View Full Version : OT-Need a little advice from all you techies...

04-23-2007, 10:16 AM
I need some advice concerning what I should be running to protect my computer. The problem for me is I do not understand what the products I have, I am not sure what they do. I have Spybot, Lavasoft Ad-Aware and Tweaknow Reg Cleaner. I thought I also had Spy Sweeper but somehow it has been deleted. Should I run more cleaner type programs and if so, which ones and how often?

I also need to update this old thing as we have done nothing in the way of upgrades since we bought it I think in 2004. I have run the BeLarc Advisor but I am nervous to go to a computer store, I don't want to be taken advantage of and buy items that I do not need.

I know, a lot of questions but I just don't know where to go? Please help!

Thank you much!
Debbie :hiding:

04-23-2007, 10:46 AM
I didn't see you mention what firewall program you were using. If you have MS, please don't rely on their built-in firewall protection. I use Zone Alarm. It can drive you crazy with the pop-up alerts, but you can turn them off.

As for the spy-ad-malware protection, I use Avast!. You can either set it to run continuous or use it to do regular weekly sweeps. It also has settings so you can sweep your register. It updates daily, which sometimes can be annoying, but better safe than sorry.

Hope some of this helps.


04-23-2007, 01:14 PM
I didn't see an antivirus on there. There are some good free ones out there, I think Avast! has one, and there's another free one that my Dad uses, but God help me if I can't remember the name. It starts with an A, too, though.

I use McAffee and its services, so I pay for the subscription, but it also blocks spam, has a firewall, and I have it set that websites can't leave a cookie on my computer without my permission. It gets annoying sometimes, but I like being able to control who is putting cookies on my computer. (Amazon, sure. Advertiser's banner seen on Amazon? Heeellll no!)

RE Upgrading...what are your current complaints? Are you running out of room to save files? (pictures, music, video, documents, etc?) Then you need more hard-drive space. Is it really slow? You either need more RAM or a better processor.

If you go somewhere and talk to them, and then get a second opinion before you buy, you should have a good sense of what you need and what you don't need. Explain what you use the computer for, too. If you or someone in your family uses it for gaming, you'll need a good graphics card, lots of RAM, etc.

Does that make any sense? :teehee:

04-23-2007, 01:27 PM
To qualify myself...I'm a computer tech in my "real" life.

You can get free anti-virus and firewall software on the internet. For anti-virus, use AVG. It's very easy to install and use. For the firewall, I recommend Zone Alarm. You can get both downloads at downloads.com (http://www.downloads.com), I believe (this site is blocked at work, so I couldn't verify.

I will say that I had these installed on my kids' computers and then switched them to the multi-user Norton. I've always been a Norton fan, but it is a memory hog, so if you have RAM issues, leave it alone.

As far as upgrading your computer, if it was purchased new in 2004, all you may need to do is put in more RAM. This is the stuff that makes your computer run faster (along with your processor). It handles the memory...how fast your computer runs when you're opening several programs at once. My computer was purchased at least 6 or 7 years ago, and it still runs very, very well. The only thing I've done is add a stick of RAM.

One thing I would recommend is that you download, for free, CC Cleaner (http://www.ccleaner.com/). This is a WONDERFUL (did I mention free?) program that will clear temp files and correct errors in your registry. Errors can make your computer run slow too. It's a fast download, easy install, and very simple to run. Keeping the computer free of temp files is sooooo important! You might actually find that doing this will help your computer so much that you don't want to update it. I ran this last week on my computer (after my tech support guy told me about it), and it corrected over 1,000 problems on my computer.

I hope I haven't overwhelmed you too much!

04-23-2007, 02:28 PM
AVG! That's the one I couldn't remember, thanks Nathalie! :rofl:

I need to check out CC Cleaner for my PC. :thinking:

Also, you should set your Internet History to clear itself out every so often, and delete temporary internet files and clear out your cookies. You might have to re-enter login information for some sites, but it's a good practice.

Also, you should defrag your computer once every 6 months, depending on how often you use it. You can run a diagnostic tool that will tell you if you should. (Defragging: When your computer saves a file, it doesn't necessarily put all the pieces in the same place--it puts them where it finds room. When you defrag, your computer takes as many of these pieces and puts them in the same place. You can wind up freeing hard-drive space up, and also, your computer can retrieve the file faster because it's no longer searching all over the hard-drive for the right information.)

04-23-2007, 02:39 PM
Oh yes...forgot the defrag thing! Very good tip!

04-23-2007, 03:06 PM
I have to agree with auburnchick with the AVG. I have it on my computer and it works very well.

04-23-2007, 03:40 PM
You should also restart your computer at least once per day. When you open and close programs, Windows doesn't always "let go" of the RAM it was using to run those programs. Getting a regular "fresh start" is a good thing, too!


My mom's computer is having problems with USB printers. I tried deleting the printer and re-installing it, but it won't "recognize the USB connection". Any ideas? :??

04-23-2007, 03:58 PM
:notworthy: I knew I could count on all of you! I am off to downloads.com and see what they have there. And thanks so much for the explanations, that definatly helps out to know what I am doing and why.

