Category Archives: Slow Computer

Soluto Latest Release – Fixes Crashes And Speeds Up Your Boot Time


Soluto describes itself as being in the “anti-frustration software” game, and they couldn’t be more right.

The latest Soluto release (May 25, 2011), not only continues to analyze and offer recommendations to speed up your boot time, but through increased functionality, remedies are available to deal with system crashes. On top of that, the application can guide through the process of determining which Browser add-ons you should consider removing

According to the developer

Soluto employs innovative low-level Windows kernel technologies to identify what users are asking their PC to do, and what their PCs do in return. Soluto is able to pinpoint and analyze what resource obstacles stand in the way of users’ desired actions. These can be I/O issues, network issues, resource locking, and so on.

Having run Soluto since the first public Beta and, having been part of the closed Beta testing group for this new release – I can safely say, that this is an application that lives up to it’s promises. The term “must have application” is used so often that it’s lost it’s luster but, Soluto really is a must have application – particularly for a typical user.

Installation is straightforward, but in the event of a bad install the application automatically creates a restore point. Given the complexity of the application, you may find the install time slightly longer than normal. Not to worry – the installer is chugging away at the background work.

Click on any of the following graphics to expand to original size.


As the following screen shot indicates, on re-boot, you will have the opportunity to make adjustments in your boot configuration.


On system startup, you’ll notice that the application is auditing your current boot sequence.


Since the application places a control icon in the system tray, launching the program is a breeze.


The user interface is crafted in a simple no nonsense style.


Here, I’ve taken a look at Soluto’s recommendations to reduce my boot time. Potentially, I could reduce my boot time by a further 10 seconds, or so.


While Soluto will suggest Browser add-ons which you might consider removing, you should use caution here. After all, if you installed these add-ons, you must have considered their relative value when you did so.


As the following graphic indicates, there are no crashes, yet!


But, should unexplained system crashes become an issue, Soluto promises to jump in and help out. Now that’s very cool!


In the following graphic (supplied by the developer), the applications crash analytics function, and solution recommendations, are illustrated.


Fast facts:

Chop Boot – allows you to understand your boot, discover which applications are slowing it down (and keep running later in the background, affecting your ongoing experience), and allows you to significantly improve it.

Lighten Web Browser – Shows you which toolbars, add-ons and plug-ins are ‘riding’ on your browser, what they do, and what they look like. Helps you easily remove unneeded ones, making your browser faster and more stable, and shows you whether other users chose to keep them or disable them. It also lets you revert back to your search provider of choice in case it was ‘hijacked’ by other software.

Heal Crashes – Changes the way you experience application crashes (that is, when applications unexpectedly ‘die’ and prompt Windows to send ‘Crash Report’ dialogs), analyzes application crashes against tens of millions of crashes already collected, and provides solutions to prevent them from recurring.

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

Download at: Developers site –

While the application is still at the Beta stage, I should point out – I have yet to experience any stability issues with either this version, or any of the prior versions.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, New Computer User Software Tools, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Advanced SystemCare Free – Version 4.0 Blasts Off Today

imageIObit has been offering a comprehensive PC care utility (Advanced SystemCare), that takes a one-click approach to help protect, repair, and optimize your computer, since 2006. IObit continues this strong tradition with the release of Advanced SystemCare Free Version 4.0, which is now available for download.

This latest edition continues to provide a super convenient solution for PC maintenance and protection – including the ability to complete all maintenance in a minute or two, with just one click.

There are a host of improvements in this new edition but, for now, I’ll focus on just two, since I haven’t yet had a chance to comprehensively test the application.

One click to solve as many as 10 common PC problems – With one click, it scans and repairs ten PC problems and protects your PC from hidden security threats. The newly added “Disk Scan” and “Vulnerability Fix”, helps scan and fix disk errors and Windows vulnerabilities.

More than 20 dedicated smart tools for everyday PC maintenance – Replacing the original “Utilities” module in version 3, Advanced SystemCare 4 integrates IObit’s latest Toolbox, which has more than 20 dedicated smart tools for everyday PC maintenance, or advanced needs – including tools for system cleaning, optimizing and repairing, tools for security enhancement, and tools for full control over the system.

