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Quick fixes to Android’s 6 common problems

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Given the open nature of Android, users tend to experiment, slowing down the device after some time. Here are six tips to get your Android device back in tip-top shape without too much fuss.

Free up storage space

Over time, your device’s internal storage gets occupied by cache files, apps and files leftover when you remove apps. One of the simplest ways to get this storage space back is by moving apps to the microSD card. We recommend the free AppMgr III app as it supports batch moving of apps from internal storage to microSD card and vice versa. 

Also, camera images eat up lot of storage, so move your existing images to the memory card. In camera settings opt to save images on the memory card to save internal storage space.

Free up RAM

All running apps take up some amount of RAM. You don’t need this step if your device has 2GB or more of RAM, but with 1GB or less — you will notice slowdowns if you install too many apps. Some apps (system apps for instance) need to stay on for the device to work, others don’t. 

Clean Master (by KS Mobile) is a great app that can keep your Android device in peak condition. Not only does it free up device RAM, it can also clean up internal memory, help with app uninstalls and remove temporary files. A one-click ‘boost’ button widget is automatically added to your home screen.

Boost the performance

After a few months, most Android users notice a drop in performance. It may become slower to navigate, take longer to open apps while games and video playback shows random frame drops. To regain lost performance, there are a number of things you can do. Remove any unwanted apps and widgets as they eat up your resources by running in the background. You can also stop all the fancy menu animation effects (usually in Settings > Developer options > Window and Transition Animations). 

You can also use a task killer such as Super Task Killer Free. It kills running tasks after a set period of time or via the desktop idget to speed up phone performance. Using launchers like Nova, Nemus or Lightning will also make your device a lot faster. These launchers consume fewer resources and are highly customisable to suit a user’s requirements. You can even use the free AVG Antivirus app to boost performance. It has a built-in task killer, battery optimiser and a data usage monitor.

Remove bloatware

Bloatware is the collective term given to pre-installed apps on your device that you never asked for (and you may never use). Unfortunately, these apps remain on the device even if you perform a factory data reset. This may include apps from the device manufacturer itself, third-party (sponsored) apps or even Google apps that you don’t use. You can’t uninstall them, but one simple method to make sure that these apps don’t bother you is to disable them.

Head to the application manager in Settings, click on all and click on the apps you want to disable. The only available option to completely remove them is to root the device and use an app like Titanium Backup. Even flashing a custom ROM to replace the original Android OS will remove all bloatware. However, rooting and custom ROMs will void warranty.

Fix random crashes/freezing

There are a number of ways your Android device can get infected by malicious apps that slowdown your device and lead to random apps crashes. Direct download of apk files from websites /forums and at times fake apps from the Play Store itself (remember the fake BBM apps a few weeks back?) can corrupt your device. Install the free Clueful app and run it to identify the risk levels of apps installed on your device. 

The app classifies apps according to high, moderate or low risk — you can uninstall the high-risk apps immediately to get rid of any conflicts the app is causing. The mobile Security and Antivirus app by Avast comes with a Privacy advisor along with a powerful virus /malware scanner. It identifies and provides detailed information about apps installed on your device to help identify a reason for crashes.

Improve battery life

It’s unfortunate that battery technology has simply not kept pace with hardware. Given limitations of weight and size, most manufacturers use batteries that should last most users a day (roughly 10 to 12 hours of use). You may find that over time, battery life does decrease — partly because of normal battery wear & tear and partly because of your usage. 

An app called Battery Doctor (by KS Mobile) has enough options to satisfy both casual and power users. You can better manage remaining battery life using the included widgets. Advanced users can configure various battery saver modes and schedule functions to save more power. If this doesn’t work for you, try Easy Battery Saver (by 2Easy Team).

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Pace up your PC.

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8 tips to speed up your PC.

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Over time, any computer tends to slow down a bit or get bogged down with unwanted files. Here is how you can use free apps to restore much of the lost storage & performance…

Find and remove duplicates

You may advertently end up copying the same files to different locations on the computer. This leads to clogging of precious hard drive space. Both Windows and MAC users can use the free Easy Duplicate Finder (easyduplicatefinder.com) — a lightweight and feature-rich program that does the job fast.

It lets you search various drives (including external storage such as flash drives and portable HDD) and generates reports of each scan. For photographers who want to find and remove duplicate photographs, a free program called Duplicate Photo Cleaner (duplicatephotocleaner.com) finds duplicates even if they were resized or edited.

Remove temporary files

Temporary files usually refer to browser files or those that get leftover when you install new applications. Ideally, they should be removed automatically by the respective program, but it doesn’t always happen.

As more and more temporary files clog up your computer, they eat up hard drive space and slow it down. Get the free CCleaner (piriform.com/ccleaner) which is available for both Windows and Mac. It makes short work of cleaning up your system’s temporary files. Mac users can also use OnyX (titanium.free.fr) which offers advanced cleaning options.

