About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

November 5, 2013

Should I Remove It?

We are getting to that time of year again when people are thinking about buying a new PC for themselves or someone else.  Have no fear; this column is not about "How to find the best $5,000 computer for $14.95."  I stopped writing those articles several years ago since I stopped getting emails requesting them.  I think everyone is fairly familiar with getting a new computer.  But of course, if I get countless inquiries before Christmas I would be happy to write another one.

OK, onto today’s topic.  So you get a new computer and guess what?  Every single computer you purchase new from a computer company comes with bloatware, crapware, crudware or one of its many other names.  If you have no idea what they are read on.  Bloatware is basically all of the applications which come on your new computer and those installed over time that really do not do you much good.

For instance, if you are like me you have a favorite "free" antivirus program.  When you get a new computer it will almost certainly come preinstalled with one of the big name apps.  You go ahead and register for this program, since it is free.  The problem is that it will not be free after the free "test" period is complete.  Say in three to six months you have forgotten all about that application, but you get a warning telling you that it has expired and to be protected online you need to purchase it for the next year.  I am not saying that it is a bad app but you may not need it and may also be uneasy about deleting the program. 

There can be ten or even more of these types of applications installed on a new system.  The computer manufacturers receive a fee for putting these on their new systems, so that is why they are there. 

There are many ways to remove them.  My favorite if you are techie enough is to wipe the computer clean (yes, format the drive) and reinstall a clean copy of the operating system.  I DO NOT suggest that for everyone, just for geeks who already know this.  Next, if you know which applications are unnecessary, in Windows 7 go to "Control Panel" and then "Programs & Features" and individually delete them.  OK, for Windows XP, "Control Panel" then "Add or Remove Programs." Then in Windows 8, CP again and next "Uninstall or Change a Program."  OK, there are just too many Windows OS and since "7" is the most popular I will stick with it from now on.

imageYou may also get one of the many programs that will help you with this process.  The one I like most is a free application called, "Should I Remove It?" ( This is a neat little utility you can easily install and use.  Once you download the app it will install a shortcut on your desktop.  Double click the shortcut and the program will start and run for a minute or so looking for applications.

It has a database built from user input like yours.  Each program listed may or may not be crudware but you can scroll through the list and check.  Click on the program’s name see the percentage of people who uninstall it, check into it or choose, "What is it?" or "Uninstall."

"Uninstall" is self-explanatory but the other button will open your browser with information they have gathered about the application and other users’ thoughts regarding the app.  If after reviewing the information you decide you do not need it, click "Uninstall" and it will uninstall it using your windows uninstall program.

This is a very slick little application which actually uses user experiences to help you make a decision. 

June 4, 2013


Your computer continues to start up slower than you remember it doing when you bought it.  You may have already run Disk Cleanup, Error-checking and Defragmentation but things still frustrate you about its operation.  Wouldn’t it be nice to have some "anti-frustration" software on your side?

Well, there is!  Soluto has been available for several years and I was fortunate enough to have gotten in at the beginning.  And yes, as if you had to ask; it is free. 

Soluto simply monitors your computer’s start up boot sequence and suggests ways to speed it up.  It also comes with a few other neat features.  Your computer may already run pretty fast as mine did but as you will see below it still sped my computer up.  Some people have reported going from more than seven to less than two minutes to boot their computers

After the Soluto install is complete (which can take five or ten minutes depending on your internet connection and computer speed) a browser window will open that says, "The PCs info is on its way…"  This indicates that the application is just about finished installing and it is gathering info about your computer.  When that is done the browser will display information about your computer, including any applications you have that need to be updated.  I suggest that you should always install the latest apps when you can.  It will give you a better program and more security.  You can choose to install all of those programs at once or individually.  I just installed Soluto on a relatively new computer and it found four applications needing updates.  How cool is that? 

imageIt will also give you information about Apps that have "frustrated you" by messing up even if you did not realize they had, information about your internet browser, your antivirus and windows updates and it will list out a lot of helpful info about your hardware.    

