Sunday, February 3, 2013

Useful Posts From 2011 Brought Back to Life

I was reviewing some of the best  posts (in my opinion) published in the past couple of years and came across the following series : HOW TO KEEP YOUR COMPUTER IN TOP SHAPE, which I think are well worth replublishing, so here goes:


Hi you all,

As you may have noticed I have been very slow in publishing new posts lately. I apologize to all of you but especially to those who are frequent visitors.

No escuses except perhaps, this is still summer, you get somewhat lazy and sometimes not being able to think or find good stuff that will keep you interested and ready to come back at a later time.

This week I just finished building the best computer I ever built... just think: I put together a machine that among other things has a six core 3.7 MHz AMD Phenon 1100T processor, a top of the line ASUS mother board SABERTOOTH 990 FX, AME+, 16 GB high speed RAM memory, a Sapphire Radeon 6770 GDDR5 graphics card, 750 watt power supply and 2 hard drives each 1000 GB SATA 6 units and of course a computer case with a superior cooling system that will last forever.

This is quite a machine and the best part is that the mother board will be capable to handle any future super processors that AMD still has on the drawing board. This means that I will be able to keep this computer up to date just by upgrading when new and better stuff comes up.

I know you are already asking, "how much did you spend in this machine, George, is it worth it?" It cost me a shade below $900.00, but please note that I am using my old monitor, keyboard and mouse. I have seen computers that are not even close in quality and capability advertised in computer magazines for well over $2,000.00.

I intend to keep this computer for a long long time, therefore I intend to keep very good care of it, the same way I always have taken care of my other past computers.

This really is the main subject of this post: " HOW TO KEEP YOUR COMPUTER IN TOP SHAPE "

You can check the archives of this blog and you will find an endless number of posts that address this subject; that can be time consuming, however well worth it.

I'll try to explain the best I can, how I do it myself and save you some time. It is not hard but it requires some patience a a little dedication at first, however once you start the process it will become easier and easier and above all prevent many headaches in the future.

Of course many of you already follow many of the procedures I'm about to tell you and that is great. However, hardly a week goes by that I don't get calls from friends and other people asking for help because their computer froze, died, can't run some software etc.

This is all for today. I will get you all the details throughout the rest of the week, I promise. This way you'll have to come back to read the blog and find out about what I do about maintenance, virus protection, free and paid software and utilities I use, how to create a complete image of your hard drive, how to set up an automated back up system etc. etc.

See you soon,

George Freire


As promised, here we are again on the subject of my last post.

First let's outline most of the disrupting situations that can get the good operation of ANY computer totally out of control, not necessarily by order of importance:

-Virus, phishing, spam and pop-up attacks.
-Fragmentation of drives.
-Registry disruptions.
-Software installation gone wrong.
-Program deleting errors.
-Remnant files, temporary files, trash files left on the hard drive.
-Poor cooling of main components especially the CPU, hard drive, RAM memory package
and GPU unit.
-Poor back up of your computer hard drive where all your important files are located.
-Accumulation of internet downloaded and browsing history files.
-Not updating Windows and other software programs on a regular basis.
-Not making sure that all your program drivers are the latest available.

The above are for sure the main causes of most computer problems, computer slowdowns and worse of all, computer failure and loss of all your valuable files.

All of you will be able to prevent most of the above situations from happening. You must prepare yourselves with a proper maintenance routine and of course install good reliable, (not necessarily expensive and some free), utility programs.

This is where I can help you by describing what I do to protect my computers which, ( knock on wood), have been operating trouble free for many years, save some exceptions now and then which can be easily resolved.

For now, just read the above list of possible problems and think hard: how many have I come across and what have I done to fix them?

It is late in the afternoon, time for dinner. We will continue tomorrow.

George Freire

Hi again,

Before reading this post, please review the two previous posts of September 26 and 27.

Let's start with the most important subject of security: protection against viruses, spam, phishing and other disrupting attacks all computers are subject to.

Most of you I am sure, have some kind of protection through an antivirus, anti spyware and other similar programs. The problem is that many of you, (I know because I come across it all the time when friends call me for help), do not keep or forget to keep these programs updated on a regular basis, or forget to pay the annual fees that many of these programs require.

