Tag Archives: Auslogics Disk Defrag

Tech Thoughts Daily Net News – February 10, 2015

Protect yourself from hackers and the NSA;  Don’t count on antivirus software alone to keep your data safe;  Grading The Privacy Of Smartphone Apps;  Microsoft is giving away 100GB of OneDrive storage;  A beginner’s guide to all things automation;  Google Talk reaches end of life next week;  PiPO X7, the $128 Windows 8.1 mini-PC;  Why you should never Google tech-support numbers;  The Best CPU for the Money – AMD vs. Intel Budget Shootout;  Your Samsung SmartTV isn’t spying on you;  New Facebook porn Trojan;  Auslogics Disk Defrag (free);  Auslogics Browser Care (free).

Tech Thoughts Daily Tech News 2

Protect yourself from hackers and the NSA – Everybody’s talking about hackers and the NSA stealing our data. Here’s how to do something about it.

Don’t count on antivirus software alone to keep your data safe – Don’t be mistaken: antivirus software is a crucial part of any security arsenal and every day malware scanners the world over detect and throttle millions of malicious software strains. This is not a category of software that we should live without. Here’s the dirty little secret of cyber security, though: nothing is 100 per cent secure. The key is to make things so difficult for attackers that they decide to move on to easier targets.

PrivacyGrade: Grading The Privacy Of Smartphone Apps – We’re a team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. We have assigned privacy grades to Android apps based on some techniques we have developed to analyze to their privacy-related behaviors. Learn more here or browse our analyzed apps.

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Facebook’s DeepFace AI can recognize you in nearly any photo – The more time goes by the more obvious it becomes that Minority Report was as good at predicting the future as the psychics it featured. Facebook is boasting that its DeepFace AI system is now powerful enough to spot users in the 400 million photos uploaded to the social network every single day. Sci-fi paranoia aside, Facebook claims the program, which has been learning for years, is actually for increasing privacy. Facebook is no stranger to problems regarding privacy, so to get people to believe that DeepFace will truly benefit users instead of profiting off of them, Zuckerberg and company will have to prove it.

Microsoft is giving away 100GB of OneDrive storage for free for 2 years – If you want extra space for your OneDrive account, Microsoft is giving away 100GB for free for two years if you sign up to receive promotional emails from the company. Because of Microsoft’s initiative to have its products on every major platform, you can grab OneDrive apps for iOS/OS X and Android; Windows 8 and above has OneDrive functionality built in. If you want to grab the offer, hit the source link below but be aware as it looks like this offer may only be for those in the US.

A beginner’s guide to all things automation – At the most fundamental level, smart home products are just trying to make your life simpler. Now, not every device succeeds at that, but the particularly well-executed few really will work wonders. We’ll start with just one smart home product here that’s especially well-suited for beginners, but there are a lot of excellent devices out there that can help automate all sorts of functions in and around your home. And, if this captures your interest, we’ll show you how to take your automation savvy to the next level.

PiPO X7, the $128 Windows 8.1 mini-PC: Unboxing and first impressions – A few days ago I received the PiPO X7 and I’ve since had a bit of a chance to play around with it. I’ve found there are a lot of things to like, especially considering the price, but there are some issues I need to investigate further. While you wait on my full review, here’s the unboxing and my first impressions of the device.

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Imgur kills its Pro subscription, now lets all users store an unlimited number of images – Image-sharing service Imgur has long offered a “pro” tier that gives users unlimited uploads; community features like commenting, voting, and sharing; access to a wide variety of analytics tools; and more. Now, instead of charging $23 per year (or $2.95 a month) for those features, Imgur has announced that everyone using the service will be upgraded to Pro, for free.

Google Talk reaches end of life next week – Over the last year, Google has been integrating Google Talk, Voice and SMS functionality into the Hangouts app. These apps have been slowly moved to the Hangouts app on Android and iOS already, but the desktop users still had the option to use Google Talk. Now, Google has started notifying Gtalk users that the company will be cutting off access to the service on February 16, and that they will need to install the Hangouts app for Chrome to use the IM service. Although Hangouts provides better features than Google Talk on mobile, the lack of a proper desktop client will leave many users disappointed.

Microsoft allows anyone to test Office 2016 desktop apps – Microsoft is planning to release Office 2016 later this year, but it’s letting anyone test a preview copy a little early. Over at Microsoft’s Connect site you can simply sign-up and acknowledge a non-disclosure agreement to get access to the Office 2016 bits. There’s not a huge amount of new changes from Office 2013, but the next version does include a darker theme and Clippy-like helper.

Know the odds of your plane crashing with ‘Am I Going Down?’ – ‘Am I Going Down?’ is an iOS app that tell you the chances of your plane crashing after you enter your flight details. The premise might sound a little stupid, or even like some kind of joke in poor taste, but it is in fact a serious attempt to ease the very real fears that some people have of flying. After being given the various parameters, the app uses math based on real data to show you the figures of how unlikely it is that your flight is going to crash.

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Unlock Windows 10’s hidden, powerful GodMode tool – GodMode. The mere mention of the omnipotence-granting tweak should bring a smile to the face of veteran Windows tinkerers, and yes, the legendary hidden feature still works in the Windows 10 Preview. GodMode essentially unlocks a centralized table of contents for all of Windows’ far-flung features and customization options, drawing all your options together into a single interface and sorting them by tweak types. Once you’ve basked in its glory, you’ll be hooked for life.

TechSpot: The Best CPU for the Money – AMD vs. Intel Budget Shootout – Given how little has changed in the world of CPUs, you might expect buying a new processor to be fairly straightforward. For us, the choice seems clear: Intel has proven to offer superior core performance with considerably greater efficiency. However, many enthusiasts argue that AMD offers better overclocking on its more affordable processors and therefore delivers a better bang for your buck. We’re putting the AMD FX-8320E against Intel’s Core i3-4360 and the slightly more expensive Core i5-4430 to see which processor offers the best value for budget builders.

Security:

Why you should never Google tech-support numbers – Need help from HP? Or Dell? Or just about any other computer or device maker? Don’t fall into this trap.

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Can you spot the real HP support number? Surprise: Every single one is a third-party company itching to charge you money.

