Sam’s computer tips for the ‘Mater crowd…. (1 Viewer)


Nitro Member
Here are 8 tips that I have gathered up for you guys, based on my experience.

Preface: I refuse to be politically correct. I call it as a see it. Sorry about that.

1. Antivirus software – what to avoid and what to consider.

Asking three different people about what they recommend for antivirus software will give you, well, there different answers.

I can tell you that based on experience, software available at retail big box stores suck – all of them (Well maybe not the new version of Norton. More on that in a bit). They seem to miss viruses left and right. Why is that, you ask?

I’ll give you two reasons:

1. Most big box store shoppers aren’t computer savvy (The savvy folks buy online at places like Newegg!). I know some that are, that's why I said most. Anyway, if you were to run a focus group with a 12 average consumers they would all tell you they would rather have a program that’s 95% effective that’s easy to use rather than a program that’s 100% effective that has a steep learning curve. Because of this, companies who know their software is going to be sold at a big box store almost always “dumb it down” and many times effectiveness suffers. Remember Kaspersky? Back in the day it was a little-known software only used by techies, and it was awesome. Now that every Tom Dick and Harry can buy it at your local Best Buy, it misses things left and right. But hey, it’s easy to use now. :rolleyes:

2. Another reason why big box softwares miss things like crazy is what I call “the overused drug effect.” You know how when a drug gets over prescribed, the germ starts getting resistant to it? The same thing is said about big box antivirus softwares. These programs are used by so many people that viruses just know to blow right past them. It’s the same reason why Windows Defenseless, er, Defender is considered irrelevant by many security experts – it comes with every PC now, so every virus goes right by it. The worst has to be McAfee – it doesn’t catch crap and it seems to be crippled by even the weakest malware. If I hear anyone recommend McAfee to someone I cringe, and if he’s an IT manager one has to questions his skills!

So, what does all this mean? The best antivirus softwares are ones you can’t find in stores: NOD32, VIPRE, AntiVir (the real one, not that rogue that was going around), and Avast. They have a bit of a learning curve but are much more effective. Pair them with MalwareBytes Anti-Malware and you’ll have a 1-2 punch that can’t be beat. BTW, to the person on here who said that smaller companies are "unable to keep up with the latest threats": Quite the opposite, and to be honest that is untrue and downright slanderous. I would love for you to tell that to, say, GFI/Sunbelt! Oh, and a good antivirus like the ones I mentioned does not slow down your machine. Anyone that says otherwise, like a person recommending McAfee, does not know what he is talking about.

Oh, and Norton? I never thought I would say this, but if you must have a big box software, Norton looks the way to go right now. To make an analogy, from any year to 2008 Norton was like the ’06-to-’10 Dodge Charger. The 2009 and above Nortons are like the 2011+ Dodge Charger – much improved in nearly every way.

2. Extended warranties on PCs and laptops – are they worth it?

In a word, yes. Why? Because nearly all towers and laptops are Chinese and Mexican made pieces of crap that break all the time. There. I said it. Oh, and when buying a laptop please buy one with accidental damage protection. Because people drop stuff. Come on, admit it.

3. How to easily cut your computer’s boot time in half or maybe even more.

Lots of people call in to me and say “my computer is taking a long time to start up and it’s running slow.” Half these people think “virus.”

Yet most of the time, it’s because they have way too many startup processes running. See all those tiny icons down by the clock and internet indicator? Most of those things you can run yourself, or they open when you run a type of file (like a PDF) anyway.

To solve this, click Start, and in the search field (or the run box if running XP) type “MSCONFIG” and press enter. When the system configuration utility comes up, click the “startup” tab (Do NOT mess with any of the other tabs!). Uncheck anything that isn’t required to get online, run your antivirus software, or printer driver (usually It’ll have “spool” in the command section). The only other things that should be left checked are the manufacturer-specific stuff like hotkeys, touchpads etc.

When you’re done, click apply, then close and restart your computer. I bet it’ll run nice and fast.

Oh, and if you’re running Vista, please disable the sidebar. It was found to be a resource hog and disabling it will give you some speed back. Actually, which brings me to the next topic….

4. If you’re running Vista, do yourself a favor and upgrade to Windows 7.

I don’t even have to say it. An insider for Microsoft said it best: “Vista was in all actuality one big beta test for windows 7.” There were so many bugs that Micro$oft knew they were never going to fix. All that is gone in 7. Much like the new Norton, Vista was like a car that had a lot of things wrong, and 7 was that same car but redesigned with all those issues fixed. If your computer manufacturer has Windows 7 drivers for your PC (So that the operating system can work), make the jump. You’ll thank me later.

5. Toolbars and….. the Weatherbug. Why you don’t… need… them.

DISCLAIMER: I did my research, and I found out all this by experience, both on my PC and customers’ PCs. If you say “you’re wrong,” “it’s not spyware if it says it in the license agreement you agree to” and the like, I’ll call you out as being a shill.

That said….