Installation and configuration are straightforward and one screen “follow the bouncing ball” simple. I should point out that a toolbar is no longer offered as part of the install.

A new and improved user interface, focuses on  four major PC areas – as shown in the following graphic.


First pass test scan results, using the Quick Care Module. Click on graphic to expand.


First pass test scan results, using the Deep Care Module which includes all of the tools in the Quick Care Module plus Passive Defense, Disk Scan, Vulnerability Fix, and Disk Defrag. Click on graphic to expand.


Newly added Toolbox Module. Click on graphic to expand.


Turbo Boost Module. I’ve illustrated two functions here. Click on graphics to expand.



Fast Facts:

Extremely Easy to UseCompletes its work with just one click! Scans, repairs and secures your PC in one minute.

Next-generation Free Windows XP/Vista/7 Registry Cleaner and System OptimizationSafely cleans registry junks, compacts registry bloat and defragments the registry for blistering-fast performance.

Quick and Extensive System Clean-upBoosts your system’s performance with Advanced SystemCare Free, the powerful free XP registry cleaner by cleaning missing files, destroying unwanted files, deleting obsolete files, and removing junk files. Supports deep-cleansing of more than 50 types of junk files.

Speeds Up PC Performance and Internet AccessTunes up Windows by releasing the built-in power of your system. Dramatically improves both system and Internet performance by up to 400%.

Enjoy That New PC Feeling AgainWhatever version of Windows you’re running, enjoy that “good as new” speed usually only experienced on a brand new PC.

Powerful Hard Drive DefragmentationFast, powerfully and incredibly effective Disk Defrag function to defragment hard drives – up to 10 times faster than other defragmentation tools.

Defends PC Security with Extra ProtectionSecure your PC – quickly and easily. Scans and removes spyware and adware using up-to-date definition files. Prevents spyware, hackers and hijackers from installing malicious items on your computer. Erases and updates your PC’s activity history with this powerful free XP registry cleaner. Security and Privacy assured!

Fixes Multiple System ErrorsMore than a mere free XP registry cleaner – keeps your PC stably and running at peak efficiency.

Safe and Free100% free with no spyware or adware! Advanced SystemCare Free is a safe and trusted PC protection and maintenance solution from a leading software vendor.

System requirements: Windows  7, Vista, XP, 2000 (32bit and 64bit).

Download at:

Bottom line:

As well as keeping your machine physically clean, it is always good practice to keep your computer’s operating system and subsystems clean, so that you can get maximum performance from your machine. This free application can certainly help you do just that.

It’s no accident that Advanced SystemCare  (all versions cumulatively), is listed number one in CNET’s diagnostic software downloads.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Anti-Malware Tools, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, IObit, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Slow Computer? Optimizing Windows Services Can Help

image Windows is a terrific operating system – no doubt about it (although, some will argue otherwise). Windows meets most of  my computing needs, as it does yours, I expect. The chances of my computing needs and your computing needs being the same however, are remote.

Unfortunately, Windows doesn’t differentiate between your needs and my needs. On installation, the OS generally assumes we both have the same needs (including security needs), and configures Windows Services accordingly.

Running with fewer services though, especially a service that you don’t use, or need, puts less strain on both the CPU and system memory. In some cases, reducing the number of running services can turn a sluggish PC around. So, if you want to get the best out of your machine, tweaking services is good practice.

Examples of services I’ve tweaked on this machine:

I don’t have a printer attached to this particular machine I’m using this morning, so I don’t need the spooler service running.

I don’t run a Tablet PC so I don’t need the Tablet PC Input service running.

The Fax service is disabled since I don’t use Fax.

I don’t allow any remote access to this machine so any services dealing with remote access are disabled. For example – I can’t imaging allowing remote access to my registry so, “allowing remote users to change my registry settings” (on this machine), is disabled.

