I helped a customer setup his internet link about 6 months ago (when he got a new computer).
After 6 months, I went back for a computer checkup.
The computer was running slower & he couldn’t understand why. It also had some shutdown & startup problems.
I ask a few questions, & it turns out that he has norton IS running, no viruses or spyware, lots of memory, and the computer is used for little else beyond a lot of internet surfing.
So, I start looking at temporary folders. Windows XP has 3 temporary folder areas:
- A main windows temp folder
- A user specific temp folder
- An Internet Explorer temporary area (also stores cookies & acts as a web page cache).
The first 2 are used by applications while running & during installation. The applications should remove their temp files when they close down, but it seems to happen rarely, so the temp folders just keep accumulating files. In one case, I ended up deleting 9900 files!!!
Although NTFS is a good file system, having more than a few hundred files in a folder can cause a noticeable slowdown whenever that folder needs to be accessed.
The IE temp folder/cache is worse, as it seems to be used for many different purposes, and there is a rarely publicised IE flaw that makes it worse: within internet options -> general tab, you can click the “delete files” button for temporary internet files… and although it should clear the cache folder, it leaves a lot of files behind.
And to top it all off, that slider you can use, to tell IE how much disk space to allocate to the cache: it doesn’t do anything! You can change it to allocate 1Mb of disk, & you can still end up with many hundreds of Mb used.
So, I manually clear the temp folders.
Clearing the IE temp folders cannot be done using windows explorer, So I use cachesentry to do the job. The first time it runs, it take 5 minutes to clear the cache!
The shutdown problem seems to be related to a program he installed, which monitors emails for spyware… Given that Norton IS also does the same thing, there is a likely conflict between the two programs.
The startup problem is not easy to fix. At powerup, The computer seems to freeze before the bios can do anything: you just get a blank screen. But after hitting the reset button, everything starts just fine. I put it down to a hardware or bios problem. Since tracking down the problem can take a while, & since it is just an “inconvenience” problem, the customer is happy to just leave it for now.
After that, its time for me to leave, so I ask the customer to run a defrag, and after that, the PC should be as quick as when he first bought it.
I’ll return in a few weeks, as he also needs cd/dvd writing software (don’t know why he didn’t get it when he first got the computer!)