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when windows crashes, consult this simple guide from poindexter

3 Steps for Stopping Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) Crashes

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If you’re a Windows user, doubtless you’ve encountered the annoying and sometimes fatal Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), forcing your computer to restart, possibly costing you hours of unsaved work.

BSOD is an error screen in Microsoft Windows that shows an obscure, coded error, creates a debug file, then restarts the computer. On occasion, the issue is a minor glitch resulting from corrupted software and a reboot is all that is necessary to resolve the problem or happens infrequently and unpredictably. Other times, the error recurs, sometimes immediately after the computer boots, trapping it in a cycle of booting, BSOD, rebooting, repeat. This nasty problem is a fatal BSOD because it’s doesn’t permit any simple troubleshooting. If your computer is doing this or something like it, call Poindexter immediately for a timely computer repair or data recovery.

This short guide is intended for non-fatal BSOD crashes. If your computer is powering up, loading Windows, then crashing sometime later, this guide is for you. If your computer doesn’t load Windows correctly or won’t permit you to install any software, call Poindexter. If your computer boots successfully, then gets cranky sometime later, try these three tricks for a quick and easy resolution.

Uninstall Unnecessary Software

If your BSOD has only started recently, it’s possible that a newly added program is the culprit. Malware can frequently disrupt your computer in this way, as well as countless other programs that change Windows’ behavior or introduce new files that might make your computer dizzy.

If a program is responsible for your BSOD woes, removing it might remedy your problem in one handsome step. By accessing the Control Panel you can uninstall most programs. How to access the Control Panel varies a bit depending on which version of Windows you have, so we’re going to take a shortcut that works identically on all versions of Windows (Windows 98, XP, etc).

With your keyboard, press the Windows key (one on either side of the space bar) and at the same time press the ‘R’ key. This will open up the Run window, allowing us to tell Windows exactly what program we want to load without going through any messy menus.

In the Run window, type appwiz.cpl and press Enter. This will load the Uninstall Programs wizard, permitting you to safely remove programs you no longer need, recently added, or find suspicious. Leave programs you frequently use alone and look specifically for programs that you don’t recognize, but installed recently. One of these might be the culprit, especially if it is malware. If you’re unsure of what programs are good or not, contact Poindexter for easy computer repair.

Update Windows

Once we’ve removed unnecessary programs, it’s a wise precaution to make sure that Windows Updates have been applied correctly. Unless told otherwise, Windows XP and later will apply its own updates and reboot as needed. Occasionally, though, it will encounter an error or won’t apply optional updates that can resolve computer headaches.

Using the same Run windows (Press Windows key + ‘R’), type in wuapp and press Enter. This will open the Windows Update control panel. Go ahead and check for updates. If updates are found, make sure they’re all selected. Make sure, too, that all Optional updates are selected. At your command, Windows will install updated drivers as well as other inessential, but still valuable programs. Outdated or corrupt drivers can cause a BSOD and this is a simple way of getting all of your critical software running smoothly.

Reboot as needed. If there where many updates pending, prepare for a lengthy boot time. Grab some coffee, be patient, and wait for Windows to finish installing its updates. Rebooting before it has finished its work can cause additional system corruption and make your BSOD problems even nastier.

Run CCleaner

Last, we’ll be using a powerful, but simple tool to safely clean up your Windows PC, CCleaner. Visit  CCleaner’s official website, download, and install the free version. Once installed, it will run automatically after you hit “Finish.”

Ccleaner includes two valuable tools that can help us clean up ailing Windows computers. Selected automatically after you load is the Cleaner tool. Go ahead and click the “Analyze” button, then the “Run Cleaner” button once it has completed its scan. This will clear your browser and system caches (hidden areas where Windows hordes temporary files).

Now, select the “Registry” button on the left. The Registry is where Windows saves much of its essential configuration details. Corruption in the registry can result in unpredictable system behavior, instability, and crashes. Ccleaner can safely backup the registry, as well as clean out junk entries.

