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Guide Computer Self Help: An Extensive List

Discussion in 'Technical News and Help' started by Erik, May 2, 2014.

  1. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2,861
    I’ve recently noticed that there are members who mostly ask for computer related help, some of them get too quite complicated and a bit advanced for them to do alone. So, we’ll have this all in one guide of computer essentials, and we’ll also have guides here into taking care of your computer.

    This thread will focus on lists of programs commonly used in our computers for productivity, security and others. This will also “eventually” include guides and how to’s for easier troubleshooting of your system. All this is done as a guide for anyone who requires tools and programs in their computer and soon guides in optimising system performance and security.



    I. Antivirus Programs List

    One important thing that you always need in your computer is an antivirus program. These guys serve as your basic protection from any harmful software in your system. It is important to note that having an AV software and leaving it running in the background is not enough, and updating virus definitions plus a monthly full system scan is still recommended.

    The list indicated below are antivirus programs widely used all over the world. I will not indicate pros and cons as they all offer similar protection, but all of them will not be able to provide 100% protection. As such, choosing an antivirus program all depends on personal preference.

    Click the images to go to website (most of them have free versions)

    1. Avast! Antivirus
    [​IMG]

    2. AVG
    [​IMG]

    3. Avira
    [​IMG]

    4. Bitdefender
    [​IMG]

    5. Comodo Antivirus
    [​IMG]

    6. Eset Nod32
    [​IMG]

    7. Kaspersky
    [​IMG]

    8. McAfee
    [​IMG]

    9. Microsoft Security Essentials
    [​IMG]

    10. Panda Antivirus
    [​IMG]

    11. Quick Heal
    [​IMG]

    12. Norton
    [​IMG]

    13. Trend Micro
    [​IMG]


    II. AntiMalware Programs

    While most antivirus programs detect various kinds of viruses, only a few of them effectively detects and cleans malware. As malware is a varied form of a virus (hijacks, Trojans, adwares, and spywares) and can be made easier than general viruses, most recommend to have one antivirus program and another, an antimalware program or efficient cleaning of systems.

    Important: Check the details of the program if your antimalware has compatibility issues with your antivirus.

    1. Lavasoft Ad Aware
    [​IMG]

    2. Malwarebytes AntiMalware
    [​IMG]

    3. Spybot Search & Destroy
    [​IMG]

    4. SuperAntiSpyware
    [​IMG]

    5. Webroot
    [​IMG]



    III. Advanced Cleaning Programs

    1. Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool
    This software from Microsoft acts similar to any antimalware. Other antimalware programs are indeed more effective than Microsoft’s own, but there are some malware that this program can detect effortlessly.

    http://www.microsoft.com/security/pc-security/malware-removal.aspx



    2. Super AntiSpyware Portable
    There are some malware that blocks known programs from executing, or that blocks known antimalware programs from being installed in your computer. This program can then be transferred to a USB drive and install to an infected computer. This has the latest definitions so it won’t require an internet connection and is named differently so malware programs may not block it. Download only when necessary

    http://www.superantispyware.com/portablescannerhome.html



    3. SpywareBlaster
    This can be your third level of protection against malware. SpywareBlaster can co-exist with existing security programs and blocks malware before they can even install themselves.

    https://www.brightfort.com/spywareblaster.html



    4. RogueKiller **Advanced**
    This is a program which scans running programs in your computer, and if it finds something malicious, it kills them. As this requires tapping into all running programs in your computer, I can only recommend this to use by professionals. However, if you require real help, you need to take scan logs of this program and share it to a malware removal community such as Majorgeeks or Roguekiller’s own forum
    (remember, just scan and do not fix anything!)


    http://www.adlice.com/softwares/roguekiller/



    5. Hitman Pro **Advanced**
    Hitman Pro is not necessarily a first line of defense, but essential to crawl through your computer for known malware. This essentially scans your computer for infections but caution should be advised as deleting some of them may cause your system to crash. Use this one only to get opinions from professionals.

