Nofrillstech's Mini Computer Beginners Factfile     26.12.11

 (For the FULL Computer Beginners Management Survival Factfile in PDF and Word, with Content headings and additional details, consult the Home Page)

There are 5 steps to optimize system software health:

 1)  General File and Internet File cleaning, then File Check via the O/S facility, or, a custom File Checker

 2)  Registry cleaning

 3)  Defrag of HDD or Boot partition

 4)  Defrag  Registry

5)  Boot Defrag, 

 There are 5 Guardians to optimize software protection:

 1)  Firewall

 2)  Antivirus

 3)  Anti-Adware/Anti-Spyware

 4)  Anti-Rootkits, and, in addition, keep them all current, plus:

5)  Always unplug/disconnect from the Internet during cleaning, or, when not required, for extra security..?

 There are 5 steps to optimize system protection for non-ruggedised sytems:

 1) Temperate and non-high-traffic ambient surroundings, with all leads and switches protected from disturbance

 2)  Clean Mains power, with surge protector(s), power conditioner, or preferably, a UPS, excluding laptops

 3)  Hardware monitor programs installed for temperatures, HDD health, etc

3)  No floor-level deployment of any computer equipment, to minimize/avoid heavy dust accumulation

4)  Regular quarterly(?) checks inside the case for dust removal, plus, replug all leads and cards concurrently

5)  Avoid static/EMF contact, especially inside the case, turn off and unlug ALL systems in violent weather

There are 5 additional schedule steps:

 1)  Cleaning should be done weekly, or, just one or two steps per day, everyday, will achieve the same result 

 2)  To check O/S health, perform Start/Run  sfc  /scannow  monthly, with O/S disk installed

 3)  Check for O/S updates, including Custom Updates, but only download from Custom what you really need

 4)  Backup Registry Files and Drivers regularly, keep these folders safe on separate drives, or a CD

 5)  Have boot partitions cloned, and preferably to a separate HDD, ready for dual-boot and /or re-cloning

There are 5 emergency steps to try before advanced problem-solving:

1)  Task Manager, and check for non-responding programs, then Restart

2)  Turn off and leave for 15 minutes, or, overnite is ideal, before restarting.

3)  Restore Point, or, other Registry Backup utilised

4)  F8 Start, then uninstall the problem program, or, rollback a problem driver

5)  Complete clean and defrag as above, then File Check, via the O/S facility, or, a custom File Checker

6)  Start/Run  sfc /scannow, or, Windows Repair as last resort, before complete clean and O/S reinstall

 Enclosed are program lists that can be consulted, relevant to the O/S installed, from 2000-Win 7

       RTFM, so, to do this, be sure to have current and relevant software and hardware manuals on your desk

             For the FULL Computer Beginners Survival Manual, with headings and additional details, consult

       ASK GOOGLE!  There are many resources and answers Out There!

The weekly housekeeping regime, depending on custom programs in use:

 1)  Delete all unwanted personal, (delete large files in batches, do not choke the Recycle Bin)

 2)  Install/de-install programs as required, preferably using a utility program

 3)  Empty Recycle Bin and Documents Shortcut File

 4)  Perform Internet Options deletions, remember Files, Objects, History, etc.

 5)  Perform any necessary back-ups at this stage, including reinstalling programs, and data backup

 6)  Run Guardians, AVG, Ad-aware, etc., and, Cleaners such as Crap Cleaner, WinTools, or similar

7)  Empty Recycle Bin once more to be sure, and, do not use the Recycle Bin as a storage facility!

8)  Perform Scandisk/Checkdisk, Disk Cleanup and Defrag

9)  Keep Drivers back-ups, Registry backups, Custom programs, and Microsoft Update, all up to date

Important: Stay in Desktop to run housekeeping programs singly and consecutively, and do not concurrently open other files, programs or Windows, as there may be a clash, or even an inadvertent file corruption that will cause a malfunction, and loss of data.  Not worth the risk to try this as a time saver.  Tidy your desk instead..?

Never defragment solid state HDDs, including flash, for longer working life.  There is finite life span for their memory cells, which are flashed repeatedly to effect data saving.

