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The Life of a Computer
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25 / M / Inside Lorreen's...
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Posted 2/11/14
I only skimmed the read, too lazy to read tonight. But going from lifes of computers: My current computer is only a wee 2 months old, but his predecessor was some god forsaken frankenstein of a computer. I got it originally back in 2001, so it was 12 years old? But I said frankenstein for a reason, every like... 6 months to a year I would inevitably replace something because it went bad or I was upgrading it. I'm pretty sure by the time it finally died the only thing that was there from the original was the case unit.
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Posted 2/11/14
They die the death of warriors. Plagued with innumerable viruses, they don't back down. They keep trying, though fail as they may, until they cannot go any further. They try until the end.
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Posted 2/11/14 , edited 2/11/14
I must be weird... My desktops are only on if I'm around and planning to use them. My laptop, I admit, is another story, mostly getting put in sleep mode; then again, it doesn't get worked anywhere near as hard as the desktops.

Regarding people ignoring updates, Microsoft seems to have realized this and in newer versions of Windows likes to have computers forcefully restart for updates at like 3am, you know, right when you're in the middle of a game or something it seems.

I've never understood why people/pc makers don't install the OS on a separate partition, though. It makes it so much less trouble to reinstall the OS without losing tons of stuff... which, at least with Windows, you will inevitably want to do eventually.

So far as computers becoming unusable in a year, I've never had that happen, even for gaming purposes. Granted, I never bought bottom of the line stuff, and I reinstalled the operating system if things got sluggish. One thing I have noticed though is that the reason I have to build a new system instead of upgrading has always been RAM. So my latest system, I said the hell with it and maxed that out. We'll see how long it lasts this time. Worse case scenario, it'll end up a nice server or software building box someday.
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25 / F / Connecticut
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Posted 2/11/14 , edited 2/11/14
I've never really had the problems outlined here on my own machines, but yet again I have experience as a PC Tech, so I know how to troubleshoot pretty well. Generally, regarding performance boosting after putting your computer through alot of toil (:P) try this regimen if you're on Windows.

Uninstall everything that isn't a Microsoft Component, a Hardware Driver, or a program you know about in Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features. Also if you have any antivirus other than Microsoft Security Essentials, get rid of it and install Microsoft Security Essentials later (if you are running XP, do note though that MS will stop supporting Security Essentials next year, so you might want to consider sticking with Avast! or something). The rest of the programs out there are generally slow and/or overkill unless you're in a business environment, plus alot of them cost money you could be saving for yourself.

Use these three programs from ninite.com in safe mode with networking (update definitiona for malwarebytes and superantispyware too)

Glary Utilities (Do 1-click maintenance)
Malwarebytes antimalware (quick scan)
Superantispyware (quick scan)

Then run hitmanpro from hitmanpro.nl, the trial version.

Then leave safe mode and using the BUILT-IN WINDOWS UTILITIES (NO IOBIT or anything)
Run Disk Cleanup (if on xp, you can do everything except compress old files, vista/7/8 just do everything)
Run a Disk Defrag

And finally, go into msconfig (windows key/flag/meta key+r (whatever you want to call it) and type msconfig in the run box, then press enter) and get rid of any startup programs you don't need.

Btw, this guy mentions RAM failures but those are really rare, I've seen ALOT more hard drives go bad in my time.


ahatestory wrote:

I must be weird... My desktops are only on if I'm around and planning to use them. My laptop, I admit, is another story, mostly getting put in sleep mode; then again, it doesn't get worked anywhere near as hard as the desktops.

Regarding people ignoring updates, Microsoft seems to have realized this and in newer versions of Windows likes to have computers forcefully restart for updates at like 3am, you know, right when you're in the middle of a game or something it seems.

I've never understood why people/pc makers don't install the OS on a separate partition, though. It makes it so much less trouble to reinstall the OS without losing tons of stuff... which, at least with Windows, you will inevitably want to do eventually.

