Our Blog

Tips and advice for maintenance, optimization, and daily computing tasks.

Our Blog

Blog

New Year’s PC Resolution

by Andy Thompson on January 16, 2015

This past year we introduced topics and subject matter related to PC enhancement. We intend to highlight the best of these as they apply to providing you the tools needed to enhance your PC performance and take action against unwanted behavior. It is our hope that you can take a look at our year in review and pick what you need to carry out your PC goals for the upcoming year. It’s likely that there are items in your computing world that need attention and here’s your chance to fast track to those areas that have been neglected.

We have chosen six of the most popular articles from 2014. Here is an overview of these articles in three categories:

Privacy / Security:
- Identify and Clean Cookies (July)
- Virus vs PUP and How to Remove Both (Sept)

TuneUp / Clean Up:
- Improve Startup (Aug)
- Spring PC Cleaning (June)

Support:
- CompuClever Free Functionality (Oct)
- DIY vs. Repair Shop (Nov)

Here are the PC enhancement articles for 2014.

Identify and Clean Cookies

About: Not all cookies are created equal. Cookies are created when browsing to particular web pages. While most are safe – especially when coming from a trusted source – not all are. While cookies cannot infect your PC, there can be potential dangers related to security and privacy.

Action: You can prevent cookies from being stored and you can delete existing ones. We focus on removal beginning with backing up your data. When you data is secure… PC Clean Maestro is well equipped to scan, display, and clean cookies and other items that are security or privacy risks. We also include information on how to set up your browser for DNT – Do Not Track mode.
Read the entire article here…

DIY vs. Repair Shop

About: In this article we give warning to anyone who blindly takes their PC to a repair shop. We highlight one case where a particular gentleman had been ripped off by a technician who blamed the cause of his PC troubles on a computer cookie planted by CompuClever! This brings up the question – who can you trust? Checking credentials is paramount. For example, CompuClever applications have approved Microsoft and Intel certification.

Action: This article assists the reader in determining if the cause of their issues is from unwanted software or from a virus. We empower the reader to take the right steps before putting trust in someone who claims to be an expert.

Step 1: DIY – Do It Yourself – when possible. Check for available free solutions.
Step 2: Use free available support. CompuClever has one-on-one support for direct PC tune up.
Step 3: If it is a virus… get the right information from a repair technician before you hand over your PC.

Read the entire article here…

CompuClever Free Functionality

About: We’re very familiar with the notion of “free” but… with strings attached. We see this whenever we download a free application and it includes around three or more extra bits of software that you have to carefully remove during the installation process. We took the opportunity to introduce our applications and show how anyone can use some of their functionality for free indefinitely.

Action: If you have purchased one of the CompuClever applications and you like what you see… here’s your chance to try out one of the others for free. If you want the full program you can upgrade at any time of your choosing. Here are some examples of the free functionality available:

  • PC TuneUp Maestro: includes free scans (registry, fragmentation, system tune up, and Internet tune up), system backup capabilities, and many other free tools to explore.
  • PC Clean Maestro: includes free scans (privacy, security and junk file accumulation), removal of junk files, plus the use of the Uninstaller tool.
  • Ultra File Opener: includes free Open & View, Manage File Associations, Submit Files for Analysis, and more.
  • Ultra eBook Reader: enables you to open eBook files, manage file associations, bookmarks, find tool for free. And that’s the short list!

Read the entire article here…

Virus vs PUP and How to Remove Both

About: This subject matter is complex and involved. We focus on simplifying it as best we can to define virus and PUP – Potentially Unwanted Programs. We find that users often feel that the occurrence of PUPs can mean they have a virus. This is not necessarily true and we want to empower our readers to take action.

Action: It makes sense to work on the symptoms first. If you have unwanted behaviours coming from an unknown source, you can begin by identifying the source. PC Clean Maestro comes with a newly upgraded Uninstaller tool that can assist you to examine what is a trusted application so you can remove what is not. As for viruses, there are free tools available and there are paid applications. We recommend the best place to start is with trusted free tools from Microsoft.

Note: One important last note we stress in our article and here… be very cautious when downloading anything. Take care during the installation of a program to make sure it doesn’t come with extra programs and functionality. Clear the check box of unwanted items and choose only the program you want!

Read the article here…

Improve Startup

About: We focus on one area of poor performance which can be very annoying – the startup time of your PC. Although we can’t expect that our PC will run as fast as when we first purchased it, we can adjust what programs first get started when powering up.

