I have to say, back when the career path for technology led through end user support I learned a lot right out of school. Most of what I learned I still carry with me today. Even so, time and bad habits can cause a person to forget some best practices. When Windows 8 was forced upon my new computer I raced to the Stardock website for the Start8 button and a couple of other goodies. I had used them in the past to “pretty up” my desktop in previous versions of Windows and I trusted them. So I loaded up their interface tools, my other applications, and the few computer games I play which unfortunately come from EA. My favorite game is Sims3. Being in IT I get enough drama and excitement in my days and the Sims is a great way to relax and totally waste my time watching someone else work for awhile. So I was very disappointed when I tried to crank up my game and it told me I had the wrong version of Windows. I perused the web hoping to find a solution. Truthfully there weren’t any as most people were not having issues with this game and Windows 8. One person talked about EA support helping them manually uninstall their Origin store software, which seamed both stupid and needless unless the uninstaller was not working. I was on my own. Then a small voice from back in my past kept reminding me, Keep It Simple Stupid. I kept thinking, it is simple, look how easy the computer is to used. Then a memory popped in from my first few weeks at Microsoft. “The first rule of troubleshooting is to remove all third party applications. Nobody will want to do it, but you have to simplify the environment to get an accurate picture of the problem.” Not only did all my Stardock goodies get removed, but also Symantec and a few other programs that were suppose to be on to make my environment more stable. A few reboots later I notice my system was actually running faster, it just felt smoother. Then I uninstalled Origin from EA, rebooted, reinstalled, and then reinstalled the game. Everything ran like butter. The game not only ran like butter, but everything did. It was also silky smooth. Please don’t get me wrong, 3rd party software is a necessity. The previous post about the need for a Backup utility is a testament to that. As for anti-virus, if you like to torrent or visit the darker side of the web, you had better have more than Windows 8 built in security. No software environment is perfect, even Apple has issues once you get outside their eco-system of Apple programs. When you run into problems, and you do, the first place you should always look is what was last installed. If it was something that you critically needed search the web for updates and users who had the same issue and resolved it. If that doesn’t help, start stripping your machine down until it’s just your critical apps and the plain OS. Yes, it can be a lot of work, but it is less stressful than sitting on a paid support line talking to someone who can’t speak your language who is trying to function at 4am their time. It also saves you the grief of answering questions you already have the answers to, or walking through troubleshooting steps you have already done. Oh, and one last troubleshoot tip. When your computer starts to flake out for any reason, reboot before asking for any help. This is part of the reason why support lines cost money and relatives who are in computer science won’t talk to you. Nobody wants to take time out of their lives trying to figure out a problem when you haven’t cleared the system with a reboot. It’s part of the reason you have to pay for support to the person you can’t understand. You are sort of paying the price for the decades before your that ignored that first simple step of rebooting the machine and trying again.