So far as computers becoming unusable in a year, I've never had that happen, even for gaming purposes. Granted, I never bought bottom of the line stuff, and I reinstalled the operating system if things got sluggish. One thing I have noticed though is that the reason I have to build a new system instead of upgrading has always been RAM. So my latest system, I said the hell with it and maxed that out. We'll see how long it lasts this time. Worse case scenario, it'll end up a nice server or software building box someday.


Advice for all of you, listen to this guy; turn off your computer (not standby, albeit hibernate is better if you really need to hold onto your work given the computer DOES shut off when you hibernate, but the RAM contents are stored on the hard drive) whenever you can or every night. Give it some rest. If you don't, you'll put alot of stress on the components, in particular the hard drive.

Programs are tied down to the OS in windows (see the registry, which is in the X:/Windows/system32/Config folder), thus that idea (putting the OS on a different HDD to make restoration quicker) is kinda difficult. What can be useful though is putting your documents on a second drive or setting up a RAID 1 (Mirrored) Array of Hard Drives. That way if one your hard drives fail, you still have all your data. If you have Vista/7/8 Pro or better or Mac OSX, taking a system image after you set up all your stuff is also a GREAT idea too, that makes restoring very easy.

Getting a new PC just because of RAM, really? RAM Modules (DIMMs) are flat out THE easiest internal component to replace on a motherboard! Well, assuming your motherboard/chipset can take the amount you put in and you're not using a non-serviceable PC like a Macbook Air. Even on laptops it's cake, you just need to get the right so-dimms (Crucial.com has a handy tool for figuring that out). No equipment required except maybe a screwdriver to open up the computer and/or a plastic scribe (basically a popsicle stick lol) if the RAM is under the keyboard on a laptop :P. Just find the service manual for your computer on the manufacturer's website for directions.
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54 / M / Tacoma, WA. wind...
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Posted 2/11/14 , edited 2/11/14
I have 9 PCs.... Mostly I run BOINC with them... http://boinc.berkeley.edu/
I have my own multi-project team... "[email protected]" It is how I keep my apartment warm in the winter. (Actually cheaper than running the heaters for a few moments when I am home.) One of my PCs has been running nonstop except for updates and upgrades for about six years 24/7. I like Windows 7 and 8... they take care of themselves rather well. They also make great DVRs if you have a tuner card.
I just decommissioned one of my first computers that was over 8 years old, only because it was too old to load Windows 8 on it... (I think it was too old for Windows 7 as well.)

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34 / M
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Posted 2/11/14

Jsybird2532 wrote:

I've never really had the problems outlined here on my own machines, but yet again I have experience as a PC Tech, so I know how to troubleshoot pretty well. Generally, regarding performance boosting after putting your computer through alot of toil (:P) try this regimen if you're on Windows.

Uninstall everything that isn't a Microsoft Component, a Hardware Driver, or a program you know about in Add/Remove Programs or Programs and Features. Also if you have any antivirus other than Microsoft Security Essentials, get rid of it and install Microsoft Security Essentials later (if you are running XP, do note though that MS will stop supporting Security Essentials next year, so you might want to consider sticking with Avast! or something). The rest of the programs out there are generally slow and/or overkill unless you're in a business environment, plus alot of them cost money you could be saving for yourself.

Use these three programs from ninite.com.

Glary Utilities (Do 1-click maintenance)
Malwarebytes antimalware (quick scan)
Superantispyware (quick scan)

Then run hitmanpro from hitmanpro.nl, the trial version.

Then using the BUILT-IN WINDOWS UTILITIES (NO IOBIT or anything)
Run Disk Cleanup (if on xp, you can do everything except compress old files, vista/7/8 just do everything)
Run a Disk Defrag

And finally, go into msconfig (windows key/flag/meta key+r (whatever you want to call it) and type msconfig in the run box, then press enter) and get rid of any startup programs you don't need.

Btw, this guy mentions RAM failures but those are really rare, I've seen ALOT more hard drives go bad in my time.


ahatestory wrote:

I must be weird... My desktops are only on if I'm around and planning to use them. My laptop, I admit, is another story, mostly getting put in sleep mode; then again, it doesn't get worked anywhere near as hard as the desktops.

