Category Archives: Cleaning Your Computer

Advanced System Care 6 – Newbie Friendly (With a Little Help)

imageSome months ago, IObit asked that I take a look at their latest Advanced System Care – Version 6 (free edition). Since I’ve reviewed IObit’s various applications as far back as 5 years ago (ancient history in Technology/Internet time) – and, since I’ve generally rated the company’s free offerings at the high end of the scale, it was easy to say “Yes”.

For this particular review though, it was time to do something a little different. Not only would I run with the application for several months (as opposed to my normal test period of two weeks, or so) – but, three of my “I’m only a regular user” friends would run with it as well.

The primary objective of structuring the test in this manner was to to isolate and compare the experiences of a techie, against the real life computing experiences of a “regular” user – one who has little or no understanding of the Registry, Junk Files, …………

There was no miracle transformation during the time that I worked with my small group. They did not magically turn into “super techs.” But, it’s fair to say, that each of them has a better understanding of the relationship between various parts of their OS, and the need to keep the OS neat and tidy.

Equally as important, at least for this review, was the unanimous agreement  (in this small friendly sample), that Advanced System Care, when run regularly, improved their computer experience.

But did it? Let’s find out.

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Installation:

Installation was fast and clean and did not lead to the expected (from the group) – “what’s this” or “what does this mean”, or……………..

User Interface:

As you’ll see in the following screen shots the GUI is relatively uncluttered and straightforward.

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The application is broken down into three modules – CareToolbox – and, Turbo Boost, as shown below.

Care:

Selecting specific settings to apply to a particular action/s can be accomplished by pointing to an item. If the item can be selected, a settings icon will appear as shown below at the arrow. Across the board, the group found this method awkward, easy to miss, and not instinctive.

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The settings menu allows for a considerable degree of choice. Participants in the test found that choosing which repairs to select was, in most instances, easy.  That’s not to say, that the occasional phone call wasn’t required. But, that’s a matter of user experience as opposed to a shortfall in the application.

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The results of a quick scan (less than a minute on a relatively clean system), are shown below.

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Users will have the option of selecting “automatic repair” prior to running the scan. Less experienced users should exercise caution.

Clicking on repair, in this example, completed the job in less than 30 seconds.

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Who makes mistakes? Me, you – we all do!

IObit, recognizing this, has built in a safeguard – the Rescue Center. Each time a cleaning operation is launched, the first process is the creation of a backup point so that Registry, and Internet changes, can be reversed if necessary.

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Bummer Time (or not?) -

From the Quick Settings menu, clicking on “Activate all functions” ……….

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pops up a teaser.

Keeping in mind that this is a FREE product, I must admit to being astonished by the negativity generated on many forums by this teaser. I wonder how these people respond to ads on TV, or in their newspaper – items that they’ve paid for.  

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Toolbox:

The Toolbox is chock full of goodies (lots of goodies) – some of which are in fact, built in OS system tools. Still, having access to a wide range of tools, all in one place, is a bonus.

More advanced users who like to carry around their “IT Toolbox” on their keychain (on a USB stick, of course   Smile) should find the portable tool creation applet worthwhile.

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Overall Rating:

My assessment: A-

On the whole, this application does what it says it will do – and, it’s fast. But, I will mark it down for a rather convoluted settings menu access.

The groups assessment: A+

Participating in an application test was, I think, a bit of a thrill for my guys – particularly one in which (HELP!) was just a call away. What surprised me was, just how quickly folks grasped the fundamentals with just a wee bit of help.

Overall, participants were pleasantly surprised at both the built-in functionality of the application, and the ease of use. And, in what may come as a surprise to more experienced users – participants were astonished at the availability of such a high quality application for FREE.

System requirements: Windows 8, Windows 7, Vista, XP and 2000.

Languages: English, Arabic, Belarusian, Czech, ChineseSimp, ChineseTrad, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese(PT-BR), Romanian, Russian, Serbian (cyrillic), Serbian (latin), Slovenian, Spanish, Turkish, Vietnamese.

Download at: Softpedia

7 Comments

Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, IObit

PrivaZer – An In-depth Free PC Cleaner and Privacy App

imagePrivaZer is an extremely powerful cleaning tool and as such, it is not a tool that you need to use on a daily basis. If CCleaner is your daily system optimization, privacy, and cleanup tool, stay with it – it’s  the granddaddy of all system cleaners with good reason. In my view CCleaner is as close to perfect at its assigned task, as a free program can be.

