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  1. #1
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Seven Steps -- Several Points and Suggestions

    First, I am very disappointed to find that the link from the Windows Secrets Paid Newsletter leads to a dead-end in The Lounge for me, as of this posting.

    Now, let me say that Woody Leonhard has written a very good article for those who are wondering how to set up a new computer. Lots of useful tips. But (you saw this one coming, Woody!) I have some disagreements and some additional suggestions.


    Increasingly, the preinstalled default account on new computers is not an Administrator Account, but a Standard User Account. If possible, make sure there is one of each on your computer. They both have their uses.

    I disagree about removing the manufacturer-specific utilities -- these are often part of the tech support for the computer, and would be useful if anything goes wrong during the warranty period. I have kept most of my Toshiba Utilities, and see no reason to get rid of them until they expire, if they ever do. Several of my tech-savvy friends have also kept some of their OEM Utilities, and they concur that some of these are useful. Trialware always goes out the window, unless it's Microsoft Office. That gets upgraded to the full version as soon as security software is set up. (Personally, I use OpenOffice.org, but there are questions about the long-term viability of this excellent free alternative. For e-mail, I use Eudora OSE (also free), which is basically Thunderbird with a Penelope skin.)

    While Windows itself should be set to Notify but Not Download updates, nearly all other programs (except for Apple programs) should be set up for Auto Update where possible. Some third-party applications can even be set up to Notify but Not Download updates, just like Windows Updates. (The issue with Apple products is that if they start updating while you are doing anything else, the update process tends to take over computer resources until it finishes, often with an automatic reboot. Yech!) Definitely set up all security programs to auto-update at least once a day.

    Of course, for backups, I prefer Acronis True Image Home. This program is easier to run once it is set up, and makes more reliable backups, than the built-in Windows 7 Backup Utility. But it is not free. This is one area in which I believe you get the quality of product which you pay for.

    If you don't like the junkware inside of Foxit Reader, and you want to be able to edit on line or downloaded PDF Forms for free, consider using Nitro PDF ( info) ( download) which is currently into a new edition. It has a PDF printer companion called Primo PDF, which works better than any other PDF printer helper I have used. It's also free. And for heaven's sake, if you use Chrome, go to "about : plugins" (in the url bar -- no spaces -- the New Lounge has a bug which makes certain character combinations into Smileys) and disable the built-in Chrome PDF in-browser reader. If you have Nitro PDF designated as your default PDF program, it will open the vast majority of PDFs almost as fast as Chrome's native PDF plug-in. And there is a Nitro plug-in for Firefox, but I don't think they have got one for Chrome as of this posting.

    Be advised that Paint.NET uses .NET Framework. You need to keep up with .NET updates if you use this program, which can be a pain in the neck. But I agreee that short of Photoshop CS, this is the nicest paint and photo editing program I have used. Best of all, it and its plug-ins are available in a native 64-bit edition, which is really fast on dual-core processors.

    VLC Player is nice, but it does not handle DRM-protected downloads from the iTunes Store. And it cannot go to the iTunes Store for paid downloads (which some might see as a good thing! ).

    I am surprised not to find any third-party cleanup utilities listed in this article. CCleaner (download) is my own standby, and I like Absolute Uninstaller from GlarySoft (download), since Revo Uninstaller (info) makes you pay for the ability to remove 64-bit programs and residues.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2011-01-28 at 12:14.
    -- Bob Primak --

  2. #2
    4 Star Lounger Jagworld's Avatar
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    XP pro to Win7 home premium help!!

    I'd like suggestions so I can save my XP OE6 mail so when I do a fresh Win7 install ...... I want loss my mail.

    Thanks

  3. #3
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Jagworld, Welcome to the new Lounge. I hope you enjoy your stay.

    Try exporting the mail and contacts to a csv file. Then you may be able to import to WLM. OE is no longer supported since Vista came along. Win 7 does not have a default email client. You have to install a mail client of your choice. Many of us have chosen Windows Live Mail (WLM) which is a part of the Windows Live Essentials (WLE) suite of apps. You can choose to install any or all the included apps. For example I chose to install only WLM, WL Photo Gallery and WL Movie Maker. I do not use the other apps so did not install them.

    I would also run Windows Easy Transfer first before doing the Custom install (Going from XP to Win 7 requires a Custom install) Windows Easy Transfer is included in Win 7 but not in XP. This way you will have 2 possibilities of saving your mail. If these do not work you may be out of luck.

    I would also run the Windows Upgrade Advisor to ensure your PC is Win 7 capable and check out the Windows Compatibility Center to check on other peripherals and apps.
    Last edited by Medico; 2011-01-29 at 05:28.
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  4. #4
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    Regarding Woody's Seven steps article. I've found that if you share a network with Windows XP machines, that the Home Group can be problematic. I prefer to turn it off unless all of the computers in the network are Windows 7 machines.