Click “Scan for Issues”, wait for the scan to complete, then click “Fix Selected Issues…” When asked to backup changes, select “Yes”, then click “Save” in the Windows that comes up. Now click “Fix All Selected Issues” then “Close” once the repair work has completed.

Hopefully these three steps have resolved your non-fatal BSOD. If after trying the above your Windows PC is still crashing, call Poindexter immediately for emergency computer repair or data recovery services.

Poindexter is Baltimore’s best computer repair service, providing services to residents and businesses throughout the Hampden area. If your computer is crashing or needs professional repairs, call Poindexter for a free consultation and inexpensive solution.

poindexter discusses easy ways for baltimore citizens to speed up their computer or laptiop

Top 3 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

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Okay Baltimore, let’s talk about your slow computer and how to repair it. It’s something we all struggle with from time to time and it’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s nothing you did wrong – slow computers happen to everyone. Thankfully, sluggish computer performance is totally fixable, even if the underlying problem is pretty complex. Never forget, you can always call Poindexter if things get hairy. We offer inexpensive computer tune ups for both PC and MAC and love a challenge.

Here are the top three things that can slow down your computer and simple ways to fix them.

Way too many programs are running

By far the most common problem we find on slow computers is the sheer number of programs running simultaneously. It’s normal for a computer user to add and install all sorts of neato programs, but if those programs run too often and aren’t closed properly, they’ll take a chunk out of your performance. Like people, computers have limited attention spans and the more things they have to keep track of, the slower they crawl. Programs aren’t an easy feat and each one requires some amount of brain power (the processor) and memory (the RAM). If there are too many programs running, the processor and RAM can get overloaded, bringing the whole computer to a crawl.

Not all programs tell you they’re running and finding the hidden ones can be tricky, but there’s a good, quick step to try first. In the lower right hand corner of your Windows PC, to the left of the clock, you’ll see a series of little icons. Each icon represents a program running (you might have to click the little arrow to see all of them). Look over each program and decide whether or not it’s worth having. If not, uninstall it or go into its settings and stop it from starting with Windows. If you absolutely must have each program or utility, consider investing in more RAM to free up some working space for your computer.

You Have a Virus or Malware

Viruses and malware are programs that run on your computer and, like any program, malware can gobble up resources. Some malware disguises itself as anti-virus or optimization software. We call these “potentially unwanted programs” and they should be uninstalled immediately. Software promising to update drivers, offer free backups, push you to buy something, or warn your of impending computer doom are almost certainly yuck malware and need to be kicked to the curb. If uninstalling them doesn’t work, consider calling Poindexter for a thorough cleaning. Beware that not all programs announce themselves to Windows and might be running in the background, hidden from view but still using up precious brain power. Some malware is front and center, leaving little doubt that they’re causing problems. Not all malware plays nice and let’s you uninstall it – in fact, some will reinstall themselves and their buddies immediately after you reboot. This can be very frustrating. But take heart! Poindexter can repair your computer.

Malware run amok can eat up memory, disk space, brain power, and make unauthorized changes to Windows and other programs, causing nastier problems than just slow performance. Crashing, weird errors, and other strange behavior all result from untreated infections and need to be dealt with quickly and completely. Uninstalling unwanted programs can free up lots of computer resources, improving stability, boot time, and system speed.

Your Hard Drive Needs a Tune-Up

A hard drive is the permanent storage of your computer; it’s where all files, images, music, movies… everything, gets stored. If you open up a hard drive, you’ll find a polished metal disc and a reading arm, sort of like a phonograph, but way more sensitive. Your data gets saved to this disc as a series of magnetic ones and zeroes. As the disc spins, the reading arm is able to read that code and send it to the processor which puts it all together as that adorable cat picture you saved four years ago and forgot about.

If your hard drive is running low on storage space, Windows can get claustrophobic. Windows loves having lots of elbow room to work – to do its job, Windows needs to make files, unpack stuff, and move stuff around. If there’s too breathing room, Windows can slow down severely or even crash.

