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May 24, 2016

Windows 10, Improve Performance

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:42 am

OK, if you are a regular reader, you know I like Windows 10; however, it is not perfect.  I finally got tired of one little nag which has bugged me for a while.  I feel that it must be annoying some of you as well so here is all about it – according to Ron.

Every now and then when I boot up a Windows 10 computer I get a notification that says, “Disable apps to help improve performance.”  It goes on to tell me I have three or more apps that start automatically and might be slowing down my computer.

Action Center - Disable Apps

Well heck, no one wants to have their computer start slowly.  So, like most of you, I click the “X” to the right of the warning and ignore that nag.  After a month or two of this on my super-duper amped up computer I realized I wanted this resolved.

I found several programs which were supposed to fix this.  They work by letting you choose the programs that slow the boot down and tell them to start seconds, minutes, or even hours after your computer has finished starting/booting.  The application I chose is called “Startup Delayer” (rd.dblclx.com/startupdelayer).  It gives you a list of all the programs in your startup application list and you can delay their start.  Warning, DO NOT CHOOSE to delay your antivirus which will always be a RAM hog but you want it to run when your system starts.

First you must find out which apps are possibly slowing down your computer’s startup.  To do this use the Task Manager. There are many ways to open the Task Manager but the easiest is to hold down the Control and Shift keys then tap the Escape key.  (Ctrl + Shift + Esc) Once it is opened click on the Startup tab at the top.  Then click on the “Startup Impact” label until High shows at the top.  The High impact apps are the ones that may be slowing down your boot time.

Task Manager

Startup Delayer is easy to use and now you know how to determine what may be slowing you down.

Startup Delayer screenshot

There is one other way I have found without getting another new app but it is slightly tricky.  This only works while you are receiving the “Disable apps” message previously mentioned.  If you have not gotten it when you start your computer it will not work…only while you are receiving that message.

Right click on start menu and choose "Control Panel"Open the “Control Panel” (right click the start menu then Control Panel on the list) then go to “Security and Maintenance.”  Now click the arrow to the right of the word “Maintenance” and underneath you will see Security and Maintenancea link “Turn off messages about startup apps.”  Click those words and the nags will go away.

 

Those apps will continue to “possibly” slow down your computer’s start time but you will not be bugged by the message.  I do not think that the amount of slowing caused by these is worth worrying about, but that is your call.

April 15, 2014

Copy That

Over three years ago I mentioned an excellent product named Dropbox. Dropbox is a “cloud” storage program which allows you to save all sorts of files on a site located on the web. It allows you to “sync” your files without you doing anything to your free 2 GB container of online storage. If you have a file in your local computer’s Dropbox folder and edit it, it is automatically transferred to the online location. Pretty much an auto-backup utility. Dropbox has been and still is an outstanding product.

image However, I have found another that is very similar but it has several distinct advantages. I have been using “Copy” for several months now and cannot find any shortcomings. The site is copy.com. Please go there to visit but if you are interested in signing up use this link, “bit.ly/roncopy” to get extra storage. If you use that link both you and I get an additional 5 GB of storage.

image One large advantage is easy to see from the very beginning. It is that you get 15 GB of free storage. If you use my link above you get an extra 5 GB so you start with 20 GB of free storage.

For those of you who use Dropbox but would like more space please give it a try. I strongly urge all of you to use the training information they suggest once your signup, download and install is complete. It is very helpful and most of it is easy to understand.

Other than the amount of storage you get with Copy they have another neat feature called, “Fair Storage." For instance, my wife and I both have an account. We both have many pictures we want to store at Copy. If I have 6 GB of pictures on Copy and I share that folder with my wife it counts as only 3 GB each; it splits the difference. If you have 20 GB of files and share it with four other people only 4 GB would be counted for each of you. That is slick!

Here is another interesting feature I like. With Dropbox you have to sync the Dropbox folder which means that each folder and file you sync must be in that folder. With Copy you can do the same thing or create a shortcut in the Copy folder on your computer to the original folder/file on your computer. That way you get to leave the original files where you have always had them and sync to Copy.com. This makes it even easier to manage for me.

Many other features are available which you can find out about once you sign up. One final thought… Copy.com is owned by Barracuda Networks which is a well-respected company and has been around for over 10 years. They deliver security, networking and storage products based on network appliances and cloud services mainly for businesses. I have contacted them and they say that Copy.com is very successful and should be around for a long time.

