“Take two aspirin and call me in the morning” is an old palliative that General Practitioners used to prescribe for minor health maladies. Perhaps an equally useful one for computer techs might be “Shut it down and call me if a restart doesn’t help”. It is amazing how many minor operational problems are solved just by rebooting and starting over; not just with PCs, but modems, routers, TV sets, coffee makers and other electronic devices.
By my estimate one third of Internet connection problems are helped by a simple reboot of all the devices involved. Remember your Internet pathway starts with a service provider (ISP) with some kind of modem usually connected to a phone line, cable or satellite. From there it can either connect directly to your PC or go to a router which splits the connection so that you can connect multiple devices; either by cable or WiFi. In some networks the modem/router function is combined into one piece of hardware. Simply shutting everything down and restarting in this order will often reconnect everything: modem, router, PC and other devices.
On the Microsoft Windows tips for slow computers page, they recommend that you restart your computer about once a week. “Restarting a PC is a good way to clear out its memory and ensure that any errant processes and services that started running get shut down.
Restarting closes all the software running on your PC—not only the programs you see running on the taskbar, but also dozens of services that might have been started by various programs and never stopped. Restarting can fix mysterious performance problems when the exact cause is hard to pinpoint. The more things you have open and the longer you keep them running, the greater the chances your PC will bog down and eventually run low on memory.”
So shut down to reconnect …and to speed up. It’s kind of like clearing your mind before you renew and retackle a project. Your computers random access memory (RAM) is like the thinking part of your brain, it can only handle so many things at a time.
While we’re on the subject of RAM, Microsoft claims that Windows Seven will run on 1 gigabyte of Memory, “but it runs better with 2 GB. For optimal performance, boost that to 3 GB or more.” I’ll stick by my earlier recommendations ;( 2 GB min) get 4 GB for most applications and spring for 6 or 8 if you can. Adding RAM is one hardware upgrade that many users can do themselves. Simply go to crucial.com and let them help you select the correct kind of memory modules for your PC as well as the suggested amount. As an example, 2 GB of memory for the PC that I am writing this column on would only cost $40. If I wasn’t so cheap I would have already bought that RAM.
Reboot yourself and till next week, send your questions to: