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Dr Archeville

Computer Corner

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We all access this site primarily from a computer of some sort. When our computers go down, we can't access the site, and withdrawal symptoms start up.

First up: security.

I recommend AVG + Ad-Aware over McAfree any day of the week and twice on Sundays.
... McAfee... never seems to give anybody anything but trouble. I switched to Avast ages ago to stop it.
McAfee is a turd. And not a polished one at that.

http://www.malwarebytes.org/
if you have a smartphone, you can download the app there. You'll likely have a way to connect your phone to your computer's USB port and transfer the installer.

Another option would be to go to your local library, download it onto a flash drive and bring it home. Ask Doc how wonderful libraries are! ;)

(Libraries are great!)

My work comp's been BSoDing lately, and the IT Lady suggested SUPERAntiSpyware, which she says it the best free antispyware around. I ran it, it found 400+ tracking cookies that AdAware (which I've used for years) and Avast (which I've recently heard Very Good Things about) had missed.

Does anyone else have experience with SUPERAntiSpyware?

Next, backups:

Windows 7 is pretty good. I just skipped Vista entirely and went from XP to 7, and so far 7 holds up as well as XP did.

I really can't recommend enough that, finances permitting, you (and everybody else) acquire an external hard drive and backup your data on a regular basis. I got a 500gig USB drive for around $90 a couple years ago, and it was the best computer-related money I ever spent, hands-down. It really takes a load off your mind to know that, should the worst happen and things go totally tits-up, you can always just reformat your drive because all your documents/bookmarks/etc. are saved on a separate drive.

Barring that, I've found that at least keeping my operating system and software on a separate hard drive (or, at least, a separate partition) from my documents (including pics, songs, videos, etc.) works as a great first line of defense. Again, even if you wind up having to reformat and reinstall, at least your data is safe. (Of course, it should go without saying that anything being copied to the separate drive or partition should be thoroughly inspected first.)

Shaen speaks truth. Windows 7, external hard drives, and back ups are all beautiful things.

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Right, Microsoft Security Essentials.

It's free. From Microsoft. But hear me out... it's actually pretty good for it. I've had no computer problems since installing it. It's quiet. It sits in the background. It updates alongside Windows, unobtrusively. And Sorus pointed me to it, and he runs the site, so if you don't trust him... :P

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I run Microsoft Forefront on my main PC, a bunch of buddies and I chipped in for a TechNet sub, so we figured why the heck not.

Microsoft Security Essentials is the same program, it just lacks the remote administration capability Forefront (their corporate client) has though I use MSE on every other system in the house (3 more PCs). It has a low memory footprint, scans quietly in the background and is pretty damn solid. And though people love to jump MS's s***, they really do have one of the best security teams and have a quick turnaround for patching bugs and whatnot.

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I run a computer repair shop for a living

I can't speak highly enough about Microsoft Security Essentials, it's what I use on my home computers and my work machines.

The same libraries are used in Microsoft Safety Scanner which I run on client computers.

I also clean computers with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and SuperAntiSpyware, both are good programs to use.

They each find tracking cookies and spyware that arn't truely malicious and thus arn't removed by MSE.

As for backups,

3, 2, 1,

3: copies of everything you own. The copy on your computer and 2 backups.

2: different media. There's just potential issues if you have everything on CD Rom, or everything on Hard drive where you might get into a situation where you can't access them.

1: Off site, this one is really important, what if your house burns down... gotta have a backup somewhere else.

For offsite I strongly recommend Carbonite.com it's like $55 a year for unlimited storage. and they have detailed documentation on their extensive security practices.

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Right, Microsoft Security Essentials.

I switched to MSE shortly after I switched to Windows 7, and I haven't looked back. It's solid. MicroSoft used to be a joke when it came to security. Now they set the standard.

1: Off site, this one is really important, what if your house burns down... gotta have a backup somewhere else.

For offsite I strongly recommend Carbonite.com it's like $55 a year for unlimited storage. and they have detailed documentation on their extensive security practices.

No arguments here. But if you can't afford or access off-site backups, then at the very least, try to position your portable external backup drive in such a way that you can just grab it and pull the cords out as you run by. You want it up and out, not buried under piles or stowed away in a niche. That way, should the worst happen and you have to evacuate your residence without prior notice, you can at least save a copy of your data. And new cords aren't exactly difficult to come by. (I don't think they even sell external drives anymore without cords you can remove at both ends.) I'm not kidding when I say that I incorporated this into my standard safety drill.

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Of late, I've been running MSE for realtime protection, "immunizing" my browsers with SpyBot, and scanning once a week with MSE, SpyBot, and that new one, SuperAntiSpyware. It's been working pretty well for me so far. But, admittedly, MSE is good enough that it's probably overkill.

It's not universal, but things tend to go wrong more often than not when you have multiple antivirus/antimalware programs running realtime protection on your machine at once.

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Something that I used to get laughed at by my so called techy friends that has worked for me for years and I've recently seen lots of suggestions about. A secure and less secure browser. For example when visiting here, or more importantly my Bank website or assorted pay online sites for bills I use firefox. Whenever I'm trolling through less reputable sites (Torrents, Pron, hacks etc) I use chrome which outside of visiting those sites I don't use at all and yea chrome has 'slightly' better security than firefox so I use it for the sites more likely to attack it. Used to use safari which had security through obscurity but it hardly even works on the modern flash enabled web.

Not a solves all by any stretch but much better than trolling for Pron in one window and doing account transfers in the other on the same browser.

Performance note. Since lots of us use chrome but may not know this. Each chrome window/tab is its own instance of the program. This means if you are running with a bajillion windows/tabs open your system will slow to a crawl unless you have some pretty beefy memory. If you're getting slow downs with normal browsing its a good thing to check especially on lower end systems.

