How do I speed my PC back up?

The Slow Computer Syndrome

A reader writes, “My computer speed has slowed dramatically. What can I do to increase the speed back to normal?”

Sound familiar?

Yeah, sadly that is the plight of most of us. Our computers seem to get slower and slower, and we all want them to run as perkily as when they were new. I don’t have a silver bullet, but I can offer some thoughts about why computers slow down and what you can do about it.

There are multiple reasons, let’s go down the list.

Computers accumulate detritus

Over time we add programs, apps these days, files, pictures, videos, documents, and much more. These don’t necessarily contribute to the slowing down, but many cause update checks, statistics reporting, and some might even be malware. The first step is to do some “spring cleaning”.

Step 1 — Remove programs no longer needed

Get a notepad and pencil to jot down things to do. Press the Windows key and take a look at your start panel. Anything there you don’t use anymore? Jot down items to remove. Scroll down the apps list. Anything there you can do without? Jot it down.

You can also right-click on the icon or listing of an unneeded item and click the Uninstall option. Or you can finish your review, make your list and then proceed to get rid of the junk.

When you have finished your review and have a list of things to remove. Click the Settings wheel. Click Apps. Go down the list. Be very careful, there are apps that your computer needs to function. If you recognize it as something you no longer use, click on it and click Uninstall.

Step 2 — Remove any unneeded files

Cleaning out your own files, documents, pictures, videos, music, and more is the hardest part of the “spring cleaning” chore. It is easy for us to say, “I’ll come back to that another day”. Well, this is that day. Do don’t have to be totally thorough with this chore, but do make an effort.

Step 3 — Scan for and remove any malware

When you have removed the major unwanted stuff it is time to check for malware. You may have Windows Defender running and taking care of things all along. Open Defender and do a Device health check. There may be some recommended action for you to do. Do NOT be tempted to do a Fresh Start – that removes way too much of what you have worked hard to add to your machine.

You may also use a tool like Malwarebytes. Do make sure that you have only one malware defending program running. Having more than one tends to be more trouble than it is worth. The programs may even fight each other. Definitely multiple defense programs will slow your machine!

Step 4 —  Do a cleanup

There are many files that have accumulated on your PC that you can’t see such as cached images, temporary files, error logs and more. The Cleanup tool can take care of much these.

Type cleanup into the search box (lower left of the desktop). The Disk Cleanup app will be highlighted. Press Enter.

WARNING! Running this tool will likely remove passwords stored by your browser and other remembered settings. Be sure you will be able to sign back into sites and to set up your browser again the way you want it.

This chore may take a long time to finish. Let it do so while you don’t need the machine, maybe overnight.

Step 5 — Defrag your hard drive

If your PC uses a solid state drive, SSD, do not defrag it. If your drive is a rotating disk type defragging may be helpful. Type defrag into the search box to bring up this utility. Typically your machine will run this chore automatically. You can see the settings when you bring up this tool. If the defrag percentage shown is over 10% or so you may wish to run this utility. It will take a long time to finish. Time for lunch? Time for bed?

That was the easy part

After finishing the chores above your PC will function almost as well as it did when it was new, but you may still find that it is dreadfully slow. That is not your fault or your PC’s, it may well be due to external causes.

In the last few years much progress has been made in every nook and cranny. New machines have become amazingly more competent, the internet speeds too have gone up, your ISP may have upgraded your access speed. But hand in hand with that your “apps” have become more dependent on internet services. The websites too have loaded up many more images, videos, music tracks, tons of advertising. All that requires more downloading time and more resources inside your machine.

If your PC is an older model it may not have as much memory as all this churning demands, it will make up for that by using your had drive to store the temporary data, images, sound, video etc.

Here is what Task Manager shows when my little old laptop is working its heart out. The hard drive is working 100 percent of the time almost continuously. Finding the needed stuff and writing new stuff causes the access time to become long and that makes the PC dreadfully slow.

To make matters worse, Microsoft releases updates very frequently. Your machine may be trying to catch up and is downloading and installing stuff while you are trying to do other things.

So what can you do?

