Tech – for Everyone

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

How To Free Up Space On Your Computer (and Make It Run ‘Better’)*

And Some Saturday Fun, Too.

The simple and handy Disk Cleanup Tool has been a part of Windows since Windows 95. Today I am going to demonstrate how to use it, and explain why you should.

Tip of the day: Use the Disk Cleanup tool to — in a single step — free up disk space, empty your Recycle bin, “compress” old files, and remove the “temporary” Internet files that your machine picks up while browsing and downloading (improving your privacy/security); and, optionally, remove unused Windows “components” and installed programs.

If that sounds like lot a lot, it is. And it surprises me that Microsoft buries this useful tool under a series of menus — it would make sense to me to have a “one-button clean up” icon in Quick Launch, or on the desktop,.. or in the Start Menu.

As with most Windows items, there’s five or six different methods for getting to the same place, but the route I take is to open My Computer (just “Computer” in Vista/Windows 7) which is usually found by clicking the Start button.

mypc.jpg

Locate, and right-click on your hard drive icon, which typically is labeled “Local Disk (C:)”, and then click on the “Properties” menu selection as shown above.

Now the hard drive’s Properties window will open to the “General” tab, which regular readers of this series will recognize, as shown below.

props.jpg

Click the “Disk Cleanup” button, and a window will open that shows the progress as the tool scans your drive for files that it can safely remove for you…

calc.jpg

When the scan is finished, Disk Cleanup will present you with a list of the results –by category – which will show you the amount of space you can recover. This list of categories is selectable via checkboxes, and some are selected for you by default.

dc_opts.jpg

Accepting the defaults and clicking “OK” is fine, but you can modify it for greater space savings. This list includes all the files Windows says it’s safe to remove, and so, conceivably, you could place a check in all the checkboxes without hurting your machine or deleting important “system” files. But, I recommend that you do not select “Hibernation files” (if it appears on the list) nor “Catalog files for the Content Indexer”, nor Office installer files (“setup log files”).

In the screenshot above, I have clicked on “Offline Webpages” and placed a check in its checkbox, because I don’t use offline Webpages. (Note the “View” button: this allows you to see what is going to be removed.. if you’re the curious sort.)
When you’re finished making your selections (or, going with the defaults), click “OK”.

rusure.jpg

Don’t let this scare you. Click “Yes”. .

prog.jpg

Disk Cleanup will briefly show you that it’s working, and then return you to the hard drive Properties window. In my case, I will have cleaned 117,472 thousand bytes of useless files from my machine. The general rule of thumb is that you run this tool once a week for good hard drive health.

You are now done removing and compressing. But the Disk Cleanup tool allows you to get rid of more stuff you don’t use. There is a second tab, called “More Options”.

moreopts.jpg

Here you can click links (buttons) that will allow you to remove Windows “components” (such as IE, and the fax service), installed programs, and System Restore Points.
My advice on the last — System Restore — is to not save disk space here. Let System Restore itself handle removing the oldest Restore Points, which it does automatically.

The middle button takes you to Add/Remove Programs. The most effective way to give yourself more hard drive space, speed up your PC’s performance, and reduce your machine’s overhead is to uninstall programs that you never use. Forget “optimizer” programs, use this instead.

The Components button takes you to a sub-menu of Add/Remove Programs. Again, you probably don’t need to fool around here… so my General Advice is to ignore the More Options tab; but, it won’t hurt you to look around, and I’ve fulfilled the promise of the title of this article.

* Orig post: 11/7/07

Saturday fun: A reader wrote in and reminded me that, yes, while Mike Meyers is, indeed, “silly”, one should not forget that perhaps there is a “silly”-ier man on the scene: Jim Carrey. Though he has a large body of work, when I think of him, I do so (first) not as a pet detective, but in a skit on SNL.. which started a series of skits.. maybe you remember ..

While someone else wrote in with a vote for Mr. Bean…

Enjoy your weekend, everybody!

And I salute you if you were geeky enough to have noticed that the disk pictured was a 10GB model. Kinda hard to believe there were such things.. my phone has more storage than that! (Here at T4E Headquarters, we use “geek” as a compliment.)

