How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

Those of us here at LockerGnome have all heard this story before. One of our relatives, friends, neighbors, associates, co-workers, or acquaintances tells us they saw an advertisement on TV — or maybe an advertisement on the Internet — claiming that [fill in the name of shyster company here] software will make their PC run faster, smoother, like new, better than new, super fast, or some other such nonsense. They then made the mistake of falling for the deal offered since it cost a mere [fill in the unbelievable pricing of your choice], only to find out that the software ended up causing more problems and that their PC was performing worse than before they installed the software. Some of these folks are once burned, twice shy, but others may be duped into buying yet another optimization type of software, hoping to cure the problem created by the first one. Unfortunately for them, they are just adding to a problem that may not have existed before they added these supposed premium tools. So what can we do to help these people?

  • We can tell them how stupid they are.
  • We can tell them that they wasted their money.
  • Or, we can send them this article and tell them they are not alone (highly recommended).

It is an unfortunate fact of life that we Windows users have been subjected to all types of scams — optimization software being just the tip of the iceberg. To sell their wares, some programmers and merchandisers have made some outlandish claims, including these:

  • This software will speed up your PC by 300% or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus percentage] more.
  • This software will solve five or [insert any other outrageous and thoroughly bogus number here] PC problems with a single click.
  • A ‘free trial’ of this software will scan your system, find a bunch of errors, report your PC is not running at its full potential, and for a certain amount of money, the software will remove all of these errors. The software may also promise that the skies will clear, the birds will sing, and man will know peace on Earth!
  • This software is backed up by testimonials from Harry C., Mary J., and so forth who proclaim the benefits and miracle fixes they have received while using it.

If these “subtle” marketing strategies don’t do the trick, there are more devious methods at hand that scam artist software peddlers can use to sucker in more unwary clientele. One is the ever-suspicious pop-up that displays as a phony alert that there’s something wrong with a system. A few years ago, my partner and I were running a very successful computer business. At the time, business was booming because unfortunate souls had downloaded software or email infected with viruses. To further add to their distress, some of them had attempted to fix their own systems with any number of the optimization scams or gimmicks that were currently out there. Others had installed the optimization tools in an attempt to speed up what they thought were slow PCs.

The problem with optimization software was driven home to us when a client brought in a brand new computer that was running Windows XP. The client wanted us to install some programs and to clean out the glut of unnecessary, pre-installed software that typically comes with new systems at the time of purchase. However, before we did anything to the PC, we installed an optimization program (a pay-to-fix trial version) that was popular at the time. I will never forget the look on my partner’s face when the report came back that we had over 500+ registry errors. Unfortunately, it also reported that this new system was not optimized for the Internet (which wasn’t even set up), and the system itself was running at only 58% of its full potential. To verify the report, we ran the program several more times, and each time the numbers changed!

This is not to say that all free programs will damage your system. One of the good programs out there is CCleaner (aka Crap Cleaner), which I have been using for longer than I can remember. As a matter of fact, I was using it when the program was still being distributed for free by its developer. Of course, this was prior to his selling the rights for the software to Piriform LTD. Thankfully, the purchasing software company has retained the free version for private use, and it state on its website:

CCleaner is our 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) and contains NO spyware or adware!

How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

The other of my favorite free programs that was introduced when Windows Vista first came out is Glary Utilities from Glarysoft LTD. It is a reliable program that does what it promises and cleans your system by removing the junk that can bog down any PC. On its website, Glarysoft LTD states:

Glary Utilities is a freeware with registry and disk cleaning, privacy protection, performance accelerator and amazing multifunctional tools. It can fix dogged registry errors, wipe off clutters, optimize internet speed, safeguard confidential files and maintain maximum performance.

How Not to Screw Up Your PC with Windows Optimization Tools

I am sure that some of my fellow Gnomies here at LockerGnome have their very own favorite optimization utilities that they use and trust. Share your experiences with us and let us know what you use and why.

Comments, as always, are welcome.

CCEnhancer for CCleaner Makes a Great Software Product Even Better

CCleaner, which was originally named ‘Crap Cleaner’ by its author, is one of the tools I use to clean up up a system clogged with junk and gunk. CCleaner takes care of left over registry entries that are no longer needed, removes temporary files that no longer serve a purpose, controls programs that start up during the boot process, and has its own uninstaller to remove unwanted programs.

When I first read about CCEnhancer, which is an add-on for CCleaner, I wondered how anything could improve on the already stellar performance of CCleaner. So I did some research and this is what I learned. Basically, CCEnhancer improves upon the performance of CCleaner by adding additional programs that CCleaner normally doesn’t handle. This allows the user to remove all traces of the 270 programs that CCEnhancer adds to the list of programs to be cleaned.