However, if you have a need to get deeper into your system – then PrivaZer (recommended by super user and regular reader Chris A.), is a free application which has been designed to do just that. The “fast facts” listed below will give you a good overall view of  PrivaZer’s capabilities.

PrivaZer, like many recently released privacy tools, should not be run without the user taking time to fully understand the power inherent in this application. Further on in this review, you’ll find a number of suggestions for getting you up to speed quickly.

During the installation process, shown below, you will have an opportunity to choose various installs.

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An additional choice you will have is – selecting (or not), to install context menu commands.

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I’ll jump ahead here for illustrative purposes. For this test, I selected the context menu install which I’ve shown in the following screen capture. Note, this screen shot shows only one of  the four context menus – “For drives, Storage”.

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Prior to the first run (as shown below), the developer has designed the interface so that less experienced users can choose to be guided by a series of recommended actions.

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One such recommended action (subject to user input), is shown below.

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Once I had made the choices appropriate for my needs (including cleaning any traces in the free space on the Hard Drive) ……..

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… the application allowed me the option to continue as planned, or to back out of individual choices. As well, as illustrated below, selecting any specific action will bring up a menu which provides additional information.

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For this test, I went “whole hog” which included cleaning up the drive’s free space. The complete task (analyzing the system and cleanup), ran roughly 30 minutes. The developer makes the point, that future cleanup tasks will run much faster.

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Fast facts:

With simply one click, PrivaZer is able to clean securely

Internet browsers

Index.dat

Cookies

Cookies Tor

Cookies Flash

Cookies Silverlight

DOM Storage

IndexedDB

AppCache

Registry

RAM

Pagefile.sys and Hiberfil.sys files

Use of software

Messengers

Histories of visited websites, viewed videos, use of software, opened docs, etc

Jumplists

Recycle bin

Temp files

Log files

Invalid Prefetch entries

Indexing service

ThumbCaches, Thumbs.db

Residual traces of deleted files

Free space

File table (MFT or FAT)

INDEX attributes in MFT

USN Journal, etc

The developer provides a short video which illustrates the basic functions of PrivaZer. I highly recommend that you take the two and a half minutes to view the video. Click on the graphic below to go to the developer’s home page.

While there, I suggest that you scout around the page for additional information on this super application.

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System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 – 32 bit & 64 bit (tested on Win 8 32 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site.

A complete User’s Guide is available here in PDF format. I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity.

This application offers a straightforward interface, a ton of options, and it’s free – but, it should only be run by experienced users who have a good grasp of system operations.

7 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Privacy, System Utilities

Daylight Savings Time Ends – It’s That Semi-Annual “Clean Your Computer” Time Again

imageTo make it easy to remember, I schedule my computer maintenance and cleaning, at the Spring and Fall time changes. Since we’ve adjusted our clocks back one hour today (here in North America), it’s time to rerun a primer on how to do a top to bottom physical cleanup of your computer.

Spring cleaning

Over the years I’ve noticed that many computer users are not too concerned with keeping the physical components clean; and they need to be concerned.  Computer maintenance involves not only keeping a computer clean of malware; viruses, Trojans, spyware, and adware – but, keeping the physical machine clean as well.

As regular reader TeX pointed out last year, when I ran this article – “Think of a place that hides more dust than the space under your bed.” He’s right – a computer system can collect an an amazing amount of dust.

image

No, this is not one of my machines. Winking smile

Physically cleaning your computer is potentially one of the most important cleanup jobs you’re ever likely to do. Here’s why – heat.

Heat is a component killer, and it’s the chief cause of CPU failure in computers. CPU failure, caused by dust clogged vents, which leads to reduced air flow, is a more common occurrence than many realize.

Killer Dirt = Killer Heat

Overheating of the CPU will, at a minimum, cause the system to behave erratically; the computer spontaneously switches off, or restarts; frequent “blue-screen” error messages, and more.

Here’s a comment from my Australian buddy Mal, on last year’s reposting of this article – “Earlier this year, my computer started beeping at me. It was an alarm to say “I’m overheating”. I took off the cover and cleaned out all the dust, which was everywhere.

When I turned it back on, the temp at dropped 30 degrees Celsius. No wonder the machine was screaming at me. So a good timely article on your part.”

Keeping your computer in top shape, with a regularly scheduled cleaning program, will prevent the inconvenience of having your system go down, and in the long run save you money.

Tools you’ll need:

Screwdriver

A can of compressed air

Cotton swabs

Rubbing alcohol (70% is fine)

Paper towels or anti-static cloths

Water

Make sure you disconnect the machine from the wall outlet before you begin maintenance and cleanup, and be gentle when touching the components inside the case.

