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YerMom

Computer Repair Made Easy

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I posted this guide in Hardware and Software forum and it was never approved, I guess. I'd like to post it here and if you guys use/enjoy it, I'll try to post it as a guide again elsewhere.

First of all, I've been working Technical Support for a few years now. I've come to learn a lot about performance issues and how to solve them. It's been my experience that 90% of performance issues I run in to come from 3 sources.

1 - Unseen background programs eating unseen resources
2 - Overheating or dust
3 - RAM Errors (or other hardware issues)

Troubleshooting #1

I trust that most of you know a considerable amount about computers at this point. With that being said, I'd like for everyone to understand that I am not assuming you do not know what you're doing with any warnings or anything like that posted here.

Super Antispyware: Google it. I can't post links here, so you'll have to find it yourself. It's an excellent program for Spyware removal. Just download the free version, let it update, run a quick scan. It'll likely find a LOT of cookies. (TIP: These cookies will tell you where a person has been browsing on said computer. It's an excellent way to keep check on what your 16 year old son is going when he browses.) If it finds anything beyond cookies, just remove selected when the scan is done. It may ask you to restart your computer. Don't yet. Uninstall this program after the restart later. There's more.


Hitman Pro: Google it, again. There is a free version. It gives you the option to remove selected items by activating a one time subscription key. Do this after the scan, assuming it finds anything. If you would rather remove things manually, it will show you exactly where the files are. Remove anything it finds. It may ask you to restart. Don't. Uninstall this program after the restart later.

Autoruns: Google it. Yes, technicians rely on google on about 90% of projects. Autoruns is a very powerful tool like msconfig. It basically shows you what your computer runs on startup. This list can be dangerous as well. If you recognize things, do not turn them off unless you know you do not need them. For instance, do not turn off anything with Intel or nVidia. HP, Dell, etc. stuff can be turned off. If you bought your computer retail (*it has a name brand like Dell or HP or **ESPECIALLY** Sony) you will likely see things that are labeled by these retailers. Please keep in mind that if you run a program regularly, messing with them in this program may make them start slowly or not run at all. Don't fret. You can always reinstall anything that you messed up. I recommend removing anything by a name brand that you do not use. Just right click and click delete on the things you don't want. Most retail computers come with loads of software (which is why those knowledgeable enough build their own) that run on startup and take up resources. Turn off anything by google or yahoo or anything of the sort. Turn off anything from Itunes or etc. These programs generally just run in the background to speed up the program when you actually run it. For instance, Itunes autorun will make the Itunes program open faster when you double click it. With that being said, there are sharing programs associated with Itunes (that a lot of people don't use) that if you turn off will remove the ability to share using that software. The stuff near the bottom of the list are drivers. They'll look funny and probably won't be recognizable to you. I leave them alone when I use this program, but if you see things you recognize that you don't need, remove them. Anything in yellow means that the file associated with the registry key is not found. They can be deleted. Please keep in mind that if you use USB devices regularly, some of the files associated with the registry keys can be on the USB drive itself. It will likely fix itself the next time you plug in your USB device, but it may cause problems. This can be fixed by reinstalling whatever association was there that you removed. Simple enough. To be honest, I don't know what the stuff in pink means. I generally leave it alone.

Combofix: Google it. I know, right? Combofix is a VERY useful tool. The problem with Combofix is that no one really knows what it does. (As far as I know, anyway). It will take control of your computer. It may remove your desktop. It'll definitely turn off your internet connection. Combofix can be dangerous if not run correctly. It can even be dangerous if it is ran correctly. For this reason, the first thing it will do is create a restore point. It will not continue without permission if it cannot create a restore point (at least the last version I ran would). I would recommend anyone having problems at all to run this program. If you backup, backup before you run it. If you do not backup, DO NOT RUN THE PROGRAM WITHOUT A RESTORE POINT. Combofix will open a blue DOS-like screen that will run through 50 stages. The first 10 are slow. The last 40 are generally very fast. Anything that seems like it's taking a long time is fixing something. If the program finds and deletes a lot of things then it fixed a lot of things. It may restart your computer itself. Leave it alone if it does. It'll continue once the restart finishes. Let this program completely finish. It'll open a text document with a log of what it has fixed and removed. It saves a copy of the log for you. I recommend saving a copy yourself so you know where it is.

