This page was last updated:  02/17/2013

Greetings:

 

Your webmaster recommends System Mechanic Pro which he has on all 5 of his computers.  This software program automatically fixes and gives suggestions on maintanance of your windows based pc.  Get it at www.iolo.com  or you can purchase a copy at you local WalMart for about $20.00.


A good number of computer users think the answer to the tech problems they encounter is to ignore the symptoms, upgrade to fancier software or buy a new computer.

Let me help. Here are five things that won’t turn you into a tech guru overnight, but they’ll keep your computer running fast, make you more productive and save you tons of frustration. Best of all, they won’t cost you a cent.

1. Work faster using keyboard shortcuts

The great thing about computers is that they can work much faster than you can. But telling them what to do is often a slow process. Well, there’s a fix for that.

Say you’re ready to print a document. Instead of using the mouse to move a cursor around the screen and selecting “Print” from a drop-down menu, just hit Control+P on your keyboard.

There are dozens of keyboard shortcuts like this, from pressing Ctrl+S to instantly save the file you’re working on, to pressing Ctrl+Z to undo a boo-boo.


2. Protect yourself from viruses and spyware

It’s critical that you keep your security software current. New viruses are unleashed daily. If your software is out-of-date, you aren’t protected. Malware can destabilize your computer, destroy files and steal personal information.

Every computer you own should have an antivirus program, a firewall and an anti-spyware program. Another huge threat right now is security holes in Java, a programming language used by Web browsers to run interactive content.

When a vulnerable version of Java is active in a Web browser, visiting a compromised website is all it takes for crooks to sneak malware on to your computer.

To stay safe, stop using Java — or stay on top of the upgrades and use Java a lot more guardedly.


3. Share large files the easy way

The Internet was designed to make sharing information easy. But we’ve all run into roadblocks trying to share larger files by email.

Sending large files through email is slow, can hit attachment size limits or fill up recipient inboxes.

Fortunately, there are easier ways to share large files. These three popular sites will get the job done for you: Dropbox, WikiSend and Senduit.


4. Fix Wi-Fi problems

Nothing’s worse than a spotty and sluggish wireless network. Movies stop to buffer, online games lag and video calls drop.

First, double-check that the Internet speed you’re getting is as fast as what you are paying for. Speedtest.net is a great service that will give your connection a quick speed test.

Make sure your wireless network is encrypted. A sudden drop-off in wireless network speed could be a sign that your neighbors are using your open connection to surf.

If parts of your home are Wi-Fi dead spots or get very weak signals, try placing the router in an open, central location —away from walls and obstructions, such as metal filing cabinets.


5. Perform regular maintenance and make backups

Keep your software up to date. Updates fix bugs and improve the stability of your system and programs.

If you spend more than two minutes a day looking for files on your hard drive, it’s time to organize your files and clear out old stuff. Freebies like PC Decrapifier and Ccleaner can help you. Keeping a block of free space on your hard drive will also give a speed boost to your operating system.

Here are some helpful things to help you to maintain your computer when you, the higher source forbid, have to format your hard disk.

First, I suggest making two disks, one specifically for your computer and one with programs needed to help with diagnosis and cleaning in case a friend needs the neighborhood techie to lend a hand.

 Make two new folders on your system and name them Home and Utility.  In the home folder download make sub-folders called Drivers and Programs.  In the utility folder make subfolders for Malware, System, Startup and Recovery.

In the Home\Drivers download the newest drivers for your video, sound, modem, ethernet, motherboard chipset and USB 2.0 plus any other hardware you have installed.  In a national brand PC just visit the manufacturer?s website for these but a custom built unit requires a little more effort.  Use System Information from http://www.gtopala.com/ (which we?ll put on the next CD) to identify everything, and then visit each individual manufacturer?s site.

Don't forget drivers for any peripheral devices you have like printer, scanners, cameras etc. (Most of if not all of the following are free.)

 In the Home\Programs folder put important software that would need to be downloaded each time you reload Windows.  Things like:

 Open Office: www.openoffice.org

Acrobat Reader:  http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep2.html?promoid=BUIGO

Flash Player: http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/?promoid=BUIGP

Google Toolbar: http://toolbar.google.com/T4/

Picassa: http://picasa.google.com/

 Also get the latest version of your antivirus software as well as anything else you think may save you time in the future (plus all this stuff is free)

 In the Utility\Malware folder you'll want:

 Ad-Aware: http://www.lavasoft.com/products/ad_aware_free.php

Spybot: http://www.spybot.info/en/spybotsd/index.html

Spyware Blaster: http://www.javacoolsoftware.com/spywareblaster.html

CWShredder: http://www.trendmicro.com/cwshredder/

HijackThis: http://www.spywareinfo.com/~merijn/programs.php

AVG: http://free.grisoft.com/doc/avg-anti-virus-free/lng/us/tpl/v5

In Utility\System get:

 Winsockfix: http://www.softpedia.com/get/Tweak/Network-Tweak/WinSockFix.shtml

TCP Optimizer: http://www.speedguide.net/downloads.php

System Information: http://www.gtopala.com/

 For the Utility\Startup folder download http://www.pacs-portal.co.uk/startup_pages/startups_all.zip and unzip it and then delete the .zip file.  This is a searchable HTML based list of programs that run with Windows and describes which are needed, which aren?t and which are bad.

For the Utility\Recovery folder download:

PCI File Recovery: http://www.pcinspector.de/file_recovery/uk/welcome.htm

PCI Smart Recovery: http://www.pcinspector.de/smart_media_recovery/uk/welcome.htm

Restoration: http://www3.telus.net/mikebike/RESTORATION.html

 That should be a good start.  Burn a Home CD and a Utility CD and you now have everything needed to repair both hardware and software.  As I said about the Home folder add other items you think may be of use.  Over time these will evolve as you discover new things and update the existing ones.

Also, if you want to spend a tiny bit of your hard cash on a system utility program that I use frequently, give system mechanic a whirl.  You can try before you buy of course.  Get it @: http://www.iolo.com/  This puppy will find solutions to most computer problems.  Don't worry about getting  the Pro version. 

Enjoy and hey, be careful out there?


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