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9 Ways to Speed Up Your PC!

I decided to take a good break from marketing-related stuff for a while. I suppose you have had enough of those "long and boring" posts on WordPress plugins, so this time the topic is something different! That does not however mean that you won't get bored today! :D

If you are reading this, you might have a PC at home, and if you have one, a very old one I mean, chances are that it does not perform according to your expectations! Maybe it runs too slow, maybe it hangs time and again, and so on and so forth! While I am not a computer expert, in this boring article I will tell you about some very simple things I do to keep my PC healthy (mind you, my PC is almost 5 years old, lol :D).

I might as well tell you about my system specs, so that you don't shout back at me in case my tips don't work for you :D (kidding). I have:

Microsoft Windows™ XP Professional, Service Pack 3; 32 bit
Firefox 3.6.3 (default browser)
Internet Explorer 7 (my backup browser)
RAM: Around 2 GB

1. Setting Your Browser Right: When you browse the web, your browser basically downloads files from the remote server to your local server (that is, on your pc). That is how it is able to show you the website. Maybe you already know this. But do you know that your browser also stores an amount of this browsing data on your computer for offline viewing?

This data, also known as "browser cache", can be useful when your internet connection suddenly disconnects at a time when you wish you take another look at a website you have just visited; it can also prove to be helpful if you have accidentally clicked on your browser's "Back" or "Forward" buttons by mistake; in such a situation, your browser would simply show you the website's cache (unless you reload the site in your browser, in which case, the old cache would be replaced by a new one); it would  not have to re-download the website again for your viewing since the website is already stored on your computer as "cache"!

However, this cache, if allowed to accumulate on your computer's hard drive for an indefinite period of time, can not only kill your disk space but also the performance of your computer. Just like you clean your house regularly from all the dirt and dust that get deposited on it after several days, your browser cache too needs to be cleaned regularly.  

If  you use Firefox, you simply need click on "Tools=>Options" from your  browser's menu bar, go to the "Privacy" tab and just follow the settings shown in this screenshot:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

For Internet Explorer, simply click on "Tools=>Internet Options" from the browser menu bar and go to the "Advanced" tab. Once there, simply check the options: "Empty temporary Internet Files when browser is closed", as shown in the screenshot below:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Note however that these steps would completely erase your local browser cache, browsing history, cookies, etc., as soon as your browsing session is closed. I say this so you know what you are doing.

However, if you are a full-time internet marketer like me, such steps would hardly be enough. You may need some 3rd party tools to clear the remaining dust and dirt that your browser could not! Introducing …Crap Cleaner! :D

2. CCleaner:  This is certainly a must have tool for any serious computer user with an internet connection. Regular internet surfers should clean their PC at least once a week with CCleaner; for those who surf occasionally, running CCleaner once a month would be enough. Personally, I have set it to clean my system daily; after all, who likes junk and dust, be it on the desk or Desktop. :D

Download link
Alternate Download Link (WARNING: Filehippo's links expire after a certain time … I don't know the "magic number"; so when you are downloading anything from Filehippo, it is recommended that you download it immediately!)

Understanding How CCleaner Works-Points to Keep in Mind:

a) During installation, the installer offers you the option to install the Yahoo!™ Toolbar. By default, this option is checked, but unless you want more junk on your computer, you should UNCHECK that option!


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

From my experience toolbars do more harm than good; sure it may make surfing the web a bit easier for you (by saving you the trouble of having to type the entire URL in the address bar) but the trade-off is that the more toolbars you install, the slower your browser would become! Two of the well-known resource hog toolbars are the Yahoo!™ Toolbar and Google™ Toolbar.

Right now the only third-party toolbar I have on my browser is the Roboform toolbar, which, as you know, is a must-have! All other toolbars have been uninstalled long time ago! :D

Now you may be wondering: do I miss any of my old toolbars? Absolutely not! If there are some sites that you visit regularly, how hard is it to add shortcuts to those sites in the "Bookmarks Toolbar" (it is called "Links" in Internet explorer) of your browser?

