Welcome to a brand new and exciting addition to the PC Pitstop blog, Extreme PC Makeover. It’s happened to all of us. Your PC is getting old and it has slowed down to a crawl. You begin to look at the new computer ads in the Sunday newspaper. But you don’t really need a new PC, you need a PC Makeover. That’s the name of our new promotion, where some lucky soul will not need to buy a new computer because we will get that PC running like new and 100% for free. The only catch is that we get to write about it for this column. Just fill out the application below to see if you qualify.
Leigh Mesh is the bassist for the New York Met and in need of a PC Makeover.
To kick off the promotion, I want to introduce you to my first cousin’s husband, Leigh. Leigh is a great, high energy guy that in the evenings plays bass for the New York Metropolitan. By day, Leigh is a hard core outdoorsman who rides his bike through the New York hills, goes cross country skiing, and plays golf. Leigh and my cousin Nancy also travel once a year to Switzerland to teach music to the underprivileged.
Slightly, before Christmas, I received this email from Leigh.
How is life? I hope you and the family are doing well, and have great holidays. Don’t be offended. I am ready to junk our Dell. It is moving so slowly, I can’t even open your products. We restart it to try to get it faster. Something is wrong. My brother in law, very bright and computer savvy, thinks the machine is totally outdated and should be replaced. Any advice for us? It would be most appreciated. Thanks
When I read this email, I immediately believed I could fix the problem. I believe that there is no such thing as an old PC. There are a myriad of reasons that PC’s become slower, but age is not one of them. Since Leigh is in New York State and I was in South Carolina, my plan was to use GoToMeeting to gain control of his computer. Once I had control of his computer, then I would let PC Matic run its magic and see what happens.
I was confident that PC Matic would find whatever was wrong with this PC. My gut feel was that there was severe fragmentation probably on a full hard drive. Or perhaps, he had some really nasty malware on the system. After about 5 minutes, PC Matic showed the dashboard and I was stunned. The PC had a few junk files and one start up application and three drivers to be updated. These are all part of good PC maintenance but they do not cause your PC to be slow. I fixed the issues that PC Matic recommended but the PC was still sluggish.
To my disappointment, the PC Matic dashboard found only minor performance improvements.
I have a simple litmus test (other than the PC Matic benchmarks) for PC sluggishness. I just click on the Windows button on the bottom left hand corner and I see how long it takes for the menu to appear. On bad PC’s, it can take up to a minute. New PC’s, it happens in a lot less than a second. My cousin-in-law’s computer was taking about 3-4 seconds.
I decided to disable all the start up applications with MSCONFIG. Usually, this only gives a small tweak to performance but maybe there was a bizarre application that was being launched at start up that was the culprit. I rebooted the system and NADA. The PC was still limping along.
This entire time, Leigh and I, are chatting on the phone about the kids, sports, the weather, etc. Then Leigh stopped me, and asked, “You seem annoyed.” I wasn’t really annoyed but I was puzzled because there had to be some reason why his PC was slow. It certainly wasn’t because it was old. So I ask him, “How long has your PC been slow? What do you use your PC for primarily?” I didn’t really want to know. I was just buying time until I it figured out. “It’s been slow for about a year, and we mainly use it for email and web browsing.”, he responded.
Email. Then it hit me. I looked on the screen and his email client was still open because he needed email to activate the GoToMeeting. His email client was AOL. Could it be? We disabled AOL and downloaded Google Chrome. Boom! His PC was officially back to normal.
I asked him, “You know that you don’t need to get your mail using the AOL application. You can go to AOL.com and get all of your email there.”
“I knew that but I also have all my email addresses store in AOL.”, he replied.
We went over to AOL.com and confirmed that AOL stores all of his contacts on line as well as his email. So lastly, I explained to him that he no longer needed to pay for AOL. Not only was it making his PC slower but he was paying for the privilege.
Here’s Leigh’s last email to me.
Thank you so much for all your time and patience. The computer is way faster. I canceled aol and have uninstalled the software. Take care!
That ends our first Extreme PC Makeover. I still believe that if any PC, no matter how old, has enough memory and disk space, it can browse the web and do basic computing.
If you have a PC that is a candidate for an Extreme PC Makeover, fill out this form to see if your PC qualifies. Not every submission will be selected for the Extreme PC Makeover.