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Discussion in 'Tech-Related News' started by TechGuy, Jan 10, 2012.

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  1. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    Our monthly email newsletter will be starting up again for 2012.

    If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe by using the box on the right of http://www.techguy.tv/
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  3. Cookiegal

    Cookiegal Administrator Malware Specialist Coordinator

    Aug 27, 2003
    Malware Anyone?

    No thanks, of course! But you may already have some lurking in your computer and not even know it. So what does the word "malware" mean? It's actually a compound word that's short for "malicious software", which can be anything from minor annoyances and nuisances, like unwanted tracking cookies, popups, spam/phishing scams and adware to much more serious and intrusive spyware, viruses, worms, Trojan horses, fake security programs, rootkits, bootkits, etc. Various methods are used to gain access to your system, often for the purpose of harvesting sensitive information, such as passwords, bank account or credit card numbers and/or making changes to the system that render it difficult to even use it.

    Malware is continuously evolving and using more complex and sophisticated methods to penetrate deeper into your system, making it much more difficult to eradicate. Long gone are the good old days when your resident anti-virus software or a quick on-line scan would take care of any type of innocuous "bug" that you may have inadvertently picked up. Although the various anti-virus software vendors do a very good job of updating their virus definitions frequently and using heuristics to detect patterns and characteristic of unidentified malware, unfortunately, people are still getting infected in large numbers every day.

    Should you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a victim of malware, Tech Support Guy has several qualified Malware Removal Specialists (gold shields) and Malware Removal Trainees (blue shields) who are authorized to assist and will be happy to advise and guide you through the process of cleaning your computer. The helpers do this on a volunteer basis because they enjoy helping people and putting their skills to good use. If only the malware writers would do the same.

    All you need to do is register to create an account at Tech Support Guy (http://forums.techguy.org) and then start a new thread in the Virus & Other Malware Removal forum, being sure to follow the preliminary instructions at the following link and posting the requested logs for review:


    If you're new to message boards or are unsure how to start a new thread, please consult our Welcome Guide at the following link which provides detailed instructions, including screenshots and a video:


    Please be patient and follow the process through with your helper to completion, which may involve several steps, in order to be sure to achieve the desired results.

    Best practices

    The following is a short summary of some tips to follow for best practices. This list is certainly not meant to be exhaustive or all-inclusive, as that would be beyond the scope of this newsletter article, but it does give some basic guidelines that can help prevent unfortunate situations.

    First and foremost, I can't stress enough the importance of backing up your important data, such as documents, photos, music files, etc., in effect, anything that you wouldn't want to lose should something happen to your hard drive. Keep in mind that hard drives can fail at any time for a number of reasons, not necessarily malware-related, and data cannot always be salvaged or recovered from them so it's vital that you create backups on a regular basis.

    There are various methods than can be used to accomplish this and you will find a lot of information about this on our web site, so we will just touch on the basics here.

    One simple method is to copy important files over to CDs or to an external hard drive which can then be transferred to another hard drive, if necessary. However, it's not advisable to use a USB "thumb" or "flash" drive for backups as they are only meant for convenience in transferring data from one computer to another and are not necessarily reliable for long-term data storage. Once you've backed up your data, check to make sure that you can open the files without any problems.

    The most effective and reliable method is to use software that will image your hard drive to an external one and then add any changes that you make afterward as incremental backups at regularly scheduled intervals. Using this method requires very little time and effort and allows you to easily restore an image of your entire system to the same hard drive, or to a new one, if necessary, without having to reload drivers, programs or other software.

    As with anything in life, it's never too late to start best practices and there are many things that you can easily do to help protect yourself from falling victim to malicious attacks and exploits, which are so prevalent these days. We won't go into a great amount of detail but here are a few basic tips that can help keep you safe on the Internet.

    1. Always have anti-virus software that is updated and running on your computer. There are many good ones that you can purchase, which generally have more features or functions, but there are also several good free alternatives available. You will find many informative discussions about them in the General Security forum on our web site that can help you decide which one would be best for you. Note that it's not better, nor is it recommended, to have more than one anti-virus program installed on your computer as they will conflict which each other and reduce the effectiveness of your virus protection.

    2. You should also install a good anti-malware/spyware program to compliment your anti-virus protection. These are not the same as anti-virus software and can be used as an added layer of protection.

    3. Stay away from dodgy sites displaying inappropriate/offensive content. Notwithstanding any potential moral and/or legal issues, these sites are often malware land mines.

    4. Be wary of ActiveX controls, which are small executable programs that are often needed for various sites to function or be viewed properly but they can also be used to download malicious content to your computer.

    5. Be wary of notifications on web sites indicating that you need to get or update Adobe Flash or a media player to view them, especially if you know you're already running the latest version, as these are methods that are often used for malicious exploits. If it is indeed necessary to update these applications then do so manually through the software itself and then, if you're still prompted to click on a link to update, chances are there's a malicious exploit involved that the site may not even be aware of.

    6. Don't use P2P/torrent applications to obtain software and/or music, etc. without paying for it but rather only download genuine software from legitimate sources. Also, although there are often many valid sources for legitimate programs, it's generally safest to download software from the vendor/author's site whenever you can in order to avoid any confusion as to the integrity of the download.

    7. Be careful when using a USB "flash" or "thumb" drive from another computer. Many infections are spread through the autorun (autoplay) feature as they will execute immediately upon insertion of the device. It is recommended that this feature be disabled and although this means that you will have to start your music, games, etc. manually, it can be instrumental in preventing infection and is well worth any minor inconvenience.

    8. There are also a lot of concerns these days about social networking sites but you can certainly enjoy and use them safely. Just be sure to check out the privacy settings that are available and don't post material that you wouldn't want your grandmother or perhaps a potential employer to see as those can come back to haunt you later on.

      Also, use caution before clicking on links, even if it's something that appears to be coming from a friend. Unfortunately, accounts do get hacked regularly so you should check with your friend first to be sure that they actually sent you that video or photo from the party to look at before actually clicking on it.

    9. Always use strong passwords that include a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and/or symbols and not something like a pet's name, your username, your address or date of birth which can be easily cracked by humans or automated bots. Also, don't use the same password for every site or place where you have to enter one. Not only is it safer should a password ever be compromised, as then the hackers would be limited in what they had access to, but you wouldn't have to change them all either should that happen.

