Change is the Computer’s Worst Enemy

Change nothin’ and nothin’ changes

Contrary to popular belief, computer’s are very reliable.

I’ll wait for the laughter to subside a bit…

Computer hardware doesn’t change, or at least changes very slowly. Some things do wear out such as fans, mechanical hard drives and even the electronics, but not to the degree automobiles wear out, for example.

No, the change that causes all the trouble is software. You would think that the incredible knowledge and engineering that goes into a computer’s electronics would be the weak point, but it turns out it’s all about the software. Millions and millions of lines of code inside the programs. There isn’t a person on the planet that knows even a fraction of what’s going on with all that code.

You would think that if the same company wrote all the software, at least they would make sure all programs worked together or, at a minimum, don’t interfere with each other.

That would be no.

The problem is that there are too many cooks in the kitchen, even in the same company. Your typical computer contains software that comes from entirely different companies and people. They don’t know each other and don’t care what their programs do to all the other programs on your computer. As long as their stuff works, it’s all that matters.

Often times we feel more like referees than computer technicians, trying to keep programs from colliding with each other and themselves. Add in all the websites in the world that interact with your computer and it’s a small miracle things work at all. Think about what it takes to show a website on your screen. It comes from someplace in the world via wires and radio waves which is also being used by millions of other people at the exact same time and it somehow shows up on your screen. The infrastructure needed to make that happen is staggering. All built by people that never met each other and trusting that all involved did things “by the book”. Throw a malicious infection or junk program into the mix and you have a challenging environment.

All programmers are supposed to follow rules when creating software, generally called ‘good practice’, in order to avoid issues. The problem is some of them don’t. At all.

Currently the most pressing issue is that all programs seem to run in the background all the time, slowing down the overall performance of the computer to frustrating levels. It doesn’t matter if you actually started it, it still runs secretly when the computer starts.

The free solution to all this madness is minimalism. Nothing gets installed unless it’s needed. NOTHING. We set up computers with the bare minimum amount of programs installed. Only what’s needed. Super clean. It pays off with reliability and performance. There is no need for cleaning utilities or antivirus programs that contain everything including the kitchen sink. Antivirus should be just antivirus. There is no need for all the other crap that can come with your antivirus such as firewalls, price checker, secure browser, etc.

Big changes come from Windows 10 updates and upgrades. The term “update” is used to describe the small(ish) software patches that are issued weekly or sometimes, daily. Insiders call them “quality” updates. The term “upgrade” describes major version changes being pushed out every 8 – 12 months. You will find that these take a lot longer to install and make major changes “under the hood”. Often times these changes break or change the software in unexpected ways.

Various other programs will also update themselves. Some of you may use iTunes. It’s being phased out as I type this, but it’s still widely used. I never install iTunes updates unless there is a specific reason because the updates used to always break something. Adobe Reader updates are usually a non-event, that’s if they can even be installed. Antivirus programs are updated daily with the occasional upgrade.

And on and on. Again, use the bare minimum amount of software on your computer. Problem avoidance is far more effective than having to troubleshoot issues. Never knowingly allow the kids, grand-kids, friends, neighbors, etc to install their stuff on your computer if at all possible. Every week we receive machines that have been modified in some way, a bad way, by someone other than the owner of the computer.

Contact us with any questions!

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