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Solutions: Find out how to improve computer speed

I've had my Dell Vostro 1000 laptop, running Windows XP Home with Internet Explorer 8, professionally checked out and found no virus. I also had 2 gigabytes more memory added to bring it to a total of 2.5 gigabytes. I can be on Excel, close it out, then run QuickBooks, close it out and then Microsoft Outlook, and when I type it doesn't catch up on the screen until eons later. Then, after being on Outlook, I close and open Internet Explorer with Google as my opening page, and after I get a site open, the hourglass pops up and I'm locked. I can't do squat. Every now and then I get a "CPU high usage."

This could be a lot of things, but let's first look at Outlook. Start by making sure that you have the very latest updates for both your version of Office (Outlook) and Windows XP. Corrupted PST files (the Outlook storage file for your messages) can also cause problems similar to what you've seen. Outlook comes with a utility to fix a corrupt personal folder, called scanpst.exe; it can be found within the Microsoft Office directory.

If problems persist, the next time your PC appears to be frozen, press ctrl-alt-del and select Task Manager. Click the Process tab and then the CPU heading twice to bring the top CPU consumers to the top of the list (if the PC doesn't respond to ctrl-alt-del, then start Task Manager ahead of time and follow the same steps). Check the process name at the top of the list. Windows XP Task Manager doesn't have an "Open File Location" right-click option, so you'll need to search through your disk drive manually to find the process executable (open My Computer, C Drive and press F3, then type the process name into the search box).

This alone won't solve your problem but at least now you can be specific when looking for a solution.

On AOL.com, I came across a message on the Internet that stated I had won a $1,000 gift certificate to Wal-Mart. All I had to do was answer some questions such as name, age, address. I responded, and then it stated I had to purchase two of three articles to get the certificate. Needless to say I deleted it. Since then my messages have been loaded with junk mail. How can I stop this?

Those offers are tempting, but as you've found they are always after your money and/or e-mail address, which in turn they sell to the purveyors of all the junk mail. AOL, as well as most other e-mail providers, have junk e-mail filters that you can turn on. Go to AOL's help page and search for "Junk Mail" to get the specifics on your options.

I believe AOL also allows you to create other user names, so that may also be an option if you want to stay with AOL e-mail. Do not pay for any application that promises to remove your junk mail — you have better options available for free.

But my recommendation is to create a free e-mail account under either Hotmail or Gmail (Google mail). This will allow you to transition to the new e-mail address, which you'll only give out to contacts from whom you wish to receive e-mail.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Find out how to improve computer speed 07/17/11 [Last modified: Sunday, July 17, 2011 4:30am]
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