Regarding people ignoring updates, Microsoft seems to have realized this and in newer versions of Windows likes to have computers forcefully restart for updates at like 3am, you know, right when you're in the middle of a game or something it seems.

I've never understood why people/pc makers don't install the OS on a separate partition, though. It makes it so much less trouble to reinstall the OS without losing tons of stuff... which, at least with Windows, you will inevitably want to do eventually.

So far as computers becoming unusable in a year, I've never had that happen, even for gaming purposes. Granted, I never bought bottom of the line stuff, and I reinstalled the operating system if things got sluggish. One thing I have noticed though is that the reason I have to build a new system instead of upgrading has always been RAM. So my latest system, I said the hell with it and maxed that out. We'll see how long it lasts this time. Worse case scenario, it'll end up a nice server or software building box someday.


Advice for all of you, listen to this guy; turn off your computer (not standby, albeit hibernate is better if you really need to hold onto your work given the computer DOES shut off when you hibernate, but the RAM contents are stored on the hard drive) whenever you can or every night. Give it some rest. If you don't, you'll put alot of stress on the components, in particular the hard drive.

Programs are tied down to the OS in windows (see the registry, which is in the X:/Windows/system32/Config folder), thus that idea (putting the OS on a different HDD to make restoration quicker) is kinda difficult. What can be useful though is putting your documents on a second drive or setting up a RAID 1 (Mirrored) Array of Hard Drives. That way if one your hard drives fail, you still have all your data. If you have Vista/7/8 Pro or better or Mac OSX, taking a system image after you set up all your stuff is also a GREAT idea too, that makes restoring very easy.

Getting a new PC just because of RAM, really? RAM Modules (DIMMs) are flat out THE easiest internal component to replace on a motherboard! Well, assuming your motherboard/chipset can take the amount you put in and you're not using a non-serviceable PC like a Macbook Air. Even on laptops it's cake, you just need to get the right so-dimms (Crucial.com has a handy tool for figuring that out). No equipment required except maybe a screwdriver to open up the computer and/or a plastic scribe (basically a popsicle stick lol) if the RAM is under the keyboard on a laptop :P. Just find the service manual for your computer on the manufacturer's website for directions.


I may be misinterpreting part of your post; it's late and I'm tired, so my apologies if so.
Anyway, regarding my comments on RAM, yes, it is really easy to replace it, and I've done so, but there are also a few reasons I've ended up replacing a system due to RAM:
- motherboard not supporting much more; my last system ran 2GB, which was fine when I made it something like 6 or so years ago, if I recall correctly, but its max was 4GB, which is the minimum today I think
- it seems outdated RAM rises in price, so it starts getting to the point where it just isn't worthwhile to buy it

Basically, I always ended up in the situation where I wished I'd just maxed out the ram in the first place.
So now I have more RAM than any sane person really needs, but then I'm a software developer and you have to be crazy to get into that field... anyway, now I can have lots of fun with virtual machines and stuff, so yay.

Also, I have to agree with you on actual issues with bad RAM; I don't recall having any, at least with my own systems. Also, maybe one hard drive in like 15 years may have failed on me, if that - my memory is a little fuzzy. Actually, what always dies on me is the damned graphics card, usually a few months before the next generation comes out or else right when prices jump due to supply issues or something stupid... so infuriating.

Regarding hard drive failures and RAID, if I recall correctly, you *really* want to replace any drive that fails in a RAID as soon as possible. The odds are higher than one would expect that another drive in the RAID will fail soon afterward.

Also, so far as shutting your system down - part of the reason I do that is for security; you can't get into a system that's powered off. At least, so far as I know, you can't, but who knows; crackers keep getting scarier and scarier these days. Like Masuzu Natsukawa said in Oreshura, "The Internet is a scary place."
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25 / F / Connecticut
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Posted 2/11/14 , edited 2/11/14


Yep, old RAM is expensive...and DDR4 is coming out sooner rather than later--I don't think it's gonna displace DDR3 too quickly tho, thank ze lord.