Several things in the way of changing your work habits.

Action 1

Give your machine time to do its chores like installing new software. Let it idle evenings or during lunch. Don’t turn it off or close the lid when you don’t need it. Let it run.

Action 2

Have only one browser running at a time. Have only one or two tabs open at any one time. That is probably the hardest to do. Having a dozen tabs open makes it easy to go from Facebook to your bank, your mail, to Twitter, to the many other websites you want ready at hand. Don’t keep them open. They communicate with your machine and all that takes resources and time. Instead set up you Favorites bar with the links to places you frequent, then visit them one at a time.

Try it. Even you will be more relaxed and your machine may just seem that it can still keep up with the world.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

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How do I set a shortcut for a website?

There are several ways to set a shortcut to a favorite website. Let’s answer this for users of Edge on Windows 10. Users of other browsers, please, ask in a comment for details.

Setting a Favorites Bar tab

The easiest is to create a new tab on your Favorites Bar right in your browser.

Click on the star at the end of the address bar.

In the dialog window you can change the name to whatever you want to call it in the new tab. The URL will be already filled in. If “Save in” shows Favorites, click it and select Favorites Bar. Then click Save and it will show in your Favorites Bar – at the end of other tabs.


If your Favorites Bar is not showing turn it on by clicking the “starrish” icon – see the illustration here. Then click Settings.

In the Settings dialog look down just a bit and you will find Favorites Bar – Show the favorites bar and a slider control. Set the slider to the right – ON. Your Favorites Bar will be shown with your tabs.

Placing the Shortcut on your PC

If you want the shortcut on your PC, even when you don’t have the browser open, there are two easy places – In the Taskbar or in the Start area.

With the website loaded in your browser, click the three-dot icon at the top right. The drop-down menu provides two options: Pin this page to the taskbar and Pin this page to Start. Click whichever you like. Of course, you can set both. You will see the website icon on the Taskbar and/or in Start when you click the Windows icon or Start.

Shortcut on the Desktop

Most of us old-timers are used to having shortcut icons on the desktop. Getting one there is not quite so simple.

Go to the site in your browser you wish to set a shortcut for. Click in the address bar. The site URL will be shown as selected. Copy the URL with Ctrl-C.

Then right-click on an empty spot on your desktop. Click on New and then in the next drop-down menu, click Shortcut.

A Create Shortcut dialog window will open. Place the cursor in the field for the location of the item and use Ctr-V to paste the URL that you copied in the browser. Click Next.

In the text window replace the default text with the name of the website as you want it on the desktop.

Click Finish. You will now have a shortcut to the website on the desktop. When you double-click it it will open the browser and go to the site.

Unfortunately the image used for the desktop icon is not the identification icon of the website. You can change to some other image from the selection of shortcut icon images.

.:.

© 2018 Ludwig Keck

How do I insert an image into a blog post using its URL?

Part 1 – Using the WordPress.com online editor

Photos in blog posts enhance the appearance, convey information that couldn’t be said in a thousand words, and act as magnets to pull the attention of readers to the story. All blogging editors provide a means of inserting pictures. When the item to be inserted is an image that resides already somewhere on the internet and its web address, properly termed its URL, the procedure it not so obvious.

Bloggers know that to embed an image in a post requires a bit of HTML code. Few of us are fluent and can just switch over to “Text mode” or “HTML mode” and type away.

If you are a WordPress blogger and use the online WordPress editor, I have good news for you. The WordPress editor provides the simplest possible way: Just paste in the URL where you want the image. Yep, it is that easy.

When you paste in the URL it shows as the text that it is, but a moment later the text is replaced with the image. I did this here, the URL on my clipboard was this:

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Less than a second after pasting the URL it was replaced with the photo:

WARNING:

askludwig-170129-05If you are using the online editor at WordPress.com clicking the circled-plus, “Insert content”, option brings up the Media Library to permit choosing an image from the pictures there. On that page there are also to other options, Add New and Add via URL. Add New provides the process for uploading from your device.

You would think that Add via URL is used for embedding an image, the process we are talking about here. Not so! Add via URL places a copy of the image into your Media Library.