The part I like best is what Soluto does after you reboot your computer.  I suggest you do this when Soluto "tells" you to after your recommended installations are finished.

Once rebooted the software will give you a graphic of all the programs that start in the background, some of which you may have no idea are even there.  They are then rated as to those you cannot remove from the boot, those you may not want to remove from the boot sequence and the "no-brainers" which should be removed.  It gives you details on each program so that you can decide what to do.  It even gives you the percentage of other users who choose to get the program out of the boot process.

On my notebook it advised me that it took 2:40 to complete the start up with 82 programs starting.  The number one, no-brainer it suggested removing was Snagit (  When I hover over the advice window it tells me what Snagit does and that I could choose to either delay or pause it.  If delayed, the program will start up after everything else is finished starting on your computer.  If paused, a program will only start when I manually start the program. 

I ended up removing all but one of the "no-brainers" and several others that were suggested.  My computer now boots in 1:53 minutes with only 67 applications running.

If your computer hangs up or frustrates you while Soluto is running you can right click on its icon and choose, "My PC just frustrated me."  It will then see if it can figure out what bugged you, look for a fix and send that info to the Soluto database to be used to help others.

Soluto is always improving and coming up with new ways to make your computer life easier. 

After you have rebooted a few times you may want to hide the Soluto graphics from showing on your desktop.  If so, right click on the Soluto select Advanced, Show Readiness Monitor, Never Show.

May 14, 2013

Real Final Thoughts on Office 2013 & Internet Explorer 8, 9 or 10


received several emails last week after my final Office 2013 article.  They asked if I would use it or not.  They wanted to know what I really thought, so this should be the absolutely, positively last Office 2013 column.  I am also including a reminder about Microsoft Internet Explorer. 

Office 2013 has several revamped and new features which make it a better suite, particularly with Excel.  I also like Word, PowerPoint, OneNote (which I did not write much about since few people use it…hmm, future article?) and all the others with my least favorite being Outlook.  However, most home users will not use Outlook anyway since it is mostly used in the corporate environs.

Since I do not like to spend much money, would I buy it?  Nope, I thought Office 97 was one of the best ever and with recent versions you get some neat features.  You also get a lot of "fluff" that the large percentage of users will never see.  Once MS added OneNote in 2003 I had all the extras I needed.  If you are going to college or are a high end user I would without doubt recommend the upgrade since you may need more than the older versions have to offer.

imageI do have 2013 for my computers but I get it at a very much reduced price so I think it is worth the cost.  At full price I would personally wait until I had to have it.  Also, remember if you are not that excited by the price or Microsoft (yes, I know some of you are haters) you can get "Libre Office" for free.  It comes highly recommended by me and more geeks farther up the nerd-food chain than I.

Now, let us move on to Microsoft Internet Explorer (MSIE for short).  On May 3rd there was security issue regarding MSIE 8.  There was a coding exploit that led to the U.S. Department of Labor Web site being hacked along with some others. It was reported there was no major damage or security issue from this attack.

Microsoft also came out with a fix to download a couple of days after the problem was discovered.  But come on folks, just update your software like you are supposed to and you most likely will not have problems like this.  At least, you would have avoided that one.

Even if you are on a dialup connection (I hope you are not) you need to update your antivirus and windows software at the very least.  It is very easy to do and will only take a short period of time…if you do it monthly.

Many people complain that windows updates take too long.  The reason is they do it once every 6-12 months and they have hundreds of updates they have to get done.  MS releases regular updates on the second Tuesday of every month so sometime during that week I suggest you update.  You can also set your computer to update automatically but I like to do it manually to make sure I get all of the updates possible.

imageAlso, MSIE 8 came out in March, 2009 which is ancient in terms of computer programs.  Since MSIE 10 was released February 26, 2013 I suggest you get it along with all of your other updates.  It is a very easy way to help stay safe online, so just do it!

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