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Posts tagged ‘antivirus’

Don’t get trapped in the Clouds

January 6th, 2016

Martin

The New Year is the time when I like to look at new beginnings, and renewal, with all things technology. I’ll be writing about a few topics which you should think about over the coming weeks, and this week it’s focussed on a problem which arises with new computers.

You may have been lucky enough to get a new PC or laptop for Christmas, freeing you up from that dusty old box which you were ready to exile to the landfill. With all that shiny new gear, you’ll be speeding ahead with everything from gaming to everyday office work!

But you might also be running straight into a trap. Read more

Playing with your new PC – the non-boring way

December 17th, 2014

Martin

There are a million blog posts out there telling you what to do now you have a new PC or laptop. They all have one thing in common:

They are sooo boring!

Security this, firewall that, registry clean the other.

You’ve got a new computer for Santa’s sake! It’s faster, whizzier, and more shiny than the one before. It’s got so much… potential! I really hope you didn’t spend Christmas Day spending Actual Money on upgrading your trial antivirus to a full version, or sitting there while Windows updates, restarts, updates, restarts…

There’s a whole encyclopaedia out there to read for free, you know!

The Good, not the Bad or the Boring

Deep breath, calm down. Sip your Buck’s Fizz.

There are of course many a useful thing you can do to a new computer. A lot of them are indeed best done when it’s new. But before you get into the… administration of your machine (what are you, an IT department?), here are a few things you can play around with first to keep your laptopping interesting.

  1. GamesInstall one of your favourite games. If you’re a gamer, try running one of those titles your last workhorse had a little trouble with in it’s latter years. Enjoy smooth gameplay. Outrun your friends with your newly-responsive keyboard wizardry. Take out that Christmas-period family anger in an arena-style deathmatch with Dad and Grandma.
  2. Photo CollectionTransfer your photos and really show them off. You’ve might have a ream of shots from your drunken antics in Magaluf, or shaky video of that eagle on the 12th at Augusta. Maybe you’ve got both. Well, with your new laptop you’ll have a fingersmear-free screen, with punchier colours and a higher resolution. Make sure all the family are there as you show off your mad skillz!
  3. Try an old computer. What?! I hear you yell? There are two truths in the PC world: Firstly, that the best thing a powerful new PC is good at is emulating several older models. Secondly, all the good PC software came out years ago. So grab yourself an emulator and take yourself back to MS-DOS games or a full working edition of Windows 98 (because, why not?).
  4. DollarGet rich by mining bitcoins. OK, I don’t really know how to do this, because if it was worthwhile then everyone would be doing it. Still, if you have an ultra-powerful PC ticking over then you could give bitcoin mining a go. For something more useful, try using your PC to help in the search for aliens or a cure for cancer.
  5. Try a different operating system. Like emulating old games, modern PCs and laptops are great at running other systems within a window on their desktop. If you’ve ever wondered what the fuss is about Ubuntu (or FreeBSD, or the Windows-copying ReactOS for that matter) give VirtualBox a try.

Only then will I allow you to consider the dull stuff

Maybe you’ve tried all that, and you’re now thinking: “well, this is all well and good but I could lose the lot tomorrow… and can’t I eek a little more speed out from under all these free software trials I don’t need?”

You’re right. There are a few key tasks you should do early on in your new PC’s life, to make sure it’s running at it’s best. They’re no one’s idea of a fun night in, but here goes:

  1. VirusDitch that free 90 days trial of Norton or McAfee. It might make you feel a little safer, but it’s really just there to scare you into giving those companies money that they don’t deserve. Remove them using the Add/Remove Programs option in the Control Panel, and install something free and good like AVG Free or Avast. Then stop worrying about it.
  2. For extra strength security, add Malwarebytes Antimalware. It picks out a lot that antiviruses leave out, like tracking cookies and toolbars.
  3. If you really want to get into something tedious and dull, try to set up a backup system. Windows has backup built in, or you can simply make sure you copy all your files to an external hard drive, so that you have a spare copy should the worst happen. Though we know you won’t really do that regularly, don’t we?
  4. Update Windows. It seems a little tricksier in Windows 8.1 than it was in Windows 7, but if you’re patient then Windows should really update itself given time. It might be just a good idea to check it yourself though (via the Control Panel again) to make sure it’s set up to check for new updates.
  5. Remove anything you don’t need, then give the computer a quick clean. New computers come with all sorts of junk on them, in addition to the antivirus trials. You get media players, photo editors and duplicates of Window’s own built-in tools that are just there to flash the manufacturer’s name up more times than is necessary. Clean PCGo into Add/Remove Programs again, and uninstall anything that you don’t think you’d use. Be careful though, and don’t remove anything if you’re not sure what it is. Some crucial drivers look far too much like proper programs, and shouldn’t be touched. Finally, give it the once-over with CCleaner. It’s free, and will remove any traces of those silly old programs.

