Posts filed under ‘utilities’
Keeping your computer clean is not just wiping the dust of it with a cloth. What I mean is that it is very important to not let your computer get infected with virus and spyware and also to not install a lot of junk unless if you have no choice. Viruses and Spyware can be avoided with a good Security Suite. However, there is no program that prevents you from installing a program. It is up to you. I recommend installing the software that you really need and the ones that you trust. Installing more and one security suite and anti virus program can cause them to not function properly and to conflict each other. Also, although you uninstall a security suite or anti virus program, compartments of that software can still be stored in the back ground of your PC. That is why it is better to stick with one Security Suite than try out a different one each year. Another important point is to prevent installing trail out software and betas. Installing too much of these can cause your computer to slow down. Take this real example, When I first bought this ASUS laptop, I upgraded to Vista and then installed nearly everything I could. I kept the trial software, installed five web browsers and all these other freebies and performance enhancement utilities. When I start-up the laptop, it took about 3 minutes and 3 minutes to shut-down and 70% of RAM were already used up. So then I wanted to install Windows Live OneCare and it was a total nightmare. (Read my nightmare story here)
After reinstalling Windows, I was too scared to install any other junk on my laptop. Although some performance enhancement software does help your PC’s speed, they may conflict your Windows default settings and too many of them can cause your computer to crash. So, I do not want you to experience my nightmare and having to reinstall Windows. I have done it and I have experienced it, so you don’t!
Question: Keep your drivers up to date is the next thing you should think about after updating your operating system. Having the latest drivers help to keep your computer running smoothly, secure and also compatible with other devices. But checking if you have the latest drivers weekly is a very idiotic thing to do. So how can I automatically know if there is a driver update?
Answer: There is a program program called ‘Driver Agent‘ which can automatically detect if you have a driver that is out of date. Although this program is not free and costs $24.95 (this is a special offer for PC World readers – all you have to do is to subscribe to one of their newsletters via email), it such a time saver.
But the good thing is that you now get a free scan! This free scan will detect if you have any old drivers. ‘Driver Agent’ is compatible even with Vista. To get your free scan please click HERE
This week’s freeware pick is called ‘Mz Ultimate Tweaker’. This free program will help to optimize your computer for better performance and productivity. Some things that it does and have are: Hardware tweaks, system tweaks, internet Booster, WMP tweaks, Clean up tools and much more.
Also, this program is certified and received a four star rating from Softpedia.
Please note that this program is only for Windows XP. An equivalent program for Windows Vista will be published next week. For a much more detailed review that looks into the heart of Mz Ultimate Tweaker and the download page, please click HERE
Question: How do I open a website without typing the www. and .com
Solution: You can avoid typing ‘www’ and ‘com’ by doing the following:
Type the URL of the website with out www. and .com in the address bar. Then press ‘Ctrl+Enter‘. You web browser will automatically add www. and .com for you!
NOTE: But remember, you have to use either Internet Explorer 7 or Mozilla Firefox 2.0 +
This week’s freeware pick is ‘FreeRAM XP Pro’. This program is to free and optimize your computer’s RAM which will increase your system performance and productivity. It also automatically configures itself for ease of use and also features advanced options. FreeRAM XP Pro is very easy to use and is suitable for both starters and experts. Also, download.com has given FreeRAM XP Pro a rating of 5 stars out of 5! Below are just some of the great features:
* Automatic, real-time memory monitoring and optimization
* Fast, threaded memory freeing with stop option
* AutoFree option intelligently optimizes RAM without sacrificing performance
* system metric and performance monitors
* Advanced tray support
* Memory reporting and diagnostic logging — Plus much more.
To go to FreeRAM XP Pro, please click HERE
Apart from the usual security suite that you install on your PC to prevent viruses and spys, there are also many other protections in which you can take. In fact, there is nearly infinite number of small little freebies and programs that will enhance your safety. If there are ‘infinite’ of those freebies and security enhancements, then choosing the right ones can be quite a confusing chore to do. Also, you need to consider if the program is worth installing. If it doesn’t do much, then do no install it because you should try and keep your PC as clean as possible.