Action: You are instructed on how to use PC TuneUp Maestro’s Optimize PC tool. You will find it easy to review all the programs displayed in the list. Once you have done so you can customize how they perform at startup by disabling or enabling any item in the list.
Read the entire article here…

Spring PC Cleaning

About: This article is one of our favorites as it appeals to our instinct to clean and organize and we have used very easy and straightforward steps. In terms of “clean” we refer to removing clutter and backing up files we want to keep. By doing so we improve the performance of the PC and make our lives a lot easier in terms of accessing the files and data we need.

Action: If you are getting the feeling you have a lot of files on your PC and space may eventually be an issue… here is your chance to follow some easy steps. They include:

Step 1: Assess your space needs in terms of free space.
Step 2: Backup your files. – Not as tedious and challenging as we think –
Step 3: Deal with the junk using PC Clean Maestro. From scan to clean this is a fast and simple process.

By managing your files you are actively preventing performance degradation and you can take comfort in the fact that the files you value highly are safe!
Read the entire article here…

Here’s to 2015…

We thank you for taking interest in our articles this past year. May you rediscover the joy of using PC in 2015. Welcome to the New Year!

We will continue to provide story lines like this that benefit all of us and we will describe them in a manner that is within reach of everyday computer users. If you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com

Browsing for browsers

by Andy Thompson on December 12, 2014

There are two main themes to present – choice and browser clean up.  As for choice… not all browsers are created equal.  Most all of us start off with what comes with our PC – Internet Explorer.  For some people, this is the only choice they know.  While all browsers have the ability to access your favorite sites and create bookmarks, there are very real differences between the top most widely used browsers.  This could be the time for you to look into the options.  As for browser clean up, we have new functionality to roll out with our PC Clean Maestro application.  As we are well aware, browsers start out with the basics and then, through the installation of extensions, they can get bogged down or in some cases are altered without our approval – most frequently, our homepage or search engine changes.  It’s time to take charge and have your browser function as you would have it.

 

Here is what we will cover:

  1. Components:  We’ll start with a breakdown of the components.
  2. Top Picks:  We’ll look at the top three browser candidates.
  3. Our App:  We’ll describe how you can make full use of our latest release of PC Clean Maestro.

Without getting into too many of the details and specifics of this technology we will point out some basics.

Components

We will focus on components related to what we see when we bring up our web browser, namely the user interface.  We will also talk about the items that are referred to as “extensions” that can be added to a browser after you have installed it.

Typically the user interface (UI) consists of three areas:

  • The toolbar area at the top.
  • Main viewing area sometimes referred to as the viewport.
  • The status bar at the bottom.

The toolbar is used for navigational purposes as it has buttons such as back, forward, refresh, stop, and home (to get you back to your homepage).  It also has an address bar so you can type in a web address and you likely have a search bar to enter in words that can bring up a list of applicable web pages to the subject you are interested.

Two Most Frequently Altered Areas of the Browser: We get a lot of feedback and reports of how alterations have been made to the Search engine and the homepage.  The Search engine is designed to search for information and content on the Internet.  Examples include Google, Bing, Ask, Yahoo! Search and the like.  These are sophisticated programs that crawl the web and quickly provide results of your inquiry.  A homepage is the page you first see and want to access when you open your browser.

All users want to make a choice of a Search engine and homepage that they are both familiar with and meet their needs.  It becomes all that more frustrating when installing something that modifies these areas of your browser without consent.  We will show you how to return your browser to its default settings in a later section of the article.

Extensions: Components that can be added to the browser to increase functionality are referred to as extensions.  These can be in the form of toolbars and other add-ons or plug-ins.  Examples include toolbar extensions to provide some specific functionality such as web searching using a specific search engine, better access to installed applications, or providing convenient links or categorizations of media sites.  In some cases they can provide extra functionality as with Ad blockers that block ads on the sites you visit and terminate items that collect and send your data.  The challenge with all extensions is identifying what each of these are, making absolutely sure they are from trusted sources, and knowing that they are not bogging down your browsing experience.

Top Picks:

Google Chrome came into the browser fray in 2008 and this brought about new advances in browser technology in terms of speed, standards, and design which forced the other players to catch up.  And catch up they did.  One review by PCMag put the independent open source Mozilla Firefox at the top of their list for best browser:

With a beautifully redesigned interface, excellent performance, thrifty memory use, helpful browsing tools, and leading customizability… [1]

But the “best” is a matter of preference and to a large extent will depend on your needs. The three most commonly used browsers are: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft IE.  These take top honors and we can focus our attention on them.

Most Popular:  In terms of popularity, at this time Google Chrome ranks number one, with Mozilla Firefox second and IE in third place.[2]

Speed: Most reports[3,4] related to speed (startup and web page load times), put Chrome at the top followed by Firefox and then IE.  It is important to note, no browser reviewed here is in any way sluggish and there are trade-offs for speed as described below.  Based on our experience of browsers, we concur with these findings.

Operating System (OS): Finding the right browser can depend to a great extent on what OS you are running on your PC.

  • Windows 8: If you use touch screen technology then IE is the best choice.  However, both Firefox and Chrome are better in terms of being expandable and offering device synchronization of program settings.
  • Windows 7: IE has some advantages (easy to use), but both Firefox and Chrome are better in terms of expandable functionality.
  • Windows XP:  The best choice is Google Chrome based on how far back it supports early versions of XP. IE is not supported on Windows XP.

Privacy: The three browsers each have private browsing modes.  Firefox and Chrome lead the way in this arena.  Note: browser privacy means not saving cookies or browsing history but does not protect you from websites that can collect or share information about you.  To take it to the next level you need to look into extensions, such as HTTPS Everywhere, Disconnect, or AdBlock Plus.

Extensions:  Firefox takes top place with a combination of add-ons, pin tabs, web apps and more.  Next in line is Chrome which taps into Chrome desktop apps and Google Now notifications.

Google Chrome:
+ fast and reliable
+ good customization with exclusive access to the Google store extensions
- fast but uses up considerable computer memory; sluggish on older PC’s
- some operations are not very intuitive
- compatibility issues on some sites (especially if using the 32-bit version) 

Mozilla Firefox:
+ open-source means available to all developers; transparent and trustworthy
+ good set of available extensions for customization and functionality
+ intuitive in terms of creating bookmarks and changing options
- slower than Chrome for starting up and for loading web pages
- requires considerable memory; sluggish for older PC’s
- compatibility issues with some sites; you sometimes have to install add-ons

Internet Explorer (IE):
+ easiest browser to use in terms of functionality
+ fewest compatibility issues
+ fully compatible with Windows 8 and has access to Windows store add-ons
- not as customizable and less extended functionality
- it has a history of being exploited and plagued by security issues
- slower than Chrome and Firefox by some reports
- also requires considerable PC resources

Price:  When making your choice you will want to know what the costs are and what it takes to try out a new browser.  Internet Explorer is included with Windows operating systems and can be downloaded for free.  All browsers are free to download and run and you simply have to go to the website (such as Mozilla.org or Google.com).  This makes it possible to pick and choose one – or more than one – without worrying about the price tag.

Browser Clean Up with PC Clean Maestro

:
Making a decision about which browser to use could depend largely on how well you can customize it and take advantage of extended functionality.  However, some things have a way of taking on a life of their own.  You can start off small – with the basics – and soon you have more than you bargained for.  This can happen all too easily with browser extensions.  At times these little program tidbits can get installed without our expressed knowledge or consent.  Situations occur where your homepage or our favorite search engine is modified.  In the worst case scenario, rogue or malicious software can make alterations we do not want.

The most recent version of PC Clean Maestro now comes with new functionality to provide you the ability to examine browser extensions and disable them.  Once you open the program you can click on the “Browsers” tab in the left pane and you will see the following:

Now the steps are easy…

  1. Review the list and select an item.  Note: you can also search for an item by typing the name in the Search box and then make a selection.
  2. Click the applicable action button: Disable or Enable.

You’ll note with the example above that extensions are organized in categories specific to the type of browser you are using.  Also, as in this case, more than one browser can be installed to your system and you can examine these one at a time using the tabs at the top (for example, “Chrome” or “Firefox”).

Restoring Settings:  You can easily restore the browser settings that you had by default when first using your browser.  This is especially useful if they have been altered without your consent.  Frequently, new software installations like to make changes to your search engine or your homepage to direct your web surfing.  To restore your settings do the following:

  1. At the top of the Browsers page, select the browser tab (“Chrome”, “Firefox”, or “IE”).
  2. Click the Restore button located at the top right.

Note:  If you have customized your settings you will have to repeat the process by opening up the Browser settings and choosing the homepage and search engine of your choice.

In Summary:

Being able to pick a winner from the top three most popular browsers is a personal decision for most of us but one that needs to be based on PC capabilities and individual needs.  We appreciate that there are these choices available to us and that the competition spurs on better technology.  We promote good ethics when it comes to PC technology.  Browser extensions need to be installed with our knowledge and consent and from trusted sources.  PC Clean Maestro offers the ability to have you turn off add-ons that are unwanted.

