Computer hints and tips 11 by Bob Gornal G7DME

As a follow up to the previous I thought that so much has changed over the intervening years that it could be fun to put something together relating modern systems so I decided to look at how to speed up data transfer thus improving the overall performance of a modern computer system.

There are a number of ways of doing this some are outlined below:-
1  Use a faster processor
2  Add more or use faster memory
3  Add or use faster CD ROMs
4  Use faster hard drives
5  Update the motherboard
6  Use solid state hard drives
7  Use memory sticks to save data

These are just a few of the options available to the user and most if not all come at a premium and in the current times this may not be an option so what can we do.

Well to start with make sure your system is free of adware and viruses while adware is more of a nuisance than a threat it takes up precious system recourses which could be better used elsewhere.

Unfortunately these days it very hard to avoid adware you can get caught by just logging onto a website which will download a cookie and then once on your system then that’s it you can’t get rid of it no matter how hard you try short of reinstalling everything 90% of all the adware software removal tools are worse than useless and many cases they install their own adware server.

It’s something I been hammering on about for years there is no such thing as a free lunch. No company no matter how noble they appear spend money developing software to give away even companies like Microsoft can’t be trusted they bang on about there privacy statement but it isn’t worth the paper it’s written on and this is true of the hundreds of millions of companies out there, why do you think spam is such a problem a list of email addresses and sites people visit is worth billions of dollars to the right people and believe me they all do it 89% of emails floating around the internet is spam the figures are frightening it runs into not 10s of millions but 10s of billions a day and where do they get the information from to send out all the stuff it does not take a genius to work it out.

Have you ever given a second thought to why people like Microsoft insist you register your product it far less to do with piracy and far more to do with information gathering information that can be sold on to government departments or multinational companies or exchanged for favours in the right place,

information is money and money is information, from the moment you connect to the internet to the moment you disconnect you can be traced perhaps in a future article I will look at these issues in far more detail.

For now we will content ourselves with the main thrust of this article, viruses are a completely different kettle of fish, not only do they take up precious resources (as was shown in most of the earlier editions of windows 98, Millennium, 2000, server 2000, Server 2003 and XP all where prone to this form of attack, viruses and adware would attached themselves to the host service, this would then make this one service use 100% of processor time, which rendered the system almost impossible to use) that can be used elsewhere but they can also damage your data.

Trojans, worms, and the like are generally written to either send information about you back to the author or to prevent you having access to certain sites.

Conficker is one such example, the virus first attacks your antivirus software then it prevents you getting software updates, blocks access to most security sites and finally attaches itself to communication ports so it can be ready to effect the next system to use the compromised machine and as an encore it’s believed to be a keyboard monitoring virus as well which  filters all keyboard activity and if it spots what it thinks to be a credit card number or a password to a secure site it will copy this information then send it back to the author.

The beauty of this system is it gets the information it wants from the source and no amount of online encryption can protect you from it and generally such viruses are very difficult to spot as they always mimic normal keyboard use this information can then be sold on to the highest bidder, again this is perhaps material that should be saved for a later date.

One of the problems people face today is lack of opportunity when purchasing operating systems Microsoft who have the monopoly in the software market is well supported throughout the industry but it seems that every time hardware improves the next version of their operating take up all the additional power of the new hardware so the end user is no better off in real terms.

So how can we improve the situation, well one way is to switch off all the background processes that you don’t need when using the system, this includes all the stuff that appears on the quick launch bar, indexing service is one such service that you can turn off, if you are operating on a network and you are not using the internet turn off the wireless card or the Lan link, any items which are being displayed on the task bar if you’re not using it close it down, other services include automatic updates, system restore, disk monitoring, you can even turn of your virus software and your firewall when you’re not accessing the web or copying stuff from 3rd party machines, installing software or collecting your emails.

What people don’t realise is that most of this stuff is to protect you from the internet nothing else so if you are not using the net then turn it off.

Here is list of background services that can be safely turned off on your XP Installation:-

Alerter.
Notifies selected users and computers of administrative.