Every file on your hard drive gets moved around as new stuff gets added and removed. With regular use, the contents of your hard drive can get disorganized, leaving stuff scattered around, forcing the hard drive and processor to work harder to put everything together correctly. We call this fragmentation and, naturally, defragmenting your hard drive every now and again can improve boot time and performance.

To defragment your computer’s hard drive, just search for defrag using your Start Menu’s search bar. The program “Defragment and Optimize Drives” or something like it will pop up. Select that and follow the instructions as they come up. If you haven’t defragmented in a long time (a year or longer), settle in for a long haul. This might take awhile.

if you boot your macbook or imac and see this error, we can help

Let’s Solve Apple’s “Folder with a Question Mark” Mystery!

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We’ve heard this scenario time and again, from students, nurses, and lawyers alike: “I woke up, powered on my Macbook (or whatever), left to grab a cup of coffee, and came back to this. What even is this? I rebooted and rebooted, and nothing changed. Just this. This folder with a question mark”.

If you’re a long-time Apple Macbook user and never suffered this frustrating and confusing boot error, consider yourself lucky. Apple minimalism run amok, this error can occur shortly after you power on a Macbook or iMac computer, and says so very little about what the problem could be.

This doozy of any error generically means that your operating system, OSX – the software responsible for making your computer do all the computer things – can’t be found by the firmware. Firmware is like a mini-operating system, responsible for super basic things, like accepting electrical power, finding the hard drive, then figuring out where OSX is installed and getting that booted up. If the firmware can’t find OSX, it panics and produces this tortuously imprecise mystery screen.

Don’t panic. It’s fixable.

At its most basic, this error means the computer can’t find your operating system, OSX. This could be a few things:

  • There’s a mechanical problem with the hard drive and it needs to be replaced.
  • There’s a software problem with the hard drive and it needs to be repaired.
  • There’s a software problem with OSX and it needs to be repaired.

Is the hard drive okay?

OSX Yosemite Disc UtilityTo understand out what kind of problem we’ve got, let’s see if the computer can tell us if there’s a hard drive installed. If the computer can see that there is a hard drive, we’re in better shape. This step requires that we access the Macbook’s special recovery area.

This is the OSX recovery screen, necessary for trouble shooting the question mark mystery folder.

When you first power on the computer, but after you hear that happy chime sound, press and hold Command and the R-key. Keep holding both until you see either a world globe or the Apple logo. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Recovery screen, with Utilities menu listed along the top most edge. Click that, then select Disk Utility.

Disk Utility will open up and show a list of available hard drives on the left side. Or, rather, we hope it does. If you don’t see your Startup disk (probably called Macintosh HD), there’s some kind of mechanical issue with your hard drive. It might have malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. Or, it slipped out of its cozy slot and needs to be reseated. It might also be a malfunctioning drive cable, which is pretty common and inexpensive to fix. Unfortunately, all of these problems require opening up the insides of your Macbook or iMac. If this sounds like too much, give Poindexter a call right away (908-991-NERD).

If you see a hard drive listed, you’re in luck. This usually means that the issue is software related. There could still be something funny going on under the hood, however, so don’t celebrate just yet. We need to repair the disk first.

Go ahead and select the disk from the left, then click on the First Aid tab towards the top. Near the bottom right, you’ll see two buttons: Verify Disk and Repair Disk. Click on Repair Disk and let your Apple computer crunch away for awhile. Depending on the severity of your problem, this can take a few hours. Sometimes, it’s done in less. And so we wait.

If Disk Utility finished successfully, restart you computer. With some luck, you’ll arrive at your login screen and everything will be normal. If it failed, well, it could still be a hardware problem or an even murkier software fault.

At this point, we recommend consulting with a pro about your Macbook or iMac, in case you need to backup your data and reinstall your operating system from scratch. It’s possible, too, that the hard drive will need to be replaced. Poindexter’s first priority is to backup your data to avoid any catastrophe.

Don’t risk your data. Call Poindexter for help.