Those of you who have Windows 7 are in better shape than those who have earlier versions of Windows, because this version has quite a lot of built in safety programs such as a much better firewall , spyware and popup blockers. Also, both Internet Explorer 8 and 9, come with good malware and phishing built in protection. Regardless of all this, you still will require a good anti virus program.

If you just bought a new computer or you are planning to buy one, most likely it comes with some form of anti virus program, such as Norton or other similar programs already installed. HOWEVER, such programs are try-outs that will expire normally within 90 days at which time you must sign up and pay the annual fee, otherwise the program will stop working.

Here is my advice:

I myself use in my 3 computers my favorite security program NORTON 360. The license fee is about $69.00/year but you can use the program in as many as 3 computers, so you can install this program in two other computers owned my family members, friends etc. and share the cost with them...

NORTON 360 is a very complete program because it includes many exceptional features other than just virus protection such as security protection for web browsing and email, identity protection, computer back up protection, PC tune up including disk optimization, files clean up, registry clean up, diagnostic report, start up manager improvement and many more other useful features.

There are a few other programs that are excellent and free to use. My favorites are :

-Microsoft Security Essentials anti virus utility.

-Avira AntiVir Personal Free Antivirus.

Avira free version is one of the best available and will take care of most daily problems confronting computers that browse the Internet, however they also have the premium version, ($29.00 fee/year), which is very much on top of the class.

You can find all the details for the above mentioned programs by checking the following links:

Enough for today. I think I have given you plenty of info for you to browse the above, download the programs and start giving your computer the best protection available today.

This week-end we'll explore other subjects such as drives fragmentation, registry optimization and how to back up your hard drive in such a way, that you will be able to recover all your installed software, (including the operating system), and all your files, should your hard drive fail or die from old age.

See you soon.

George Freire


Hi again,

For those who did not read our last three posts of September, please read them before you read this post.

Today let's talk about drives fragmentation, registry disruptions and how to uninstall programs no longer used, but still using a lot of space in your hard drive.

Because hard drives capacities have greatly increased in the last couple of years and storage is now relatively inexpensive, most computers now come with 1GB hard drives. High capacity hard drives even if somewhat fragmented, do not cause great problems and do not really need to be defragmented every few days as it is the norm with smaller capacity drives, 250 GB to 500GB and the like.

HOWEVER, it is always advisable to defragment your hard drives, (less frequently for larger ones and more frequently for smaller ones). All version of Windows for the last 10 years have a defragmentation program, (control panel/system and security/administrative tools/defragment your hard drive), but this program takes forever to defragment the whole drive, so if you want to use it, schedule it for a time you are not using your computer, such as late evening.

I don't use this Windows program. There are several defragmentation programs available on the market some you have to pay for, others are totally free. My favorite, (which is free to download), does an excellent job and can be scheduled to operate whenever the computer is not being used. Since it operates continuously, the end result is that your hard drive is always in a very low status of fragmentation. To download and install this program, "Smart Defrag 2", click on the following link and follow the instructions:

Registry disruptions possibly cause the most problems in your computer. Some registry files can be corrupted, half empty, no longer in use etc.. This happens because when you install just about any program or download stuff from the Internet, registry files related to such programs or downloads are created in the Widows registry. When you uninstall a program using Window Uninstaller, some files related to that program, most of the time remain in the Windows registry. These registry files can accumulate and after a while you have a big mess, that causes considerable slowdowns in the operation of your computer.

There are two ways to get rid of such files: use an uninstaller program that leaves no file remnants in the registry and use another program that cleans the registry.

I use a wonderful free uninstaller program that when started, opens a window which includes and shows every program and other software that are installed in your computer! Is also great just to show you all the software you have in your hard drive, (new, old, stuff you haven't used in ages etc.etc.).

All you have to do is click on the icon of the program you want to uninstall, select the uninstall button, click and presto, uninstalling starts immediately. At the end of the uninstallation, this program shows you all the remnant files left over in the registry and gives you the choice to delete them. Here you have to be careful, because only the files shown in bold are safe to delete. This little jewel of a program is called "REVO UNINSTALLER". It can be downloaded free by clicking the fol.lowing link:

Registry cleaning programs are in most cases included in utility software programs designed for good computer maintenance such as "Registry Mechanic", "Ashampoo Win Optimizer", "Advanced System Care" and others, but these are my favorites.