Open the case:

If required, use the screwdriver to remove the side of the case that’s opposite the motherboard. Blow compresses air over the components and interior of the case, keeping the can upright and nozzle four inches away from components.

Clean the power supply and the case fan with a shot of compressed air. Next, blow compressed air into the CD/DVD drive. Give the inside of the case a wipe with a slightly moistened cloth before replacing the cover.

Clean the exterior:

Wipe the exterior of the case with a slightly moistened cloth; repeat the wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel. Be sure to clean all case openings using this method.

Clean the keyboard:

Since the keyboard gets more physical contact than any other component, if you can, clean it on a monthly basis. Blowout in and around the keys with compressed air monthly and on your scheduled cleanup rub down the keys and case with a clean cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Clean the mouse:

Like the keyboard, the mouse gets substantial physical contact and requires cleaning on a monthly basis. If you have an optical mouse simply wipe it down just as you wiped down the keyboard. If you have a mechanical mouse then you need to remove, wash, and then dry the ball.

Next, clean inside the mouse with a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. Finally blow compressed air into the opening and then reassemble the mouse.

Clean the monitor:

Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. Instead, moisten the cloth, or the paper towel, with the cleaning solution. Spraying the screen directly runs the risk of liquid penetrating into the monitor components.

Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. For laptop screens, buy a special cleaning solution available at computer stores. Do this weekly.

I know this is a no-brainer, but before you plug the computer back into the wall outlet, be sure all components are thoroughly dry.

Previous postings of this article drew some very valuable comments from regular readers, including the following:

Vhick:

I always clean my PC one a month. In a tropical country like here, dust is everywhere. Clean, turn around, and there’s a dust again. PC cleaning inside and out is must here, because of very hot temperatures.

Georg L:

Cleaning is nice, but when doing so, one should also change the heat sink compound between hot semiconductors and the respective heat sinks. The CPU is most critical in this respect.

Volatile components evaporate over time, turning the compound into an effective heat insulator with a plaster-like texture. I suggest a change every second year in moderate climates, and an annual change in the tropics.

Just to follow up on Georg’s comment – earlier this year, a reader explained that he had rebuilt his machine and replaced all components (other than the CPU), and yet, the machine still locked up after just a few minutes of operation. I passed on Georg’s advice and voila – problem solved!

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

25 Comments

Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Save Your CPU, Windows Tips and Tools

Free SlimCleaner Final – Optimizer, Uninstaller, Shredder and Anti- Hijacker Built In

imageAs regular readers here know, I’m a BIG fan of community based applications – applications in which combined user experiences are used to drive the functionality of an application. What could be better, and more useful, than to use the experiences of the very people who use the product? If there’s a better way for companies to “listen” to the customer, I’ve yet to hear it.

Last year, I reviewed a series of impressive products (including SlimCleaner Beta) from SlimWare Utilities, a U.S.-based software company which states that its mission is to provide crowd-sourced applications that “will revolutionize the performance of personal computers.”

Having experienced the value of the company’s first three crowd-sourced applications, I’d have to agree – this developer is on the right track.

As of yesterday, SlimCleaner’s final release became available for download and, I think you’ll find this application worthy of your consideration as an addition to your system utility toolbox.

Click on any graphic to expand to original size.

For illustrative purposes, I’ve selected only the Windows clean function. But notice, the application offers additional cleaning capabilities – including Applications and Browsers.

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The optimization function allows access to startup entries and most importantly, system services. Optimizing services can often improve system response time.

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The built-in application uninstaller essential duplicates the “add/remove” applet in Windows. Still, having access to this function in an all-in-one application like SlimCleaner, is a helpful addition.

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I’m partial to file shredders so I’m happy to see one included here. I’m impressed with the choice of selectable shred levels.

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If system security is high on your list, then you’ll be pleased to see SlimCleaner added a “Hijack Log” function which includes the ability to query selectable entries through a cloud based AV (Virus Total).

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I tested this feature and the results, returned in just a few seconds, indicated the selected startup entry was clean.

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Application settings are uncomplicated, and very easy to understand. You’ll notice in the following screen capture that you will be given the opportunity to install the program to a USB key.

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Freeware applications often fall short in providing comprehensive help. SlimCleaner’s help setup on the other hand, is quite extensive – as the following screen capture indicates.

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Finally, the most common Windows tools are easily accessible through the applications GUI. Notice both a CPU and a RAM usage meter in the following graphic. Theses meters are viewable in all GUI Views.

