There are a lot of programs around that are intended to speed up your computer. QuickPCOptimizer is such a program, so we took a look to see how good it is.
Since Windows based computers tend to get slower over time, a lot of people are struggling to get their PC performance back to the original speed. Of course that is only partially possible, simply because installed programs have an effect on the performance of the computer, but certain aspects of a computer’s operating speed can definitely be improved by maintenance and optimization.
Downloading and installing the QuickPCOptimizer program is no problem. The downloadable installed is suited for both 32 and 64 bit Windows versions, so we just downloaded and ran the installer from the QuickPCOptimizer website.
An installation wizard takes the user through the installation process, after which the program consumes only 7 MB of disk space.
When you start the program after installation, you will see the user interface as shown below.
The left side shows a number of buttons to access the various program features, while the tabs in the top allow access to registration, configuration, program updates and a local help.
The first thing we check out is the configuration options, as it partially controls how the program operates. After selecting the Configure tab, we see a number of options.
The main options control program execution, where are happy to note that program does not automatically add itself to the programs at Windows start. Standard options look like the right choice, and the Scheduler is something that can be of use to remind ourselves to not forget to execute the program on a regular basis. That is of course after it proves useful!
The next step in operating the program will be to run a scan of the computer and see what issues are found. But before we click the Start Scan button, we click the Scan and Repair button, as it shows the various aspects that the program can check for.
As you can see there are quite a few categories that the program will check. Since registry cleaners have been around for some time, there has been a lot of discussion on both the effectiveness and the things that should be checked.
From practical experience, we know that cleaning and defragging the Windows registry does actually help the performance of a computer. The only thing that we deselect in this case is the Empty Registry Keys option, since there have been mixed experiences with that. A lot of empty registry keys can indeed be removed, but in some cases they are used for a reason, their mere presence has a meaning, even without any actual information inside.
After the Start Scan is clicked, the program starts the optimization check.
Depending on the computer, this process can take up to a few minutes, simply because the registry can grow quite large.
Once complete, the program automatically makes a backup so any changes can easily be undone. Next the user is presented with the results of the scan, which indicate the number of issues found in each of the category as well as the total.
In the scan results, the used can still chose to ignore either individual items or all items per category.
Once a selection of the items to fix is made, the user needs to click the Fix Errors Now! button. This requires a registered copy of the software, so you need to acquire a license at $29.95 first.
When the fix is complete, you will be able to see the backup of the registry in the Backup & Restore screen. If any problems arise after running the fix, you can simply restore the backup from before the fix step.
A further step in optimizing the Windows registry is to run a defrag. When you click the Defragment button, the screen only shows an Analyze button. If the result of that is that no defragmentation is necessary, not further action is required.
Additional Program Features
In addition to the registry optimization, QuickPCOptimizer has a number of other features that allows the user to speed up their computer. Clicking the Optimizer Tools button in the main window shows a list of additional options.
It’s obvious that QuickPCOptimizer is a bit more than just another registry cleaner, so we’ll run by each of these features and describe what it does.
Optimize Your Computer’s Speed – This module has 3 options, optimize the computer configuration, optimize the computer memory and block ActiveX controls. The computer optimization actually enables and disables services and processes in Windows depending on the indication of the type of use of the computer. Optimize memory is merely something that you want to use if you have any problems starting a certain program, since it optimizes the memory of the running computer. It does not have effect the next time the computer is restarted. Blocking ActiveX controls is a security measure, which can be activated to block all known ActiveX controls that can exploit a user’s PC.
Clean Your Personal History – This option allows the user to remove all personal data from various locations on the computer. Locations include various file locations as well as configuration data that stores personal data.
A nice touch here is that files with personal data that are deleted, are not only deleted using the Windows file system delete method (leaving the data on disk, but removing the file entry), but the disk space occupied by the files is overwritten several times to make them unrecoverable.