You know those Internet Explorer (and to a lesser extent, Firefox) toolbars from Google, Yahoo, etc? Well I can say this: GET RID OF THEM. Three huge reasons:

1. They’re redundant. You don’t need the yahoo toolbar to get to yahoo. Just go to the damn website. Plus, they cause confusion on where to type in a URL for some people.
2. They cause conflicts with the browser because they contain redundant features that the browser already has. You won’t believe how many times I had to remove a toolbar to get IE to stop crashing.
3. Even the so-called “legit” toolbars are technically spyware, because when you use them they monitor your surfing habits for marketing purposes. Even if you disable them, parts of them are still running in the background.

To uninstall a toolbar, make sure the browser is closed and click on start > control panel > uninstall a program / programs and features / add & remove programs and uninstall any toolbars you see. In Firefox just go to tools > add-ons and uninstall any toolbars you see.

About the Weatherbug: Despite AWS’s claims, while the program is no longer malicious like it used to be it’s still spyware because 1) they have a suspect privacy policy and 2) the free edition has tons of popup ads. You can get rid of those by buying the “pro” version, but even then I wouldn’t do it. If you must have a weather program, download the Weather Channel’s version. Or to be honest, just take a few seconds and go to their site.

6. If you want support, buy a business PC.

It is true that the business line of PCs from various manufacturers like Dell and HP are more expensive than their consumer counterparts, and many times they are even the same computer just with a different faceplate, name and bundled software package (At least the low end ones).

So why would I tell someone to spend the extra dough and say, buy an Optiplex direct from Dell over an Inspiron you can get at Wal-Mart?

Very simple, this (and those who are on my facebook page probably saw this there, LOL):

When you buy an Inspiron: You get some Indian with an alias of "Bob" who can barely speak english and is reading from a script.
When you buy an Optiplex: You get an American with a real name of Bob who not only speaks english but can troubleshoot in his sleep.

It’s a common practice for years – give consumers the shaft, while giving businesses the good stuff. I could write more on this, but that’s something else altogether.

7. If online videos/games/music play like crap, it may not be your PC….

…It may be your internet service. Here’s a little way you can test: go to - The Global Broadband Speed Test. If you have less than a 3mbps connection, you need to upgrade. If you want to view online multimedia without excessive buffering/pausing etc you need at least a 6mbps connection or higher. Sorry, it’s just the way it is. It may cost more money per month, but it’s well worth it. General downloads will be a lot faster, too. BTW: Same thing goes with Netflix. I know they say that it’ll work with a 1.5mbps connection but don’t listen to that. It’s BS. Again, it’s 6mbps or higher.

8. When a computer tech tells you something needs to be removed, IT NEEDS TO BE REMOVED!

Let’s say you bring your computer to a shop because your computer is randomly freezing up. The tech looks at it, calls you up and says a program called “Bumblebee Games” freezes up whenever it opens up, and tells you a search reveals it to be spyware or have spyware-like properties. What do you tell him? “But I LOVE Bumblebee games! Don’t remove it!” He tells you it needs to be removed, plus it’s classified as spyware anyway. You won’t budge.

Let me tell you a story. I knew a guy who had a classic Camaro. Really nice car. One day he noticed that it started to shift a little rough or was difficult to put into gear. So, he brought it to his master mechanic, who after diagnosing the issue told him his shifter needed to be replaced. His response? “I’m not taking out my shifter! It’s a limited edition shifter hand-signed by Dale Earnhardt! Don’t remove it!” The mechanic told him unless it’s replaced he’ll continue to have the problem. Guy tells him fine, and drives away.

A week later, I noticed he has the problem shifter in the trunk of his car, and a nice new shifter on the console. He told me another mechanic told him the shifter needs to be replaced, he finally agreed, now it shifts like it should. End of.

How does this relate to computers? While the situations are different, the principal is the same: Sometimes you have to part with something to get the problem resolved. When the tech tells you he needs to uninstall something, don’t argue. Simple.

Sorry if this was long. Just wanted to share my thoughts.
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Nitro Member
Thank's Sam...I just had to take my laptop to best buy last week and they had to wipe out my hard drive and re install windows. I lost all my pictures from the last 3 years. It would be an understatement to say that I was a little pissed at myself for not downloading my pic's already. I was just getting ready to do a few more racing albums on nitro mater too.:(


Nitro Member
Thank's Sam...I just had to take my laptop to best buy last week and they had to wipe out my hard drive and re install windows. I lost all my pictures from the last 3 years. It would be an understatement to say that I was a little pissed at myself for not downloading my pic's already. I was just getting ready to do a few more racing albums on nitro mater too.:(

Sorry that you had to lose your pictures, but from now on back up your stuff. An external hard drive or a backup service like carbonite is best.


Nitro Member
i use Kaspersky Internet Security (referred by a very computer savvy
professional) and am very happy with it's performance.


Nitro Member
i use Kaspersky Internet Security (referred by a very computer savvy
professional) and am very happy with it's performance.