Tweaking services however, is not without its hazards. For example, if a particular service is disabled, any other service/services that explicitly depend on it will fail to start.

Adjusting a service setting incorrectly, has the potential to leave a computer in an unbootable condition. I know – I’ve managed to do just that, a time or two, over the years.

Recently, an open source (free), application that promises to allow a user to tweak Windows services in a safe and easy way, caught my attention. Vista Services Optimizer, a Windows tweaking utility, which despite its name, has been optimized to run in Windows 7 as well, makes good on this promise.


Even a casual user, with a few mouse clicks, can easily optimize Windows services to increase performance and security, automatically.


A more experienced user gets a little more leeway, and can manually tweak using a more in-depth feature list.


Very experienced users can tweak to their heart’s content, with the built-in Services Manager.

Here’s an example – I recently made some changes to the playlist on my IPod, which meant running ITunes; a bloated, cannibalistic piece of crapware that eats resources through various (usually unwanted), added services. Adjusting these parasitic services was a snap using Services Manager.


In case your tweaking goes a step too far, recovery is just a mouse click away by simply using the built-in Smart Rescue Center.


Bonus Module

Since many games are processor, system memory, and graphic intensive, setting up Gaming Mode will give your system an immediate performance boost when needed. Keep in mind that the best solution to improved gaming (all other components being up to the task), is the installation of a high-end graphic card.

Additionally, this module can be used to temporarily turn off unneeded Windows features, and free up computer resources, when running applications that benefit from a “lean” system profile – e.g., Photoshop.


Fast facts:

System analysis highlights services that can be turned off

Automatic tune-up based on user’s system requirements

Restore function to restore to system defaults

Profile building

Automatic service state snapshots

Gaming mode

I don’t think it could be any easier to tweak Windows services than this. All the user needs to do is tick the appropriate check boxes, and the Services Optimizer takes care of the rest.

System requirements: Windows Vista – SP1 or higher (32-bit or 64-bit), Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit), Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 – Service Pack 1

Last updated: July 15, 2010

Download at: Smart PC Utilities

For those who need a portable version, you’re in luck – a portable version is available. However, Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 with Service Pack 1, must be resident on the host machine.

Note: During the install, you will have the option of installing a toolbar – don’t!

XP users – Optimizer XP 3.5 is available for download at Softpedia. I have not tested this application.

If you’re a real “hands-on” techie, then visit Charles “Black Viper” Sparks Website, (the best tweaking site on the Internet), where you’ll find  complete explanations of each service, and advice on which services you can safely disable – plus, a lot more.

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Computer Tools, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Freeware, Open Source, Portable Applications, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, USB, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista

Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 – A Powerful “One Stop” Optimization And Maintenance Suite

imageIf you’re a regular visitor to this site you’re more likely than not, a high end power user. As such, you know that simple maintenance, practiced regularly, using the right tools, will keep a PC running smoothly for years.

Better yet, you’re proficient at putting together a toolbox of free system applications designed to correct performance issues that negatively impact your computing experience.

Typical computer users on the other hand, are much less likely to have the experience needed to identify the common problems that have impact on a computer’s speed and behavior, and then match the problems with the appropriate free software solution.

Drilling down through complicated operating system structures to get maximum performance from an operating system, is generally outside the range of a typical computer users skill set.

So, average users, for the most part, need an “all-in-one” performance-tuning application designed specifically for this market segment. Preferably, an application that’s comprehensive – yet, “one click” simple. Not an easy task for a product developer – many have tried, but few have really been successful.

Auslogics, well known, to we geeky types, for its free Auslogics Disk Defrag 3.1, is one of those companies that has successfully managed to work within the confines of a “one click” simple solution by developing Auslogics BoostSpeed 5.

Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 can uncover bundles of issues that can impact a computer’s performance and reliability, and then correct identified problems – often, with just a few clicks of the mouse.

Let’s take a walkthrough to look at  just some of the powerful features which are available in  Auslogics BoostSpeed 5. Clicking on any screenshot will increase the size to the original.

