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  1. #1
    5 Star Lounger
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    Some end-of-the year thoughts on PC maintenance





    BEST PRACTICES

    Some end-of-the year thoughts on PC maintenance


    By Susan Bradley

    Free scanning products offers to diagnose and fix PC problems. A recent spate of TV ads for a PC scanning and repair suite prompted me to take a look at a couple of free scanners and consider what's really important for maintaining and securing PCs.

    The full text of this column is posted at windowssecrets.com/best-practices/some-end-of-the year-thoughts-on-pc-maintenance/ (opens in a new window/tab).

    Columnists typically cannot reply to comments here, but do incorporate the best tips into future columns.

  2. #2
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    So nothing much has changed in 10 years as far as these advertised "diagnose and fix" programs are concerned.
    The default advice on this topic is [still] avoidance, as we all know who the target audience for such programs are.

    Look for a trustworthy geek instead, ask plenty of questions, and pretend that you are at least interested in knowing how your computer works.
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

  3. #3
    4 Star Lounger
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    The advertising by PC Pitstop is immoral and I am really surprised that it isn't illegal.

    So OPSWAT downgraded MSE. Did they point you to any real world examples of PC users who had been infected because they used MSE where Bitdefender would have saved the day? I bet they didn't. Do we know who financed AV Tests's test and what was their brief? No we don't. It says it is an independent IT-security institute, but who pays the salaries?

  4. #4
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    " Consider rebuilding your existing systems with a relatively small, SSD C: boot drive and a larger spinning-platter drive for data."

    I've been considering that for years. My real use for that is to switch between my desktop machine and a laptop for travel -- I want the identical experience on both machines. I'm almost there, with all real data on cloned E: drives, but haven't found a way to clone Windows and application settings, histories, etc., which are (I guess) mostly in my Profile. I've seen several suggestions re moving your Profile to a non-C: drive, but most of them are followed by comments that that particular method doesn't work. One suggestion was to put the Profile on another drive during Windows installation (I SO want to say "sysgen"), but you apparently have to do a scripted install of some kind. I would love to be able to do it after the fact. But -- even if I were able to move the profile to my E: drive (on both machines), could I simply copy that Profile back and forth from the desktop to the laptop, along with all my other data? I suspect not.

  5. #5
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    How were the cookies?
    Good advise on the free scanners, thanks.

  6. #6
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    PC Matic Is Not That Bad

    Points about PC Matic:
    For example, it recommended getting rid of patch uninstallers (not the actual patches, but essentially their folders on the system) older than 90 days.

    Although a blog on the company’s site states that it’s safe to delete old uninstallers, that’s not exactly true. With Windows XP, you can delete a patch’s folder if it’s no longer in the Windows add/remove programs KB listing. Just because some set time has elapsed doesn’t mean it’s safe to remove these folders to free up space.
    I think this is a bit nit-picky. And Fred Langa disagrees about this point, at least in his 2010 Windows Secrets Newsletter article about "Preparing Windows XP for the Long Haul".

    Another questionable recommendation was to disable Google’s update service — the app that ensures Chrome is up to date. Chrome is a secure browser because it automatically updates itself — it’s not dependent on manually installed security patches.
    Yes, this is bad advice.


    Some of the tweaks PC Matic made had me looking up old MS Knowledge Base articles to see what exactly the utility was changing — for example, Adjusting MaxConnections per server, documented in KB 282402, and FastSendDatagramThreshold, described in KB235257. Those might be legitimate changes, but none of the PC Matic’s tweaks gave me faster Internet speeds. (Some of the Registry changes might have helped back in the dial-up days.) For faster Internet, I did far better by simply switching from DSL to cable.
    Actually, adjusting Internet settings can sometimes remove conflicting settings. Misconfigured DSL settings can be an issue in connection speeds, even today. Switching from DSL to Cable is a very expensive solution to a minor issue, if I were making the decision. Speed (on this scale) isn't an issue for those of us who don't stream media all evening.

    Bottom line: I wasn’t impressed with the tweaks this software made, and I felt like there was some bait-and-switch between the free and paid parts of the software.
    PC PitStop is noted for not updating its recommendations, and for not offering to fix anything for free. But the recommendations cited in the article do not appear to me to be harmful, unless you ever want to uninstall a very old MS Patch (which is bad advice in any event, if you ask me). PC PitStop is a fairly honest, and not a malicious company. Their products can help with misconfigured and older computers -- I've seen this for myself on some friends' PCs. PC Matic is cheaper than a trip to Best Buy, and it's safer than most of the "Speed Up My PC" ads and infomercials I've been seeing lately. For a novice, it's not a bad option actually.

    Of course, just posting issues in The Lounge is a far better option! We never charge for our advice.

    For the record, PC Matic only charges a one-time fee of $40.00. Never more for repeat visits within the subscription period. And no advice to buy any other software -- ever. The auto-renew can be cancelled, as the article states.

    One other thing -- PC Matic ads have NOT increased this Holiday Season. They increased during the runup to Windows 8. I know, now who's being nit-picky!
    Last edited by bobprimak; 2012-12-06 at 17:27.
    -- Bob Primak --

  7. #7
    3 Star Lounger
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    I used a receipe from Americastestkitchen.com :-) I think they came out very good!

