My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?

Impossible Questions to Answer by E-Mail Rant


I admit it. I enjoy people contacting me and asking technical questions. I also enjoy sharing my knowledge with strangers (people that do not contact me but surf on in) as well as, sometimes, the desperate people asking me for help as a "last resort." As with anything, this also has its limits.

This page contains "all too frequent" questions that are "Impossible To Answer by E-Mail." The reason behind this is not to make anyone angry or shun people from contacting me. What it is an attempt at is to "answer" some of those questions that I do not have time to reply personally. Most of these E-Mails are novel length. Some are two sentences like "My computer crashes. What is wrong?" Regardless of the content, I fail to have enough time to remotely diagnose, sometimes, extremely complex issues. Often times, I will equate technical information to a car. People can relate to cars much better than "complicated" items like computers. In reality, I am not mechanically inclined.

Usually, the exact amount of information that I would need from the writer is the exact same information they would need to figure it out for themselves. I do not know how many times I have attempted a reply and asked items like "What kind of components does your system contain?," only to get an answer like "Dell."

Quick Links


1) My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?
2) Why does this game (software) not work?
3) I have AOL (Earthlink, MSN) and...?
4) My internet is slow. What can I do?
5) My computer crashes. What is wrong?
6) Do I need these particular files (insert list of files here)? Can I "safely" delete them?
7) What security measures do you take for your network, web site, and / or computer systems?
8) I cannot remember what tweak I applied 3 months ago from a different web site to break my system, but can you tell me how to fix it?
9) I have a 1500 node network, 2000 users, and numerous server and advanced server systems. Why can't I log in to the domain controllers on a few of them?


And the ever popular one


10) I have searched google.com, scoured forums, mined news groups, and asked everyone I know, including the neighbor kid for an answer to my problem. Can you help?




1) My system performance is slow. Should I upgrade?

Performance is completely in the eyes of the beholder. It seems to me that, if you are unhappy with the performance of your system and you are asking "other people" for opinions on if you should spend money on  the computer or not, yes, you should upgrade.

If the system does exactly what you want and you have no problem with running Windows 95 on a 486, then who am I to say "What you should do?"

As far as what components you should swap out... way too many factors are at play for me to give exact information on the needed change.

With a car in mind, should you:

  • Use "higher grade gas?"
  • Change out the exhaust system?
  • or just swap out the engine with a larger one putting out more horsepower?

Is all up to you and your wallet.

 2) Why does this game (software) not work?

I have no idea. I am not a programmer, nor am I employed with any software (or hardware) company or developer. What I am is a geek that enjoys making "other people's software and hardware run better."

The best thing to do is contact the publisher of your software package for technical support. No, I do not have every companies' web site memorized, nor do I know who published your game. The usual recommendation is to look toward the back of your manual for contact information.

I usually equate this question to dialing a random phone number and asking the answering party "How come my car does not start?"

3) I have AOL (Earthlink, MSN) and...?


Please contact your "major ISP" for what ever issue you have with them. I have never used any of the "Big Guy's" services, nor do I plan on it.

4) My internet is slow. What can I do?


Get cable/DSL connection, change to a different ISP, or move your home.

Upgrading your service to "broadband" is the simple answer to this question. If you are wishing for faster always on connection, DSL and cable is the only way to go. Check around your local area and your phone book for more information as "unless you live within 5 miles of my house, I cannot recommend a local ISP for you."

Understand this: most "phone companies," if you are on a dial up, will not help you in computer connectivity issues.

Changing to a different ISP is not all that big of a deal. If you are truly angry at your current providers service, by all means, vote with your money and go somewhere else! Most ISP's have "free trial periods" for 30 to 90 days. Test out the service. See if it is better or worse.

Moving is another option... drastic, but effective.. as long as you check to ensure broadband is available before hand. :)

5) My computer crashes. What is wrong?


It could be anything. I have absolutely no way of knowing exactly what is wrong with your system. Some causes of instability are:

  • Cheap components
  • Poorly written software
  • Outdated device drivers
  • Under specification power supply
  • Faulty components
  • OS "upgrade" installations
  • or even operator error

The best way to solve these issues are:

  • Do not purchase cheap hardware just to "save a buck." Really, you do get what you pay for.
  • Avoid "beta" software or ensure that you back up all data before attempting a new installation of any software package.
  • You must ensure that you are using the latest drivers provided by the manufacture of your hardware. I cannot guess what drivers you need for your system. Either contact your system vendor or computer system builder.
  • Ensure that your power supply can provide enough juice for your system. 300 Watts was an insane amount of "extra" power... now, anything below 400 Watts is "not recommended" by me unless you have very few components installed.
  • Faulty components can cause all sorts of problems. Take it to a qualified technician (for a price). I cannot possibly tell you what is wrong from my house.
  • I never recommend anyone to "upgrade" their existing OS installation with a newer one. I alwaysrecommend a clean install. I even had one person contact me that told me they went from Win95, Win98, WinMe, then on to installing XP and "are having problems." This does not surprise me in the least bit.
  • Be careful. Think before doing. Check the next question.


