DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

July 28, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 2

Last week I mentioned Chromebooks and Antivirus software.  Today in continuing with sharing emails and answers we look at the following questions.

"How often do you run Windows Update, defrag, cleaning, and other computer maintenance?" Wow, huge question with a multitude of answers.  First I suggest for most users you should set windows updates to run automatically.  With Windows 10 your only choice may be to have it automatically update, there are varying reports.  If you now run the update manually they come out on "Patch Tuesday."  Or, the second Tuesday of each month.  So you are good to run your update any time after that.  I would recommend you do it each month for security reasons if no other.

Defragging and cleaning really depend on how often you use your computer.  I have also recommended here before that you use CCleaner (piriform.com) for cleaning/removing old files and refreshing your registry. It is an excellent program.  For defragging I recommend another Piriform product called "Defraggler," found on the same site under "Downloads." 

Piriform logo

The timing for these is really up to you since it depends on how much you use your computer.  For a heavy user like me who can spend eight hours a day at work and then an hour or two several times a week at home, I run them every week or so.  If you only go online once a day to check email and Facebook for an hour, once a month or so is fine.  Longer will not hurt you and the more often you run them the quicker they work.  Defragging takes the longest so if you have never defragged before it could take overnight or more depending on the size of your hard drive.

One word of warning about defragging.  If you have a SSD drive and not a regular "platter" drive you should not run defrag.  It will not kill it; however, I have read reports that they will not last as long if you do. 

Maintenance other than those mentioned above is as follows:  Make sure you run your antivirus software regularly.  If you have a free one, as I told you about last week, you may have to do it manually.  To do so you usually right click on the software’s icon in your notification area and click update.  Applications can vary so check yours and proceed. 

Malwarebytes logoThe other two applications I have talked about before but are quite important are, "Malwarebytes" (malwarebytes.org) Filehippo logoand "FileHippo App Manager" (filehippo.com/download_app_manager).  I have talked about them in detail before but I do not feel like mentioning them again is too much.  The new improved version of FileHippo is even better and easier to use.

See you next week.

June 16, 2015

Decrapify Your Computer

Last week I mentioned a friend whose computer was struggling through a major malware and viral infection.  I had several readers write to ask, what was done to resolve it and even more importantly how to stop a reoccurrence of the same problems. 

To resolve it I installed Avast! for antivirus protection and Malwarebytes to remove the malware.  I had to run each several times to get rid of all but a couple of nasty ones. 
For those last two or three I had to search the net to find solutions since I had never heard of them.  I found the solutions, ran them and those problems were gone, too.  This was not a quick process.  The first run of Avast! took several hours and Malwarebytes took a couple of overnight runs.  But finally all was well.

I will also say that a huge majority of their problems came from trial antivirus expiring and nothing replacing it, plus many coupon saving apps which were putting on all the malware to get usernames and passwords along with surfing habits.  Fortunately they did not do any banking online or they would have been broke, too.

Next, on a new computer the first thing you should do is to install the two applications mentioned above or pay for the free/trial antivirus provided by the manufacturer and add  Malwarebytes. 

Next, you need to remove the PUPs from your new computer.  (Potentially Unwanted Programs, and yes that is an actual term.)  These are the "junk" programs on new computers that you do not use and will likely never have a need for. 

For the past many years I have built my own computers so I only install what I need; however, in the olden days I used an application called, "PCDecrapifier."  I reinstalled it today to test it out and it still works well. It will remove the majority of your PUPs and bloatware / crapware; however, you may still have some left. For those remaining you should uninstall them upon discovery as you would any application. 

PC Decrapifier logo

PCDecrapifier is a standalone app, which means no installation other than running the downloaded executable.  When you are done all you do is remove the Decrapifier file you downloaded and ran earlier.  It will request if you would like to create a restore point.  I doubt you will need to worry about it but I suggest that you do this.  I recommend you create a restore point anytime you install any new application.