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Cross-posted from here:

If you're looking to spend money, then you can't really go wrong with Norton's. For a few years there, they were sitting on their laurels, and falling into the middle of the pack. But lately they've come out swinging again, and according to all the latest credible side-by-side comparisons, they've clawed their way back to the top.

If you're going the free route, which I do, then MSE will fulfill 90% of your needs by itself. I find it to be superior to AVG.

Because I'm an anal obsessive-compulsive, I also have Ad-Aware, SpyBot, MalwareBytes, and SuperAntiSpyware. I only run constant, real-time shielding with MSE (even if I had the RAM to spare, most real-time protection programs don't play well with others), but I regularly run scans with all five programs. Usually one or two of them will find something that the others missed, and that kind of redundancy helps to compensate for the fact that the free malware protection is always going to be inferior to the paid ones (not that there aren't plenty of crappy paid ones on the market). Also, I live something of a "high-risk lifestyle" online, so the added protection is not entirely unwarranted.

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Beg pardon, but I've recently run into a couple of roadblocks in getting my main desktop computer to work, and was hoping there's some kind of commonality to the issues I'm having.

Basically, on startup the last few times with the new video card, I got a message telling me that a Boot Disk Error had occurred, and I should insert the system disk(which regrettably I didn't have at the moment), press enter, ecetera. So I reboot it, go into the BIOS menu, got the fail-safe defaults, and tried again. This time it got stuck right at the screen declaring the system was detecting IDE drivers, and I haven't been able to shift it from that since.

Odds are good this is the result of something idiotic on my part, but I'm hoping it's not.

EDIT: And now, for no immediately obvious reason, it started up fine all the way. Only thing I did was unplug and plug in a cord connecting to the hard disk.

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And now, for no immediately obvious reason, it started up fine all the way. Only thing I did was unplug and plug in a cord connecting to the hard disk.

The first rule of home computer repair is "Turn it off, unplug it, open up the case, unplug everything from everything else, then plug it all back in and see if it works." No joke.

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I'll be sure to put that into practice next time. 'm usually pretty timid with fiddling about with the physical hardware of computers so for me tampering with that one cord was desperation itself.

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When I access the logs, and when I log in to Chat itself, I get this

TypeError: this.target.create is not a function

If I click OK, it loads/works normally.

I'm also seeing randomly hyperlinked words all over the places, but not just here, on other sites (so it's my browser using Firefox). When I hover my mouse over one of the double-underlined 'link', it shows an "Easy Inline" and "local.com: Find local" ad. I've looked and cannot find anything on my add-ons or control panel for either of those, so I got no idea what's going on.

EDIT: Also, after a page has loaded, the tab at the top now shows "Connecting..." instead of the title of the page.

This all started happening around Sunday (September 2nd).

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Spoke to Dok in chat, but while I'm hardly an authoritative answer on these things I'll post here too if it's going around:

It sounds like nasty malware got into your browser, especially if it's only happening when you use one browser (eg, it occurs in firefox, but not chrome). Check your addons, add/remove programs, and task manager for anything suspicious.

Failing that, you could try running any one (or more) of the better-reviewed adware removers to see if they catch it; if you have antivirus (which you should), a full scan wouldn't hurt. Don't do these two things at the same time, though - different antivirus/anti-adware programs don't always play nice, and may just get in each others' way.

Failing all that, try reinstalling the browser - back up your bookmarks, get rid of the browser completely (including settings and addons - all of it!), reinstall, see if the issue persists.

After that...you're on your own.

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It looks like Ad-Aware has gone to a model where the free version is just a limited-time trial, and they've bundled the anti-ad/spyware stuff with antivirus protection they REALLY want you to keep on in real-time. So I've crossed them off the list of programs I run regular scans with.

As far as browsers go, ever since Mozilla abandoned a 64-bit version of Firefox, and Opera 12 came out in 64-bit, I tried it out. And I've never looked back. The design philosophy behind the last few versions of Firefox seems to have been "Be more like Opera," so I figured I may as well go to the source. I haven't been disappointed. It's minimalist, reliable, and infinitely customizable. I've heard some people complain that they've been able to view some sites in Firefox but not in Opera, but I've had the opposite problem; Opera will usually run a site just fine when none of the other browsers on my box (IE, FF, & Chrome) will.

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So I tried playing Minecraft the other day, while having a Chat window open. (I'm on an HP Pavilion a6200n running Windows Vista, it's 5 years old.)

My computer didn't like that. It crashed after about 5 minutes. No BSoD, it just shut down.

A few days later, I tried Minecraft again, single player mode. Worked okay for about an hour, then the whole screen went 'fuzzy', persisting even when the game was shut down. Had to reboot the comp to make the odd visual effect go away.

Next day, tried playing, after about 30 mins I got an error message. "Your Java virtual machine has run out of memory." So I had to shut down the game.

Last night, I tried playing again, 5 minutes in I got a BSoD. Rebooted, waited about 30 minutes, tried again, got another BSoD after about 5 minutes of play.

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That's...interesting. The JVM running out of memory could just be a memory issue or setting.

The BSOD and sudden shutdowns are a little more concerning, as is the fuzziness. Was your system overheating?

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I don't think it's overheating, but the tower has been making lot of noticeable 'grinding' sounds over the past few months. I've taken the panel off and looked inside, nothing seemed loose or damaged.

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...and now my comp is randomly restarting itself. First time happened about 30 mins after booting up for the first time in my new place, second time happened after about 5 hours of being on and left untouched.

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