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Fast facts:

Optimizer - Disable non-essential background process and services to make your computer run faster. SlimCleaner uses up-to-date cloud data to customize settings for optimal performance.

Uninstaller – Unlike the Windows uninstaller, SlimCleaner’s uninstaller helps you make an informed decision. When it lists the programs on your computer, you instantly get ratings and user feedback, telling you what the web community thinks of each application – whether it’s good, optional, or just a waste of space.

Shredder – Rest easy knowing that you have the ability to not only delete private data, but shred it. SlimCleaner lets you remove files using a process that makes it impossible for them to be recovered.

Hijack Log – Get a fully interactive list of all the software components running on your PC: Toolbars, Services, Startup Entries, Codecs, Drivers, ActiveX Objects and more. Take control of your computer’s functions by getting on-demand information about any given entry.

Windows Tools – One-Click access to all of Windows’ monitoring and diagnostics tools. Don’t hunt for the stats and information you need, get a head’s up display. From one panel you can access the Device Manager, Security Settings, Backup and Restore, System Information and more.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista and XP (32 bit and 64 bit).

Download at: Developer’s site – Slimcleaner.com

If you’re looking for a freeware application that not only gets in there and cleans out the deep dirt, but offers a range of additional functionality, then SlimCleaner should definitely make your short list.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

27 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Solutions, New Computer User Software Tools, Portable Applications, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Daylight Savings Time Begins – It’s That Semi-Annual “Clean Your Computer” Time Again

To make it easy to remember, I schedule my computer maintenance and cleaning, at the Spring and Fall time changes – just as I schedule my smoke detector battery replacement.

Since we’ve just recently adjusted our clocks one hour forward (here in North America), advancing into “daylight savings time”, it’s time to rerun a primer on how to do a top to bottom physical cleanup of your computer.

Spring cleaning

Over the years I’ve noticed that many computer users are not too concerned with keeping the physical components clean; and they need to be concerned.  Computer maintenance involves not only keeping a computer clean of malware; viruses, Trojans, spyware, and adware – but, keeping the physical machine clean as well.

As regular reader TeX pointed out last year, when I ran this article – “Think of a place that hides more dust than the space under your bed.” He’s right – a computer system can collect an an amazing amount of dust.

image

No, this is not one of my machines. Winking smile

Physically cleaning your computer is potentially one of the most important cleanup jobs you’re ever likely to do. Here’s why – heat.

Heat is a component killer, and it’s the chief cause of CPU failure in computers. CPU failure, caused by dust clogged vents, which leads to reduced air flow, is a more common occurrence than many realize.

Killer Dirt = Killer Heat

Overheating of the CPU will, at a minimum, cause the system to behave erratically; the computer spontaneously switches off, or restarts; frequent “blue-screen” error messages, and more.

Here’s a comment from my Australian buddy Mal, on last year’s reposting of this article – “Earlier this year, my computer started beeping at me. It was an alarm to say “I’m overheating”. I took off the cover and cleaned out all the dust, which was everywhere.

When I turned it back on, the temp at dropped 30 degrees Celsius. No wonder the machine was screaming at me. So a good timely article on your part.”

Keeping your computer in top shape, with a regularly scheduled cleaning program, will prevent the inconvenience of having your system go down, and in the long run save you money.

Tools you’ll need:

Screwdriver

A can of compressed air

Cotton swabs

Rubbing alcohol (70% is fine)

Paper towels or anti-static cloths

Water

Make sure you disconnect the machine from the wall outlet before you begin maintenance and cleanup, and be gentle when touching the components inside the case.

Open the case:

If required, use the screwdriver to remove the side of the case that’s opposite the motherboard. Blow compresses air over the components and interior of the case, keeping the can upright and nozzle four inches away from components.

Clean the power supply and the case fan with a shot of compressed air. Next, blow compressed air into the CD/DVD drive. Give the inside of the case a wipe with a slightly moistened cloth before replacing the cover.

Clean the exterior:

Wipe the exterior of the case with a slightly moistened cloth; repeat the wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel. Be sure to clean all case openings using this method.

Clean the keyboard:

Since the keyboard gets more physical contact than any other component, if you can, clean it on a monthly basis. Blowout in and around the keys with compressed air monthly and on your scheduled cleanup rub down the keys and case with a clean cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Clean the mouse:

Like the keyboard, the mouse gets substantial physical contact and requires cleaning on a monthly basis. If you have an optical mouse simply wipe it down just as you wiped down the keyboard. If you have a mechanical mouse then you need to remove, wash, and then dry the ball.

