ASK THE PROS September

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A new school year can be stressful for the kiddies heading back with books, backpacks, and probably some new laptops here and there. This is a great time to make sure their computer is ready for a new year. Give them a system clear of Virus and spyware. Clear out old temp files. Defrag the hard drive. You never know how much space is needed for taking notes frorm the new teacher.

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ASK THE PROS 2009 Free Security and Fast Boot

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Lots of new questions in the Ask The Pros box this week. This first, answered by Doug Bender, will help not only Dave, but anyone who might have a compromised system. Taking advantage of the talent on our forums is an area of PC Pitstop that many people miss. Help from our fourms is a big part of our fight to keep your system clear of malware and running in top form.

Q. Dave Asks: “Hi Pro’s, Here’s my problem. Sometime after my daughter’s last visit from college my computer stopped recognizing me as the “administrator” on my “network.” Since then I have lost my control panel and can’t make any changes to my system.

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Windows 7 Beta Takes the Test

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It’s here, it’s public and it’s time to give it a spin. My Windows 7 64bit download was fast and uneventful. While it was downloading I dropped a new hard drive into my existing work box.The system is a couple of years old now and was built using a MSI P35 neo motherboard, Q6850 Intel Quad core, 2 gigs of memory and a once decent 8800GTX vid. card. A nice box when new, but now showing it’s age. I’ll need to double the memory for this to really be ready for Windows 7 and 64 bit computing, but I can add that later. Here are some PC Pitstop test results. [OVERDRIVE]

When Vista first appeared I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. It didn’t take long before I realized it was not ready for prime time. It lived quietly on my laptop while recovering from its UAC-pendectomy.

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Windows 7 Wish List

I am very excited about Windows 7. In fact, I can’t wait. It can’t happen soon enough. Without flat out admitting it, Microsoft is finally realizing what we, as users, have known all along. Vista delivered far less than expectation after a five year wait from the smartest, wealthiest, largest, and savviest software company in the world.

But let’s not look backwards, now is the time to look forwards to a bright future for Windows and its suffering users. Having purchased Vista in March 2007, and one of its first guinea pigs, here is my wish list for Windows 7 and why.

Windows Movie Maker. As I reported almost two years ago, there still is a major problem with Windows Movie Maker. In the middle of editing (sometimes at the end), a horrible error message “Windows Movie Maker has stopped working.” appears. If you Google the above error message, it is easy to imagine millions of people getting the same error message.

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Your PC is NOT Old

I just finished doing the math. I began computing in 1983 and during that time, I have owned exactly 10 different computers. That means, the average life of one of my PC’s is 2.5 years. That certainly is an eye opener. 2.5 years is not that long a time in PC years. When I purchased each one, my anticipation was a lot more than a couple of years, so why is that?

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Botnets, Now What?

Just when I was becoming accustomed to using spyware removal tools and running the occasional Pitstop virus scan (few people keep their antivirus current these days), something new comes along.

Have you ever wondered why your machine seems like it’s operating in mud or is just ignoring you? Well that’s probably because it’s operating just fine for someone else. Yep, we’re talking Botnets. Botnets are using your CPU, draining your memory, just waiting to be told what to do by someone making money from your investment. You don’t mind do you?

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Windows XP SP3 Issues and Fixes Continued

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Trainwreck

By now everyone is aware of the problems associated with installing Windows XP SP3. The amount of time and money wasted with this demon is immeasurable. The public’s lack of acceptance of Windows Vista has only added to the feeling of being blindsided by an old friend.

I am outlining the problems and providing information to fix the issues found to date. Above all I’m telling you to avoid the problems. Don’t be one the unfortunates that is rear-ended while slowing to view the carnage. Stay far away from this Update. I am not telling you to take preventative measures and then install. I’m telling you to wait, “Do not install XP SP3”!

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Trashed From The Factory Straight To Your Doorstep

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Recently my focus has been on how the computer manufacturers are clogging our machines with boatware and craplets. My most recent look at this problem was disheartening to say the least. Instead of continuing to whine, I decided to see what I could do about the problem.

I started with a Sony VAIO VGN-NR185 laptop. The same one used in the �From Bloat To Craplet� article. This first laptop uses an Intel Core2 Duo 1.6 GHz processor and 1024 MB of memory. I’ve always liked the VAIO from Sony but the recent problem with craplets and Sony’s position on DRM has led me to safer alternatives. I wanted to see how much time it took to clear this machine of the headaches installed by Sony.

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My Outlook for Outlook

My friend Jeanne called in a panic the other day. Apparently, she had lost all her email stored in Microsoft Outlook. She had spent the last week on the phone with Microsoft and doing Google searches to find some glimmer of hope that she could recover her last five years of email. She was clearly distraught, and I did my best to help her and calm her down. But inside I was livid. It was deja vu because the exact same thing had happened to me 3 years ago.

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Taming the Wild West

Does everyone remember a few years ago the wacko guy that was blowing up mailboxes in the midwest? What I remember most of all is that suddenly everyone was afraid to open their mailboxes. The ramifications were huge. Millions of businesses rely on the US mail to deliver marketing materials, invoices, and other important communications. What would have happened if the US mail became unreliable?

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Baseball Blues

2005 is shaping up to be a very interesting year. Major League Baseball is being turned upside down this year due to former player, Jose Canseco’s book, Juiced. Baseball will never be the same, and one day we will look back on this period in baseball with a form of amazement that it could have happened at all. As I think about it, I can not help but see the parallels between spyware and baseball’s steroid problem.

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The Death SPYral – Yahoo/Google/Microsoft

The entire spyware issue continues to escalate. Going from bad to worse. Unlike viruses, spyware is becoming about making money, and we are seeing that some of the largest and most trusted names on the internet are doing business with spyware companies. That’s right, names like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft are profiting by spreading and endorsing spyware. Let’s take a step back. PC Pitstop research has found more and more software being installed on user’s computer without their knowledge. But the problem doesn’t end there! Once the user realizes that some unknown software program is potentially impacting their PC’s performance and reliability, what do most people do? They research their problem using a search engine such as Yahoo or Google.

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Our Gator Experiences

What is it like to be a Gator user? We get plenty of reports in our forums, but we decided to get first-hand information by installing GAIN software on our own systems. We also wanted to find out if there are any good things about GAIN ads–do they have the potential to help users find great deals on products and services? The results weren’t pretty. Rob’s system became very unstable almost immediately. Dave didn’t have system instability, but received many GAIN ads that were anything but targeted.

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Anti Spyware Blues

If you’ve seen our previous coverage of spyware, you already know how untrustworthy the purveyors of this nefarious software can be — and how much of a danger malicious programs can pose to your PC. But waking up to the threats and resolving to protect yourself against them isn’t enough. You still have to keep your guard up, because even when it comes to anti-spyware software, there are companies that will try to take advantage of you. All over the Web you can find phony and ineffective anti-spyware products, suspect anti-spyware review sites, and misleading advertisements — including ads for suspect products that show up on sites you might otherwise trust.

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Hola Amigos!

Welcome to PC Pitstop. Or if you’re a returning veteran, which many of you are, welcome back. We sincerely appreciate your visit to our site, and I hope that we can help your computing experience in a positive way. Whether that’s autofixing a problem, or learning more about your PC, or finding a new online PC guru friend.

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