  5. #5
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    First of all, I enjoyed the article. BTW, I use LastPass, and highly recommend it, too. For the other freeware apps that I recommend, based on my having used and enjoyed them for as much as a decade, see this page of my web site: http://www.billanddot.com/downloads.htm .

    Second, coincidentally, a relative bought a laptop for her daughter in early December, for a Christmas present for her daughter, and asked me to "get it ready" beforehand. Having done this sort of thing before but infrequently, I decided - this time - to take notes (in freeware NoteTab Light) while I was doing the prep work. Hopefully, this will make it a little easier for me next time. Here's exactly what I wrote, FWIW, some of it matching up with Woody's suggestions:

    1) Answered initial Windows 7 setup questions (EST, English, user "Darcy," etc.).

    2) Ran Windows Update (three or four times, 40+ patch updates).

    3) Uninstalled trialware:
    - Microsoft Office
    - Norton Security

    4) Downloaded, installed, and ran MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials).

    5) Downloaded, installed, and ran Secunia PSI (Personal Security Inspector).

    6) Downloaded and installed patches noted by PSI:
    - Adobe Reader
    - Google Chrome
    - Other Adobe programs

    7) Changed virtual memory to a custom, fixed, size (8000MB - 8000MB).

    8) Reduced Recycle Bin size (1GB).

    9) Adjusted Power Off options (c. double all shutdown times).

    10) Adjusted taskbar and Startup menu:
    - All system tray items always visible
    - All running-program tabs separately shown (unless space needed)
    - Changed from large to small icons
    - Adjusted for c. 20 items visible on Start menu
    - Newly installed items not highlighted

    11) Deleted some unneeded items from Programs menu (e.g., Adobe Reader).

    12) Downloaded and installed Open Office.

    13) Changed Windows Explorer options to show path and extensions.

    14) Changed some options in Internet Explorer:
    - Disabled accelerator add-ons
    - Removed Bing toolbar (Google toolbar already installed)

    15) Changed some touch-pad options:
    - Faster speed
    - Automatic focus on default buttons

    16) Ran Adobe Reader, disabled Javascript in Preferences.


    Regards,

    Bill P.

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    PDF reader recommendation

    I started using Sumatra some time back and like it quite a bit.

  7. #7
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Woody said this in his article and in his Woindows 7 For Dummies Book. Homegroups only work when everybody uses Windows 7 or Vista.
    -- Bob Primak --

  8. #8
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wspollack View Post
    First of all, I enjoyed the article. BTW, I use LastPass, and highly recommend it, too. For the other freeware apps that I recommend, based on my having used and enjoyed them for as much as a decade, see this page of my web site: http://www.billanddot.com/downloads.htm .

    Second, coincidentally, a relative bought a laptop for her daughter in early December, for a Christmas present for her daughter, and asked me to "get it ready" beforehand. Having done this sort of thing before but infrequently, I decided - this time - to take notes (in freeware NoteTab Light) while I was doing the prep work. Hopefully, this will make it a little easier for me next time. Here's exactly what I wrote, FWIW, some of it matching up with Woody's suggestions:

    1) Answered initial Windows 7 setup questions (EST, English, user "Darcy," etc.).

    2) Ran Windows Update (three or four times, 40+ patch updates).

    3) Uninstalled trialware:
    - Microsoft Office
    - Norton Security

    4) Downloaded, installed, and ran MSE (Microsoft Security Essentials).

    5) Downloaded, installed, and ran Secunia PSI (Personal Security Inspector).

    6) Downloaded and installed patches noted by PSI:
    - Adobe Reader
    - Google Chrome
    - Other Adobe programs

    7) Changed virtual memory to a custom, fixed, size (8000MB - 8000MB).

    8) Reduced Recycle Bin size (1GB).

    9) Adjusted Power Off options (c. double all shutdown times).

    10) Adjusted taskbar and Startup menu:
    - All system tray items always visible
    - All running-program tabs separately shown (unless space needed)
    - Changed from large to small icons
    - Adjusted for c. 20 items visible on Start menu
    - Newly installed items not highlighted

    11) Deleted some unneeded items from Programs menu (e.g., Adobe Reader).

    12) Downloaded and installed Open Office.

    13) Changed Windows Explorer options to show path and extensions.

    14) Changed some options in Internet Explorer:
    - Disabled accelerator add-ons
    - Removed Bing toolbar (Google toolbar already installed)

    15) Changed some touch-pad options:
    - Faster speed
    - Automatic focus on default buttons

    16) Ran Adobe Reader, disabled Javascript in Preferences.


