How to use your emergency tool kit (4) Create an emergency tool kit on your USB drive...

You’ve downloaded 4 utilities that can save your bacon when your computer starts acting up. As discussed in previous posts, malware can create havoc on your computer, make you believe in hardware failures, or silently steal your information, or use your computer as their host for sending spam mails to your contacts, or more. When your computer starts acting up is not the time to download the utilities that can solve the problem, you should have them on hand beforehand.

Belarc Advisor. Belarc Avisor analyzes your computer hardware and software and displays absolutely everything that is installed on it with keys and serial numbers. It includes warnings of weaknesses, or missing updates that might need attention.
The detailed report Belarc Advisor produces can help you find out if your computer is up-to-date with the latest security updates. It also tells you the serial numbers of your installed hardware and software. You could useĀ  the System tool to find out some details about your hardware, but it doesn’t even come close to the detail Belarc Advisor produces. While you will need other tools to clean off a malware infestation, a printout of the Belarc Advisor report can help you with the critical information needed when your computer becomes incapacitated or if you need any type of technical support. Find Belarc Advisor where you stored it (probably in My Documents > Downloads) double-click the file to run it, then print the report it produces.

CCleaner. Use this to keep your computer humming. It is a maintenance tool.
When you find that your computer has slowed down to a crawl, booting seemingly takes minutes, opening your browser to go to the internet also takes too long, surfing from site to site is gooey slow, it’s time to use CCleaner. Install the software and run it on a regular basis. It’ll scan your hard drive for temporary internet files, temporary installation files, other temporary cache files, and invalid registry entries, that slowly clutter up your hard drive and gradually slow down computer performance. Before cleaning your files, use the Analyze feature in CCleaner. You’ll see the ‘debris’ that is on your computer. Check the option to set a restore point on your computer before cleaning. Using CCleaner on a regular basis (once a week, or so) will keep your computer humming. Find CCleaner where you stored it (probably in My Documents > Downloads), double-click on the file to install.

Malwarebytes. The free version is not an anti-virus software. It finds and cleans off malware that is giving you problems.
Even with a good antivirus software it can happen that your computer gets infected with malware. If, for whatever reasons, you don’t have an anti-virus software installed on your computer, you can use this utility on a regular basis to find infiltrations of malware and clean them off. If your computer starts malfunctioning, i.e. shutting down suddenly, giving you false security messages, or preventing you from connecting to the internet, use this utility in WINDOWS SAFE MODE. Here is a good description as to how to get to Windows Safe Mode in various Operating Systems.

In Windows Safe Mode, find Malwarebytes where you stored it (probably in My Documents > Downloads), double-click the file to install. Be careful to NOT accept the option to upgrade to the full version, you don’t want this utility to conflict with your regular installed virus checker. When you first run the Malwarebytes let it update the ‘signature files’ and then scan your computer. The scan can take a couple of hours. Do not interrupt this process, don’t use the computer to work on other things. Let the software do its work. At the end of the scan you’ll see a list of problems. Run the option to clean the malware. If there were Trojans listed, or other high risk viruses, reboot your computer back into Safe Mode and do a second scan. The computer should be clean, but in some cases it takes additional steps to remove malware and you’ll find out if that’s the case with a second scan. After cleaning your computer, reboot back into normal Windows. Windows should now perform as before.

RevoUnistaller. This is a 30-day fully functional uninstaller that beats anything else I know of. Much better than Windows own uninstaller, because it cleans out all traces of the uninstalled software from the Windows registry.
I have included this software in my emergency kit. I take it with me when I help clients or friends with their computer problems. Licensed versions are installed on both of my PCs. Functioning problems on your computer can be caused by having installed incompatible software, or some program that takes too many resources and slows down your computer, or you just want to clean up your software installation base and free up disk space to improve performance. If you’ve printed out that Belarc Advisor report you’ll see how much software is installed on your PC that you may not even know about. Some PCs have the original trial software still cluttering up disk space. If you are cleaning up your computer on a one-time basis, perhaps remove all that useless trial software from it, you can use the 30-day trial period to do a great job of it. On the other hand if you are a power user, this is one utility I would highly recommend to buy. It’ll keep your computer at peak performance and clean of redundant, unwanted, or obsolete software that you are not using.

If you are familiar with the Adobe Creative Suites, very powerful, expensive software for designers and developers, you may have heard about the huge installation problems of their version CS4. Incredibly frustrating… All the (lousy) support that was available did not solve an installation problem I had, until I used RevoUninstaller to uninstall the suite cleanly and completely. I could then re-install the software without a problem.

3 thoughts on “<span class="entry-title-primary">How to use your emergency tool kit (4)</span> <span class="entry-subtitle">Create an emergency tool kit on your USB drive...</span>”

  1. I’ll have a closer look at that blog entry. There are some products that I have tried and dismissed (Muse and Catalyst), because for a developer Muse is too simplistic and there is not enough control over the code (it’s pretty bad), and Catalyst makes me uneasy because it’s all on Adobe servers. Some of the new software, i.e., digital publishing suite and adobe edge sound interesting.

    I am also careful not to swallow everything ‘cloud’. Really, it’s someone else’s server space with some added benefits. I think I’ll follow the old licensing model and use my own cloud setup. Thanks for posting the link though, there is always something new to learn.

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