Confession time

OK, when I said that the above was not someone’s idea of a fun night in, I was missing out one crucial individual. You’re current author loves nothing more than firing up a doddery laptop and ditching the junk, the unnecessary, the superfluous, the excess, the redundant, the nonessential, the…

Set up a New ComputerIt’s a long-held habit, but one in which I’m increasingly called-upon to do for others. It’s almost, dare I say it, fun, and I’m building up a comprehensive knowledge of what can go, and what should stay. If you need help with any of the above, I can be that help.

Perhaps I can answer a question over the phone on speeding up your PC, or come and have a comprehensive look at what needs doing. I can also show you a few ways to do those important tasks in much easier, more comprehensive ways. How about automatic backups? Ultra-powerful antivirus? Media players which deal with any file?

6 ways to make a bad PC situation even worse

November 3rd, 2014

Martin

You don’t need to have a computing degree to use a PC these days. That complicated bit of kit sitting on your lap has been honed to the point where it pretty much browses the web, installs programs and empties your bank account all on its own.

But when disaster strikes, why stop there? Here are a few ways to take a perfectly virus-ridden, shattered laptop and really go to town on it.

Grab a registry cleaner, any one will do. Then hit CLEAN, then CLEAN again!

Registry cleaners are a Windows user’s best friend. Install one (or four), hit the button marked ‘clean’ or ‘wipe’ or ‘destroy’ and wait a few seconds for your registry to be stripped of every pesky setting you’ve given it. Then hit that button again, just to catch a few extra things.

And try to install just one more registry cleaner from whichever popup catches your eye first.

Go on – or are you chicken?

One thing I’d certainly avoid is these two programs. They’ve got good reputations, let you backup your registry before making changes, and come with a host of other tools to keep you PC ship shape.

Free: CCleaner: not only makes it easy to do proper repairs to the Registry, but bundles in a couple of other tools too.

Paid: iolo System Mechanic: you get a hell of a lot of tools for your money, and I’ve been using this for years on my own PCs and laptops. If you’re happy to pay a little for a lot of power, try this out. If you’re a real glutton for punishment, get 40% of System Mechanic here.

Browse dangerously

Ignore the nay-sayers who think you should only use top-notch software like AVG and Kaspersky. To really bugger up your PC you need to find a ‘Top 10 Review’ website which peddles its own substandard product, and get that installed.

Then, when the shocking messages appear suggesting you spend more money, click away!

And pity those scaredy-cats who cower behind things like:

The Netcraft Toolbar Extension, which makes it far too easy to spot spammy links and dodgy websites. This is one freebie you won’t be finding me bothering with.

AVG Free: Supposedly the best free antivirus. I wouldn’t know, because I got my A/V from some website somewhere. I forget.

Kaspersky Security Suite: a reputation as the best of the best, two years running from PC Pro and MicroMart magazines. A whole security suite too, if you’re that way inclined. Put this on your computer and you’ll never achieve that Disaster Nirvana that we’re looking for.

Knacker your laptop

Laptops are a special case. They’re basically built to be thrown around literally, and to slip out of bags perched on walls.

So don’t treat your laptop like a priceless antique or the brittle concoction of plastic and silicon that it is. Try these tips:

Drop your laptop

Make sure your thumb is pressed hard on the screen when you close the lid

Slam that lid down like a mousetrap spring

Play tricks on siblings / husbands by crushing hands in laptops for combined laptop-relational breakdowns.

Bonus tips

If this isn’t enough to wreck all chances of seeing Facebook again, I have some bonus tips for you:

  • Always send angry replies to spammers. They’re a sensitive bunch, and will take you off their list straight away
  • If an email comes in offering something which sounds too good to be true (like, say, a pill which ‘doctors are furious at’), there’s only one way to reap the benefits: whip out your credit card.
  • To turn off your computer, just hold down the power button for 8 seconds. This kills the power, and saves you having to click three times to get it to shut down. This is best to do during a Windows Update or defrag.

Now that you know how to really mess your computer up, get going! Alternatively, if you know a friend who’s done one of these things and needs a little help, call in a PC repair expert.