Step 1: For Firefox users: Make sure that the "Bookmarks Toolbar" is showing up; if not, then force it to show up on your browser by clicking on "View=>Toolbars" from your browser's menu bar and putting a check on the left of "Bookmarks Toolbar", exactly as shown in the following screenshot:

For Internet Explorer users: Make sure the "Links" toolbar is showing up. If not, then force it to show up on your browser by clicking on "View=>Toolbars" from your browser's menu bar and putting a check on the left of "Links", exactly as shown in the following screenshot:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Step 2:  To add a shortcut, either:

a) Select the whole URL on your address bar, then drag it with your mouse and drop it to the "Bookmarks" toolbar, and it would be added (NOTE: this may NOT work in Internet Explorer 7, but you can try it anyways):

Watch the Video:

OR simply left-click on the link (on a webpage), and drag and drop it straight to your "Bookmarks Toolbar":

Watch the Video:

Internet Explorer users should drag and drop the link to the "Links" toolbar of the browser:

Watch the Video:

IF your "Links" bar is not located at the corner of your browser, then…:

Watch the Video:

Now the videos may look cr*ppy but then again I am not an expert video producer! ;)

See how easy it is! These bookmarks won't hog your RAM like those toolbars (provided of course that you don't add too many shortcuts over there) and would serve your purpose as well! :D

b) After installing CCleaner, it is important that you check the default settings of CCleaner and customize them if required, so that it does not do something unwanted!

For example, say you use Microsoft™ Word regularly and would like it to store the history of "Recent Files" intact, so that you can open your old files with one click from the history instead of having to hunt for them in your hard drive! Now by default CCleaner is set to clean all the "Recent History" stuff generated by Microsoft Word. If CCleaner is allowed to do that, here is what would happen:

You close MS Word…

…Clean the PC with CCleaner…

…Shut it Down and Go to Sleep :D

Turn on Your PC in the Morning…

…Open Up Microsoft Word…

…And…

…HORROR! HORROR!…

…You see that the files you were working with the previous day are no longer visible under the " File" menu!

If you want this to happen then fine, otherwise be sure to uncheck "Office 2003" (or whatever version of Microsoft Word you have) from Cleaner's application tab! To help you understand what I mean, I will show you yet another cr*ppy video tutorial :D

c) Customizing CCleaner: Here is how I have set up my CCleaner. You can copy me if you want (I won't sue you for this) or do what you like! ;)

In this video I will show you how I have setup CCleaner as well as a brief overview of the different options offered by the software! The speed of the video is deliberately slowed down a bit to help you note down the settings! ;)

Watch the Video:

As you can see from the above video, I have:

i) (From "Settings" tab) Selected to run CCleaner at startup. This way, I can start my day's work with a "clean" system!. ;)

ii) (From "Settings" tab) Unchecked automatic update notifications. I will tell you why later on!

iii) (From "Advanced" tab) Selected to delete only those temporary files and folders that are older than 24 hours. This prevents accidental deletion of any recently used/accessed file that I may need to access on the same day!

iv) (From "Advanced" tab) Selected to prompt me to backup registry entries before removing the invalid registry entries with the "Registry" tool. The backup would help me restore the registry to its former self in case anything untoward happens after running the registry cleaner tool.

v) (From "Advanced" tab) Selected to save all settings to a .INI file. This would help me restore my old settings easily in case I need to re-install the software for some reason; restoring the settings is just a matter of copying the old .INI file to the C:\Program Files\CCleaner\ folder; note that you should backup the .INI file in some other place, preferably on an external hard drive, so that you can have access to it at anytime, even if the computer crashes for any reason.

The Different Options Offered by CCleaner to Clean your System:

A. The General Cleaner:

I think you already know how to do a general cleaning of your pc, right? Just launch CCleaner from your "Quick Launch" toolbar or Startup, then either click on the "Analyze" button if you want to see the garbage that is going to be cleaned from your computer, or click on the "Run cleaner" tool to actually clean the garbage!

B. The Registry Cleaner

I highly recommend you use only CCleaner to clean your registry (at most, you can use the Advanced System Care Free or Tweaknow but I don't think you would ever need them).

When using CCleaner as a Registry Cleaner, if you notice that the same registry entries keep appearing despite your fixing them, then try the Dia-a-Fix tool.