Next, clean inside the mouse with a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. Finally blow compressed air into the opening and then reassemble the mouse.

Clean the monitor:

Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. Instead, moisten the cloth, or the paper towel, with the cleaning solution. Spraying the screen directly runs the risk of liquid penetrating into the monitor components.

Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. For laptop screens, buy a special cleaning solution available at computer stores. Do this weekly.

I know this is a no-brainer, but before you plug the computer back into the wall outlet, be sure all components are thoroughly dry.

Previous postings of this article drew some very valuable comments from regular readers, including the following:

Vhick:

I always clean my PC one a month. In a tropical country like here, dust is everywhere. Clean, turn around, and there’s a dust again. PC cleaning inside and out is must here, because of very hot temperatures.

Georg L:

Cleaning is nice, but when doing so, one should also change the heat sink compound between hot semiconductors and the respective heat sinks. The CPU is most critical in this respect.

Volatile components evaporate over time, turning the compound into an effective heat insulator with a plaster-like texture. I suggest a change every second year in moderate climates, and an annual change in the tropics.

Just to follow up on Georg’s comment – earlier this year, a reader explained that he had rebuilt his machine and replaced all components (other than the CPU), and yet, the machine still locked up after just a few minutes of operation. I passed on Georg’s advice and voila – problem solved!

If you have the time, and you want to give your computer system a total clean up, you should consider reading “Maintain Your Machine – 10 + 1 Free Computer System Tools”, on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

2 Comments

Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, downloads, Freeware, Save Your CPU, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Get Ready: It’s That Semi-Annual Clean Your Computer Time Again

Spring cleaningHere in North America, tonight is the night we adjust our clocks back one hour, reverting to Standard Time. To make it easy to remember, I schedule my computer maintenance and cleaning, at the Spring and Fall time changes – just as I schedule my smoke detector battery replacement. So, today is the day I get out my cleaning supplies, and do a top to bottom physical cleanup of my machines.

Over the years I’ve noticed that many computer users are not too concerned with keeping the physical components clean; and they need to be concerned.  Computer maintenance involves not only keeping a computer clean of malware; viruses, Trojans, spyware, and adware – but, keeping the physical machine clean as well.

As regular reader TeX pointed out last year, when I ran this article – “Think of a place that hides more dust than the space under your bed.” He’s right – a computer system can collect an an amazing amount of dust.

image

No, this is not one of my machines. Winking smile

Physically cleaning your computer is potentially one of the most important cleanup jobs you’re ever likely to do. Here’s why – heat.

Heat is a component killer, and it’s the chief cause of CPU failure in computers. CPU failure, caused by dust clogged vents, which leads to reduced air flow, is a more common occurrence than many realize.

Killer Dirt = Killer Heat

Overheating of the CPU will, at a minimum, cause the system to behave erratically; the computer spontaneously switches off, or restarts; frequent “blue-screen” error messages, and more.

Keeping your computer in top shape, with a regularly scheduled cleaning program, will prevent the inconvenience of having your system go down, and in the long run save you money.

Tools you’ll need:

Screwdriver

A can of compressed air

Cotton swabs

Rubbing alcohol (70% is fine)

Paper towels or anti-static cloths

Water

Make sure you disconnect the machine from the wall outlet before you begin maintenance and cleanup, and be gentle when touching the components inside the case.

Open the case:

If required, use the screwdriver to remove the side of the case that’s opposite the motherboard. Blow compresses air over the components and interior of the case, keeping the can upright and nozzle four inches away from components.

Clean the power supply and the case fan with a shot of compressed air. Next, blow compressed air into the CD/DVD drive. Give the inside of the case a wipe with a slightly moistened cloth before replacing the cover.

Clean the exterior:

Wipe the exterior of the case with a slightly moistened cloth; repeat the wipe with a dry cloth or paper towel. Be sure to clean all case openings using this method.

Clean the keyboard:

Since the keyboard gets more physical contact than any other component, if you can, clean it on a monthly basis. Blowout in and around the keys with compressed air monthly and on your scheduled cleanup rub down the keys and case with a clean cloth slightly dampened with rubbing alcohol.

Clean the mouse:

Like the keyboard, the mouse gets substantial physical contact and requires cleaning on a monthly basis. If you have an optical mouse simply wipe it down just as you wiped down the keyboard. If you have a mechanical mouse then you need to remove, wash, and then dry the ball.

Next, clean inside the mouse with a cotton swab moistened with rubbing alcohol. Finally blow compressed air into the opening and then reassemble the mouse.