    - http://www.surfright.nl/en/hitmanpro



    6. TDSSKiller **Advanced**
    This program is from Kaspersky and is used to detect rootkits in your system. Rootkits are malicious programs hiding in your computer and has been estimated that at least 45 million computers have been affected. Anyone may use this but it is recommended to let the program continue with the default recommended action on each infection it detects.

    http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/tdsskiller/



    7. HijackThis **Advanced**
    This program scans your computer for registry entries and then you may manually select which ones to remove. THIS DOES NOT DETECT MALICIOUS ENTRIES BUT DETAILS ALL ENTRIES INTO A LOG FILE. As the registry is one of the most important sections of your system to run programs, extreme caution should be done when using HijackThis. Copy the log and paste it to http://www.hijackthis.de/ to see the results of each entry the program has scanned to get additional support.

    http://download.cnet.com/Trend-Micro-HijackThis/3000-8022_4-10227353.html



    IV. Other Essential Tools

    1. Ccleaner
    Typically the best computer cleaner everyone has seen. Cleans your temporary files, recycle bin, and other unwanted files in your computer. Also has a uninstall tool for easy uninstallation of programs.

    http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner


    2. Defraggler
    A lightweight defragmentation tool to optimise your computer’s drive performance. It is recommended to defrag your computer regularly to maintain your hard drive’s performance in running programs.

    http://www.piriform.com/defraggler
  2. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2,861
    V. Password Managers

    Password Managers are essential for anyone who would like to use different passwords and keep them safely. As keyloggers are present in both hardware and software hacks, this secures you that no one will be able to know your password, as long as you keep your passwords complicated to guess.

    1. Dashlane
    [​IMG]

    2. Keeper
    [​IMG]

    3. LastPass
    [​IMG]

    4. Password Box
    [​IMG]

    5. Roboform
    [​IMG]


    VI. Cloud Storage / Backup Services

    As computer attacks are all too common, and also business files are always needed to be in a safe place, Cloud storage services are becoming one of the hottest industries as an essential for computers. These storage options have free spaces for anyone to use and all these programs below have available desktop applications for easier access.


    1. Microsoft OneDrive
    Free 7 GB, Additional 8 GB Possible
    [​IMG]
    2. DropBox
    Free 2 GB, Refer people to get more space
    [​IMG]
    3. Google Drive
    Free 15 GB
    [​IMG]

    4. Box
    Free 10 GB
    [​IMG]

    5. MediaFire
    Free 50 GB
    [​IMG]


    VII. Microsoft Office Alternatives

    Not everyone would like to leak money for office applications, especially if you would use it only for yourself. These alternatives for Microsoft's popular Office Suite will help you get through making documents and presentations without the need to pay up (shortly, FREE!)

    1. OpenOffice
    [​IMG]

    2. LibreOffice
    [​IMG]

    3. SSuite Office
    [​IMG]

    4. Kingsoft Office
    [​IMG]

    5. SoftMaker Free Office
    [​IMG]


    VIII. Photoshop Alternatives

    Photoshop has been the core source of advance image editing and widely used by designers, photographers, and other image professionals. But with its steep price, this is not always the go to program for individuals. Here are the free alternatives that you could use to edit your images for websites and listings.

    1. GIMP
    [​IMG]

    2. Paint.net
    [​IMG]

    3. Inkscape
    [​IMG]

    4. Pixlr (Web Based / Access over your browser)
    [​IMG]


    Bonus: Fotosizer
    This program is a bulk resizer program which you could resize all your chosen images with just 1 click
    [​IMG]




    Feel free to reply to add other programs in our list! :D
    Last edited: May 14, 2014
  3. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2,861
    Guide I – Speed up your computer’s startup

    New computers (and ones with a freshly installed Operating System) always perform at peak performance. Over time though, this performance degrades and you might experience slowdowns when booting up Windows, worse, it could be slowing down at a faster rate than you think.

    In a span of months, your computer “gets heavier” with all the data you have and the programs it runs, which is why good careful maintenance is needed for your computer to “gain weight” at a good pace and keeping everything balanced according to your system’s age. Removing files and some programs may not just cut it, so here’s a simple tweak to manage your computer’s performance and get it to boot a little bit faster than how it is now.

    1. On your keyboard, press the “Windows” Key and the “R” Key. This should open up the Run Window on your screen.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    2. In the Run Window, type in msconfig.exe and hit “OK”. Msconfig is the system’s main configuration window where you have multiple options to tweak your computer, or, if you are not too careful, corrupt it. So, be careful where you tread from here!
    [​IMG]




    3. On the msconfig window, click on the “Startup” tab. You should see a number of checked programs; these are the programs that are meant to run when you start up Windows. From here, you may uncheck the programs that you would not like to automatically start up. Reminder though, be sure to check the manufacturer of each program so you could determine which ones you would like to run or otherwise.