Ccleaner: Google it. No quip needed. Piriform, the people that make this program, make some great stuff. Ccleaner is a cleanup tool that cleans both your internet associated files and your registry. Download it, install it, and leave it on your computer. When you run it, it'll open to the Internet cleanup section. Click Run Cleaner. Let it run. It'll remove things automatically. Be aware that it will remove the history on your browser. It'll also remove auto complete data in your browser as well. This means that all those websites you only have to type half of will no longer be there. You'll have to type the entire address. There is an optional check box to remove saved passwords. As long as you do not check that box, your passwords will be safe. Once the Cleaner side has finished, click on the Registry button on the left. It looks like blue cubes stacked on each other. The screen will switch. Click on Scan for Issues. Let it run. When it's done, click Fix Selected Issues. It'll ask you to save a copy of your registry. Just click okay to save a copy. Be sure you have saved a copy before you finalize. If it shows more than 300 problems (which it likely will if you've been using your computer for a long time without running this cleaner or another like it) then you're about normal. If it shows more than 1000 problems, you might have just located a problem with your machine. Finish the cleanup and close the program. You can leave it on your computer. It'll never bother you.

Defraggler: Google it. Quip. This likely won't fix any performance issues, but it'll free up disk space. It's just a better defrag program than the Windows version. Also made by Piriform. Great stuff.

AT THIS POINT: Restart your computer, even if it has restarted itself. If you are still having issues on a computer that should not have issues, it's likely a hardware issue.

Other things it may be: Hard drive corruption - check disk will help with this. Go to Computer (Windows 7), right click on your Hard Drive, click Properties, click Check Now under Error Checking, select Automatically Fix and Scan for and attempt to fix check boxes. It will likely tell you it will run when you restart your computer. Check disk generally takes a while to run, especially if you have lots of problems with your HDD. I recommend doing this even if you're not having problems.

Memtest: I've never actually used Memtest but it's a very useful tool. You can find it by googling. There are LOTS of different versions made by lots of different people. You choose what you think is best. Let it run overnight because memtests usually take a LONG time, especially if you have lots of RAM. It'll let you know if you have any issues in your memory sticks. The downside is that if it finds problems, the only thing you can really do is replace the stick. Good luck.

If you have not dusted your computer in the last few months... go get a can of air duster (make sure it's powerful... no cheap stuff. Office Depot brand sucks). Take the side off your tower, and blow out all the fans. Make sure they're dust free. Make sure your processor heat sink is free of dust. This may take some taking apart. If you're comfortable doing it, I'd take the heat sink off your processor and blow it out thoroughly. Clean out any filters your computer may have. In short, ensure your computer has VERY good air flow.

After all this, if you still have problems with anything running, there may be problems with your Windows. A repair install of Windows (Vista, 7, 8) will likely help. If you have XP, upgrade.

If you do not have your copy of your Windows Vista and latter disk, PM me. I'll tell you how to make one if you don't already know.

If you have any problems or questions with any of this, feel free to PM me. I'll even sit down and go through your Autoruns list with you if you need me to. By the way, Autoruns will likely make a huge difference in performance, so I definitely recommend at least running it if you haven't already. Don't think MSCONFIG will do everything you need it to do. Download Autoruns and figure out exactly what your computer is doing on startup.

*DISCLAIMER* I am not responsible for any problems you may cause running these programs. Some of them are dangerous to run if not used correctly. Again, please contact me if you are nervous about any of this, and I will walk you through it. Most of this is simple.

If you need an antivirus for free, Microsoft Security Essentials will work perfectly. Viruses aren't a big deal anymore. It's all in the spyware anyway.

I hope this helps you guys. Let me know if you have any feedback on this list. I'd rather not argue about it, though. I've been using this toolset for well over a year and I know it works well.

You can find all these things and more within the Hiren's Boot CD toolkit. Google it. It's PACKED full of excellent tools for computer test/repair/etc. I can tell you how to use it as well.