6) Do I need these particular files (insert list of files here)? Can I "safely" delete them?


I am not about to tell you that you can "safely" delete files. That is flame bait if I ever heard it.

Not long ago, when I was learning the computer in's and out's, I would randomly delete system files "just to see what happened." Help files, strangely named .dll's, temp directories... you name it, if I could see it, it was a target. As a result, I spent many late nights reinstalling the operating system. Just for your information, a few   programs I have encountered actually required the help file to be available or it would not even start. I found that out the hard way.

With the low cost of storage (CD-R's and CDRW's) and even hard drives, there is no reason to save 5 MB by deleting a help file. Save yourself plenty of headache and do not even bother.

7) What security measures do you take for your network, web site, and / or computer systems?


Answering that question is like placing a sign on the front door saying "The door is locked. Either go around to the back or look under the welcome mat for the key."

Security is what you make of it. Some people do not run virus scanners or firewalls. Even others leave valuable accounts (like admin) completely open with no passwords because "no one else lives in the house." As long as you connect your system up to a larger network (as in, the internet), you are vulnerable to attack.

If you wish to have a secure system, do not install an OS, unplug it from the modem, disconnect power and lock it away. That is, of course, as long as you do not post a sign up.

8) I cannot remember what tweak I applied 3 months ago from a different web site to break my system, but can you tell me how to fix it?


If you cannot remember enough to tell me what you did, how do you expect me to do anything about it?

9) I have a 1500 node network, 2000 users, and numerous server and advanced server systems. Why can't I log in to the domain controllers on a few of them?


Yes, I have received several E-mails such as this one. If you are an "IT PRO" in charge of such a large network, you should not be relying on some stranger across the internet to answer issues such as this. Even though the amount of systems or the specific problem changes, I cannot help you out if "you are in a corporate IT environment." I am not employed in the "IT" field, nor dealt with any domain controller issues personally.

I equate this message to the manager of a new car lot dialing a random phone number and giving the answering party the following information "I have 1500 new cars, 40 mechanics and countless manuals: Why don't 20 cars start?"

And the ever popular one:


10) I have searched google.com, scoured forums, mined news groups, and asked everyone I know, including the neighbor kid for an answer to my problem. Can you help?

No. I am not psychic, nor do I have a magic wand to wave around and make everything better.

The manufacture of my hardware does not have a driver for me, do you?
No. I do not create drivers, nor support hacked drivers for companies out of business. If the manufacture cannot help you with driver issues, there is nothing that I can do.

I have a strange process called "wink???.exe" taking up CPU and memory... What do I do?

Scan your computer with the latest definitions.

"wink<random characters>.exe" is the klez virus.

Search http://www.symantec.com/ for more information.

 (Insert Software Here) does not work or crashes. Can you help? Is there a patch?

Can I help? Usually, no. The publisher and/or developer of the particular game or program that you are having problems with is much better equipped at solving your problem and offering updates to your software. Every software program has a contact list of technical support numbers. Please check your manual for that information as I do not have it. I do not work for any software publisher, nor have the resources to offer E-Mail technical support on software that, more than likely, I do not even have.

If the software makers cannot help you, there is little that I can do to "magically" make it work for you.

If you are requesting patch or update information: I would normally just go to the publishers or developers web site and look, then, E-Mail you the answer. You can cut the 24 hour lag time by just looking on your own. The contact information is in your manual that came with your purchased product.

Part of the money for your software package is used to offer you tech support services.

If you did not purchase your software, I will not give you technical support, assist in "guiding" you to the proper site, nor help you in any other way.

I have a computer with a VIA chipset and... What do I do?

www.viaarena.com is an outstanding web site to locate information about VIA chipsets. I am not about to reproduce the information here. If you are having problems, please search the Forums and FAQ for more information.

Ironicly enough, all the problems that I feel are associated with VIA chipsets, they say is everything else.
Because of this:

I am even considering firing up the CUV4X-D again after Service Pack 1's release, updated BIOS, "better" drivers, more robust 4in1's, etc.

To prove them wrong? No. I want a dual CPU computer! :)

I just purchased a brand new (insert company here) computer and... Can you help?
Please contact the vendor, manufacture or "company" that your system was purchased from for technical support. Part of the money you spent was to pay for technical help when you need it. Use it while you can.