I downloaded CCEnhancer and the program automatically installed correctly to the CCleaner program. During the installation you are prompted to update CCEnhancer with the latest programs rules. Once you open CCleaner you can take advantage of the advanced cleaning functions by just checking the box of applications you wished cleaned.

I tried this add-on feature for several programs I have installed on my system and there didn’t appear to be any problems using the new feature. In fact, I noticed that more junk and gunk was actually removed than when I ran CCleaner by itself. Your mileage may vary.

The best part of both programs is that they are free. Do be aware that CCEnhancer is not an official release by the authors of the CCleaner program, so use it at your own risk. Since CCEnhancer is not an official release, I feel that only advanced users should use the add-on.

Comments welcome.

ioBit Advanced System Care 4 Review

I have been using Glary Utilities for about 3 years and have found the utility to provide excellent performance for keeping my system running smoothly. Most importantly, Glary Utilities has never caused any system problems in which I needed to repair a program or other fix to get my system running properly. Because of this, and the fact that Glary Utilities is free, I have come to trust Glary Utilities on all of my Windows systems.

I recently read an article about ioBit’s Advanced System Care 4, and decided to give this software product a workout to see how well it performed. I downloaded ioBit Advanced System Care 4 and installation went smoothly. Once installed you have two different icons to use, depending on your preferences.

Icon #1 is Quick Care, which provides an assortment of commonly used tools, such as scanning for malware, fixing the Windows registry, fixing short-cuts, scanning for junk files, and a privacy sweep to remove nasty leftovers after surfing the Internet. Icon #2 is the complete Advanced
System Care 4, with added features to make your system squeaky clean.

For my first test I tried Quick Care. The program is actually quite fast and I was confronted with an assortment of problems that the software indicated needed fixing. The system created a backup file just in case something went wrong, and in a matter of minutes, all was fixed or repaired according to the software screen. I found the Quick Care feature easy to use, which would be great for those in our families who are not computer gurus.

The Advanced System Care 4 options are very well layed out. There are options to use a defragmenter, fix disk errors, undelete files that have been deleted from the recycle bin, and repair options to fix numerous other Windows conditions. As an example, on my laptop system, ASC4 wanted to put icons back on my desktop such as the recycle bin, my computer and so forth, which I do not wish to see. So the software program does offer a lot of benefits in that it can repair issues that may be plaguing your PC.

My overall experience was positive and I think this software would be great, in Quick Care mode, for those family members who are always bugging us for help. For me though, I will be sticking with Glary Utilities because it is just like an old pair of shoes and fits my comfort level.

Comments as always are welcome.

Download ioBit Advanced System Care 4

Speed Up Disk Cleanup In Windows XP Using The NTFS File System

I realize that many of us use tools like CCleaner to remove the junk and gunk from our computer systems. However we all have friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances and fellow employees that may not have the expertise to use advanced add-on tools, If you have ever tried to explain to someone how to use any type of computer tool, then you have seen the deer in the head light look. But we do have built-in Windows tool like Disk Cleanup that are effective and fairly easy to use.

One flaw when using Disk Cleanup in Windows XP using the NTFS file system, is that Disk Cleanup takes for ever to run. It also has a tendency to stop right in the middle of a scan and could freeze up your computer. The problem is that Disk Cleanup on a NTFS system wants to compress files.

To correct this situation we have two options.

Option #1 requires the knowledge on how to edit the registry. If you are not familiar with using a registry editor, stop right here and go to option #2. Open Regedit and delete this key:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINESOFTWAREMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionExplorerVolumeCachesCompress old files

Option #2 is simpler and recommended for users who are not experts in using the Windows operating system. Go to this link for Computer Education and scroll down to the REG files for editing the Windows Registry. Click on the file Speed up Disk Cleanup (Windows XP) which will download a file onto your computer. Click on the file you just downloaded and it will automatically remove the registry entry mention in option #1.

Comments welcome.

Source – Computer Education IDG Tech Network

FileHippo Update Checker – Give It A Try

I installed and tried FileHippo Update Checker, and the software located 7 software products on my computer that were in need of upgrades. In addition FileHippo Update Checker found 3 other upgrades that were for beta software. FileHippo Update Checker is simple to use and it is free. Here is what they say on their web site:

What is it?
The Update Checker will scan your computer for installed software, check the versions and then send this information to FileHippo.com to see if there are any newer releases. These are then neatly displayed in your browser for you to download. Please note that not all programs are supported.