    10. Be careful of phishing scam e-mails arriving in your Inbox. "Phishing" is a play on the word "fishing" and is an attempt to get you to willingly provide sensitive information such as passwords, bank account and/or credit card numbers, etc. These e-mails are often spoofed to look like they come from legitimate sources but a bank or other type of financial institution will never contact you in this manner to ask for your account number or other personal information, which they would already in their records. When in doubt, contact your bank or financial institution to see if they did indeed send the communication before responding or clicking on anything in the e-mail.

    11. Make sure all of the software running on your system is up to date with the latest version available to be sure that any known vulnerabilities in them have been patched. This includes things such as your operating system; Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7, your browser; Internet Explorer (even if you don't use it, it's important to keep it up to date. The latest versions are 8 for XP and 9 for Vista and Windows 7), Firefox (there are several add-ons that you can get to increase security) and Google Chrome, etc., as well as other software such as Microsoft Office, Adobe Flash/Reader and Sun Java, among others.

      It's also a good idea to scan with the Secunia Online Software Inspector http://secunia.com/vulnerability_scanning/online/ regularly to see if there are any vulnerabilities in applications that need to be addressed on your computer so that you can take appropriate action to correct them, if necessary.

    12. Should you find yourself being presented with a suspicious/unwanted popup or download box requiring you to click "Yes", "No", "Cancel" or similar, don't even click on the "X" in the top corner to close this out as that often actually executes the malicious exploit. It's best to call up the Task Manager and "End Task" on the application to close down that particular browser tab or window safely.

    There are other things that can be done to harden the security of your system with respect to the various operating systems, software, browsers, add-ons etc. and you can find more information about this on the Tech Support Guy web site.

    I hope that you found this article informative and that you and your families stay safe on the Internet.

    Tech Support Guy
  4. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    From flavallee:

    10 Ways To Improve Speed And Performance In Your Computer

    These are some of the more common ones that I use and recommend, but there are many other ways that you can improve speed and performance in a computer.

    Although these tips are focused towards Windows XP users, they can also be used by Windows Vista and Windows 7 users.

    1. Add more RAM.
    Unless your computer doesn’t support that amount, install at least 2048 MB(2 GB) of RAM.
    Programs and games and computer functions are getting more and more memory-hungry, so 512 MB of RAM isn’t sufficient anymore.

    2. Make sure the processor is running at its rated speed and not at a noticeably slower speed.
    This is more of a problem with laptops/notebooks than with desktops because the processor can slow down to conserve battery power.
    To determine if your computer’s processor is running at its rated speed, right-click “My Computer”, then click Properties.
    If the processor’s rated speed and the speed shown aren’t the same, it’s not running at its rated speed.
    To prevent this from occurring, go to Power Options, then set the power scheme to “Always On”, then restart the computer.

    Note: If your computer has an AMD processor, it may not list the rated speed but may list a code instead, such as “4400+”. Unless you already know how the code equates to rated speed, doing a Google search for that code should determine what it is. The GHz number shown in the properties will be the actual speed your computer is running at.

    3. Make sure the hard drive is running at the proper transfer mode and not at a slower mode.
    Go to the Device Manager, then expand the “IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers” heading, then open the properties window for the primary IDE channel, then select the advanced settings tab.
    The hard drive transfer mode should be set on “DMA if available” and should not be set on “PIO only”.
    If it is, change the setting and then restart the computer.
    If it’s set properly, also make sure the transfer mode number isn’t lower than it should be.
    Depending on how old your computer is and what transfer mode the hard disk controller supports, most hard drives run in Ultra DMA Mode 5 or Ultra DMA Mode 6.

    4. Reduce the number of programs that auto-load and run in the background.
    Many programs and add-ons that you install in your computer will set themselves up to auto-load and run in the background.
    Many of them don’t need to auto-load and run at all, and others can be manually started when you need them.
    To prevent the unnecessary ones from auto-loading and running all the time, go to Start - Run – MSCONFIG – OK – “Startup” tab, then uncheck them, then apply the change, then restart the computer.
    Two good sites for researching the startup list are:

    5. Prevent a large buildup of temp files from occurring.
    Unless you delete them on a regular basis, they can build up over time to hundreds or even thousands of files.
    To delete them, type in
    in the “Run” or “Search” box.
    When the temp folder appears, select and delete everything that’s inside it.
    If a few files resist being deleted, that’s normal. Leave them alone and delete everything else.

    6. Don’t allow malware, spyware, etc. to accumulate in your computer.
    I recommend you install and use Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and SUPERAntiSpyware.
    They’re very user-friendly and do a good job and are well recommended in these forums.
    Run a quick scan weekly and run a complete/full scan monthly.
    Always make sure to update the definition files first before running a scan.
    After the scan is finished, select and remove everything that’s found.
    You can download them from:

    7. Don’t use full-featured security suites.
    Besides the fact they contain unneeded extras, those extra features add to the startup load and consume more system resources - which slows down a computer.
    I recommend you install and use Microsoft Security Essentials or Avira AntiVir.
    They do a good job and are light on system resources and are well recommended in these forums.
    You can download them from:

    8. Don’t use cleaner/optimizer/booster/tuneup utilities, especially the ones that allow you to “clean” and “fix” the registry.
    They do little-to-nothing to improve speed, and in some cases will reduce speed.
    They also do little-to-nothing to fix problems.
    What they can do though is damage the Windows operating system, cause programs to stop working, generate unexpected error messages, and cause overall havoc with your computer.

    9. Don’t allow unneeded toolbars and add-ons to accumulate in your computer.
    When installing new programs or updating current programs, take time to read each window that appears during the install process.
    You can then opt out and decline to install these unneeded extras.
    Besides the fact that many of them are spyware-related, they can increase the loading time of webpages.

    10. Reduce the amount of graphic and multimedia “eye candy”.
    All those fancy screensavers, animations, clocks, weather monitors, etc. look nice, but they consume system resources and can slow down a computer.
  5. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    What Is Linux...

