A Computer Beginner's Management Survival Factfile 

WORD and PDF versions updated 28.12.12

Link to   Computer Factfile PDF and WORD Versions

Preface, October 2008: After several years of development, 2003-2008, this Factfile, spanning Win95-Vista/Win7, and with all its various inclusions and addendums,  has by now written itself out to a state of quasi-conclusion.  Optimal computer beginner’s need-to-know computer information, not always so easy to find, has been collected and displayed herein in order to facilitate, as much as practicable, informed computer consumer decision-making, and, basic computer user education.  The References provided will serve you well, should you choose to follow them up, and this is recommended, as the CBSF itself is by no means omniscient, prescient, or exhaustive in its informational scope.   Do also consult when this is recommended in the text, only ask trusted professionals questions, and, even theLQM1WKkMFqKhqn, always expect qualitative and detailed answers.   Nofrillstech has sought the best advice,  tested the given software examples, and now presents thLQM1WKkMFqKhqe collected information guide all in good faith, but the full scope of The Laws must always be considered!

Although there will continue to be scope for further updates to the Factfile of  need-to-know information, they will now be less frequent, and, of necessity, placed with original relevant subject matter to maintain coherence of form.  Suggest using keywords with Edit/Find, for quick access to extant facts and topics, as well as the section headings,  and  also use Copy-and-Paste and/or Print. Nofrillstech's Notemaker trusts that the CBSF continues to prove useful to anyone in need as an effective computer introduction, and,  has been much encouraged, by the hits recorded in StatCounter and other kind comments, to develop the project to this present stage.  Now, Nofrillstech must also necessarily make the decision to do more with the Home Computer, (thus resolving a long-standing productivity paradox),  and be less intensively preoccupied with the study of its specific functions and processes, of both a software and hardware nature.  However, as we all know so well now, in our own turn, diversionary ad hoc computer studies will ever continue, in order to support the increasingly creative use of this epoch-defining, synergistic, digital machine. 

In the meantime, may The Laws be with us all..!

Those who do ask questions are fools for 5 minutes, those who will not are fools forever.  (China, trad.)

Proofreading tips will always be most appreciated,


There is a a shorter CBMSF version, and, these are the Contents Topics available in the full-length, updated, Word and PDF versions:

Contents   with Page intralinks and Web hyperlinks         


Survival Factfile of 75 Items                

Origins of Selected Computer-Related Laws                          

Secondhand Woes                          


Computer Beginners Web-Page Building                    

Beginner's Business Computer Survival          

Formatting Master and Slave Drives in Situ    

Useful Keyboard Shortcuts?  

Health Issues               

The Risen Star, Windows XP, now eclipsed by Vista/Win7 

Miscellaneous Computer Management Facts

The Least You Should Know About Managing Computers & Troubleshooting               

Not Only Secondhand Computers

Conclusion, Useful Books, and Postscript    

Appendix 1  Extra Technical Information, plus Networking and Printers

Appendix 2  The Importance of Uninterruptible Power Supplies

Appendix 3  Nofrillstech's Basic Software Installation and Performance Check Sheets, Vista/Win7 included, See Appendix 3 below

Appendix 4  Notes on Windows, Apple, Unix, Linux, Ubuntu, et al...

Appendix 5  Partitioning, Dual Booting, Cloning, and Imaging HDDs

Appendix 6 Optimising, Updating, and Migrating System Modules to Modern Cases

New Additions to the WORD and PDF Versions Index, 21.6.05:

Notes on Artificial Intelligence and Education in the Age of the Computer

Notes on Building a Free Public Information Website

With special thanks to friends and family who tolerated and/or endured multiple heuristic hands-on computer trials, as well as to all those most useful listed Web and print Referees consulted during the Factfile’s development.  As well as a compendium of computer information, the CBSF, and related Notes, are also the record of a personal quest for understanding of computers and IT, as well as of the amazing history of this varied technology, especially the exciting years since WW ll.  This record is proffered to provide some aid and impetus to of those on a similar quest.  

Special thanks also to Mark McColl, choppermccoll@hotmail.com, IT Diplomate, IT and Web consultant, of Goulburn, NSW, who acts as a consultant for the ongoing refinement of the CBSF.   Also, in Dunedin, NZ, special thanks to Dave Eggers, dave.eggers@sc3.co.nz, IT Graduate, IT and Web consultant, who caters for local business website building and hosting.  Mark and Dave actively encourage computer education, in order to foster optimum customer relations when dealing with both business and domestic computer inquiries, and both have good-humouredly fielded many Nofrillstech queries as the Factfile has developed and progressed. 