Clean the monitor:

Never spray liquid directly onto the screen. Instead, moisten the cloth, or the paper towel, with the cleaning solution. Spraying the screen directly runs the risk of liquid penetrating into the monitor components.

Wipe the screen gently to remove dust and fingerprints. For laptop screens, buy a special cleaning solution available at computer stores. Do this weekly.

I know this is a no-brainer, but before you plug the computer back into the wall outlet, be sure all components are thoroughly dry.

Previous postings of this article drew some very valuable comments from regular readers, including the following:

Vhick:

I always clean my PC one a month. In a tropical country like here, dust is everywhere. Clean, turn around, and there’s a dust again. PC cleaning inside and out is must here, because of very hot temperatures.

Georg L:

Cleaning is nice, but when doing so, one should also change the heat sink compound between hot semiconductors and the respective heat sinks. The CPU is most critical in this respect.

Volatile components evaporate over time, turning the compound into an effective heat insulator with a plaster-like texture. I suggest a change every second year in moderate climates, and an annual change in the tropics.

Just to follow up on Georg’s comment – earlier this year, a reader explained that he had rebuilt his machine and replaced all components (other than the CPU), and yet, the machine still locked up after just a few minutes of operation. I passed on Georg’s advice and voila – problem solved!

If you have the time, and you want to give your computer system a total clean up, you should consider reading “Maintain Your Machine – 10 + 1 Free Computer System Tools”, on this site.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

10 Comments

Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, Freeware, Save Your CPU, Software, System Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Optimize Your Hard Drive/s With Free Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1

A  quick recap of disk fragmentation:

Fragmentation is caused by creating and deleting files and folders, installing new software, and downloading files from the Internet. When you delete files or folders, the first available empty spaces on the Hard Drive are filled in randomly when you create new files and folders, as you do when you save pics from your camera, install software, save emails, or create documents.

Despite the fact that their is some disagreement as to the value of defragging modern Hard Drives, there is a slight leaning in the tech community toward defragmentation being a positive maintenance process. I support this point of view.

Seven million downloads of Auslogics Disk Defrag from CNET, and an average user rating of 4.5 Stars speaks to the value of this small application, and to the popularity of defragging.

The application (last updated October, 2010), is extremely easy to use, does not require any analysis phase and is faster than most disk defragmentation software I’ve tested in the past, and best of all, it’s free.

Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can be run on a  “set and forget” basis. I occasionally hear from users that they can’t remember the last time they defragged their disk/s – but they’ll get to it – eventually. But they don’t have to – Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, can do it for them on a continuous basis.

The user interface is uncluttered and as simple to follow as any I’ve seen. The following graphics illustrate just how easy it is to get Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1 up and running.

image

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Fast facts:

Optimizes file system

Disk Defrag will speed up your computer by moving system files to the fastest part of the disk. It will also move data files from the MFT Reserved Zone to prevent MFT fragmentation.

Consolidates free space

In addition to defragmenting your files, Disk Defrag can defragment free disk space. The free space is merged into a large contiguous block, which is an effective way of preventing file fragmentation.

Can defrag automatically

This feature ensures that file fragmentation is eliminated as soon as it occurs. You can set Disk Defrag to run automatically when your system goes idle. The program will analyze the disks and defragment them in the background if required.

Provides flexible scheduler

Defragmentation yields better results when it is performed on a regular basis. Disk Defrag is supplied with a flexible scheduler that will help you to schedule defragmentation according to your needs.

Can defrag a single file or folder

Have no time for defragmenting the entire hard drive? With Disk Defrag you can defragment a single file, several files or a folder.

Supports multi-terabyte volumes

Disk Defrag is supplied with a powerful engine that can easily defragment large multi-terabyte volumes. It can also defragment several drives at once, which makes the defragmentation process a lot faster.

Compact & Fast

Smart defragmentation algorithms allow Disk Defrag to run much faster than similar defragmenters and consume less system resources.

Before you begin the defrag process, I suggest that you run a program such as CCleaner, which will empty your Recycle Bin, Temporary Internet Files folder, and other locations where clutter tends to accumulate on your PC.

As well, you should consider uninstalling any applications you no longer use. Revo Uninstaller is a free utility that will uninstall unneeded applications more thoroughly than the Windows native uninstaller.

These steps are not absolutely necessary but, they are a good practice.

System requirements: Windows 7, Vista/XP/2000/2003, 32-bit and 64-bit and dual-core CPU supported.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Defrag Tools, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Tools, Slow Computer, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free Comodo System Cleaner – CCleaner On Steroids

imageJust a few days ago, I posted my usual annual review of CCleaner – in which I made the point, that this free system cleaner is still my “go to” application for simple system cleanup.