    As an example, programs from Intel should always run (as they usually are connected to a hardware part in your computer), but Adobe Update may be unchecked as all they do is check of updates (**Adobe, Java, Google startup programs can always be disabled as you can just run them afterwards anyway)
    [​IMG]


    4. Next, go to the Services Tab and you will see another list. But, before doing anything, check the box below that says “Hide all Microsoft Services”. This is important so you will not make any critical mistakes in tweaking (these services are essential to run your system). You will be left with all third party services, which you could again view and uncheck what is not needed for your system to run (Adobe programs are again in here). This part is a little tricky as this tab also includes services for other hardware parts (like the service for a laptop’s touchpad and camera). Make sure you review them first (if you are unsure, google the name of the program, and you’ll usually find an answer) before you uncheck each one you are unfamiliar with.

    This step is a little bit controversial, as feedbacks are split on this step. Tweaking this section is indeed helpful, but not by much, and the effects can only be felt if your computer has low memory capacity (RAM). If your computer has a hefty one, or not really comfortable tweaking this part, I would recommend skipping this step altogether.
    [​IMG]


    5. Once you’re done with the disabling, click on Apply and OK and if it prompts you to restart your computer, click on Restart. This ultimately not speeds up your boot from off time to all operational, but helps your system get a lighter load in starting up programs after Windows goes on (that means less time seeing the “Busy” mouse icon after Windows has started up).



    Tips to Speed up your system:

    1. Uninstall some programs you no longer need – some of those forgotten programs may still have startup commands in your system which loads up every time you start Windows. Uninstalling them may at least help lessen the load.

    2. Always clean your computer of unwanted files – Your recycle bin still indexes the files in it, so cleaning them up regularly may reduce hard drive spin times and use it to load up other services instead. A program such as Ccleaner could help you with clearing unwanted files.

    3. Defragment your computer – After a lot of installs, uninstalls, copy and deletes, your hard drive will be jam packed and parts of those files could be cluttered in your system. Defragmenting may help your hard drive re-organise those files so it will be easier for your drive to read. Guide on this later on.

    4. Virus Scan – System slowdowns may be caused by viruses or other malicious programs, if this is the case, update and scan your system with your antivirus program and clean any infected file that may be detected. More on how to effectively clean your system later on.

    5. Get more RAM – Laptops and Desktops can have their RAM easily upgraded, which could mean a higher capacity in handling running programs. The more RAM you have, the less you need to worry about memory crashdowns on extensive programs like Photoshop or even your browser.

    6. Get a Solid State Drive – This will be the best option for you to get your system running at blazing speeds. These drives could be costly though, but startups and program executions will be a breeze when you use at least one SSD for your computer.
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2014
  4. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2,861
    **Reserved for Next Post**
  5. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
    Messages:
    14,067
    How about how to get Win8 to act normal and get rid of all that crap on the side? Start at the desktop and go from there.......
  6. triple A+

    triple A+

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2011
    Messages:
    71
    I abandoned MS five years ago. Linux only now, just love it! Don't need an anti virus.
  7. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2,861
    Haha, I plan to do step by step instructions on how to do things too Pete (it takes a bit too long to write :( ) and personally I hate Windows 8 myself that's why I stick to 7 ;). I think that you are referring to those clutter that comes along with Windows 8, so here's something you could do:

    1. Ensure that you are updated to Windows 8.1. To double check, click the link below:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/which-operating-system
    Make sure you are updated to 8.1 else things might not work (I can't see what will happen anyway)

    2. On your Start screen, press and hold your left mouse button on any app you'd like to remove. Alternatively you can just right click on the app. Options in managing apps should show up. You could select multiple apps in this method so right click each one you'd like to remove.

    3. On the options at the bottom of your screen, click on uninstall and there should be a confirmation pop-up. Once you're sure about all this just click the "uninstall" button and they should already be removed from there.

    So for your visual reference, here's a video on how to do it:


    Linux is a very good platform imo, used it for a few months actually. Only thing that reverted me back to Windows is the number of games I can play without issues :D (and I'm more familiar with using Windows lol)
    Pete likes this.
  8. Pete

    Pete

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    14,067
    Thanks, EriK.
  9. Virtual Phone Numbers

    Virtual Phone Numbers

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2009
    Messages:
    312
    Although big fanfare was made about Microsoft changing Windows 8.1 to include the standard 'start' button at the bottom left of the screen, they still failed to return the actual start menu. The fancy start button they have returned to the bottom left corner does the same thing as pressing the windows button on the keyboard.

