Operating systems explored

Operating systems explored

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Operating systems (OS) can slow down over time, causing computer users to shake their heads in frustration as it takes what seems like ages to load basic programs.

For David Rencher, assistant manager of the Help Desk at The Zone, dealing with these sort of problems is a common occurrence.

“We do see some that are running slow. It’s almost always software decay; they’ve loaded all sorts of junk, too many toolbars, stuff like that,” Rencher said.

Software decay can be caused by an old OS’s inability to cope with newer programs, or because folders and files left over from uninstalled applications bog it down.

Before installing programs on a computer, Rencher advised users to scrutinize what they are about to get themselves into, or give the Help Desk a call and get some expert advice.

“Watch what you are installing. Try to be intelligent about this stuff. But it’s hard. If this isn’t what you do it’s hard to keep up with it. So use a service like we’ve got,” Rencher said.

Rencher recommends do-it-yourself tactics if going a day or two without a laptop isn’t an option for ailing students.

“If you want to do it yourself, research some reasonable tools. One we recommend is called CCleaner,” Rencher said.

According to Rencher, programs like CCleaner eliminate unnecessary bits and pieces of applications and folders that can take up space on a computer’s hard drive and slow down its OS.

“It will clean caches, files and temp folders. It does quite a bit,” Rencher said.

Rencher warned to watch out for ads on web pages promising to improve the performance of a computer.

“That’s the other thing you run into, all of these speed optimizers. Those cause more problems than they fix,” Rencher said.  “At the very best it’s junk; at the worst, it’s a virus.”

Cleaning up an OS may improve a computer’s speed and performance. However, Aaron Greene of Computer Central in Boise said upgrading hardware is a must for long-term efficiency.

“Replacing your old mechanical hard drive with a solid state tends to help more because the solid state disk is so fast that even as the software degrades, the user doesn’t even notice it,” Greene said.

According to Greene, solid state hard drives have no moving parts and can perform up to five times faster than standard mechanical hard drives.

“It’s driven by electricity. It works kind of like your USB thumb drive. It’s just a really big version of that,” Greene said.

If replacing a standard hard drive with a solid state doesn’t satisfy users, Greene recommended taking a look at other hardware upgrades.

“Take a look at what your hardware is doing, whether you need more memory or a new processor,” Greene said.

After users have solved hardware and software speed issues, Greene said computer files should be backed up regularly and  hard drives should be erased and OS’s reinstalled twice a year.

“I would say do a full clean up on the PC about once every six months,” Greene said.

Ryan Thorne
Ryan Thorne was born and raised in the beautiful city of Twin Falls, Idaho. He now lives in Boise where he enjoys being a student at Boise State University. As the Investigative News editor, Thorne is always hot on the trail of the next big story. In his free time, he can be found playing the guitar, reading, or exploring scenic outdoor Idaho. Follow him on Twitter @ryanthorne86 or friend him on Facebook.