Backdoor Bot, Anyone?

Although I have a difficult time understanding it, this same thing keeps happening. A client calls with an immediate problem. A computer used primarily for business has become slow and now does not seem to work at all. The client urgently needs to check email.

A quick visit and I discover that this essential machine seems to have been treated like a holy relic that is self-protecting, self-maintaining, and not subject to decay. The latest case involves an ancient machine that had originally been shipped with Window Millennium, but it had been updated to W2K somewhere along the line. McAfee once protected it, but that had expired years ago. Sure enough, it was sluggish.

The client wanted me to get her a new computer, transfer here data, and make the new one look like the old one.

When I got her computer back to my office, I kept is isolated and installed RKILL and Malwarebytes from a flash drive. A complete scan found only 35 infections (nowhere near a record!). These included several varieties of Trojans and a The last one bothered me the most since she does online business, and that could have been compromised.

Given that this person is unlikely to be consistent in backing up data or otherwise protecting data, and data is essential to her business, I set her up with an internal-external backup drive and did an initial backup. Then I set the schedule for automatic backups to mesh with her schedule. Since she normally turns the computer off at night, and since I did not expect her to remember to leave it on once a week, the default backup time was changed to be at a time when it was likely to be on, but not when she was likely to be using it.

Then I setup her new computer with a good anti-malware program and suggested several good surfing habits.

All this probably sounds boringly familiar to anyone who has tried to tutor or help maintain computers. But I still do not understand it. No one runs their automobiles without oil. No one uses a cell phone or texts while driving. Everyone wears seat belts all the time… oh… maybe there is a pattern here.

Are some things so important in our lives that we feel forced to attribute super powers to them? Cars and computers are essential. We do not want them to fail or to have an accident, so we simply adopt a mental attitude that suggests everything is okay. Taking preventive measures would be to admit we are vulnerable. That self-deception works fine until…

Is Getting a New Computer Always a Good Thing?

Have you changed computers lately? I have had the misfortune to have scored on both a new laptop and two new computers in exchange for some work. Why is that a misfortune? Getting a replacement laptop for the one I gave to my wife when her desktop crashed should be a positive. And getting a newer, faster desktop is always a joy — isn’t it?

Well, in the bad old days it used to take me about two days of frustration to setup a new computer the way I wanted it, but with the new operating systems and easy move applications, it only takes me about two days of frustration to setup a new computer. Of course the latest generation does much more than the older ones, so in some sense setting up a new computer has become more convenient. That is, for the same amount of frustration, I get more done. Surely getting my LAN to do the things I want is much easier now, but at this writing, one of my network printers is still not recognized by everyone. If no one recognized it, that would be understandable, but when I try to bring up two new computers with the same operating systems and do the same things to them, they should behave similarly. Or am I being dense?

But here is an underlying source of frustration: how much computing power do I need? The reason that netbooks took off and sold so well is that many people realized they were mostly writing letters, checking email, surfing, and maybe checking the latest on Facebook. You do not need very many processors for that type of load. Even if you keep your books and have fairly large spreadsheets, an entry level desktop will likely handle anything you throw at it.

Watching HD DVDs is no problem, but perhaps playing the latest action games would bring any of my computers to their knees. I have one home-built PC with dual-core and 8 gig of RAM which I like to use for video editing. Speech recognition is another application that can slow down a weaker machine.

Put this recent frustration in the context of tutoring seniors who spend most of their time at their PCs being frustrated. Part of my job is to empower them so they can do what they want and not be frustrated. But sometimes I fear that my main accomplishment is to help them to become frustrated at a higher level.

Now I have to try to sell one of the extra computers. It is nice, and not frustrating — would you like it?

Top 5 Things To Consider When Buying A Notebook

There should be an image here!Gnomie Sam from the UK writes:

Hey Chris,

I have been a big fan of your show for a couple of years now and thought I would give back to your awesome community by sending in this top 5 list for things to consider when choosing a notebook.