Last today I have several steps for installing new software from day one on.  Start by reviewing the program you are looking to install on your favorite search engine.  See if anyone mentions any "security" issues about it.  Throw out the top 10% of lovers and haters of the application and you will have realistic opinions.  Next, when you install it, if there is a "Custom" install choose that over the default which asks you no questions.  The reason is even some reputable programs have "add on" programs that go with them.  For instance some install Google Chrome along with the real app you mean to install.  In my opinion that is not bad since I am a big supporter of Chrome; however, some apps install PUPs.  A custom install will allow you to choose exactly what is installed so you can "uncheck" any PUPs you see. 

May 19, 2015

PC Spring Cleaning, Part 3

The last two weeks we looked at some of the ways you need to physically clean your computer for spring or any other time of the year.

Today we will clean your computer’s software.

First, make sure that you are regularly checking your Operating Systems upgrades, i.e. HaWindows 7, 8.1, etc.  Yes, you may have it set to automatically run updates; however, you need to make sure you have the latest every now and then.  Check your update settings by going to Start and typing, "Windows Update," then clicking the "Change Settings."  Check the appropriate choices.  They will make sense to you.  If not, Google for a description.  Mine is set to check for important updates, but let me choose to download and install, give me recommended updates and finally, give me updates for other MS updates.  I am comfortable with those choices but you may not be. Change them and nothing will hurt you, unless you never update.

Windows Update

The funny thing is there is no choice to download and install optional updates.  To get all offered updates for your devices, occasionally check Windows Update for all available updates, including optional updates. I always install those too; however, that is your choice.  This is why you should manually run Windows Updates monthly.  I also suggest you do this after the second week of the month due to, "Patch Tuesday."  Patch Tuesday occurs on the second, and sometimes fourth, Tuesday of each month in North America.  This is when Microsoft sends out all of the items for download to your system for updates.  Wait until after that time and you will get them all.

All of your other software is harder to update but you should take a stab at it on occasion.  You could check most every application you have on your computer by opening the app, going to "Help" then either "Check for Updates" or "About" which is where they are usually found.  Then run the recommended update.

There are also several applications you can get to check your other applications’ updates.  However, none of them are perfect.  I regularly compare several of the main ones and usually get varying results.

  • FileHippo App Manager (filehippo.com) – the one I use most often and is quick and easy. Use the "Download our free app manager" link only.Kaspersky Software Updater (kaspersky.com/free-tools) – good and can be set to run on a schedule of your choosing.
  • Secunia PSI (secunia.com/psi) – I have used this the longest, if you run the scan manually it takes a good while. It also appears to search more apps than the others.
  • SUMo (kcsoftwares.com) – finds many apps; however is the hardest to use of all I have tested.
  • Update Notifier (cleansofts.org) – a simple one but still finds many. Check settings to not get beta updates. 

I ran all of these as well as a couple of others today.  I got varying results and none of them match.  So I guess you could run all of them for better coverage.  I alternate between FileHippo (quick and thorough) and Secunia (slow but very thorough) but they both find apps the other one misses…go figure.

FileHippo

Secunia-PSI

May 12, 2015

PC Spring Cleaning, Part 2

Last week we started looking at spring cleaning your PC.  We will continue this week with monitors, notebooks and tablets.

Get a soft lint-free cloth.  Use a microfiber cloth like you could use to clean you glasses and maybe some Isopropyl alcohol. 

Do not get any abrasive cleaners, glass cleaners (including none of the blue glass cleaners), no online monitor cleaners no matter how good the price, dish detergent, (well maybe but more on that later) no water, or paper towels. 

Shiny new monitorFirst, and very significantly, disconnect ALL cables/wires, especially the power cable from your monitor.  Electrical shocks are not good for you or the computer!

Use your compressed air can mentioned last week and blow all of the grit and dust off of every part of your monitor.  Now use the microfiber cloth and clean the "glass" part first.  Wipe it well but lightly if there is something stuck to it or something that will not easily go away.  You can do the same with the exterior monitors of your notebook and/or tablet including the glass and Smart TV. 