You may download these and test them free, (Google the titles and you'll be directed to the Web sites where you can do it), however in order to take full advantage of their capabilities you must buy the full premium program. You really do not need to have them all; download the free trial versions, try them and then decide which one you like the best and buy it. Cost for these is normally less than $20.00 but really well worth it.

This is it for today. Soon I'll discuss the other subjects of interest such as drivers updates, back up your computer, keep your computer booting as short as possible AND OTHER SUBJECTS THAT YOU MAY WANT TO DISCUSS. ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS POST YOUR QUESTIONS.

See you soon,

George Freire


Hi again,


First things first: in order to have a complete and safe back up of your hard drive, it is obvious that doing the back up in a separate folder in your hard drive is not the way to go; why? if your hard drive fails, there goes your back up too.

So, what should you do?

Get an external hard drive or another internal hard drive that you can install in your computer. The first option is by far the best because all you have to do is connect it to your computer via an USB terminal.

The second option, with due respect, can be a little difficult for those who are not very familiar with the computer internal components.

External drives are not expensive anymore. You can buy a 500 GB external drive for less then $100.00, (they used to cost #200.00/$300.00 in the past), and it is an absolute must to have.

How to do a complete back up? it is not that difficult. If you have Windows 7, it is really quite easy.

Click Start, go to control panel/ system security/backup and restore.

This will open a window, "Backup or Restore your Files". There you will be able to set up a schedule for regularly back up you files, (I am nor going into details, just read the instructions), but before you do that I strongly recommend that you create a system repair disk and a system image of your hard drive. All you have to do is click each title on the left column of the window and follow instructions.

A system image is an exact copy of a drive. By default, a system image includes the drives required for Windows to run. It also includes Windows and your system settings, programs, and files. You can use a system image to restore the contents of your computer if your hard disk or computer ever stops working. When you restore your computer from a system image, it's a complete restoration—you can't choose individual items to restore, and all of your current programs, system settings, and files are replaced with the contents of the system image.

Although this type of backup includes your personal files, we recommend that you back up your files regularly using Windows Backup so that you can restore individual files and folders as needed. When you set up Windows Backup, you can let Windows choose what to back up, which will include a system image, or you can select the items that you want to back up and whether you want to include a system image.

If your computer contains several drives or partitions, you can create a system image that includes all of them by following the steps in Back up your programs, system settings, and files.

There is a very good free utility that does all this, perhaps more efficiently : Macrium Reflect Free Edition. You can download this very good program by clicking the following link:

I think I have given you plenty to work with for the week-end. Of course I am talking to those of you who do not yet have taken care of your computer back up procedures. I hope most of you have already done it if so great.

See you soon.

George Freire


Today I'll discuss another issue that is also important for a good computer management and safety:

-How to keep track of drivers for all your computer components and peripherals:

Drivers can get outdated in a hurry. If this happens you have a choice: go to the Webpage of your component or peripheral manufacturer and download the latest drive available for the product. This can be somewhat time consuming, therefore I am going to let you know about a free utility that will help you out: Double Driver 4.1

PCWorld describes the Double Driver utility as follows:

One of the main reasons why you would want to collect installed drivers is if you don’t have the Driver CD that came with the computer or they are unavailable online. This comes in quite handy if you purchase a computer and want to backup the initial set of drivers. It can be quite difficulty for example to find drivers for hardware installed in a notebook if the operating system has to be setup again. Luckily Double Driver can now lend you a hand with that and save you a lot of time.

Double Driver is a very simple and useful tool which not only allows you to view all the drivers installed on your system but also allows you to backup, restore, save and print all chosen drivers.

Double Driver analyzes your system and lists the most important driver details such as version, date, provider, etc. All drivers that are found can easily be backed up the application and easily restored at a later point in one go.

Double Driver is freeware. Feel free to use and give this program to anyone you know. Your donation or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

To download this utility go to:

See you again soon


I hope the above republished posts will be very very useful to you all.


George Freire


Santos Oliveira said...

Muito Úteis as tuas dicas, George.
Talvez seja complicado para mim, mas não para quem me "assiste" na prática.
Fico-te imensamente grato.

Um grande abraço, do

Santos Oliveira

George Freire said...

Caro Santos Oliveira,

Obrigado pelas tuas sempre amaiveis palavras.