But, if you’re looking for a more powerful free solution, then Comodo System Cleaner might just be ideal. This free application will do what CCleaner will do, and a whole lot more – and I do mean, a whole lot more.

I’m a big fan of Comodo’s products, including their free Firewall and AntiVirus software. So, I was expecting big things from Comodo System Cleaner when I first installed it, and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, this is now my “go to” application when I need to dig the deep dirt out of a system.

Installation is easy, and preference setup is checkbox simple – as the following selected screen captures indicate. All screen shots are taken from my personal machine – clicking on any graphic will expand it to its original size.

Clean up menu

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Settings menu

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Autoruns menu

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System settings menu – System Tweaks

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Fast facts:

Registry Cleaner – Optimizes and repairs your Windows registry by running an in-depth scan to remove, or repair, unnecessary or corrupted registry keys.

SafeDelete and Registry Protection – Use these features to backup all your files before cleaning. When cleaning is complete, you’ll be able to make sure your PC is in perfect condition before deleting for good.

Disk Cleaner - This utility lets you quickly clear them all, to free up space and improve performance. Also allows you to schedule regular clean up routines.

Privacy Cleaner – Obliterates your digital paper trail and helps protect you from identity theft by cleaning history, cache, cookies and usage records from Internet browsers, Windows locations, and popular software.

System Settings - With over 50 tweaks in the ‘System Settings’ area alone, you can optimize Windows behavior in a more powerful and intuitive way than ever before.

System Information – Detailed and easily accessible ‘dashboard’ summary of all the hardware and software installed on your computer.

Autorun Manager – Fingertip control over exactly which programs and services start with Windows. Helps improve Windows boot up time, stops unwanted programs from hogging system resources and boosts overall system performance and stability.

File Pending Delete – Provides the ability to delete files that are locked and cannot otherwise be deleted when in Windows ‘User Mode’. Specifying a file with the ‘File Pend Delete’ tool will schedule that file to be deleted immediately after the next system restart.

File Wiper – Allows you to permanently remove confidential or sensitive files from your hard drive. When you delete a file in Windows, you are really only removing the reference to that file from the system table. The file itself remains on your drive and could be easily re-opened by data thieves. ‘File Wiper’ ensures that the files you want to delete are comprehensively erased and cannot be recovered.

Free – for both home and business users.

View the video.

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I’m a big fan of “all-in-one” system utilities and I have to admit, I really like this all-in-one free application with its simple and effective user interface. I particularly like the easy access the user interface allows to Windows system settings, which makes tweaking the OS a snap.

As the fast facts point out, this application has a wide range of built in system utilities, which in my view, are perfect for the new, or casual computer user. I should point out however, that the built in registry cleaner, just like all registry cleaners, should be used cautiously.

Overall recommendation: Comodo System Cleaner is definitely worth considering as an addition to any users system utilities toolbox.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7 and Server 2003 (all – 32 or 64 bit)

Download at: Comodo

Bonus: What makes this free application even more interesting is; it’s available as a portable program which can easily be run from a USB drive. Great for geeks!

Portable version download at: Download.com

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Comodo, Computer Maintenance, downloads, Freeware, Portable Applications, Secure File Deletion, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, USB, Windows 7, Windows Update, Windows Vista, Windows XP

CCleaner 3.0 released – Now Native 64 Bit Compatible

imageWhat can you say about CCleaner (the granddaddy of all system cleaners – it’s been around since 2004), that hasn’t already been said of this freeware system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool.

Even though I have tested a fairly large number of free system utilities, over the years, that offer to improve system performance and help maintain privacy, I always find myself coming back to CCleaner. It’s just hard to beat perfection, and in my view CCleaner is as close to perfect at its assigned task, as a free program can be.

CCleaner removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. As well, it cleans up traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally, it includes a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is – it’s fast; normally taking just seconds to run.

Piriform, the people who bring us not only CCleaner, but Defraggler, Speccy, and Recuva, have just released (October 28, 2010),  the latest version of this venerable utility.

New in Version 3.0

A new 64-bit native EXE designed specifically for 64-bit systems.

A new Drive Wiper tool screen under the Tools section, which allows users to securely erase the contents or free space on a specified drive.

Improved support for Internet Explorer 9 and the Google Chrome browsers.

We have also added improved cleaning support for HTML5 database storage, allowing CCleaner to effectively manage the next generation of web applications.

Additional cleaning support for Microsoft Silverlight Isolated Storage.

