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HeyYou

PC Maintenance.

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It has come to my attention, that we really don't have anything here on PC maintenance. From my experience, most folks don't even consider this, and 'assume' that their various anti-malware apps will keep them covered. Sadly, this is not the case. The assorted malware writers seem to have nothing better to do than to find new and interesting ways to farm information, or, just screw up your computer. Most of these problems stem from people simply not knowing exactly what it is that they are clicking on. The dire warning that your PC is infected, and is about to self-destruct, causing total data loss is an awful tempting one to click on, to avoid said meltdown. Other offers to "speed up your PC", with claims that "mine is now twice as fast" are equally tempting, and equally false. So, once the damage is done, how does one recover from such an error, aside from doing the shotgun approach, with a wipe and reload? That's where this article comes in. This is a process that I have developed over many years as a PC tech, and seldom has it been unable to clear off a badly infected machine.

First, lets start with cleaning up some of the detritus that Windows, and your browser, leave behind.

CCleaner is a utility that does exactly that. Clears out temp files, assorted stuff the browser neglects to delete, even though it is set up to do so. Best to run this with no other programs running.

HiJackThis is a utility for seeing exactly what your registry thinks should be starting with windows. This is a powerful tool, and is capable of totally screwing up your system, use with EXTREME caution, and follow the old adage of: If you aren't SURE, don't touch it.

Adaware is an adware scanner. Rather effective, and free. (as are all the utilities I will link to here.)

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware is a complimentary scanner, for spyware, trojans, and the like.

No single utility will do it all. You MUST use a multipronged attack, to assure the best results. Doesn't matter what claims are made, there isn't a single, do-it-all solution.

So, given the above tools, the process itself:

First, download, install, and update the assorted tools. (if you are not familiar with the windows registry, skip Hijackthis.) The update portion is very important. (except for hijackthis.....)

Second, run the tools in the order listed. If you want to be really thorough, once you have them all installed, and updated, you can reboot into Windows Safe Mode, and run them. Most of the tools are fairly straightforward, so, I won't go into specifics of running them.

Once you have been through the tools listed here that you chose, next step is to perform a complete virus scan. You can use either whatever you have installed on your machine, or, you can use an online scanner. (would require rebooting back into "normal" windows mode here) Two that I use, and recommend are:

BitDefender

and

Trendmicro's Housecall

Once everything is finished, reboot one last time, and enjoy a squeaky clean machine.

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This is a totally cool Idea and a perfect compliment to the site seeing as how we rely on our machines here so much. Thank you for sharing your expertise, this is a thing that has confusled me to no end. The rule about not touching what you don`t fully understand bears emphasis as this is one of my worst failings.

Again thank you so much. :crybaby:

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Another good tool for spyware removal: http://superantispyware.com/

Yes, the name sounds dodgy, but the product actually does what it says, and does it well. I've had that utility remove stuff Adaware and Spybot won't even acknowledge. We ended up using this product as part of our regular sales support structure at the last IT job I worked.

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Awesome idea HeyYou! It's very nice to have "one stop shopping" here at TESA and thank you for adding to the knowledge base.

I've got a couple of gems for your consideration as well.

Spybot Search & Destroy select your language from this link to obtain software written for ease of understanding. A wonderful tool that is complimentary to SuperAntiSpyware and Malwarebytes.

Major Geeks is a fantastic site for many things computer related. I especially appreciate this information page for deep cleaning XP. It contains some of the links already listed plus more.

Maybe you can add Cleaning into your thread title? I did find just "PC Maintenance" to be just a bit misleading. This however brings me to another question, will you perhaps in the future consider an article on "routine cleaning and maintenance" (things such as regular defragging and cache clean up)?

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Microsoft Security Essentials was released some time ago and it takes care of all malware.

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Microsoft Security Essentials was released some time ago and it takes care of all malware.

Please re-read my post. There isn't any 'single solution' out there. No matter what they claim. I am even less inclined to believe Microsoft's claims.

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And here I thought this was a thread on computer maintenence! :thumbup:

Okay, here is my take.

For Desktops: Once a year.

0. Unplug it from power first!!!

1. Take the cover off your computer case and with compressed air, blow all that dust off the motherboard and all the heat sinks. This is a must. Try not to touch anything in the case.

2. Gently push your cards and memory sticks into their slots. Sometimes they can work loose. Only touch the edge of the cards or memory chips.

3. Above all, make sure you don't zap anything in your case with static electricty from your body. Ground yourself first. Touching the metal computer case or anything metal.

4. Put the case cover back on. Plug it back in.

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And here I thought this was a thread on computer maintenence! :thumbup:

Okay, here is my take.

For Desktops: Once a year.

0. Unplug it from power first!!!

1. Take the cover off your computer case and with compressed air, blow all that dust off the motherboard and all the heat sinks. This is a must. Try not to touch anything in the case.

2. Gently push your cards and memory sticks into their slots. Sometimes they can work loose. Only touch the edge of the cards or memory chips.