    What is Linux? This is a question that has been posed to me on numerous occasions. The first time I was asked this question my reply was quick, passionate, and...wrong. This time I will take a more methodical, if abbreviated, approach to answering the question.

    An Operating System
    Linux, at its most basic form, is an operating system (OS) designed to mimic a Unix environment. The Linux kernel, the core of the GNU/Linux operating (more on this later) was written by originally by Linus Torvalds and first released in 1991. An (OS) is the core of any computer, large or small, and drives the most basic low level control of input and output, including peripheral control (think USB keyboards, webcams, etc). The Linux Kernel provides this low level control.

    In its infancy Linux was a bear to install for the casual user. Linux distributions began cropping up to address to the ease of installation. A distribution of Linux packages the Linux Kernel, specific tool sets, Window Mangers, and software management systems into an installable system. Red Hat, Fedora, Opensuse, Mandriva, CentOS and probably the most household name, Ubuntu, are all examples of Linux distributions. Today, if you can install Windows you can install Linux. Check out www.distrowatch.com for a comparison of distributions to help you decide on which distribution is right for you. Should you have any questions about your Linux experience visit us at http://forums.techguy.org/22-linux-unix/.

    A Linux distribution is now a viable option to Windows operating systems. Most distributions of Linux are free. Unlike Windows most Linux distributions come with everything a user needs to browse the web, check/post to Facebook, read/write email, and author papers. LibreOffice or OpenOffice.org, free alternatives to Microsoft Office are included with all popular Linux distributions.

    A Launch Platform for Other Projects
    Because Linux is free, as in beer, it became an attractive alternative to Unix and server versions of Windows. Linux is almost the poster child for free and open source software. It is the platform on which other applications are developed and deployed.

    A common example of an application written to run on Linux is the web server Apache. Apache is the single most prevalent web server out there today. (Think about that for a moment. How many web pages do you visit a day? How many of those are running Apache on top of Linux? Amazon does. Google does. Ebay does. Believe it or not parts of microsoft.com used to be hosted on an Apache web server.)

    A Mobile Operating System
    Ok, so I have already mentioned that Linux is an OS. I believe the popularity of Android and other set top box appliances requires the mobile platform of Linux be mentioned here..

    Android, the phone and tablet OS, is based on Linux. Because Linux takes little RAM and processor power to run it is the perfect choice for running on an embedded system. Many of the devices we use today run Linux and most consumers are not aware. Let me provide a list of examples:
    (Some) Linksys Routers:
    (Linksys and later Cisco were sued by the Free Software Foundation for violation of the GPL, the license under which Linux is written. To settle the lawsuit Linksys released the source code.

    GoogleTV: Google is now moving toward making Google TV run using an Android flavor of Linux.

    Smart TVs: I am calling this out separate from GoogleTV as many manufacturers are also using Android to power their own Smart TVs.

    TiVo: The original DVR runs Linux.

    Sony Playstation 2: Yep, it’s true, the PS2 doubles as a Linux super computer. In the PS3 Sony moved away from Linux, however Linux was installable on early versions of the PS3.

    By Daniel McCarthy (Linuxphile)

    URLs of Interest:
  6. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    MAINTAINING YOUR COMPUTER - A guide written mainly for the less experienced user


    This article should help you to maintain and ensure that your computer is kept in good condition.

    A computer is like an automobile in some respects. It requires servicing to keep it in good working order. If you neglect this, it will no doubt continue to function until that day when, just like the on-board computer of the modern automobile, you suddenly start receiving error messages.

    In the case of the computer, if you neglect general housekeeping and maintenance principles as well as vital updates to security-related programs, you place the health of your system at risk.

    Tech Support Guy - where you are reading this short article and I am a Trusted Advisor, is one of the many computer forums providing free assistance and advice.

    It was started by Mike Cermak in 1996 and here is the link to the history of the site:


    Just one indication of our popularity is that on February 8th, 2012 there were 16,218 people online viewing Tech Support Guy.

    If you have not already done so, why not become a member, NOW? You can then use the site to its full potential and become familiar with it before you need help with a problem and have to register.

    Here is the link to HOW to register:


    There are so many articles, publications, magazines, books and other resources available to obtain advice about how to use your computer that the vast choices can leave you bewildered. The purpose of this short article is to try and ensure that you have the basic rules and guidelines to follow.

      Your new computer should have come with a user guide and manual, possibly partly on paper and/or on a DVD/CD, or even loaded onto the hard drive (the fixed drive inside your computer where all data is stored). To those of you who never read the manual before using your new television, washing machine, etc., I would urge you to read the computer manual. The time to learn how to enter the advanced boot options, the BIOS setup or the Recovery installation etc. is NOW, not when Windows will not load and you are under stress.

      When you connect to the internet, you will no doubt notice various advertisements offering VITAL programs to download to ensure that your computer is "tuned to run as fast as possible", or warning you of the dangers of not cleaning the registry and offering this program that will do all of this and MORE, without any knowledge required on your behalf.

      Whether you are a novice user or a reasonably experienced one, the advice is quite simply - do NOT install these programs. They are frequently useless, sometimes dangerous to the health of your computer and often little more than a scam.

      Some of these programs are simply outright scams and will inform you that your computer is infected with a virus and has hundreds or even thousands of errors. What started with a FREE examination of your computer can now only proceed when this program is actually purchased.

      Even if you realise that it is extremely unlikely that your new computer would have all these errors, you may now be extremely disappointed to find that pop-ups constantly interrupt what you're doing to remind you that you MUST buy the program in order to resolve your problems. If this happens then it is time to come back to this site and ask for help.

      One of the most common causes of problems on your computer is registry cleaning programs. These have developed and improved over recent years, to some extent and there are now a few that are quite efficient. However, in my opinion, which is probably shared by many others on this site, there is not ONE that can be trusted to work 100% of the time on 100% of computers. Additionally, you should never use these programs in an attempt to solve problems. If problems are known to exist in the registry, an automated registry cleaner, optimizer or defragmenter is not the solution.

      See the following link for the opinion of a respected expert:


      Your new machine will no doubt have an anti-virus program pre-installed on it. It may be AVG, Norton, Avast, Avira or one of the many others that are available. However, it is more than likely only a 30-day trial.