However, even though the program is limited, I still believe it is worth trying. The biggest benefit is that it does a good job plus it is free.

Comments welcome.

Source – FileHippo

New Version Of CCleaner Released

Version 3 of the popular program CCleaner has been released and is now ready of free download. The latest version now contains support for 64 bit systems. On the FileHippo sites CCleaner is described as:

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) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)

Cleans the following:

  • Internet Explorer
  • Firefox
  • Google Chrome
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Windows – Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.
  • Registry cleaner
  • Third-party applications
  • 100% Spyware FREE
  • I have trusted CCleaner for many years and have always found it a very reliable program. As stated above, the program contains no spyware or adware and is still free. Give it a try. You will not be disappointed. I do recommend that the program should be used by experienced computer users. If you are not sure how to run the program, ask a friend or relative to assist you.

    Runs on Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, XP and 2000. Including both 32-bit and 64-bit versions.

    Comments welcome.

    Source – Free download CCleaner at FileHippo

    What Is The Fastest Way To Get A New Personal Computer Up And Running?

    [I am posting this so that I can refer people to this article when they ask how to set up a new personal computer system. I also hope that it helps others who read it as well. Please add your comments and contribute to this piece. TIA, Ron]

    You have just brought home that brand new personal computer system and you want to get your new system up and running as fast as possible. This is actually a lot faster than it was several years ago. There are a bunch of free programs that anyone can use to not only clean the gunk off of a new system, put to also install software and quickly with little user intervention.

    First you need to get rid of the ‘crapware’ that comes installed on your new personal computer. This includes all of the trial ware programs that you may not wish to use. The first thing you need to download is a program called PC Decrapifier linked below. This free software program will remove most of the junk and gunk for a user automatically. Here is how it works.

    Running the Program

    After you run the EXE you will be guided through the process with a “wizard” style series of questions. You will have the choice to pick and choose what you want to remove. It will not begin removing anything without prompting you first!

    Next follow the onscreen instructions from the images below:

    Next, create a Restore Point by clicking on the Create Restore Point button.

    Next select the programs that you wish to uninstall:

    If you are not sure which programs should be uninstalled ask someone before you leap into the uninstall process. May I suggest you ask your question[s] over at the Help forum for Lockergnome located here.

    You will now want to update your system with some of the best free software you can get to protect your personal computer and to enhance your overall computer experience. Over at Ninite Easy PC Setup you can select programs that you wish to install on your new system. Just check the programs you want to use and let Ninite do the rest for you. If you are not sure which programs to use, ask over at the Help forum for Lockergnome.

    Here are some of the programs I recommend you try:

    Web Browser: Firefox

    Messaging: Thunderbird, Google Talk

    Media: iTunes, Hulu

    Imaging: Gimp, Picasa

    Documents: Open Office, Foxit Reader

    Security:  Avast, AVG, Malwarebytes, Spybot [caution – use only ONE anti-virus program]

    Runtimes: Flash, Java

    Other: Google Earth

    Utilties: ImgBurn, CCleaner, Defraggler, Tera Copy,

    Comments welcome.

    Download PC Decrapifier from here.

    Download Ninite Easy PC Setup from here.

    Defraggler – Defragmentor Software Reviewed

    If you are like me, you have come to trust CCleaner over the years. Well now from the folks who wrote CCleaner they now have a defragmentor they call Defraggler. I downloaded a copy of the program last evening and found that it worked very well. It is quicker than the built in defragmentor that comes with Windows and is also compatible with Windows Vista.

    The other nice thing about Defraggler is that it is under 1 MB in size and is an .exe file. This is useful for those who need to carry a defragmentor tool when working on other folks computers. On their site it also states:

    Defrag Individual Files

    Most defragmentation tools only let you defrag the whole drive. Defraggler gives you the power to select individual files and folders to defrag. So you can get the job done in seconds, rather than waiting for the whole drive to complete. Of course if you want to defrag the whole drive Defraggler will let you do that too.

    Compact and Portable

    Defraggler was written in the same compact architecture as other Piriform products (CCleaner and Recuva). This results in a compact single EXE application, which can be copied to a thumbdrive and then used whenever you need it, without a complex installation process. The EXE itself is less than 1MB!

    Vista Support

    Defraggler supports all OSs released since Windows 2000, this includes Windows 2000, 2003, XP and Vista. 64-bit support has also just been added! Additionally Defraggler supports both NTFS and FAT32 file systems.
    I used Defraggler and CCleaner on my Vista laptop last evening. I noticed this morning at start up that the system seemed to boot quicker. Give Defraggler a try and see what you think. Share your thoughts with us.
    Comments welcome.

