Articles Guide to Computer Settings and Maintenance Guide to Computer Settings and Maintenance

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Most people don't know how to configure and maintain their computers. And that's OK... until something goes wrong and you want it fixed, and NOW! Trust us - we get dozens of bug reports and problem emails every day, and 90% of them are user-error, meaning your own fault :) There's no shame in that and we're happy to help, but we end up spending a lot of time repeating the same things over and over again. I'm writing this guide as a reference for anyone who is ready to take control of their computer for optimal performance, especially when using the Internet (and!).

There are 3 parts to good computing:

  1. FIX

The guide below is for Windows computers. I prefer Windows XP, but for those of you who unfortunately upgraded to Vista, this will probably help you too. And if you are running any Windows before XP (95, 98, ME, or 2000), then let me say that it's been 10 years and it's time to move on.


Most people have problems with their computer and they don't even know it. Viruses, spyware, trojans, bad settings, wrong software, hardware issues... the list goes on.

You should first check to see if you have any of these nasty issues on your machine, called "malware". Here are the programs I recommend:

Spybot Search & Destroy - A must for anyone using the Internet! Finds evil toolbars, spyware, and other malicious programs. Download and do everything it tells you to do :)

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware - Another awesome program for finding and fixing potential bad stuff on your machine. Download, install, and run the tests.

Anti-Virus Scan: There are a few options for free online antivirus scans. The best ones are offered by Trend Micro and Panda Security. You should scan to see if you have problems. You can also use one of the Anti-Virus programs mentioned in the PROTECT section below to do a local scan.

After running these you should be safe and protected. Keep running them until you are. If you are NOT able to fix these issues on your own, I STRONGLY recommend you get a computer professional to help you out. You can't keep on using your computer if it is infected.

Note: It may be best to run the tests and scans above in SAFE MODE (you get to safe mode by hitting "F8" on your keyboard when your computer starts booting up). Running them in Safe Mode means that bad stuff can't stop you from fixing it.



You need to protect yourself from getting problems in the first place. All problems come to your computer from the Internet. But you can be perfectly safe if you do these things:

Keep Windows Updated: Run Windows Update to get critical patches and updates.

Use a Firewall: Windows has a firewall built in that is OK, but for extra protection try ZoneAlarm.

Use Antivirus Software: This is critical! You must use antivirus. The two free ones you can try are AVG Antivirus and Avira Antivirus. If you like them, then pay for the upgraded versions. Good software is developed by people who need money too! 

Use a Safe Browser: I'll talk more about this at the end, but use a safe browser. This basically means anything other than Internet Explorer.

Don't open email attachments that you are not expecting.

Note: I do NOT recommend Norton, Symantec, MacAfee for antivirus, anti-spyware, firewall. They are bloated and will likely slow down your computer.



Your computer is like your car and your body - they need regular maintenance - and if you don't take care of them they won't perform. Here are things you should do to

Clean Up Old/Useless Files: Your computer accumulates junk. Use CCleaner to remove useless junk files and gunk. I run this about 1 time per week. You can also use it to fix your registry.

Defragment Your Hard Drive: Your computer puts a lot of stuff all over your hard drive. "Defragmenting" is like asking your secretary to organize your files - it makes it a lot easier to find the things you need and will speed up your computer! You can find this in your Start Menu (probably under System Tools or something).

System Tuneup Programs: I strongly recommend that people use a TuneUp program. It can often do a lot of things for you to optimize your computer. The two I recommend are TuneUp Utilities and Advanced SystemCare Free. Just set up these programs to fix and optimize your system. They can even be scheduled to automatically do this for you. Just set and forget!



Here's a little section I'm throwing in here to help you have a better experience on the Internet.

First off, you need to use a good browser! That is KEY. Please, do NOT use Internet Explorer It is just bad. It's time to upgrade and let Microsoft know that they need to step it up in the browser department. Using a better browser is SAFER, FASTER, and MORE SECURE. I recommend Firefox, but there are other options. 





In addition to a good browser, regularly refresh your browser cache/files, reboot your computer daily (don't just leave it on), and get the best internet connection you can :)


Backup: I highly recommend you use an online backup program. I recommend Carbonite or Mozy. These programs run in the background and just backup your files without you having to think about it. If you think that using a hard drive or email or something is good enough, you are wrong. Online backups are smart, easy, and cheap!


Linux Users: If you are using Linux, you shouldn't need a guide.

Mac Users: If you are using a Mac, then take your machine back to the store and have them help you - that's the over-priced service you paid for. Plus, it should already be running perfectly, right? Right? Mac is perfect. Right? Or you can download Mac security software here.

I'm not here to argue which operating system is best, but I'll preempt the inevitable Linux fanboys who will say "Switch to Linux" by saying "If you live the Linux philosophy, then did you hand-build and manufacture your own automobile?" I thought not. Linux is not for everyone (yet?). And to those of you who will say "Switch to Mac", let me say that not everyone wants to pay triple for white computers that run 30% of the software out there and have one mouse button. There, I said it. :)

Agree or disagree, I don't care. Just please take the time to FIX, PROTECT, and MAINTAIN your computer... so that I don't have to. :)

Enjoy, and happy computerizing!


[Please Note: Don't send me Tech Support, Abuse Reports, or other "Site" issues. Please contact Support for those things. But I do love thank you notes and personal messages! Thank you!]

Yes, I am the guy who started (along with Jay, Igor, Piotr, and many others). I have 3 amazing daughters, one wild son, and a wonderful, patient wife! I learned chess when I was 8 years old. Since then I have been playing, studying, and enjoying it regularly. I prefer semi-open and closed positions that blow up tactically (like the Closed Sicilian, King's Indian, Glek etc). 

Want to know more about how got started? Read about it here!

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