      Although the length of the trial period may vary, it is unlikely that the anti-virus program is more than a free trial on the average branded computer. It will be a fully working version of the program until the trial period expires, at which time you will be required to either renew the FREE version, purchase the full one or carry out some other similar course of action.

      If you did read the user guide then you will probably know all about this. However, you would be amazed how many people continue to use the computer after the free trial has expired and, effectively, without adequate virus protection. New viruses are discovered every day and unless your anti-virus program is up to date, YOU ARE AT A MUCH GREATER RISK.

      Here is a link with advice on protecting your system against malware:


      Many people also use P2P (Peer to Peer) sites. Some offer apparently FREE downloading of music but many, illegally. Using this type of software is a more or less certain route to acquiring malware.

      Please see this:


      as well as the warnings in this article:


      and the most scary risk of P2P is the malware that it installs to monitor EVERYTHING you do on the computer, including attempts to penetrate your banking security and even steal your identity.


      It may seem great to be able to torrent the latest music until the day when you find that the most recent music download not only will not play but YOUR computer is displaying strange messages and behaviour that you have not seen before.

      Then you access the Internet and wonder why it is not your usual "home page" that you're seeing. If you have ignored the advice NOT to download this type of software, now is the time to ask for help from our Malware Removal Specialists at Tech Support Guy.

      Click on the following link for instructions on what to do:


      You may browse the link without registering but you must become a member if you wish to seek assistance (the link on how to do so is listed earlier in this article).

    3. PROTECT YOUR DATA - Backup and restore
      Your computer will most likely have been supplied with instructions on how to protect your data so that recovery from disaster is at least possible.

      Many computers are provided with the Windows operating system pre-installed on the hard drive and an installation DVD/CD is not included.

      Most, but not all of these machines, advise you to prepare your own Recovery DVD in order to support the recovery partition on the hard drive where a backup copy of Windows is installed.

      IF your new computer is so equipped and you have read the manual, please do NOT make this one of those tasks that is to be done tomorrow. YOU may be unfortunate in discovering that the computer crashes before tomorrow has arrived.

      After reading the manual and following the guidance therein, the best advice is to purchase an external hard drive. They are relatively inexpensive these days, about £30 UK will buy you an adequate external hard drive, usually connected via a USB port to your computer. Once you have an external drive, all of your personal data and a complete image of the hard drive can be installed on it.

      Note that it is not sufficient to have backups stored on the same hard drive as the original data. While this may help to protect against accidental changes or corruption, if the hard drive fails and is damaged beyond repair, you will lose all of the data that was stored on it.

      How to Backup
      There are many ways of doing this. XP provides one in the Professional edition and it may also be installed in the Home edition. Here is the link to Microsoft's XP general guide:


      and another link to a FULL guide on using the Backup utility on XP. The article also deals with installing the Backup utility on XP Home edition:


      Here is the link for Vista:


      and the link for Windows 7:


      Free Back-up Utilities
      There are many free utilities and some that can be purchased that are easier to use than the ones listed above.

      If your internal or external hard drive is a Western Digital then they provide a free edition of Acronis. Here is the link:


      If one of your hard drives is a Seagate then you can use their Disc Wizard:


      and a link listing other hard drive manufacturers' utilities, not all of whom provide imaging utilities:


      The BACKUP is vital for any computer on which there is data that cannot easily be replaced. It addresses one of the inherent weaknesses of OEM builds where Windows was pre-installed, the installation CD was not provided and the hard drive has a recovery partition. WHEN, not if but WHEN that drive fails beyond repair that recovery partition may just as well have NEVER existed.

      If your new computer has Windows 7 installed then it has the ability to create a repair disk. This is a vital step which is explained here:


      If you have data which is irreplaceable, such as images, documents or indeed perhaps your financial accounts then backup is vital. Ideally, files of great importance should not only be backed up to an external hard drive but also onto other media that is not connected to the computer such as CDs/DVDs or another hard drive. Do not rely on flash drives for long term data storage.

      Every time you connect to a web site it is recorded in your browsing history. In addition, small files known as "cookies" as well as other types of files are created and stored on your hard drive. These files can become quite large and should be deleted regularly.

      The links below explain how to do this. Passwords for logging into sites that require them, such as your email, are also saved, if you so choose.

      The procedures outlined in the following links cover both deleting or not deleting the saved passwords:

      Internet Explorer (although the link refers to Vista, the actual procedure is for Internet Explorer and is not restricted to any specific operating system):




    5. CLEANING THE HARD DRIVE - using Windows - Disk Cleanup
      This utility is your first basic tool for ensuring that your hard drive is not cluttered with unnecessary files. These files are created from various activities and Disk Cleanup will safely remove them. Generally, for the less experienced user, all selections on Disk Cleanup may be checked and the program run on a weekly basis, however, care is needed if you use power-saving modes known as Hibernation, Sleep or Hybrid-sleep.

      When a computer is hibernated, data for current processes is written to the hard drive and stored in the hyberfil.sys file. When a computer is placed in sleep mode, the data for current processes is retained in RAM. If you use these power-saving modes, ensure that the item listed in Disk Cleanup as "Hibernation File Cleaner" is not checked.

      Further guidance is provided in the following links. Here is your link to Disk Cleanup for Vista:


      and here for Windows 7:


      and here for Windows XP:


      This includes defragmenting the hard drive, uninstalling unwanted programs, removing Windows components that are not required and the more advanced option of reducing the number of items in your Startup folder.

      Windows XP:


      Windows Vista:


      Windows 7:


      AND an excellent program for cleaning temporary files, which may be used on all Windows operating systems, is available here:


      Download TFC to your desktop.
      • Close any open windows
      • Double-click the TFC icon to run the program
      • TFC will close all open programs itself in order to run
      • Click the Start button to begin the process
      • Allow TFC to run uninterrupted
      • The program should not take long to finish its job
      • Once it's finished, it should automatically reboot your machine. If it doesn't, manually reboot to ensure a complete clean

    Tech Support Guy
    If you do join, you will now be a member of one of the best computer help sites available. You will find us to be a welcoming, family friendly site and hopefully, we will solve your problem for you. If you have some degree of technical knowledge yourself, you may even wish to contribute to the forums by helping other people solve their computer problems.

