Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Worth Repeating – Top Tech Tip #2*

Some time ago I was asked by a reader what my one piece of advice for a non-techie was (Click here to read my reply). That was a good question. A challenging question. Limiting myself to one answer was what I found so difficult.

So today I am going to offer you, Dear Reader, my “Probably The Second Most Important Piece Of Geek Advice For Non-Techies“.

* Leave Registry “Cleaners” Alone *

What happens is this: older computers get slower, and so the owner enters “slow PC” (or, “my computer is slow”, or sumsuch) or “slow internet” into a search engine — where they get sold a computer “optimizer”. What this is – usually – is a “Registry Cleaner”, which promises to “find errors” and fix them.

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here’s the real deal — there are two cases (IMHO) when you actually need a reliable Registry cleaner:
1) You’re an experimental sort and you uninstall a lot of 3rd-party (non-Microsoft) programs; like.. you try every new program that comes along. (And you forgot to use Revo to uninstall them when you’re done.)

2) You have just completed a manual malware removal.

That doesn’t describe you? Leave the Registry “cleaner” alone!

Now, my regular readers will remember my mentioning this before, but for the rest of you, here’s why you want to avoid messing with the Registry: and this happens a lot actually, it can kill your machine.

What?!

Yup. Read the user forums. The odds of this increase if you have more than one User Account on your system. Ask yourself this: do you know what the Windows Registry is? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_registry)

Even if a “cleaning” does not kill your machine, no one can convince me that any Registry cleaner – and they have been many over the years – has ever actually sped up their PC. And I am certainly not alone in this opinion.

So what should you do to speed up a machine that has slowed down over time? Well, you already have the tools you need to “optimize” and rejuvenate your PC. Please read Four Vital Tools You Already Have… But Might Not Know About. There you will find the answers! And, guess what? They’re free. (Probably why they’re not advertised, eh?)

… and if you’re the type who is not going to click the link and actually read more, and are just itching to download something, well, the safe and effective Registry cleaner CCleaner will do this for you for free. As will the free Glary Utilities, or the free Advanced Windows Care, and you won’t find user forums filled with complains of wrecked systems, if you should use one of those.
Fair enough?

[Note: BEFORE making any changes to the Registry, please read (and follow) this Microsoft article: How to back up and restore the registry in Windows]

* Orig post: 08/19/09

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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December 12, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Top Tech Tip #2: Leave Registry Cleaners Alone

A few weeks ago I was asked by a reader what my one piece of advice for a non-techie was (Click here to read). That was a good question. A challenging question. Limiting myself to one answer was what I found so difficult.

So today I am going to offer you, Dear Reader, my “Probably The Second Most Important Piece Of Geek Advice For Non-Techies“.

* Leave Registry “Cleaners” Alone *

What happens is this: older computers get slower, and so the owner enters “slow PC” (or, “my computer is slow”, or sumsuch) into a search engine — where they get sold a computer “optimizer”. What this is – usually – is a “Registry Cleaner”, which promises to “find errors” and fix them.

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here’s the real deal — there are two cases (IMHO) when you actually need a reliable Registry cleaner:
1) You’re an experimental sort and you uninstall a lot of 3rd-party (non-Microsoft) programs; like.. you try every new program that comes along. (And you forgot to use Revo to uninstall them when you’re done.)

2) You have just completed a manual malware removal.

That doesn’t describe you? Leave the Registry “cleaner” alone!

Now, my regular readers will remember my mentioning this before, but for the rest of you, here’s why you want to avoid messing with the Registry: and this happens a lot actually, it can kill your machine.

What?!

Yup. Read the user forums. The odds of this increase if you have more than one User Account on your system. Ask yourself this: do you know what the Windows Registry is? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_registry)

Even if a “cleaning” does not kill your machine, no one can convince me that any Registry cleaner – over the years – has ever actually sped up their PC. And I am certainly not alone in this opinion.