Watch the Video:

WARNING: It is a good idea NOT to use any of those "paid registry cleaner tools"; using them is like reducing the lifespan of your machine! No offense meant to anyone who sells/promotes these tools, but 90% of user feedback about these tools (just use Google to find out, if you know the difference between "actual user feedback" and a typical "affiliate review site") is negative – apparently these tools do more harm than good by deleting even the necessary registry entries! If you are already an affiliate promoting any of these registry cleaner tools, I am not asking you to stop promoting them; just don't use them for yourself, okay? ;)

I would help you a bit by showing you the different types of "reviews" you may encounter while researching a popular software:

Here is a typical affiliate review site. Honest or dishonest? YOU be the judge:

http://www.spywared.com/spyware-removal-instructions/

This is yet another review site (no idea if it is created by an affiliate or not, but it sure seems to classify each and every security software as a "spyware" EXCEPT the one it recommends). Honest or dishonest? YOU be the judge:

http://www.spywarevoid.com/remove-registry-elite-registryelite-removal-help.html

Now here is an example of "actual user feedback" (note that some of the reviews on this page might be posted by spammers, affiliates and even freeloaders who bitch merely about having to "pay" for a program, so be sure to read between the lines):

http://download.cnet.com/Spyware-Doctor-with-AntiVirus-2010/3000-2239_4-10706811.html#rateit

NOTE: The examples given above should be treated strictly as "examples"; nothing else!

I did not have the courage to use any of these tools after reading all the horror stories about them from people who have used them and been duped! Sure there is not a tool in the world some people don't bitch about, but if an overwhelming number of users (except the company's affiliates, that is) say that a tool is bad, then it MUST be bad!

As a matter of fact, you need to be extremely careful when cleaning your registry; it is better not to clean the registry at all than deleting the wrong entries; the latter would do more harm than the former. On another note, the Windows™ registry is never too big to affect the overall performance of the system, provided that you have a decent machine with decent hard drive space and a good amount of RAM!  Still, if you want to keep the registry clean, stick with CCleaner and run its registry tool about once a month! :)

Of course, you also have the option of ignoring my Nuttie opinions and losing both your cash and computer! ;) (kidding) 

C. The Startup Cleaner

BTW, do you know that the more programs load at Startup the more time it would take your computer to actually start up? :D Not only that, this may also affect the speed and overall performance of your computer in a negative way. So it is a good idea to remove all the useless programs from the startup and keep only those which are of utmost important to you (such as, say your Anti Virus software, your desktop email client - in case you use one, Roboform, etc., just to give you a few examples).

The easiest way to clean the startup is by going to the "Tools=>Startup" tab of CCleaner; once there, right-click on any startup entry, and either disable or delete it. Oh one thing- first off all, please BACKUP all the startup entries to a text file before doing anything with them (don't ask me why, just do it ;) ); CCleaner offers you this option:


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Note that if you are not adept at understanding program entries then I suggest that you only DISABLE the entry from starting at startup instead of deleting it once and for all. Once deleted, it would be difficult to restore the entry back to the startup; on the other hand, you can easily re-enable a "disabled" entry at any time!

D. The System Restore Point Cleaner:

System restore points, created manually or automatically, can also eat up your hard drive space if they are not regularly removed! To remove a system restore point (I recommend you remove only the older ones and keep at least 2 latest system restore points intact), click on "Tools=>System Restore" of CCleaner, select a system restore point from the list, and click the "Remove" button to remove it!

2. Revo Uninstaller: As the name suggests, Revo helps you uninstall unnecessary programs from your PC.  Now you may be wondering if you even need such a program, considering that most programs come with their in-built installers. However the fact remains that most of these uninstallers are not able to remove the remnants of the programs completely; thus, even after a program has been uninstalled from your system, a few remnants, such as data files, dll files, logs, registry entries, etc., created by the program remain!

If allowed to accumulate, these remnants can not only take up a lot of your precious hard drive space but also slow down the performance of your system. If you really want to uninstall a program completely then you would need Revo. Personally, ever since I have found Revo I have stopped using the in-built uninstallers provided with the software programs.

