Computer tips

Below is a listing of computer tips. With these tips users can increase their productivity on the computer and make their overall computer experience a lot more enjoyable. I have years of computer support and repair experience behind these suggestions but don't feel like explaining them. If you disagree, start your own website. If its better, I'll link to it.

Buying a computer

Buying a computer is a range of choices which vary by user. I'll cover a few of the main ones.
If you play 3D games (not board games), you probably want a graphics card that is not built into the motherboard.
If you don't play 3D games, integrated graphics do everything just fine. Save the $50 to $90.

For Windows XP or Windows 7, 2gb of memory is good, 3gb is better. For Windows 7, 4gb is also good but XP ignores the extra memory. Don't buy Vista.

Most people use 40gb of disk space. A 250gb disk will be big enough. If have a computer, take what you use, multiply it by 4, and buy that size or bigger. Adding a disk to most desktops is not difficult.

If you want to write CDs or DVDs, get a DVD writer.

If you want a desktop, Dell makes a great set. HP/Compaq makes bad computers. Consumer reports also likes Sony.
To buy your Dell, go to and watch the sales. Buy one when its right for you. Most include a monitor.
If you want a laptop/notebook, Toshiba makes a more reliable one than Dell but Dell beats HP/Compaq. Toshiba rarely has sales on useful models on the internet. You can watch for sales but most likely, they'll be at Office stores such as OfficeMax or OfficeDepot. Mostly I end up ordering online at . Beware Dell's method of taking your money: The packages are cheap and a great value on a good computer but the accessories are insanely overpriced. Don't buy a Dell printer. Don't buy extras. If you are adding extras, you probably should be buying a different package. Costco sells good monitors if you don't get one from Dell as part of the package.

Setting up a computer

When you get your computer, I usually remove the antivirus software on it
Start -> Control_Panel -> Add Remove Programs
add add Avast Home which is free at It requires you to go into Support -> Free Registration and enter a name and email address. If you don't want to part with your real address, you can use and then check where your mail remains for about three hours. Avast is good and free. AVG isn't bad either. I've had more than my share of trouble with Norton and simply can't suggest anybody use it, let alone pay for it.

Now, you have a computer running Windows. Its time to stop running Microsoft Software when possible.
Microsoft is horrible at keeping their add-on products secure. If you want to decrease your chance of issues, use these products instead.
Replace Adobe Reader with free Foxit Reader. If you insist on using Adobe's products, inside Acrobat do Edit Menu -> Preferences -> Javascript and disable Javascript.

Replace Windows Media Player with VideoLan. It does better and won't infect you.

Replace Internet Explorer with FireFox

Replace Outlook EXPRESS with Thunderbird

Replace Windows Messenger with Trillian Classic.

I'm also fine with Skype, Chrome, and some others. I just list what is important to get rid of.

Increasing Security

If you want added security at the cost of a little hassle, create yourself an administrative account such as one named Installer_Caution. You can do this in Control Panel -> Users. Give it a password and don't forget that account name nor password. Now use that account to demote your account to "Limited" instead of "Administrator". By doing this, you deny yourself the ability to add and remove programs from your everyday account. This means you will have to log into the installer_caution account to do these operations but it makes you safer from virus files, trojan horses, and most bad things.

The most likely people to get infected run Internet Explorer, don't have updated virus definitions, visit Facebook and Myspace, and download files from P2P sites.
I'm not saying to avoid Facebook/Myspace/P2P but I'm saying it makes you high risk and you should be careful.

Disinfecting your computer

Despite the best practices, people sometimes get infected. Usually this is caused by falling victim to a trick like a download of the MostPopularScreensaver or letting a service "Scan Your Computer For Free" or other encouragement to download programs and run them. Its best to avoid downloading anything offered via advertisement or banner ad. For safe downloads, you can check

If you got infected and are seeing signs like google searches take you to advertisement sites instead of the intended site (TDSS root kit) or your default search engine is MyWebSearch or your computer starts to blue screen or show pop-ups, try running these programs:
Malware Bytes or local copy
Malware Bytes in its normal install will download its definitions automatically and let you do a quick scan to clean up the active malware and a full scan to find backups and leftover malware files. I suggest doing a quick scan until it comes up clean, rebooting after each then do a full scan until it comes up clean. Also scan with your own antivirus like Avast or AVG. Some viruses block malware bytes by its name, mbam*.exe so you have to rename it to use it.
Running it in safe mode, after it is updated, can catch some rootkits too.
If you can't download updates, here are the allusers and programfiles files I use to manually do it. Its not trivial.

The harder to remove rootkits seem to be found by tdsskiller. Download it, run it, have it scan and if it finds something, have it fix it. Its really fast but checks a different set of things that Malwarebytes doesn't so you have to use both.