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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July 23, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, software, tech, Vista, Windows, Windows 7, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Customize Your Taskbar

Recently, a geek friend* mentioned to me to me a free, handy utility that lets you ‘tweak’ (aka “customize”) your Windows 7 Taskbar easily.

7 Taskbar Tweaker is portable utility and easy-to-use as well. It features some of the best tweaks available for Windows 7 Taskbar. Below is the list of tweaks available in 7 Taskbar Tweaker:

# Disable grouping of windows by file path or application ID

# Open with while dropping a file on a Taskbar button instead of pinning

# Close or focus a window on middle click instead of running a new instance

# Show standard window menu on right click instead of jump list

# Cycle through windows of a grouped button on left click instead of showing a thumbnail preview

# Disable thumbnail preview

I have not tried it yet myself, but it is recommended in PC World and elsewhere as one of the best ‘tweak tools’. My geek friend also tried to get me to move my Taskbar to the vertical, arguing that on widescreen monitors (in particular) doing so frees up valuable “screen real estate”, and really helps, as he likes to have two window panes open side-by-side when he’s working.

Doing so is easy, simply:
1) right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar..
2) Click on “Lock the Taskbar” to uncheck it.
3) Left click on a blank area of the Taskbar (to “grab” it) and “drag” it to the right, or left, edge of your screen.
(Then, right-click on a blank area of the Taskbar and click on “Lock the Taskbar” to check it again, and keep it in place.)

If this should prove to be “too weird” for you, and you want to revert to ‘normal’ .. simply repeat the process and drag-and-drop to the bottom edge. But my friend swears, once you try it, you won’t go back…

* Here at T4E Headquarters, “geek” is a compliment.

Do you have a ‘tweak tool’ you simply love, and want me to know about? Tell me about it. Leave a comment!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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February 9, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Norton’s Free Safety Tool For Parents

Think you know what your kids are doing online?

I am not a parent. So you don’t need to write to me and tell me cruel and totalitarian and Neanderthal I am for recommending this…

NOF

Because I already know that. I’m heartless. And mean. Grrrrrrrr. See?

As a security-aware techie, I advise parents (when asked) to talk with their children about online dangers – yes. And monitor and limit their childrens’ Internet access. I am not “knocking” the importance of communication nor education, but I do believe in “trust, but verify”.
The Internet is not Rated G. Ha!

Norton Online Family is a free service that has won recognition for excellence, and ease of use. (To see more awards, click here: Reviews & Awards.)

pcm_badge “PCMag featured Norton Online Family in their roundup of Free Security Software Tools and celebrated it as one of the Best Tech Products of 2009.” -Neil Rubenking 

(Click here to read Neil’s full review.)

ip_badge “Unlike many parental control products, Norton Online Family aims to create dialog between parents and kids, not assert draconian control. There’s no surreptitious spying here – it warns the child during the login process that his or her activity may be monitored.”
FC_logo “OnlineFamily.Norton.com Block sites, set a time allowance or make hours off-limits with this free service. Monitor Web searches and IMs from your computer. For an older teen who wants privacy, you can set it to alert you only if he engages in questionable activity, like checking out porn sites.”

From author:

See your kids’ online activities at a glance –

Easy-to-read activity reports give you the inside scoop on what your kids do online. In just minutes, you can find out what sites your kids visit, what they search for, who they chat with*, and what social networking sites they spend time at. You’ll get to know your kids better and gain a deeper understanding of their online interests, so you can protect and guide them.”

The benefits of using Norton™ Online Family include

  • Simple, one-time set up
    Create your Norton™ Online Family account, add and customize your family member accounts, and then easily install the Norton Safety Minder onto all the computers used in your household.
  • Easy to use and access
    Check your child’s activity or modify your child’s profile and preferences anytime and anywhere using any computer.
  • Always stay informed about those you care most about
    Know where your children visit, who they talk to, and what they’re doing while they’re online. Parents can also set and manage time limits, permitted sites, online chat* and social networking preferences for each family member.
  • Engage and communicate with each other
    Take advantage of built-in notification and messaging, providing open discussion with your child about their online activities and better understanding about their intent with visiting specific sites or wanting to spend more time online.
  • Never miss a thing
    Send alerts via email or text message to help you address urgent events. You’ll immediately know if your child has reached their time limits, visited a blocked site, or tried to add an unknown stranger as a chat buddy* wherever you are.