3. Above all, make sure you don't zap anything in your case with static electricty from your body. Ground yourself first. Touching the metal computer case or anything metal.

4. Put the case cover back on. Plug it back in.

Physical Maintenance. Yeppers. That needs to be addressed too. Thanks Willie. For those that live in dustier environments, twice a year might be a good idea as well. :)

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Yeah. Dustier doesn't even begin to cut it for me. For some reason we have tons of dust here and I actually find myself needing to spray out the boxes every 3 months or so.

Another consideration in the same vein, if you have pets that shed hair your PC will become a magnet for storing those hairs. Dust and pet hair are the enemies.

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Is it possible to blow out my laptop. I can open it but things are packed in so close I don`t want to risk messing it up. There are seperate covers for the RAM and HDDs, those are easy but then I`d worry about blowing the dust deeper inside.

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Is it possible to blow out my laptop. I can open it but things are packed in so close I don`t want to risk messing it up. There are seperate covers for the RAM and HDDs, those are easy but then I`d worry about blowing the dust deeper inside.

Laptops are a special case. (literally.....) You have to be careful on those, to ensure you do NOT do exactly what you fear there. For the most part, a can of compressed "air" (it isn't really air, its some other gas.... mine says tetrafluoroethane, what ever that is.....) will be reasonably effective, just pay attention to where things go, and try and get as much of it as you can "OUT" of the laptop. Due to their very nature, laptops are far more susceptible to heat damage.... Such fun we have for you. :thumbup:

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Maybe a small vacuum attachment would be better, as long as it`s not powerful enough to pull anything loose and gobble it up,eh? I mean for cleaning a laptop.

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Maybe a small vacuum attachment would be better, as long as it`s not powerful enough to pull anything loose and gobble it up,eh? I mean for cleaning a laptop.

Trouble with vacuums is.... the mere act of "sucking air", tends to generate a static charge. (which your laptop REALLY won't like......) Best just to try and blow the dust out.

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Trouble with vacuums is.... the mere act of "sucking air", tends to generate a static charge. (which your laptop REALLY won't like......) Best just to try and blow the dust out.

Yeah, didn`t think of the static part. Really don`1t want that! Thank you.

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Laptops: There should be a vent in the back where the heat comes out. Just blow compressed air into there to make sure the heat sink is clean. There is not much else you can do with a laptop.

Although, I do check the screws in the back to make sure they are tight, and I also 'reseat' the memory chips, being very careful with them.

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AVG Free- Free, powerful anti-virus. Used in many small businesses to protect their systems. Its a bit of a memory hog when running, and takes a while, but it does a damn fine job.

*Best run when away for 1-2 hours.

*Ensure no other programs are running.

*If inclined, disconnect the internet from the computer.

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Wow, thanks HeyYou and others. I've definitely been experiencing some slow down lately on my laptop. I will have to do this stuff when I get my DSL modem back from my Dad's computer!

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Yeah. Dustier doesn't even begin to cut it for me. For some reason we have tons of dust here and I actually find myself needing to spray out the boxes every 3 months or so.

Another consideration in the same vein, if you have pets that shed hair your PC will become a magnet for storing those hairs. Dust and pet hair are the enemies.

lol I have to clean at-least once a month in this apartment, I get a pound of dust out of my case each time :cry:

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Ok well...lets update this thread with yet another installment in my seemingly never ending quest for healthy computer knowledge. My query is this: ...Can I DL and install windows updates in safe mode and would there be advantages to doing this? If so...ummm...how would this be best accomplished? I`m running Win 7 and I try to keep it updated.

Thanks folks..:cookie4u:

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Safe mode is pretty limited. I don't know if you can or not as your networking drivers are probably not being loaded. And if you could, what is the point of doing it in safe mode? The object is to update your security patches. Only thing I do differently here is instead of letting windows automatically download updates, I tell it to let me know and I chose what I want as oppsed to having it dumped on my computer.

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Not sure if the updater service is running in safe mode.

I just leave automatic updates running, and set it to update once a week. If you want it to update RIGHT NOW, go into the control panel, and configure it for daily updates about five minutes from when you are playing with it.... it will automagically download anything new for ya.

There is also the windows update web site, which you can hit, and update immediately.

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Thanks folks, that`s what i kinda thought too. Arion in the safe mode menu I have the option of booting ointo safe mode with - or without network access. I have things set so it notifies me when updates are available but I also manually check often. My thinking here was to see if I could load security updates without the chance of corruption at the point of download.

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You shouldn't have to worry about 'bad' downloads from MS. Part of the update process is to verify the files BEFORE installation. I have VERY seldom seen an update cause trouble with the O/S..... I HAVE seen updates cause trouble for games. :D The updates that I HAVE seen give problems though, were mainly do to something silly happening while windows was in the process.... power burbled, or some such silliness.

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Yo. Just wondering... how many of those wonderful programs you mentioned actually fix errors at no cost? That's the sticking point for me: The program will scan your computer, but won't repair anything unless you pay up.

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