  1. Only buy what you need. There is no point in blowing money on expensive notebooks with extreme graphics cards and gigabytes of RAM. Assess what you will be doing with your machine and buy accordingly.
  2. Is portability an issue? With this you need to ask yourself if you need something as small as a netbook or a larger, 15″+ screen. also consider battery life if you are away from power for long periods of time.
  3. Gauge your budget. Pick a sensible budget — not too high or low — and make sure it fits your needs. Also bear in mind the future; you could buy a second hand or older laptop for less, but then when software catches up or you are required to do something more intense, you will need a more powerful notebook.
  4. What software do you require? Remember this as it is what makes your computer work. Do you need Microsoft Office for work or OpenOffice for casual home use? If you do need commercial software, it may be cheaper to buy it pre-installed or with your machine.
  5. Are you fashion/looks conscious? Are you okay with a chunky notebook or do you need a fashionable, thin Dell with a custom lid? Also, choose colours to match your work environment if this matters much to you.

And I had to add one more, which is to try before you buy. There is nothing worse than paying out £2000 (about US $3176 over where you live) for a notebook that does not fit your needs and having to buy a new one.

Anyway, hope you like this list. Keep up the good work and let me know if there is anything I can do to contribute to the channel.

[Photo above by Stacina / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Getting Old Data To New PCs

There should be an image here!Q: What’s the best way to get my data and programs from my old computer to my new Windows 7 computer? — Kevin

A: There are two critical data issues that everyone buying a new computer should always think about (preferably BEFORE buying the new computer): transferring the data from the old to the new computer and making sure that the old data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Let’s start by discussing options for transferring the old data to the new computer.

First and foremost, you must understand that computer ‘programs’ cannot be transferred from the old computer to the new computer and function properly in the Windows world. This means you must locate the installation disks for any old programs that you want to work on the new computer.

If not, you will have to buy the current version or find a used copy of the old program on eBay or Craigslist in order to work with your old data files.

There are a number of companies that offer solutions that claim to bring programs and data for some (but not all) popular programs as well as printer drivers, network settings, and other vital items via special software and cables (or across your home network).

While the propaganda on their Web sites and on the packaging make them sound like dream programs, my experience with these programs hasn’t been the greatest, so I can’t comfortably recommend any of them.

I ran into two problems with the ones I’ve tested: they can’t transfer everything and the new computer always seems to suffer quirky problems after the attempt. Since I understand the complexity of the Windows Registry, I can fully understand how these programs have to make a ‘best guess’ for inserting the necessary Registry entries into the new computer and how that can cause a myriad of stability issues.

Microsoft does offer a tool called Windows Easy Transfer that allows you to transfer profiles, files, and settings only from older Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7 systems to a new Windows 7 system. (Details on how to use it are posted here).

My favorite option for getting the data from the old computer to the new computer also addresses the second concern of making sure your old info doesn’t end up in the wrong hands: remove the old hard drive and put it into an external USB enclosure.

If you aren’t comfortable removing the hard drive from your old computer, have the company that’s selling you the new computer to get this done for you.

Once you have your old hard drive in an external enclosure, you can simply plug it into any USB port on the new computer and start pulling the files you want over to the new computer. If you’re like everyone that I’ve ever helped with transferring old data, you won’t remember everything that you need right away and this solution allows you to easily access ‘forgotten data’ for an extended period of time.

As a safety procedure, I suggest that you leave the old hard drive alone for at least a couple of weeks, until you are absolutely certain that everything that you care about is on your new computer.

Once you’ve determined that, you can simply reformat the old hard drive and continue to use it as an external drive, a backup drive (if it isn’t too old or too small), or put the cleaned hard drive back in the old machine for reuse.

Another great time saver for anyone that’s trying to get their new computer set up for Internet life is a site called Most folks don’t realize how many utilities and free Internet programs exist, such as Reader, Flash, Firefox, iTunes, Skype, Picasa, or dozens of other programs that they use or have added over the years.

This nifty little site will allow you to create a special download/install program that will automatically install all of the programs that you select at once (this saves you hours of searching and downloading these essential tools), and it’s completely free.

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

Microsoft’s Browser(s) Of Choice

Choosing the browser you want right out of the gate — it’s unfortunate that something so simple for the geekier among us is still a bit out of reach for those who are not as computer savvy. The sad reality is that many people simply use the browser that comes with their computer, regardless of potential benefits to be found elsewhere. Here in the States, when you purchase a Windows PC, it will come with Internet Explorer pre-installed.

The obvious disadvantage to this is the lack of perceived choice for those who might be unaware of alternatives. At the same time, the advantage would be that users are not presented with browser options that they may not understand. Believe me, there are large groups of people who fall into this category.