Installation is simple, following which you will have the opportunity to run BoostSpeed 5 for the first time. On application launch, you will be presented with the following screen.


Running a system scan, on day one of the test, pulled up the usual Registry errors, and gave me the opportunity to clean out junk files, broken shortcuts, and (most importantly for me), clean the Browser cache.


Day 2 System scan results: It’s easy to see from this second manual scan, that crud builds up on a PC very quickly.


Cutting back on crud accumulation is easy with BoostSpeed 5 though. Setting up an appropriate schedule to automatically handle cleanup and repair, is a snap with the built-in scheduler.


One of the features in the application that caught my attention was the security advice pulled up by the System Advisor. The focus here is on security holes that an average user would lack the background, or experience, to consider.


On the oft chance that the user makes an error while running a system applet – redemption is just a step away. The Rescue center can reverse changes in any of the applets shown in the following screen capture.



If you prefer not to go the automatic route, an abundance of applets are available to analyze and repair, maintain and improve, and configure the operating system, as the following screen capture shows.


Customizing Windows to get that “just you” look, couldn’t be easier. Virtually every Windows element can be customized.


Since personal privacy is a major issue for many users, the addition of a disk wipe utility (plus a shredder utility), is a bonus.


Manipulating Internet settings for best performance is generally a hit and miss operation – many applications which promise to boost performance simply don’t work.

BoostSpeed’s built-in Internet Optimizer did work – at least marginally. I suspect that a typical user might see a more robust difference than I did, since my connection was already heavily tweaked.

A user can chose to manually optimize the connection (not recommended), or preferably, sit back and have the applet do the heavy lifting.


Finally, all application functions can be accessed from the “right click” context menu, which is reachable from the Taskbar icon as shown in the following screen capture.


Fast facts:

System Scan

File Recovery

Disk Doctor

Disk Explorer

Disk Defrag

Registry Defrag

PC Disk Cleaner

Registry Cleaner

Internet Optimizer

Windows Tweak Manager

Track Eraser

Duplicate File Finder

File Shredder

Disk Wiper

Boot Time Startup Manager

Uninstall Manager

Service Manager

Task Manager

PC System Information

Task Manager Rescue Center

When I received an invitation to review Auslogics BoostSpeed 5, I wasn’t sure I could do it justice in a short review – the application’s features are so inclusive that it would take a small book to cover all the features, and the related benefits of each. It’s safe to say that this application provides virtually every tool and applet, that an average computer user should need.

If you’re an average user, disappointed with your computer’s performance, or you’re just tired of having to deal with reoccurring unexplained issues, you may find that Auslogics BoostSpeed 5 is worth its $49.95 purchase price.  If you’re not satisfied, Auslogics offers a full refund within 30 days of purchase.

BTW, a  single product license allows installation of the application on three personal PCs.

System requirements: Windows XP, Vista, Win 7  (32-bit & 64-bit).

Download a 15 day trial version at: the developer’s site –

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Filed under 64 Bit Software, Auslogics, Computer Maintenance, Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, New Computer User Software Tools, Slow Computer, Software, Software Trial Versions, System Tweaks, System Utilities

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.


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:


A can of compressed air

Cotton swabs

Rubbing alcohol (70% is fine)

Paper towels or anti-static cloths


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:


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.

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

Free StartUp Tuner 2 – Fixes Slow Computer Boot Time

image Is Windows boot time starting to get you down? Do you sometimes feel as if you could go and make a coffee while waiting for Windows to start? Let me tell you, if you feel that way, you’re not alone – it can happen to all of us.

You’ll often find, after installing a new application, that it automatically triggers an auto-start command on system start up.

That means, each time your computer is booted, this type of presumptive program is started with Windows, which is unlikely to be your intent, and in many cases is not needed. For example, iTunes is one of those programs that has this nasty habit.

As a result of this program behavior, your start sequence can become considerably longer, system resources can be ravaged, and manually shutting down these unnecessary startups can be frustrating, and time consuming.

The following is a perfect example of how out of control these presumptive  auto-start applications can become.