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    3 Star Lounger
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    Obviously I only paid attention while cooking :-) The adjustment to disable some of the auto updating software - like Chrome would make that system less secure.

  9. #9
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SusanBradley View Post
    Obviously I only paid attention while cooking :-) The adjustment to disable some of the auto updating software - like Chrome would make that system less secure.
    I meant that the PC Matic advice was bad, not your advice, Susan.
    -- Bob Primak --

  10. #10
    Super Moderator CLiNT's Avatar
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    The more ambitious, lazy unfriendly, obsessive-compulsive approach that requires some planning...

    One of the more ambitious "end of year" recommendations for maximum PC performance, maintenance, and stability is the "old school" format and clean install.
    I would only consider this applicable to those of you with "real" install disks, and not the OEM disks and partitions that are so common these days.
    Those I consider dumb down versions of an OS that cater more to the manufacturer's that made them, and more for the sake of tech support.

    The clean install
    The clean install isn't for everyone but it's the absolute best way to clear out all of the digital cob webs that accumulate in those
    hard to get at places, like the registry, the winSxS folder areas, and many other areas as well that cleaning software may not get to
    .
    (or totally muck up in the process of doing so)

    This will be especially true for those older OS's like Windows XP where dll hell and OS decay may be an inevitability.
    But we also suspect that Vista and Windows 7 have their quirky peccadillos too.

    The best way to accomplish a clean install, obviously, is to set aside a chunk of time and plan it out.
    The planning is everything and it's important to tally all of your 3rd party software and have backups of all the exe's and ISOs beforehand.
    It's also very important to have a tally of all one's tweaks and user configurations. Some of the tweaks you may have made to your
    system, and have forgotten about, may be the reason behind some of the seemingly unexplained behavior that your computer is experiencing.
    Making a succinct listing of all your personal tweaks and user configurations in notepad will help in restoring them later on. If anything
    it may help you to re-evaluate some of the less relevant ones.

    TWEAKHOUND still has the best how-to clean install articles on the planet for everything from Windows XP to 7.
    TweakHound also writes about the importance of the install order, and to some extent, the planning that goes into a clean install.


    PROS
    *The genuine MS install disk will provide the best clean install experience over any OEM solution around these days
    while providing the user with much more control over their system.
    *Helps to promotes computer organization skills n00bs don't have.
    *All accumulated Windows Updates will go much smoother and be more stable on a newly clean installed operating system.
    *All your hardware drivers can be safely updated to their latest versions with the least probability of problematic issues.
    *Provides a good opportunity to re-evaluate all your 3rd party software applications.
    *Most importantly, the clean install cleans your system and provides a fresh start.

    CONS
    *The clean install process takes a lot of time and requires computer experience above and beyond that of the average n00b.
    *Requires a considerable degree of planning in order to get it right in a proficient manner.
    *The nature of some people's setups and the way they manage their data may preclude clean installing.
    *Requires re-downloading the latest Windows Updates and drivers, which for many, is too cumbersome.
    *The lack of a genuine MS OS install disk; OEM's usually don't provide a true clean install and factory refresh is
    often riddled with crapware and outdated drivers.


    Drive Imaging
    Having an image handy of an OS in good working order with all your up to date drivers and apps installed is a great way to
    stave off the inevitable. Inevitably things go wrong, and if they haven't, they usually will when your least prepared for it.

    The next best thing is an image created just after a format and clean install, but before all Windows Updates have been added, and
    certainly before all drivers & programs have been added.
    It'll save you the time it takes to do an actual install while providing the cleanest foundation upon which to install all the rest.
    Think of it as a clean install without the actual OS install, just the updates, drivers, and of course, all those 3rd party OS breakers.

    There are also some variations on a drive image one can create;
    Create an image of just the cleanly installed OS, or a cleanly installed OS with just the latest Windows Updates at the time of imaging.
    This way you'll shave a little time off what it takes to have already installed those updates you've installed before imaging, while
    being able to install the rest of the WU's with little or no issue whatsoever.

    For emergency situations it is commonly recommended that drive images be created regularly, and that regularity will be dependent
    upon how you use or modify your computer on a regular basis.

    Remember, this is not meant as an emergency type of image restoration, it's meant to be part of a planned maintenance regimen
    for optimal performance and stability.




    If your not too terribly exacting, and doing a full clean install from a formatted hard drive is too
    cumbersome for you, then you need not concern yourself with such ramblings
    .
    DRIVE IMAGING
    Invest a little time and energy in a well thought out BACKUP regimen and you will have minimal down time, and headache.

    Build your own system; get everything you want and nothing you don't.
    Latest Build:
    ASUS X99 Deluxe, Core i7-5960X, Corsair Hydro H100i, Plextor M6e 256GB M.2 SSD, Corsair DOMINATOR Platinum 32GB DDR4@2666, W8.1 64 bit,
    EVGA GTX980, Seasonic PLATINUM-1000W PSU, MountainMods U2-UFO Case, and 7 other internal drives.

  11. #11
    Lounge VIP bobprimak's Avatar
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    I do just fine not reinstalling between major Service Packs. But then, my laptops don't get really heavy and intensive use. Disk Images are what stand between me and disasters. These are to avoid data loss mostly. When they are used, they also perform the same duties as a good cleaning.
    -- Bob Primak --

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