Make your computer clean, lean and mean

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Translation memory software can be demanding on your computer. If you have translated for several years, the software scans all your previous translations looking for similar sentences/segments to make your work faster. If when working with such a tool you feel it is a little sluggish, this can slow you down, adding up over time and resulting in lost revenue. Because time is money. If you feel it is working well then you can consider skipping this section; however, it might be a worthwhile read to learn about some precautions you can take to avoid viruses. Not all virus protection software is perfect, which may end up being costly, such as keylogging software, which keeps track of which websites you access and the keys you punch in to login. Such as your PayPal account, and the subsequent username and password. Which it would subsequently send by email to somewhere in Russia and then, well, the rest could be painful history.

If your computer feels sluggish in any way, the first thing you want to check out is your CPU usage (check out the computer intro section for an understanding of the various components of your computer).

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For this I like to use the Task Manager (Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools > Advanced Tools > Task Manager). You can set it so that it displays a little icon in the task bar (above pic with the half bright green icon showing 50% usage as I was opening up VLC). If you have a good machine that is already clean, lean and mean, the CPU average use should be around 2-3%. If you double click on the icon, the program pops up, and if you go to the Processes tab, it should show you the list of programs and processes running on your computer. Make sure you have the “Show processes from all users” checkbox selected so you can see all the processes running on your computer. Click on the header of the CPU column to sort all the processes in order of consumption. If you press the header again, it will sort it from highest to lowest, or lowest to highest.

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If sorted from highest to lowest and your machine is humming nicely, such as at only 2-3% CPU usage, the top process would be System Idle Process, in this case running at 97-98%. This actually just shows how much the CPU is NOT being used, so the higher this percentage the better. If it is constantly showing at 50%, it means all other processes on your computer combined are consuming 50% of your CPU. The higher this consumption, or the lower the percent “used” by System Idle Process, the more your CPU or processor is busy. The busier your CPU, the less capacity it will have to perform the tasks you want to make you faster money. It can also overheat your CPU, especially if you are working in a warmer climate, and burn it out faster. If running at 50%, it will also show this in the taskbar icon, half of it filled up with bright green.

Check your ram

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If your CPU is constantly running at a high rate, the first thing you want to do is check your ram. As explained in the computer intro, if you don’t have enough ram to efficiently run all your programs, your computer will end up using your harddrive to constantly store and retrieve bits of data that it cannot hold in ram.

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To check this, a good, free program to use, also for checking the condition of your computer in general, is Glary Utilities. It can be your one stop shop for a complete overview of your system and how to optimise it. When in the Advanced Tools tab, under System Status click on System Information, and then Memory. Mine is showing at 1,385 MB (1.3 GB) Free Memory, so I’m doing okay.

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If you are very low on ram, either you need to buy more ram, or you could have a lot of unnecessary processes running that you don’t even need. This will be explained later.

Check your processes

If you have plenty of ram, then you know that your high CPU usage is not because of that. Later I will explain how to free up ram by shutting down unnecessary software and process – this is always a good thing. Think lean and mean!

To check your CPU usage, double click on the Task Manager icon and sort your process in order of CPU consumption. Make sure you have the “Show process from all users” so that you can see everything running on your computer. If you will see a process that is hogging up a lot of CPU, you will want to analyse it. You can do an internet search on its name and research what program creates and uses such a process. If the name is followed by an extension, such as .exe, make sure to write that out as well. Note though that there are many websites which offer information regarding different processes but which loudly display flashy banners warning you that your computer is unsafe and that you should download such and such software to clean it up. Be careful of these. processlibrary.com is one reputable website, otherwise ignore the ads and just read the information. You should soon be able to recognise the serious sites which offer useful information and are not try to sell you a scam.

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The good sites will also inform you if a said process can actually be a virus in disguise, and how to deal with it. If some process is continuously hogging up a lot of CPU, you definitely want to first check if it could be a virus, and the study it to understand what the problem is and how you can deal with it. To save your CPU from burning out, and to free up as much CPU as possible so that your computer is ready to fully serve you for whatever you need, you should try to get the cruising speed down to about 2-3% total usage. It hardly requires any CPU to type into a Word file, and most, quality translation memory software should do all the analysis before you start working, and not while you work.