    We do have a few rules but they are there to help EVERYONE and to maintain the excellent reputation of this site.

    Here is the link to those rules:


    An important rule that I'd like to emphasize before you join is this one:

    "As you might expect, we don't want anything illegal going on here. Users cannot post hacks, cracks, pirated software, or anything of the like. Furthermore, we do not allow instructions on how to complete illegal activities, such as pirating. Please don't ask for advice on using illegal software, as it will be removed."

    May I stress again that BACKUP is the most important and the most vital process you will ever carry out.

    Many people have regretted the day that they did not create a full backup.

    However well and efficiently you maintain your computer, one day something will go wrong. If you're lucky, it may be simple to recover from the error. Sometimes nothing more than a reboot will be required.

    On the other side of the coin, computers, like any other electronics, can fail and if this does occur, for whatever reason, that backup on an external hard drive or other medium may prove to be your lifesaver.

    In conclusion, I hope you found this guide useful.

    All the Links were live when the article was prepared. However some sites do change their link address (URL) from time to time.

    Article prepared March 2012.
  7. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    by Kya

    When I became interested in photography a very wise lady suggested I start with a high-end point and shoot. I was able to play with some of the bells and whistles without getting too confused. Most all Point and Shoot cameras have some of the same basic bells and whistles that the digital single lens reflex cameras have. I found it very helpful to experiment with a less expensive “point and shoot” camera until I was comfortable with using the various settings and had a better understanding of what they did before adding in the more complex usage of a DSLR camera.

    Digital photos are made up of thousands of tiny dots called pixels. Every digital camera has a certain mega pixel, which translates into how many thousands of pixels the camera will capture in a photo. The higher the mega pixel the better the camera and the more you will be able to edit and manipulate your photos. Pictures from higher mega pixel cameras will transfer better to printed media, also.

    Here is a basic outline of the most common icons and their usage:

    Icons and Options

    Auto Mode: When you want to take snapshots without worrying about the mechanics of photography, leave this setting on Auto. This mode sets all exposure levels automatically, and it usually locks you out of making any minor adjustments manually.

    Movie Mode: Many cameras let you record MPEG or QuickTime videos to the same memory card storing your photos. The videos aren't sharp enough for DVD, but they're great for e-mail.

    Macro Mode: To focus on extremely close subjects--say, within a few inches of the lens--choose the tulip. You can take life-size pictures of insects, flowers, and other small subjects in this mode, but the focus range at such distances is very narrow.

    Landscape Mode: In this mode, your camera picks the best aperture and shutter settings for the depth of field that you want when taking pictures of landscapes.

    Action: The Action (sometimes called Sports) mode sets the camera to the highest possible shutter speed, increasing your odds of getting a clear shot of horses running, for example.

    Night: This mode lets you capture nighttime scenes by combining a flash, which freezes people in the foreground, with a slow shutter speed, which allows lights from buildings, cars, and other elements to show in the background.

    Manual Mode: This mode gives you total control. You use buttons on the camera's body to set both shutter speed and aperture size. Remember, though, that you're working without a safety net--the camera won't protect you from under- or overexposure. However, I recommend experimenting with this as much as possible, as you will learn more of what works and what doesn’t for lighting, distance, shutter speed, etc. Thankfully, with digital cameras, one can immediately look at a photo to see what it looks like without having to wait to have it developed and can delete photos as desired without “wasting film.” So be creative and experiment!

    Aperture Mode: When you set the size of the aperture, your camera automatically provides the right shutter speed to deliver a correct exposure. Rely on this mode to blur the background or to keep the entire image in sharp focus.

    S Mode stands for Shutter Preferred, meaning the picture taker sets the shutter speed
    (how long the shutter is open) and the camera adjusts everything else accordingly.

    M stands for Manual Exposure. Here you choose both aperture and shutter speed.

    Lightning bolt emblem usually stands for flash.

    A lot of cameras have two different kinds of zoom: Optical and Digital. In both cases the amount of zoom is expressed as a number followed by an X, as in 3X Optical Zoom or 6X Digital Zoom. Optical zoom means that a lens is changing position to make something appear closer. That will bring you the best quality zoom. Digital zoom is a bit of a cheat, all it does is re-calculate how the image is spread over the image sensor. When looked at closely you will see that the image is blurry and blocky. That is because you are not getting more detail, you are just spreading a detail over a wider area. Some cameras have both kinds of zoom, and will let you go to your maximum optical zoom (3X or 5X or whatever it is your camera offers) and after that--and sometimes after a warning--it will switch over to digital zoom. For best results stay within the optical zoom range of your camera.

    I almost always shoot in Fine image quality with the large image size 3,872 x 2,590 (pixels). You can find that setting in your Menu folder.

    Some Tips & Tricks

    • If you like flowers with the early morning dew on them, but dislike getting up that early, take a spray bottle with you & mist the flower.
    • Always try to shoot with your elbows close to your body & not breathe while pushing the button. You will have more clarity in your photos.
    • If you shoot in the large image size 3,872 x 2,590 and want to crop your image always crop the same amount on all sides.
    • “Rule of Thirds” for taking a photo: picture a photo divided in squares 3 across & 3 down. Focus your main subject in any Square but the center one. This gives your subject more interest.
    • It is best to shoot before noon or after the sun starts to set. That way you will not have those blown out areas ( whitish over-exposed areas )
    • Blow on the lens to create the look of fog.
    • Use flash when outdoors to control shadows.
    • If you don't have close up settings on your camera, try using a magnifying glass. Put it up to your lens being careful not to scratch your lens and experiment with distances.
    • Use your camera's 'fireworks' setting to take pictures of sunsets/sunrises. This will result in a more vividly colored photo

    Nature and Photography is so relaxing and rekindles your spirit.

    Happy Shooting!

    Article by, “Kya.”

    “Kya” is an award winning nature photographer and has had her photos printed in several magazines.
  8. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    by Ent

    Computers get expensive. Many people fear that they may not be able to afford all the software and services needed to get the most out of a machine. Unfortunately, some use this cost as an excuse for stealing software, perhaps through P2P programs. I as well as many others, believe that is both wrong and dangerous, but would propose that there is in fact a third way forward. This guide explains how to complete many computer tasks without needing to purchase expensive software.