Download link
Alternate Download Link

The software comes in two flavors: free and pro; you can choose to download what you want. Personally I am using the free version for a long time and am happy with it so far! My association with Revo began with this Google Desktop episode! :D

One good thing about Revo is that it offers you so much for free; I mean, forget about uninstalling programs, if you are interested in merely keeping your computer clean from junk, then also you NEED this tool!

Setting Up Revo Uninstaller:

As always, these are my settings which you are free to change, or even ignore. ;) To begin with, launch the program and click on "Options" tab at the top. Then go to the "Uninstaller" tab. As shown in the screenshot below, select to create a system restore point before uninstalling any program (thus, if your computer behaves weirdly after uninstalling a program, you can easily restore your computer to its old settings); also select to move all the deleted files only to the Recycle bin (if you don't check this option then Revo will delete the files completely, and thus, you will have no option to recover them in future should you need to).


Click on the image for a larger screenshot

Now click on the "Junk File Cleaner" tab. The default settings usually work good, but if you don't want to clean leftover files from a particular hard drive, you can uncheck that drive letter under the "Drives to Scan" option. Similarly, you can add or remove the type of file patterns you (don't) want Revo to delete from your hard drive! In the "Exclude" tab you can also specify the folder paths that you don't want to be deleted by Revo; as I said, the default settings work just fine! :)

Now close the options tab. Let us click on "Tools" at the top. Here you will find three types of tools:

a) The Autorun manager shows you a list of the programs running at startup. It is similar to the startup manager of CCleaner, in that you can easily uncheck a program that you don't want to run at startup, or check the one you want to be run at startup; and every time you do either of these, you would see a popup message confirming your actions! ;)

Say that I don't want Roboform to run at startup (this is an example only; do NOT do this stupid thing, lol):

Watch the Video:

Fun, eh! ;)

The next tab, "Windows Tools", offers you an easy way to access the core utilities that come by default with Windows. There is not much interesting stuff here so let us move on to the third tab.

This is where you get the "Junk Files" cleaner tool:

Watch the Video:

Don't worry my PC has a lot of junk stored (despite my regular weekly cleaning, lol) so it would take some time  to be cleaned. Therefore I just stopped the screen capture midway so as not to waste your time! Already you are so BORED! :D I hope the demo made sense, anyway! ;)

There is also a tool called "Hunter Mode". I have never used it but you can learn more about it here if you want to!

One cool feature of Revo is that it would let the default uninstaller of a program do its "cleaning" job first before removing the remaining parts of that program from your PC!

WARNING: At the final stage of program uninstallation, Revo would ask you whether you wish to delete certain invalid registry keys associated with the uninstalled program or not. SKIP this step! DO NOT use Revo to modify or delete your registry keys; I use CCleaner for that job!

You might be wondering why I am asking you to use CCleaner instead of Revo to clean invalid registry keys. I have a good reason behind it. When I first used Revo, I trusted it a bit too much and let it delete the invalid registry keys of an uninstalled program (but not before taking a backup of the whole registry).

Just after reboot, I saw that my Desktop icons are arranged in an odd fashion! No matter how many times I fix it, it would rearrange the icons again and again in its own haphazard fashion. I was quite dumfounded and not sure what to do. At last, I thought of restoring my registry keys from the backup. Things started working fine again!

After that, I used CCleaner to delete the invalid registry keys and nothing bad happened! There are so many programs out there, free and paid, which claim to keep your registry clean from junk, but CCleaner is the only program I trust for that department: not because it doesn't cost me a dime, but because it seems to know its job only too well!

Let us move on to de-fragmenting your hard drive! :D

3. Defraggler: Fragmentation occurs when your operating system (say, Windows™) breaks a file into two or more pieces due to lack of available storage space! To ensure the optimal usage of your hard drive space I recommend that you format your hard disk from FAT to NFTS file system at the very start (kindly note that once you format a hard drive, you will LOSE all data in it)! Here is some information on different file systems that you may want to read before doing anything. ;)

More articles:

NTFS vs FAT
NTFS vs. FAT

Okay back to topic - how fragmentation occurs, that is. Here is a very simple example.