So what should you do to speed up a machine that has slowed down over time? Well, you already have the tools you need to “optimize” and rejuvenate your PC. Please read Four Vital Tools You Already Have… But Might Not Know About. There you will find the answers! And, guess what? They’re free. (Probably why they’re not advertised, eh?)

… and if you’re the type who is not going to click the link and actually read more, and are just itching to download something, well, the safe and effective CCleaner will do this for you for free. As will the free Glary Utilities, or the free Advanced Windows Care, … and you won’t find user forums filled with complains of wrecked systems, if you should use one of those.
Fair enough?

Related: to learn more about speeding up your computer,see Computing 101*

[note: BEFORE making any changes to the Registry, please read (and follow) this Microsoft article: How to back up and restore the registry in Windows]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

Revitalize Your PC With Windows’ Utilities*

my last day of ‘vacation mode’…(sigh).

Computers get slower with age. And as we add programs and updates, sometimes little ‘quirks’ develop. The older our machines get and the more we use them, the worse these things become.

Largely, this is simply due to how our machines read and write the 1’s and 0’s to our hard drives, and various “clutter” that builds up. (But some of it is our fault. We humans are curious creatures and we like to install new programs and try them out, and then we just leave them there, unused…)

Windows gives us four tools – called “utilities” – to help us keep our hard drives clean, happy, and running smoothly (sometimes called “optimized”) which you might be unaware of, (or use often enough) as you have to right-click to find them. (Out of sight, out of mind, right?)

These are:
● Disk Cleanup Tool
● Error Checker
● Tool Defragmenter
● Backup

To get started, click on Start >Computer (or, “My Computer” in XP/older).
Comptr
Now right-click on the drive you want to “optimize” (usually, that will be “Local Disk (C:)”, but each drive [“volume”] will have this. C: is your main one), and a context menu will open — click on “Properties”.

gen tab

A new window will open to display the drive properties, and by default it will open to the “General” tab.

On this tab, we’re interested in the Disk Cleanup button. Disk Cleanup is a safe way to “take out the trash” and remove clutter from your disk.

My super-ultra-deluxe article on the in’s-and-out’s of this tool is here, More than you wanted to know about the Disk Cleanup Tool, but the short version is: click the buttons, answer “yes” and let it do its job. I recommend doing this once a week.

Now we dig down one layer, and this is hard work, so you might want to put on your gardening gloves, click on the next tab over.. the “Tools” tab.

———————————————————————

disk propts

Here you find the other three utilities buttons.

The top button is the Error Checking tool. Running this tool is a good way to eliminate those odd ‘glitches’. What it does is, it examines the physical surface of your hard drive looking for “potholes” and marks those areas as “bad” so that the computer won’t try to put your files there.

It also examines your file allocation table (FAT) and makes sure that all your internal roadsigns are pointing at the right streets. Um.. maybe a card-catalog-at-the-library analogy might work better — it makes sure all the index cards are in the proper order and all the Dewey Decimals are correct.
This tool is for use as a repair, and not a maintenance, so use it as needed and not on a schedule.

Next up is the defragmenter. I remind my readers to run this once a month, and to set an automation schedule for it (Vista and Win 7 already have that) in articles like, When was the last time you “defragged”?
Keeping your disk “defragged” is the best way to keep it running like when it was new. (Be sure to run Disk Cleanup tool before the defrag.)

The last — Backup — isn’t an optimizer or age-fighter, but it is probably the most important feature in Windows. I have written probably 30 different articles on just how important making backup copies of your files, photos, records, etc., is, and why you really, really, really want to do it. See How To Use Windows Backup Tool.

I don’t really know why — for all these years — Microsoft has not put these utilities right under our noses and in plain sight as separate entries under Start >Programs… But now that you know where they are, you can use them and get that PC of yours into a more “like new” performance state. Aka, “optimized”!