ParentAlert

I would say that a few more know how than admitted it in that survey…

Did I mention this was free? The folks at Symantec get a big tip of my geek hat for this one!

* (chat monitoring) Not available in all regions and for Mac OS.

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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October 1, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Patch Tuesday, Stuck Printers, etc.

Yesterday was the second Tuesday of the month, aka “Patch Tuesday” – the day Microsoft releases the majority of its new Updates and “hotfixes”. This time around there was three “critical” patches released, and a known attack was “plugged” (“patched”.. “fixed”). Folks, I repeat: you want updates, and having to reboot to apply them is a trivial inconvenience. Please read, What’s With All These Updates?!

For a review of yesterday’s Updates (and to see what they are and what they fix) click here.


I came across a small, free utility which can help clear ‘stuck’ print jobs from your printer que. This for when you have tried the proper method (see, The print job won’t stop printing) and you cannot “delete” the file from the list. (Or, cannot “Cancel all documents”.)

The tool is called Stalled Printer Repair. It is “portable”, meaning it does not need to be installed, only “run”. You can get it here.


There is a new website in town: Bookmark4Techs
Bookmarks4Techs is the largest repository of listed tech sites currently available on the internet. If you have the desire to learn about computers and information technology, then Bookmarks4Techs is your place to start!“


** My Latest Software License Giveaway Drawing **


Sandboxie’s creator, Ronen Tzur, has graciously and generously donated five licenses to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank him for that. So I am going to do a random drawing contest from folks who “enter” my drawing. The contest will end midnight Thursday, July 15th, and the winners announced Friday the 16th.
A “registration” license is “lifetime” and can be used on as many computers as you own.

Put plain and simply, Sandboxie gives me a secure feeling when traveling around the Web, and I feel ‘naked’ without it. For the details (such as how to enter), click here.

Act now! Deadline nears…

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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July 14, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, free software, Internet, Microsoft, printers, security, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

WinPatrol PLUS License Giveaway

Today It Brings Me Special Pleasure To Announce My Latest Software License Giveaway: WinPatrol 2010 PLUS

"Scotty" the Windows watchdog

You say you don’t know about Scotty and WinPatrol? I have recommended it here before, and I’ve used it for so long I can’t remember (I think, all the way back to when a certain “Y2K bug” was going to end civilization). I consider WinPatrol one of those essential programs to have around.
Short version:
I am a “Scotty fan”. Rrrrruff!

Much good has been said about WinPatrol (from BillP Studios) over the years.

“..I’ve got more to say, and it’s summed up in two words: WinPatrol Pro. The latest version, 9.8 Ɨ, is a must-have tool.” — Steve Bass, “Hassle-Free PC: Clean House on a Junk-Filled System Tray“, Feb 21, 2006.

CNet Editors currently give it 5 stars. (WinPatrol has won several “Editor’s Picks”, in different places, over the years.)

I would recommend the software to anyone who is looking for additional protections from Internet ‘bugs’ and ‘critters’.” — Ron Schenone. MVP on Lockergnome blog The Blade, 02/16/2007.

Softpedia’s Ionut Ilascu said, “It is definitely a must for your computer.” in a review in 2007. (click here to read entire review.)

Bill Mullins lists WinPatrol in his 10 Best, and has this review: WinPatrolToGo – A Great Addition to Your Geek Toolbox

From the publisher:

WinPatrol’s Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. It continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.”

Features: (clickable. To find out more, just click!)

Startup   Programs Removing and Disabling Startup Programs
Active  Tasks Removing Active Tasks
IE   Helpers IE Helpers – Browser Helper Objects – Toolbars Expose Hidden  Files Expose Hidden Files
Scheduled Tasks Scheduled Tasks Cookies Cookie Management and Filtering
Services Services Manager File Types Monitoring and Restoring File Type Associations
Options Options – Host File/Start Page Monitoring Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7
32 and 64 -bit