Say that you type out a one-page article, and save it into a folder of your choice. The file size is, say, just 20 KB. Now one fine day you re-open that file and type a lot more, causing the file size to become 400 KB. :D Now, say that there is not enough space in that folder to save the bigger file. So what would Windows do? It would simply split your large file into one or more smaller parts – say, in the form of head, body, and tail - and store them in different parts of your hard drive! You won't even realize any of this, as the whole thing happens in the background. To the naked eye the whole file remains intact in the same folder just as it was before. :)

Such fragmentations can slow down your system in a big way over a period of time.

To give you a simple example, when you want to re-open that 400 KB file again your operating system has to call the head, body and tail of the file from several different places (just as it was originally stored) in order to open the full file, causing a big delay. Would not the file open faster if Windows could call the whole file from one place? Well, to achieve that end, you will need to de-fragment that file. ;)

De-fragmenting is nothing but a process that re-joins the head, body and tail of your big file with each other! :D  Now Windows will be able to open the big file faster! :D

If you got bored by this explanation here is a better explanation of the process. ;)    

You can download Defraggler below:

Download link
Alternate Download Link (WARNING: Filehippo's links expire after a certain time … I don't know the "magic number"; so when you are downloading anything from Filehippo, it is recommended that you download it immediately!)

Granted that Windows itself has an in-built tool to defragment your hard drive, but there are some special reasons why I am recommending Defraggler (and I don't get a penny of commission for this either ;) )!

Defraggler lets you:

1) Defrag an entire hard drive, or parts of it, such as specific files or folders, etc. I still prefer to defragment an entire hard drive anyway. ;)

2) Schedule defragmentation. As defragmenting your hard drive can considerably slow down your system speed for the moment, you may not want to do it when you are actively working on the computer. You can schedule the defragmentation at some other time, say evening or night! Let Defraggler defrag your system while you go out for a candlelight dinner with your date, and come back home to find a cleaner and faster PC! :D Just click on "Settings=>Options=Schedule" from the top menu to schedule Defraggler!

Watch the Video:

Or, if you want to go to sleep, just set Defraggler to shutdown your PC after the defragmentation is complete! To do this just click on "Settings=>Shutdown After Defrag" from the top menu. You can wake up in the morning and start your work on a faster and cleaner PC. Nice, eh? ;)

3. Lets you pause/stop the defragmentation process at any time. You can, if you want, resume the defragmentation process later on, or do nothing! :D Of course you should complete the defragmentation process in order to clean up your system fully! ;)

4. Lets you run a "Quick Defrag" on your hard drive. Defraggler offers two defragmenting options: "Quick Defrag" and "Defrag". If you are familiar with formatting your hard drive, the "Quick Defrag" option is quite similar to the "Quick Format" option of hard drive formatting! :) If you have never defragmented your hard drive before, you should run the "Defrag" option first! You can use the "Quick Defrag" option for subsequent defragmentations.

I believe that the "Quick Defrag" option cannot defrag a specific file or folder; it works only on a whole hard drive. If you wish to defrag a specific file or folder then use the "Defrag" option (please correct me if I am wrong ;) ) instead!

5. Lets you scan your hard disks for errors. I must say that this is one function of Defraggler I have not used yet! I mainly use the disk error checker that comes in-built in Windows. I cannot offer a valid reason for such a preference, except maybe, HABIT! :D

4. Filehippo Update Checker: Earlier I told you that the fewer programs run on your startup the faster your system would load! As much as running too many programs on startup can slow down the overall performance of your system, constant and frequent update checking by several programs can also have a similar effect!

Most programs run on startup with the sole aim of checking and/or downloading software updates automatically to your system. Examples of such programs are Java™, Adobe™, etc. Such programs can be from the startup!

Then there are others which run on startup not just to check for updates but also to protect your system in real-time from viruses and worms. Examples of such softwares are antivirus softwares, antispyware softwares, firewalls, etc. Such programs should NOT be removed from the startup!

As a matter of fact, I have disabled the "automatic update checker" in most of my software programs. Now you might be thinking that I overstrain my nerves by manually checking for updates of each and every software installed on my system! WRONG! Filehippo's update checker does that for me! :)

You can download the update checker tool from the link below. It is small and lightweight:

Download link (WARNING: Filehippo's links expire after a certain time … I don't know the "magic number"; so when you are downloading anything from Filehippo, it is recommended that you download it immediately!)