Screenshot by Rick Broida/CNET

How to Create an Anonymous Email Account – The Internet doesn’t make it easy to go completely anonymous. Here’s how you can stay hidden even when emailing.

Your Samsung SmartTV isn’t spying on you – Over the weekend a scary article was written about Samsung SmartTV sets that suggested they were listening to your every word. That these TV sets were collecting information about you – that was the news – that they were taking down everything you said in your living room, sharing that information with 3rd-party systems. This information comes from Samsung’s privacy policy, and one single sentence that seems to be a “smoking gun” that lets everyone know how evil Samsung is. Be sure you read the rest of the paragraph before you have a heart attack.

Scammers Now Targeting Anthem Data Breach Victims Via Email And Phone – A one-two punch for the victims of the Anthem data breach: individuals who were impacted by the massive cyber attack on the health insurance provider which affected up to 80 million Americans, are now being warned that they’re being targeted by scammers who are trying trick the victims into revealing additional personal information. Scammers are running email phishing campaigns, and even placing phone calls to affected customers, Anthem says. The phishing emails have been crafted so they appear to be from Anthem, and include a “click here” link that purportedly takes customers to a credit monitoring website.

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New Facebook porn Trojan doesn’t come with a happy ending – What’s this? A random post dangling genuinely free porn in your Facebook feed? Think twice before clicking on it, because there’s no happy ending in sight if you do.

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9 ways to lock down your iPhone or Android device before it goes missing – You know that icy stab of panic when you suddenly realize your Android phone or iPhone isn’t where it should be? Don’t have that feeling. Read this instead.

Company News:

Qualcomm fined $975 million by Chinese anti-monopoly regulators – Chip maker Qualcomm has been fined 6.088 billion yuan ($975 million) by the Chinese government after it was decided the company had violated anti-monopoly laws. Regulators from the country’s National Development and Reform Commission reached the decision to fine the American chip maker after more than a year of investigation. Qualcomm says it will not dispute the huge fine.

Netflix is coming to Cuba – Now that their country is dissolving years of sideways feelings with the United States, Cubans are poised to see a flood of new technology and media. There might be no better way to get caught up with movies and TV than on-demand programming, which is exactly how Netflix sees Cubans spending their evening. Starting today, Netflix is available in Cuba, but it won’t be the same Netflix you or I might see. In a statement, Netflix says what’s available in Cuba is ‘curated’.

Microsoft announces $10.75 billion debt offering – Microsoft has announced that they will be offering $10.75 billion of senior unsecured notes with the offering expected to close on February 12th, 2015. Microsoft says that they will be using the proceeds from the offering for general corporate purposes.

Facebook Takes Internet.org And Its Free Mobile Data Services To India – The app isn’t available to the full Indian population yet, since Facebook partnered with operator Reliance to offer free access to Internet.org sites in an initial six states: Tamil Nadu, Mahararashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Telangana. That’s the first step on a path to “provide internet access to more than a billion people in India who aren’t yet connected,” Facebook said in a statement.

Google buys offline photo-sharing app Odysee – Detractors of Google’s social layer, Google+, can agree that its one redeeming quality is photo storage and sharing, where Google has done an incredibly good job of making sure your media looks good, and is easily accessible. To that point, Google has acquired Odysee, an iOS and Android app that has some interesting features for private photo sharing. The team at Odysee, in announcing the acquisition, also say they’re joining the Google+ team.

Games and Entertainment:

Better Call Saul smashes record with highest cable debut ratings – As we noted recently, the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul premiered on Sunday night following the return of The Walking Dead, and in doing so it smashed through previous records to become the highest-rated cable series debut ever. The series hit a 3.4 adults 18-49 rating among its 6.9 million viewers, blasting through the previous record while confirming those raving early reviews that kept rolling in. For those curious, The Walking Dead’s return did pretty well, too.

Xbox One accessory adds hard drive case, USB ports by attaching to console – Collective Minds’ “Xbox One USB Hub and Hard Drive Enclosure” adds three USB 3.0 ports as well as a bay for a 2.5-inch hard drive in an add-on that attaches directly to the left side of the console. An owner of the accessory simply has to buy an appropriate 2.5-inch SATA hard drive, install rails to its sides, slide it into the accessory’s bay (hidden by a removable cover) and attach it to the console for more storage space.

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Sling TV now open to all – Dish Network kicked off its steaming TV service called Sling TV a while back with an invitation only launch. The invitation only soft launch has now ended leaving the streaming offering open to anyone who wants to sign up. Sling TV gives subscribers access to fifteen different channels for streaming entertainment including ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, CNN, HGTV, and Cartoon Network among others. The subscription fee for the channels is $20 per month.

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Evolve pre-release impressions: Finding balance in asymmetry – The developers at Turtle Rock have the unenviable task of pumping up one character so he’s precisely competitive with four others, with the knowledge that a miss to either side could easily ruin the entire game. So far, those developers seem to have done a pretty good job. In my early play-testing with pre-release versions of the game, both the monsters and the hunters have their strengths and exploitable weak points. More importantly, both sides are thrown into play situations that make the four-on-one skirmishes fresh and exciting.

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Off Topic (Sort of):

ISIS is a virus that Anonymous plans to cure: Hacktivists hammer ISIS with #OpISIS – The hacktivist group Anonymous is putting the hurt to the online ISIS terrorist presence with Operation ISIS, knocking out more than 1,000 social media accounts spreading jihadist propaganda and militant recruitment websites. There are people who don’t like Anonymous one bit and haters are gonna hate, but surely it’s hard for anyone to think that bringing the hammer down on ISIS militant recruiting websites or banning jihadist propaganda-spewing social media accounts is a bad thing.

This Drone Can Save Lives And Fly Indoors Without Crashing Constantly – A building is on fire. There might still be people inside. Traditionally, we’d send in a firefighter to scout — but that puts more lives at risk. There has to be a better way, right? We could send in a robot, but the vast majority of modern robots will fail miserably the second they go up such a dastardly foe as, say, a flight of stairs. We could send in a drone to fly about, but drones are notoriously hard to handle indoors. If any of its propellers clip a wall, it’ll go spiraling to the ground in no time flat. Worse yet: if it clips a human, many drone propellers are plenty capable of breaking skin. Now you’re stuck in a burning building and being attacked by the thing meant to help save you. Meet the GimBall, a damned brilliant (and I don’t use that word too often) spin on the standard drone.