    Use Another Computer
    Most software is licensed to a number of computers, not to a number of users. If there is a specialist task that you want to do once, you may find someone willing to let you use their machine which has the software already installed. That may be a friend in the relevant industry, or equally could be a public computer. Of course that approach assumes it's a fairly small job and that you know how to do the task to begin with. If that isn't the case, you'll probably need to either get some help or get some software on your own machine so that you can play around with it and work it out.

    Use a Web Service
    Many jobs that were once the exclusive domain of a desktop computer can now be carried out online, and in many cases they can be done for free or a very low cost. Piping data to a server half way across the world may not always be an option: for example it won't work if you have a slow internet connection or if the task involves sensitive materials. On the other hand this does have its advantages, not least being the fact that you don't have to install anything. You should at least consider it as a possibility.

    Set up your own System
    If you encounter a job so specific that there is no software to do it, or if the only applicable software has a price tag with several zeroes after it (and that's not after the decimal point) that doesn't necessarily mean it's hard. It could just mean that there aren't enough users to pay more for it. You may be able to rig up your own system to do just the same thing. If you have programming experience that is a particular plus. Since you're your own user and know exactly what needs doing, a few short routines may get you what you're after. If you don't have any programming experience, you can still automate an amazing number of tasks in a spreadsheet program such as Excel or Calc. As you become familiar with the software on your computer, it may even be possible to string together a few different programs to exploit the features from each. That takes imagination, but it could save a lot of time compared with doing everything by hand.

    Use software that came with the machine
    Most computers bought from a major supplier have some selection of software included on them. Many geeks consider most of it abysmal, and don't hesitate to wipe every bit of it off their hard disk. There are cases, however, in which you're hunting around for software to do something which has been on your hard disk from before the day you got the computer. This is particularly likely if the task relates to something on your machine: using the inbuilt webcam for example.

    Use Free Software
    This approach is often the most efficient solution to this problem. In contrast to the major software companies who sell their wares at hundreds to thousands of dollars apiece, many programmers offer their works free of charge. These may not be quite as feature rich as the industry standard, but they'll often offer quite enough for your needs. If they don't, try another. You don't pay for them after all. Much free software is not only free, but is “Open Source”. That means that it's maintained by a community of programmers from around the world, and they share the source code so that anyone can find and remove bugs. Many would opt for Open Source software in preference to merely “free” software on that basis alone.

    WARNING: While there is very good, very legitimate and very useful free software out there, there is also a maze of poorly written junk, malware, or deceptive promotions. Be very careful what software you pick up from the internet. Always scan it with your antivirus software before running it. And while it may seem a bore, do read the EULA license agreement. When you click “I agree” you may inadvertently give it permission to do more than you'd counted on.

    To start you off, here's a quick list of completely free, high quality software we'd recommend for various common tasks:

    Antivirus: Microsoft Security Essentials (http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials/ )
    Avast (http://www.avast.com/free-antivirus-download )
    Avira Antivir (http://www.free-av.de/en/trialpay_download/1/avira_antivir_personal__free_antivirus.html )
    Important: only use one Antivirus program at a given time. They simply don't work well together, and you'll have a slower, less secure computer with 2 than with 1.

    Web Browser: Mozilla Firefox (http://www.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/new/)
    Google Chrome (https://www.google.com/chrome)
    Opera (http://www.opera.com/)

    Office Suite: LibreOffice (http://www.libreoffice.org/download/)

    Image Editing: the GIMP (http://www.gimp.org/downloads/)
    Paint.net (http://www.getpaint.net/)

    Sound Editing: Audacity (http://audacity.sourceforge.net/)

    There is plenty of software to provide for many other tasks including full operating systems, desktop publishing, file encryption, backup, computer maintenance, and so on, as well as alternative programs to do the above. We couldn't presume to give a comprehensive list.

    Getting Support
    If you decide to go for free software, it generally won't come with dedicated customer support in the same way a commercial package might. On the positive side, you can always come back to techguy.org with questions. Because it's free and legally so, a volunteer who hasn't got the software could pick it up for playing around to work out the answer to your question.
    Meanwhile you can often find answers just by googling effectively. Be sure to include in the search query the name of the software you're using and any error messages you're getting. Put each (name, error, etc) in "quotation marks" so that the search engine doesn't find pages with the words in a uselessly different order.
  9. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    by Gizzy

    The Tech Support Guy Library of Knowledge is a Wiki and an extension of the Tech Support Guy website. It contains computer related how-tos, information and questions frequently asked in the Tech Support Guy Forum.

    Some useful examples of pages in the Library:

    Tech Support Guy FAQs - http://library.techguy.org/wiki/Category:TSG_FAQs

    Dictionary of common forum and computer related terms - http://library.techguy.org/wiki/Dictionary

    How does the Library work?

    It works by members of the forum contributing content and sharing solutions and knowledge to common problems and questions frequently asked, The Library helps make the information easier to find and modify if required. Wikis allow anyone almost complete control to create and edit nearly any page they choose. Any member of the forum may contribute to the Library, You will however need at least 25 posts before you can create and edit pages.

    Where can it be found?

    The Library can be found at http://library.techguy.org/ There is also a link for it at the top of every page at Tech Support Guy between "Forums" and "News"

    How can someone contribute?

    To contribute to the Library you will first need to log in to it.
    Navigate to the Library and click the "Log in / create account" link or just follow this link http://library.techguy.org/w/index.php?title=Special:Userlogin&returnto=Main_Page

    Log in using your same Tech Support Guy Username and Password you would use for the forum. Once you've logged in you will be able to edit or create nearly any page you choose. If you're not familiar with Wikis and aren't sure how to create or edit pages follow the instructions below.

    How to create a page in the Library:

    To create a new page navigate to the Library then type the title you want to name the page into the "search" box on the left and click "Go" If there isn't already a page with that title you'll be given the option "create this page. " Click that link.
    You'll be presented with an edit box for a page with that title, from there you can add the content you want for the page.
    At the bottom of the edit page is a "Show preview" button you can click that to be presented with a preview of what the page will look like without saving it.
    Once you're happy with the new page click the "Save page" button to create it.

