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PC Maintenance.

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So... summer's here folks. Time to clean out the dust and pet hair from those PCs again! Let the poor things breathe fresh air once more.

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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.

All the tools linked to in the original post are free, and will indeed fix the errors without charging you an arm and a leg.

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Okay well I saw a request that the title of this thread was a bit misleading on PC Maintenance so another aspect that is pretty important is cleaning caches, recycle bin and keeping hard drives in tip top shape. I'll even toss in a little computer security information that I've suggested to my clients over the years. All of this goes hand in hand with all of the information from so many excellent sources above.

Security Settings: (helps limit some of the buildup cleaned in the next steps)

Windows - Go to the Control Panel - usually start/ control panel in Vista and Win 7 and go to Internet options.

  • Under the Security Tab Medium High is best setting (usually default)
  • Enable protected Mode with Win7 is advised.
  • Next go to the Privacy Tab and under settings select Advanced. (this controls how cookies are allowed on your computer) Put a check mark in Override Automatic Cookie Handling - First Party Cookies set to Prompt, Third Party Cookies set to Block, check box Always allow session cookies. Click okay. You will be prompted when you visit websites every time someone/place wants to add a cookie. The key here is it is a site you use ALL the time (TESA for example) the box will say Tesalliance.org wishes to leave a cookie on your computer. If you want the site to remember who you are and your settings you put a check mark in the box that says Remember My Decision and then click Allow. If you prefer to not allow cookies or you are unsure on this particular site click the Deny button <--- Will ask you again every time you visit the site until you decide whether or not you wish to allow cookies at which time you would also click the Remember my decision button before deciding Allow or Deny. In my experience you may sometimes get numerous requests from a website for additional cookies (generally these or for advertising sites) and my personal opinion is someone is getting paid for tracking my web viewing experience and it's NOT me so I deny every one. You need to look at the name associated with the request. Example: You are on TesAlliance and you get a pop-up request to save a cookie for JoeBlowsBarAndGrill (fake name). Why would being on TesAlliance want to save a cookie for that website (looking around you'll probably see an advertising blurb for that site) if for any reason you have made a selection and have told it to remember your decision and you later change your mind, click on the sites tab here and scroll down to the name of the website, right click on the name and change your choice.
  • Next go to the Advanced Tab - Under the topic Security look for a line that says "Empty Temporary Internet Files folder when browser is closed†and put a check mark there. This is a leading area of file bloat on computers. Websites store a lot of pages here so they reload faster but they never get cleaned out.

There are other settings in Internet Options that are helpful but I didn't want to make this a Windows security thread The above setting are the bare necessities that every Windows IE user should have set. If you have never changed these settings, look under the privacy tab and click on Sites.... Scroll down through the list and look at all the websites that by default you have allowed to leave cookies on your computer. Seeing those names should shock you into action if you have any doubts about setting your computer settings to what I've put above.

Computer Maintenance

  • I always start with cleaning out the Recycle Bin. Sometimes we delete things and just forget to clean out the Recycle Bin. Look at what is listed there and make sure that everything which you have told at some point to delete is really supposed to go.
  • Next go to Start\All Programs\Accessories\System Tools and click on Disk Clean up (I copied this to my desktop so I don't have to dig for it all the time and is something that I use VERY OFTEN. Generally speaking every box in there should be checked (caution if you use Microsoft Office and your version requested to leave setup files on the computer for verification and ease of security updates without having to install your original disks (later versions have skipped this step) If you have MS Office set up files make sure the box is NOT checked. Below the box where you checked off the various boxes you will see Total Amount of disk space you gain. I have seen this figure bloated in the gigabytes. When you click okay it will ask for confirmation on whether or not you really want to delete these files. If you have selected properly click yes. (once the boxes are set it generally remains with those settings until you make a change)
  • After the above steps I can assure you that you now have a very fragmented disk for deleting all that garbage that was sitting on your hard drive. In order to speed up the time that it takes Windows to look up every file that is necessary for whatever you've told it to do (open web-browser as an example) Windows has to find all the little pieces of the files and put them together to execute your command. If those pieces are scattered all over your hard drive it takes time... Defragging your hard drive is one of the #1 ways to keep your computer running at its full potential (all things considered) Windows has a built in defragging program in System Tools where you found Disk Clean up but there are a number of 3rd party utilities that are faster, more effective, FREE in most cases and allows you to customize how you defrag the hard drive.

Two that I recommend which are free :

  • Auslogics Disk Defrag - Here Click the download button for Free Disk Defrag
  • Perfect Disk Free Edition - Here

I've used Auslogics software for a number of years and its quick, allows you a limited number of options including boot defrag so that system files can be defragged if necessary and it will defrag multiple partitions at one time so that its basically one click and it's off and running.