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NoFlyZone Lets You Establish A No-Fly Zone Over Your Property – If your first reaction to a drone flying over your house is getting out your M16 for some target practice, you can now opt for a less violent option. NoFlyZone.org lets you establish a no-fly zone over your property and a number of drone hardware and software firms have already promised to honor your request. Among the partners in this effort are EHANG (the company behind the Ghost drone), Horizon Hobby, DroneDeploy, YUNEEC, HEXO+, PixiePath and RCFlyMaps. As you have probably noticed, most of those are relatively unknown brands (or, as in the case of HEXO+, haven’t launched yet).

Watch Google’s New Small Dog Robot Take A Kicking And Keep On Ticking – Google purchased Boston Dynamics last year, which means it now owns the company’s ongoing robotics projects, including BigDog. Today, the Google subsidiary posted videos of a smaller dog-like robot, aptly named Spot, which weighs around 160 lbs, has an electric powerhouse and can operate both indoors and outside. The robot, as you can see from the clip, can walk, trot and climb across all types of terrain, and can even survive attempts to destabilize it by unfeeling humans eager with their kicks.

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Drones waiters to serve patrons in Singapore restaurants – A Singapore restaurant will soon deploy a fleet of drones they’ve been testing in-house to improve service to its customers. Each drone is capable of carrying about five pounds, which means they can easily deliver pub fare for two — say, a couple of pints and a whole pizza. Deploying drones will allow the restaurant to make better use of its staff, who will still do the actual order taking and handing off — the drones will simply cart orders from the kitchen out to the dining area.

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Cooler Master demonstrates how to use Nutella as thermal paste – Over the years, you’ve probably tried a number of different thermal compounds on your CPUs, from pre-applied pads to all kinds of goop in syringes. But have you ever tried Nutella? Cooler Master has, and they’ve even posted a video of it being put to use. Even under a full load, the Nutella kept Cooler Master’s test processor running at a reasonable 50° Celsius. Obviously you wouldn’t want to use Nutella as a permanent solution. Eventually, it’s going to dry out and you risk damaging your processor. There are plenty of other odd thermal compounds you could use, too, and Daniel Rutter’s had fun testing them over the years.

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NASA shows off moon phases from the far side – NASA was able to create the far side of the moon phases videos using data gathered from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter to create the detailed an accurate maps. Check out the NASA video below to see for yourself.

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Something to think about:

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

–    Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), Unpopular Essays (1950), “Outline of Intellectual Rubbish”

Today’s Free Downloads:

Auslogics Browser Care – This unique tool lets you take back full control of all browsers installed on your PC. Clean up, speed up and keep your web browsers well-maintained for top performance!

Remove unwanted toolbars or plugins

Change hijacked home page to the page you want

Set your preferred search engine as default

Clear cache to unclutter your drive and speed up your browser

Manage all installed browsers from one place

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Auslogics Disk Defrag – Get the best performance out of your expensive hardware investments, improve your PC’s performance and stability.

Disk fragmentation leads to system slowdowns, PC crashes, slow startup and shutdown and sometimes to system failures.

Auslogics Disk Defrag is designed for fast optimization of today’s modern hard disks. Get the maximum performance out of your expensive hardware investments. And it’s absolutely FREE.

Hard disks are by far the slowest component in your computer. CPU and memory work much faster than hard disks because they do not have moving parts. Therefore fragmented disks often become a bottleneck of the system performance.

Besides causing slowdowns, fragmentation makes the hard drive disk heads move frequently when reading files which leads to freeze-ups and system crashes. It is important to keep your disks defragmented and optimized as much as possible.

Features:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in only a few minutes

Useful disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

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In Pursuit of Freedom – The Pushback Continues:

In Historic Ruling, UK Surveillance Secrecy Declared Unlawful – The United Kingdom’s top surveillance agency has acted unlawfully by keeping details about the scope of its Internet spying operations secret, a British court ruled in an unprecedented judgment issued on Friday.

Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, was found to have breached human rights laws by concealing information about how it accesses surveillance data collected by its American counterpart, the National Security Agency.

The ruling was handed down by the Investigatory Powers Tribunal, a special court that handles complaints related to covert surveillance operations conducted by law enforcement and intelligence agencies. In its 15-year history, the tribunal has never before upheld a complaint against any intelligence agencies.

The legal challenge was brought by human rights groups, including Privacy International and Liberty, following disclosures from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. The groups alleged that GCHQ was unlawfully obtaining data through the NSA’s online spying program PRISM, which collects data stored by Internet giants such as Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo. The groups also focused on GCHQ’s role in obtaining private communications swept up by the NSA directly from internet cables, known as so-called “upstream” collection.

Obama asks Germany to ‘give us the benefit of the doubt’ on NSA surveillance – President Barack Obama has had to justify some truly terrible things during his tenure. He took office five years into a war based on shaky and ultimately false information, running a country that had begun running secret surveillance programs and condoned interrogation that amounted to torture. Various parts of his administration proceeded to aggressively prosecute whistleblowers and continue surveillance, stonewalling Congressional investigations into past misconduct.

Obama has harshly criticized many of these missteps, but he’s also started referring to them in a strangely understated, slightly paternal manner, like someone’s uncle wearily explaining a political bumper sticker he’s been trying to scrape off for years. On the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation” tactics, for example:

“We did a whole lot of things that were right, but we tortured some folks.”

Back in 2013, leaked documents showed that US surveillance agencies had been tapping German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone since 2002, a revelation that was less than well-received in Germany. A year and a half later, the issue is still on the table, but Merkel seemed to have softened in a meeting today. “If we look at the sheer dimension of the terrorist threats, we are more than aware of the fact that we need to work together very closely,” she said. “The institutions of the United States of American have provided us and still continue to provide us with a lot of very important, very significant information that are also important to our security.”

EU Parliament blocks Microsoft’s new Outlook apps over privacy concerns – Access to Microsoft’s new Outlook apps has been blocked for members of the European Parliament because of “serious security issues.”

Microsoft launched new Outlook apps for iOS and Android just over a week ago. The new apps are basically a rebranded version of a mail app made by Acompli, a company Microsoft bought in December for a reported US$200 million.