If your device is outside of Apple’s warranty, Apple’s Genius Bar services will all be paid out of pocket, resulting in hundreds of dollars lost. Repairing out of warranty Apple products is crazy expensive, unless you bring it to Poindexter. We can fix your hard drive problem without breaking the bank. Promise.

poindexter provides ten useful tips to help you get acquainted with windows 10

10 Tips for Windows 10

By | Helpful Guide, Windows 10 | No Comments

Windows 10 has arrived and for most users it promises to be an exciting blend of familiar and modern. The Start menu makes a return – albeit with a fresh spot of paint, and we’re treated with a new action center, search menu, and oodles of other user friendly features. All for the low cost of free for licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 users. Windows 10 is an easy choice and we recommend upgrading.

Poindexter has rounded up what we think are the top-ten things to familiarize yourself with or use right now, with accompanying HD video to show the smooth animations and bright colors we love so much. Most of these are easy breezy, but we’ve included more advanced recommendations towards the end. Let’s get into it!

Change the Desktop and Lockscreen Wallpaper

No matter how nice the included wallpapers are, eventually you might get bored and want to freshen things up with a new wallpaper or lockscreen background. Or, if you’re like us, you do it right away a whole bunch of times. Thankfully, Microsoft made it easy to change both the desktop and the lock screen  wallpaper directly from the settings page.

First, we need to get to the Settings and Personalization areas. We can do this a few different ways. You can access “Settings” by clicking on the Start menu and left-clicking on the Settings button. From Settings, just select “Personalization”.

You can also jump directly to Personalization by right-clicking unused space on your Desktop then selecting “Personalize” with the left mouse button, as shown in the video.

Once in the Personalization area, you’ll see a number of options in the left-hand pane; Background, Colors, Lock Screen, etc. Select Background to change the desktop wallpaper and Lockscreen to change the logon wallpaper.

Make the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Action Center Transparent

By default, Windows 10 will use opaque color for your Start menu, Action Center, and Taskbar.  On older systems, this can help improve performance and battery life by reducing graphical strain. On systems with a a pinch more muscle, you can enable a fancier transparent mode, which looks a bit like the frosted glass effect Apple uses throughout their products. To enable transparency effects, let’s head back to the Personalization area where we changed our wallpaper. This time, instead of selecting Background, use your left mouse button to select Colors. On the right pane towards the bottom, there’s a switch labeled “Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent”. Go ahead and left click that switch to turn it on. Your Windows 10 should now be immediately ultra chic.

There are a couple of other settings here that are worth trying. We recommend allowing Windows 10 to automatically pick an accent color and to show color on Start. These settings add a nice bit of unintrusive color to your workspace.

Open the Action Center Notification Panel

In Windows 10, Microsoft included a handy new notification panel, called Action Center, to help users keep track of new emails, birthdays, reminders, and other useful tidbits. It’s a great addition and one we strongly recommend digging into.

There are a couple of ways to open Action Center. First, move your mouse towards the bottom-right of the screen until you see the clock. Just next to he clock should be a word bubble in the shape of a square. Click on that with the left mouse button and the Action Center will slide out from the right. An even easier way to open it is by simultaneously pressing the Windows Key and the letter A (Windows Key+ A).

Remove and Uninstall Apps

Windows 10 comes preloaded with a number of apps, including some you might want to eventually remove. Whether it’s an app you installed yourself or something preloaded, nixing pinned apps from your Start menu or uninstalling them completely is very simple. To remove an app from the Start menu, simply left-click the Start menu button to open it, right-click on the tile you wish to remove, and select “Unpin from Start” with the left mouse button.

To completely uninstall an app or program from Windows 10, move your mouse to the right of the screen and open the Notification panel again. From there, select All Settings, then go ahead and select System after the window opens up. On the left pane you’ll see oodles of options. As you guessed, we want Apps and Features. Select this and give Windows a little time to calculate program sizes. Once it’s done, you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your computer. To uninstall an app, simple left-click the one you want to remove then click the Uninstall button. Windows will remove it from the computer and it will vanish from the list.