You may not want to store a copy of the image, indeed, you might not have permission to copy the image, just to use it in your blog.

Let me repeat the procedure to insert an image with the URL

  • Get the URL of the image into your clipboard. For how to do that see: How do I get the URL of an image in my WordPress blog?
  • Click on the place in the post where the image should go.
  • Paste the URL. On a Windows machine pasting is done with Ctrl+VCommand+V on an Apple device.

Next it gets a bit sticky

The image inserted by pasting the URL will be content-wide, that is the full width of your blog. What if you want it smaller and to one side or the other, like the illustration above?

Click on the image in hope of getting edit options and all that appears is a delete-X.

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If you are happy with the full width picture, you are all set, but if you wish for more options you can switch to the more powerful Dashboard editor.

Save your draft, if you hesitate WordPress does it for you. Click My Sites, scroll down in the left pane and click WP Admin.

Part 2 of this mini-series covers Using the WordPress Dashboard editor.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

How do I get the URL of an image in my WordPress blog?

The URL, or web address, of an image can be very useful. With it, the image is easily inserted in other blog post, web sites, or social media posts. There are a couple of ways to obtain the URL of a photo that is in your WordPress Media Library.

The proper way to get a WordPress Media Library image URL

If you have been blogging for a long time, you are used to do your “housekeeping” in the Dashboard of your WordPress blog. Newer bloggers do all their chores right in the WordPress.com website and might not even be very familiar with the Dashboard. If you need help getting there, see How do I get to my WordPress Media Library?

  • Go to your Dashboard.
  • Click Media in the left pane.

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  • Find the image that you are interested in. Click on it.

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The image will be displayed along with some information fields.  You see two addresses, URLs, on this page. The one in the browser address bar is not the correct URL that you are after. That is just the page you are on, not the address of the image shown.

The URL of the image is in the field labeled, appropriately enough, URL.

  • Highlight the text in the URL field. Do that by placing your pointer, now a cursor, in front of the text, hold down the left mouse button and move the mouse to the right to scan over the text. The text in the field will scroll so that you can highlight all of it. Release the mouse button when all of the text is highlighted.
  • Press Ctrl+C to copy the highlighted URL (Command+C on Apple machines).

You now have the URL of the image on your clipboard and you can paste it wherever you wish to use it. The URL will have the form of this example:

https://2cameras2views.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/ljk_7942-p-r1-12002.jpg

Note that the first part of the URL is your blog address with “.files” between your blog name and “wordpress.com“. This is followed by a couple of numbers with slashes indicating the folder the image is in, and finally by the filename of your image.

Now the easy way

There is a quick and easy way to get the URL, or web address, of an image from your WordPress Media Library. Most bloggers these days do everything at WordPress.com. Once you are logged in there everything is at your fingertips.

  • askludwig-170128-08Here is how to do it:Click the Write link in the upper right area of the top bar.
    This opens an edit page for creating a new post. Don’t worry, this is just the easy way to get to your Media Library.
  • Click the circle with a plus sign – “Insert content“.

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This opens a window into your Media Library. Find the image you are interested in, You may need to scroll down to do so.

  • Move the pointer over the photo. You will see a little pencil icon.
  • Click the pencil icon. See the illustration below.
    askludwig-170128-06

You will see the library page showing your image.

askludwig-170128-07On this page with the photo there are a number of text fields. One of them is labeled URL. To the right of that field is a button labelled COPY.

  • Click the COPY button. The button text will change to COPIED for a moment.

You now have the URL of the image on your clipboard and you can paste it to wherever you like.

  • Click CANCEL to get out of the Media Library.
  • Click away from the post editor – unless, of course, you are ready to tell the world of new-learned skill.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

Can I reorganize my WordPress Media Library?

The short answer: No.

It is true, the WordPress Media Library is like one of those shoe boxes from the old days filled with pictures. Photos are added on top of the previous ones. There is no way to find a photo by tag or date taken. Well, it isn’t as bad as it seem, but first back to the answer.