    If there is already a page with the title you chose, don't be discouraged, feel free to add to or improve upon the existing page.

    How to edit a page:

    Pages can be edited by going to the page you would like to edit and clicking the "edit" tab at the top of the page. You will be presented with an edit box containing the contents of the page, You will be able to add/remove/change anything you choose. The "Show preview" and "Save page" buttons are available at the bottom and work the same as when creating a page.

    Though most pages may be edited by anyone there are a few that are protected to prevent any changes.

    Adding your page to a category:

    Categories help make pages easier to find. You'll be presented with the current categories on the Main Page of the Library. To add a page to a category include "[[Category: CategoryName]]" to the bottom of the page adjusting "CategoryName" for the selected category, For example to add a page to the Windows category you would add "[[Category: Windows]]".

    For more information on creating and editing pages in the Library take a look at the Library Help page - http://library.techguy.org/wiki/Help:Contents

    If you want to help with the Library but you're not sure what to contribute, be sure to check out the following pages.

    Wanted Pages - http://library.techguy.org/wiki/Special:Wantedpages

    Requested Articles - http://library.techguy.org/wiki/Requested_Articles
  10. TechGuy

    TechGuy Mike Administrator Thread Starter

    Feb 12, 1999
    by Macboatmaster

    WINDOWS 8 and UEFI (BIOS) - PLEASE READ before you buy your new computer


    and DON'T LIKE WINDOWS 8 – go back to Windows 7

    If you are considering purchasing a computer with Windows 8 pre-installed then you should bear in mind the following:

    1. Many people have found that they do not like Windows 8. It is quite a change from all previous editions of Windows. The desktop is different, the start button is missing and there are many other changes to the normal procedures that we are all so familiar with. (There is software available to make Windows 8 look and, to some extent, behave more like traditional Windows but these programs are not supported by Microsoft).

    2. Microsoft has decided that all computers (laptops or desktops) sold by OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) with Windows 8 pre-installed and bearing the "Microsoft Certified for Windows 8" label must be supplied with Secure Boot enabled. Secure Boot is a feature of the UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) that is rapidly becoming the standard on new motherboards. It is, in fact, now quite hard to find a new board that does not have UEFI instead of the traditional BIOS (Basic Input/Output System).

    3. You may read about UEFI and Secure Boot here:


      IMPORTANT - You will have to disable Secure Boot to install 7 - DO NOT re-enable it afterwards or the computer will NOT load Windows.

    4. The UEFI system was not designed by Microsoft. It was Intel that recognised the need for a replacement for the traditional BIOS. With the ever-increasing size of boot drives (2TB limit on BIOS) and the use of more and more partitions together with the ever-present threat of a malware infection, it was quickly accepted that the BIOS was outdated and a new means of controlling the boot and loading drivers was needed. UEFI has the ability to block previously existing pathways for malware to infect the actual firmware.

    5. You may read more about UEFI here:


    6. HOW DOES THIS AFFECT YOU, the end user of Windows 8 (pre-installed)?

      If you, like many others (and it appears to be growing in numbers), decide that you do not like Windows 8, you may find that reverting to Windows 7 is not as easy as it was with the BIOS system of boot devices, in this case the Windows 7 DVD, that we are all familiar with.

    7. My advice would be, unless you know that Windows 8 is most certainly the system you want to have, that you buy your new computer with Windows 7 as the installed operating system.

      Following the introduction of a new system, Microsoft allows the sale of computers with the previous operating system installed for a period of two years, as per the following quote:
      When you have then assured yourself that Windows 8 is what you want, you may then upgrade the system to Windows 8. This is far easier on a computer with UEFI control than replacing 8 with 7. The Windows 8 download or DVD is designed for UEFI and will not present the user with any difficulties installing.

      This will give you the opportunity to read more and more opinions from Windows 8 users before you take the plunge. However, please see the important details below concerning present offers for Windows 8.

    8. As of January 9, 2013 and up until January 31, 2013, the Windows 8 upgrade is available for download from Microsoft for UK£24.99 or £49.99 on a shipped DVD:

      OR, even better, if you have bought the new computer with Windows 7 pre-installed then you may be entitled to the Windows 8 upgrade for just £14.99. You must have made your qualifying Windows 7 PC purchase on or after June 2, 2012 and prior to January 31, 2013. You must also register for the program and subsequently purchase and download the Windows 8 upgrade by February 28, 2013.



      Although there is very little time left for either offer, it does appear that Microsoft has adopted a new policy regarding software pricing and it is entirely possible that the download availability will continue, even if not at that low pricing.

      PLEASE NOTE that Windows 8 does not have to be installed by those dates.


      It would appear that some people have purchased a laptop with Windows 8 Professional installed then decided they did not like it and BOUGHT Windows 7 to install. This may have been an unnecessary expense as Windows 8 Professional comes with Downgrade Rights to Windows 7 at NO EXTRA COST.


      You don't need to purchase Windows 7 as you can legally use a previously licensed edition and using the telephone activation service, as online activation will fail, you will be granted a one-time activation code. This free of charge Downgrade Right only applies to Windows 8 Professional.

    10. MY Windows 8 is not the Professional Edition - HOW do I install 7?

      The main points for your consideration:

      As mentioned above, Windows 8 pre-installed and on an OEM machine must ship with Secure Boot enabled. It will also have the UEFI (BIOS) system.

      If you examine your boot order in UEFI you will see that the computer boots to "Windows Boot Manager", not to your hard drive. UEFI cannot boot the operating system to a drive. It must boot to a file.

      UEFI with an SSD drive can boot in 200 milliseconds at its ultimate performance level. The traditional key F2 etc. to enter setup is no longer available. No one can press a key within that time frame.

      To enter UEFI on Windows 8 you use the Options screen when Windows first loads:


      Here is another guide and although it's from Toshiba, the principle is the same, of course, as the UEFI is entered from Windows 8 and not from a key press after the POST screen.


      Many people have not realised this and having experimented with the UEFI Boot Manager, have then failed to understand why their computer would not load Windows.

      Neither will UEFI boot to a flash drive formatted in NTFS, as UEFI will only allow booting to drives with FAT32 format and it doesn't really boot to the drive but rather it boots to the file on the flash drive.