Even if you are not having problems with your PC, I would recommend following most of these steps AT LEAST once a month. Definitely Super Antispyware and Ccleaner. Autoruns if you've installed a lot of programs recently. (Most of the startup programs associated with software itself are not necessary. They just eat resources). If you are running any version of Norton or AVG or any other intensive antivirus, I'd recommend changing it for Microsoft Security Essentials when your subscription runs out. Most antiviruses don't catch everything they should anyway. They eat money and take up massive amounts of resources that are completely unnecessary. With that being said, some of the programs are worth the money. You decide.

If you are running Vista or latter, the task manager (control alt delete) will give you a Resource Manager option under the performance tab. Studying this data will likely show the cause of most problems. PM me for more info.

GOOD LUCK!

Mom

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Comments

  1. Dredge's Avatar
    Great stuff, gonna have to keep this bookmarked for future use!
  2. YerMom's Avatar
    Hard drive corruption - check disk will help with this. Go to Computer (Windows 7), right click on your Hard Drive, click Properties, click Check Now under Error Checking, select Automatically Fix and Scan for and attempt to fix check boxes. *** Should say Click Properties, Click Tools Tab then continue***

    Last few updates of Ccleaner.... they made a check box so that you can choose to remove autofill data (where you type half an address and it finishes it for you). It is not selected by default. If you want to remove autofill you will have to check said box.

    If you ever run into an error where you try to run a program in Windows and it says it cannot find "whatever.exe", run the Trend Micro online scan. Google it. Do this only if multiple programs are acting this way. It will likely not find any problems, but for some reason it'll fix the issue.

    Going to Start > Control (or control panel) > Programs (or Add/Remove Programs) > Uninstall A Program will list all the programs installed on your computer. Obviously you know what you want and don't want on your PC. Remove things you haven't used in a long time (unless you need/want it). Remove anything by Google (you don't want). Remove any toolbars or "fix it" or "help me fix my pc" or "driver updater" programs that may be installed. (DO NOT REMOVE nVidia/AMD/ATI/Intel driver updaters) 24/7 help is pretty common on computers these days. It causes lots of problems. Anything like that, you do not need. I'm sure most of you know this, but it's worth mentioning. Combofix and Super Antispyware will remove most of these programs for you.

    If you are getting BSODs, the first thing you should do is try to boot into Safe Mode and try to run a Check Disk on your HDD. If this does not solve the problem, restart into Safe Mode with Networking and download TDSS Killer (google it) and run a scan with it. If you are still getting BSOD's, contact me and we'll work thru them. If you cannot boot into Safe Mode (try the different variations of it -- with Networking, with Command Prompt, and just basic Safe Mode) then you can either slave the HDD in another computer or create a Hirens Boot CD. You can do that with a USB Flash Drive (thumb drive, jump drive, whatever you want to call it) or you can burn a CD.

    Go to google, type in hirens boot cd usb boot. Click the first link it shows you (should say Hiren's BootCD From USB Flash Drive (Pen Drive) ). It'll tell you how to make your flash drive bootable. When your computer starts up, you'll see options like System Setup F10 (or Delete), Boot Options F9... you need to hit the corresponding button when you see that message. System setup will take you into your BIOS. You're looking for Boot Options. You need to set your boot priority to USB. By that, I mean that your computer needs to try to boot to USB before it tries to boot to your hard drive. This is a little complicated. A better option is Boot Options if you can see it. It will give you a list of things to boot to. USB Drive should be in that list. When you boot to your USB device, it will give you the option to boot to Mini Windows. It's basically a copy of Windows XP (or 7) that you run off your USB drive. When Mini Windows loads, click My Computer on the desktop and figure out which of the drives is your Hard Drive (should show 200 gigs or 500 gigs or whatever on the right of it. Right click on that drive and follow the above instructions to run a check disk.

    The CD version of the boot disk is the same. The only difference is that you'll have to tell your PC to boot to CD in the BIOS or Boot Options.

    There are a lot of other options when you actually get Hirens to boot. I've used some of them, but most of these tools are very advanced and should be approached with caution. Mini Windows is very useful.