November 19, 2013

Quick Launch Toolbar

When I repeatedly receive the same question, I tend to direct readers to previous columns.

However, this week I received a question from Elizabeth that others have asked about numerous times. Since it seems to be such a common issue, I will again address it, with a few changes and updates.

If you are a Windows 7 or 8 user and miss the Quick Launch Toolbar from the XP days, not all is lost. The Quick Launch Toolbar was an application easily accessible until Windows 7.

With Windows 7 and 8, the Quick Launch Toolbar is still present, but it’s hidden away. Here’s the step-by-step for those of you hoping to find it.

First, unlock your taskbar. Right click on the taskbar and choose “Toolbars” then “New Toolbar.”

A browser window will open up in which you can enter the location of the toolbar items you want to include. Use the following for the Quick Launch Toolbar in Windows 7:  “C:\Users\YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.”

Windows 8 is slightly different, replace the previous step with, “YOUR USERNAME\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch.”

After entering one of the above folder paths, the Quick Launch Toolbar will immediately appear on the right of your taskbar. To move it to the left, click the dotted lines and drag the toolbar to the left, if you previously unlocked the taskbar. If you skipped this step, the toolbar will not move. That is about the trickiest part of the set up.

Quick Launch Toolbar positioned on Taskbar

If you want to remove the text on the new Quick Launch Toolbar, follow these steps. Right click the dotted lines (at the left edge of the new toolbar) and uncheck “Show Text,” as well as “Show Title,” from the menu.

In case have forgotten how to use your old favorite, simply drag shortcuts to the Quick Launch Toolbar.

Web Folder opened via Quick Launch ToolbarThen, the programs will be added to the toolbar and will now, launch quickly when clicked. The icons may also be rearranged by dragging them around the Quick Launch Toolbar. You may even add folders that you often use to it, which is very hard to do with the taskbar.

I set this up every time I install Windows on a computer. Good luck and let me know how it works for you.

February 19, 2013

Program Installations with a Twist, Part 1

This column was brought about by a group of us geeks discussing the current Windows operating systems.  Of course, this included the Windows Registry and the way applications are now installed on a Windows based computer.  Basically there was a consensus that we would like to do away with the registry and the way applications are set up.

Windows RegistryFirst, we need a very simple definition of the registry.  The registry is a component of Windows which sets up all hardware, software, and any attached devices in a large database with information about each of those items.  Basically, the registry contains settings for everything on and in your computer.  When you open an application the registry is pinged and all the data pertaining to that app is loaded into the program to help it run quicker and be more stable than in the past. 

Now let’s talk about installations of today’s applications.  Back in the day, a program installed all of its related elements into one folder.  For instance, if you installed a program named, "Double Click anagrams" it would be installed in a folder named something like, "DCAna."  Then when you wanted to delete the program from your computer all you had to do was delete that specific folder and you were done.

Today when you install a program, most often it will install many files for that application in one folder. (C:\Program Files\Program Name) makes some additions to the registry, then adds configuration files, DLL files and other library files all over your hard drive.  When you uninstall these applications using the Windows 7, "Programs and Features" module it attempts to uninstall all of them, but unfortunately sometimes misses some of them.  This creates a problem I had not heard of before but was informed about, "cruft." Crufts are the junk files left behind when an install is not totally successful.   

I think it could be nice to go back to the old days and take the easy way out to delete applications…completely and cleanly. 

In steps, "Portable Applications." I wrote about them over three years ago coming from a different angle.   

Sometimes today when you install a new program, usually one you download, you may have the option of installing it normally or in a portable version.  If you choose to install it as a portable version or get a program specifically designed to be a portable application, you can defeat the "cruft-monster."

Portable apps are entirely autonomous. When you install them, you pick one folder where you want it installed.  Once installed in that location you will find that program and all of its related files in that one, and ONLY ONE folder.  It puts absolutely no files anywhere else on your system and it runs as well as the original file which installed everywhere on your system.  They are completely self-contained which means that 1: you can move the folder to any other location on your computer or copy it to another computer and it works and 2: if you do not like the program, you can delete the folder it is in and it is gone…totally.

We will talk more about portable applications next week.

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