Ask a Windows Expert – Week 7

ask-windows-expert-logoYou’ve got questions and we’ve got answers! This week is the seventh week of “Ask a Windows Expert,” and any question we’ve received will be answered here. If you would like to submit your own question, hit us up with an email to windows-help [at] maketecheasier.com. We’re on around the clock, checking the inbox and giving you quick answers. Now, we’ll also be answering questions about Windows 8.

A: Your computer runs slowly perhaps because you installed an anti-virus program on top of another one. Computer slow-downs happen frequently with users who install two different anti-virus software packages in the same system, especially if they’re from different companies. If you’re absolutely sure you didn’t have an anti-virus that came with your computer beforehand or installed two anti-virus programs on top of one another, then you should uninstall the current solution you installed and go for another one. Perhaps the particular anti-virus you installed doesn’t interact well with your computer.

Try disabling live scanning of the system as well. Older systems run very slowly when an anti-virus application runs on a schedule. Just don’t forget to scan at least twice a month! If you don’t want to use an anti-virus software, you can upload any .exe file you download from the Internet to VirusTotal to check if it is a virus.

A: Your computer might have an older graphics card, or you might be trying to overclock the card. Both of these things could cause the graphics card to overheat. The overheating causes the driver to stop responding, and the computer just shrugs its shoulders and goes to bed. In newer versions of Windows, the computer resets the adapter and notifies you of the driver’s failure to respond.

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In either case, you should do something about it as soon as possible before playing another game. If you have an older card, replace it. If you overclock your card, clock it back down to normal levels. The GPU is designed to run at a certain frequency, and pumping it with more juice will cause it to heat up more. Sometimes, the GPU simply just gives up when trying to run faster, without exerting enormous amounts of heat. However, if you have a heating issue, and you’re sure of it, consider alternate cooling methods. If you’re not confident with installing alternate cooling systems on your computer or any piece of hardware, just clock the graphics card down or get a new one that runs faster. You end up gambling too much with your card’s life when you overclock.

A: Oh, this one’s easier than it sounds. The solution, however, can be rather difficult. In laptops, these kinds of symptoms often exhibit themselves when the CPU overheats. An overheating CPU in a laptop is often caused by faulty vents within the case or collections of dust in the internal hardware. For future reference, always keeps laptops in an environment far from dust and in temperatures less than 80 degrees Fahrenheit (about 26 degrees Celsius). Of course, taking them outside isn’t forbidden, but prolonged exposure to heat might cause the CPU to exhaust itself and it might damage the internal semiconductors within the chip.

Try cleaning the vents on your laptop. If that doesn’t work, have the laptop’s internal hardware cleaned and inspected. Eventually, however, you’ll have to replace the CPU and its cooling system. There are tons of reasons something could have gone wrong, but the easiest solution to this problem is to replace the CPU and components that assist in its cooling. Here’s a little secret: Some companies come up with laptop designs that actually are meant to make the laptop have a shorter lifespan, so that you come back and buy another one or get your current one repaired by their “experts”. Buyer beware!

Note that it’s not always the company’s fault. In laptops, CPUs die much faster because of the size of their cooling equipment. Check out the tiny fan on a laptop’s CPU:

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Compare that to the monolith that sits inside a desktop computer:

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And that’s why my home-built desktop computers usually last between 10-20 years. Take good care of a laptop, and you might end up lucky enough to use it that long.

A: I’d assume that your “D” partition is physically “past” the “C” partition. Shrinking it will trim “D” down at its end. If you try to extend “C,” you’ll end up with a problem because, in order to extend that partition, you have to hop over what remained of partition “D.” This is a physical impossibility in most cases, and cannot be done.

Your only solution is to back up the “D” partition, delete it, and extend the “C” partition, after which you re-create another “D” if you want. This obviously takes more effort than it’s worth, so you might want to just store things in the “D” partition where you had space instead of going through this kind of trouble. It’s your choice, though, and you might have your reasons for keeping two partitions.

A: This happens when you or someone else (perhaps someone playing a prank?) sets the display magnification above 100 percent. This is kind of easy to fix, and I’ll show you how.

Go to your desktop, right-click on an empty space, and click “Personalize”. Click “Display” near the bottom left part of the window. You’ll see a dialog titled “Make it easier to read what’s on your screen.” Set the size to 100 percent and click “Apply”. You’re all set!

Give us an email at windows-help [at] maketecheasier.com. You won’t regret it! We’ll work with you to solve your problem and announce the answer here in our weekly series! Leave a comment below if you’d like to talk about any of the questions above.