It seems, in the EU, the decision has been made for users already. Whether or not they are ready for it, end users will find themselves having to make a choice as to which browser they prefer from the menu seen here. While this is great from a non-monopoly perspective, in addition to ease of installation… I am still concerned. Looking at the descriptions for each browser, I believe the non-savvy will simply choose one fairly randomly. After all, who outside of geek circles seriously has a browser preference?

[awsbullet:freedom of choice devo]

Upgrade Or Replace?

Q: I have a two-year-old Windows computer that’s running really slow and I’m trying to decide whether to update it or replace it since computers seem to be getting really cheap these days. Any suggestions? — Gene

A: This very common scenario is playing out for millions of computer users every year and understanding some basic variables will help you make the proper decision for your situation.

Far too many folks are opting to buy a new computer without understanding what is causing their existing computer to be slow. This often leads to the same situation a few months after buying a new computer: it’s slow again because the human behavior that is causing the slowdown wasn’t changed.

There are so many malicious programs traversing the Internet that anyone that’s online on a daily basis can’t help but pick up some of this ‘grime’ regardless of how careful they are and it’s even worse for careless users. (Especially teenagers!)

Before you assume that your old computer is too slow, make sure you understand what’s making it slow. Start by rebooting your computer and checking the number of running processes in the Task Manager (Ctrl-Alt-Del, then look in the lower left corner of the Task Manager window).

For desktop computers, a cleaned up machine should have between 30 to 40 processes, laptops generally 35-45. The higher this number is, the more likely that getting the operating system cleaned up will return your computer to its old glory.

While you have the Task Manager open, click over to the ‘Performance’ tab to see if your CPU usage meter is jumping up and down or is running at a level higher than 10%. This is generally another clear indicator of malicious or unnecessary software operating behind the scenes on your computer.

If the computer was fast enough two years ago and you are essentially using the same programs, then the computer’s hardware is likely not the problem and shouldn’t necessarily be replaced.

If you have no interest in adding any new programs that require additional ‘horsepower’ (gaming, video editing, etc.), and pretty much live your life on the Internet, then paying to clean up your operating system and adding a little extra RAM will likely be the ‘best bang for the buck’ (I recently revived my four-year-old laptop by installing Windows 7 and doubling the RAM).

If your computer has few running processes, isn’t exhibiting strange CPU usage (via the meter), and is just generally too slow for your needs, then getting a new computer is likely your best option.

The reality of the computer world is that everything gets faster and cheaper over time, so the longer you can postpone your next computer purchase, the more you will get for the same money.

While we are on the subject of new computers, let’s make sure you are completely aware of all of the issues surrounding the migration and actual costs should you decide to go the new computer route.

Retailers and manufacturers routinely generate ads to make it look like computers only cost $200 to $300 these days, but if you spend any time looking into these ‘deals’ you’ll likely realize that you’ll end up spending two to three times that amount for a reasonably performing, properly configured system.

The practice of installing ‘trialware’ (which means that in 30 to 60 days, you will have to pay an additional fee to keep using essential programs such as Microsoft Office or even your anti-virus or anti-spyware programs), charging to remove unnecessary programs that shouldn’t have been installed in the first place or ‘starter’ batteries on low-end laptops are just a couple of the hidden cost tricks played on really cheap computers.

In addition, think about what it’s going to take to get your new computer to look and act like your old computer. Programs and their associated data must be installed and imported from your old computer along with your address book, favorites, desktop images, screen savers, printer and scanner drivers, photo downloading and editing systems, network settings, and a host of other items that most folks don’t take into consideration up front.

Be sure to calculate the additional expense for having the migration work done for you if you are not capable or willing to spend the time to do it yourself.

Cleaning up and updating your old system eliminates all of these migration issues and costs, so make sure you understand everything that is involved in both scenarios before you make your final decision.

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show

Did Microsoft Purposely Price Windows 7 To Prevent Consumers From Upgrading?

The conspiracy theorists are already out in force trying to convince us that there is another conspiracy being hatched by Microsoft. This plot suggests that Microsoft purposely priced the Windows 7 upgrade high in order to dissuade people from upgrading. The plot suggests that Microsoft wants people to buy new computers instead.

