Computer running slowly
I would like to thank you all again for your great questions this week. We’ve had a couple of real head scratchers from a lot of you this week. If you would like to submit your question to be answered just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The most popular will get answered here, but I will answer all of you by email even if they don’t make it to this column.
Question: “My computer runs very slowly but I notice it worst of all when I start it up. I can go and drive errands all over town by the time it finishes booting up. Also there are lots of little icons dancing around next to my clock, and I think it has something to do with it.” Ray S. from Portland, OR.
Answer: Ray, you would probably be correct that this is a clue to your slowness problems. If your computer is less than two years old and it runs slower than the election, then I have a handy tool I will show you built into Windows for free. Just go to the Start button and choose Run and type in msconfig. A cool new box will appear with all kinds of information that will help us get to the bottom of it.
Click on the startup tab as you see here and you will see all the programs that startup when you start Windows, no matter what version you’re using. The easiest thing would be to click the disable all button and apply. When you close the box you will get prompted to restart which is a good idea. When you’re computer restarts you will see all kinds of messages that will appear asking you why a program hasn’t started that something needs to use it.
Make note of each message and go back to msconfig to re enable any box that Windows complains about. This way you only enable the ones you absolutely need and leave out the ones that are just taking space. Reboot again and see how much faster your computer is!
These startup programs, and the little icons next to your clock are called TSR (terminate and stay resident) programs. Most of them just take up space and were put on when you installed some program or another since you got your computer. It may have even come installed by the manufacturer.
If any of these buggers re enable themselves then you probably have a virus or spyware that needs to be removed. Go to http://trendmicro.com and click on Housecall to have an online scan done to remove them permanently. Then install an up to date antivirus and spyware removal program to keep them gone.
Question: “My children are now starting to surf the net when I’m not around and I’m afraid they will get into something I don’t want them into. I have a firewall and antivirus but that doesn’t keep them from going to adult websites.” Pamela D. from Hillsboro, OR.
Answer: I’ve had this question many times on my radio show, and I have children at that age myself. It never hurts to re examine this every year or so to see if someone has built a better mouse trap. In this case I believe they have.
There are many programs out there called “content filters”. These filter out adult sites and other unsavory places using keywords or banned lists. There are also some that scan the photos for exposed skin! At a business these filters sit on a separate computer and cost lots of money, but they are important because if a sensitive staff member gets a virus that starts popping up eye popping pictures and videos, the employer is liable.
In a home situation you would likely install a software based filter that is controlled by the parent so the child cannot get into these sites. A new program has come out recently that I’ve started using called K9. Just go to http://download.com and type in k9 content filter to get the program. You have to register to get the serial number, but it’s perfectly safe and free.
Once you install the program, reboot and install the serial number, there will be a new icon on your screen that you can click on. Create a login password that the tricky kids can’t guess and log in. Here is what it looks like:
The setup takes less than five minutes and you can add keywords that get blocked. You can also just let K9 do the work for you with no configuration. The left icon lets you see what websites they tried to get to and which ones it allowed. It will be a real eye opener believe me. You can also white list certain sites that may have scientific value for homework to always allow through.
When you want to surf you can disable the firewall by just typing in the password and the filter will lift for a specified time limit or turn off altogether. Pretty cool for a free product!
I also recommend having the computer only in a family area. Having computers with internet access in your kid’s rooms is asking for trouble, even with a filter. Many predators are looking for unsupervised kids to lure away. I have had to install special software to crack the codes of what the kids have been up to for several freaked out parents whose kids became victims.
Having internet access limited to family time in a family place will be the best way to keep your kids safe, and an internet filter will also help.
For more great tips check back here each week and listen to me on the All Tech Radio show Sunday mornings at 9 on AM 1360 KUIK, or listen online at http://alltechradio.com.