Today’s free link: Free Lifetime License for SUPERAntiSpyware Professional – 20 to Give Away

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, Backups, computers, file system, how to, PC, performance | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Speed Up Your Camera — Kill the Logo

Digital cameras truly are a modern marvel. They’re quick, highly portable, easy to use, and produce instant results. You can use one pretty much any time, anywhere.

And with digital images, you don’t have to hide away in a dark closet and handle noxious chemicals to crop and edit your prints. Now, we eliminate red-eye, and fix contrast, etc., with the click of the mouse.

As I wrote in Digital Cameras and You, the convenience and quality of digital cameras has all but done away with 35mm film.

Tip of the day: Speed up your digital camera’s boot time by disabling the splashscreen.

Almost every digital camera displays some kind of company logo when you turn it on. This is wasted time and energy that does nothing but slow you down.. and might even make you miss your shot. If your make/model allows it, (and most do) turn this “feature” off.

The exact method will vary from camera to camera, but typically the option you are looking for is in the General Settings area of the main menu.
The phrasing may be “show” or “enable”, and you want to un-select this. And, it may be labeled “welcome screen” or “splashscreen”, or even, “startup screen”.
(If you just cannot locate the menu option, consult the manufacturer’s Website.)

This quick settings change, will give you a faster power-up, and allow you to be more responsive in your picture taking.

For those of you shopping for a new digital camera, you might want to read my article, Digital cameras– which one’s for you?

Today’s free download: (repeat) One of the best free programs for working with your digital images– resizing, cropping, eliminating red-eye, color-adjusting, etc.– is Paint.NET.
You can also find helpful tutorials here.

Copyright 2007-8 ©: Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 11, 2008 Posted by | advice, Digital camera, Digital Images, gadgets, hardware, how to, tech, tweaks | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rejuvenate your PC

When my computer was fresh-out-of-the-box, and all shiny and new, it was speedier than it is now. It had a spring in its step that seems to be lacking now. Can you relate?

There are reasons for this ‘slowing down’, of course. Some of them are just ‘facts’, and there’s not much we can do about them, and others we can (should) remedy. Today I’ll list and review the basic PC steps, which will optimize your computer’s performance, and provide you with the links to my more detailed How-To’s.

*Your files:
A primary cause for PCs ‘slowing down’ is simply that there is more stuff (files) on your hard-drive now, and the more you put on there, the more there is for your computer to keep track of (index). You have added applications (programs), Updates, and all your files, and the volume on your hard-drive has grown– probably quite a bit! [note: to function properly, you should always have at least 10% “free space” on your drive.]

Clean off the junk. As you use your machine, and browse the Internet, you will pick up scraps of files (temps), and you will put things into the Recycle Bin, etc., and I recommend that once a week you use the Disk Cleanup Tool to “take out the trash”. My article on this tool is here.

Get organized. As you machine writes data to the hard-drive, which it is doing a lot, it places things in the first available block of space to save time. The first available space is not necessarily the best or most logical place, though, and we need to come along after and put things in better order. The tool for this is a “defragmenter”, and it should be run at least once a month. I wrote an article on how to set this tool to run automatically, here.

Make space. You may also want to make more space on your hard-drive, and do some “serious cleaning”, by going into the Add/Remove Programs area of your Control Panel and uninstalling any programs you never use anymore.

Get physical. It may seem a bit un-intuitive, but excess heat can cause your PC to run slower, and so I highly recommend a physical cleaning of your machine as well… particularly removing the dust and lint build-ups around your fan vents (depending on your environment, you may want to do this every couple of days). Every so often, (say, 1/month) open the cover (usually a side panel) and use a can of compressed air to blow out all that dust and dirt and pet hair and…
[note: you want to do this to your printer, too. For more on that, click here.]

Today’s free link: Believe it or not, some people just prefer not to use the tools built into Windows, and insist on using specialized “3rd-party” tools to do the job (imagine that), and a top-rated (free) disk defragmentation tool is the Auslogics Disk Defrag.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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July 18, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, performance, software, tech, tweaks, Windows | , , , , , | 1 Comment