computer-tips

A list of adjustments to make my compute run better, safer and faster. 

This page has moved to http://sites.google.com/site/heikocomputer/computer-tips  
all updates will be at the new site. The page is below is old material, last updated 6Feb10
  • Reduce screen resolution to 16bits instead of 32 bits. Very good for older computer which don't have a good graphics card.           SCREEN > PROPERTIES > SETTINGS
  • Set the System settings such that virtual memory Minimum = Virtual Memory Maximum. This stops the computer from spending time resizing the virtual memory, saves time, and reduces fragmentation.
  • Use a defragmenter regularly, e.g. Defragler by the same people that make ccleaner.   www.piriform.com/defraggler/  Its a good idea to run defragler with Virtual memory set to very low, such as 100MB or so. That way all the virtual memory page file is defragmented as well. When the defrag operation is done, increase the Virtual Memory again, (make Min Memory = Max Memory) 
  • Use CCleaner regularly.  Get it here www.piriform.com/ccleaner this program gets rid of debris, junk files, and can also fix Registry problems.
  • All browsers use a cache. Big caches mean time spent searching. Reduce it to anything from 1MB to 10MB.
  • Use Spybot Search & Destroy    www.safer-networking.or  (free, donation ware) to clean out trojans, worms, malware, spyware etc... I have found it finds problems on computers of my friends that the commercial Virus  protection software you pay for totally misses.  If a computer takes a really long time to start new programs or to open menu choices then that can be a clue to a whole lot of malware and adware and trojans working underneath and chewing up CPU time, this program usually finds them. In January 2010 I found 837 issues with this Spybot Search & Destroy program, on a laptop that was guarded by McAffee. Laptop runs nicely now. 
  • Turn off Run Time Virus protection unless you have a super powerful computer. Some run-time protection scans for viruses at EVERY disk access, i.e. every read and write operation, on an old laptop that can slow things by more than 50%.  If you turn off the run time protection, the best thing I do is to run the virus checker manually once a week or so. Keeps my laptop nice and fast and also protects it without slowing it down.  
Another name for Run Time VIrus protection is  File Access Protection. If you use Norton or McAfee, they make it really hard to turn off and remove their virus protection.   They are as hard to kill as Vampire, only silver stake through the heart will do it. Simply deleting the relevant folders in the "Program Files" folder will not work, because the files will be in use. One way around this is to reboot the computer in command prompt mode and then delete the relevant folders in the "Program Files" folder. This will then be possible because none of the files for the Virus protection will be in use.  I won't put instructions for this here, if you don't know what do from the description above you  prob won't know enough to fix things and get yourself out of trouble.
Another way in addition to the above: delete all Registry entries for those offending programs. 
    I  once had a version of McAfee that simply refused to be killed, secret hidden installers would try to update and install files constantly even after removing the program formally, killing all McAfee files in Program Files.  Turned out McAfee calls itself "Network Associates" in the Program Files folder.  A command prompt reboot and manual delete with registry editing  FINALLY killed ALL remnants to this thing.  :-)
    Since finally killing all and every little bit of this pesky program: there is no longer any Hard Disk access when the computer is idle, no more strange Hard Drive activity churning away for no real reason when everything should be quiet and calm. 
    Moral of the story: make sure your anti Virus program is easy to remove, and does not slow your system down. A simple rule of thumb: if you pay for the program it will harder to remove, because they want you to keep using it and paying for it. There are lots of GOOD free, anti Virus programs, there are also lots of virus loaded, spyware programs pretending to be anti Virus programs. Your responsibility to figure it out.  The ones I trust are: AVIRA             www.free-av.com    and AVG     www.avg.com.au/products/avg-anti-virus-free            both give out free versions and hope you buy  more professional versions for payment.
NB: be very careful editing the registry, and doing command prompt deletion. Back up the registry and all important stuff first. One false move and you might be up for hours or fix-it time. ...  
  • Turn off System security updates from CONTROL PANEL > SYSTEM - You also need to disable balloon notification else you get hysterical Nag-messages about how your computer is not protected anymore. How to turn off balloons here support.microsoft.com/kb/307729.
  • Use  a firewall, use it to stop all programs like Acrobat constantly updating itself every few hours it will communicate with the mother ship... why all this traffic ? If I need and update I'll get it, every year or so.  Some free firewalls www.pctools.com and there is also Zone Alarm.
  • Turn off autoupdates on all programs.  I don't need to download 50MB+ for a small tiny change in the application. I'll update things like Firefox myself when I think there is some real benefit.
  • Use Firefox, use the Ad-block  addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/1865    add in. It prevents all those pesky advertising things to run, and stops them from downloading them in the first place. Great for web based email like Yahoo Mail.
  • Use Firefox, use the NoScript add in addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722. It prevents scripts from running on your computer, unless you allow them to run.  Stops a lot of problems before they begin.
            Many of those viruses and trojans, and worm, and spyware will not do anything drastic to your computer, they simply collect information, or they use your computer to send spam to lots of other people, sometimes using your address book.  A clue that this is happening is that the computer slows down, becomes sluggish, menus take a looooongggg time to open.  Programs may take forever to load. If you've seen this a few times you will begin to recognize it.
  • Use a free Antivirus program, commercial ones actually overdo things and make it hard to get rid of them, hard to turn them off, and some slow the computer down by checkcing every tiny little disk access constantly. Good free ones are: AVG, and Avira. There are others.... .
  • Get rid of the fancy menu opening and pretty effects, optimize your PC for speed. CONTROL PANEL > SYSTEM > ADVANCED >  OPTIMIZE FOR SPEED. 
  • For people like me who overdo computer use: Use a break reminder, like Workrave.org