Any errors or omissions remaining are entirely Nofrillstech's responsibility, and due, no doubt, to not having asked the right questions of any or all of those listed Referees!  Proofreading tips will always be appreciated, as will be further contributions to the CBSF knowledge base.  

Email contact@nofrillstech.net or via the Home Page


Appendix 3:

Nofrillstech’s Basic Software Installation and Performance Checksheets, also updated, and including Vista/Win7, are in the current Word and PDF versions, Full, Shorter, and Mini... 

Note that the minimum custom programs required for safe and effective Internet interface are a virus checker, 2-way firewall, ad-ware finder, Start Page guardian, Windows Updates, plus files and Registry Cleaner. Included herein are these minimum program requirements, plus other useful programs that will make computer management easier, and also some useful educational examples.  After extensive testing, Nofrillstech recommends the following as intra-compatible, effective, and easy to use.  No doubt you, too, will undertake your own further trials and assessments..?

Before any program changes, such as for software re-install or customisation, make a
System Restore point, then backup, backup, backup, personal data, programs, and all non-Windows drivers!  When installing programs, keep the Startup Folder to a minimum, utilising Quickstart and/or Desktop Icons, whenever practicable, which enables faster and more efficient system function.

For complete software re-installation, do a passive HDD partitioning, format, full slave erase, run Scandisk/Checkdisk, then install as Master HDD; and for Reformat or customization, as follows,

 2) (Run Scandisk/Checkdisk and Install XP, SP2, (or other Windows O/S), Microsoft Update, Windows own one-way firewall will protect at this stage, and then do an interim Windows defrag.

 3) Load ZoneAlarm, Avira and/or Avast, Ad-Aware and/or Spybot, Sandboxie, AVG Anti-Rootkit, StartPageGuard, CrapCleaner, plus  Wintools($) Eusing RegCleaner  and/or RegSeeker, restart as directed, then update and run as necessary.

 4) Optional special utility additions could include, SuperUtilities($), Advanced Systems Care, Registry Mechanic ($), System Mechanic($), DustBuster, PCDecrapifier, XP Detoxifier,  MemTest, ERUNT/NTRegOpt, Partition Logic, Power/Page Defragmenter or  SmartDefrag, ProcessTamer, WhatsRunning, MagicJellybean Keyfinder, DirectX, MediaPlayer, QuickTime, Mailwasher Pro($), FreeUndelete, EasyUninstaller, SyncBack, SIW/SANDRA Lite, DriverMax , WinDrvBackup, Driver WizardNeeded Files Downloader  or DriverGuideToolkit($), IZarc File Utility, CloneCleaner Lite, PrintKey2000, Network Magic($), PopUpKiller, XXClone,  HDClone, or Eraser, DBan, HDDSwipe/LLFormat,  Unknown Device Identifier, Microsoft Error Codes, and, of course, for all ages, the educational and informative dynamic system monitor-at-a glance, Rubber Ducky..!

5) Optional utility extras could include your own dedicated UPS/SPS Program, Nero($) or 5) Optional utility extras could include your own dedicated UPS/SPS Program, 
Nero($) or CDDVDBurnerXPPro,IsoBurner, CDCheck, VLCMedia Player, FreeDownloadManager, NetMeter, SpeedItUpExtreme, Swiss Knife, HDDLife, HDDTune, 
SpeedFan, CPUCool(s), Sensors View($), CPUIdle($), FreeRam XPPro, AMD Power Monitor, Motherboard Monitor, plus personal extras Mousotron, Screen Magnifier, 
Portable Apps, k9WebProtection or Kid Desk Internet Safe($) ,or Net Nanny($), or, educational and creative extras such as McGill Rhyming Dictionary, Sage Dictionary, 
Vikrant's PC Glossary, Periodic Table, Unit Converter, OpenOffice, Abiword, Gnumeric, Picasa, PagePlus, Adobe Reader, FoxitPDF, PDFCreator, pdf995($), 
SearchInform Desktop Free, SimpleFileShredder, PortableApps ,  NvuHTML and CoreFTP Lite.   Note also that Google Toolbar will now lock a Home Page.

6) Set up a Custom Programs Emails and Serials Folder, and other back-up regimes.  Install personal data and any other custom program preferences.

 7) Run complete Housekeeping and Security regime, plus custom defrag, as for monthly regime, 8) below.

8)                Daily:     Virus updates, run CrapCleaner, plus personal and/or software backups.

  Weekly:  As above, plus update Ad-Aware, Spybot, CrapCleaner, Windows Updates;  then run Wintools,   RegSeeker, NTRegopt, ERUNT, etc.

                   Monthly: All as above, plus check for any other updates as well. Full virus checker/malware scans,  Scandisk/Checkdisk, defrag HDDs,  System Restore    

 9) Surge monitor(s), phone filters, and UPS/SPSs are strongly recommended, and do not run computers in  extreme weather conditions.  The 5 Principal Computer Vulnerabilities to continually oversee are Power, Cooling, Security, Housekeeping, and Backup.

10) User Preferences:  Use compatible software only with Vista/Win7, see the Word and PDF CBMSF versions for extra Vista/Win7 software notes.

Again note that, for online software smorgasbords of freeware, shareware, and pro versions of useful custom programs, try Softpedia, Tucows, Majorgeeks, Brothersoft, ProgramURL, FreewareHome, and Freeware-guide, all of whom also have educational software indexed, but do not give yourself or your computer digital indigestion, OK!  PCWorld Howto, ComputerHope, and PCStats  are fine Computer Cavalry if needed, and Google has so much to offer also, just ask!

 Online Manual: http://nofrillstech.net/ see Computer Factfile, WORD or PDF.  Email contact@nofrillstech.net

Apart from regular and optimum Housekeeping, speeding up and optimising your computer, and its operations, by various simple software tweaks or other measures, is also possible; magazines, especially, are constantly promoting these sorts of procedures, PC World Windows HowTo has many such tips for XP and  for Vista/Win7Nofrillstech can recommend the following as simple, budget, and all worthwhile, although some are possibly for the more advanced user, so do consult  as necessary.  

1) Use extra expansion cards for sound and video over onboard facilities, (which may need to be disabled in BIOS/CMOS), given that there are enough spare motherboard slots, and check for any BIOS/CMOS or Windows Display tweaks needed for the video card to work.   CMOS/BIOS tweaks are also possible for CPU, RAM and Bus speeds, but, beginners should consult, OK!

 2) Install extra RAM, if possible, and also both optimally modern and matched will be most efficient.  Any other major system hardware improvements will be a matter of personal choice and budget.  Cloning to a newer and faster boot HDD, if the motherboard will accept it, is one choice, and a good performance improver.

 3) Fit at least a USB 2 card (or FireWire equivalent), and use a multiple-socket powered portSerial and/or parallel USB connectors will also enable the continued use of older peripherals, with new ease of connection. Add a SATA HDD expansion card and HDD also?  Note that any expansion card order, and relative card proximity, may need to be heuristically determined, OK!   Format USB drives to NTFS via Device Manager/Disk Drives/Policies/Optimise, then format with the NTFS option.

 4) Install more up-to-date CD/DVD Readers/Burners, and use flash drives for speedy interim data storage and transport.  They can all still be used if incorporated in a more up-to-date system later, along with any other compatible peripherals.  (Legacy program incompatibility is usually more of an issue.)

 5) The Display functions in My Computer, System Properties, Advanced, can be tweaked, some or all of the boxes being unticked, (eg all but the last 2?), and also boxes in Desktop Properties, Display Properties, Appearance, Effects, (untick the first 2?); you may need to try various combinations to suit your needs, but the difference in Display speed will be worth the effort. Monitor performance tweaking potential will vary, however. Using Classic Windows Settings in 2000 and XP will further conserve system resources, as will lower screen resolution settings.

 6) In Folder Options, tick Launch folder windows in a separate process for more effective use of RAM resources according to individual folder window requirements. Disabling Fast Indexing in HDD Properties also reduces unnecessary HDD activity.

 7) In Internet Options, Advanced, untick the playing of animations, sounds and videos in Web Pages to speed up Internet processes, especially for dial-up users.  CrapCleaner will oversee ongoing browser cleaning, or, delete Files, Cookies, Histories, and, Objects in Settings if you are not using a custom cleaner.  Use an Internet Connection optimiser such as TCPOptimiser.

8) Keep the Startup File to a minimum, (except for the Security programs), when installing programs, disable custom Startup entries unless absolutely necessary.  RegSeeker has a user-friendly Startup editing facility you may wish to utilise.  Consult PCDecrapifier and XP Detoxifier  for more options, with XP.  In Startup Customise, remove accession records to diminish clutter.  Do not use complicated security, or any other such custom programs, when simpler versions are all that are necessary, especially for home computer operations, OK! 

 9) Keep the Master HDD ‘working area’ free of data and programs that are not immediately required, and/or that can be stored elsewhere, such as externally, or on an extra partition. This will make Security and Housekeeping checks faster, especially defragging, with less file and folder volume to oversee and process.  Utilise extra Slave, removable, external, and/or virtual HDDs, plus multiple CD/DVD discs, (5 years integrity), flash drives, (10 year integrity), tapes, or even server or online storage as practicable.  Floppies are least dependable, small, (1.4 Mb), and, depending on storage and condition, have only 3 years integrity.  Use 80 pin IDE/DVD/CD cables if the colour-coded slots are present on the motherboard.

10)  Consult about such measures as removing Duplicate Folders, plus unused Calender and Time-Zone data; eg, Super Utilities will attend to each of these, with marked differences in Registry and other performance, but removing Duplicate Folders will require great care, so consult as necessary.  There are many other program and performance tweaks possible, such as those offered by Wintools TweakUI, but Heuristics Will Rule, OK!

11) Keep total Master HDD used space to 80%, Windows Defrag needs a minimum of 15%, anyway, to be effective. The use of deep defrag and boot defrag utilities, such as incorporated in System Mechanic ($),SmartDefrag, or Power/Page Defragmenters (f), will be more effective than the basic Windows version, and you should defrag at least monthly, or, even weekly with intensive computer use.  Do not compress old files, unless HDD space is critical, to avoid slow uncompressing when/if again required. 

12) Two computers can also share a single (suitable) monitor using a VGA switch, useful if space is limited, and, perhaps more applicable in a business environment.  Plus, right-clicking on the Taskbar clock icon to tile or cascade multiple windows, for even more convenient reference access when required, will further enhance your Desktop utilisation. 

 Dual monitors make accessing and displaying files in optimal form, for comparison and editing purposes, so much easier, however, note that marginally resourced systems may not be able to support dual monitors adequately.  To enable this facility, there must be either 2 compatible video cards installed, or, a double video card, if this is more important to conserve card slots.   

Note that an on-board video and one other card can work together, and are at least worth trying, depending on the motherboard, especially if PCI and AGP slots are at a premium.  On-board monitor and AGP or PCI Express are a default combination.  AGP or PCI Express dual monitor cards will, however, complement system RAM instead of directly utilising it.  Note also, that video card recognition may need tweaking in BIOS.

Older AGP cards may not be compatible with newer motherboards, and, newer PCI Express cards need appropriate modern motherboards, so consult, OK!  Furthermore, newer flat-screen monitors have DVI connectors, so, you may require appropriate socket adaptors if using VGA monitor connectors with modern AGP or PCI Express cards having one or more DVI sockets.  

Note, however, that Open Source custom boot discs, including O/S discs, may not boot when extra or incompatible graphics/video cards are present.  Open Source O/Ss may not readily support dual monitors, either, without compatible cards for that purpose, or, without specific drivers being installed, so, research may needed to ensure a happy outcome if you intend using an Open Source O/S with a dual monitor display in mind.

Meanwhile, after the card(s) are installed, and the extra monitor connected, start the computer, and then check in monitor Display Properties that the new card settings are registering.  Restart should correct this if there is system compatibility, and if not, card-swapping will be necessary, thus, Heuristics Rule once more!  If the card addition is successful, and, a default screen is shown before and after full Boot, the Display Properties should then show the Settings Window as per following graphic:

The new screen must be activated by highlighting and clicking on the appropriate line, (plus Apply), and, the Desktop Extension facility also needs to be activated.  Correct video card drivers must be installed to enable recognition and activation.  If there is only one monitor present in Display Properties, (as above), even after Reboot, then another video card match must be tried.  Note also that Vista/Win7 will only recognise more modern graphics cards, whether installed or already on the motherboard, and, even then may not allow resolution settings to be changed, even if the cards are recognised, unless of recent very manufacture.  

To achieve the desired Desktop Extension result within the Properties Window, It will then be necessary to nominate the priority of the respective Displays.  You may need to Identify and drag the small screens, and/or, try physical swapping of monitor system connections, before the order of the Desktop extension can be established, ie, from right to left, or vice versa.

Note that, as per this graphic, and, the order of monitor connection and recognition, No. 2 monitor has priority, displaying the Taskbar and icons, and that the Desktop extension, plus the mouse, both run from right to left.  A VGA and a PCI card are in use, the onboard video having been disabled.

Desktop icons can be arranged ad hoc within the Extended Desktop.  Mouse and icon control, and any file or icon deployment, are all a matter of heuristics, plus, of course, having both monitors switched on together will not always be necessary, depending on demand.  Multiple monitors are also possible, depending on system resources.  (See also Bootcamp 412/13, Microsoft Dual Monitors, and Dual Monitors with Dual Wallpapers)

Note that this dual monitor facility is built into modern laptop models, as well as the option of a cloned desktop, and, that the configuration of either is also achieved 
using Display Properties Settings.  Strongly recommend nominating the laptop monitor to be Primary.

Portable Broadband USB modems are simple mobile phones that draw power from a computer, and thus connect wirelessly to the Internet, the best option for independence and portability within specified mobile signal range.

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