I used to use Perfect Disk $$$ version a while back and it was my favorite because of the options you had to configure your defragging. I'm currently testing the free version and while your choices are limited it still does a good job of setting my files up the way I normally would if I were able to configure it. Downside is that it’s one partition at a time and you need to analyze each partition before defragging. Along with a blurb screen at the start advertizing their $$ version

Usually, for my systems here, I run all of the above utilities every couple of days. It’s a habit I got into a long time ago and depending on how much you add and remove programs, delete files and browse the internet will depend on how fragmented your hard drive gets. The more frequently you run the programs the quicker they are done. Most users I would recommend at least once a week. Everyone is different and you may find that doing it more frequently is more beneficial to your particular system. Likewise you may find that a couple of times a month is sufficent for your needs.

In conclusion - As someone stated above. There is not a one step solution to solving your computer problems and keeping it running at its best. Using the above steps along with the other suggestions on anti malware, anti-virus programs and a good and decent firewall program are all essential to maintaining a system at its optimum.

Edited by Arion
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Very cool Arion. Most of this I`ve discovered over time but there a few areas I will check. Thanks for taking the time to write this out. :cookie4u:

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I always start with cleaning out the Recycle Bin. Sometimes we delete things and just forget to clean out the Recycle Bin. Look at what is listed there and make sure that everything which you have told at some point to delete is really supposed to go.

That's a good idea to clean out all junk files, but it's also important to do other things too and all these programs are freeware.

Auslogics Registry Cleaner

Auslogics Registry Defrag

Auslogics Duplicate File Finder

Thanks Arion for mentioned Auslogics Disk Defrag. I've using it for years to my satisfaction.

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This looks like as good of a place as any to ask this. My OS is Windows 7 , does anyone know if Service Pack 2 is out...or ever will be? when I web search it I find obscure referances to it but nothing solid.

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Go here. Run the manual update. Should hand you anything you don't have yet. And yep, should be the latest and greatest. :)

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I wish I could get back to Windows 7... unfortunately one of the devices in my computer do not have drivers that are compatible with W7. I'm using:

 

- Wise Registry Cleaner,

- Clamwin, free antivirus,

- Anti Malwarebytes, already mentioned,

- Wndows Defender.

 

I'm going to try the "superantimalware" Arthmoor mentioned long ago, just to see. I've always supposed that these tools conveniently found viruses, just to make them indispensable though, so I'm sure the superthing will find something nasty. :P

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Apparently Microsoft is steering away from releasing Service Packs in favour of more frequent smaller updates so no, there is no SP2 for Win 7. Some sites are calling the SBSL or Slow Boot Slow Login update from last year an SP2 as it contains 90 or so hot-fixes for SP1 and can be downloaded as a "pack" to burn to disc.

 

As HY said, if you update regularly you will have everything that is available and your OS will be up to date, and if it doesn't come from MS, keep clear :)

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Thank you HY ... I do that almost every day. Stoney, that kinda makes sense, thanks. My main security is Eset, Nod32. I let it update every boot up. I also have Microsoft Security Essentials, which  also updates the signatures every day. As far as I`m concerned .. MSE , being free and compatible with every sec. suite I`ve used... is essential.

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Unless things have changed over the past couple of years it was always advised to only use 1 anti-virus program so they didn't interfer with each other and cancel out some of their functions. Most anti-virus programs protest when it discovers another anti-virus program is already installed and running. Maybe that's why you have so many false postives and warnings that don't make any sense.

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Unless things have changed over the past couple of years it was always advised to only use 1 anti-virus program so they didn't interfer with each other and cancel out some of their functions. Most anti-virus programs protest when it discovers another anti-virus program is already installed and running. Maybe that's why you have so many false postives and warnings that don't make any sense.

These problems seem to have been dealt with. I run my three anti-viruses programs at the same time (I did it this morning) and none of them "protest". I do this under Windows 8, I did it with Windows 7, no problems. :)

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Why would you run more than one? They tend to compete.... not to mention its just a tad redundant.

 

That said.... I don't run ANY anti-malware apps..... :D

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Why would you run more than one? They tend to compete.... not to mention its just a tad redundant.

Experience taught me that they don't have the same database.

Edited by ladyonthemoon
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I don`t really have a lot of false positives. ESET seems to take the lead when something pops up on it`s radar. Often it`s as simple as an unwanted app or toolbar attached to a S/W update or DL that I missed. I`ve seen advice for both sides of the security app wuestion. I guess that I`d rather have the occasional false positive, than even one false negetive. That said, I`d never try to run .. say... Norton (shudder) .. along with ESET. MSE seems to play nice though.