      Your UEFI boot will have two ODD - DVD drives listed even if you only have the one. However, one will be listed as UEFI.


    11. FIRST - ENSURE that you have the means to re-install Windows 8 just in case this procedure doesn't work. That, of course, includes a complete system image made on Windows 8 and a backup of all of your personal data. You will have noticed that the product key is not on a label on your computer case as it was previously. It is now encrypted and in the firmware. YOU MUST consult your documentation that came with the computer to ensure that YOU are able to reinstall 8.

    12. Ensure that you can download drivers for Windows 7. Some OEMS have stated that they will not make drivers available for 7 on their computers where 8 is pre-installed. PLEASE have the Intel or AMD storage driver ready on a flash pen as you may find that the Windows 7 DVD will not recognise the hard drive. The Network Adapter driver may well be needed so that other drivers can be easily downloaded if Windows 7 installs.

    13. Enter the UEFI and disable Secure Boot. Windows 7, or indeed any other operating system, will not install with Secure Boot enabled.

      DO NOT re-enable Secure Boot after installing 7.

      The UEFI uses a partitioning system known as GPT which stands for GUID (Globally Unique Identifier) Partition Tables). Drives formatted in MBR (Master Boot Record) cannot be used on a UEFI (BIOS). 32-bit Windows 7 will not install to a UEFI controlled computer. It can read from GPT but cannot boot from it.

      Therefore, if it is 32-bit Windows, you must enter the UEFI setup and disable UEFI and enable Legacy Boot or CSM (Compatibility Support Module), if available. Secure Boot automatically disables Legacy Boot and CSM.

    14. The easy way, unless you have a hard drive as a boot drive that is larger than 2TB (not on OEM laptops at present), is to disable Secure Boot. Enable Legacy Boot and insert the Windows 7 DVD and reboot to the DVD drive. Then it should all be as you would have experienced in the traditional BIOS.

      DO NOT re-enable Secure Boot or re-enable UEFI - the computer will not load Windows.

      Please remember that a simple installation of 7 will format your hard drive and all data on that drive will be lost, including your Windows 8 recovery partition. You will lose little, if any, real advantage that was offered by the UEFI. It is apparently more secure, preventing a virus from infecting the heart of the system, the firmware.

      It has the design capability of booting within 200 milliseconds to what may still be called the POST but all evidence to date points to the fact that the actual loading of windows and a full state of readiness, is little different to BIOS. (That is why UEFI setup is not accessed by a key on start-up, there is not enough time to press one, see your computer user guide).

      That is not to suggest that UEFI is not the way we are all going. It most certainly is. However for the average user with a purchased laptop and Windows 8 pre-installed with the default GPT partition for the whole of the hard drive, you will notice little difference.

      YOU SHOULD NOT DO THIS if you are keeping Windows 8 and simply because you are finding the UEFI hard to work with. You will encounter all manner of problems. That computer is programmed to boot from Secure Boot, on UEFI with the boot device being NOT the hard drive but the file Windows Boot Manager.

    15. If you wish to keep the UEFI settings and it is 64-bit Windows 7:

      • Disable Secure Boot.
      • Insert the Windows 7 DVD (It cannot, of course, be an upgrade edition).
      • Reboot the computer.
      • Enter the UEFI on the setup Guided User Interface (a technical point but you are not, of course, entering the UEFI, no more than you were entering the BIOS).
      • Look for the boot device as the UEFI DVD drive (as in 10 above). It may be that there will now be another entry, when the system has found the Microsoft - boot - efi file on the DVD. If so select that as the boot device.
      • Reboot, you may be good to proceed.(See 12 above).
      • Format the whole drive. It will be formatted in GPT partitioning. The Windows 7 64-bit DVD supports that. (In 14 above it would be formatted with MBR partitioning).
      • Follow the usual procedure to install 7. There may well be additional requirements which are very well explained in the links below.
      DO NOT re-enable Secure Boot.​
    16. YOU DO NOT WISH TO RISK the implications of possible failure. Purchase a new hard drive. OR, if you happen to have one that fits your computer use that one. Format it GPT to install to UEFI or MBR to install to Legacy BIOS.



    17. Remove the original drive (not easy, of course, on some laptops - please check first).

      • Insert the replacement drive.
      • Disable Secure Boot.


      • Enable Legacy Boot and select boot device as DVD.
      • REBOOT with the Windows 7 DVD inserted before you boot.
      • Install as you would on the traditional BIOS.


      • Select boot as UEFI DVD.
      • Insert the Windows 7 DVD.
      • Reboot.
      • Go back to the UEFI and check the options now available for the UEFI boot (see 15 above).
      • If the Windows efi boot file is now on that option, select it and reboot.

    18. If you do not have a DVD drive and you have to install from a flash pen:


      A) Use Legacy Boot and follow the usual procedure. The flash pen can then be prepared using this:



      B) As that cannot be used to install Windows 7 on UEFI, which does not boot from drives formatted NTFS, they must be formatted FAT32, if you are installing with ONLY Secure Boot disabled and to UEFI, you must follow this procedure:


    PLEASE SEE the links below for more detailed information:



    Entering UEFI setup and other information (please see other links on page):



    On the link below please see other links to the right of the page:


    Please now see these links for HOW to go back to Windows 7 on your new computer with 8 pre-installed:

    They do not deal with retaining 8 and dual booting with 7 or a Linux-based system. However, if you have that degree of knowledge then you probably don't need this guide in the first instance.

    Although this link is for Dell computers, it has lots of useful information:


    This relates to an Asus board and install of Windows 7 although my article is addressing the install of 7 in place of 8, the link provides a concise guide to the UEFI procedures:


    This guide from Sean Webster of overclock.net is one of the most complete and easy to follow that I have found in what has been my quite extensive research. I am obliged to Sean for permission to use it here.


    NOTE, if you search Sean's posts on overclock.net you will find all the information you could ever need.

    Finally there are many other guides on how to install 7 on the Internet. Some of them I found difficult to follow, the reader being required to switch from one link to another, picking up the installation procedure at a particular point on the link and then being required to go back to the original link.

    I hope you will find the information helpful.

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