Hide the Taskview and Cortana Searchbar

On first boot, you might notice the Taskbar looking a little busier than in Windows 7 or 8.1. That’s because of two awesome features exclusive to Windows 10. To the right of the Start menu now sits Cortana’s search bar – “Ask me anything” – and the new Taskview button. If you need to free up space in the taskbar or just have no need for either of these buttons, they can both be removed by accessing the taskbar’s properties menu.

Using your mouse, move down to the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. With the right button, click on a spot of unused space to bring up the context menu. From within this menu, uncheck “Show taskview” to hide the Taskview button and click it again to restore it. Likewise, hovering over the “Cortana” submenu will bring up a couple of options. For Cortana, you can remove just the search bar, leaving only Cortana’s icon in its place, or remove both, eliminating her and the search bar completely. You can always undo these changes by just returning to the taskbar’s properties menu.

Use Taskview to Create Virtual Desktops

If your screen is too small for the number of windows you juggle, Windows 10 makes it easy to flip between virtual desktops, instead of being limited to just one. The desktop is your workspace and power users often find it useful to have multiple desktops for extra space or just to reduce clutter. Perhaps you want a desktop dedicated just to work, another for play,  Or one might be for your internet browsers, another for Word documents, and still another for three simultaneous Solitaire games. Whatever, we won’t judge. Solitaire is especially fun when it’s three people playing together.

Jumping between windows and virtual desktops is easy if you know how. Assuming you haven’t removed the Taskview button as shown above, you can just click on that with your left mouse button to bring up the Taskview space. As you can see, this organizes all of your open windows into a neat grid making them easy to access no matter how many are open. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key and Tab (Windows Key+TAB) to bring up the Taskview. OSX users will noticed how much this looks like Apple’s Mission Control, including one useful feature shown at the bottom: Virtual Desktops. You can create a new workspace by clicking the “+ New desktop” option on the right, and flip back and forth between them by returning to Taskview and selecting it from the row of shown Desktops.

Stop Internet Sharing Windows Updates

Windows 10 comes equipped with the ability to share your computer’s downloaded Windows updates to other computers on your home network or via the internet. To prevent accidentally authorized internet use, some users prefer to limit this sharing feature to only home PC’s and some just just turn it off completely. Poindexter recommends setting this to Local Network only so that your family’s computers can get updated quickly, even if Microsoft’s servers are under heavy load. For those with data caps, this can also reduce your overhead by requiring only one device download the update.

To adjust these settings, let’s head back to the “Settings” area by left clicking the Start menu and selecting Settings. In the Settings windows, left click on Update & Security. Make sure that Windows Update is selected on the left. In the Windows Update box, click on “Advanced Options” (it won’t be a button, just clickable text). From here, click “Choose how updates are delivered”. If you wish to disable the feature entirely, toggle the On switch to Off. If you wish to limit update sharing to only local PC on your home network, leave it on, but click the radio button next to “PCs on my local network”. When finished, you’re free to close the window. Your settings are saved automatically.

How to Restore Windows 10 to Scratch

If your installation of Windows 10 is getting a little long in the tooth, riddled with horrible malware, or saddled down with manufacturer’s bloated software, you can do a clean install of Windows 10 in just a few clicks.

Once again, we’re going into the Settings menu. With the left mouse button, click on the Start menu button, and left click on Settings. Now head back to Update & Security, and select Recovery on the left. The option we want is Reset This PC, so click the button labeled “Get started”.

(You can also jump right into the Recovery area using Cortana by searching “Advanced Start” and selecting the result she brings you. Welcome to the future!)

This brings up a new window with two options. You can either Keep my files, which causes Windows 10 to refresh all of its system files and remove programs, but preserve all of your personal files, or you can wipe everything out entirely and have Windows 10 reinstall itself from its recovery partition on a clean slate, files erased. The choice is yours, but be prepared for trouble by always having a backup ready in case of disaster.