    WiseCleaner Registry And Disk Cleaner – Free

    I was doing a Google last evening looking for some information and I stumbled on a ZD-Net article. I then scanned the page and noticed an offer for two freebie products from the folks at WiseCleaner. Another Google brought me to the WiseCleaner web site with offers for two free products.

    The first is Wise Regiastry Cleaner 3. On their website the company states:

    Wise Registry Cleaner speeds up your PC by cleaning your Registry. The Registry is at the heart of every Windows computer.

    Wise Registry Cleaner will make your Windows computer faster and more stable. It removes the junk that accumulates in your Windows Registry. You can safely and easily clean your registry.

    So I downloaded a copy and took it for a spin. The software is easy to use with one nice option in that it labels some registry entries as not being safe to remove. I chose the fix option at the end of the scan and a backup was auto made in case something went haywire. After the scan my system appeared to work just fine.

    The second was a product called Wise Disk Cleaner 3. This product indicates it will:

    By cleaning your disk with Wise Disk Cleaner, your computer will run faster, and you won’t have to worry as much about filling your hard drive and replacing it with a newer, bigger one.

    Wise Disk Cleaner is a user friendly, fast and easy to use application developed to free up disk space by deleting junk files that are no longer used by any software on your system. Even the least experienced user can easily remove junk files with this tool.

    Another download and another easy to use program. You have the option to specify what you would like to remove and what you would like to leave behind. The system cleaning was done fairly quickly and seemed to work just fine.

    Bottom line. WiseCleaner products are an option to consider if one wishes to use a free product. But I think if I were to recommend a cleaner product which is free, I would lean towards CCleaner. I’ve use CCleaner for years and have come to trust the product.

    Has anyone else tried WiseCleaner products? Share your thoughts with us.

    Comments welcome.

    WiseCleaner web site is here.

    [tags]wisecleaner, disk clean, registry clean, free, software, products, thoughts, ccleaner,  [/tags]

    Symantec Norton 360 – Reader Needs Help

    A reader by the name of Barrie Orton posted this in the comments section of a previous article I had written here. Not only does Barrie indicate that his system is infected but that he can’t seem to remove the virus as well.

    Sadly, I have Norton 360. I read all the bad reports too late. Norton has let in the DOWNLOADER virus onto my machine. Restore replicates it. Norton want me to pay again to get them to remove it. Online Norton (ex) customers’ reports say they can’t get rid of it! Norton online instructions to remove DOWNLOADER are impenetrable to a novice like me and other reports say their instructions don’t work anyway. How do I get rid of DOWNLOADER? How do I get rid of Norton without crashing my machine? What is the best Antivirus to upload that updates itself?

    Here are some of my thoughts:

    First of all there have been many discussions and some disagreement about turning off System Restore while trying to remove a virus. While I respect those opinions about not doing this, I personally have found it necessary in some cases in order to remove a critter or two from a system. That would be my first recommendation, turn off System Restore. NOTE: After the bug is gone, turn it back on.

    Second there are a bunch of fine online virus scanners such as:

    Trend Micro House Call here. [highly recommended]

    Kaspersky Free Virus Scan here.

    Doing a Google will turn up more if the above do not work for you.

    The virus you mention does not appear to be the type that you should have any problems removing. It’s been around since 2005 and I am sure that any good virus scanner should be able to remove it without a problem.

    Removing Norton 360 should be straightforward as well using the uninstaller that comes with the program. If there is a problem, Norton posts its removal tool, which it indicates does in fact function with 360. The tool can be downloaded from here. I would also run a registry cleaner program such as CCleaner. Other free tools can be found at 46 Best-ever Freeware Utilities located here.

    At the above site you will also find recommendations for free anti-virus programs such as AVG and avast! with links to download these freebies.

    If anyone has any further suggestions, hints, tips, or tricks that Barrie should try, please feel free to post them.

    Comments as always are welcome.