The Media Library contains your images that you uploaded for use in posts. If you reorganized the contents of the library, moving photos into new folders by subject or some other indexing method, the URL of the images would change. Since the current URLs are used in your blog posts, those links would be broken. Your old posts would be all messed up. (That is not entirely correct, but I will leave that as a mystery statement for now.) Do not try to reorganize your Media Library even when it gets close to your storage limit with thousands of pictures. But don’t be disappointed that you can’t reorganize your library.

Here is the good news

Clearly you want to reorganize so you can find an image quickly. You actually can. Your photos are in reverse order of upload date. The most recent is at the top of the library. The very first image you uploaded is last. By default WordPress creates a folder for each month in which you upload images. You can easily reach any of those folders by clicking the All dates field. A drop-down menu lets you pick the folder for any month.

askludwig-170117-01This brings up the photos you uploaded in the selected month.

But wait, there is more!

askludwig-170117-06There is a Search field. Just type in that field and the images with matching text in their data fields, like Title or Caption, will be displayed.

The illustration here shows that the text “fl” was typed in the Search field. Two images come up.

Here is the first one:

askludwig-170117-04The matching “fl” is in the word “Butterflies” – the text does not have to be at the start of a word, it can be inside! The other images was a match because the word “Reflections” was in the title. Pretty neat, wouldn’t you agree? See, you really don’t need to reorganize!

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

How do I get to my WordPress Media Library?

Two ways come to mind. Reach in through a window or “walk” in through the dashboard. Sorry about this levity, but really these are routes to your WordPress Media Library. Let’s take the formal path first: Go to your WordPress Dashboard. The way there is by going in your browser to address yourblog/wp-admin, where “yourblog” is the web address of your blog.

If your blog is on WordPress.com, that is, the address is like blogname.wordpress.com, you can access the Dashboard by going to wordpress.com, click My Sites and scroll down to the bottom in the left pane. There click WP Admin.

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Notice the red arrow in the illustration above. It shows the URL of your Dashboard when you move the pointer over the WP Admin link.

In the Dashboard click Media in the left pane, or Library in the drop-down menu.

Here you can also see, in the lower left of your browser window, the URL of your Media Library.

Yes, of course, I could have told you about this address first, but it is just a little more complicated, that is longer, and harder to remember.

Your Media Library is the online location where your images, and some other media, are stored for use in your blog posts.

The storage order is by upload. The earliest item is at the bottom of this possibly very big “shoe box”. The most recently uploaded image is at the top.

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Now I did tease with another way to get into your Media Library. It is a little convoluted and not at all intuitive, but for some tasks it is the easier way.

Once again you can start at WordPress.com. Click My Sites, then Blog Posts. Either open to edit an existing post or click Add. This gets you into the online WordPress Editor.

Click the circled plus icon to insert content, and a window to your Media Library opens. You can pick an image to insert into your post, but you can do a number of other tasks. We’ll save those for another article.

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Next question, please.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck

When I add a photo to a WordPress post, where does it go?

That is really a good question because images do not go “into a post”. askludwig-170114-02You actually know the answer, you just might not be aware of it. When you prepare a post, starting at WordPress.com, and you click the circled-plus icon to “insert contents”. It opens an overlay that shows your “Media Library“. It will look a bit like this:

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You can click on an image and then you’ll get an “Insert” button. This tells you already that your images are stored in your “Media Library“. If you wish to insert a photo that is on your computer you would click Add New. That opens another window, this time one that shows the files on your computer, and you can select the photo to upload to your Media Library.

As soon as you have selected the image and clicked Open, the file window closes and you are back to the Media Library, but now it shows the newly uploaded photo and it is already selected for you. Just click Insert and it is in your post.

There is another hint in the insert-option window. Take a look at the illustration above once more, but look in the lower left corner. There is tells you how much of the storage space you are using.

With your WordPress blog account you also get 3 GB of storage space. That is where your images are stored. In the “basement” of WordPress, I should probably have said in the WordPress server “cloud”.  If you are using a self-hosted blogging account it is just a bit different since you will be storing your images on servers at your hosting service.

.:.

© 2017 Ludwig Keck