cane.jpgContinuing my longwinded tutorials ...

I should add that I <gasp> forgot to mention on the previous page to check the times when your daily / weekly virus scans are scheduled. Clearly everything should happen during less peak hours -- after work, weekends, etc. -- and BEFORE a Windows update. If after a Windows update, a reboot might stop the scans / defrags / backups in progress or stop them from running at all.

In fact, you should check the times of all scheduled events -- defragmentation, or backup, for instance. There's a way to check all scheduled updates at once (likely somewhere in the control panel) but my memory just failed me and I didn't keep notes. Later ....

UPDATES

There are 4 components that you should keep upgraded that can slow down network communications between your computer and any website: Windows, Internet Explorer, Flash and Java.

Windows

First, Microsoft is continually tweaking Windows to install newer features, fix flaws and block any major security risks. Windows also has a setting that allows itself to be automatically updated, without your consent or knowledge. This is great for anyone unwilling to periodically check the Microsoft website.

Unfortunately, this will also unexpectedly slow your computer to a crawl when major system components are being refined -- which happens often.

If the computer is always on, you can set these automatic updates to install during those times when its less intrusive, like after business hours. In Windows 7, go to Control Panel, then System and Security, then Action Center, then Change Action Center settings, then Windows Update settings. Then pick the hours and days you want the updates to take place. Just keep in mind that your computer may shut down and restart at least once unattended. And if an additional shutdown is required, you may not receive a notice. So if its left running over a weekend, for instance, you may want to shut down the system early Monday morning, and then do a cold startup.

Note that if you choose Windows Update off your Start menu (if it isn't there, I'll be shocked), it may ask you for permission to install cookies, Java, additional updates, etc. Just say yes, or even "always trust add-ons from this website (Microsoft.com)" -- cuz really, what choice to you have on a non-Apple machine? :)

Just FYI, the last recorded updates on my machine came August 3rd at 10pm -- which may have been responsible for your last slowdown if there wasn't a reboot in between.

Internet Explorer

Regardless of your Windows version, you want to be running Internet Explorer 8.0. (while in IE, look for Tools, and under it find "About Internet Explorer; that will tell you the version).

Windows updates should have upgraded you to IE 8.0 already. If not, you can start at http://download.cnet.com/Internet-Explorer/3000-2356_4-10013275.html?tag=mncol

The page now will automatically tell you if you're running IE 8 (not recommended for the paranoid, of course). If you're not, it'll give you download options; but if you are, it'll give you a choice of add-ons. They all may look useful, but I'd avoid all of them in a business environment because most inevitably create compatibility problems with some indispensible toy your boss loves.

Java

First, make sure you have the latest Java Runtime Environment installed. Download it at http://download.cnet.com/Java-Runtime-Environment-JRE/3000-2213_4-10009607.html

All Java downloads can be found at http://www.java.com/en/

There's even a button there ("Do I have Java?") that will test if you have the latest Java installed. In fact, you should start there anyway because it will automatically create a link for the proper upgrade. Amazingly, I just checked and even super-geeks like me don't always have the lastest version installed!

When it asks if you want to install the Bing search bar, just say no. If you DO want Bing, just install it later independently. Most people have far too many add-ons already.

Flash

Adobe should be your next stop, specifically http://www.adobe.com/downloads/

You really need all four components shown on the right side of that page -- Adobe Reader, Adobe Air, Shockwave Player and Flash Player -- as well as all hot fixes and updates AFTER you install those products.

Flash is sometimes a tricky installation, where you should download an uninstall tool first before installing the new version. The uninstallers and instructions are at http://kb2.adobe.com/cps/141/tn_14157.html

I can't doublecheck on this system today because I'm up to date, but I'd say download the uninstaller, run it, and THEN install the latest Flash.

After all these updates are done, there's a bunch of FREE tools that will find and correct a whole bunch of annoying system errors that slow your system down. Go to Geeks r Us 3