Filehippo's update checker is able to check for updates of most of the free/open source softwares (those which mainly offer free updates) such as Java™, Adobe™ Acrobat, Adobe™ Air, Filezilla, Skype, Firefox, and many others. As far as I know it cannot check for updates of commercial softwares, say, the Microsoft™ group of softwares, or Adobe's Dreamweaver™, etc. This is not a problem because in my experience free updates for commercial softwares are not as frequent as those of free/open secure softwares (the free updates offered by commercial softwares often come in the form of occasional bug fixes and patches).

Filehippo runs on your startup, but in my opinion running just one program on startup is much better than running a dozen or more, especially when that one program is able to do the jobs of all those programs! :D

Of course, you can also choose not to run it on startup if you want, but then you have to either run the update checker manually on a regular basis (quite a chore :P ) or use your system's in-built task scheduling service to schedule that chore! ;)

5. Using Open source media players: I know a lot of folks are partial to the Windows™ Media Player that comes in-built with most Windows installations (and is hard to get rid of even if you don't like it for some reason). Then there are others who have a special preference for RealPlayer™. I call them "old school" media players! :D I must confess that I have used these players in the past and initially, even liked them too, but in the end I gave them all up in favor of open source media players.

Unlike the "old school" media players which are usually memory hoggers and non-portable, the media players that I use are not only low on system resources, but also portable and can be carried to anywhere you want by putting them on to a USB Flash drive! :D

Maybe you would miss a feature or two in these free media players but I don't miss my old players at all; I have grown used to them ;)

The one I love most is the VLC media player. It has a portable version too, which is what I actually use! Oh yeah, even MAC users can use it.;)

VLC media player can play most file extensions pretty well. If you do encounter problems in playing any particular extension (such as .flv, .mov or .ram files) it can be easily fixed by installing additional codecs, such as Real Alternative (for playing RealAudio files) and QuickTime Alternative (for playing .mov files).

An alternative to VLC media player is SMPlayer, which is again portable. SMPlayer has one unique feature in that if a set of files within a folder are named in similar fashion (such as xxx part 1, xxx part 2, xxx part 3) it can play all the files in quick succession without any manual intervention on your part! :D On the flip side it has a habit of multiplying itself in the middle of playing a file, freezing and then crashing. :( Thankfully, it happens occasionally! Yet, unless you have a special preference not supported by VLC, I would not recommend this one. :)

Another media player I can safely recommend is Media Player Classic. I am not aware of a portable version of this player. I liked it a lot except that it cannot play all types of video formats (which is where VLC Media Player scores) and also, it has a boring, old-fashioned interface (boring at least to me); so I abandoned it. Nonetheless I can say it is a pretty good alternative to the dumb Windows™ media player. ;)

6. Cleaning the heat sink regularly: Have you been hearing an annoying, non-stop "fan sound" from your PC? If your PC or laptop is very old, you should vacuum your machine's heat sink (or hire someone to do it for you) at least once a year. The heat sink is a bladed metal tower located on top of the CPU chip. Its job is to save your PC from getting overheated; basically it works like a cooling fan for your PC. Usually it is covered by a plastic cover; once you lift that cover, you should be able to see through the blades.

Over time, dust accumulates in these blades which in turn causes overheating, the result of which is that "annoying fan sound". An extra indication of an overheated computer is sudden reboots (this symptom may not however show up in all computers) - you may notice that at times your machine shuts down and then reboots out of the blue and without any warning!

So how do you clean the heat sink? Like I said, you can always hire a techy to do it for you (that is what I do myself, anyway). Well, here are the basics:

Step 1: Get a good vacuum cleaner if you don’t have one already. Basically a small, portable vacuum cleaner would do. One important thing to note is that your vacuum cleaner should have a very long, skinny attachment; this helps clean the dust particles clogged in-between the blades. ;)

Step 2: First power down your computer, then unplug the power button in order to discharge whatever latent power is left there. ;)

Step 3: The next set of instructions are from another website. I found the instructions so nice (with pictures too) that I don’t think I need to bore you anymore here ;) Here are the instructions for those who wish to use a vacuum cleaner.

