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    February-2013  


Slowing PC Performance Can Hurt Employee Efficiency

Small business leaders often fail to see the effect slowing PC performance can have on employee efficiency.

Identifying and correcting this impediment is usually the responsibility of the person in charge of IT.  In a smaller business, these duties are often fragmented and measuring performance falls through the cracks.

Benchmarking tools can help users and businesses measure their PCs‘ performance and ways to improve that performance. Tibor Schiemann, Managing Partner of TuneUp recommends using the following:

  • Windows Performance Toolkit (WPT): Microsoft’s own WPT (especially its tool, Xperf), is very thorough in measuring performance. It can analyze CPU, memory, disk utilization, network bandwidth, boot time and even battery power over a specific period of time. A video from Microsoft‘s PDC explains XPerf and WPT in detail.
  • Sysmark 2012: Tailored for IT managers, PC OEMs and press/analysts, Sysmark is one of the most reliable and comprehensive test suites. It measures the performance of applications such as Internet Explorer 8, Firefox, Winzip, Adobe Flash, AutoCAD, DreamWeaver, Premiere, 3DS Max and Google Sketchup Pro.
  • PCMark for Small Business can be used to test hardware and evaluate computers’ system performance.

Schiemann also offers several suggestions for how to improve PC performance:

  • Reduce background activity. Eliminate unnecessary background services and processes that will keep PCs hardware busy, lower system performance and prevent it from entering low-power states. IT managers and administrators need to evaluate what software should and shouldn’t run on their co-workers‘ machines. Increased background activity results in higher boot times, lower overall performance and reduced battery life–which, in turn, decreases employees‘ productivity. Also use built-in business tools, such as AppLocker (Windows 7) or Software Restriction Policies (earlier versions), to ensure that only certified applications can be installed on employees‘ machines—keep them from installing unnecessary software.
  • Defragment the hard drive(s) regularly. Disk fragmentation is one of the primary causes of computers‘ decrease in performance. Make sure that Windows‘ automatic Disk Defragmenter is enabled and runs on schedule (which is the default setting). Or, choose a third-party defragmentation tool.
  • Remove unused files. The less clutter there is on computers, the more stable they will be. Cleaning out temporary files reduces the risk of application crashes. Windows includes a Disk Cleanup tool that can be accessed from the Start menu through All Programs-Accessories->System Tools->Disk Cleanup. There are also several third-party software programs that will automatically perform this cleanup.
  • Use a Windows-certified utility to keep the registry in shape. The registry is the heart of a PC—it is the central database of the Windows operating system where users’ settings and installed programs are filed. This means registry discrepancies can impair the reliability of computers and cause programs to stop functioning correctly. For reliable registry optimization, the best and far less-expensive option is to use an expert-developed, Windows-certified optimization utility; use it to clean the registry and thus solve reliability problems. Windows-certified products have passed rigorous testing programs and met requirements for reliability, security, compatibility with current and future Windows operating systems, and installation and removal processes. Certified products are marked with a logo describing which Windows operating systems they are certified for (i.e. Windows Vista Certified). Registry optimization should be performed every one to two weeks.

Contrary to many opinions, registry cleaning—if performed properly—is a valid optimization technique. Microsoft confirmed the necessity of registry cleaners in a blog post titled “Registry junk: A Windows® Fact of Life“.

The post says, “Registry cleaners have always been popular, but I never paid much attention to them. I originally thought that there might be valid reasons for their existence, but over time, [I] changed my mind, recently recogniz[ing] that even today they can help maintain registry hygiene.”

For more tips and tricks for optimizing, streamlining and troubleshooting Windows, visit the TuneUp Blog about Windows at http://blog.tune-up.com.


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