Archive for Windows

Hey IT Nerd! Do I Have To Reinstall Windows To Keep My PC Running Fast?

Posted in Tips with tags , on November 9, 2012 by itnerd

I’m really not sure where this came from, but there’s a bit of computer lore that says that you have to reinstall Windows from time to time to ensure that it runs at maximum speed. In all my years of supporting computer users, I have never seen the value of doing this with one exception that I’ll get to in a second. If you follow the maintenance tips that I posted earlier this week, there’s really no practical need to reinstall Windows. It also helps if you run an anti virus solution that is CPU friendly such as AVG 2013 (which I’ve reviewed before) or Microsoft Security Essentials (which I’ve written about before) which I recommend because they are so CPU friendly.

Now, the one exception is someone like me who tests software and hardware either for customers or for reviews on this blog. That might slow down your PC  because of all the installing an uninstalling. But I have a way around that. I use virtual machines for that purpose. Since I run Parallels Desktop on my Mac, I’ve created three VMs. A Windows XP VM, A Vista VM, and a Windows 7 VM. The great thing about VMs is that I can test something and then easily revert it back to a “virgin” state. You don’t need a Mac to do this as Parallels has a version for PCs called Parallels Workstation. Not to mention solutions from VMWare called VMWare Fusion for Mac and VMWare Workstation for PC.

Hey IT Nerd! What’s The Best Setting For The Paging File On My Windows Computer?

Posted in Tips with tags , on October 3, 2012 by itnerd

First let me explain what a paging file is. The best description that I found is in this Wikipedia article, but here’s all you need to know:

In computer operating systems, paging is one of the memory-management schemes by which a computer can store and retrieve data from secondary storage for use in main memory. In the paging memory-management scheme, the operating system retrieves data from secondary storage in same-size blocks called pages. The main advantage of paging over memory segmentation is that it allows the physical address space of a process to be noncontiguous. Before paging came into use, systems had to fit whole programs into storage contiguously, which caused various storage and fragmentation problems.

Now this is true if you have 1GB of RAM or 16GB of RAM. The thing is that if you have more RAM, paging happens less. But it still happens.

Now, what’s the best setting for the paging file? Set it to System Managed Size (if it isn’t already set there) and leave it there. Windows does a great job of managing the pagefile that you should never have to think about it and 99% users would not benefit from changing any of these settings.

Now what about setting it on a different drive? I’ve never seen any benefit to doing this other than freeing up space on a particular drive. Thus you’re better off just leaving it on your C: drive.

Still Running XP? Support Ends In Two Years… Security Nightmares Start Soon After

Posted in Commentary with tags , on April 12, 2012 by itnerd

If you’re still running Microsoft Windows XP, you should dump it. Why? Now that Microsoft has killed support in two years, there will be no updates. Here’s why that matters:

When Microsoft cuts the cord on XP in two years it will effectively leave millions of existing Windows-based computers vulnerable to continued and undeterred cyberattacks, many of which hold the potential to find their way into consumer, enterprise and even industrial systems running the latest software.

Thus it’s a real good idea to get a Windows 7 or perhaps the upcoming Windows 8. Besides, software companies are beginning to not write software for XP. Therefore if the security issues don’t scare you, that will. So I guess the 43% of people who run XP will have to make some decisions soon.

My advice? Bite the bullet and upgrade now.

Dangerous New Virus From The Old School Hits The Streets

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 9, 2010 by itnerd

If you get an e-mail that has a title of “here you have” or “Just For you” and you’re running Windows, don’t open it. It’s a dangerous virus that uses methods from the turn of the century… the 21st century…. to spread itself:

The worm arrives via emails with the subject line “Here You Have” or something similar, and the messages contain a link to a site that will download a malicious file to the victim’s PC. The malware then drops itself into the Windows directory with a file name of CSRSS.EXE, which is identical to a legitimate Windows file, according to an analysis by McAfee researchers.

“The URL does not actually lead to a PDF document, but rather an executable in disguise, such as PDF_Document21_025542010_pdf.scr served from a different domain, such as,” the analysis says.

From there, it’s 2001 all over again, as the worm attempts to mail itself to all of the contacts in the victim’s Outlook address book. The malware also tries to stop any security software or anti-malware programs running on the machine. McAfee’s researchers found that the worm also can spread via network shares and AutoRun.

I can see that I’ll be busy for the next few days judging from this Toronto Star story that says that Google, ABC, Coca-Cola and others have been hit hard. If you don’t want to be one of the unlucky, don’t open any e-mails with the above titles and make sure your virus definitions are up to date.

Microsoft Says Not To Press The F1 Key…. Really. They Did Say That.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 2, 2010 by itnerd

This is too funny to make up. Microsoft has a security advisory that tells you not to use the F1 key which happens to be help in order to protect yourself from a an unpatched bug in VBScript that could run something nasty in Internet Explorer:

The vulnerability exists in the way that VBScript interacts with Windows Help files when using Internet Explorer. If a malicious Web site displayed a specially crafted dialog box and a user pressed the F1 key, arbitrary code could be executed in the security context of the currently logged-on user.

Oh how delightful. This problem exists in a variety of Windows versions with the exception of Vista, Server 2008, and Windows 7. If you’re running anything else, it might be a really good time to switch browsers. Of course, you can always wait until a patch comes out. But this paragraph might make you change your mind:

Microsoft is concerned that this new report of a vulnerability was not responsibly disclosed, potentially putting computer users at risk. We continue to encourage responsible disclosure of vulnerabilities. We believe the commonly accepted practice of reporting vulnerabilities directly to a vendor serves everyone’s best interests. This practice helps to ensure that customers receive comprehensive, high-quality updates for security vulnerabilities without exposure to malicious attackers while the update is being developed.

Translation: This was leaked and Microsoft isn’t happy about that. It likely means that it will get fixed faster though now that everybody knows about it. But who knows. I say switch browsers, you’ll be safer. Trust me.

Windows Vista SP2 Release Candidate Available…..Get It IF YOU DARE!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on March 4, 2009 by itnerd

If you’ve got testicles of steel a recent backup of your Vista box, Microsoft has released the Vista SP2 Release Candidate to the world. One word of warning, you’ll have to uninstall this release candidate when the official version comes out. Also you need SP1 installed on your system prior to install this.

Pick your poison via one of the links below. Please post your feedback in the comments section once you’ve thrashed it for a bit:

Windows Vista Service Pack 2 Beta (32-bit)
ISO image

Dell Triples Cost Of Downgrading To XP…. That’s Stupid!

Posted in Commentary with tags , on December 15, 2008 by itnerd

Computer maker Dell is once again offering XP as an option to customers who don’t want Vista because it sucks. The catch is that it is charging $150 for the right to use XP. I think that this is a really dumb move, and Industry analyst Rob Enderle would agree:

“The fix for this should be to focus like lasers on demand generation for Vista but instead Microsoft is focusing aggressively on financial penalties,” Enderle says. “Forcing customers to go someplace they don’t want to go by raising prices is a Christmas present for Apple and those that are positioning Linux on the desktop.”

So, here’s my question of the day. Does a move like this send you running to the Temple Of Steve Jobs Apple Store or does it not matter?


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