PC Performance

Feb 1, 2008

Let’s see . . . we all have our database running. Maybe a browser tab or two, or three. Of course, our Outlook is going. Plus a Word doc or Excel spreadsheet. Our accounting/checkbook program also runs on a regular basis. No wonder it feels sometimes like our PC is running a bit slow.

Computer performance depends on a number of things, but for the most part, you are dealing with processor speed and RAM (memory). Hard-drive speed is also a factor as well, but less so in most circumstances. Even in this day and age of fast computer chips and mega-ram installations, that hourglass can be frustrating. Running all these programs I just mentioned is an obvious resource drain, however, one we really can’t do anything about. This is why we have these PCs – to multi-task and be productive. Luckily, there are a number of things you can do yourself to at least make sure you are doing what you can to enhance your computing experience.

These tips are for those running Windows XP OS. I had a Vista machine for a while, but since I couldn’t figure out how to do anything on it and I didn’t need another doorstop, I got rid of it pretty quick.

To get an idea of what is going on inside your PC, one easy way to look is to right-click on the Task Bar (the lowest bar on your screen). Click the link to Task Manager, then click the Processes tab. Most will be amazed at how many processes (programs) are actually running on the PC. While each PC is different and most of these processes are required to run on the basis of the programs you have installed, at least by doing this you know what you are up against.

Typically, you would not want to end any of these processes from this window, but for those individuals particularly interested in an entry that they do not recognize, Google is a great place to get information on almost all of these. Just put the process in the Google text box and search. You will get a number of entries telling you what it is, and how to stop it if it should be stopped.

Getting past that, here are some easier ways. I always like to start with my Outlook program. We all receive and delete many messages, and this can impact performance. Simply go through your mail file and delete all the messages that you do not need; then empty your deleted items folder by right-clicking on the Deleted Items entry. Once you have done that, close your Outlook program, go into your Control Panel, click on the Mail icon, then click on the mail storage file you are using, then click Properties. Once in that box, click on Compact Now. This could take a few minutes, so be patient.

Next, go back into Control Panel and click on the icon for Add or Remove Programs. This will take a minute to load. Scan this list for unused or unnecessary programs. Again, you might be surprised at some of the entries in this list. Many times, when one buys a new PC, it comes preloaded with many programs you never even think to use. If you click once on any entry, it will let you know your usage history with that program. It will say something like Occasionally, or Rarely. One by one, go ahead and delete the programs you do not use. Just put a checkbox next to those entries you want to delete and hit OK.

Next is another easy one. Open My Computer. Right-click on the icon next to your C Drive. Click Properties. On the General tab there is a button for Disk Cleanup. Click this once. This will take a few minutes to populate the list. You now have a list of all the items on your hard drive taking up space unnecessarily that you can safely delete.

From here you will want to defrag your hard drive. This is easy. Close all programs. Go to Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools, then click on Disk Defragmenter. Choose the drive you want to defrag, then click the defrag button. Depending on the level of fragmentation, this could take a few minutes so, again, be patient. Best not to have any other programs running when you’re running this one.

Another easy task that doesn’t do a lot for performance, per se, but will make your PC feel a bit peppier is to right-click on My Computer, then click on Properties. Click on the Advanced tab, then click the Settings button under Performance. On the Visual Effects tab, check the box Adjust for Best Performance. This is a tweak for your visual effects and nothing more, but you will likely notice a bit of a difference using the new settings.


Whoever invented this nuisance should be lined up and shot, or at least whipped. What a pain, and completely useless for most of us. Unchecked, spyware and adware can significantly impact performance. Gladly, with some diligence on our part, the effects of these secretively installed programs can be kept at a minimum. Obviously, you will need some type of anti-spyware program. There are many on the market, and while it is not my intention to recommend one over another, I use a free program, AVG Anti-Spyware, with good results. These things crop up regularly, so it is a good idea to do a scan at least every couple of days.

Not for the fainthearted.

Here are two more areas to check. I do not advise anyone except those with an advanced knowledge of computers to change these settings. However, it might be advisable to go through these with someone knowledgeable about these things and see if you are unnecessarily starting and running services you do not need.

msconfig – Go to Start/Run, then type this in the box. When loaded, go to the Start Up tab and look at all the items with a check mark in the first column.

services.msc – Go to Start/Run, then type this in the box. When loaded, look through this list and note all the services (most of which you have probably never heard of) and see all the ones that have the word Started in the Status column.

Undoubtedly, your PC is running many smaller and/or insignificant programs that were either installed before you purchased it or maybe even installed along with other programs you installed. Again, don’t stop services randomly. Your PC needs many of these programs to run properly, but with the right guidance you can potentially stop a number of the unnecessary ones. Individually, most of these would not have much of an impact on performance, but collectively, you may be able to gain a bit of pep with some diligence here.

In closing, the performance of all PCs degrades over a period of time. They are great when new but then begin the downhill slide to a mediocre state of performance. If this frustrates you, then try some of these fairly simple ways to get a bit more pep out of your system when you need it.

Recently I was referred to a neat site that I thought I would share with all of you, Wink is a people search site that searches over 290 million people across a number of business/social networks and the Web in general. You can search for people using a name, location, school, work, interests, and other criteria as well. I did a search on myself and got back seven results – not the 300 or so I get when I search Google direct, but a good starting point. It picked up my LinkedIn account, some of my Fordyce Letter material, and a few other hits as well. A free service that could easily be added to your search process when seeking a particular person.


Link Technique

This is an oldie but, for sure, a goodie. I have talked about this technique in the past but not in quite some time. It is one of the most basic techniques we use to find both résumés and names using the search engines. This command comes in two flavors; one is simply “link,” which searches for documents on the Internet that are linked to the single page after the command. The other flavor is “linkdomain,” which I like better and searches for documents linked to any page in the website after the command. This technique has often been referred to as a flip search over the years. I am not sure if this technique is fully supported in Google. search is my engine of choice when using this method. I tried this search on Yahoo: software engineer resume

In the string above, I am telling the search engine to search the Internet for documents that have an internal link (hyperlink) to any page on the site. I also am requiring that the keywords software, engineer, and r̩sum̩ appear somewhere on each result. We make an assumption here that if a document is linked back to the Oracle site, and also has the keywords requested, we may get r̩sum̩s of passive candidates with some type of association with Oracle Рmaybe a current/past employee, possibly a trainee, a vendor, any number of possibilities.

In running this example, I got back 2,780 results Рreally too many to go through Рbut as I was perusing the first few pages, I can say the vast majority of results I saw were bona fide r̩sum̩s of technical people with an Oracle background. In your office, you use the site and keywords of your choice and see what you get.

Mark E. Berger, CPC, AIRS CIR, has been in recruiting since 1979. He is currently a partner in Ramsey Fox, Inc., an IT services firm, and has been there and at its predecessor, M.E. Berger & Associates, since 1986. He has been heavily involved in Internet recruiting and is an expert on recruiting and sourcing products and services available on the Internet, and how they add to the bottom line. Mark’s interests include successfully integrating both computer and Internet recruiting technology into a traditional recruiting environment. He has taken AIRS I and II training and has obtained the AIRS CIR designation. Mark is also on the board of directors for the Missouri Association of Personnel Services. He can be reached at His website is, and we recommend that you visit it to see archives of his articles and information offerings exclusively for recruiters.

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