
Good news and bad news
Here’s the good news. You can usually tweak these programs to stop running when your computer starts up or, if they are completely unnecessary, uninstall them. In this case, uninstalling actually helps because not only are the programs taking up hard drive space but they are also taking up precious memory space since they are loaded into memory each time your computer starts up.
Here’s the bad news. It’s not as easy as it sounds to figure out which programs to stop and which ones to leave alone. Unfortunately, some of the programs that load when your computer starts up are actually needed. For example, an anti-virus or a computer backup program.
How brave are you?
It really comes down to how brave you feel. If you’re the brave type, you can selectively stop programs from loading when your computer starts up by using the built-in MSCONFIG utility. Follow this link for some step by step instructions on how to do this.
If you’re not the brave type, your options are pretty limited. You could try buying more memory for the computer. I’ve done this for several of my clients and all of them have been immediately impressed with the results. But a bit of more bad news. If you don’t know how to compare the maximum of amount of memory your computer allows vs. the amount of memory you currently have as well as determine the exact type of memory your computer uses, you probably shouldn’t be trying this.
Time vs. money
Which brings us to hiring an expert. It really comes down to what your time is worth. If an expert can come in and speed up your computer and/or add more memory for $150 and give you back your time spent being frustrated with your computer, would it be worth it? Only you can answer that question.
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