But yep, same on the RAM thing, I've only really bought laptops for myself so far though, and I've always skimped and gone second best on the RAM because the OEM wanted too much money to max it out. I always ended up replacing it later for less though when RAM prices went down in a year or two on all the laptops I've ever bought for myself. For my next computer though, which will more than likely be a custom ATX or micro-ATX tower, I will probably max out the RAM or get 16GB, whichever is lower...well, unless there seems to be a reason to go higher to 24 or 32GB when my laptop finally dies (when it dies, I'll just buy a tablet, I don't really need a laptop as a primary computer anymore as I'm no longer a college student lol). I don't see that happening though especially given the fact that we're likely going to hit the end of Moore's Law this decade given the constraint known as the size of an atom :P.

I agree about having to be crazy to go into software development. I initially started in university with a computer science major, C/Unix was killer plus I couldn't imagine being happy doing programming in any of the other languages I worked with (Java/C++/Assembly) as my primary task for a living...

Maybe you could try a better cooling system or repasting your GPUs every once in a while? The heat on those tends to be killer. My current laptop (an alienware m11x, which is a netbook sized gaming laptop with a dedicated card that's still actually VERY good considering it is nearly 4 years old at this point :D) would overheat alot before I finally decided to stop being lazy and go ahead and repaste it.

And yep about the RAID, because generally both the drives are the same age and exposed to the same environmental conditions :P. Still though, it gives you a nice window of opportunity.

Well, about the security risk when your computer is off, I guess you can check to make sure PXE (Network) booting is off or you can unplug the computer lol.
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Posted 2/12/14
I've had my Mac for 2.5 years now and I've never had a single problem. Not one. NOT ONE.

So, I can't really relate to the OP....I feel so left out...
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30 / M / WA, USA
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Posted 2/12/14
I'm not sure how old Ellis here is. I think 5 or 6 years. It's hard to say because I upgrade her every once in a while. (A while back she got a new motherboard and an A10-5800K) I have some timestamps on my Linux install that indicate about 6 years. I program for a living, so my computer setups are a little weird.

I haven't had to deal with OP's issues on my own computer much though. My dad's however... he once got a virus that replaced every ad spot on almost any page with male enhancement ads. And that was one of the more mild infections.
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23 / M / California
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Posted 2/12/14

iblessall wrote:

I've had my Mac for 2.5 years now and I've never had a single problem. Not one. NOT ONE.

So, I can't really relate to the OP....I feel so left out...


I'll alleviate the problem!

The Life of a Mac


The Mac is a fully self-reliant computer, immune to all forms of digital strife that plague PCs and possibly Linuxes. Macs will update on their own, defrag on their own. They'll even save all your work for you. Aside from the lack of customization options, it's the perfect desktop companion. It's so well-made, you'll barely even notice there's a fan in that thing. Macs can last for years, decades possibly, without a single problem, but when that inevitable day comes; when a Mac can valiantly slap off all manner of nasty data no more, nothing on this planet can save it. All that is left for you to do is buy a new Mac, and quietly weep.
Posted 2/12/14
I've changed laptops too many times. I spilled water on my current one and it's hard to press some keys. Apart from that, it works just fine. I bought it while on holiday and don't have an extended warranty on it.
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31 / M / memphis area
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Posted 2/12/14
If you don't have a virus scanner on your mac you wouldn't even know if you have a virus http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57409619-83/more-than-600000-macs-infected-with-flashback-botnet/
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34 / M
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Posted 2/12/14

rokubungi-g wrote:

If you don't have a virus scanner on your mac you wouldn't even know if you have a virus http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-57409619-83/more-than-600000-macs-infected-with-flashback-botnet/


Shun the non-believer!
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54 / M / Tacoma, WA. wind...
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Posted 2/12/14
E-set sells anti-virus for your Mac as well as your iPhone... If you watch the sales you can get it for less than $30.
I think McAfee sells it too...

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23 / M / California
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Posted 2/13/14
This is the only story I've ever written that's gotten me this much tech advice.
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