    Although I was originally annoyed by the change in Windows 8, the reality is this is probably the future and therefore, if you can't beat them join them - it's not that bad once you're used to it.
  10. Dean

    Dean

    Joined:
    May 22, 2008
    Messages:
    9,437
    I spent many years as a Unix/Linux programmer/support tech but I still use Windows! Just renewed the office PCs and went with Windows 7. Didn't want to risk not liking Win 8. Hopefully by the time I need to upgrade again they will have made a decent job of Windows 9!
  11. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
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    14,067
    My real concerns with both 7 and particularly 8 are that I can't run my Quickbooks 2005 on them.. I don't do anything fancy, just simple invoicing and such, no bells and whistles, but it looks like I'll have to shell out a couple of hundred just to use quickbooks. My old Office still works with them both, but the version I have does not include printing as pdf and my pdf print program won't work with 8, either. But, I'm at the can't beat 'em,join them stage myself. Just got to keep up.

    Been through Xenix, CP/M, several versions of DOS and every version of Windows, I guess I'll survive. :)
  12. psxgamer

    psxgamer

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2009
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    Maybe worth to add programms to your list such as Paint.net and GIMP. Never heard of it until people told about it on TWF. Now the programms I use for simple graphical things.

    Another very handy programm is Fotosizer.

    Perfect for the pictures on you website. You can resize your pictures all at once with 1 mouseclick. If you upgrade to the paid version ($ 10 or so) you can add a watermark + some other features.

    I tried a few others of these freeware programms but Fotosizer is by far the best.
  13. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
    May 30, 2005
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    I'm sure there are hundreds, probably thousands of specialized programs that no longer work. So far, day to day my biggest complaint, other than quickbooks not working, is the change in the layout of Windows Explorer. I'm into and out of so many different things in a day, that is pretty much my operation center. After nearly 2 decades of similar operation, it's hard to get used to the new layout.
  14. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
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    I think one mistake that Microsoft had is to make Windows 8 more friendly to touch based computing rather than desktop use. I could not really make it as a total mistake since the future really means that the shift would go to touch computing, but the fact is there are still millions around who are more focused on the method we're familiar due to the number of years people used 98 XP Vista and 7. True that we have to accept the changes either way but they should have not made it everything in one go.

    Lol, there's a pattern into it ;). MS made 98 popular, then XP became a huge hit. ME followed and became a total fail, then Vista which also becomes an unpopular one. 7 hit then 8 a miss. There's a 50/50 chance that 9 would be better in my view then lol.


    That's probably one of the few things quite irritating about big programs bought by consumers, there's always a high chance that older programs won't support newer OS's and you have to buy again. Marketing ploy I think :D

    Thanks Koen. Yes, I intend to include those programs too, but there's a lot of programs out there and I weigh them in first to be included in the list (market use, popularity etc). Paint.net and GIMP will do make the cut, I'll take a look at Fotosizer if it has great market reviews :)
  15. Pete

    Pete

    Joined:
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    There was a day when Bill Gates swore backwards compatibility forever. What a joke.

    It's not the software developers who limit the use of their products, it's the changes in the OS that make the software impossible to use. Thousands of vertical market software did not all sit around and say we are going to make this where it won't work with the next version of Windows. The fact is that not only Win 8, but the architecture of the underlying hardware have been altered beyond anything imagined several years ago. It's as much the latest hardware as it is Win 8, I would guess.
  16. psxgamer

    psxgamer

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    There is also a guy that said that DSR would never be used to punish an Ebayseller. And that't the only thing this DSR has been used for.
  17. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
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    Updated with Cloud Storage Solutions, Office and Photoshop alternatives. Coming next, some useful guides!

    Thanks @psxgamer (Koen) for Fotosizer, very nice app! Added it to the list!
  18. Erik

    Erik

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    Updated with guide to speed up system startup! :)
  19. Dean

    Dean

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    I've just discovered that moving to an SSD helps a lot with this :D
  20. Erik

    Erik

    Joined:
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    Indeed, Dean. A number of companies have already proven this and to visually help, here's a video comparing an SSD vs the usual Hard Drive:

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