Recently, a friend asked me for advice on his sister’s computer that was slow at startup, and even worse, was slow in normal operation. It was easy to see why. The computer was loading 26 applications on startup, which then continued to run in the background, eating up system resources.

There are a number of manual methods available to deactivate these very irritating applications from auto starting, but a great free application from Ashampoo does the job quickly, cleanly, and with no fuss.

StartUp Tuner 2 lists all auto-start entries and allows you to individually delete or deactivate those entries. If you turn off all of the unnecessary entries (be sure they are not necessary), Windows will boot faster; in many cases considerably faster.


Bonus features:

StartUp Tuner 2 can do more than just this though. The tool can list all Windows services by name and it allows you to activate, or deactivate them, with the click of the mouse.

The application shows all installed Windows programs, but it builds its lists more quickly than the control panel software module. You can then uninstall programs that are no longer required, including program entries that the native Windows uninstaller generally leaves untouched.

Many Browser Helper Objects (BHOs) are useful, but others simply take up space on the Hard Drive and serve no useful purpose. StartUp Tuner 2 lists all of them, and allows you to delete, or deactivate them, if you determine you longer need them.

The application automatically generates a backup of the changes that you have made, giving you the opportunity to reverse any changes.

StartUp Tuner 2 can be used free for 10 days. After that time, free online registration is required. You will receive an activation code which will convert the test version of the program into the full version.

Ashampoo loves to remind you of the value of their full software lineup, so if you find it bothersome to receive this type of email, you’d be better off passing on StartUp Tuner 2.

Personally, I like to stay in the loop on new software developments, so I don’t object to receiving emails soliciting my business for new applications. One of the benefits of registering with Ashampoo is – they often give away full versions of their apps, just prior to the release of a new version.

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista. Win 7 (no x64 support).

Download at: Developer’s site

Note: Full administrative rights are required to install the program. After it has been installed it can be used with any user account.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

“One” Tip For Speeding Up Windows Boot Time – Install Free Soluto Anti Frustration Software

This past Tuesday, an item posted as part of our Tech Thoughts Daily Net News column – “Five tips for speeding up Windows boot time”, written by one of my favorite tech writers Michael Kassner, struck a chord with many readers. More readers than I expected, found this item of interest.

There’s a problem with Michael’s suggestions thought – the effort required is substantial, and despite implementing each and every suggestion, you may not see any improvement in startup time.

Popular guest writer Rick Robinette, (another of my favorite tech writers),  in this review, will introduce you to a no nonsense free tool that WILL shorten your boot time. Using this great find of Rick’s, I was able to cut my boot time almost in half – down to 51 seconds!

Here’s Rick’s review:

imageHave you ever noticed that the longer you own your PC the longer it takes for it to startup (or boot)?

A common complaint from computer users, especially home-based users, is that their computer is slow to startup and does not boot like it did when they first purchased (and installed) it.

During the ownership of our PC we are constantly installing software, and as a result many of these software applications take a place in the startup routine of the computer.

The startup place that the apps reside is often for purposes of performing automatic updates or to provide a convenient launching point for the application (such as the system tray) or it is an application (or Windows Service) that simply runs in the background while you are performing other tasks on your PC.

I have personally witnessed another scenario where computer users attempted to remove applications from their PC only to find that residual files are left over (after the uninstall) that is still attempting to startup when the computer boots.

Over a period of time this accumulation causes the computer to startup slow and often robs the computer of system resources, resulting in increased memory and cpu (processor) usage.

If you are techie enough, you can try to dissect the numerous (yes there are more than one) startup points on your PC to regain some of the power back; however, you will soon find out it can be frustrating experience.

To help us solve this problem, I ran across a wonderful software application, called Soluto – Anti Frustration Software, that measures your startup time as soon as the Windows Logo screen is displayed.

Soluto is geared toward the non-techie type, is very appealing in appearance, and is very easy to use. Soluto is currently in beta (software testing stage); however, during my testing on my Windows 7 based PC, it performed without a hitch.