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Experience taught me that they don't have the same database.

That's true. But, if you update regularly, there should not be too much of a gap. Still and all, running multiples can bring a host of issues..... I suppose, if they are scheduled to do their scans at different times, that should reduce the potential problems, but, if more than one has 'on access' scanning, you can get yourself into trouble. (not to mention the performance hit applications will take.)

 

Now, my question becomes, are they all actually "virus" scanners? Or do they target different types of malware? (which isn't a bad idea......)

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... Now, my question becomes, are they all actually "virus" scanners? Or do they target different types of malware? (which isn't a bad idea......)

That's what I meant by "different database". Anyway, I've never had any troubles running them at the same time and I didn't notice any performance issues as well. I generally run them when I'm not using my computer though.

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Ok, Just to update, I`ve uninstalled MSE to see what would happen. Right off, windows Defender wanted to scan. I let it and nothing was found. I set a full scan to run overnight with ESET last night. It found 4 minor cleanup items, nothing serious. We`ll see how things play out in the upcomming days. Thanks guys. Kinda didn`t mean for my original question to devolve into a security discussion but, I see where they tie in.

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Interesting turn of events. Yesterday my boss flagged me down and called me into his office. It seems that .. while trying to update Adobe reader .. and not paying enough attention .. he loaded up a Trojan loaded file. Our company IT guy had him DL the free version of this >> http://www.malwarebytes.org/free/  ... I showed him how to run it, and we went all through his files, wiping crap. I watched this program work and I really like it. I`ve read through all the stuff they have and, I think that in June , when my security subscription runs out, I`m going to buy it.

I wanted to run it by you folks first though. :P

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Where was he trying to update his Adobe Reader from? And what was the trojan called?

 

Malwarebytes is a pretty good program for cleaning stuff out of your computer. But you need to know what all it wants to do and make sure that it isn't taking stuff out that it shouldn't. At least that is the experience I've had with it from what people have done to their systems while using it.

 

Biggest thing is that the free version is good for after you get something and from their website, the informationbelow to pay for full time scanning.

 

 

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium TIP:

If you find malware in your free scan consider upgrading to our Premium Version. The Premium version stops malware dead in its tracks, never allowing it to access your PC.

  • Real-time active malware prevention engine blocks known threats
  • Heuristic protection prevents new zero day malware infections
  • Malicious website protection blocks access to known and zero day malicious web content
  • Automatic priority updates and scheduled scanning
  • Blazing fast flash scans
Edited by Arion
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I don`t know where he got the bugs. I don`t remember what they were named. I read that the user needs to be very careful when messing with certain service and reg. files. This is where I stayed with him for like an hour to keep him from bricking his rig. In his appdata/low/temp folder were a few files in what appeared to be Chinese ... yeah .. no brainer that. then we deleted all the Adobe stuff dated 4-28-14 which is when he did it.

 I particularly like the rootkit tool (again, be careful) , and chameleon .. that protects the suite itself.

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The paid versions really aren't much better than the free versions, 'real-time' protection aside. But, if you specifically tell your box to install X software....... doesn't matter what anti-malware suite you are using, it may or may not catch it...... (or, it may warn you, and you, thinking this is 'ok', tell it to ignore it, and then you are hosed.....)

 

That said, malwarebytes is good. Superantispyware is right up there as well, and its a very close call as to which is 'better'..... Just remember, there is NO single-app solution to block all forms of malware. I find it much easier to just watch my surfing habits, and if I actually get an infection, then deal with it. I don't have ANY anti-malware software running under normal circumstances.

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Too right HY. I had a serious talk with my boss about just these points. He wanted to update Adobe Reader so he did a web search and just clicked whatever was at the top of the list. :doh:  As to the paid version on MalwareBytes. .. I can cover 3 comps. for about what I pay for one now and it looks equally capable. I thought about loading the free version to a thumb drive so I can help someone if they get burned. I ran it last night and I like it a lot.

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Yep, they have a 'portable' version that is REALLY nice for some of the more... erm..... problematic... infections. That has saved some of my customer machines from a wipe/reload. Just boot from the USB drive, and down the road you go. Only problem with that is, Windows 8 forces you to boot to the operating system in order to boot from a non-uefi device. Great for security, but, makes working on infected machines just about impossible.

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I won't let Win8 come anywhere near my machines.. Win7 suits my needs and I don't need a touch screen to play with icons on my screen. Besides I like looking at my pretty pictures I have on my desktop without a ton of icons to block my view :)

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