Note: be careful about using free firewall, free anti virus, or free registry cleaning software. Some of them contain viruses and are a clever trick to get people to infect their computers.  Ask around, get advice, google the net to see if the program you want to use is OK or not. That is user's responsibility, don't ask some big daddy government to to do this for you. Big  daddy will do it for you, but there is high price for that, which only comes much later    ;-)

How to pick up lots of viruses & spyware: surf dodgy sites: such as porn sites, gambling sites, or free "let us check your system NOW" sites. Those sites have a lots and lots of tricky programs that contain viruses, trojans, spyware, spam-other-users-programs etc...
A good defence against these is NO Script ( https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/722 ), which prevents scripts from running on your computer, unless you allow them to run.
        Many of those viruses and trojans, and worm, and spyware will not do anything drastic to your computer, they simply collect information, or they use your computer to send spam to lots of other people, sometimes using your address book.  A clue that this is happening is that the computer slows down, becomes sluggish, menus take a looooongggg time to open.  Programs may take forever to load. If you've seen this a few times you will begin to recognize it.
        If you have picked up the nasty stuff, the best way I found is to use: Spybot Search & Destroy    www.safer-networking.or  (free, donation ware) to clean out trojans, worms, malware, spyware etc... I have found it finds problems on computers of my friends that the commercial Virus  protection software you pay for totally misses.



Useful Utilities:

PDF readers that take very little space and memory (Adobe sucks up 200+MB, which can be a problem)  www.foxitsoftware.com/pdf/reader/ 
Even simpler and smaller but powerful program is: www.pdf2exe.com/reader.html

Editor for Code, syntax highlighting, RTF, various fomats:  www.pspad.com/en/download.php

Great backup software that does a one to one copy, no install, not archiving, the copy is ready to use just like the original:  www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/bart/index.html  if you want fancy archiving and encryption this is NOT the program for you. This one requires no installs, not drivers to run or to read the archives. Archives are simply copies.

This tells you how much and when you used your computer during the day - gives a simple time graph  www.zhornsoftware.co.uk/keycounter/index.html 

What's eating your Hard Drive space ? Tree Size, to see which folders use up most of the space on your drive  www.jam-software.com/treesize_free

Compression Zip program
with password option, Open source: http://www.7-zip.org/

Deleting Recycler files - how to here.  
The RECYCLER folder is the recycle bin. The recycle bin on your desktop is simply a shortcut to all the RECYCLER folders in your computer. 
Removing Recycler folder  Recycler is a read only folder. To view the folder, go to Tools -> Folder Options -> View tab and uncheck the option of Hide Protected operating System Files. Right click on the folder, go to Properties and unselect the option of Read Only. Now it can be deleted.
http://techsalsa.com/what-is-recycler-folder-and-how-to-remove-it

try: rd /s d:\recycler


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