If you have a spot or an area where you have a smear of something try this.  Get warm water and very lightly moisten one of your microfiber cloths.  You will need a dry one later to dry the surfaces.  Use the slightly moistened cloth and see if that takes care of it.  After it is clean use your dry microfiber to dry it all up.  It should not be a dripping mess with water running down the monitor, if so you could damage the monitor or notebook.  Be sure it is just moist, not wet. Do not spray the water on the monitor either.

But what if you have some real dirt buildup on the monitor, say something the warm moist cloth could not remove?  This calls for a nonabrasive dish detergent.  Dawn and Joy are often recommended.  Fill a cereal bowl with warm water.  Put in one drop of detergent and only one drop, not a squeeze.  Mix it together, slightly moisten the microfiber with the mixture and clean again.  Once you are done, rinse out the cloth very well with clean warm water and get all of the soap out.  Wring it out thoroughly and get as much water out of the clean cloth as possible.  Remember always moist never wet.  Use this cleaned cloth to wipe the gadget down to remove all soap.  Finally use your dry microfiber to buff off the monitor, tablet or Smart TV.  This last step should get rid of any dry swipe marks. 

Your last resort on a bad spot is Isopropyl alcohol.  Very lightly wipe and then dry with microfiber as before.

If you think you see me in a coffee shop using a napkin to clean my notebook…that is most definitely not me! 

May 5, 2015

PC Spring Cleaning, Part 1

I realized several weeks ago that I had never provided you with a Spring Cleaning plan for your computer.  So guess what?  Today we start cleaning your system for better performance.

The first thing you want to do is to unplug your computer.  This includes the power, speakers, keyboard, printer, thumb drive, wireless mouse connectors and anything else plugged into your system.  Get a can of compressed air or three.  The following information is for desktop computers.  For notebooks you can perform pretty much the same steps but DO NOT take it apart unless you are a pro or daring.

Take your keyboard, turn it upside down and give it a good shake to dislodge stubborn food particles.  (Yes, I know you eat and drink over your keyboard.)  If you have a long, thin brush, use it between the keys. Whether you have a brush or not use the compressed air to blow everything out as much as possible.  Just use compressed air for the notebook keyboards.

Dirt on KeyboardSome people remove the keys and wash them.  Although I have never done this, you may try if you wish. Pry them up carefully (DO NOT do this on a notebook!).  After they are removed you may wash them anyway you deem feasible even using a nonabrasive soap and warm water.  Make sure they are thoroughly rinsed and dried before putting them back…in the correct order of course.

For the mouse you may just use a damp cloth and wipe it down, drying thoroughly again before using.  If you have an old "ball" mouse, go buy a new laser mouse for $15.   

Look around the sides and back of your desktop for thumb screws or regular screws.  Usually there are two, which when unscrewed allow you to slide the side off of your computer.  Unscrew them and remove the side.  If you have questions search online for how to open your computer for cleaning by make and model. 

For this step take your computer outside of your house.  Make absolutely sure you discharge all static electricity before touching anything on the inside of the computer.  A static "pop" inside your computer could be a costly mistake.  I still recommend keeping touching to a minimum.  Although, barring static electricity, you can touch anything in there lightly without damage. 

Dirty ComputerIf you have not done this before you may find a tremendous amount of dust, pet fur, hair, etc. in your computer.  (Check the DoubleClicks.info site for photos.)  It needs to be cleaned out very well.  Dirt causes overheating by blocking vents and sticking to components which makes everything thing run hot and slow and causes repairs.  Get out your can(s) of air and blow as much of this dirt out as you can.  Get every bit of it out it will help significantly.

For notebooks, just use compressed air anywhere you can reach, even in the vents.  In a notebook blow in the intake vents and it will come out the other vents.  If you cannot determine which is which search online for your notebook’s make and model. This is not as thorough as taking it apart but it is much safer and is better than nothing. 

May 10, 2011

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