Supervision and control – To be able to supervise and have control is very important. This is critical if your children own a computer or regularly surfs the web. For these kinds of purposes, I recommend Windows Live Family Safety. Here is what this service will do:
– Ban certain websites and filter what they view.
– Know who your child has been emailing to, IM and blogging.
– Filter out their search results
– Track their usage data plus more
– Note: You and your children will need a Windows Live ID each. To sign up please click HERE.
Pop-up blocker and phishing filter – Both of these should come standard with your web browser. To be sure, you should use the latest version of any web browser. I recommend using Firefox or Internet Explorer. Both of these have a pop-up blocker and a phishing filter. In addition, some free toolbars offer a phishing filter.
Firewall – Having a strong firewall is essential. This will block unwanted installation of programs that might harm your computer. Basically, it will shield you against weird stuff and the world wide network.
Email Attachments and fake emails – Be careful when opening an email attachment from someone you do not know. You never know, one click on the attachment or link could lead you to serious trouble. In addition, learn to depict fake emails. If you are a little suspicious of an email, do not open it. For example, I recently received a fake PayPal email saying that I had to respond to them in 24 hours or my account would be canceled. Take a look at the email below:
Your PayPal Account Information Have Problems.
If your problems could not be resolved your account will be closed for a period of 24 hours, after this period your account will be closed. Click on the link below. If nothing happens when you click on the link (or if you use AOL), copy and paste the link into the address bar of your web browser. https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/=login-run=P1-789-019-853
Problem ID Number: PP-34-103-876
How I knew that it was fake? 1) PayPal would never email me address me as ‘Member’, they would use my name. 2)It is totally absurd that in 24 hours my account will be closed. 3)I have done nothing that will cause this problem. 4)The email was caught in the Spam folder. — And to the person who sent this fake email to me, I would like to say ‘good try but you were not good enough, think I am dumb enough to be tricked by your little tricks? Think again, we are not as dumb as you!’
Don’t go to bad sites – This is one of the most important rule. Just don’t visit a bad site!! Do you understand?
Backups – Having copies and backups of your data will prevent you from loosing your work and data. You can either do backups with a portable hard drive or use an online backup service. But remember, if you do not have a fast internet connection, then do not use online backups. However, if you plan to use a online backup service, try out Mozy, Carbonite or Box.net.
Updates – Remember to update your computer’s software also its operating system (Windows Update). Please note that updates are there for a reason, not just to eat up your internet usage data! To prevent forgetting to do Windows Updates, set it to auto mode. For other software that you have, the update option is usually in the ‘Help’ button in the main menu.
Personal note: I use and recommend Windows Vista. It by far the best Windows Operating system and safer. For a great Vista Security guide please click HERE
For a useful list of 100 network security tools click HERE
And this concludes the Security Guide series. I hope you learnt something from the guide. The next series will be about Using online services such as Backups, file storage and sharing. So stay tuned!
If there is anything that you think is worth mentioning or I have left out, please leave a comment or send me an email. I would really appreciate it.
Question: What is Readyboost and how can it increase my computer’s RAM?
Answer: Windows Vista has a new performance feature called ReadyBoost. Readyboost is the use of a USB storage device to increase your computer’s RAM. A portion of the memory of your USB will be used as temporary/physical memory for your computer. Although, it is not as effect as having another stick of RAM fixed onto your computer, you should be able to see the faster performance. Readyboost does not work for Windows XP and 2000.
Please also note that you will need a USB that qualifies the following to use it for the Readyboost feature:
1) The device must have at least 64MB storage (3 times the amount of your current RAM. For example, if you have 500MB of RAM, then you should get a 1.5GB USB)
2) The device must be USB 2.0 compliant.
3) The device must have a minimum read speed of 3.5 MB/s.
4) The device must have a minimum write speed of 2.5 MB/s.
Speed up your system and increase RAM without Readyboost – Article to be published in four days.