Here are a different set of instructions showing how to do the same thing using a screw driver and Q tips as tools.

Both the articles are on laptops, but I am sure that they (especially the first article) would be helpful even for Desktop users. Still, here is another set of instructions on cleaning the heat sink of a Desktop computer, in case you need it.;)

VERY important: You should vacuum clean the heat sink very gently, or you are in danger of dropping the tiny screws located there. 

Step 4: Once you clean the dust particles you would not only not hear the annoying fan sound any longer, but also be able to work on your computer with peace of mind (no more sudden reboots). If you live in a dusty environment (like me) you should also clean the wires at the back and bottom of your computer. :)
 
7. Using a good antivirus and spyware cleaner: Any novice computer user knows only too well how worms and viruses can cripple any good PC (and thanks to these viruses, the antivirus companies are able to run their million dollar businesses ;) ). Turn on your Windows™ firewall, use a good hardware firewall (this is especially important if you have a wireless connection or if you are an avid internet surfer like me) and install a decent antispyware-cum-antivirus software (Superantispyware does a really decent job as my computer's "real-time protector", without too many annoying popup messages unlike other security softwares; I also have Avira installed as a backup scanner; if you install both Superantispyware and Avira, be sure to turn OFF the "real-time" protection of at least one of them - if you have two active antivirus softwares running on your computer it may slow down your PC to a snail's speed! ;); as such, it is recommended that you keep only ONE active antivirus/anti-spyware software and turn OFF the "real-time" protection of any other antivirus software(s) you have)!

Above all, practice "safe internet surfing"- that is, avoid visiting adult/porn/warez sites or downloading anything from there. Also avoid downloading files using uTorrent or any other torrent clients, etc.

I have not felt the need of using a software firewall (yet) because I usually don't visit any "bad" site or use torrent clients! However, if you are an avid torrent user you may need to install a software firewall as well, such as Comodo (it works mainly on user-feedback, so might frustrate you a bit initially) or PeerGuardian (this is not exactly a firewall but an IP blocker tool that works pretty much hands-free). I have already discussed much of it in an earlier article so would not want to beat a dead horse anymore! :D

Note that ANY firewall, software or hardware, can mess with your internet connection! So, unless you know what you are doing, it is always safe to hire a trusted professional for installing these components on your system!

In spite of your best efforts, if at any time you believe that your computer has got infected with a virus or Trojan, download and run the free HijackThis tool on your computer and post the log on the Techsupportforum (read the rules please). They are usually very helpful! At the end of the article I will tell you of a few more forums where you can get "free expert help", but before that I would bore you a bit more! :D

8. Running disk error checkups, compressing old files and cleaning the recycle bin regularly: Very often we forget to do some simple things that would keep our hard drives healthy and extend their lifespan. I say "simple" because it really IS, more so because all the tools you need for the job are in-built into your operating system!

Running a Disk Error Checkup:

First, double-click on "My Computer", then right-click on the hard disk you want to check for errors and select the "Properties" option. Then follow this video:

Watch the Video:

Depending on the size of your disk and the number of files in it, the process may take a few minutes to several hours! This is something you can also do with Defraggler, as I have already mentioned above!

Compressing Old Files:

This saves your hard disk space and also improves your system performance to an extent. First, double-click on "My Computer", then right-click on the hard disk you want to check for error and select the "Properties" option. Then follow this video:

Watch the Video:

Depending on the size of your disk and the number of files in it, the process may take a few minutes to several hours!

Cleaning the Recycle Bin:

That is easy. Just right-click on your Recycle Bin and then select "Empty Recycle Bin" When asked for a confirmation, click "Yes".