Custom Housekeeping programs examples:

 Virus, Trojan Checkers                     Vet($), Avira, Avast, (f), viruses, trojans and spyware only

 Adware, Spyware                               Ad-Aware, Spybot, Threatfire, PopUpKiller, SpywareTerminator (f)

 Firewall & Virtual Browsing             ZoneAlarm, Sandboxie (f)

 Cookies, Internet, etc.                      Cookie Monster, CrapCleaner, StartPageGuard, (f)

 Email Backup                                    Outlook Express Backup(f)

 Online Email Checkers                     Mailwasher Pro($)

 RAM Monitor                                   FreeRam XPPro, Memory Booster, (f) NB, Low RAM overworks the Boot HDD!

 Utilities (&/or)                                     RegSeeker, ERUNT/NTRegOpt, Auslogics Defrag, DustBusterGlary Utilities (s/f);

             Wintools, 360Amigo, Registry Mechanic($)

 Drivers Backup                                  DriverWizard, DriverMax, Unknown Device identifier, WinDrvBackup (f),

 System Analyst                                  SANDRA Lite, SIW(f), using Gadwin Printscreen(f) for easy printouts

 Web Upload/Download                      CoreFTP Lite, FreeDownloadManager, NetMeter, TCPOptimiser, (f)

 File Zip/Recover/Find                        IZarcFileUtility, FreeUndelete, SearchInformDesktopFree (f)

 HTML                                                NvuHTML(f), or such as Dreamweaver, Frontpage, ($)

 PDF                                                     pdf995($), PDFCreator, Adobe Reader, FoxitPDF, doPDF (f)

 Audio-Visual                                      MediaPlayer 10/11, QuickTime, (f), ask Google.

 Burner                                                                CDDVDBurnerXPPro

Also remember that 32-bit and 64-bit systems will use corresponding Custom programs, OK!


Nofrillstechs Own Essential Programs List:

Avira virus checker, and, AVG Anti-Rootkit, ZoneAlarm Firewall, or, a less resource-hungry virus checker is PCTools Free Antivirus, similarly, a less resource-hungry firewall is PCTools Free Firewall, both quite effective

 Ad-Aware Adware and Trojan checker, and, Threatfire, especially for rootkits

 Firefox Browser and Thunderbird Email to avoid Microsoft-targeted online mischief-making

Wintools($), EusingFRC(f), for cleaning Files, Shortcuts, and Registry Entries, Startup, Uninstall, and also TweakUI

CrapCleaner for Internet Files, Applications, and some Registry Entries, plus Startup and Uninstall

Advanced Systems Care for extra Housekeeping and Security use, SpeeditupFree for system efficiency

 DustBuster, 360Amigo for advanced automatic file cleaning 

 Auslogics Defrag for speed, good graphic, and settings that include USB or other external drives, Page Defragmenter  for boot-time defrag of System Files and Registry, (excluding Vista/Win7 as of May 08, a custom ($) program may be needed)

 ERUNT for Registry Backup, and Auslogics RegDefrag for Registry Defrag

 CheckDisk will do just that in Windows, and report, in lieu of a boot-time Windows File Check

 Autostart and Process Viewer finds and displays just as it says

Driver Wizard for Driver ID and finding, also WinDrvrBackup for Driver Backup

 HDDHealth for HDD monitoring, HDTune for HDD analysis and checking, CheckDisc for file indexes

 Rubber Ducky for a good real-time system function graphic, Sensors View($) for real-time system vital signs monitoring

 SIW for quick system analysis details, HWMonitor for temperatures and voltages

 IZarc File Utility or ZipGenius  handy file utilities, Fences for handy Destop icon control


Highly Commended:

Eusing Free Registry Cleaner, nearly as good as Wintools for the Registry

FoxitPDF, small and effective PDF Reader; doPDF small and effective PDF maker, PDFCreator is larger, more technical

FreeUndelete for those deleted file recovery missions, EasyUninstaller for problem programs

Eraser when you really mean it; also includes the HDD cleaner, DBan

HDDWipe/LLFormat cleans and/or wipes Slave HDDs in Windows, and, more effectively than O/S Reformats do