The reason I am thinking about upgrading is I have Google Earth and I love it, we are using it a lot more right now to look at houses that we are thinking of buying. And when it it open, the rest of the computer is much slower than normal. I don't do a lot on here, just the normal surfing, paste/copy/print patterns instead of saving them, I have probably close to 10,000 photos on here (I seriously need to copy those onto a disk again), our games (the first 3 or so games of Sims 2, 4 or so games from DH, and a few online bought games), Microsoft Streets and Trips, Skype, and a few more. I know, I need to go through and slim these down, but it is nice to know that more Ram would probably help out here.

brownishcoat, thanks but the computer goes off every night, okay there have been about 5 nights in the past year I forgot but thats it. Its bad enough there is at least one tv on at all times here, then to add the cost for the computer, hubby would throw a fit! :notworthy:

04-23-2007, 04:53 PM
AVG offers really good anti-virus, but it also offers anti-spyware program as well, which I prefer now instead of Ad-Aware (although I still use that as well).

Another thing you can do to keep your computer from getting clogged up with spyware is to swtitch to using Firefox (Getfirefox.com), and what I have done is block cookies from every site unless I used the 'exception' feature to allow them. Since I have started doing this, AVG has only picked up spyware once, and that was because I had turned the 'allow all sites to set cookies' on and forgot to turn it back off

Since your problem is mostly one of RAM though, because you are using ... complex program, I would suggest you just be more stingent with the programs you have running.

If you're going to open Google Earth, close EVERYTHING else unless it is nessecary. Hit Ctrl + Alt + Delete, and click over to 'processes'. This will show you what is running, as well as how much resources it is using up. It's quite surprising sometimes. Like those widgets that so many people have can slow down your computer.

Same goes for games. Before you open them, close everything else. I would also turn off any programs that are set to load on startup. This is a pointless feature, because it takes so little effort to open programs on your own, while having them ALL load at once, at the same time the computer is booting up is a sure fire way to slow down your computer.

04-23-2007, 05:14 PM
I made the switch to Firefox a while ago, maybe that is why I don't have that many pop-ups? I have been thinking of uninstalling the Sims games, I have not played them in months, I think the last time I tried for some reason it would not play because of some disk problem, I think :shrug: . And hubby has not played his games in a while either, I should talk to him about it.

On closing what programs that I am not using or needed, I have gone to the Processes before and started to do that but then I realize I don't have a clue where to start! I don't trust my self to do that by my self.

I have installed AVG and it has been running for over and hour (I selected the "indepth" scan) and scanned over 100,000 and not found anything yet! That is a good thing, right? After it is done, I am going to check out the CC Cleaner and AVAST! and see what they are like.

Again, thanks a lot for all the help and suggestions!

04-23-2007, 05:25 PM
I probably should have said this in the first post;

You shouldn't close programs using 'End Process' in most situations. Instead, you should see something like 'Firefox.exe', which means that Firefiox is currently running right now. To close programs you would close them like normal (like say you had AVG running and you wanted to open Google Earth. Right click on the AVG icon down in the task bar, and close it) Never, EVER close a 'SYSTEM' process.

I don't keep my virus/spyware scanner programs open during any time other than when I want to do a system scan, because they do nothing more than slow my computer down, as I only use trusted programs and don't visit suspicious sites, so there is no reason to have them scanning constantly during the day when I am doing more important things.

You might not feel comfortable doing this, which is fine. But I would suggest closing these programs when you're going to do something you know slows down your computer on its own.

04-23-2007, 05:58 PM
Can you tell me how much RAM you do have and what the speed of the processor is?

04-23-2007, 06:18 PM
According to BeLarc Advisor, I THINK I am using Intel Pentium 4 processor with a 8 kilobyte primary and 256 secondary memory cache. I THINK there is 80.00 gigabytes usable hard drive capacity and 42.30 gigabytes free space. Now if I am wrong, I apologize, I really am not sure but there it is.

04-23-2007, 07:31 PM
Hmmm...Pentium 4...that's a good processor.

Do this...while holding down the Windows button (windows logo is on the button to the left of the space bar), press the Pause/Break button. You'll get a screen that has information about your computer. You should see something like 512mb of RAM.

I'm really curious what your ram is.

I also suggest burning those photos to CDs and getting them off of the hard drive. They are clogging up your hard drive, big time. You've got to have space for the temp files that have to be written when using programs like Google Earth. Plus, you want to ensure that they aren't lost if your hard drive were to crash.

04-23-2007, 07:46 PM
256 mb of RAM and above that it said 1.79 GHz...

I hope that is what you need

04-23-2007, 07:49 PM
Oh gosh...you REALLY need RAM!!! Your processor is not bad, but the RAM...:doh:

What kind of computer is it? Model??

You could, maybe, find RAM cheap online.

04-23-2007, 08:11 PM
It is a computer that we bought at Best Buy (never gonna do that again, when we were there, we waited for 45 min before we were even acknowledged by in inept employees....oops did I say that!?), the brand name is VPR Matrix.