After you install Soluto, you will be prompted to reboot (restart) your computer. This is where Soluto goes to work in analyzing and actually timing how long it takes your PC to startup.

Following the analysis you will be provided with a very nice graphical interface where Soluto will help you determine what apps (and/or services) are slowing down your PC, what apps you can pause or remove (called no-brainers), what apps you can delay starting up (will eventually start when the computer is idle), and, what apps are safe to play around with and which ones are not.

If you mess up, you can return or restore an application back into the startup routine. To see a video of Soluto in action, click [ HERE ] .  Typically, most Windows services will identified by Soluto as “cannot be removed” and will even tell what purpose the service provides.

In my testing of Soluto, I went from a 2 minute and 30 second startup time, to a 1 minute and 31 second startup time by simply pausing and delaying a few apps that Soluto told me was safe to do so.

If you choose to Pause an application it means it will be removed from the boot sequence and in order to run it, you must launch it manually. Choosing to Delay an application means it will be removed from the boot sequence, and will run automatically after the boot is over, during an idle moment. Pausing an application provides value beyond the boot, and improves your ongoing PC experience, since Paused applications do not run in the background and do not occupy PC resources. Delaying an application, on the other hand, will only shorten your boot time and not improve your ongoing experience. In general, it is advisable to Pause applications that you don’t use on a daily basis, and Delay those that you do.. If you’re not sure, choose Delay. If you see that you’re barely using an application, you can always choose to Pause it later.


Screenshot - Soluto

I can also see this app being used on my PC to help me visually detect a potential malware concern. Speaking of malware, this app must have potential… The cybercriminals are already posting “fake” Soluto programs out there. Do not fall for this tactic. Only download Soluto from their web site [ HERE ] .

Minimum requirements to run Soluto Beta:

  • 512MB of Memory (RAM) and above
  • 500MB of free disk space (Soluto Beta takes up approximately 20MBs; the rest is required for the proper operation of the Microsoft .NET Framework. Please see the Microsoft .Net Framework Minimal System Requirements for more information.) Operating System – Windows XP (SP2 and above) / Windows Vista / Windows 7
  • Not Supported: Windows Server 2003 and 2008
  • Administrator User – The application must be installed using an Administrator account.

Some of the comments we received from high level users, when we first ran this article in June of this year included:

It took 25-30 seconds off of each of my machines boot time. (Mark)

It is really an impressive and easy to use – nice looking program. (TeX)

Super program and very accurate. (Robert)

This is a guest post by Rick Robinette, who brings a background as a security/police officer professional, and as an information technology specialist to the Blogging world.

Why not pay a visit to Rick’s site at What’s On My PC. Like me, you’re sure to become a frequent visitor.

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Filed under Computer Tune Up Utilities, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Guest Writers, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

5 License Giveaway Of TuneUp Utilities 2011 – Two Days Left!

Two Days Left! It’s not too late to get your entry in!

As part of Tech Thoughts “Keep your PC in top shape focus”, TuneUp Utilities has generously provided me with 5 free licenses for TuneUp Utilities 2011, (retail value 49.95).

To enter the contest to win a free license, simply add a comment at the end of this article. On December 7, 2010, all comments will be added to the online List Randomizer, and the first 5 names that come up, will win a free license (installable on up to 3 PCs), for this award winning application.

As with previous giveaways, you don’t need to write a paragraph – “enter me”, or something similar, is enough. There’s no need for me to acknowledge your entry, but rest assured, if you comment – you’re in.

Good luck!

Read the following review, and I’m sure you’ll agree; this is a contest worth entering!

TuneUp Utilities 2011 – Tune Up Your PC To The Max


imageIf you’re an average PC user, I’m willing to wager that your computer underperforms. Getting the best out of your PC – getting what you paid for from that high powered beast, is more complex than it has ever been.

Sure, if you are technically competent, you are likely aware of, and comfortable using, any number of free system tools readable available for download on the Internet – tools that can act as a helpmate in tweaking and maintaining computers.