I do not use WinPatrol in place of Anti-malware programs, but alongside them. (WinPatrol is not an antivirus; its purpose is more to prevent bad stuff from getting onboard in the first place. An ounce of prevention..!) I feel a lot better knowing Scotty is being my watchdog. You just install it and that’s it — each time something is about to be changed, Scotty’s bark (Rrrrruff! ) will let you know, and a window will pop up asking for permission for the process. I would use WinPatrol just for that Rrrrruff!, but I also use WinPatrol’s features to remove stubborn startup entries, identify processes  to look for malware, and generally see what’s hidden on a machine. WinPatrol can be used it to “optimize” your startup time by setting some programs to wait a while before launching – very cool! There are other tools for those things, sure, but WinPatrol has them all in one place, and presents the info in a way that’s very “user friendly”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okay. Okay. Okay! The contest!
Bill P. has generously donated five licenses for WinPatrol PLUS to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank him for that. So I am going to do a random drawing ¹ contest from folks who “enter”. The contest will end midnight Thursday, June 18th, and the winners announced Friday.
A PLUS license can be used on as many computers as you own.

How to enter? To enter the drawing, simply click on “comment”, and enter a name and a valid e-mail (so we can send you the key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it seems I do — multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)


WinPatrol is freeware, and a “portable version” is available for carrying on your ‘thumbdrive toolkit’. WinPatrol PLUS is a way of supporting Scotty, and includes important extra features. A comparison chart of the editions is here, and downloads here.

FYI (I was not asked to put this here, btw) To help ‘kick off’ the new Version 18, BillP Studios is offering a limited time discount sale: HALF PRICE SPECIAL! (Folks, the “limited time” is expiring, so please read this special consideration from Bill P. himself – for T4E readers.)
WinPatrol PLUS Lifetime License
Single User/Multiple Computers/No subscription
SALE Price $14.98
Upgrading provides high performance, real-time monitoring and access to our PLUS Info database. Your investment is a one-time cost. No hidden fees, advertisements or unwanted toolbars. Your support helps continue the development of new WinPatrol features.

Again, my thanks to Bill P.  for making this drawing possible, and for creating this nifty “watchdog” & toolset.

Also FYIBill  has an interesting blog, “Bits from Bill“, here: http://billpstudios.blogspot.com/ (I particularly liked Can Facebook Be Trusted?)

Click here to view current Bits From  Bill posts Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of “Bill Pytlovany


¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “randomizer”, and the top 5 results will be the winners.
Ɨ Current version is 18.1

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 14, 2010 Posted by | computers, Internet, Microsoft, PC, performance, security, software, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 155 Comments

License Giveaway Winners Announced

SUPERAntiSpyware License Giveaway Winners Announced

The folks at SUPERAntiSpyware generously donated five “Lifetime” licenses to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank them for that.

SUPERAntiSpyware is a program for combating spyware and Internet threats. (Please see the original announcement, here; Software License Giveaway Drawing, and find out more about this great tool.)

Without further ado: Congratulations to..

SASTop5

Winners will be sent an e-mail containing their license key. (You may need to check your Junk folder.)

My thanks to all who participated in this contest.

Busy day ahead. I hope you all have marvelous weekend.

Today’s free download: SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition
SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition is 100% Free and will detect and remove thousands of Spyware, Adware, Malware, Trojans, KeyLoggers, Dialers, Hi-Jackers, and Worms. SUPERAntiSpyware features many unique and powerful technologies and removes spyware threats that other applications fail to remove. (SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition does not include real-time blocking or scheduled scanning.)

  • Light on System Resources and won’t slow down your computer like many other anti-spyware products. Won’t conflict with your existing anti-spyware or anti-virus solution!
  • Repair broken Internet Connections, Desktops, Registry Editing and more with our unique Repair System!

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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May 14, 2010 Posted by | anti-spyware, computers, software | , , , | 15 Comments

Why You Want WOT

WOT (Web Of Trust) is a web browser plug-in that uses easy to understand symbols…

AmEx_phish

.. that warns you about potentially dangerous websites and hyperlinks (through the use of a rating system that you can vote on). It integrates into most webmails as well, as shown here.

(I know you are too savvy to click links in such an obvious phish… but you should have seen the one mimicking Chase Bank I got the other day; it was a near perfect forgery. And Hotmail didn’t flag it, as they did this one.)

Find out more. Click here. (WOT is a free download.)

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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March 23, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments