PC users don't agree on much, but they're close to unanimous in their low opinion of Vista's performance. There are plenty of manual tweaks you can make to grease Vista's skids--I ran down five of them a couple of weeks ago. You can also use one of the many Vista utilities to optimize the operating system. I described the free Ultimate Windows Tweaker and $29.95 Vista Smoker Pro in a post last week.
Last week, I described five ways to squeeze a little more juice out of Vista by using features built into the operating system. A simpler approach that achieves the same system-tuning effects is to use a utility that lets you make the same type of Registry edits and configuration changes without having to navigate 10 rows deep into some obscure hierarchy of "keys" with undecipherable names.
I split my work time about evenly between Windows XP and Vista. Let me tell you, I'll take Vista 99 days out of 100. Vista's safer than XP, it looks better than its predecessor, and it runs at least as fast as XP.
Performance has been a knock on Vista since the operating system was released, but there are some relatively simple ways to give Vista a little goose so it performs some common operations a tad faster. These five tips should shorten your workday:
Put an encrypt/decrypt option on your context menu If you frequently encrypt … Read more
If it were up to me, I'd never defragment my PC's drives. I'm one of those people who prefers to have Windows' maintenance operations done in the background, without my direct intervention.
So it comes as no surprise that I'm a big fan of Vista's automatic-defrag setting. But I also know better than to put all my faith in Microsoft's ability to keep my system healthy. Last year, I started using Auslogics' free Disk Defrag utility, which works with Windows 2000 and up.
If you prefer to use Windows' defragger, you can open it … Read more
Windows XP users can't get no respect. A couple of weeks ago, Microsoft announced that it would no longer offer free support for XP, apart from critical security patches. XP machines are much more likely than Vista systems to be infected with a virus, according to a recent Microsoft Security Intelligence Report.
And dis of disses, Microsoft delayed patching the AutoRun glitch in XP (and Windows Server 2003) until last February, more than six months after the same hole was plugged in Vista and Server 2008.
But just because Microsoft believes XP has outlived its usefulness doesn't mean … Read more
It qualifies as one of the major annoyances of notebook-computer users: inadvertently moving the cursor by brushing against the touch pad while typing. One person I know actually taped a business card over his laptop's touch pad. Well, what the technique lacks in elegance it makes up for in simplicity.
But what if you want to disable your touch pad only when you have a mouse or other input device plugged in? That's my situation. When I'm using my laptop at a desk or other semipermanent location, I plug in a USB tablet to give me more … Read more
PCs do the darnedest things. When a program crashes, your system slows down, or a file or program refuses to open, it's probably due to a problem with an application or device. But not always. Computer viruses and worms will cause your PC to exhibit many of the same symptoms as a failed or failing component or program.
Here are some of the primary indicators that your system is infected:
• Your system slows to a crawl for no apparent reason. • The machine crashes, with or without an automatic restart. • Error messages pop up repeatedly. • Programs or files open slowly … Read more
The other day, my friend Howard asked me about an error message that appeared whenever he tried to open Internet Explorer on his aging Windows XP machine. After a little basic long-distance troubleshooting (Howard lives on the other side of the country), we determined that it wasn't a problem with his network connection.
Howard isn't very tech-savvy, unfortunately. (He's a handicapping wiz, though, which explains why he needed to get back online--he had a longshot lined up at Gulfstream.) My brother Larry, who lives in the same town as Howard, restored his Web access by logging him … Read more
Four hours. That's how long it took me to prepare my new notebook computer for the workaday world. And that includes restoring all my data files and e-mail.
I've got the process down to 12 steps:
Step 1: Establish a network connection. My computer is pretty useless without an Internet link. (Well, less useless than it was before Google Gears arrived; more on that in Step 12 below.) I discovered this fact last fall when I was networkless in the wilds of southeastern Maine. Getting on my home's wireless network was a breeze using Vista's Network … Read more
On Saturday afternoon, my Hewlett-Packard notebook computer was working fine. On Sunday morning, the machine wouldn't start. The power would blink on and go off just as quickly.
If I held the power button in the on position, I could keep the power indicator and other of the machine's LEDs lit, but nothing would happen: no power-on self-test, no BIOS message, and definitely no Windows.
My first thought was that it was a power glitch. I unplugged the machine and tried starting it on battery power, but no go. I removed the battery and tried using just AC … Read more