 SyncBack for file and folder backups, FreeScreenCapture for Desktops images

 Sage Dictionary, Vikrant's PC Glossary for respective quick references

 Mailwasher Pro($) for that very useful anti-spam bounce function

 Google Toolbar now locks a Home Page, TCPOptimiser tweaks Internet bandwidth and speed

VLCMedia Player seems to work when not all others do..?  CDDVDBurnerXPPro for a good, all-purpose burner

 PowerSuite BootDisk($), Vista/Win7PE, BartPE,  MiniPE, via ImageBurn, all make useful boot disks for data retrieval and system repair and/or HDD and partition copying/imaging; also Puppy Linux for quick data recovery, 2000-Vista/Win7 

 Add your own...?  

A Starter 32-bit Vista/Win7 Custom Software Suite:

ZoneAlarm, Avira, PCTools Free Antivirus, PCTools Free Firewall, Ad-Aware, CrapCleaner, Threatfire, SuperUtilities($), Wintools($), Registry Mechanic($), Glary Utilities, RegSeeker, EusingFRCleaner, DustBuster, Advanced Systems Care, Auslogics Defrag, UltraDefragPuranDefrag, Auslogics RegDefrag360Amigo ERUNT/NTRegOpt, ImageBurn, FreeRam XPPro, HWMonitor, Sensors View($), Autostart and Process Viewer, HDDLife, HDTune, SIW, Driver Wizard, WinDrvrBackup, HDDWipe/LLFormat, Rubber Ducky, Checkdisc, MagicJellybean Keyfinder,  Actual Booster, CheckDisc, TCPOptimiser, Fences 

IZarc File Utility, OpenOffice, Eraser, NvuHTML, StripFile, doPDF, FoxitPDF, CoreFTP Lite, Gadwin Printscreen, Vikrant's PC Glossary, 
Sage Dictionary, SyncBack, Google Toolbar,  Rubber Ducky, PowerSuite BootDisk($), MiniPE
VLCMedia Player, CDDVDBurnerXPPro, and, see also FreeVista/Win7Files for more Vista/Win7-compatible general software choices.
Note that Win O/S efficiency improvements, plus, ever-increasing system resources and performance, will tend to render this particular aspect 
of Housekeeping less of a priority, however, always have O/S images, clones, and/or Recovery Discs, up-to-date if using such Custom programs,
regardless of their provenance and/or reputation.  

Also remember that 32-bit and 64-bit systems will use corresponding Custom programs, OK!

Two good tweaks that will increase Vista/Win7 speed are, Disable/Stop of Superfetch, and, Indexing Services, via Admin Tools.  
(Win7 Indexing also turns off same as for XP.)  Also, turn off hiberfil.sys via regedit if hibernation is not needed, similarly Superfetch and UAC, and also Indexing via HDD 
Tools. Google will have these details, tho turn off other services in Vista/Win7 at your own risk.  Win8 Beta responds well to the same tweaks. Meanwhile, use effective 
cleaning and defragging programs to optimise system performance.
SpeeditupFree also does wonders for Vista/Win7’s system efficiency.  Win7 will have a Startup-tweaking facility to minimize the number of running programs that consume
 memory.  Some Custom programs such ASC will also perform Registry Tweaks. 

Nofrillstech has trialled Win 8 as of August 2011, and found it to be a good RAM utiliser, as well as being more like XP, at least at the Beta stage.  Let us hope
than this remains the case, tho this 32/64 bit version would only run on a minimum dual-core system.  Tweaks were the same as for Vista/Win7, ie, turn off Prefetch 
and hiberfil.sys, plus HDD Indexing, via HDD Tools.  Great care is needed to turn off other Services, do so at your own risk, and, according to your own needs, 
there is plenty of advice in Google on the subject, and the hiberffil.sys Regedit turnoff instructions are posted there as well.  UAC turnoff may also be wanted, 
also via Regedit.  Meanwhile, use effective cleaning and defragging programs to optimise system performance, accept Updates, and all should be well.

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.

For Linux users, see the Min-Linux Factfile via main page.

For Apple users, there are many Apple books and online forums which can be consulted, so, these few Apple comments file merely presents some initial common-sense tips, for new and average users. As well, only desktops and laptops, and relevant OSs, are discussed.

Apple desktop and laptop systems hardwareare now based on Wintel platforms, which means easy transfer of skills for management, maintenance, and troubleshooting. The Oss are similar in layout to Linux, including Terminal Command line use, being based, in turn, on Unix. The OSs are relatively cheap, but Apple hardware is expensive, and Apple prefers that only their own OSs will run on these machines. Note that this rule can be circumvented, but, is best left to more expert users to practice. The OSs are not licenced as MS Oss are, but do have a cost, however, and just downloading a Mac OS iso, especially an older version, can be problematical, especially older versions, Apple itself does not help in this regard. Apple OSs are, at present, 2015, variations on OS X.

Installing Mac OSs needs the correct disc for your model, after which you can boot holding down the Alt key, with the disc installed, or, you can insert the OS disc while the system is running normally, and select the install option that way, if practicable.

Apple computers and laptops come in just a few models, so, hardware and software compatibilty throughout the range is generally assured, 'integration' is thus the key descriptor. The systems are robust, but, only the newer A-type laptop models are relatively easy to dissasemble. Sadly, the latest Retina models now revert to custom HDDs/SSDs, and RAM is soldered onto the system board. Similarly for Apple all-in-one systems. PC-style cases and contents are more straightforward, well, at present, anyway. For the average user, access to battery, RAM, HDD, and CD/DVD is important, and Wintel models are thus much easier to work on, and recyclable, if you are that way inclined?

For Apple, the change to Wintel systems came 2006/7, thus, OS install discs also reflect that change. For laptops the change came between G3 iBooks, and Macbooks, so select the correct OS type and number for your particular system.

Mac hardware diagnostics can be run by pressing 'D' at boot, Disk Utility can be used to check the HDD/SSD when the system is running. System Reporter and Onyx can also be used, check for particular model numbers before downloading. Otherwise, plug to other systems to test as practicable. On Older Macs, HDDs and/or their ribbon cables were very common failures. Memtest will test memory while the system is running. Note that programs are downloaded and then run, recommend using the Applications folder, and to uninstall, just dump in the Recycle Bin.

Note that Mac Oss recognise Fat32, the universal file system, so ensure this is usede as drive formatting when swapping storage between MS, Apple, and Linux systems.

Note that the same physical handling rules rules apply for any Apple systems, that apply to all computer hardware, viz, keep as cool as possible, do not jolt or drop while operating, (especially with SSDs installed), keep way from liquid spills, direct sunlight, avoid excessive EMF, and, ensure a steady mains electricity supply, where possible, etc.

Apple systems now have problems with viruses and other malware, thus Sophos(f) antivirus is recommended, as well as Malwarebytes, although be sure you have the genuine article of the latter. Time Machine can restore infected systems as well, but as for all Internet use, common-sense prevails, and supervision of minors, in other words, so, be always wary online, of what is searched, and/or clicked on….OK!

Additional software can be downloaded from the Apple App Store, plus other sources, but, is best left to advanced users, or, seek informed help as required.

OS Updates can be manual or automatic, but are best allowed to proceed uninterupted, as with any OS, to forestall being corrupted, and consequently causing problems even to the extent of clean booting failure.

Make sure that the system clock is set to the correct time before updates

Apple Oss defrag automatically, cleaning for speed does not involve file accumulation, but more streanlining operations, as per following excerpts: Kappy's Personal Suggestions for OS X Maintenance

Plus see also Everyday Mac, How To Geek/Apple

Backup is needed, beyond the given system, or The Cloud, and, a good quality platter external drive is still recommended. (WD Black or Blue HDDs, not Green.) Note that SSDs usually fail catastrophically when they do fail, and, are thus not recommended for long-term storage, similarly for flash drives.

Store partitions are not as easy to set up as for MS and Linux Oss, but, can be done by advanced users. Resizing partitions can be done with the OS disc, for more expert users. Cloning entire Mac drives is achievable with Easeus Disk Clone, (latest version of which includes SSDs), so, for the ultimate clean back-up, just swap the drives, update, and then reclone to another HDD/SSD to store.

Running MS apps on Apple Systems, and vice-versa, look for, and use, the respective equivalent native formats first, after which seek advice, virtual environment programs may need to used.

A serviceable Wintel computer system, PC or portable, should have the following operational factors:

1) Genuine O/S number, certainly within the software, and definitely on the case, sometimes there may even be a different number. So, always test with SIW or similar, also for other software numbers.  Record these numbers, and store securely. Always check new systems for an O/S label on the case, refuse the sale if this is not present.

 2) Additional support discs: An O/S disc that goes with number(s), system, viz. age, type, 32/64 bit etc; Startup disc, Drivers disc, ancillary software discs, or other appropriate media.  O/S discs can be downloaded, Startup discs made as per O/S facility, and, drivers can be recorded and saved with DoubleDriver or similar, also on appropriate media for the system in use. Be sure to check that all drivers are present.  Updated drivers are not so important as actually having drivers that work, especially for network and Internet use, being most important for solo home systems, OK!

3) Note that modern BIOSs will enable booting from a USB and/or portable media, especially important for those systems that no longer have a floppy or a CD/DVD.  USB flash drives must be made bootable with Unetbootin, or similar. Ask Google, there is much on offer on this topic.

4) Ideally, Windows O/Ss should be constrained within a boot partition, 50 Gb min should do, and, there should be one or more storage partitions on that HDD.  Systems with extra partitions set by commercial installers can be zeroed, then a fresh O/S installation undertaken, given that factors, listed in 1) and 2), are available, of course.  System managers will also avoid bundled software, spreading of O/S software, lack of extra partitioning opportunity, etc.  Be sure to disable Indexing and Superfetch, which will avoid unnecessary HDD activity, and thus wear.   Check HDD SMART at least monthly, with CrystaDiskInfo or similar.

 5)  Always have a good quality flash drive to save data externally, on a temporary basis, and a similarly, a conventional HDD for long-term bulk storage.  Note that SSD HDDs are not suitable, value-for money, for bulk storage, and will also only be fully catered for anyway, re formats, no-defrag, and partition alignment, only by Win 7 O/Ss and above.  Vista and XP will need extra software and drivers for these SSD purposes, so, consider these factors before buying SSDs, including the fact that 4th generation SSDs are the current optimum choice, after development problems up till that stage.

6)  Recommend a clone boot partition also, depending on system management expertise, easy enough with XP, though use of Easy BCD is required for Vista/Win7/8.  Consider also a spare cloned HDD for any computer, kept up-to-date by USB enclosure use, and easily swapped when needed, then the original drive can be repaired or replaced. Booting from an inner partition is desirable, with HDD age, thus spreading the HDD wear.

7)  If you just want the basics of Internet, Email, and word-processing, graphics, etc, then consider using freeware Open Source O/Ss.  The gaps between these O/Ss in performance, between Wintel, and now ‘Mactel’, are always steadily closing.  Little if any Housekeeping is required, and any HDD, PC or portable, can be likewise used in any other appropriate system.  Pentium 4s can still be used, although bundled drivers may not be more than basic for older systems, no such problem for newer systems, including for dual monitors.

8)  Consider that your computer system is a tool, rather than an end in itself, just to own and admire, with no real–world gain for money spent, and thus avoid pitfalls of blindly following marketing trends. Stay just off the crest of the marketing wave, do system pre-purchase research, plus, incorporate sensible computer management and usage patterns. Note also that XP has much life left, most new systems have XP drivers available, as of 2011, though avoid HP/Compaq, as they do not supply XP drivers for newer systems.  Once again, ask Google re usage of XP in this regard.

Finally, if you do not want to know any or all of this, and/or perform the steps involved, then, be prepared to pay the full professional price, OK!

Note also:

One motto and one maxim to observe, both most important for effective computer management:

Persevere, with Patience and Purpose, plus,

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


The 5 Principal Computer Vulnerabilities to continually oversee and manage are:


Power, Cooling, Security, Housekeeping, and Backup. 


 For the full Computer Beginners Management Survival Factfile in PDF and Word, with Content headings and additional details, consult the Home Page   




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