Adding to memory can help a slow PC

The Baltimore Sun

I use Windows 2000 and have DSL service . My computer is 10 years old. About two weeks ago, everything began slowing down. I have spoken with my Internet provider and we ran a test - my speed is fine. I did a complete virus scan and there are no viruses. I did a defrag and it did not help. Every time I use my computer a message comes up saying I am low on virtual memory and Windows is increasing its size. It is frustrating using my computer as I now sit and wait. Any suggestions or links to fix my problem?

- Sandy Charapp

When a computer needs more memory than can be furnished by the actual RAM chips - a super quick form of memory - installed, it creates a substitute memory using the hard disk. Memory created this way is much slower than what you get from a chip, since the chip is a solid state device and the hard disk is mechanical.

So what should you do? You can add more RAM memory, it's pretty cheap these days. Even if you don't add more memory, turn the computer off and restart it a few times each day. That can release memory. Windows has a nasty habit of holding onto memory, even when the program that was using it closes.

Another thing to do is make sure that the computer is clear of adware and spyware. That's not your main problem in this case, but it is a cause of slowdown. Use Adaware, SpyBot Search and Destroy, or Windows' free Defender. Combining this with more RAM will almost certainly give you a faster computer.

How will we be able to use battery-operated portable TVs in Florida - they were so comforting during the past storms - once broadcasters switch to digital only? Will the old TVs need a portable adapter? Is there such an animal?

- Phyllis Krebs

All analog TVs, including battery-powered portables, will need a converter once all broadcasts are digital. I don't know of a converter that is being made specifically for battery-powered TVs (obviously it would also need to be battery-powered). Once you add the bulk and weight to a converter and the batteries it needs, you have taken away a lot of the advantages of a portable. However, maybe someone is making one, or plans to make one.

The best solution might be - as they become increasingly available - to buy a battery-powered portable that is already digital. I'd consider buying a battery-powered weather radio and waiting for prices of these small digital TVs to drop - and they will.

Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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