    Regards,

    Bill P.
    Generally, this all looks good to me. But #7 and #8 are totally unnecessary in a modern PC, and should not be done, as these restrictions can interfere with Windows performance.

    I would have removed Adobe Reader, disabled the Chrome built-in PDF Reader plug-in *, and downloaded and installed Nitro PDF. Unfortunately, while there is a Nitro plug-in for Firefox, there is no Nitro plug-in for Chrome. So PDFs will not launch inside of the Chrome browser. But Nitro is fast to launch in 64-bit Windows, as it is a native 64-bit program on these machines. the time lag is generally comparable to the Chrome native PDF plug-in, in my experience.

    Nitro by default is secure with regards to Flash and other plug-ins, so no further tweaking of Nitro is needed to protect yourself.

    * in the Chrome url bar, type " about : plugins " (no quotes or spaces). Find the Chrome PDF plugin, and toggle it to Disabled.
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2011-01-31 at 14:26.
    -- Bob Primak --

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by bobprimak View Post
    Generally, this all looks good to me. But #7 and #8 are totally unnecessary in a modern PC, and should not be done, as these restrictions can interfere with Windows performance.
    Bob,

    First of all, thank you for your time and comments.

    Regarding my "8) Reduced Recycle Bin size (1GB)," I defer to Fred Langa's "10 great 'Do these first' tweaks for Windows 7" article in the Dec. 16, 2010, Windows Secrets email, in which he wrote:

    Resize the recycle bin downward: Windows 7 has finally reined in the formerly voracious appetites of the caches used by Internet Explorer and System Restore. But the recycle bin can still be ridiculously large when Windows is installed on a large hard drive. A needlessly large bin size creates unnecessary Windows housekeeping overhead and wastes disk space.

    Right-click the recycle bin, select Properties, and set a more reasonable Custom size typically 250MB to 500MB.
    Regarding my "7) Changed virtual memory to a custom, fixed, size (8000MB - 8000MB)," in the Mar. 19, 2009, Windows Secrets newsletter, Fred had this to say:

    But again, I haven't noticed that pagefile tweaking makes any difference on my XP and Vista PCs. To me, tweaking the pagefile settings just isn't worth the hassle anymore.
    What I've been doing - since the days of ME or perhaps even before, I forget - on new machines (i.e., plenty of contiguous disk space) has been to: 1) increase the maximum size of virtual memory, and; 2) set the minimum size to the same thing. A decade or more ago, I used to read in various Windows "tips and techniques" sites to do this sort of thing; they would typically recommend a value two or three times the size of physical RAM.

    The intent of this was to eliminate the processing and hard-drive effort involved in Windows' trying to minimize the disk space used - which was precious in the old days - and then making the pagefile bigger whenever usage conditions spiked. Still seems like a good idea to me, and so I've continued doing this on my own machines, including my Vista desktop (which I've been running for years without incident, is my main PC, has 3GB RAM and virtual memory set at 6GB - 6GB) and my Win7 laptop (which I've had for a year now, again without incident, and with 4GB RAM and virtual memory set at 8GB - 8GB).

    I realize that it seems a little silly of me to cite Fred in support of the recycle bin and contradict him in regard to memory. My view of the latter is that it doesn't seem to hurt, and where he writes that "tweaking the pagefile settings just isn't worth the hassle," I counter that it certainly doesn't seem like a hassle to me, particularly on a new machine; takes just a few seconds and a reboot, which you'll be doing on a new machine after Windows Updates anyway.

    Thoughts?

  10. #10
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    @wspollack --

    Yeah, some thoughts...

    When in defense of (7) about Virtual Memory size you cited your practices of ten years ago, I winced. Hard Drive real-estate has vastly increased since ten years ago, making preservation of space no longer much of an issue. Modern Windows and modern programs make much better use of hard drive space, especially Virtual memory, and increases in physical RAM make disk writes and reads less frequent. Defragmenting (as opposed to disk optimizing) is also mostly a waste of time on modern hard drives in modern computers. So unless your PC is a dinosaur, I would skip this step. It just doesn't make much of a difference these days.

    System Restore Points are a different matter. These tend to take over a hard drive, and should be restricted. Either the space allocated to Restore Points can be limited, or else Windows or CCleaner can be used to clean up older Restore Points. I use CCleaner>>Tools>>System Restore in an Administrator Account to manage older Restore Points selectively, instead of deleting all of them as Windows does.


    As for (8) limiting the size of the Windows Recycle Bin, I suppose this depends on how often you empty the Bin using CCleaner (I have it set to empty the Bin every time it runs) or Windows (you have to remember to do this). If you feel a need to recover deleted items and retain them for long periods, the Recycle Bin is not the best place to store these items. Older items will be deleted anyway, so data backups are a better way to go. So, I do empty the Recycle Bin frequently. Thus, I see no reason to limit its size. Your practices may be different, in which case this step may be good advice.