Application Layer Gateway Service.
Provides support for 3rd party protocol plug-ins for Internet Connection     Sharing and the Internet Connection Firewall

Automatic Updates.
Enables the download and installation of critical Windows updates.

Background Intelligent Transfer Service.
Uses idle network bandwidth to transfer data.

ClipBook.
Enables ClipBook Viewer to store information and share it with remote     computers.

Computer Browser.
Maintains an updated list of computers on the network and supplies this list     to computers designated as browsers.

Cryptographic Services.
Provides three management services Catalogue Database Service, which     confirms the signatures of Windows files.

Distributed Transaction Co-ordinator.
Co-ordinates transactions that span multiple resource managers, such as     databases, message queues, and file systems.

DNS Client.
Resolves and caches Domain Name System (DNS) names for this com-    puter. If this service is stopped, this computer will not be able to resolve     DNS names and locate Active Directory domain controllers. If this service     is disabled, any services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start.
Comment: It’s typically good to leave this on.

Error Reporting Service.
Allows error reporting for services and applications running in non-        standard environments.

Help and Support.
Enables Help and Support Center to run on this computer.

Human Interface Device Access.
Enables generic input access to Human Interface Devices.

Indexing Service.
Indexes contents and properties of files on local and remote computers;     provides rapid access to files through flexible querying language.

IMAPI CD-Burning COM Service.
Manages CD recording using Image Mastering Applications Programming     Interface (IMAPI).  A CD burner installed. If you don’t use it, disable it.

Internet Connection Firewall (ICF) / Internet Connection Sharing (ICS)
Provides network address translation, addressing, name resolution and/or     intrusion prevention services for a home or small office network.

Messenger.
Transmits net send and Alerter service messages between clients and
servers. This service is not related to Windows Messenger.

Net Logon.
Supports pass-through authentication of account logon events for
computers in a domain.

NetMeeting Remote Desktop Sharing.
Enables an authorized user to access this computer remotely by using
NetMeeting over a corporate intranet.

Remote Desktop Help Session Manager.
Manages and controls Remote Assistance. If this service is stopped,
Remote Assistance will be unavailable.

Remote Procedure Call (RPC) Locator.
Manages the RPC name service database.

Remote Registry.
Enables remote users to modify registry settings on this computer and
change your registry. Great hacker tool if you can’t secure it. Disable it.

System Restore Service.
Performs system restore functions. To stop service, turn off System Restore     from the System Restore tab in My Computer->Properties.

TCP/IP NetBIOS Helper.
Enables support for NetBIOS over TCP/IP (NetBT) service and NetBIOS     name resolution.

Telephony.
Provides Telephony API (TAPI) support for programs that control
telephony devices and IP based voice connections on the local computer     and, through the LAN, on servers that are also running the service.

Telnet.
Enables a remote user to log on to this computer and run programs, and     supports various TCP/IP Telnet clients, including UNIX-based and Win    dows-based computers. If this service is stopped, remote user access to
programs might be unavailable.

Terminal Services.
Allows multiple users to be connected interactively to a machine as well as     the display of desktops and applications to remote computers

Themes.
Provides user experience theme management.

Uninterruptible Power Supply.
Manages an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) connected to the
computer.

Upload Manager.
Manages synchronous and asynchronous file transfers between clients and     servers on the network. If this service is stopped, synchronous and Asyn-
chronous file transfers between clients and servers on the network will not     occur.

Windows Time.
Maintains date and time synchronization on all clients and servers in the     network.

Wireless Zero Configuration.
Provides automatic configuration for the 802.11 adapters
Comment: Unless you use 802.11 devices, disable it.

Workstation.
Creates and maintains client network connections to remote servers.

Automatic Updates.
Background Intelligent Transfer Service.

All these services can be accessed through the service tag under administration. Turning off some of these services may have adverse side effects but for your average stand alone installation it won’t make much difference but it will certainly speed up your computer, besides provided you make a note of the changes you made then it won’t be a problem to backtrack on what you have done to correct the situation if one crops up.

I think that’s enough to be going on with for this edition of Computer hints and tips Next time we will look at what we can do in the hardware area to speed things up.

De Bob G7DME from Vital Spark December 2009.

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