Information on "who" or "how" to contact them is in the owners/operations manual that came with your new PC or hardware. I do not have access to that information in a timely fashion.

The PC vendor or "brand" that your computer is has access too much more resources to solve your technical issue than I do. They know the in's and out's of their PC's much better than I do since I make my own. They also have access to "known issues" with "how" they implemented particular hardware configurations.

Even if I did diagnose your hardware issue, you would still need to contact them directly to get it "resolved." It would be much more timely if you started with them, first.

Do not be surprised if they cannot fix your problem as it is very difficult to troubleshoot from a remote location.

I am having a problem with my computer, can you help me?
I will help as much as I can. The major problem is that every system is different and the number of causes of system failure are numerous.

The first thing you should do is ensure you have the latest drivers installed for your equipment.

Drivers are such a common cause of problems that there is no need to troubleshoot any further until that step is complete.

Second, contact your PC maker/software vendor for technical support.

The final thing you should understand is that I am not sitting in front of your system. Troubleshooting from a remote location, let alone by E-Mail, is difficult if not impossible to accomplish. I will help as much as I can.

What is "C-Dilla?" Is it spyware? Trojan? What installed it?

"C-Dilla" is the name of a company that was purchased by Macrovision. The previous company, and now Macrovision, use the "C-Dilla" technology to provide "software activation" services and CD Key verification services for anti-piracy reasons. This technology is now sold by Macrovision as "SafeCast" and is bundled with many products.

More information about C-Dilla and "official" content is located here:

  • The "old" C-Dilla site is here: http://www.c-dilla.com/
  • Macrovisions Web Site is here: http://www.macrovision.com/
  • "FAQ" about C-Dilla, SafeCast and "spyware" concerns located on Macrovisions site is here: http://www.macrovision.com/solutions/software/scprodactfaq.html

What is "Generic Host Process for Win32 Services?!?"

This is what ZoneAlarm complains about while connected to the internet. "SVCHOST.EXE" is "Generic Service Host." What that means is it is a "host" for other processes or services. If your internet connection seems to "no longer work," it is due to you disallowing various "required" functions to no longer access the internet. A big one is "DNS Lookups" and HTTP. With DNS lookups disabled, you will no longer be able to type in "www.blackviper.com" but you will always be able to type in the IP address of the systems. The internet connection is still working, but you are blocking a "vital" part of the process for surfing web pages. With HTTP TCP Port 80 blocked, you will not be able to access any web site.

As to whether or not "you" need the particular process to access the internet or act as a server is completely dependent upon your computer configuration, your software installation, and what you are doing at any given time.

Only you can make the decision about if "you need this to access the internet" or not.

A security vulnerability exists with Windows that could cause your system to exhibit all kinds of poor behavior. This particular issue attacks the Remote Procedure Call service which Zone Alarm may issue a warning with regards to SVCHOST.EXE and Generic Host Process for Win32 Services. However, this inbound traffic should NOT be allowed. READ MORE...

Generally speaking, the following ports and services should NOT be blocked:

  • DHCP: UDP Port 67 and 68 (block both outbound and inbound only if you have a static IP address)
  • DNS: UDP Port 53 (allow only outbound; disable inbound unless you have local DNS server)
  • HTTP: TCP Port 80 (allow only outbound; disable inbound unless you have local web server)
  • HTTPS: TCP Port 443 (allow only outbound; disable inbound unless you have local web server)

Generally speaking, the following ports and services SHOULD be blocked, "outbound and inbound":

  • NetBIOS: UDP 137
  • RPC: TCP 135
  • UPnP: UDP 1900
  • UPnP: TCP and UDP 5000

If you block a port and something breaks, reenable the blocked port and see if it is fixed. Easy as that. :)

Why can't I access/check my Hotmail or Yahoo account using my DSL connection?

This particular issue came about due to a family member that was unable to check their HTTP E-Mail accounts after a new installation of SBC DSL either by accessing it via a browser or Outlook Express.

After over two hours of banging my head against the monitor, I figured out the solution:

The "normal" way many DSL providers offer their service is using what is called "PPPoE" or Point to Point Protocol over Ethernet. Under normal circumstances, this is fine. However, it can cause issues such as this one. The fix? Download and run DRTCP available from DSLReports.com: 


The only setting you need to change is the "MTU" or Maximum Transmission Unit. This value needs to be changed to 1492. The default value for most Windows OS configurations with a LAN connection to the internet via a router or DSL modem is 1500. After applying this change and rebooting the computer, all should be well again with HTTP E-Mail.