In a recent article by Bob Cringely he suggests the following:

I’ve had a couple days now with Windows 7 and it is certainly an improvement over both Vista and XP, requiring slightly less resources than either (significantly less than Vista), booting faster, and offering superior usability.

I agree with his assessment, so far, but here is his next thought:

The better question to ask is why Microsoft decided to set the price point where they did? And the answer to that one is quite simple: Microsoft doesn’t actually want you to upgrade to Windows 7 at all.

Microsoft wants you to buy a new Windows 7 PC instead.

Here is where I have to scratch my head and wonder why? Doesn’t it make sense that Microsoft would make more profit selling upgrade DVDs than selling licensing to OEMs?

The article goes on to also state:

Setting the price at $119.95 is a brilliant move on Microsoft’s part.  The company doesn’t want users to upgrade so by setting the price high Microsoft is essentially imposing a Windows 7 upgrade tax on users.  Buy a new Windows 7 PC from Staples and the software price drops to $49.95, the same as Snow Leopard.

Microsoft likes to make money, hence the Windows 7 tax, but their main reason for setting the price so high is to get us all to buy new computers.  That brings Microsoft less  revenue per unit but more revenue overall as businesses, for example, decide to upgrade a whole office with new PCs rather than pay $119.95 per desk just for new software. New PCs come with dramatically lower support costs for Microsoft than do retail upgrades. The pricing ploy makes Microsoft very popular, too with its Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) like HP, Dell, and hundreds of others.

Hold on there. Everyone, and I mean everyone, had the opportunity to pre-order Windows 7 for a low price of $49.95. If Microsoft didn’t want us to upgrade, why was this offer made prior to the release of Windows 7?

This is one area where the writer makes a valid point:

Here’s another piece of evidence aiming in the same direction: have you actually done a Windows 7 upgrade?  Mine took seven hours!  It shouldn’t have to take that long unless part of the goal was simply to discourage upgrading.

My upgrade took 4.5 hours to complete. When I read other articles in which the writer states the upgrade took only 30 to 45 minutes I must become suspicious of their actually performing an upgrade. [See upgrade of my Toshiba laptop story here.]

But what do you think? Is this a conspiracy by Microsoft? Are we all doomed in having to buy a new computer as the writer suggests?

Comments welcome.


Hard Lessons And Close Calls When PC Shopping Online

I am not a rich man. Pretty run of the mill, I would say. And my computing needs reflect this well, I believe. So when I found myself in a position to begin thinking about purchasing a new computer, I initially started off on some of the most common tech related shopping engines.

After locating some fairly reasonable deals for motherboard combos, bare-bones, etc., I then began doing what I always do: research the heck out of the company! Boy, am I glad that I thought to do this early on. Almost immediately I found entire threads showing just how easy it is to be suckered into buying open box items being sold as retail. This might not sound like a huge deal, but who wants to buy a “used” product being sold as new? Not me!

To wrap this up, suffice it to say that when you are looking to purchase a new computer (or build one from parts) online, consider the following.

  • More often than not, you will get what you pay for. Saving a few bucks now might very well cost you much more later on.
  • Purchase your findings with a credit card, NOT a debit card. Because if something goes horribly wrong, you are much more likely to be able to work it out with the bank if a credit card was used. AmEx is the best, in my opinion.
  • Repeat your buying habits. If you purchased from a vendor in the past and had a good experience, chances are it is worth repeating rather than “hoping” to not be ripped off by another.
  • When utilizing shopping engines such as or eBay power sellers, buyer beware. Neither engine/site has any control over who is selling to you really. So when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
  • Reasons I avoid TigerDirect myself: Systemax, Cybertron, Visionman. People want computers, guys, not Transformers…


Top 5 Tips On Building A New Computer

Gnomie Bowler writes:

Hey Chris, it’s Bowler and I thought I would share some tips for building a new computer with the community. I recently finished building my new PC a couple of days ago and it runs like a dream.