Maybe that person was going by it's past performance and not the new version? Time will tell if the 2012 version is any better at detecting "roguewares" (viruses that are made to look like antivirus programs and are intended to scare you into handing over your credit card # to crooks), the previous versions had dreadfully low success rates at picking those up.

At any rate, download the freeware version of MalwareBytes Anti-Malware to pick up any slack left over from the big red K. You'll have to manually update it before running a scan, but it's free, so whatever.


Nitro Member
I've been using Windows 7 for about a year and a half now, and you're right Sam. It just woke my computer right up. (Dual core w/ 8 gig of ram.) I'm VERY happy with it. It's fast, and stable.

Never did trust those toolbars or weather bug. If I need weather information, I just go right to the horse's mouth, the National Weather Sevice. Just key in your zip, and all the information is right there. Current forecasts, severe weather updates, radar, it's all right there.

Just upgraded my internet connection this early June. The difference was amazing.

Some good advice! :) Take it to heart folks!


Staff member
I use Microsoft Essentials and since moving to this software I haven't had 1 virus hit my computer.....Best part its FREE to EVERYONE....:D


Nitro Member
I use Microsoft Essentials and since moving to this software I haven't had 1 virus hit my computer.....Best part its FREE to EVERYONE....:D

I dunno. Either people love it or hate it. Personally, other than Windows 7 and Office I don't place trust in any Microsoft software.

Remember that antivirus software is like safety features on your modern car: just because you have it, doesn't make you 100% invincible.


Nitro Member

9. Protected Mode is not exactly.... protecting you from anything.

Ever since Vista came out, IE 7 and up includes something called "protected mode."

What is it? Well, here's a short backstory: Many years ago Microsoft told the press that it was going to weave Internet Explorer into the core files of the operating system. They said it was supposed to speed up performance. Security experts warned them that it was a bad idea, because viruses that get downloaded through IE would have a clear shot straight into the system files. Microsoft should have listened to the security experts. :rolleyes:

Back to the present day: Protected mode supposedly isolates IE's files from the core operating system files. Based on how many people I had to field that got a virus through IE, I say it's just another Microsoft gimmick that is designed to give people a false sense of security. In fact, there were times I had to turn it off to make a webpage display correctly.

The summary is that it doesn't matter if it's on or off. It doesn't really do anything.

10. Browsers and add-ons.

If you get the impression that I'm not a fan of IE, you're right. However, I usually don't like giving my opinion on this subject because it usually starts an E-fight (more on that in a bit).

I'll keep this short. Gone are the days when all you needed to stay safe was using a 3rd party browser like Firefox or Opera (And now Chrome) and that was it. As 3rd party browsers are gaining market share and thus are being exploited more by viruses etc, just the browser alone will not do much.

To stay really safe on the web you need a good ad blocker, which are usually only available for 3rd party browsers like Firefox (The ones for IE are usually crap). For Firefox I recommend Ad Block Plus. It not only blocks pop-ups, but it also blocks those annoying banner ads from even being displayed in the first place. As more and more banner ads are getting infused with malicious code, this is a great security step. And BTW, ABP is not some fly-by-night thing either: It's recommended and endorsed by Mozilla. Also, a good script blocker like NoScript is a good security measure as well, but it's not as intuitive.

Oh, about the E-fight: someone got into it with me a tech forum saying that if enough people block a site's ads, the site may have to either go offline or charge to view it. As if they have no other ways of generating revenue. :rolleyes: Another member even said that if sites learned to police their ads we wouldn't have to do that. Said person wouldn't budge, taking the sites' side. I could so tell he/she was a shill.... or a webmaster. :p


Nitro Member
Didn't have time earlier, here's another....

11. Does the brand of processor / CPU really matter in the real world?

Well, yes and no. But it depends on what you're doing and if you want a desktop or laptop. More on that in a moment....

When I read some hardcore techie websites I always read things like "When ran through benchmarks Intel's quad core is faster than AMD's six-core" etc etc.

Here's another car analogy: The Hyundai Sonata 2.0T has more rated HP than a Toyota Camry V6 and is cheaper, but the Toyota is a couple of ticks faster from 0-60. Is the Toyota work the extra couple of grand? Some people say it is, others say it isn't.

Well with processors, for the vast majority of the computer buying public, either CPU (AMD or Intel) will do just fine. When surfing the web or running MS Office, I doubt you will notice a difference in either.

Now for things like HD video editing, I will give a nod to Intel - they have always seem to be better in that regard. OTOH, gamers usually favor AMD, always did. It's debatable whether AMD still holds the edge in gaming.

The only fly in AMD's ointment is that major OEM's tend to stick their CPU's in their "typewriter special" PCs - the ones you see advertized at Wal-Mart for $399. Thus people have it etched in their minds that AMD is a "cheap" brand, when in reality it's a very good processor.

That's with desktops, with laptop's it's a different story. Intel all the way....
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