Computer Guide

My PC is running very slowly

by George Skarbek - 24 April 2007

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Q: My PC has recently started running slow, slow to start up, seems like it can only run one application at a time, music sounds like it has bits of information missing. Also can't run McAfee virus scan as my estimate is it would take at least 2.5 days to complete. I can't find the problem. Any hints would be appreciated.

I cannot guess what program is causing this but it may be that some background process is taking up almost all of the CPU. I can give you some guidelines to track down the likely process.

Assuming that you are running Windows XP, open the Task Manager and click on the Processes tab and then you can sort the processes by CPU usage by clicking on the CPU tab, and observe the name of which process appears to be the culprit. Then use Google to obtain more information on that program. For readers who have not used Task Manager in XP or Vista, just right-click on the Taskbar or press Alt + Ctrl + Del to select it.

Having determined the process you should prevent it from starting automatically when the computer is started, or check for an upgrade if that program is essential to you. To prevent it from starting, click on Start, Run and enter MSCONFIG and then click on the Startup tab. MSCONFIG shows all the programs that start automatically, and my guess is that you do not need most of them so remove the tick from many others, even if you do not recognize some programs. This will not un-install the programs but just prevents them from starting automatically. You can always start them manually later.


Creating Slide shows

Q: I have been taking many photos with my digital camera and would like to create a slideshow with sound to show them to my friends. What software do you recommend?

There are many programs that will do what you want but my recommendation is Photo Story. This is a good and easy to use program that is free. You can download it from the Microsoft download page. Just do a search for Photo Story. After downloading it you can go to the Photo Story web page and view samples and tutorials.

The main advantages of this software is that it has options for panning and zooming within the slides and the options for making the final slideshow ranging from being sent by email to be able to be played on a computer with 1024 x 786 in full screen mode and requiring a fast CPU. Photo Story produces output in .WMV format for viewing on your computer, and if burning to a DVD it must be done with additional software.


Stop that underline in Excel

Q: In Excel, whenever I type an email address, it automatically underlines it, and therefore obscures any underscore that is sometimes in the first part of the address, eg bill_mary@ etc. Is there any way this automatic underlining can be stopped?

You can turn this off permanently by clicking in Tools, AutoCorrect, AutoFormat and Format as You Type tab and then remove the tick from "Internet and network paths with Hyperlinks"

If you wish to remove the colour and underline but keep the hyperlink, use the Format Painter (the icon with the paint brush), by clicking on it when the cursor is over normal text and then painting over the coloured text. The link will still remain and you can verify this by hovering the cursor over that cell.

This procedure also works in Word as well as Excel.


How do I Defag my hard disk?

Q: Can you please advise how to initiate defragmentation process? I can't find it.

There are several ways but the easiest is using Windows Explorer.  You have to right-click on the drive that you wish to defragment, usually drive C and then select properties. Next click on the Tools tab and select Defragment.

Note that if you have defrgamented for a long time and the drive is large then the process can take hours to complete.


Cannot un-install

Q: I downloaded Registry Cleaner and decided I did not want it went to add & remove, but the add & remove tells me that the uninstall.dat file is missing. Is there a way I can remove it. 

This means that either it has not been installed correctly or most of it has already been removed or the un-installation file is missing. Go to your C:\Program Files\regcleaner program folder and manually delete all the files in it and then you can delete that folder. This manual method may leave remnants behind in other folders but you will have removed most of the files.


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