Access to the apps though was blocked on Friday by the Parliament’s IT department, DG ITEC, in order to protect the confidentiality and privacy of its users, according to an email seen by the IDG News Service.

“Please do not install this application, and in case you have already done so for your EP corporate mail, please uninstall it immediately and change your password,” it said.

The apps will send password information to Microsoft without permission and will store emails in a third-party cloud service over which the Parliament has no control, DG ITEC added in a message on the Parliament’s intranet.

Microsoft’s new Outlook app basically acts as an email inbox for Exchange, Outlook, iCloud, Google and Yahoo mail accounts.

Twitter calls out US, Russia, Turkey in latest transparency report – Social network Twitter has published its latest transparency report, and singled out the US, Turkey and Russia, for dramatically increasing the number of requests on user information over the last six months of 2014.

The number of government requests on Twitter user information rose 40 percent overall during that period, to 2,871 individual requests, the company reported Monday.

The US was again the most active country in seeking information, logging 1,622 requests on nearly 3,300 accounts. US requests were up 29 percent compared to the first six months of 2014, but Twitter’s compliance with those requests rose only 8 percent. Interestingly, Russia, which had never requested Twitter user information before, logged 108 information requests during the last six months of 2014. Turkey’s requests were up over 150 percent to 356. The company said it didn’t provide information to any of Russia’s requests, nor Turkey’s.

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Filed under Free Software Downloads, Internet Security Alerts, Latest Tech News

Five Simple Tips To Prevent Cybercrooks From Screwing You Over During The Holiday Season

Unless you’re related to the Grinch, the holiday season will hit town. Guest writer Liz Cornwell, from Australian software developer Auslogics, has some important and informative tips on how you can avoid potential dangers while shopping online this Holiday season – or, any time for that matter.

imageThe holiday season is a time of year that is wonderful and special for everyone – it’s the time for having fun, being with your friends and family, giving and receiving presents, and even making dreams come true!

For me, giving presents is just as exciting as receiving them. And what fun it is to shop for gifts, knowing that they will bring happiness and joy to your loved ones!

I’m pretty sure that you will do at least some of your shopping online. It’s not a secret that online retailers offer great deals. But at the same time there is always a potential danger of your money getting stolen by shifty dealers, scammers, and spammers.

OK, so maybe some of you don’t mind giving a couple of hundred dollars to thieves. However, it would be much better to donate that money to charity.

If you want to protect yourself from online fraud, then read on! Here are five simple tips that will help you shop online safely.

1. Use a Secure PC

No matter how careful you are, there is no guarantee that your computer is not infected. Anyone who browses the Internet, visits social websites, and downloads software simply cannot be 100% sure that their PC is malware- and spyware-free. So, before you start shopping, check that your computer has comprehensive protection and run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. Use reliable up-to-date software.

We recommend using Auslogics Antivirus – not only will it protect you against viruses, spyware, and other threats, but it also has a feature called Privacy Control. This feature is especially designed to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data, so shopping online will be more secure. Auslogics Antivirus has a free unlimited 30-day trial, which will keep you fully protected for the next month.

If you can, avoid shopping from public computers, or a PC that your kids use to play online games and chat with their friends. Those PCs are likely to be infested with spyware, so your private data can get stolen no matter how careful you are.

2. Always Shop From Trusted Sites

There are a lot of sites that offer amazing bargains. In fact, some of them are so amazing that they simply can’t be true! Well, most of the time they aren’t – a lot of websites only pretend to be shops. All they want is to steal your money. Remember, nobody is going to offer you a car for the price of a burger. Therefore, I strongly advise you not to use search engine shopping. Or if you do, check and double-check the website before entering any payment details.

Pay attention to:

  • security seals
  • shipping, return, and refund policies
  • use of secure connection (https://) when the website asks you to enter payment details

You can also research unfamiliar shops on sites like RipoffReport.

Never – ever buy anything advertised via emails from unknown senders and never click on any links in those emails either. Those emails are almost always a scam and links take you to websites that put viruses onto your system. And never shop at web-sites that ask you to wire money or send money orders.

3. Control Spam

If you’re concerned about getting spammed by online retailers, you can always either create a separate email address for shopping online, or create aliases. Here’s how it’s done using Gmail.

For example, your address is myemail@gmail.com and you are shopping at a website called greatoffer.com. So, when giving them your email address, type it as myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com. That way all future communication from that shop will be addressed to myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com.

So if they or someone from their network try to spam you, you will know it’s them and will be able to easily block them.

4. Pay With a Credit Card

Most of you will have several bank cards – some credit, some debit. Both can be used for online shopping, but it’s safer to use a credit card. Experts say credit cards give you less hassle when dealing with your bank, should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay huge interest on your debit card overdraft, would you?

5. Think About Alternative Payment Methods

Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to use a credit/debit card when shopping online? There are plenty of other ways to pay for the goods you purchased – pre-paid credit cards, gift cards and certificates, and sometimes you can pay in cash upon delivery. Also there are websites like billmelater.com that allow you to shop online without having to enter your bank card details. Besides, online retailers actually encourage you to use a service like that by offering free shipping and an option to postpone your payment for up to 6 months.

These tips should help you shop online safely so that you don’t become yet another fraud victim. Enjoy your shopping and have a wonderful holiday season!

Regular readers are aware that I’m a big fan of Auslogics; a company which provides users with some of the best free applications on the Internet including, Auslogics Disk Defrag (recently reviewed here) – a “must have” addition to a serious computer user’s toolbox.

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.

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Filed under Cyber Criminals, Cyber Shopping Tips, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Guest Writers, Internet Safety, Safe Online Shopping Tips

Cybercrooks Gearing Up To Screw You Over During The Holiday Season

Five Simple Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Unless you’re related to the Grinch, the holiday season will hit town. Christmas commercials are already blasting the airwaves, despite the fact we’re barely past Halloween!

Guest writer Liz Cornwell, from software developer Auslogics, has some important and informative tips on how you can avoid potential dangers while shopping online this Holiday season – or, any time for that matter.

imageThe holiday season is a time of year that is wonderful and special for everyone – it’s the time for having fun, being with your friends and family, giving and receiving presents, and even making dreams come true!