In Glary Utilities, under System Control > Processes, you can see the same information but with a rating from users or the developer regarding the safety of each process. This may be interesting to check out, but does not necessarily have to be accurate.

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A lot of programs might use and start a lot of processes, so if you do not see anything consuming a lot of CPU in your long list, you can move on to the next section, rather than study each of them.

Check your startup programs

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In Glary Utilities, under System Control > Startup Items, you can see a list of programs that are set to initiate every time you turn on your Windows. You can go through all the tabs and decide if you want to disable any of the programs from starting automatically with Windows. When you install programs, a lot of them will automatically throw things into the Startup Menu to run automatically with each Windows restart. As explained below, the more programs you install on your system, the slower it generally gets, especially if they command some process to start with Windows. Look through all these, but we will get to your Windows Services later.

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Another good, free program to have is Winpatrol. Not only is it a very light program which monitors for anything peculiar happening on your computer, it also has some good tools, and above all, the Delayed Start tab. I like to have a lot of programs open on my computer and find that Windows can run into problems if too many of them are thrown into the Startup menu. If you go to the Startup Programs tab and right mouse click on one of the programs, you should notice Move to Delayed Start Program List in the dropdown menu. You can do this with some of your programs, spreading them out over minutes and specifying exactly how long after Windows startup each should be activated. This will give Windows time to startup properly, and then the other programs in succession. There is nothing more irritating than having to restart Windows and then manually open all your usual software, when instead you can just turn on your computer and all will be automatically returned to its usual state (even individual files are possible) in a manner of a few minutes.

Check Windows Services

A little bit more complicated, but if you want to go further to becoming leaner, at least worth checking out.

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In Glary Utilities, under System Control, click on Services. This should open up Windows’ services window. You can click on the column header Startup Type to order the services in that way. What will interest you are the ones that are set to start automatically, even with a delayed start, and you will probably be surprised to find out how many there are. An easy way to deal with this is to turn to an expert. You can do a net search for something like “which windows services to turn on or off” and do a bit of reading to make your system leaner. Not all the services in this list are part of Windows, so you can definitely clean up a little shop here. Based on what recommendations you find, just double click on the service in question so you can change the Startup Type accordingly (such as from Automatic to Disabled or Manual).

Check installed programs

Perhaps before even checking all your running processes and services, you should check what programs you have installed on your system. As mentioned above, the more programs you have installed and the more processes they automatically initiate on Windows startup, the slower your computer will get.

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In Glary Utilities > Programs > Uninstall, you can view all the programs installed on your system and easily uninstall any that you feel you do not truly need. If you do not know what the program is, simply look it up on the net. Get clean and lean!

Check Windows Features

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Go to Start > Control Panel > Programs and Features > “Turn Windows features on or off”. Here you will find other programs you can “uninstall”, if you do not need them. They are a part of Windows, so you can always reactivate them, although it may require the installation disk. This step might also be better done before analysing individual services, because once you remove them, as with any third party programs as explained above, you will have that much less to analyse!

Check your registry

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Once you removed all the programs you do not need, it is possible that they have still left some traces in your registry. This is like the inner brain of your Windows, so it’s better not to have that unnecessarily muddled or polluted. A simple solution is to click on the 1-Click Maintenance tab in Glary Utilities, Scan for Issues, and Resolve. You can also check out the Options and play around with that.

Remove some bells and whistles

If after all this you STILL find your system sluggish, you can go to Start > Control Panel > Performance Information and Tools > Adjust Visual Effects to bring up the following panel:

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You can click on Adjust for Best Performance and compare the results. If you notice a marked improvement but miss some of the fancy effects, such as the shadow effect shown in the image above, you can select Custom like I have and play around with removing or adding individual effects to see which combination will give you the look and feel you like without compromising performance.

Hope your system has improved and you can start to make more money now!

madmin
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madmin

Head Honcho at KENAX
After translating and managing translation projects for more than 20 years, I'm happy to teach others the ropes and move on to other interests. My greatest perk from this profession is that it has given me the freedom to work when and where I want, and eventually to loosen the straps and travel freely around the world.
madmin
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