We’ve added three new environment variables (%SystemDirectory%, %SystemDirectory32%, and %SystemDirectory64%).

New application icon.

New Intelligent cookie keeping feature.

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Running a Hard Disk cleaner such as CCleaner, will help optimize a system by emptying the Recycle Bin, Temporary Setup Files, Downloaded Program Files, Temporary Internet Files, Old Chkdsk Files, Temporary Files, Temporary Offline Files, Offline Files, and more.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista Win 7.

Download at: Download.com

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Cleaning Your Computer, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, Disk Cleaners, downloads, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Privacy, Registry Cleaners, Secure File Deletion, Software, System Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Free PC Decrapifier – Use It As A Bulk Uninstaller

imageYou might think that a reader comment that goes something like this, is unusual – “I don’t know how this program ended up on my computer. One day, it just showed up.” Surprisingly, this is not an unusual comment.

In almost every case, the reader is referring to the trialware (crapware, bloatware), commonly preinstalled on major manufacturers computers. This is the type of thing that drives users buggy, since trying to figure out how to get rid of trialware is not as easy as it should be.

Luckily, there is a free application designed to specifically uninstall these annoyances – and that’s PC Decrapifier. It’s been a couple of years since I last posted on this terrific application, so today, I’ve taken another look.

The program does not need to be installed; simply run the executable. Or, if you prefer, you can run this application from a USB drive. You choose the items to be removed from a preconfigured list, and optionally, you can also create a restore point (highly recommended), to undo any changes.

Note: Since PC Decrapifier is written in a scripting language, you may get an security application warning. This warning (if you receive it), can safely be ignored.

The application, while designed to uninstall crapware, has additional functionality – as the following screen capture suggests. More on this in a moment.

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Anytime changes are being considered, creating a restore point is always good practice.

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In the following screen shot, you’ll notice the application has detected an application it considers crapware on my machine.

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The following screen shot illustrates a relatively unknown aspect of PC Decrapifier – its ability to act as a bulk uninstaller. The user simply checks off those applications which are no longer needed; clicks “Next”, and the application will launch the appropriate uninstallers. A slightly better solution than the Add/Remove Program applet when uninstalling more than one application, I think.

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Working with PC Decrapifier requires no particular skill. The application is “follow the bouncing ball” straightforward.

The following is the current list of software and items that PC Decrapifier can detect and remove. The list is generated from the items the program detects on your computer, and you then choose the items to be removed by the program automatically. What could be simpler than that?

Targeted applications:

AOL Install
AOL UK AOL 9.0, UK Version
AOL US AOL 9.0, US Version
BigFix
Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI
Corel Photo Album 6
Corel Snapfire Plus SE
Corel WordPerfect
Dell Search Assistant
Dell URL Assistant
Digital Content Portal
Earthlink Setup Files
Earthlink Setup Files
ESPN Motion
Get High Speed Internet!
Google Desktop
Google Desktop
Google Toolbar
Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer
HP Rhapsody
Internet Service Offers Launcher
Internet Service Offers Launcher
McAfee
Microsoft Office Activation Assistant 2007
Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007
Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003
Microsoft Office Standard Edition 2003
MS Plus Digital Media Installer
MS Plus Photo Story 2LE
MusicMatch Jukebox
MusicMatch Music Services
muvee autoProducer 5.0
My HP Games
MyWinLocker
Norton AntiSpam
Norton AntiSpam
Norton AntiSpam
Norton AntiVirus 2005
Norton Ghost 10.0
Norton Internet Security
Norton Internet Security
Norton Protection Center
Norton Security Center
Norton Symantec Live Update A common component of Norton Symantec products
Office 2003 Trial Assistant
Orange Internet
PC-cillin Internet Security 12 Trend Micro
QuickBooks Trial
Quicken 2006 Possible Trial Version
Remove Empty Program Folders Looks for and removes empty ‘Program Files’ folders
Reset IE Home and Search Pages
Roxio Express Labeler
Roxio MyDVD LE
Roxio RecordNow
Sonic DLA
Sonic RecordNow Audio
Sonic RecordNow Copy
Sonic Update Manager
Tiscali Internet
Travelocity Gadget
Trend Micro PC-cillin Internet Security 14
Vongo
Vongo
Wanadoo Europe Installer
Wild Tangent Games
Yahoo! Music Jukebox
Yahoo! Toolbar for Internet Explorer

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7.

Download at: Download.com

Note: PC Decrapifier is free for personal use only.

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Filed under Cleaning Your Computer, downloads, Freeware, Software, Uninstall Tools, USB, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP