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PC Information and Repair Guide: How Best to Fix PC/Computer Problems, Buy, Upgrade, Build, Recover, Restore, Repair and Protect Desktop and Laptop PCs

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Note that this website is being updated and coverted into a WordPress site. If you want to read any of the pages that have been updated so far here they are:

Hard Disk and SSD Drives -

PC Security -

Software Information -

Backup Methods: How to Make Restorable Backups and System Images -

The standard BIOS and UEFI/EFI BIOS -

Microsoft Product Activation -

Windows Device Manager -

PC Warranties -

PC Buyer Beware! is a comprehensive PC guide covering desktop and laptop/notebook PCs that provides the knowledge required to make sensible buying, building, upgrading, networking, broadband, recovering, repairing and computer-security decisions, helping users to solve hardware and software problems - PC Problems & Solutions - via articles and questions and answers (Q&As) grouped in categories. The quickest way to find the solutions to a particular computer problem is to enter a short and accurate description of it, such as pc freezes or program freezes, both of them very common problems, in the Search feature provided at the top of each page. A list of pages containing those or your own keywords will be presented.

You can access the main sections of this website by making use of the navigation bar provided on the left side of each page, or specific information by entering a suitable search query in the site-search box.

All of the major internal PC components, such as hard disk drives, graphics cards, processors, motherboards, etc., and the external peripheral components, such as monitors, networking equipment, mice, keyboard and printers, have their own section devoted to them. There are separate sections devoted to computer security, software and all of the versions of Windows currently in use XP, Vista and Windows 7 and Windows 8.


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The latest free version of CCleaner monitors your computer unless you disable the two options

October 18, 2014. - I have just installed the latest free version of CCleaner, the system-cleaning tool. During the installation the usual options of what you want the cleaner to do appeared. I always disable the option called "Enable Intelligent Cookie Scan" because this leaves in place the cookies of Google, Yahoo! and other tracking sites and there is no option to disable the setting other than by re-installing CCleaner, which, to me, is very suspicious indeed.

It looks as if the tool expects you not to go through the settings during installation and allow this default setting while making sure that you don't see it again in the Settings after installation. This time there was no default option to install Google Chrome as my default web browser or to install McAfee software.

When the tool was installed, I noticed that a CCleaner icon was in the Notification Area. The tool was actively monitoring the system like a malware scanner. Since CCleaner is sponsored by Google, I don't want it to monitor my system in any way, I just want it to remove the usual web debris when I want it to, not even during system startup. I certainly don't want a system cleaner, which is not a malware scanner, to scan for stuff to clean.

I discovered the settings, applied by default, under Monitoring, under the Options heading. The top one is called "Enable system monitoring" and the bottom one is called "Enable Active Monitoring". Who knows what the difference between them is? I don't care, because I am never going to enable either if them. The middle option called "Enable browser monitoring" is only available in the paid-for Pro version of the tool.

It's up to you if you use the tool if you want it to monitor your system, but I would advise against it, because, yet again, this monitoring has been sneaked it, and is therefore very suspicious. Its options, shown in the image below, did not appear during the installation.

The monitoring settings in the CCleaner system-cleaning tool

The Comodo Dragon web browser is a more secure version of the Google Chrome browser

October 18, 2014. - The Google Chrome web browser and the Google Chrome OS (operating system) are both open-source software that are open to any developers to customise to their liking.

The Comodo Dragon web browser is a Chrome-based browser that has been developed by Comodo, which also develops other security software, such as the Comodo Firewall. Google uses its Chrome browser to collect user data in order to create individual user profiles that are used to deliver customised ads to profiled users across the web. The Dragon browser has been customised to prevent tracking. If you use Chrome, you may prefer to uninstall it and use this better-secured version of Chrome instead. Here is its website:

The Chromium Projects -

Google's gmail says that this customised version of Chrome is not supported when you use it to log on to your gmail account and asks you to use a supported browser, but the browser works perfectly well so I just click on the Dismiss option. This is good proof that this version of Chrome is secure from Google's prying computers if Google itself doesn't support it.

When the browser is installed you can view its settings by right-clicking the button in the top left-hand corner and then selecting Settings.

The first option called "Sign in" allows the user to sign into the browser with their Google account, which I would not do because it defeats the aim of keeping Google's nose out of your business. As soon as you sign into a Google account you are being tracked.

The second option called "On startup" sets the page that opens by default when the browser is run. It is the Yahoo! site, which can be changed there to the user's preference. The Home button, in the same corner of the browser, can be set to another site.

The "Search" setting allows the user to set the search engine that is used. To conduct a search you just enter the search query in the browser's address box.

The setting that you need to see are under "Show advanced settings" at the bottom of the settings page. The most important settings are under Privacy and Passwords and Forms.

Under Privacy, I only disable the "Use a prediction service...", because you are telling it what you are searching for, and I disable all of the settings under Passwords and Forms, because I don't want to have any of my passwords or email addresses to be remembered. A thief steals your computer and has access to your accounts that only have password protection. I don't allow the browser to provide my location for obvious reasons.

The "Enable malware domain filtering (Comodo Secure DNS)" setting makes the browser access Comodo's DNS servers to access websites instead of the ones provided by your Internet service provider, which is a similar service to the superior OpenDNS, but Comodo's service is probably preferable to those provided by Internet service providers.

Apart from the Settings options, there is a category called Extensions, also accessed by right-clicking the button in the top left-hand corner and then selecting it. I disable the nuisance Comodo Drag&Drop Service and the Comodo Share Page Service, which produce pop-ups to the left and right sides of the browser.

The Windows 10 Tech-Preview process

October 14, 2014. - The Windows 10 Technical Preview was released on October 1 that can be downloaded as an ISO file and installed as a dual-boot system or on a virtual machine installed in an existing installation of Windows 7 or 8.1. It is also possible to upgrade an existing installation of Windows 78.x, but this is not advisable on a computer that the user relies on. Users can preview the new version of Windows and provide Microsoft with feedback.

It's not advisable to install Win10 Preview on a computer that you rely on because it is still in an early phase of its development and can therefore cause problems, which may be serious. I am not going to test it myself. I always wait for the official release of a new version. I got the first release of Windows 8 Pro for £24. Perhaps the new version will be that cheap. There are rumours that it might be a free release to the owners of computers running Windows 8. New versions of Windows are never a significant departure from the previous version, so I never have much trouble adapting to a new version quickly. Windows 8 wasn't that much different from Windows 7 apart from the tiled Startup screen and the lack of a Start button, which makes a return in Win10 - one half showing the Desktop menu and the other half showing the tiled menu.

If you have any kind of feedback such as a suggestion, problem or solution click Start followed by the Windows Feedback tile.

Here is a good article on the Technical Preview release:

The image below shows the Win10 Start menu on a laptop.

Sheoing the divided Windows 10 Start menu on a laptop

Disk cleanup of obsolete Windows Update and Service Pack files in Windows 7 and 8.1

October 14, 2014. - Windows 7 and 8.1 provide an excellent tool that removes obsolete Windows Update, Service Pack and files that waste hard drive or SSD drive space. The tool has been improved in those versions of Windows. The tool is called Disk Cleanup and it is also available in Windows XP and Windows Vista. The versions in XP and Vista are not as capable as the updated version in Windows 7 and the built-in version in Windows 8.

The Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 7 was updated by an update. To open it just type its name into the Start => Search box and click the link that is provided. If it has the option shown in the image below called "Clean up system files", you have the updated version.

Improved Disk Cleanup tool in Windows 7 and 8

If you have the old version you can download the updated version from the following links:

32-bit version of Windows 7 -

64-bit version of Windows 7 -

The tool is built into Windows 8.0/8.1. Here is the page on how to use it:

Using the options provided by the tool can often recover several hundred megabytes or a few gigabytes of disk space.

Beware! - A new type of email scam

October 4, 2014. - I have just got an email beginning with Dear E-Mail Client, which says that it is a scam, that appears to have been sent from Google concerning my email (gmail) having exceeded its bandwidth limit - 5GB - necessitating increasing it to 10GB, asking me to click on a link called: Follow this link to complete the process: CLICK HERE. No webmail service provided by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc., sends emails of this kind - not even with your name, which they know.

I held the mouse pointer over the link to reveal its URL at the bottom of the email. This is what it was: url? %2Fk7o5f8b&sa=D&sntz=1&usg=

I have removed the http://www and broken the link so that it doesn't work. This looks like a valid link, but it is not. Note that is the URL to Google's gmail, not When I clicked on the link that should have gone to, it was redirected to this website: /oju.html. Broken so that it doesn't work. is a fake email website that seems to be located in Lagos, Nigeria. None of its pages have any content.

As you can see, the link has in it, which is a very well-known website that allows long URLs to be made small. Therefore, the code in the link makes redirect to /oju.html via

On the /oju.html page a message appears in a small dialog box saying: Please re-login Your Email to continue the process. The link probably goes to a faked gmail website. If you log into it using your gmail email address and password, you are giving them to cyber criminals. Since many people very foolishly use the same password to log into many websites, the cyber criminals can try using it on ones that allow them to steal your money or make orders.

Here are the images of the email I received and the website that its link redirected to:

Email scam that uses a redirect via Fake email website that leads to a fake gmail website

The next version of Windows is version 10 not 9 and is due for release next year

October 3, 2014. - The next release of Windows will be version 10, not 9. Microsoft has said that it has skipped version 9 in order to signal a break with the past (Windows 8) and imply that Windows 10 is not an incremental upgrade from Windows 8.1.

According to Microsoft, the new version will run the full spectrum of devices - devices with no screen at all, 4-inch screens, all sizes of desktop and laptop PCs, tablets and smartphones, all the way up to enterprise data centres.

Instead of having a tiled Start (Metro) screen that can go to the Desktop screen or be made to open on the Desktop screen, without a traditional Windows Start button, as is the case with Windows 8.1, the new Start menu will be split in half. The Start button returns to its traditional default position in the bottom left-hand corner. The Desktop Start menu is on the left side of the menu with the tiled Start menu on the right.

There will be an single apps store and a single app development platform, which means that apps will run across all Windows-10-powered devices. Here is the preview page on Microsoft's website. The video provides a quick preview:

Join us as we build Windows 10 -

CCleaner is sponsored by Google so take care when installing an update

September 22, 2014. - Every time you install an update to the CCleaner, the most popular computer-junk remover, take care not to allow the default installation of Google's Chrome web browser, that goes ahead automatically, unless you want it and disable the option called "Enable Intelligent Cookie Scan" that is enabled by default. This option allows Google's tracking cookies to remain undeleted when CCleaner is run. The only way to disable this option if you miss it is to reinstall the update. There is no setting of that name under Settings in the program, which alone would make it suspicious in my opinion.

Another very well-used program that can install Google's Chrome web browser, the Google Toolbar or McAfee Security Scan Plus is the free Adobe Flash Player that is used to play videos on sites such as YouTube, which is installed on most Windows computers. The Flash Player's control panel appears in the Windows Control Panel. I disable all of the options such as "peer-assisted networking" that allows the site using the player to share your connection with other users and the setting that allows the site using the player to make use of your computer's microphone and webcam.

Here are images of the two screens that were displayed during my last installation of an update of the CCleaner:

CCleaner Enable Intelligent Cookie Scan default setting CCleaner default option that installs the Google Chrome web browser

Staying as unconnected up to the web as possible is the best policy you can adopt to protect your online privacy

September 20, 2014. - Mobile devices - smartphones and tablets - are accessing the web and synchronising the information they obtain or are given with each other and non-mobile PCs. Therefore, pretty soon, if you allow all of your web-enabled devices to connect up to each other via a Google or Facebook account, for instance, your privacy will be next to non-existent, the more so now that car infotainment systems are also able to go online.

The information that an online car provides is very valuable to the car manufacturer because the car itself provides information about all of its systems to the manufacturer that tell it how the car is being driven, etc. It is also very valuable to online advertising companies, such as Google and Facebook, as well as to hackers, insurance providers, etc.

At present, there is no opt-out capability that prevents a web-connected car from obtaining private data, which is then sent to the car's manufacturer, whichcan then sell it to interested third-party businesses. Moreover, the web security of cars lags behind that used on computers - mobile and static - whichmakes car computer systems much easier for hackers to compromise in order to access.

There is a need for an opt-out option to be made available in car online connections that prevents information from being provided online to unathorised businesses, which will probably be provided at some time in the future, but it's anyone's guess how far away in the future.

The GPS facility of a smartphone, tablet or car logs on to a satellite system that locates your position and then keeps tracking where you go in order to provide you with directions. This information can be obtained by government agencies in the US and UK and cyber-criminals could also obtain it, giving them them the kind of personal information that could be used to make scams very believable, the more so the more inexperienced you are with computer technology.

That is why it is imperative that you should not allow all of your computing devices that can go online to connect together via, say, a Google or Facebook account.

Android is Google's mobile operating system used on smartphones and tablets. If you have an Android-based phone, if you use it to access your email from aGoogle Gmail account, the operating system will link your phone to your Google account. Therefore, to stay unconnected to Google via your phone, use a third-party email provider other than Gmail, such as Microsoft's, or the webmail accounts provided by your internet service provider or the hosts of websites, which always provide email accounts with website domains.

The idea is to keep yourself as unconnected online as possible by using as many unassociated business concerns as possible to provide you with online services. I would avoid using anything provided by Google and the social networks because they are the ones that make their income from customised advertising aimed at you on the web. The more information they have on you, the more accurately they can customise their ads, which is why your personal information is so valuable to them.

There is no shortage of information on the web on how to protect your privacy online, such as this article:

The ultimate guide to staying anonymous and protecting your privacy online -

Five million Gmail usernames and passwords hacked

September 11, 2014. - Google Gmail users are advised to change at least their passwords because five million user names and passwords have been hacked and revealed on a Russian website. Since Google has unified its services into a single account, a Gmail's account login information also gives hackers access to that user's YouTube account, Drive, Google's cloud-storage facility and the mobile payment system Google Wallet.

Google has said that it is aware of the problem and advises users to change their passwords and to enable a two-step verification, a security measure that requires users to provide a number code sent to their mobile devices before any changes can be made to their account. That last measure I would definitely not do because then Google has your phone number which it can add to the information it has about you. If you used false information in your Google account, which many people do to prevent Google from compiling a user profile on them that it uses to deliver customised ads, a phone number can provide Google with plenty of information about you, which is why I would also never use a phone that uses Google's Android operating system.

Read the full story here:

For an alternative take on this story read:

Seriously, churnalists? No, your Gmail login was not cracked -

Computer diagnostics: Solutions to desktop and laptop PC hardware and software problems

The hardware and software problems dealt with on this website are in the order of their popularity. When applicable, the order will change to match the popularity recorded by this website's web logs in the previous month.

Click a relevant link below to visit the information it describes

1. - Motherboard and power supply problems: How to fix common problems with faulty motherboards (mainboards) and power supplies (PSUs)

2. - Software problems: How to fix problems with Windows, programs, and utilities

3. - Hard disk drive problems: How to fix computer hard disk drive (HDD) problems

4. - RAM memory problems: How to fix problems with the Random Access Memory

5. - Video/graphics card problems: How fix common computer video and graphics problems

6. - Network problems: How to fix common wired and wireless networking and internet problems

7. - Windows 8 problems: How to diagnose and fix problems with Windows 8

8. - Windows 7 problems: How to diagnose and fix problems with Windows 7

9. - Recover, restore and repair Windows 7 (Win7) when a computer crashes or fails to boot

10. - Windows Vista problems: How to fix common problems with Windows Vista

11. - Recovering and repairing Windows Vista when a computer crashes or fails to boot

12. - Windows XP: How to troubleshoot and fix shutdown, restart (reboot), and startup problems

13. - Recovering and repairing Windows XP when a computer crashes or fails to boot

14. - Laptop/notebook problems: How to address or fix the most common laptop/netbook problems

15. - Processor problems: How fix common processor (CPU) problems

16. - CD/DVD drive problems: How to fix problems with CD and DVD drives and discs

17. - USB and FireWire problems: - How to fix common USB and FireWire problems

18. - Typical DLL (Dynamic Link Library) device driver problems

Build and Repair Your Own PC

Visit the Build Your Own PC pages of this website for information on how to build a desktop PC and solve self-build problems and visit the other sections, such as the Processors pages - which provides information on the brand-leading Intel Core family of processors - and the Video/Graphics, Sound, Motherboards and Monitors pages for more problem-solving information, all of which can be accessed via the menu items and jump menu on the orange navigation bar, or via the site search engine at the top of each of the main pages. When you know how to build a PC, you'll also know how to go about diagnosing problems and fixing one.

Solving problems with and how to use Windows 7 and Windows Vista

Click here! to go to the page on this site that deals with Windows 7, Microsoft's replacement for Windows Vista.

Click here! to go to the page on this site that deals with Windows Vista, Microsoft's replacement for Windows XP.


For PC security information visit the main Security section of this website, or make use of the site search engine at the top of each of the main pages to search for references to specific information on topics such as how best to keep secure on the web, security software, hardware and software firewalls, identity theft, privacy issues, how to hide form Google, phishing scams, viruses, malware, spyware, how to implement spyware removal and the different types of backups, etc.


While every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information contained on this website, the author assumes no responsibility for errors or omissions, or for damages resulting from the use of the information contained herein.

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