Computer tips

Tuning up your computer (if it’s working fine)

I get a lot of requests to fix people’s computer, or how to keep their computer in good shape.  Here’s my simple recipe for keeping it in good shape.

1. Go to and download and install Microsoft Security Essentials. It’s a free virus scanner. Run it and let it scan your computer. This may take an hour.

2. Go to and check for security updates. If there are any, install them. Reboot your machine. Repeat this step until there aren’t any updates left. This can take several hours.

3. Go to and download/install Patch My PC.   Run it and click on “Update”. This will scan your hard drive for older software and will try to update it for you. This will usually take 5-10 minutes.

4.  Every few months, unplug your computer, take it outside, and use a shop vac to blow all the dust and dirt out.  Blow, not suck.   Spend several minutes doing this.  You’d be surprised how many nooks and crannies there are for dust to hide in.  Dust and fur act like insulation, and can cause moving parts to break, and non-moving parts to overheat.

Do these 4 steps, and your computer should last longer and be more reliable.

But it’s already got a virus/spyware/NSA on it…

There are steps you can take to clean your computer off.

1.  From a clean computer, click here to go to a page that offers free antivirus LiveCD’s.  A LiveCD just means that, instead of booting off the hard drive, it will boot the CD instead.  You’ll want to download several of them (I recommend Avira, AVG, BitDefender, F-Secure, and Kaspersky) and burn each one of them to their own CD.

2.  This is going to take a while…   Hook your computer up to a wired internet connection (wireless won’t work here) using an ethernet cable.  Then take one CD, boot off it, allow it to update itself, and then have it scan your computer.  Whatever bad stuff it finds, quarantine or erase it.  This may take few hours.   Then lather, rinse, repeat with all the other CD’s.

3.  At this point, you probably still have an infection of some sort.  The next step is to boot back into Windows and download/install/run Malwarebytes, and then do the same with SUPERAntiSpyware (just Google them, you’ll find them).  Erase or quarantine anything they find.  Once done,  you can uninstall them, they aren’t needed any more.

4.  If your computer seems fine now, **STOP**.  This last step is only for the most seriously messed-up computers, and has a chance of turning your computer into a brick.  If it still seems to be acting wrong, Google “ComboFix”, download it, install, run, and then cross your fingers.  ComboFix can root out viruses nothing else can.  It can also reduce your computer to a pile of slag.  You’re taking your chances here a bit.

Once you’ve done this, go back to the top of this page and follow steps 1-3.