    If you run a check disk from Mini Windows and you still cannot boot, you may have a virus or some sort of spyware blocking your Windows from booting. Running virus and spyware scans from Mini Windows doesn't work very well, but it's okay because I know how to remove viruses manually. :P

    IF YOUR COMPUTER IS OLDER, YOU ARE THE ONLY USER AND HAVE NOT DOWNLOADED ANYTHING (or watched.. certain videos lately). PLEASE CONTACT ME AND WE WILL WORK THRU THE BSOD TOGETHER. YOU LIKELY DO NOT HAVE A VIRUS OR SPYWARE THAT IS STOPPING YOU FROM BOOTING.

    The following is ONLY for Windows Vista, 7, or 8.

    If you are in Mini Windows, think you have a virus or spyware blocking your computer from running, and want to try to remove it manually, here is what you need to do.

    Click on the My Computer icon on desktop (or Computer if Mini Windows 7), double click on your HDD (the one with the most storage), double click on Users, choose the folder that corresponds with your username and double click it, hit Alt on your keyboard, click Tools > Folder Options, click the View Tab on the top of the Folder Options window, under Hidden Files and Folders click the bubble that says "Show hidden files", uncheck the box that says "Hide Protected Operating System Files" just a little ways under the Hidden Files and Folders area, and click apply then okay. You should at this point see a folder labeled AppData at the top of your User folder. Double click it. Once you're in there, you'll see Local, LocalLow, and Roaming. Check the Date Modified column on the right side and see what was changed last and open that folder. Once in that folder, click the Date Modified text above the corresponding column to sort the files by when they were modified. If your computer crashed last night, and there are files that were added/modified around that time, right click and delete them. Anything that was changed recently that is named something like adbf4884938clddsppccl.exe is probably your virus. If the stuff hasn't been modified in a long time, it's probably not causing the problem.

    IF YOU BOOT YOUR COMPUTER AND IT GIVES YOU A WHITE SCREEN THAT SAYS A BUNCH OF JUNK ABOUT THE FBI, CYBERCRIME DIVISION, ICE, MONEYPAK OR ANYTHING RELATED TO THESE THINGS (it will tell you that you've been doing illegal things online and need to pay $300 or $400) AND YOU CANNOT CLOSE THE WINDOW NOR ACCESS ANY OF WINDOWS, YOU HAVE THE FBI VIRUS AND THE ABOVE STEPS WILL ALLOW YOU TO REMOVE IT. Newer versions of this ransomware can be located in different areas of the computer, but 9 out of 10 of these can be found in the above location by following the aforementioned steps.

    At this point if you still cannot boot to Windows, contact me. We'll figure it out.

    Many BSODs are caused by hardware issues. The order of hardware issues generally goes like this:

    Overheating (Dusty Computer/Low Airflow)
    Hard Drive Corruption/Failure
    Individual Memory Stick Failure
    Motherboard Failure
    CPU Failure
    Controller Failure (Hard Drive or RAM Controllers - this is basically motherboard failure, but it's important to know exactly what is failing)

    Video card drivers often cause BSODs (and in my opinion is the most common BSOD). This can usually be fixed by reinstalling your video card or buying a new one. Contact me for more info.

    I've actually plugged my cell phone into my keyboard USB port to charge it, and caused a BSOD.

    If your computer boots to a black screen with the mouse and never goes any further, disconnect ALL USB devices from your computer and restart without them. Generally fixes the issue. Sometimes USB drivers hang on boot and cause your PC to not fully boot.

    I can go on and on and on, but this is a general guide, and I think I've covered enough. If your issue isn't fixed by now, contact me. If you have questions (which you likely will following anything in this reply), contact me.

    I hope this helps.

    THANKS FOR THE REPLY DREDGE!

    Mom
  3. Acreo Aeneas's Avatar
    You should point out that those using SSDs should never use a defragging program on their drives. With SSDs, data is not stored in the same manner as traditional HDDs and defragging software (over time) will severely degrade the onboard NAND flash memory.
  4. YerMom's Avatar
    I haven't messed with SSDs a lot, @Acreo Aeneas so I didn't know that. Good info... thanks for adding it. I plan on getting an SSD when funds allow, but right now it's one of those technologies I'm waiting till it gets cheaper to buy...

    Mom

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