We will continue to provide story lines like this that benefit all of us and we will describe them in a manner that is within reach of everyday computer users.  If you have some ideas of topics you would like us to cover, email us at: newsletter@compuclever.com

DIY vs. Repair Shop

by Andy Thompson November 14, 2014

Why is it that asking for help can be an overwhelming obstacle? The reality is… there is a certain shame that comes from seeking help when we don’t know something. No one wants to admit to being lost and needing directions and no one wants to feel like they are not smart enough. Plus, we all want to join the ranks of DIY – Do It Yourself. To be real, this takes assessing the situation and knowing if the issues are outside our expertise. When we are simply spinning our wheels, it’s time to take it to the professionals. The next task is to get good and reliable service that will lead to a real solution. This article segues from some of our recent articles that focus on assessment of PC problems. We’ll cover this in brief and provide links. The main impetus for this article is to shine some light on PC repair technicians that are not trustworthy and to strongly emphasize how our users can benefit from available tools and services including those offered by our CompuClever support team.

Read the full article →

CompuClever Free Functionality

by Andy Thompson October 17, 2014
Thumbnail image for CompuClever Free Functionality

We’ve mentioned before in previous articles how there are some companies of poor repute that offer “free” stuff. But what you actually get is something not entirely free. At best you get a free time trial of the product; at worst you get a free app bundled with a bunch of add-ons that you didn’t want resulting in a clogged system with popup ads or other system modifications you didn’t ask for. CompuClever provides applications that have some functionality enabled for you to try for free. If you want the full program you can upgrade. There are no tricks or deceptions. We want you to try our products and see if they meet your needs. As you do have one of our paid programs we encourage you to look at our entire application suite and try out anything that looks of interest.

Read the full article →

Virus vs. PUP and how to remove both

by Andy Thompson September 12, 2014

We are going to tread carefully and examine two areas of PC ailments. We will strive to make this more understandable and to provide effective and free solutions for both. If you look at how Microsoft deals with these categories you will find that they admit these two areas are not mutually exclusive and certain terms are used interchangeably. For our purposes we want to be more definite so that we can pinpoint what steps you need to take in order to deal with these items if you are or ever have experienced them. This article also assists you in preventing them from happening, provides free tools, and outlines the steps to get rid of both types.

Read the full article →

Improve Startup

by Andy Thompson August 12, 2014

Why settle for a computer that is slow? Maybe we come to expect that our PC is just not as fast as it used to be – but why? There are a number of reasons why you are getting poor performance. We are going to narrow it down in this article to one area of concern: Startup time. Typically, we download applications and they will by default run when you start your system. Do you need these to be running every time you start the computer? It is not likely. There is no advantage to having them run prior to when you need them. Software programs are designed to start very quickly. So let’s use your available tools to trim this list of startup items. If there is still an issue with performance we can try out a few other available tools.

Read the full article →

Cookie Time

by Andy Thompson July 9, 2014

There is one type of cookie that the Cookie Monster would not find appealing – computer cookies. But what are they and what are we to do with them? We are going to expand on what is known as “web” or “browser” cookies that are stored on your PC as a result of online browsing. The benefit to keeping these on your system is minor and they can be used in ways we do not wish. As a result, we pass on instructions on how to safely get rid of them.

Read the full article →

Spring PC Cleaning

by Andy Thompson June 6, 2014

It’s spring time. What a wonderful time of the year. We tend to feel energized from a restful winter season and it’s time to take on chores that were neglected or “to do” items that set the stage for our busy endeavors ahead. One of these tasks is cleaning your PC so that it runs efficiently. Believe it or not this process does not have to be equivalent to tearing one’s hair out and it can be very fast using the right tools. In the end you may have two important chores accomplished – a better organization of personal files and dead weight that we can refer to as “clutter” is removed.

Read the full article →

Tech Support Fraud

by Andy Thompson April 9, 2014

Have you ever played that “Whac-A-Mole” game? It’s the one where moles pop up out of a hole and you bonk them on the head and down they go. It doesn’t matter how many you bop on the head – they keep popping up. That’s pretty much how it is with fraudulent phone call scams. There have been some fines handed out to companies and individuals engaged in these scam activities, but they still keep popping up again and again. If you have ever had one of these phone calls you would agree – the callers are convincing.
We’re going to start off with a description of how this scam works followed by legal action taken against the scammers, and recent activity. Following this we will offer advice in terms of what to do when getting called and what to do if you or someone you know has already had a call and been the victim of technical support fraud.

Read the full article →

Facebook Uncovered

by Andy Thompson March 12, 2014

There is a real and strong allure to joining the crowd on Facebook. Its popularity and set of features makes email look like VHS in comparison to DVD. Make no mistake – this is a sticky subject. There are many criticisms that have surfaced and we will make the attempt to sort through these. We don’t want to get too bogged down with all the information and ultimately each person has to weigh out the pros and cons to make a decision for themselves.

Read the full article →