  1. Make sure before you order the parts that they will work with each other. If they don’t, then you will be in BIG trouble because you will have to return the part(s), hope you get a refund, and then get the proper part that you actually need.
  2. Make sure when you get your OS that all your devices will work on it. I was running Windows 7 64-bit on the new PC, but I couldn’t get online because the wireless adapter drivers weren’t compatible with the OS yet. So I’m stuck with XP on it for a while.
  3. Get an anti-static wrist strap! These things only cost a few bucks, but it’s better to spend a few extra dollars to protect yourself, and the computer parts, because if you give off static electricity to the motherboard, or any other part for that matter, that part is dead.
  4. Be patient! Some parts will be a bit of a pain to install, especially the CPU heatsink and fan! When I built my computer, it took me over 30 minutes to get the fan in because the latches didn’t feel like cooperating with me. So be patient! Some parts you will have to use force to get in, like the CPU fan, but make sure you don’t use too much, otherwise the part might snap!
  5. Make sure all connections are where they should be. It took me over two hours to figure out why my computer wouldn’t turn on, and it was from one little thing, so check everything!

Bonus Tip: Try to get a case with a window on the side, so you can see exactly what is going on in there. Then, if something goes wrong with the hardware, you’ll probably see what’s going on and you can have a basic idea about what to do immediately.

Does Migration Software For New PCs Work?

Q: I am in the process of purchasing a new laptop; what is the best and most reliable software to transfer all files, pictures, software, etc. from my old to my new laptop? — Jimmy

For Windows users, one of the biggest hassles when buying a new computer is getting it to look like the old computer (for Mac users, this transfer is much less complicated).

Over the years of owning a computer, many personalized settings are created that makes the computer act and look the way we want it to; this is both a blessing and a curse!

Everything from your programs and data files, to pictures, music, videos, printer drivers, e-mail addresses and messages, favorites, bookmarks, your home or business network settings, digital camera and scanner drivers all need to make it to your new computer.

While this problem really began with the release of Windows 95 (the first Windows version that was machine specific) and has continued to plague computer users to this day.

Although the problem has been around for a long time, the various attempts to solve it with an “easy to use” and “reliable” software program have been less than desirable.

The paradox is that the programs that offer to transfer programs and data so you don’t have to reinstall everything from scratch and then restore your data files only work well with simple transfers.

Microsoft offers Windows Easy Transfer for Vista users, but it only addresses Microsoft files & settings.

In other words, if you have a complex configuration, the third-party programs tend to run into lots of difficulties; if you only have a couple of programs that need to be transferred, then they fare much better.

But if you only have a couple of programs to transfer, doing it the old-fashioned way (manually installing from CDs) is no big deal and there is no need to spend the money on a fancy program.

In my tests of these programs over the years, two consistent problems occur (and are consistent complaints from users across the Internet):

  1. They don’t get the job completely done on complex transfers.
  2. Very quirky behavior follows the transfer attempts.

When you have a lot of programs and customized settings to transfer, none of the programs can get everything transferred properly, which leaves you with the equally time consuming task of figuring out what made it over and what didn’t.

In virtually every test that I have run, very strange behaviors were exhibited after the transfer, such as funky printing issues, delayed startup times or various features in programs that did not work.

The worst thing you can do to a brand new computer is make a bunch of Registry changes (which is required in order for the transfer programs to work) that may or may not cause instability in the operating system.

I assure you that if spend money on a program that causes problems on a brand new computer, you won’t be a happy camper.

If you want the highest chances of reliability, stick to the old-school method of installing programs from scratch and restoring / importing your data from backup. Make a list of everything that you want from your old computer and then find the original CDs or calculate the cost of buying new software or make a note that you will need to download the software.

To make transferring files easier, you could also put your old hard drive into an external enclosure and plug it into your new computer to transfer your data over as you discover what you need.

In either case, don’t overlook the value of planning your migration BEFORE you buy a new computer so you can minimize the surprises that come from poor planning.

If you aren’t up to the task, there are a couple of other ways to approach this issue: buy your computer from a company that will perform the exhaustive migration tasks for you or clean up your existing computer for a fraction of the cost of a new computer (too many people buy a new computer, when their old one would work just fine after a thorough cleanup).

In technology, there is an abbreviation that you should remember: TCO (Total Cost of Ownership).

Make sure you understand the real TCO (in money, time and frustration) before you plunk down your hard earned cash on a new computer!