    Without either Step (7) or Step (8), I have used Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit on a 500 GB Hard Drive (partitioned with 100 GB available to Windows and Programs) and while the used space did initially go up and up, it also went down again, stabilizing well within the 40-50 GB range or less. This is quite acceptable on a 500 GB drive. Defragmenting does not improve my used space numbers, but optimizing does seem to speed up program launching, so I do run Defraggler (from the makers of CCleaner) every week or so. Again, this has no effect on disk space used or Windows 7 core performance. (Program performance is a separate issue.)

    Selectively removing old Restore Points does make a difference, but Virtual memory is not an issue. Page Files and Windows Prefetch are not significant sources of any increases in hard drive space used, in my experience. Your mileage may vary.

    I respect Fred and his advice, but on these points, I think there are more productive places to spend time and energy than tweaking Windows settings.
    -- Bob Primak --

  11. #11
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    With regards to Virtual Memory usage and settings, it really depends on your personal use of the computer; if you are an average user (which is presumably MS's expectations when setting defaults and making recommendations for Windows settings) then the default settings will work fine, if your usage is anything like mine however, sticking with the defaults would drop the productivity of my computer by at least 30% - it would effectively mean I'd need to use a 2nd PC to achieve my current output (which also requires regular RAM 'cleaning' - MS's garbage collection routine is way too slow).

    My current setup is 2GB of RAM and 8GB of virtual memory. Sure, buying 8GB of RAM and an SSD would make my PC faster - but I'd have 2GB of physical memory less to use and by Day 3 my programs would start to crash without a trace, it would be less productive per week and I'd be out of pocket!

    One size does not fit all .

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    Here's something I don't understand, so could (as Denzel Washington said in Philadelphia) someone explain it to me like I'm a six-year-old? If Windows - any Windows, pick a Windows - says that it will allow virtual memory to go from some specified minimum size X to some specified maximum size Y, how is it less efficient if you just tell Windows, "Here, your size is exactly Y"? It seems to me that if you say that, Windows is freed up from any and all management tasks - and the CPU and disk accesses - associated with trying to resize virtual memory. I'm not saying Windows won't have any virtual memory work to do, just that (it seems to me) the work associated with resizing virtual memory.

    I have no idea what goes on inside this part of code; feel free to make fun of me for that, if anyone likes. It just seems that with my system (however old) you're asking the O/S to do one less thing, and so I'm really curious why this wouldn't be the case. Certainly I may be simplifying things, but I may not be; hey, pre-retirement I was a coder and database administrator for c. 30 years, so: A) I don't think I'm complete idiot; B) my position seems reasonable to me, based on that general computer knowledge, and; C) I'm genuinely interested in learning what goes on inside, to invalidate this position.

  13. #13
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wspollack View Post
    Here's something I don't understand, so could (as Denzel Washington said in Philadelphia) someone explain it to me like I'm a six-year-old? If Windows - any Windows, pick a Windows - says that it will allow virtual memory to go from some specified minimum size X to some specified maximum size Y, how is it less efficient if you just tell Windows, "Here, your size is exactly Y"? It seems to me that if you say that, Windows is freed up from any and all management tasks - and the CPU and disk accesses - associated with trying to resize virtual memory. I'm not saying Windows won't have any virtual memory work to do, just that (it seems to me) the work associated with resizing virtual memory.

    I have no idea what goes on inside this part of code; feel free to make fun of me for that, if anyone likes. It just seems that with my system (however old) you're asking the O/S to do one less thing, and so I'm really curious why this wouldn't be the case. Certainly I may be simplifying things, but I may not be; hey, pre-retirement I was a coder and database administrator for c. 30 years, so: A) I don't think I'm complete idiot; B) my position seems reasonable to me, based on that general computer knowledge, and; C) I'm genuinely interested in learning what goes on inside, to invalidate this position.
    The other problem that I see in allowing Windows to manage the page file size is that many do not even specify a min / max value so that Windows could use ungodly amounts of space. So not only are there extra management resources in use, but extra space as well. In modern PC's, with sufficient RAM for most everyday tasks (let's say 3 to 4 GB as this is the cuttoff area for 32 Bit systems) if a user controls the plethera of apps that always seem to "need" to start with windows, that I have found that a manageable page file of 8 GB, perhaps a little less, is more than sufficient for everyday tasks. I agree with the premice that less management by Windows is less resources used for this task and more available for other tasks.
    BACKUP...BACKUP...BACKUP
    Have a Great Day! Ted


    Sony Vaio Laptop, 2.53 GHz Duo Core Intel CPU, 8 GB RAM, 320 GB HD
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    Complete PC Specs: By Speccy

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