What every Windows pc needs

In addition to staying on top of your Windows and Office Updates, you should install and/or run the following:

Malware protection

  • To prevent viruses, we like AVG.  It’s FREE!  Of course, you can upgrade to the Pro version which is probably even better.  Also good are BitDefender, ESET NOD32, Kaspersky.
  • To get rid of malware/spyware, we like MalwareBytes best.  Also good are a-squaredAVG’s “suite,” SpyBot, AdAware and SuperAntiSpyware. They all have free and “pro” versions.
  • To clean out unnecessary junk files (where malware often hides), we love ATF-Cleaner.  You’d be amazed how much space this sometimes frees up.  It’s much better than Windows’ built-in Cleanup utility, although that’s good, too.  It’s free, but we recommend you donate to them.

Disaster recovery

  • We highly recommend Acronis True Image, no matter what your operating system is.  It creates an image of your existing installation and copies it to a bootable, protected, hidden partition (or an image file on an external or network drive) that is easily restored.  You might lose recent documents after restoring, depending on how it’s setup, but it’s the best thing we’re aware of for quick and painless disaster recovery.  Windows VISTA and 7 also have the ability to make a complete backup of your system, but we haven’t tested it thoroughly enough to rate it here.
  • For flaky/weird/hinky recovery, assuming you can get into Windows, we recommend ERUNT (Emergency Recovery Utility for NT-based Windows).  It puts itself into the Startup group and makes a backup of your Windows registry (where all settings are stored) every time you startup.  It’s free.
  • Don’t forget System Restore, again assuming Windows will at least start.  It’s a great tool.  It’s under Start, All Programs, Accessories, System Tools. 

Browsers, etc.


  • For your hard drive, the physical piece of equipment where all of the above happens, we recommend:
    • An external hard drive (here or several here) to safely copy your files.  They’re getting bigger and cheaper all the time.
    • For the integrity of the drive inside your computer, we recommend running Check Disk every 2 or 3 months, like so:
      • Open up a DOS/command prompt (click Start, Run, type “cmd” without the quotes, hit Enter or click OK.  For VISTA and Windows 7, you don’t click “Run”)
      • Next, type (without quotes): “chkdsk /r” and hit Enter
      • When chkdsk starts, it’ll say it can’t be run now, “would you like it to run next time you start Windows?”  Answer Yes and then restart your machine soon thereafter.  Otherwise, you’ll forget, and the next time you start your machine it will take forever to finish that check and load Windows, you’ll be in a hurry, and you’ll start cursing me and my advice.  🙂

If the above helped you in any way, please click the PayPal DONATE link here. It’s safe. Thanks!
For in-home/on-site computer repair service in and around Nashville (remove viruses, connect to the Internet, setup new systems, fix a myriad of problems), call Bill at (615) 479-4981.