Remove unwanted shortcuts

Most of us like having shortcuts to often used programs and files — this saves time and improves productivity. However, too many shortcuts can build up over time and make your desktop a mess.

Several programs also automatically place a shortcut on the desktop during installation. Windows XP comes with a desktop cleanup wizard that scans your desktop for unused icons and removes them. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 users can use Bad Shortcut Killer to remove unwanted shortcuts from the desktop and start menu. 

 
Defrag to speed things
 
Up defragmentation organises the contents of your hard drive in a way which minimizes the time taken by the drive to access the stored files. The robust Defraggler (piriform.com/defraggler) is a great tool that offers the option to defrag the entire hard drive or just specific folder. It displays a drive map that shows how the space of your hard drive is utilised.

Mac users usually do not need to defrag their drives because the OS automatically defrags files that are less than 20MB in size. (Note that if your computer uses flash-based storage, there is no need to defragment it)

 
Make it boot faster
 
As you install more programs, you might notice that your PC takes longer to boot up. This happens because many applications and services automatically initialise during the boot process. Soluto (soluto.com) is a free Windows utility that analyses your PC’s boot up time and removes unnecessary startup programs.

It even lets you individually select the programs you want to remove from startup. MAC users can do the same by going to System Preferences > Accounts > Login Items and removing applications that you do not want to open automatically when you log in.

 
Sort out the registry
 
Unknown to many, but one of the main causes of a slow Windows PC is a corrupted registry. The Windows registry configures and handles every hardware and software operation on your computer and tends to get corrupted by obsolete/invalid entries. Get the free Registry Repair from glarysoft .com/registry-repair.

It scans your system registry for a number of common issues and fixes them instantly. It also makes a backup of any registry change so that if your system becomes unstable, it can be restored back to its original state.

 
All-in-one solution
 
If you need a single solution to take care of everything, try TuneUp Utilities (tune-up.com). The software will set you back 2,900 but is well worth the price. Once you create a profile of your usage, it recommends various steps to improve performance. All the tools you need to scan and fix issues with your system are built in.

You can also improve your PC’s boot up and shutdown time, delete files safely as well as uninstall programs. The ‘one click’ system maintenance mode is particularly useful — it scans various areas of your PC and fixes everything in the background without disturbing you.

 
Ask for help
 
If you’re not too confident of meddling with advanced settings, ask a a tech-savvy friend for remote assistance. LogMeIn, TeamViewer & CrossLoop are some free tools available using which a remote user can easily log into and take over control of your PC (with your permission, of course).

Problems can be identified and fixed remotely by your friend and all you need is the software & a reliable broadband connection on both ends.

What 2GB of RAM means for your phone.

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How do we best explain the importance of phone RAM to the uneducated layman?

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In the most basic terms, it’s sort of your phone’s workspace area, the temporary, fast-access part of the brain it uses to store the apps and stuff you’re currently using. In short, the more you have, the better and more fluid the experience.

The main benefit of having a large chunk of RAM on your smartphone, such as the 2GB of RAM in the Samsung GALAXY Note II, is simple. It means more apps can stay open in the background, reducing the endless opening/closing cycle that can make using a slower, less capable smartphone a tedious exercise in staring at a wide range of rotating “loading” icons.

Take social network use, for example. On an older, slower phone with 512MB of RAM, switching from Twitter to the Facebook app might require the phone to close Twitter completely so it has enough memory to be able to successfully open the Facebook app.

Therefore, when you’re done looking at other people’s baby photos and decide to head back to the cynical world of Twitter, the phone with the lesser amount of RAM has to completely re-open the app again. Meaning it’s slower to get going and will have lost track of where you were in the timeline.

The advantage of a phone like the GALAXY Note II with its class-leading 2GB chunk of RAM means that wouldn’t happen. Twitter would stay open in memory, meaning you could endlessly flip between the two social network apps without closing either. Life would be better.

It’s this multi-tasking advantage that makes a large lump of memory one of the key features that elevates a smartphone’s performance from average levels to become a much silkier, quicker experience.

It also mean games, which always benefit from having more memory to help them run smoothly, will work better, plus you’ll also be able to keep your play sessions alive in memory. So switching from a game to Twitter won’t dump you back to the “Press Start” screen and lose your progress.

Another area you’ll see improved is the web browser performance. Opening multiple tabs really eats up RAM on any phone, so the more you have, the more web pages you can open up simultaneously for idly leafing through whenever you get left alone long enough to do some extended reading.

You’ll also be able to pack Android Home screens with more widgets when using a phone with more RAM without impacting on the running of the phone itself. And as these active little icons are one of Android’s big unique selling points, it’s a no-brainer that you’ll want to have more of them on the go at any time. Just to show off with.