Wednesday, May 6, 2009

PC Problems, and Free Tools to Fix Most of Them

You see commercials for all over the tv. Is this service worth it? I downloaded and ran the free scan. They search for the following: Registry Errors, Missing Windows Shortcuts, Missing Shared Files, Missing Application Paths, Missing Fonts, Missing Help Files, Invalid File Extensions, and Device Driver Errors. After the scan, you can select to have them fixed. Of course, it costs $29.95. NO mention of virus removal, so it looks like they can't help you if you're infected with a virus.

More often than not, these issues can be taken care of with some nice, free tools that are available online.

If you have something pop up on your computer saying you're infected with a virus & something like "click here to remove threats".... DON'T! Unless it's an anti-virus program YOU installed, it's most likely a virus itself. There's a Russian company that's been doing this for a while now. You click on "remove threats", and BOOM - you are infected big-time. AND you have to pay for it. It's a very, very bad thing, especially if you don't have all your files backed up.

That said, here are a few programs we've used and can recommend:

NOTE: We are not responsible for any problems, issues, lost files, etc, that occur after downloadking and using any of the following tools. Use at your own risk! (Don't you just love legal disclaimers?)

Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware
This a great first step to take. If you don't already have this installed, go to their site, download, and run this application. Note that if you can't download and run from the infected pc, you might want to refer to an article I found - Hopefully that article will help in getting this installed so you can run it. There are, of course, 2 versions available of malwarebytes - a free version & a full version. Personally, I've only used the free version, which does wonders. The full version's probably even better.


After running Malwarebyte's (above), this is probably the next step I'd take. As above, I've only tried the free version, which worked well.


EUsing Registry Cleaner
Registry cleaners are used for removing ore repairing registry files on your computer. If you've been infected with some sort of malware, chances are there are some registry files that should be removed. Cleaning these up can help your pc boot time. Wikipedia discusses the pros and cons of registry cleaners at A good read.


Windows Defender
Windows Defender protects against pop-up ads and security threats (caused by spyware - see below) by finding and removing known spyware from your computer.


Spybot Search & Destroy
Spybot - Search & Destroy can detect and remove spyware from your computer. Spyware is becoming a common annoyance - silently tracking your internet surfing in order to create a marketing profile of you that will be sold for advertising purposes. (free, but they accept donations)


Avast! Anti-virus
I've had as much success with this FREE anti-virus software as I've had with Norton of McAffee (I take that back... I've actually had a little more success). They provide a free version for home pc users. All you need to do is register & renew your registration key once a year. Great tool.


If you download & run all of these (making sure to have all updates installed PRIOR to running the software), your problems will most likely be fixed. If not, call a professional pc repairman, or ask us about it (we know of several good ones).

Gavin Crawford
Scorching Web Design and Marketing

Monday, May 14, 2007

Should I Upgrade To Vista & Office 2007?

I was wondering the same thing, and decided to look into Vista and dive into Office 2007.

First of all, I went for the deluxe package (Office Ultimate 2007). After installation a couple months ago, I've really only used 3 of the programs enough to talk about them - Excel, Word & Outlook.

Excel has worked fine so far - no problems. The biggest change is the interface. The menus are TOTALLY different & take some time to get used to, especially for those of us that know where all the tools are on the previous versions. This isn't a BAD thing, but be prepared to take a bit longer while working in Excel just to find out where everything is.

Word has also worked fine so far. As with Excel, the entire layout of the program is different, and it takes some getting used to. I like some of the new templates available (I upgraded from Office 2000), but haven't used them much yet. Again, be prepared to spend some extra time maneuvering your way around the menus.

Now for Outlook. This is the sole reason I'm sorry I upgraded to Office 2007. I have a pretty fast machine, and had 1 GB of memory. My old Outlook Express emails used to fly - I loved it! Once I "upgraded" and installed Outlook, I found my emails crawling at a really slow pace. Figuring it couldn't hurt to add memory anyway, I added another GB. Surprisingly, the email speed is still pathetic. Upon further investigation, I discovered that Outlook was designed to work with Vista. Would have been nice for Microsoft to mention that on their packaging...

To start with, Vista requires a minimum of 512 MB of memory to run. Of course, the minimum is horrible, so there are computer stores that recommend 1 GB. If you look on sites like HP, though, you'll see they recommend 2 GB memory if running HP. I'm never opposed to upgrading memory, but 1.5 GB is a huge difference in recommendations. Personally, I'd go with HP's assesment over the marketing of Microsoft.

That said, a lot of people don't have 2 GB memory. If you don't have it, I wouldn't upgrade your memory just to upgrade to Vista. I've heard back from a few people that really don't like it at all. As with Office 2007, the interface is much different.

If your pc doesn't have Vista, leave it as is. Don't get caught up in the "WOW" ads - the time & expense isn't worth it. Same goes for Office 2007.

The only reason to get either one of these is if you need to reinstall Windows or don't have any Office software yet. Othewise, wait until you get a new pc that already has Vista installed. And when you get to that point, make sure you have at least 2 GB of memory on your new pc!

-Gavin Crawford
Scorching Web Design

Should I Use Flash On My Web Site?

Most of us really like the look & feel that Flash can add to your web site. There are a couple of downfalls to it, though. The question of whether or not to use it on your site really depends on what you want your web site to convey.

Flash looks great on a web site. The site itself can be more clean & crisp if built entirely with Flash. You can use animation on your site to keep the visitor's attention. If having a highly polished site is your most important goal, then you may want to consider using Flash on your site.

The first thing that I think of when I think of Flash is that it's a search engine killer. Google is currently the only search engine that can recognize Flash while indexing your web site. This is bad news for businesses that rely on high search engine rankings to reach customers. If you need high search engine rankings, then Flash should not be used on your site for more than the splash page -- and possibly an element here or there (but not when it's using keywords). If Flash is used throughout your site, it will bury your site in the search engine rankings.

Flash can be expensive. Flash is an elaborate program, so it takes a lot longer to design a web site using Flash. Because of this, the costs can pile up fast. Most businesses have a limited budget for their web site, and this drives them away from using Flash.

Finally, one of the pros can also be a con. Some people are enthralled with the animation that can be provided by Flash. Others, however, find it distracting. A key thing to keep in mind is to not overdo the animation. If you have more than 1 animation at a time on a page, the visitor will be too distracted.

For most businesses, we'd recommend not using Flash for anything more than the splash page. If the search engines can start indexing Flash more proficiently, then our feeling would change on this. The pros don't even come close to outweighing the cons right now. It can be costly, and also buries your web site in the search engine results.

However, if you are not trying to attract customers to your site through the search engines, then it would be worth considering. Just make sure you have a nice budget to build your site.

-Gavin Crawford
Scorching Web Design