    CCleaner 2.0 Released

    A new version of CCleaner 2.0 has been released for free download and you may wish to get a copy for your tool box. CCleaner is easy to use and will remove most of the junk that can clog up your system. I recommend that you take the Quick Tour before using this product. Become familiar with CCleaner if you wish to control what it cleans off your computer system. Also take advantage of the backup built into CCleaner and also create a Restore Point if your system provides this option. On the CCleaner site it states:

    CCleaner is a freeware system optimization and privacy 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. But the best part is that it’s fast (normally taking less than a second to run) and contains NO Spyware or Adware! :)

    Cleans the following:

    • Internet Explorer: Temporary files, URL history, cookies, Autocomplete form history, index.dat.
    • Firefox: Temporary files, URL history, cookies, download history.
    • Opera: Temporary files, URL history, cookies.
    • Windows: Recycle Bin, Recent Documents, Temporary files and Log files.
    • Registry cleaner: Advanced features to remove unused and old entries, including File Extensions, ActiveX Controls, ClassIDs, ProgIDs, Uninstallers, Shared DLLs, Fonts, Help Files, Application Paths, Icons, Invalid Shortcuts and more… also comes with a comprehensive backup feature.
    • Third-party applications: mRemoves temp files and recent file lists (MRUs) from many apps including Media Player, eMule, Kazaa, Google Toolbar, Netscape, MS Office, Nero, Adobe Acrobat, WinRAR, WinAce, WinZip and many more…
    • 100% Spyware FREE: This software does NOT contain any Spyware, Adware or Viruses.

    Free download from here.

    Comments welcome.

    [tags]ccleaner, utility, cleaner, software, free, [/tags]

    CCleaner – Free Utility – Clean Up Your System

    CCleaner is a system utility tool that can clean up your computer and is absolutely Free. The software application does a number of different jobs automatically for you including:

    • Internet Explorer – cleans temporary files, URL history, cookies, auto complete from history and more.
    • Firefox – same as above plus download history and more.
    • Opera – same as above for IE minus auto complete history.
    • Windows – Recycle Bin, recent documents, temporary files and log files.
    • Registry cleaner will remove old entries, shared .dll’s and more
    • Cleans temp. files used by 3rd part applications and more.
    • And totally is spyware free !

    CCleaner has a very easy to use GUI and can be configured to clean up everything listed above, or just the items you want. Also when it cleans the registry it will make a backup copy of the registry as well, in case something goes wrong. This is highly recommended.

    I have been using CCleaner for several years now, and have not had any problems on the systems I have used it on, including my own systems as well as client machines. So I can highly recommend for your use.

    CCleaner can be downloaded from this link.

    [tags]ccleaner, free, utility, clean system, computer [/tags]

    More Free Software To Fine Tune Your PC

    You may have noticed in my previous posts that I like free software. Why? Because over the years I have found that many free software products do just as good of – and sometimes a better – job than their paid counterparts. So here is a list of products I have used that I think you will find beneficial.

    CCleaner
    When I first started using this product, it was named Cr*p Cleaner, but it seems the author has chosen to rename the software for obvious reasons. Anyway, CCleaner does a great job of removing the gunk and junk that can clog up the works. It removes errant registry files, duplicate dll, files, temp Internet files, and a whole lot more. You can get a free copy here.

    Yahoo! Widgets
    Dress up your desktop with a useful assortment of mini-applications that can help you get organized or just use them for entertainment. There is something for everyone here.

    Free Download Manager
    For those using Internet Explorer, Free Download Manager is a must have tool. The free software can pick up a dropped connection and continue the download process. Get your copy from here.

    Shields-Up
    How secure are you while surfing the Web? Gibson Research will scan your system and make recommendations on how to close those holes it finds. Free scan here.

    Flashgot
    This extension works for those who use Mozilla Firefox or other Mozilla products. The download manager makes it a breeze to get your favorite download and it supports multiple downloads as well. Your free copy is available here.

    SeaMonkey
    Need a whole suite of programs including a Web browser, email, and a whole lot more? Then SeaMonkey may be for you. If you have used Netscape Communicator software, SeaMonkey is a continuation of the Netscape project. Try it here.

    Google Picasa
    This is all I ever use to transfer photos from my digital camera and to keep them organized. And it’s a freebie from here.

    [tags]free, software, downloads, scan, freebie, picasa, seamonkey, flashgot, shields up, free download manager, yahoo widgets, ccleaner[/tags]

    Removing SpyAxe, SpySherrif, SpyFalcon, Etc.

    Can’t change your desktop background? Little orange triangle in your system tray telling that you have an infection, and for $29.99 they can fix it? New icons for SpyAxe on your desktop? Desktop background says you have a spyware infection or has an image of a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death)? If you answer yes to any of these, then you are probably one of the unlucky many that have had a run in with SpyAxe or one of its many variants. These rogue anti-spyware applications have some nasty effects on your computer; slowness, popups, downloading other spyware, etc. but all is not lost. Using this article, I will help you remove them!
    Continue reading “Removing SpyAxe, SpySherrif, SpyFalcon, Etc.”