For me, giving presents is just as exciting as receiving them. And what fun it is to shop for gifts, knowing that they will bring happiness and joy to your loved ones!

I’m pretty sure that you will do at least some of your shopping online. It’s not a secret that online retailers offer great deals. But at the same time there is always a potential danger of your money getting stolen by shifty dealers, scammers, and spammers.

OK, so maybe some of you don’t mind giving a couple of hundred dollars to thieves. However, it would be much better to donate that money to charity.

If you want to protect yourself from online fraud, then read on! Here are five simple tips that will help you shop online safely.

1. Use a Secure PC

No matter how careful you are, there is no guarantee that your computer is not infected. Anyone who browses the Internet, visits social websites, and downloads software simply cannot be 100% sure that their PC is malware- and spyware-free. So, before you start shopping, check that your computer has comprehensive protection and run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. Use reliable up-to-date software.

We recommend using Auslogics Antivirus – not only will it protect you against viruses, spyware, and other threats, but it also has a feature called Privacy Control. This feature is especially designed to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data, so shopping online will be more secure. Auslogics Antivirus has a free unlimited 30-day trial, which will keep you fully protected for the next month.

If you can, avoid shopping from public computers, or a PC that your kids use to play online games and chat with their friends. Those PCs are likely to be infested with spyware, so your private data can get stolen no matter how careful you are.

2. Always Shop From Trusted Sites

There are a lot of sites that offer amazing bargains. In fact, some of them are so amazing that they simply can’t be true! Well, most of the time they aren’t – a lot of websites only pretend to be shops. All they want is to steal your money. Remember, nobody is going to offer you a car for the price of a burger. Therefore, I strongly advise you not to use search engine shopping. Or if you do, check and double-check the website before entering any payment details.

Pay attention to:

  • security seals
  • shipping, return, and refund policies
  • use of secure connection (https://) when the website asks you to enter payment details

You can also research unfamiliar shops on sites like RipoffReport.

Never-ever buy anything advertised via emails from unknown senders and never click on any links in those emails either. Those emails are almost always a scam and links take you to websites that put viruses onto your system. And never shop at web-sites that ask you to wire money or send money orders.

3. Control Spam

If you’re concerned about getting spammed by online retailers, you can always either create a separate email address for shopping online, or create aliases. Here’s how it’s done using Gmail.

For example, your address is myemail@gmail.com and you are shopping at a website called greatoffer.com. So, when giving them your email address, type it as myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com. That way all future communication from that shop will be addressed to myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com.

So if they or someone from their network try to spam you, you will know it’s them and will be able to easily block them.

4. Pay With a Credit Card

Most of you will have several bank cards – some credit, some debit. Both can be used for online shopping, but it’s safer to use a credit card. Experts say credit cards give you less hassle when dealing with your bank, should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay huge interest on your debit card overdraft, would you?

5. Think About Alternative Payment Methods

Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to use a credit/debit card when shopping online? There are plenty of other ways to pay for the goods you purchased – pre-paid credit cards, gift cards and certificates, and sometimes you can pay in cash upon delivery. Also there are websites like billmelater.com that allow you to shop online without having to enter your bank card details. Besides, online retailers actually encourage you to use a service like that by offering free shipping and an option to postpone your payment for up to 6 months.

These tips should help you shop online safely so that you don’t become yet another fraud victim. Enjoy your shopping and have a wonderful holiday season!

Regular readers are aware that I’m a big fan of Auslogics; a company which provides users with some of the best free applications on the Internet including, Auslogics Disk Defrag (recently reviewed here) – a “must have” addition to a serious computer user’s toolbox.

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.

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Filed under Auslogics, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, internet scams, Online Safety, Safe Online Shopping Tips

Download a Grab Bag of Free System Tools

10 + 2 free system tools to maintain your computer, and keep it in top shape.

image We talked about keeping your computer physically clean, just a few days ago. Today, we’ll focus on keeping your computer’s operating system and subsystems clean, so that you can ramp up your system’s performance.

With that in mind, I retested some of the free system tools I’ve rated and recommended, over the last year or more, that will do a great job of revitalizing your system. These free applications are at the “Top of the Class”, in my view.

There may be slight overlaps in functionality between applications, so I’m not suggesting that you download them all – choose those that best meet your specific needs.

If I’ve missed one of your favorites that you feel should be on this list, then let me know with your comments.

CCleaner

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space.

It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally, it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a few seconds to run.

ccleaner2

Glary Utilities

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2+ years, has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system.

With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

glary-utilities 2

Advanced SystemCare Free

Advanced SystemCare Free is a comprehensive PC care utility that takes a one-click approach to help protect, repair, and optimize your computer. It provides an all-in-one, and super convenient solution, for PC maintenance and protection.

image

WinPatrol

Do you want to get a better understanding of what programs are being added to your computer? Then WinPatrol is the program for you. With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs.

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

WinPatrol 2

Revo Uninstaller

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program designed to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after, you uninstall an application.

After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

RevoUninstaller

RunAlyzer

If you’re looking to track down spyware, or speed up system startup–and you’re technically astute–then RunAlyzer may be just what you need. Run it, and it performs a thorough analysis of all programs and services that run when you start up your computer.

Note: Recommended for advanced users only.

image

Autoruns

This free utility has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations of any startup monitor, in my view, and shows you what programs are configured to run during system boot up or login, and the order Windows processes them. These programs will include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys.

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more.

Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Autoruns

Regseeker

The longer you use Windows, the more cluttered your registry can become, especially if you regularly install and uninstall software. Many applications, on being uninstalled, leave behind “orphan” registry entries. They don’t remove all traces of themselves which can cause problems such as sluggish performance, system lockups, or a bloated registry that takes longer to load on startup. With the click of a button, Regseeker will scan your registry for these fragmented files, and safely remove them.

Note: Recommended for advanced users only.

reg-result 2

Wise Registry Cleaner

Wise Registry Cleaner is a free, non aggressive application that, as one of my friends says, hits a home run in the safety department. As it searches the Registry for obsolete/redundant registry keys, it differentiates between those that are “safe to fix”, and those that are “not fully safe to fix”.

