Monthly Archives: June 2010

Only One of Each Kind Please

When it comes to computer security, more is less. Having two firewalls on at the same time can cause conflicts, slowdowns and crashes in a computer.

If your Operating System is Windows XP and you have an additional firewall (whether by itself or as part of a security suite), and both the built-in and the additional firewalls are on, my advice is turn the XP firewall off and let the other one perform its function. If your operating system is Vista or 7, is a tougher call since the built-in firewall has improved. Your call on what fits you better as a user.

Having two antivirus programs with real-time protection (a.k.a. resident shield,  active protection, et cetera) operating in one computer will also create potential conflicts, slowdowns and crashes in a computer.

Too often I find violations of the above in new clients’ computers, so figure I write about it to clarify.

Transferring Data from Your Old Computer

So you got a new computer, or are planning on getting it, and have to face the nightmare of transferring all your data from the old one to the new. The first thing I’d like to say about the subject is what I’ve found to be the most common misunderstanding: Normally speaking, you cannot just move your existing programs from the old computer to the new by copying over the program files. Why?

When a program is installed in your Windows based computer, there is more to it than just copying files into it. There is a series of operations that take place at the time of the installation to ensure the program runs correctly. So just copying over the files will do no good since that is just a part of what would need to happen for the program to work in your new computer. The right thing to do, providing the program is compatible with the operating system in your new computer, is to install the program in the new computer, and then copy over any files the program might use that is not included in the original install. Example: You have an email program. You install it in the new computer, and then export or copy over the files that contain the emails, contacts, etc. from the old to the new computer.

Of course there is a way copying the program files could work, but it requires special programs that can create an exact copy (clone) of your old hard disk into your new one. But that normally is unpractical when migrating to a new computer since all the computer settings that apply to the old computer rarely apply to the new computer.

Windows offers an easy transfer tool that can be used to assist in this process. If the old and new computers are both up and running , the easiest way is to connect them through a local network and run the transfer wizard.

The process of migrating the data from an old computer to a new one is only apparently complicated. If done in a systematic, step-by-step way it’s hassle-free and can be done by virtually anyone. But if this is your first time you might want to get expert help to make sure is done right on the first try.

WiDi – What is it? What Can I do With it?

While recently working on setting up a laptop to be connected to a home theater system, I realized I haven’t talked about WiDi. WiDi = Wireless Display, a new technology that allows high definition content to be transmitted wirelessly between a computer (usually a laptop) and a high definition TV.

That means you can use the TV as an external monitor and play movies from the laptop, play music through your home theater system,  show picture galleries, or simply browse the internet in your laptop and display it on your high Definition TV. Of course that also means being able to stream movies from services such as Netflix from your laptop to your high definition TV, wirelessly.

This new technology is available only in the newest generation laptops, with the newest CPUs from Intel (the i3, i5 or i7 family), and Windows 7, 64-bit operating system. It requires a receiver that attaches to the High Definition TV.

Even if you don’t plan to have such setup, at least now you know what WiDi means 🙂

New Vulnerability in Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader

The 10.0 generation version of Flash and the 9.x versions of Adobe Acrobat Reader are subject to a critical vulnerability exploit that is, as of now, unpatched. In plain English: there is a problem with the above programs versions that makes it possible for a hacker to successfully attack your machine and take control of it.

Flash versions and earlier are affected. Follow this link to find out what version of Adobe Flash Player you have installed in your computer:

While the official patch is released to handle the vulnerability, you can disable flash content display in Acrobat Reader by deleting or renaming the following file:

C:\Program Files\Adobe\Reader 9.0\Reader\authplay.dll.

After that’s done, opening an acrobat document with Flash multimedia content will cause an application crash, but there will be no exploit available for hackers to exploit. If you need assistance with this, I can help you.

Installed Programs, Running Programs, How Exactly Can They Slow Down Your Computer?

Every user is probably aware, to one degree or another, of the fact that programs run in his/her computer. But what are the effects of an installed program? what are the effects of a program running actively? Does having a program installed mean it takes CPU power or RAM space?

Let’s start from the beginning. When you power up your computer, it first loads a series of basic programs that comprise the Operating System. These are the programs that allow you to interact with the computer and control it, initiate new programs, etc. Next, there are a number of programs that are flagged to start when the computer boots up. The computer looks up that list and loads those programs in memory as part of the startup process. Logically, the longer the list (and the bigger the programs) the more time it takes for your computer to finish the startup process. Also the more RAM the computer will use and therefore the less it will have available if you need to start new programs like a word processor, a web browser, or an email application.

Now, the fact that a program is installed in a computer does not mean it takes CPU power or RAM space per se. The program needs to be invoked into action by either the computer from a preset list of programs as covered above, or by user intervention as in the example of the word processor. Up until then it will certainly take hard disk space (storage) but that’s it. When a program is started it will take RAM space, and depending on what is doing in real time, it will take more or less CPU power. Therefore it’s a basic maintenance task to check what programs run at startup and shave from that list any unneeded ones (especially if the computer is new or this maintenance routine has never been performed) for you’ll find a lot of times computer have unnecessary programs set to run at startup that don’t need to be and just eat RAM space and CPU power.

Generally speaking, a computer with only the needed programs running at any given time is a mean lean machine that operates faster.