Ken Colburn
Data Doctors Computer Services
Data Doctors Data Recovery Labs
Data Doctors Franchise Systems, Inc.
Weekly video tech contributor to
Host of the award-winning “Computer Corner” radio show


10 Times Faster Than USB 3.0

To be totally honest, the idea of having an external hard drive screaming along at USB 3.0 speeds sounds rather appealing considering the frequency I am using an external hard drive these days. Even pondering the promise of ten times the speed of USB 2.0 is enough to get me drooling in a hurry.

Is it worth upgrading my entire PC for just to make sure I am up to par to enjoy the entire 3.0 experience? I doubt it would be needed, but if it was, I might go so far as to say I would be willing to do it. More than likely, a user will be able to add in any extra goodies needed to utilize USB 3.0 as it comes rolling along.

But still, how far would you go? Is it worth a PC upgrade just for the speed of USB 3.0? I find myself torn, but perhaps others already know where  they stand on this?

Hit the comments, share your thoughts.

Computer Upgrades On The Cheap

There is no question at all that when it comes to buying that next new PC, all of us really need to look at what our long term needs are. For some, this may be purchasing a PC now with specs so outrageous, that no matter what comes up with Windows 7 or on the Mac side, OS X, the hardware is going to keep trucking for years to come. Obviously this is not as big of an issue for Linux users, as the biggest upgrade I did recently was a new hard drive and some extra RAM on my older x64 AMD powered tower. Needless to say, it still runs like a champ.

But this argument of purchasing less and expecting more, might be a bit flawed. Yes, as the article points out, adding in your own upgrades can save you money. On things notebooks, this is a bit more difficult as you are generally limited to RAM upgrades. But the idea is sound nevertheless.

Now I do have some issue with the recommendation of going with Dell. Yes, going Dell business class is fine, but their consumer level stuff is junk, I am sorry. If you are going the Windows route, consider HP or pretty much anything other than Dell. Also consider spending for tomorrow as well as today. Skimp on the RAM and upgrade it yourself, sure. But also consider buying something with increased bus speeds and CPU performance now, even if it is overkill. This is going to add life and quality of life to your computing experience.

For users of the OS X variety, same applies – Macbook Pro vs Macbook is not even a conversation – get the Pro if you simply must go OS X. You will be happier with the performance. Now if you are not looking for power and just want portability, then by all means, get the Macbook standard. At the end of the day, I guess it simply comes down to recognizing not just what our needs will be today, but being wise enough to avoid the old “penny wise, pound foolish” mindset in the quest to be frugal.

Buy it with cash, save up for the model worth owning vs springing early for junk and enjoy the fruits using some common sense when computer shopping. Oh, and of course use the Internet to shop around. Buying PC components locally is almost always a waste of money, even considering shipping.

Top 5 Reasons To Buy A Custom Built Computer Over A Pre-Built Machine

Hey Chris!

This is David Leonard, and I wanted to send you another top 5. This one is listing the top 5 reasons to buy custom over pre-built computers.

  1. It Costs Less — Yes, custom machines can cost less if you are shopping at the right places. You can usually go look up the specs of a machine, then find the parts at various stores and discover that it costs less. My favorite site to see the lowest price on a computer item is; it looks at some of the major retailers and compares their offerings on one page where you can sort by the lowest prices.
  2. The BIOS rocks — Usually on pre-built machines the BIOS is very limited, usually locking down overclocking capabilities and some diagnostic tools. A great example of this is when Compaq released a BIOS that did not allow a CD-ROM boot — this was later fixed in a BIOS update. Also, flashing any machine can go terribly wrong. I avoid it because on pre-built machines the BIOS is good enough, usually containing a Phoenix BIOS.
  3. More Options — When you first build a custom machine, you have a really big area to search and you usually get what you want from the products as long as they are compatible with each other. With pre-built machines, even on the manufacturers’ Web sites, you will find that you can be limited on choices.
  4. Easily Upgradable — When it comes around that we have ever faster and higher capacity products, it will be easier to upgrade a custom machine than a pre-built machine. Computer manufacturers are getting better with tool-less entry, but it is still far from having a custom case with lots of space.
  5. Start with a “Clean” OS — With pre-built machines, you will run into a lot of crapware programs that you do not need installed on the recovery CD and on the computer itself — so you have to uninstall them. With a custom machine, you can install a “clean” OS. Yes, you can put a “clean” OS copy on the machine, but you do not want to waste that OEM license, do you?

Thanks for taking the time to read my top 5!