To provide the greatest safety factor for those who are uncomfortable, or unfamiliar, with cleaning the Registry, the application’s default removal setting is – “safe to fix”.

wise-registry-cleaner 2

Fresh UI

One of the oldest and most well established free Windows tweaking applications, Freshdevices’ Fresh UI is a powerful tool that allows you to configure and optimize your version of Windows.

This small (1.24 MB) program has a clean, easy to understand interface that gives you access to hundreds of system settings, some of which are hidden, and others that are just hard to find. The interface is organized by section for easy navigation, and it is complete with detailed descriptions for easy reference.

FreshUI 2

Auslogics Disk Defrag

The program 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 it’s free. In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.

auslogics_disk_defrag

FixWin

If you’ve been looking for an easy way to fix issues such as, Win Explorer not starting at boot up, CD drive or DVD drive is missing or not being recognized by Windows, or other programs, or the Device Manager is not functioning correctly (not as uncommon as you might think), then the recently released FixWin freeware application, could be the perfect solution.

It’s important to note however, FixWin does NOT scan for problems. You, have to recognize that you have the problem – the application will then correct the problem, provided of course it is one of the 50 very common problems the application is designed to deal with.

image

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.

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Filed under Computer Maintenance, Defraggers, downloads, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Registry Cleaners, Slow Computer, Software, System Tweaks, System Utilities, Uninstall Tools, Utilities, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

’Tis the Season for Jolly Cybercrooks – Five Simple Tips for Safe Online Shopping

Guest writer Liz Cornwell, of Auslogics’ Blog, has some important and informative tips, on how you can avoid potential dangers while shopping online.

snowmanThe holiday season has arrived for many people from different countries and cultures of the world. This time of year is wonderful and special for everyone – it’s the time for having fun, being with your friends and family, giving and receiving presents, and even making dreams come true!

For me, giving presents is just as exciting as receiving them. And what fun it is to shop for gifts, knowing that they will bring happiness and joy to your loved ones!

I’m pretty sure that you will do at least some of your shopping online. It’s not a secret that online retailers offer great deals. But at the same time there is always a potential danger of your money getting stolen by shifty dealers, scammers, and spammers.

OK, so maybe some of you don’t mind giving a couple of hundred dollars to thieves. However, it would be much better to donate that money to charity.

If you want to protect yourself from online fraud, then read on! Here are five simple tips that will help you shop online safely.

1. Use a Secure PC

No matter how careful you are, there is no guarantee that your computer is not infected. Anyone who browses the Internet, visits social websites, and downloads software simply cannot be 100% sure that their PC is malware- and spyware-free. So, before you start shopping, check that your computer has comprehensive protection and run anti-virus and anti-spyware scans. Use reliable up-to-date software.

We recommend using Auslogics Antivirus – not only will it protect you against viruses, spyware, and other threats, but it also has a feature called Privacy Control. This feature is especially designed to prevent hackers from stealing your personal data, so shopping online will be more secure. Auslogics Antivirus has a free unlimited 30-day trial, which will keep you fully protected for the next month.

If you can, avoid shopping from public computers, or a PC that your kids use to play online games and chat with their friends. Those PCs are likely to be infested with spyware, so your private data can get stolen no matter how careful you are.

onlineshopping

2. Always Shop From Trusted Sites

There are a lot of sites that offer amazing bargains. In fact, some of them are so amazing that they simply can’t be true! Well, most of the time they aren’t – a lot of websites only pretend to be shops. All they want is to steal your money. Remember, nobody is going to offer you a car for the price of a burger. Therefore, I strongly advise you not to use search engine shopping. Or if you do, check and double-check the website before entering any payment details.

Pay attention to:

  • security seals

securityseal

  • shipping, return, and refund policies
  • use of secure connection (https://) when the website asks you to enter payment details

You can also research unfamiliar shops on sites like RipoffReport.

Never-ever buy anything advertised via emails from unknown senders and never click on any links in those emails either. Those emails are almost always a scam and links take you to websites that put viruses onto your system. And never shop at web-sites that ask you to wire money or send money orders.

3. Control Spam

If you’re concerned about getting spammed by online retailers, you can always either create a separate email address for shopping online, or create aliases. Here’s how it’s done using Gmail.

For example, your address is myemail@gmail.com and you are shopping at a website called greatoffer.com. So, when giving them your email address, type it as myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com. That way all future communication from that shop will be addressed to myemail+greatoffer@gmail.com.

So if they or someone from their network try to spam you, you will know it’s them and will be able to easily block them.

4. Pay With a Credit Card

Most of you will have several bank cards – some credit, some debit. Both can be used for online shopping, but it’s safer to use a credit card. Experts say credit cards give you less hassle when dealing with your bank, should unauthorized charges show up later on a monthly statement. Besides, you wouldn’t want to pay huge interest on your debit card overdraft, would you?

5. Think About Alternative Payment Methods

Did you know that you don’t necessarily have to use a credit/debit card when shopping online? There are plenty of other ways to pay for the goods you purchased – pre-paid credit cards, gift cards and certificates, and sometimes you can pay in cash upon delivery. Also there are websites like billmelater.com that allow you to shop online without having to enter your bank card details. Besides, online retailers actually encourage you to use a service like that by offering free shipping and an option to postpone your payment for up to 6 months.

present

These tips should help you shop online safely so that you don’t become yet another fraud victim. Enjoy your shopping and have a wonderful holiday season!

Guest writer Liz Cornwell, writes a terrific Blog for Auslogics, which includes tips on computer optimization, security, new product releases and more. Drop by Auslogics Blog – you’ll be glad you did.

Regular readers are well aware that I’m a big fan of Auslogics; a company which provides users with some of the best free applications on the Internet including, Auslogics Disk Defrag, and Auslogics Task Manager – both of which are “must have” additions to a serious computer user’s toolbox.

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

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Filed under Antivirus Applications, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Freeware, Guest Writers, Online Safety, Recommended Web Sites, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Top 12 Downloaded Free Applications on Tech Thoughts

image In the roughly 22 months I have been writing Tech Thoughts, these are the top 12 downloaded free applications on this site. Having had the opportunity to test each and every one thoroughly, I have no hesitation in recommending these top performing free applications.

Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware: (45,693 downloads) – When a free application is downloaded over 45,000 times from your site, like Malwarebytes’ Anti-Malware has been at my site, you just have to know this application is a winner. The free version of this speed demon (it’s faster at scanning than any anti-malware program I’ve tested in the last 2 years), is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers.

Regseeker: (13,974 downloads) – The longer you use Windows, the more cluttered your registry can become, especially if you regularly install and uninstall software. Many applications, on being uninstalled, leave behind “orphan” registry entries. They don’t remove all traces of themselves; causing problems such as sluggish performance, system lockups, or a bloated registry that takes longer to load on startup. With the click of a button, Regseeker will scan your registry for these fragmented files, and safely remove them.

Ccleaner: (9,689 downloads) – Ccleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy, and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally, it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Spyware Terminator: (7,439 downloads) – Having tested virtually all of the major anti-spyware applications over the past year or more, I’ve settled, for now, on Spyware Terminator primarily due to its strong real-time protection against spyware, adware, Trojans, key-loggers, home page hijackers and other malware threats. Spyware Terminator excels in strong active protection against know and unknown threats. If anything, I find it perhaps a little overly aggressive. On the other hand, better this than the alternative.

Revo Uninstaller: (6,726 downloads) – Revo Uninstaller is a superior program designed to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over on your computer.

WOT: (4,281 downloads) – Web of Trust is a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites. Personally, I won’t surf the Net without WOT being active.

ThreatFire: (3,780 downloads) – A powerful free tool, ThreatFire from PC Tools, the developers of the highly regarded Spyware Doctor, blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior (heuristics), based on the theory that if it looks like a crook and acts like a crook, then it must be a crook, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

A-squared-HiJackFree: (3,533 downloads) – The program operates as a detailed system analysis tool that can help you in the detection and removal of Hijackers, Spyware, Adware, Trojans, Worms, and other malware. It doesn’t offer live protection but instead, it examines your system, determines if it’s been infected, and then allows you to wipe out the malware.

CD-Recovery Toolbox: (3,486 downloads) – CD Recovery Toolbox, a free CD/DVD file recovery solution that can help you recover damaged data that you may have considered unrecoverable.

Disk Heal: (3,363 downloads) – Disk Heal is a free Windows NT, 2000, XP and Vista utility that may be able to restore the condition of your Hard Drive, or a USB Flash Drive, after it has been being infected by a virus. This application is a very useful tool that has a host of additional capabilities, including recovering hidden files and performing system tweaks; all can be accessed with just one click.

Auslogics Disk Defrag: (3,229 downloads) – I defrag with Auslogics Disk Defrag a free disk defragger from Auslogics Software regularly. The program 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.

TrueCrypt: (2,945 downloads) – TrueCrypt is an outstanding free open source software system, (one I have using for the last several years) for establishing and maintaining an on-the-fly-encrypted volume. On-the-fly encryption simply means that data are automatically encrypted or decrypted just before they are loaded or saved, without any user intervention. No data stored on an encrypted volume can be read (decrypted) without using the correct password/correct encryption keys.

If you enjoyed this article, 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.

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Antivirus Applications, Browser add-ons, CD/DVD Recovery Tools, Cleaning Your Computer, Defraggers, downloads, Firefox Add-ons, Free Security Programs, Freeware, Internet Explorer Add-ons, Manual Malware Removal, PC Tools, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, System Utilities, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

Think Your Computer’s Junk? – But Is It?

If you’re in the market for a new computer it’s probable that it’s due to one of the following.

Your computer takes a long time to boot and operates slowly.

Your Internet experience is slow.

Your Hard Drive is full.

I test new software on an almost daily basis, and I do the majority of that testing on a Dell OptiPlex 110 with 512 Meg of memory, running Windows XP Professional. Surprisingly, this is a 6 year old computer and 90%+ of the software and Internet testing that I perform, runs smoothly and adequately on this platform.

So keep in mind that for everyday work, word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, and general Internet surfing you don’t need the latest, greatest, and most expensive computer.

If your current operating system is Windows XP (and 93% of us run XP), read the requirements that Microsoft set out as the minimum requirements for a computer to run Windows XP when the operating system was released.

These requirements were taken directly from the Microsoft website. “Here’s What You Need to Use Windows XP Home Edition”

· PC with 300 megahertz (MHz) or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233-MHz minimum required;* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended

· 128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)

· 1.5 gigabyte (GB) of available hard disk space.

· Super VGA (800 × 600) or higher resolution video adapter and monitor

· CD-ROM or DVD drive

· Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

I have seen, even quite recently, machines which meet only these minimum requirements satisfy the needs of their users.

This article is not all encompassing, but let’s take a look at some of the alternatives you have before you replace what may be a perfectly functional computer which meets your current needs. If you do decide however, that upgrades to the system are required, a good rule of thumb is to purchase a new system if the upgrades total 50% or more of the cost of a new computer.

Your computer takes a long time to boot and operates slowly.

PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable issues. Simple maintenance, practiced regularly, which is easy even for a non-expert, can keep an older PC running smoothly at peak performance for years.

Disk fragmentation, especially on intensively used systems, will degrade performance over time. This is a good task to automate by using a third-party tool like Auslogics Disk Defrag. This application is free and it does a great job.

Auslogics Disk Defrag:

The program 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 it’s free. In my view, it’s one more maintenance process in helping me get the maximum performance out of my hardware.

Fast facts:

Improve computer performance and stability

Increase your productivity – no more waiting for files to open

Defragment disks in minutes

Disk fragmentation map and detailed fragmentation report

Download at: Download.com

Your Hard Drive is full.

A full Hard Drive will not function efficiently since you require at least 2 – 3MB of free space for programs to run smoothly. If you lack this much free space, you should uninstall unused programs on your primary drive. A superior program to uninstall programs from your computer is Revo Uninstaller. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

Fast facts:

Superior uninstaller

Free

Fast algorithm scans before, and after uninstall

Removes additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys

Download at: Developer’s Site

CCleaner:

Running a Disk Cleaner will optimize systems 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 so on. For a full and through cleanup, I highly recommend CCleaner. As well, you should consider copying archived files such as pictures and music, to CD’s or DVD’s to free space on the Hard Drive.

