Lose all that fat
Have you noticed that the new Windows laptop or the branded PC you bought recently came preloaded with a lot of stuff you don’t actually need. Called “craplets”, these are unwanted third-party programs on a marketing jaunt—irritating trialware and often useless software that you hardly ever want and most often never bother to even look at.
The trouble is, every time you boot up your computer, these programs slow down the entire process and interfere with the system’s operations.
Illustration by Raajan / Mint
PC Decrapifier is designed to detect and delete all such annoying software. Don’t worry, you will always get to see what has been detected; if there is anything you want to keep, you can always retain it.
And no, the PC Decrapifier is not foolproof. It doesn’t catch and kill all irritants. You may still need to remove some of the garbage yourself. For a list of what is preordained to be zapped into the beyond as trialware, log on to to ‘www.pcdecrapifier.com/removes’ and take a look.
What’s that running?
Okay, now that you’ve lost the puppy fat, you still feel your machine is taking far too long to get started. Maybe you should look at the programs that are configured to automatically kick in when your system boots. Chances are, some malware may have sneaked in while you were looking the other way.
You can either do this by going to Start, Run and typing MSCONFIG, or have a program such as Autoruns do it for you.
Refreshed as recently as a few weeks ago, Autoruns is a very useful free software from Microsoft. It displays all the programs and services running on your PC with their details, such as associated files, service names and registry and file locations where application auto-start settings can be configured.
Armed with this information, you can weed out unnecessary stuff from the start-up sequence. The “Hide Signed Microsoft Entries” option here allows you to focus only on third-party software and thus play safe to a degree.
But it helps to be sure of what you’re doing. So always ask around if you’re uncertain and also note down exactly what you’re disabling. You see, disabling is a much safer option than permanent deletion.
Get your house in order
Saddled with a creaky old PC and sick of watching your nails grow as you wait for your applications to load up? You should try defragmenting your hard disk. Often, a PC becomes sluggish because of fragmentation of data. To get your house in order and push things up to speed in a situation like this, you need a catalytic tool such as UltimateDefrag. This Windows Vista and XP tool rejigs the placement of your applications and files on the hard disk for faster access. UltimateDefrag analyses disk usage patterns before placing least used data out of the way in slower regions of the drive while positioning the most accessed, top priority files and applications in the “hotter” areas.
Just as you need to get your car serviced every now and then, you need to put your PC in order. No, that doesn’t mean sending it off to your friendly neighbourhood PC repair guy for a wash-up. You need a system optimization program such as Advanced WindowsCare V2 Personal.
This nifty freebie performs almost as much as it promises. As a system repair-optimize-protect tool, it helps speed up older computers and mitigates system crashes, freezes and lock downs. It does so by sprucing up your Windows start-ups and shutdowns, ridding the registry (a vital information storehouse of the connected hardware as well as system application and memory settings) of unnecessary data entries, fixing errors, and shooting down intrusive spyware (programs that gather information about your browsing and relay them to advertisers or others).
The program is not scary to use if you’re not overly phobic about all things that look and sound techie. Just remember to backup your settings whenever prompted before starting the optimization routines and all will be well.
It’s all about efficiency
This is another very good all-in-one Swiss knife for system spiffing. You can use it to tackle slow systems, slovenly start-ups and shutdowns, registry riddles and all sorts of other sinister stealthware. Run a Glary scan to get a report on various issues concerning your computer—from waif (broken) program short cuts to mystifying applications errors, duplicate files lurking in various folders to forgotten empty folders and overall disk space usage stats.
Then choose which of these you want to be acted upon. For instance, if you want to retain duplicate copies of some files on your hard disk, you can tell the program to leave them alone.
Glary can handle Windows start-up program tweaking, uninstall applications, encrypt-decrypt files, split (and rejoin) large files into smaller ones for convenient mailing, manage browser add-ons, optimize memory and securely delete files.
You can also use the program to wash away your Net surfing footprints and eradicate temporary files to maintain privacy. And apart from spyware intrusions, it can block Trojans and adware encroachments.
Update your software
Have you ever heard of a “vulnerability scanner”? This is a piece of code that looks for and maps weaknesses in an application, computer or network. These weaknesses are actually programming flaws that can be exploited by a hacker and thus impact the security of your system.
And these vulnerabilities could be anywhere—right from the operating system to your mail program, the work processor to your instant messaging applications. A vulnerability scanner such as Secunia PSI assesses the software installed on your PC, determines if any applications lack security updates and provides a detailed report of the ones requiring security-related updates. But how can a vulnerability scanner speed up a PC? Quite simply by telling you if you are running outdated application versions. As it ensures that the applications on your PC are up to date and replete with the required security patches, the programs automatically run faster and without interference.
Remember, Secunia PSI doesn’t check whether your PC has been compromised or not. It only tells you the possible weak spots. So you still need to install an anti-virus program and firewall to shield your PC.
Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ever wonder what your gadgets would say if they could talk? Toshiba’s TLP-X200U mobile projector answers that question for you via a built-in voice technology system. The 4.4-pound projector orally guides you through its operating instructions and also speaks up when it needs a tune-up. The X200U’s female voice says “Check the air filter for dirt” when it is time for a cleaning. When the lamp needs to be replaced, the projector will tell you so. The X200U has a projection distance of up to 35.9ft and is available for $1,740. It seems all that talk doesn’t come cheap. Azadeh Ensha
©2008/ The New York Times