8. Setting Your Virtual Memory to the Optimum level: Just having a 4GB RAM is not enough; you should also set your Virtual memory to a high level (this DOES NOT happen automatically, you have to do it yourself). To do this, right-click on "My Computer", select "Properties=>Advanced=>Performance=>Settings=>Advanced=> Virtual Memory=>Change". Once there, click on "Custom" and set both "Initial Size" and "Maximum Size" to at least 2048 MB or higher! Then click "Set". Then click "OK" all the way to the exit point! :D

Watch the Video:

Remember that when it comes to virtual memory, more is always better, but less is NOT; you can already see that my computer's Virtual memory is set to a much higher level than 2048 MB; after all, I am a full-time internet marketer and type many a boring articles here. :D

9. Getting Expert Help: Let me end this boring article by saying that if you ever need expert help regarding your computer you can reach out to these few forums (please do NOT bug me because I am not a "PC expert" LOL :D ):

http://www.computing.net/
http://techsupportforum.com
http://techguy.com
http://www.bleepingcomputer.com
http://www.techspot.com
http://forums.majorgeeks.com/
http://forums.driverguide.com/index.php
http://www.techimo.com/forum/
http://discussions.virtualdr.com/

Just as I have instructed you before in this article, be sure to post your HijackThis log on the forum along with your problem, especially if you suspect that your computer is infected with Trojan or virus.

If you are happy with this article, please click here to post a nice comment (this in turn makes me happy :) )! Thanks.

Disclosure: ArindamChakraborty.com is affiliated to Roboform , Superantispyware and Avira!

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Namecheap Coupon Codes for May 2010

Domain Registration Coupon: motherslove

With this code, you will be able to register domains with Namecheap for as little as $8.81 (instead of the regular 9.69)! Per my knowledge, this coupon code works with the following TLDs: .com, .net, .org, .us and .biz

Domain Transfer Coupon: switch2nc

Use this code when transferring domains from other domain registrars to Namecheap. Per my knowledge, this coupon code works with the following TLDs: .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz and .info

Web hosting Coupon: happydays

Save 10% on Namecheap's Basic Hosting, Business Basic, Business Elite, Email Hosting, Premium Hosting , Pro Hosting, Reseller Basic, Reseller Intermediate and Reseller Pro hosting plans

VPS Servers Coupon: iluvvps

If you want to buy new VPS servers from Namecheap, you can use the above coupon code:. This would give you 10% off on the regular price of any VPS plans of Namecheap.

Please contact Namecheap.com directly for more details!

Disclaimer: The owner of this blog accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the authenticity of the above information. Readers should contact Namecheap directly in case they need further clarification!

Disclosure: ArindamChakraborty.com is affiliated to Namecheap.com

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Namecheap Coupon Codes for April 2010

Domain Registration Coupon: APRILFUN

With this code, you will be able to register domains with Namecheap for as little as $8.81 (instead of the regular 9.69)! Per my knowledge, this coupon code works with the following TLDs: .com, .net, .org, .us and .biz

Domain Transfer Coupon: APRILFUN

Use this code when transferring domains from other domain registrars to Namecheap. Per my knowledge, this coupon code works with the following TLDs: .com, .net, .org, .us, .biz and .info

Web hosting Coupon: SmilewithNC

Save 10% on Namecheap's Basic Hosting, Business Basic, Business Elite, Email Hosting, Premium Hosting , Pro Hosting, Reseller Basic, Reseller Intermediate and Reseller Pro hosting plans

VPS Servers Coupon: EasterRabbit

If you want to buy new VPS servers from Namecheap, you can use the above coupon code:. This would give you 10% off on the regular price of any VPS plans of Namecheap.

Please contact Namecheap.com directly for more details!

Disclaimer: The owner of this blog accepts no responsibility whatsoever for the authenticity of the above information. Readers should contact Namecheap directly in case they need further clarification!

Disclosure: ArindamChakraborty.com is affiliated to Namecheap.com

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Attention Indian Paypal Users

For Indian Paypal™ users, there is some news. If you wish to withdraw money from Paypal to your Indian bank account you should read the following articles:

Labnol article (much better than the official Paypal blog's article)

Official Paypal Blog's Article

Extra Information (on Purpose codes)

In addition, you also need to enter your PAN number and mobile number in your Paypal account in order to be able to withdraw money to your bank. Right now I am skipping it by clicking on the "Help" link at the top and then clicking on the link that takes directly to my account. So far so good. Let us see…

Oh, by the way, you can find more information about the PAN stuff here and here. You can apply for your PAN number online by clicking here.

Disclaimer: I have not tried any of the techniques mentioned in the above articles and therefore cannot attest to the veracity of the content therein.

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