Confirm Direct X 12 Activated

Windows 10 includes a nice bit of fresh technology geared towards gamers. Direct X is the software responsible for graphics in Windows and the Xbox game system and Direct X 12 is the newest version only available to Windows 10 users. Although it should be automatically available to everyone who has installed Windows 10, we’ve run into some users who report having to install it manually.

To make sure you’re computer is on the cutting edge of Direct X tech, we need to load up the Direct X configuration panel. First, using the keyboard, press the Windows key and “R” at the same time to bring up the Run window. In this window, type in “dxdiag.exe” without quotes and press Return or left click the Okay button. This will bring up the Direct X config screen. After a few moments, it should provide a quick summary of your computer, including its hardware and Direct X software version listed at the bottom.

You can also load this area by searching dxdiag.exe using Cortana.

Enable Godmode, the Hidden Control Panel

This is a fun one intended for advanced users who like a lot of control without the inconvenience of multiple windows. If done correctly, you’ll have a new icon on your desktop that opens up a powerful, new configuration panel, replete with exciting administrative tools for pretty much everything. With Godmode you can add and remove devices, adjust Cleartype, tweak File Explorer settings, Personalization options, and hundreds more. It’s a treasure trove of buttons and switches and stuff to break.

To enable Godmode, you need only create a new folder, then name it the following:

GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

In fact, it doesn’t have to be named Godmode at all. To change the name, just replace the word “Godmode” with whatever you’d prefer, but be sure to leave that last period in place. We recommend

PoindexterMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C}

If done correctly, the new folder icon will be replaced by a generic Control Panel icon, and opening it will transport you to a world of options and settings. Be careful in here, there’s are a few powerful settings that if set incorrectly can disrupt performance or stability. Other settings are easy as pie, like quickly adjusting your user accounts or wallpaper.

can my computer run windows 10? probably

Can My Computer Run Windows 10?

By | Helpful Guide, Windows 10 | No Comments

Yes, probably. So long as your computer was built in the last decade.

You’ll need a little more space than previous versions of Windows, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The installation package for Windows 10 is as lean as its predecessor, Windows 8, both weighing in at around 3 GB. This is three times larger than Windows XP (about 600 MB) but on par with Windows Vista and Windows 7 (3 GB). Since the average hard drive is 600 GB, 3-4 GB is negligible. Once everything unpacks, however, you’ll need 16 GB for the 32 bit version and 20 GB total for the 64 bit OS. In our experience, this is also in keeping with previous versions of Windows, once the updates and service packs settle in. And, again, a teensy chunk of excessively massive hard drives. Those with smaller solid state drives won’t need to commit more space than they already have, so long as you aren’t dual booting another OS.

The processor requirements are only slightly more demanding than Windows Vista, which needed an 800 MHz or higher chip, versus Windows 10’s 1 GHz requirement. Considering that 1 GHz single core chips arrived fourteen years ago, it’s safe to say most consumers interested in upgrading will have no issues there. The processor is responsible for executing instructions and is basically the computer’s brain. If you skimp here and run Windows 10 at its minimum, be prepared for frustrating sluggishness, crashes, and lengthy periods of system lock. Thankfully, most computers built after 2005 are swift, multi-core processors, that can take a beating.

Direct X is software designed by Microsoft to handle multimedia and graphical tasks for Windows devices (including the Direct XBox). Windows 10 requires a graphics card supporting Direct X 9 or later. Again, no culling there, since Direct X 9 arrived way back in 2002, with most hardware vendors adding compatibility shortly thereafter. Most contemporary devices now support Direct X 11 and Windows 10 will be the first OS to introduce the bleeding-edge Direct X 12. Direct X is a free and typically automatic download from Microsoft, so you’re likely already using the most recent version that your hardware will support.