Fast facts:

Frees up valuable hard disk space

Advanced features to remove unused and old entries

Comprehensive backup feature

System tray icon

Privacy tool

Download at: Download.com

Your Internet is slow.

Even the fastest Internet connection is a lot slower than any relatively modern PC, so make sure your Internet settings are properly optimized. Ashampoo Internet Accelerator 2 is an excellent free Internet connection optimizer.

Ashampoo Internet Accelerator 2:

A slow Internet connection costs time and gets on your nerves. So, taking the time to optimize the settings is considered a must. Ashampoo Internet Accelerator is a great little application that makes it easy to perform this simply task.

Fast facts:Free

Fully automatic

ISDN, DSL via LAN cable or cable modem, DSL via wireless LAN

Improvements in performance connection

Download at: Download.com

Clean your machine:

Keep your computer clean and dust free and perform a periodic full system cleaning. Elsewhere on this Blog there is a comprehensive article on cleaning your computer. Check out “Save Your Money – Spring Clean Your Computer

What Dirt?:

High heat and dirt are definite killers of system components! Just recently I had to replace a CPU on a client’s machine due to resticted airflow caused by dirt on the CPU fan.


Check all connections.

Open the system and verify that all connections feel solid and are placed correctly. Double-check any accessory cards for a snug setting and good connections. Make sure cable tensions are appropriate.

Don’t strain connections:

Having too much strain on a cable or connection can damage the cable, device, jack/node, or the computer. Be sure that there is plenty of slack in the cables on the device and computer ends. Excess strain may cause intermittent performance issues.


Malware Infections.

It’s possible of course, that the performance of your computer has been adversely affected by malware infections. If you believe that’s the case read my article on this Blog, The top 10 best free security applications your security toolbox can’t be without!

Once you have removed system-clogging clutter, ensured your Internet settings are properly optimized, are satisfied your system is not infected with malware, and performed the other simple maintenance, your old PC should satisfy you with its capabilities.

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Filed under Disk Cleaners, Freeware, Hard Drive Maintenance, Interconnectivity, Registry Cleaners, Slow Computer, Software, System Utilities, Uninstall Managers, Utilities, Windows Tips and Tools

So You Think You Need a New Computer – But Do You?

If you’re considering buying a new computer it’s probable that it’s due to one of the following.

Your computer takes a long time to boot and operates slowly.

Your Hard Drive is full.

Your Internet experience is slow.

 

 

Let me start by saying, I test new software on an almost daily basis, and I do the majority of that testing on a Dell OptiPlex 110 with 512 Meg of memory, running Windows XP Professional. Surprisingly, this is a 6 year old computer and 90%+ of the software and Internet testing that I perform, runs smoothly and adequately on this platform.

So keep in mind that for everyday work, word processing, spreadsheets, e-mail, and general Internet surfing you don’t need the latest, greatest, and most expensive computer.

If your current operating system is Windows XP (and 93% of us run XP), read the requirements that Microsoft set out as the minimum requirements for a computer to run Windows XP when the operating system was released.

These requirements were taken directly from the Microsoft website.

Here’s What You Need to Use Windows XP Home Edition

 

· PC with 300 megahertz (MHz) or higher processor clock speed recommended; 233-MHz minimum required;* Intel Pentium/Celeron family, AMD K6/Athlon/Duron family, or compatible processor recommended

· 128 megabytes (MB) of RAM or higher recommended (64 MB minimum supported; may limit performance and some features)

· 1.5 gigabyte (GB) of available hard disk space.

· Super VGA (800 × 600) or higher resolution video adapter and monitor

· CD-ROM or DVD drive

· Keyboard and Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device

I have seen, even quite recently, machines which meet only these minimum requirements satisfy the needs of their users.

This article is not all encompassing, but let’s take a look at some of the alternatives you have before you replace what may be a perfectly functional computer which meets your current needs. If you do decide however, that upgrades to the system are required, a good rule of thumb is to purchase a new system if the upgrades total 50% or more of the cost of a new computer.

Your computer takes a long time to boot and operates slowly.

PCs don’t slow down without a reason. All computers have characteristic operating patterns that lead to predictable, but preventable issues. Simple maintenance, practiced regularly, which is easy even for a non-expert, can keep an older PC running smoothly at peak performance for years.

  • Disk fragmentation, especially on intensively used systems, will degrade performance over time. This is a good task to automate by using a third-party tool like Auslogics Disk Defrag. This application is free and it does a great job. Download:
  • Keep your computer clean and dust free and perform a periodic full system cleaning. Elsewhere on this Blog there is a comprehensive article on cleaning your computer.

 

Your Hard Drive is full.

A full Hard Drive will not function efficiently.

  • You require at least 2 – 3MB of free space for programs to run smoothly. If you lack this much free space, you should uninstall unused programs on your primary drive. A superior program to uninstall programs from your computer is Revo Uninstaller. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application.After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over on your computer. This feature is a definite plus since it recaptures additional space. Download
  • Running Disk Cleanup will optimize systems 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 so on.
  • For a full and through cleanup, I highly recommend Glary Utilities. Download
  • As well, you should consider copying archived files such as pictures and music, to CD’s or DVD’s to free space on the Hard Drive.

 

Your Internet is slow.

Even the fastest Internet connection is a lot slower than any relatively modern PC, so make sure your Internet settings are properly optimized.

  • An excellent free Internet connection optimizer (Ashampoo Internet Accelerator 2) is available for download at CNET
  • Open the system and verify that all connections feel solid and are placed correctly. Double-check any accessory cards for a snug setting and good connections. Make sure cable tensions are appropriate. Having too much strain on a cable or connection can damage the cable, device, jack/node, or the computer. Be sure that there is plenty of slack in the cables on the device and computer ends. Excess strain may cause intermittent performance issues.

 

It’s possible of course, that the performance of your computer has been adversely affected by malware infections. If you believe that’s the case read my article on this Blog, The top 10 best free security applications your security toolbox can’t be without!

Once you have removed system-clogging clutter, ensured your Internet settings are properly optimized, are satisfied your system is not infected with malware, and performed the other simple maintenance, your old PC should satisfy you with its capabilities.

2 Comments

Filed under Do you need a new computer, Living Life, Personal Perspective, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools