DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

December 23, 2014

New Computer, Part 1

Several years ago, I wrote about an application for Windows users, called “Ninite,” (ninite.com). If you are getting a new computer for Christmas, birthday, whatever you need to use this application. It is currently available for both Windows and Linux computers.

If you visit the Ninite, you can choose programs you want installed on your computer. Download a file, run it and install your applications. This is especially useful if you get a new computer and know of several applications you want to install. The app keeps users from having to print out a list of all the programs currently on your computer and installing them one by one.

Obviously, not every known program is on the site, but the more useful and desired ones are there. At last count ( yes, I did count them) nearly 100 applications were listed. If one you want is missing, you can request it be added to the list.

To start, check off each application you would like to install from the site’s list. After you have finished selecting the proper applications, click the “Get Installer” button. The next screen will ask if you want to share your experience online (Facebook or Twitter) or sign up for their newsletter. After that, you get a popup — (depending on your computer’s settings — which asks you to download your new installation file.

Once you download the file, make sure you know where it is so you can easily find it later. I suggest always downloading to your desktop, so you know where it is and after you are done, delete it. Double click the file and the installation of all of the applications will begin. The applications will automatically be installed without asking you any installation questions. As Ninite runs, it shows you as it installs each application, so you can easily keep up with the progress.

Ninite installation window

Since I just received a new work computer and had to set it up, I learned one very interesting thing: The installs go much quicker using Ninite than individually. I installed 24 applications. I did not time the installation process, but my guess would be less than five minutes. If I had installed them individually, it would have run well over an hour.

Another interesting aspect of Ninite is that as the programs are installed, it gets the most recent version of each one. That way, you are update-to-date from the beginning.

Ninite Updater is for home users who want to support Ninite. It watches your apps for updates automatically for $9.99/year.

This is a great freeware application for setting up a new computer. There is also a pro version ( for business use with a monthly fee). It has some other features and more programs are available. I found that many are different versions of the same applications. Ninite is truly a great app to use second thing on your new Christmas computer. First is antivirus software

September 16, 2014

Good News and a Warning

A few weeks back I wrote about an application you could use to retrieve deleted files from a computer’s drive, SD Card, etc.  This was really highlighted when I got an email from Tom in Harrisonburg, about his adventure with that application, Recuva

It began with, "I took a deep breath, downloaded, installed and ran Recuva on my wife’s defunct mini-SDHC card from her phone…"  Tom went on to tell me that Recuva fully recovered about 90%, over 600 photographs and eight videos.  These had been taken on her phone and then the card failed.  Now the grandkid photos were back.

He was so impressed he bought the Pro version.  I like hearing good news from all of you, so let me know if you read something that helps you out. 

Now a warning for all of you Android phone users.  If you sell, give away or toss your phone/tablet in the trash there are two things you should do first.  Number one is to remove your SD card if you have one installed.  It may contain many things about your system, possibly pictures you have taken, downloaded files, sites you visit, etc.  Next, you must perform a "factory reset" of your device.   

FYI, here is the way to do a factory reset.  Note: devices may vary slightly.  Go to Settings, select Privacy and then "Factory data reset."  You will get a big warning about setting your phone back to the way you got it out of the box when you bought it.  It may give you the choice to also wipe your SD card.  Choose, "OK" and it will be wiped clean. 

Until recently I would say you are now safe to get rid of the phone/tablet.  But new information has come to my attention.  It is now known that some disreputable people have been known to get old phones and recover information.  They run software like Recuva or other similar "rescue" apps and get a lot of information back from the erased system. 

You think,"That is fine, my pictures are of me fully clothed unlike some recent celebrities."  But what about your email username and password?  Or you bank account login, a personal letter you wrote, your Dropbox account and on-and-on?  Your personal data could be retrieved.

Locked filesThere is a safe way to get around this problem many geeks suggest implementing.  You add one new procedure to your Android device before you execute the factory reset.  Encrypt your device.  Encryption basically scrambles your device’s data with a cryptographic key so that only you can access it with a great password.  That way it cannot be accessed without that encryption key.  You can do this on your device at any time; however, it has a couple of drawbacks.  It can cause battery drain, it can also slow down your device and if you decide you do not like your phone encrypted it cannot be undone without a factory reset.  That causes a loss of all data.

Look under Settings and then Security to encrypt your phone/tablet.  Once encrypted you may then run a factory reset and if someone looks into recovering your data they end up with a recovered scrambled mess.  Your information will be safe.  

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.

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?" (shouldiremoveit.com) 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. 

September 17, 2013

Recycle Bin

imageI talked to a young lady recently about how she used her Recycle Bin.  As if you did not know, the Recycle Bin is the trashcan icon on your Windows desktop.  It is usually located on the lower right or upper left corner of the screen.  It displays as empty or full.  When full, whether it has one file in it or one million it will look the same.  

She told me that she uses her recycle bin for storage of files that she may need one day…WHAT? WAIT!  The recycle bin is designed for discarding files, not as a place to keep them.

There are many ways your recycle bin could be emptied. Then you would have no files left.  Consider if your hard drive were to self-destruct and you took it to be repaired. They would not be trying to save your recycle bin but your My Documents folder where all of your files you may one day need should be stored.  I would even unenthusiastically recommend that if you think you may use a file again you should create a folder on your desktop and store those files there.  But your Documents folder is the preferred and safest method for the majority of users.

I also recommend backing up your important documents somewhere.  That way when the inevitable hard drive crash comes you will have the important documents safe somewhere else.  I always recommend Dropbox (bit.ly/use-DropBox — caps count in that URL and if you use this link you get some extra storage).  That is where I keep all of my backups.  With it being free for up to 2 GB of storage most users will be covered.

Another question I get about deleting items from the Recycle Bin revolve around people needing a file they accidentally deleted.  Oops.

Several things dictate what you should try.  The easiest is if your deleted file is still in your Recycle Bin.  Just open your bin by double clicking on it, search for the file, right click on it and choose, "Restore."  It will reappear in the exact location, i.e. folder it was in when you deleted it.  Done.

However, if you have deleted it by using the, "Empty Recycle Bin" command on your bin, you could have problems getting the file back.  You may be in luck if your Recycle Bin has not been emptied for a long period of time.  There is no specific time and it really depends on how often you use your computer.  Basically when you delete a file it really is not deleted from your computer.  The file is marked so that the computer sees it and it is still on the hard drive.  The mark tells the operating system that if it needs that space on the drive to store something else it is available and can be used.  If the file you need has been used, or rewritten, you may be out of luck.

There is a tool I have used to save my life in these situations many times.  You will not know whether or not you can get it back until you try.  The app is called, "Recuva" and it is found online at piriform.com/recuva.  This application is free for the basic model which is probably all you need.

Once you run Recuva your find your file is fully useable.  There are other apps out there like this one, but Recuva has always worked well for me.

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