fredag 22 december 2017

Checklist for freshing up computer

I am wondering how much perfectly good computers are thrown out that could have been saved by a reinstallation of Windows (sometimes not even that).

This is what I do when someone asks me to have a look at their computer:

(Do everything behind a firewall and without any other devices in the network if there is a risk of it having a virus! If you KNOW it has a virus, deal with that first - worst case wipe hard drive using a safe, secure (but disposable) environment).

1. Is hardware OK?
Visual inspection, are fans clogged up?

Charger cable worn out? (often close to the connector at the PC end) - this can literally cause fires

Dust clogged up in fans? (Causes fans to spin faster to compensate, makes PC louder, hotter and the fan will break down sooner)

(start PC)

Does the fans sound healthy?

chkdsk X: /R (for each hard drive, C, D, etc).

Seagate SeaTools for Seagate hard drives

WD Windows Data Lifeguard (WinDLG) for all hard drives

Windows memory diagnostics (start menu -> type: mdsched)

Any serious errors - look closer into that part, make sure there is no false positive, replace any hardware determined to actually be bad

Bluescreens happening? Maybe some bad hardware, but more commonly caused by bad drivers. Enable further logs and investigate based on information in bluescreens.

If it can be done, upgrade to 4 gb ram or more and an SSD, SSHD or at least a 7200rpm drive.
Definitly make sure it has at least 80gb drive (death to absolutely useless 32gb eMMC!)

Check UEFI and firmware updates for other hardware from PC maker, hard drive firmware update from hard drive maker.

2. Is software OK?

What version of Windows is suitable?
- Windows XP - do not use! Upgrade if hardware can supports it
- Windows Vista - not as bad as people say but if you can, but pretty much zero drawbacks of upgrading at least to Windows 7
- Windows 7 - if user is happy, no problem keeping it, but can be upgraded to Windows 10 if user wants to.
- Windows 8, 8.1 - strongly recommend upgrading Windows 10

Note that if you have a legal license for Windows 7 and forward (e.g., it came with the computer), it can be upgraded to Windows 10 - you can simply download it from Microsoft's website. (DO NOT download it from any website not on ""). When asked for licence key, type the key on the sticker on the computer. Windows 10 installation will accept most keys for Windows 7 newer. If the Windows sticker on the computer does not have a licence key on it, the key is stored in the computer's UEFI (BIOS) and you can just click "I don't have a licence key" during the installation.

Even if Windows version is good or not, do the rest of the list first before upgrading, system needs to be healthy before upgrading


Make sure some virus software is running, at least Windows Defender. Make sure it and it's virus definitions are up to date. Run a full scan and make sure it is not finding anything.

Is Windows Update working properly? Sooner or later it tends to break in one way or another. Are recent updates installed? Is any update repeatedly being installed? Get those problems fixed.
Configure WU to "include software for all Microsoft software". Check for updates manually until it specifically says there are no more updates.

Disk clean up ("include system files")

Clean temp folders (disk clean up does usually not clear up everything)

Defrag (unless system is on SSD), check defrag is scheduled

For each web browser, disable every add-on/plugin that is useless. Make sure default home page and search engine is the one the user want to use.

Update drivers for everything (from PC maker and/or separate device manufacturers)

Make sure all partitions have at least 15% free space (except "recovery" partitions, boot system partitions etc

In Startup tab of Task Manager, disable everything useless

Check services and make sure there is nothing inappropriate running

Make sure computer is running the performance profile "Maximum performance"

Check BIOS/UEFI settings. Reconsider all settings that affect the priority between performance, noise and heat. (E.g. "best performance" vs "best acoustics". Usually make sure everything is set to best performance, then noise, then heat.
HP laptops often have option "Fan always on" - disable it. No reason to have fan running (and getting worn out) if the computer is not hot enough.

Update everything, such as Flash, Acrobat, Java, web browsers, and generally everything else that says it needs to be updated

Clear CCM cache - Control Panel -> Configuration Manager -> Cache

Use Task Manager and Resource Monitor to see which the hardware bottlenecks are, and what processes are taking the most resources. Disable theses processes by appropriate measuers (e.g. uninstalling useless applications).

3. Still sluggish?

Take a backup, wipe it, install Windows from scratch...

fredag 13 januari 2017

Dear all web developers out there... Can we talk about some things?

I use the web sometimes. Here are some practices that needs to end, now!.

1. Page scrolling up and down on mobile devices.
So I go to a long web page on your mobile device, sometimes not with the fastest connection. Top of the page loads, I scroll down. Since not all of the huge images and ads has loaded yet, the content scrolls up and down for ages until the page has finished loading. Developers, please pre-define the height of the content as much as possible (especially images) in the HTML so it doesn't have to be readjusted after the content has loaded!

2. Banners that scrolls the page
So there is some cookie warning or what not as a banner on top of the page. Please, don't make it so the entire page scrolls 30 pixels down just as I am about to click a link... (I'll appreciate any irony if there is such a cookie warning on this page. :-D )

3. Popups (aka modal dialogs)
A long time ago, pages used to open popups as new browser windows. People hated them, so browsers started blocking them. Then web designers started making in-page popups instead. Granted, there are many cases where this is perfectly fine. But to show errors or alerts or especially ads, are usually NOT. Even worse, the implementations are often slow and jerky and jumps around and the "X" icon are hard to find or moves around until the popup has finished loading. Please just integrate your message into the rest of the page instead!

4. Full screen ads appearing after I already started reading the page
See title. It just makes me hate your site and the advertiser more than otherwise. Especially if the scroll position is reset after I close the ad.

5. target=_blank
I know how to use "Open in new tab". If I clicked the link without selecting "Open in new tab", I did not want it to open in new tab. Open in same tab, please.

Let's make the world a better place! :)