So how much RAM do you suggest I need to get?

04-23-2007, 08:23 PM
It is a computer that we bought at Best Buy (never gonna do that again, when we were there, we waited for 45 min before we were even acknowledged by in inept employees....oops did I say that!?), the brand name is VPR Matrix.

So how much RAM do you suggest I need to get?

I would, at a minimum, buy a 512mb stick. Your computer probably has four slots for RAM. They are more than likely comprised of two 128mb sticks. If you bought one 512 stick, you would have 768mb of RAM.

Ideally, if you can afford it, I would buy a 1GB stick of RAM.

Do you and/or your hubby know anything about buying this kind of hardware? It's not too hard if you have the computer manual that gives the specific information about the RAM required. The manual would tell you how many pins the RAM is supposed to be, and if it is DDR or something else.

What specific model is it?

04-23-2007, 08:38 PM
vpr Matrix Personal Computer 1.0

That is all it says on the BeLarc Advisor says, and I will really have to do some searching in boxes to find the manual. I know it is with all the disks it came with in a box somewhere.... :??

04-23-2007, 10:59 PM
You need more RAM for sure. If I recall correctly it's going to be DDR2 (off the top of my head check to be sure).

I'll make an unpopular suggestion here and tell you to just install Linux and solve most of your problems straight away. I've used Linux for more than 10 years and don't have virus/malware problems.

04-24-2007, 08:00 AM
I just found a site that checked my computer to find out what the specifics are for memory. It says that it is Intel D845BG and it has 184-Pins, it also gives what would be 100% compatible with my computer, from 128MB to 1 GB, 8 choices.

Does all this sound legit?

Knitting_Guy, unfortunately I have no idea what Linux it and what it does (is that sad?), and if it costs a lot of money then it is out of the question. Thanks for the suggestion though!

04-24-2007, 08:31 AM
If it lays out the specs for the RAM, then you should be able to shop around for it to get the best price. You can go to Pricewatch (http://www.pricewatch.com/) to find the cheapest price. You narrow down what you're looking for, and it lists the prices from various retailers.

If you can, though, either try to find the manual, just to be sure, or go to VPR's (http://www.vprmatrix.com/customer_desktops_landing.asp) site (I googled it). You should be able to find your model number on the list.

One other thing you need to make sure you do, before installing new RAM is to upgrade the BIOS. I think that the bios update will be on the link that I posted above. Computers periodically need their BIOS updated to ensure that the rest of the stuff runs properly. The site will probably have instructions for doing this.

04-24-2007, 11:19 AM
auburnchick, I was wondering, as far as all the pictures, is there a way I could transfer all of them and the program that goes with them (Image Expert) on to a flash drive, that way they would be off the hard drive here but I could still access them quite a bit?

And I found out that we bought this dino back in 2002 and with the m/n I have, I went to the VPR site and there is no BIOS in the list of downloads. There is one for a scrolling mouse, keyboard, 56k modem, GE Force, motherboard and ATA driver.

:notworthy: :cheering: :notworthy: :cheering:

auburnchick, I just wanted to say you have been so helpful to me!! Thank you so much. :hug:

04-24-2007, 11:26 AM
Hmmm...so you don't see your model listed?

You should still be able to buy more RAM though. There may not be a bios update. If you can't find one, then don't worry about it.

As far as the pictures, what you may want to do is buy an external hard drive. A flash drive is not going to be big enough if you have as many pictures as you said.

Do you have a SAM's or a COSTCO? I bought one for my mil for Christmas for a fairly decent price. Or, you could shop online (my favorite way). You can get them fairly inexpensively and with a high amount of space. I think I bought my mil an 80gb...bigger than what my computer's hard drive is!

They are nice too...just plug them into your USB port and run with it. It would be better than nothing. I know a lot of people who keep an external hd to store music and pictures as these take up so much room.

I wouldn't worry about trying to copy over the program (Image Expert) with them. They should be standard .jpg files, right? Any computer will read them.

And I don't mind helping a bit. This is what I love to do!!! I just wish I could help more (hence my persistent questions about the specific computer model). I've found that you can google just about anything and find the answer that you need.

04-24-2007, 03:12 PM
I just found a site that checked my computer to find out what the specifics are for memory. It says that it is Intel D845BG and it has 184-Pins, it also gives what would be 100% compatible with my computer, from 128MB to 1 GB, 8 choices.

Does all this sound legit?

Knitting_Guy, unfortunately I have no idea what Linux it and what it does (is that sad?), and if it costs a lot of money then it is out of the question. Thanks for the suggestion though!

That was actually a bit of a tongue in cheek comment, but Linux is an operating system that is a via alternative to Windows. But it does require one to be inclined a bit towards the geek side.

As far as cost, Linux is free.

Anyway, as to your original questions, I've found that one of the best combinations for a Windows user is Spybot Search & Destroy, Adaware, AVG, and Sygate Personal Firewall. All of them are free to download and provide pretty effective protection.

Also, if you're using Internet Explorer stop using it and use Firefox instead. Using IE on the internet is just asking for trouble.