Speed Up Your Shop Computer

Computers are plastic and metal with electric current flowing through them. Expect perfection 50 years from now and today, deal with the realities of imperfect computer design and function.

Computer Processing Speed

It's easy to understand the relationship between horsepower and the speed of a vehicle. More horsepower = more speed.

The 'engine' in a computer is a processor (on a computer chip).

The same concept is basically true of computers (and networks) as it is for cars: more processing speed = faster processing. (Other factors (below) also affect speed.)

Find your computer's processor on this chart and see where the computer ranks against the fastest to slowest shown: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/common_cpus.html

(To find the name of the processor, click on Start then RIGHT click on Computer and select Properties.)

processor

The 'speed' of the processor is measured in GHz (gigahertz).

speed

The only ways to increase processing speed are to replace the processor or acquire a computer with a faster processor.

RAM Memory

The computer can store and retrieve data using the hard drive (slow), or 'Random Access Memory' (fast). Windows Vista/7/8/10 use 1GB of RAM alone, so if the computer has only 2GB of RAM, all other programs are limited to using what's left.

Want to see what is running on your computer, using up RAM? RIGHT click on the taskbar (at the bottom of the monitor screen) and click on Start Task Manager. Click on the Processes tab then click on the header named Memory to sort the running programs by the amount of RAM being used by each. Here's a partial example:

processes

There are 8 programs gobbling up 1.6GB of RAM BEFORE BCSS is opened so how much is left for BCSS and the FoxPro database? That depends upon how much RAM is installed on the computer.

To find the amount of RAM, click on Start then RIGHT click on Computer and select Properties.

ram-memory

In This example the computer has 6GB of RAM. Windows 7 is using 1GB. The 8 programs cites are using 1.6GB. All other programs on the computer might be using 1GB so any other program will have about 2.4GB which is adequate.

A computer with 2GB of RAM will have 1GB to run programs so it becomes important to not have more programs running (windows open) than absolutely necessary. (See computer maintenance) for seeing how to stop programs from starting when Windows boots up.)

All computers have limits on the amount of RAM that can be installed. (https://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/aa366778(v=vs.85).aspx). Basically a 32-bit machine can have 4GB and a 64-bit can have 512GB.

For those not technically inclined, the easiest way to increase RAM is to call on a local computer-repair business.

Database Size

Most of us don't have a problem bringing a bag of groceries into the house from the car but it would take a much longer time to drag in a 50-pound bag of rice.

So it is with computers: Checking for email messages is a light task and takes an instant. Interacting with a store's database containing thousands of records will take longer so it's reasonable to expect that a database-driven program will run slower as the database grows in size.

Malware

Viruses and spyware bog computers down. ESET is the best anti-virus program and they provide a free online virus scanner. It detects and removes threats. Free (and most paid) anti-virus programs are insufficient protection. ESET is with the small annual investment to have the best possible protection against these annoyances.

Networks

Wireless networks for business purposes are out of the question. Just understanding that data is being passed literally through the air and somehow miraculously is being received by another computer - intact without errors - is just too much to expect. Yes it works most of the time and for the times it does not, it all falls back on the decision to use wireless technology in the work place.

Computers on a network should be joined by top-grade (cat6 or 6e) Ethernet cables and a robust (3 GB) router (not a hub or switch). The Ethernet ports on each computer should be 3GB or better. The host computer should have plenty of power to drive the network. For BCSS see networking requirements.

Add Speed

Lots of unnecessary programs and files build up over time. Files become fragmented. The Windows Registry becomes cluttered. Advanced System Optimizer provides a free scan to see what issues reside on the computer and the program offers an option to clean things up.

If the computer 'all of a sudden' develops a new problem, Windows System Restore provides a safe and quick way of restoring the computer to it's state prior to the change in behavior. Click on Start and then type System Restore and click on that option to learn more. Restore is reversible and doesn't affect current data.

Have BCSS tech support permanently delete all files prior to a date provided by you. Keep a current copy of the database (which includes all data) for historical reference and use a trimmed database for daily operations. Users who have done this have reported significant drops in wait times. (Keep all current-year data so sales reports will be accurate. Keep multiple copies of the whole database for security.)





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