Predictably, RAM (random access memory) requirements are low, needing only 1 GB for 32 bit and 2 GB for 64 bit versions. This is equal to Windows 7 and 8, but higher than Windows Vista. RAM is the active workspace of the computer, a bit like its short term memory. If your RAM is hovering around the minimum requirement, Windows 10 will run, but the experience will be stunted and choppy. Luckily, RAM is low cost and among the easiest bits of hardware to upgrade. We recommend not running Windows 10 with anything less than 4 GB of RAM. Anything higher than 8 GB won’t result in any noticeable performance gain for most users, but going below 2 will bring the system to its knees if you want to run modern application and websites.

Lastly, there’s a minimum screen resolution requirement of 1024×600, which is most common on older netbooks and some tablets. Resolution measures the width and height of a computer’s display in pixels. The higher the number, the more pixels are packed into that space. Most flat-screen monitors display at 1024×768, 1440×900, 1280×720 (HD), or 1920×1080 (HD), so this requirement pushes out most olde timey cathode-ray tube displays. Again, if you’ve even heard of Windows 10, if you made it to this website, you probably aren’t using an unsupported monitor.

Windows XP was retired April of 2014, forcing computer users to upgrade to Windows Vista or later, in order to receive Microsoft’s security patches and feature packs. If you upgraded to a later OS, but are using the same hardware, you can probably run Windows 10. In my experience, most users either purchased a new computer or upgraded to Windows 7. In either case, Windows 10 will run just fine. Upgrade and enjoy!

poindexter answers your question of the day

Can You Have too Many Android Apps Installed?

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can i have too many apps installed on my android phone

If you’re using a phone or tablet powered by Google’s open source Android software, chances are you’ve probably asked yourself this question. Google’s Play Store offers users thousands upon thousands of free or low cost software and media, making it tempting to fill up even the highest capacity device with all kinds of goodies. Not to mention all of those high-res vacation photos you took. So many gigabytes, but never enough.

Whether or not you have too many apps installed comes down to how those apps are using up your device’s memory. Like any computer, Android devices need two kinds of memory to function: RAM or random access memory, for short term storage, and flash memory, for long term storage.  RAM is much faster than flash, but smaller in size and needs a constant source of electricity. Cut the power and everything in RAM vanishes. Unlike media (photos, movies, and music), apps gobble up some portion of RAM, not just the long term flash storage. This is because apps and other programs need to load some of their code into RAM to run smoothly, and with RAM being on smaller side, that puts a limit on how many apps you can run at any given time. If you try to run too much at once, apps will struggle for resources, elbowing out system processes and other programs. If resources get too limited, system sluggishness and instability can result, making the user experience a painfully frustrating one.

Some apps only run when you want them to; others run in the background, possibly without you realizing it, secretly eating up precious resources (including battery).  If you worry that you have too many apps, it probably means you suspect or have experienced some system instability or other performance issue. The first step is acknowledging the problem. The next step is to figure out whether your performance troubles are the result of a resource issue or something murkier.

First, reboot your device. Next, access Settings, then scroll down to and open App Manager. Swipe to the right until you arrive at the Running tab. If you’re running Android Lollipop (v5), you’ll see a nice summation of your running apps and the impact they have on RAM. If there is any app running that you no longer need, make note of it and uninstall it later.

Note that Android Lollipop smartly manages your RAM and will always use as much as it can for better performance and stability. Unused RAM is wasted RAM. Your RAM usage will always be 50% or higher, since Android will reserve space for future and current needs. What we want to investigate is a chronic excess of RAM use, 75% or higher, and the programs that contribute to this. Remove any programs you don’t need or can live without. Some apps are notorious for bogging down device performance and chewing up battery (I’m looking at you, Facebook…). Others are just poorly written and not well optimized.

It takes time, patience, and some trial and error to find and resolve Android performance problems, but the results can be well worth it. Even top-tier Androids can run much slower than their Apple counterparts due to unregulated, rogue programs or system processes. It takes a little more diligence from the average Android user to keep everything running smoothly. If things get too hairy and you find yourself unsure of what to do, give Poindexter a call and we’ll help you get your Android device back up to standards.

Available by appointment // 908-991-6373