But, typical users need more than just a helpmate application to assist them in tweaking and maintaining their computers. Drilling down through complicated operating system structures to get maximum performance from an operating system, is generally outside the range of a typical computer users skill set.

Just like high end users though, average users want maximum performance  from their machines as well – if they only knew how. Luckily, there are applications designed specifically for average users that take the “if they only knew how”, out of the equation. Applications that make it easy for a typical user to achieve the same level of high performance, as a techie.

Despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of free software, I have to admit – there are times when only a commercial application will meet all of a typical users tune up needs, in one application. And that brings me to TuneUp Utilities 2011.

I’ve been using TuneUp Utilities since 2003, and I’ve come to rely on it to help me get the very best out of all my machines. Despite the fact that I’m a huge fan of free software, there are times when only a commercial application will meet all of my needs in one interface.

Let’s take a walkthrough to look at  just some of the powerful features which are available in  TuneUp Utilities 2011. Clicking on any screenshot will increase the size to the original.

Following installation, you will have the opportunity to analyze your computer to search out issue that are negatively impact performance.


When the analysis phase is completed,  system issues that require action can be dealt with easily and quickly.


All system issues have been fixed and all recommendations show green across the board.


If you prefer not to go the automatic route, an abundance of applets (32 in total), are available to analyze and repair, maintain and improve, and configure the operating system, as the following screen capture shows.


The “fix problems” applet shows here, that Windows Media Player presented a problem with my personal privacy on the test machine, which was easily fixed.


Common computer problems are a snap for TuneUp Utilities 2011 to deal with. Simply select the problem, and in a couple of clicks the issue is resolved.


Customizing Windows to get that “just you” look, couldn’t be easier. Virtually every Windows element can be customized.


For this test, I set TuneUp utilities to run once every 3 days, and after 9 days of operation you can see from the screen shot, the machine remains fully optimized.


Since I last tested TuneUp Utilities in October 2009, the developer’s have made substantial improvements to an already top notch application – including the following:

TuneUp Program Deactivator with TuneUp Programs-on-Demand Technology – For the first time ever, you can turn off programs completely and drastically reduce the load on your PC: The services, startup entries, background processes, or scheduled tasks in a program that are turned off will remain inactive until you need them again.

TuneUp Start Center – Thanks to the fresh look of the Start Center, users will find all optimization features in seconds: Features stand out more clearly as they are now divided into five categories for maximum readability and immediate access. TuneUp Utilities tuning highlights appear immediately under the categories of “Status & recommendations”, “Optimize system”, “Gain disk space”, “Fix problems”, and “Customize Windows”.

TuneUp Turbo Mode – With a single mouse ‐click, shut down over 70 background processes that slow down Windows 7, Windows XP, and Windows Vista. By pressing a button, you get an immediate boost of power when working at your PC, a smoother gameplay, and complete control over background activities that slow down your computer.

Tuning status – Tuning status shows how many optimizations have already been performed with TuneUp Utilities, and what potential for optimization still remains. You will never forget or overlook a single tuning measure again!

Rating function for programs – The experiences of countless TuneUp Utilities users help you make the best tuning decisions. Windows performs best and is most effective when you turn off programs, deactivate startup entries and/or uninstall third‐party software that you don’t need on a daily basis. But it’s often unclear what lies behind a cryptic program entry. The new rating functions supports you here to make better decisions on each program.

Overview of all functions pane – Made for true Windows experts: The new “Overview of all functions” view on the Start Center gives you instant access to all TuneUp Utilities™ features and settings—32 in total!

As with previous reviews of  TuneUp Utilities, I could go on and on describing the additional features that are included in this terrific application but, I think you get the point. This program is overwhelmingly inclusive, and provides virtually every tool and applet, that an average computer user is ever likely to need.

Is it worth $49.95 for a 3 machine (many of us have more than one computer), license? In my view the answer is a definite – yes. TuneUp Utilities 2011 is easier to use than ever, is overwhelmingly inclusive, and provides virtually every tool and applet, that an average computer user is ever likely to need.

