Geeks Alive! Computer Rescue       919‑481‑2183       Cary, NC
  • Spyware databases  (look up that free program before you try it!)

         is it spyware? Enter the name of the software to find out:
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         CA Security Advisor Enter the name of the software to check:
    Powered by CA SecurityAdvisor
     
  • Hard disk data recovery services  (but call us first)

       Gillware
             Geeks Alive! Computer Rescue is a Gillware Data Recovery "affiliate partner"
    Gillware LLC ($400-1200)

       DTI Data Recovery
    DTI Data Recover ($745-1200)

       DataLeach
    a/k/a SalvageData.com ($500-2800)

       VantageTech
    Vantage Data Recovery ($500-2000, incl. $250 evaluation fee)

       Seagate data recovery services
    A major hard disk drive manufacturer's own data recovery service
    ("Free quotes... Costs for this service range from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars.")

       Western Digital's list of recommended data recovery companies
    Eight reputable companies trusted by a major hard disk drive manufacturer
    (except that I would not recommend ActionFront, because their web site contains misinformation (FUD)
    Note: ActionFront has been puchased by Seagate)


       Google directory of data recovery services
    Lots of other companies also do this kind of work!

       You won't have to worry about data recovery if you do regular backups. Several good backup tools are free, or
    free for home use. The products I hear good things about most often are AOMEI, EaseUS, and Macrium Reflect.
    Here are a few articles about free backup utilities:
          on raymond.cc (2014)
          on techradar.com (2013)
          on bnet.com (2010)

       Also, for "full-image" backups (backups of your entire computer), the free editions of Acronis TrueImage are excellent:
    for Western Digital
    for Seagate/Maxtor ("DiscWizard")

       Warning: I suggest that you "rotate" between two or more backup drives, or at least unplug your backup drive from
    your computer when not in use. Otherwise there's a danger that a "crypto-ransomware" infection could destroy
    your backed-up files, along with the originals.

       You can also back-up (& optionally share) files online for free with cloud services like www.Dropbox.com.
    Dropbox normally gives you 2 GB of space for free, but they'll give you 2.5 GB if you use this "referral link".

       Most online software "reviews" are fakes: advertising ploys created by whichever company's product "won" the review.
    However, it appears to me that BackupReview.com is legit. They have lots of apparently impartial, unbiased
    reviews of both backup software and online "cloud" backup services, like CrashPlan, Carbonite & Mozy.
  • Other

       A "startup manager" (to control which programs run when Windows starts) is very, very useful for Windows:
    Startup Control Panel - terrific free tool by Mike Lin (use the Standalone EXE version). This is the startup manager
    which I recommend most often (except for Windows 10, in which you can just use Task Manager)
    StartRight - a fancier free tool, which can reorder and "space out" the startup programs with configurable delays
    Startup Delayer - apparently similar to StartRight (but I've not tried it)
    Startup Cop - the original startup manager is no longer free
    In Windows 10, Task Manager has this capability, built-in. (Click on the "More details" button at the bottom.)
    Or you can just use Windows' built-in msconfig tool (Start -> Run -> "msconfig" -> [OK])

       Process Explorer
    Wonderful free tool from SysInternals.com (now part of Microsoft), like Task Manager but much better

       Belarc Advisor
    Display an amazingly comprehensive inventory of the hardware and software on your PC

       VLC Media Player
    A nice free DVD player for Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, and other operating systems

       ClearType Tuner
    For Windows XP only (not Vista nor Win7!), Microsoft's ClearType Tuner can make a noticable improvement in your LCD screen readability

       Free up some disk space
    What you can safely delete after a Microsoft Windows update

       What computer should you buy?
    Dave's advice - worth what you paid for it, anyhow

       Hitachi/IBM Drive Fitness Test (or here)
    Determine whether your hard disk drive is failing
    Or you may prefer to download a mfg-specific diagnostic tool from Maxtor, Western Digital, Seagate, Fujitsu, or Samsung. (Toshiba doesn't have one.)  Note: beware of returning hard disk drives with sensitive data for warranty replacement, without first "wiping" or "zeroing" the drive. Most of the manufacturers' diagnostic programs (above) can wipe a drive, or you can use an MS-DOS tool like CopyWipe, or a standalone tool like DBaN. Why does it matter? Read this horror story (or here).

       Test your computer's RAM memory with MemTest86+, or Optcomp's version, or OCZ's version:
    All three are variants of MemTest86 (a/k/a MemTst86), the canonical test tool for verifying that an Intel or AMD-based computer's RAM memory works reliably. Malfunctioning RAM memory is a common cause of computer instability, so if your computer is crashing frequently, you should test the memory with MemTest86. (It is also a good idea to test after upgrading the RAM memory in your computer.) Like Drive Fitness Test, MemTest86 runs as a standalone program which is booted from diskette or CD-ROM, so you can run it even if Windows won't run. Just insert the diskette or CD and reboot the computer. MemTest86 will run continuously until you stop it. Generally you should let it run for several "passes," or at least overnight. If it reports no errors then your RAM memory is probably good.

       These two tiny Windows setting-adjustment tools from Steve Gibson help make Windows less insecure:
    DCOMbobulator, and UnPlug n' Pray.

       Test your web browser
    Test SSL, Javascript, Cookies, etc. in Internet Explorer, FireFox, Opera, Safari, etc.

       QuickTime without iTunes for XP/Vista (or for Win2K)
    If you don't have an iPod, iPad or iPhone, you probably don't need iTunes.

       Adobe Acrobat Reader
    You probably just want the the PDF reader, not the album starter.
    Be sure to uncheck the "optional offer," if any!

       http://www.station-drivers.com/
    is a device driver repository which doesn't swamp you in ads or charge fees (rare).
    Select "English" on the main page.

       How to move Microsoft Outlook 2010 to a new computer (or a freshly reinstalled Windows).
    (From slipstick.com; they also have instructions for older versions.)

       How to set up Microsoft Outlook 2010 for use with Yahoo / AT&T / BellSouth email

       Check_partition_alignment
    is a little tool created by Dave Burton to check that your hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive
    (SSD) is properly aligned. (Needed for good SSD or "advanced format" [4K sector] HDD performance.)

       www.ninite.com and www.pcdecrapifier.com
    are two complementary time-saving sites for setting up new PCs. PCdecrapifier deletes the crudware & demoware that clutters up most new PCs, and Ninite makes it easy to install the good stuff. I use Ninite a lot, and highly recommend it!

       Remote access tool  (based on UltraVNC SC)
    Used by Geeks Alive! Computer Rescue, to support our customers remotely.  (Use only as instructed.)

       Dave's Home page
    Lots of handy links: searches, dictionaries, maps, Cary weather, etc.

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Last modified: 24-Mar-15 (version 46)
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Cary, North Carolina  USA
Tel: 1-919-481-2183