Take a free test run on TuneUp Utilities 2011 for 15 days, and see if you don’t agree that this is one commercial application that offers excellent value.

System requirements: Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP (all 64 bit compatible).

Download a fully functional 15 day trial version at: TuneUp Utilities

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Filed under Contests, Giveaways, Integrated Tune Up Solutions, Slow Computer, Software, Software Giveaways, System Utilities, TuneUp Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

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.



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:

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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

Older Computer? Insufficient Memory? Try FreeRAM XP Pro

imageThe phrase “snake oil”, gets bandied about most frequently in the tech world it seems to me, when it comes to two classes of applications – Registry Cleaners, and Memory Managers. In both cases, I’ll concede that it’s probably a fair description.

But, (there’s that “but” again), in some cases, the use of an aggressive Registry Cleaner such as RegSeeker may be called for, and, there are a number of  Memory Managers that can improve system response given the right parameters.

Yes, I’ve heard all the naysayers and their arguments that memory management and optimization applications, are not effective. I don’t necessarily agree. Sure, if you have 2/3/4, GB of Ram you don’t need to manage your memory in this way.

However, a fair number of users that I deal with on a personal level, run Windows XP on a 3 or 4 year old box, with 1 GB of RAM or less – they do not run Windows 7 with 2/3/4 GB of Ram. This is “real world” computing, not the “esoteric world” of computing that many techies live in, where the assumption seems to be, all users run a quad core with appropriate memory. It just ain’t so!

This review is based on years of experience with this application, and not a ten minute “let’s see what you can do” test, as is far too often the case with software reviews. On this site, nothing gets written up without a minimum two week, or longer, test period.

One of my test platforms is an older Dell running Windows XP Pro with 512 MB of RAM, which gets a heavy workout on a daily basis, and has for years. And, the free Memory Manager, FreeRAM XP Pro, has been an integral part of this system for most of that time, and has worked flawlessly in balancing and releasing memory as required.

FreeRAM XP Pro includes automatic memory monitoring and optimization, advanced tray support, fast, threaded freeing with a stop option, multiple system-metric monitors, a simple and attractive GUI, memory reporting and diagnostic logging, and real-time memory information.

The program’s AutoFree feature intelligently scales how much RAM is freed with your current system status, so that RAM is optimized without slowing down your computer.

FreeRAM XP Pro has been designed to be easy to use, yet highly customizable by computer novices and experts alike.

Fast facts:

Downloaded over 6 million times from CNET alone

Automatic, real-time memory monitoring and optimization

Fast, threaded memory freeing with stop option

AutoFree option intelligently optimizes RAM without sacrificing performance

System metric and performance monitors

Advanced tray support

Memory reporting and diagnostic logging

Simple, attractive interface

RAM-cuts (RAM-freeing Windows shortcuts)

Customizable Windows hotkey support

Access to Windows memory-related tweaks that could enhance system performance

Process memory usage reporting

Unique memory compression technology directly reduces applications’ “working set” memory requirements instantly and without swap file usage: completely unlike other memory programs

System requirements: Windows 2000, XP.

Download at:

Another view: After a previous review of this application, several years ago, the following comment was made by a reader. To illustrate the conflicting views surrounding Memory Managers, I’ve copied that comment here.

XP and Vista have excellent memory management and there is no need or benefit in external memory “managers”. What problems there might be can not be corrected by any external program.

DLL’s are not unloaded from RAM when no longer needed – by design. Program code will not be unloaded when the application terminates – by design. This is what caching is all about. Caching has had a long and distinguished history and it is highly developed in XP, even better in Vista. When then RAM used by caching is needed for other purposes it will be released.

At all times Windows will attempt to find some use for as much memory as possible, even if it is only of trivial importance. Unused memory is wasted memory. If memory is needed for more important uses it will be made available. Until that times comes it will be left in use, improving overall system performance.

Bottom Line: Let Windows memory management do it’s job. It knows what it is doing, even when we do not understand.

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Filed under Computer Tools, downloads, Freeware, Memory Optimizers, Slow Computer, Software, System Memory Management, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows XP