Uninstall Unwanted Programs – This module allows the user to uninstall programs that are installed on the computer. In addition to the regular uninstall, it will also clean any remaining data in the Windows registry, and remove files that are associated to the program. Especially handy to remove programs that do not have a good uninstall program.
Securely Delete Unwanted Files – This is basically a file shredder. You can select files that you want to delete and for which it should not be possible to restore them anymore. The way to do that is to overwrite the storage space used by the files after deleting them. The number of overwrites can be specified. Handy for USB sticks that you exchange with others.
Manage Internet Explorer Plugins – Plugins are used to enhance or extend a browser’s functionality, but some are a security risk, and they can also harm the browsing performance. So being aware which IE plugins are installed is good, and removing the once you don’t need is even better.
The program allows the used to select the plugin and then either remove them or only unregister them.
Manage Startup Programs – This module allows the user to control the programs that are executed at startup. An important feature to control the Windows startup time. The module shows a list of all programs that are configured on the computer to start during boot.
By default all checkboxes in front of the applications are checked, but clearing the checkboxes allows you to disable the program. As can be seen in the sample, quite a few programs can be disabled during startup, since automatically scheduled program updates for example don’t need to be started at boot. In our case there were 20 startup programs, of which we disabled 12!
Keep in mind that you will not notice all improvements until you reboot your computer.
Always make sure you regularly run the Windows Disk Cleanup program and also run a defragment program to maintain your computer and optimize the hard disk. This will help greatly in keeping your PC run faster. But a program like QuickPCOptimizer can further help you optimize your PC.
Over time programs get installed and uninstalled, which can result in a lot of unnecessary configuration data in the Windows registry. This program can help you get rid of this type of data and optimize the Windows registry by cleaning it and also defragmenting it.
A second main cause of frustration with Windows based computers is the start up time. Mainly due to a lot of programs being started at boot time, this aspect can also be effectively addressed, simply by removing startup programs, or at least disabling them. QuickPCOptimzier has a user-friendly interface to manage the startup programs on your PC and thus decreasing the time required to boot your computer.
So don’t expect miracles, but using a program to speed up your computer can definitely help, and can help allow you to enjoy your PC a little more again (and possibly even longer if you were already thinking of buying a new computer).
Frequent readers of PCauthorities will recall our review of the All My Movies software and the mention of the All My Books software from Bolidesoft in previous updates.
For people who are collecting books or movies and want to organize their collection, these programs offer great value.
As a special promotion for our PCauthorities.com visitors, we are able to offer 10 free licenses to the All My Movies software!
So if you have not tried the software yet, download and test the latest version now, and let us know what you think.
The first 10 commenters to this post will receive a free license to the All My Movies software. That’s a $39.95 value completely free!
The Windows operating system gets updated frequently. Microsoft regularly releases updates for various versions of the Windows operating system to patch security holes, fix bugs, enhance existing functionality or add new functions.
By default Windows update runs on a scheduled basis on Vista and Windows 7, and installs updates automatically. Although the user can change the Windows Update configuration to only check for updates, or check and download, normally letting Windows install updates automatically is a good idea.
But like any software, the Windows Update service has a few dependencies on the end-user’s computer. In Vista and Windows 7, Windows Update depends on a number of services to run, as well as a number of file locations and registry configurations.
Installing updates means that compatibility issues with existing software or running programs need to be addressed, and of course the installer service needs to work properly. Any issues with the Windows registry, or the C:\Windows\WinSxS\Manifests, or C:\Windows\Servicing\Packages locations can cause the Windows update service to fail.
Although there are different errors that can be reported when Windows Update fails to execute properly, the most common errors are:
|0x8000FFFF||ERROR_SERVICE_DOES_NOT_EXIST||Windows Update encountered an unknown error.|
|0x80070002||ERROR_FILE_NOT_FOUND||The system cannot find the file specified.|
|0x8007000D||ERROR_INVALID_DATA||The data is invalid.|
|0x80070057||ERROR_INVALID_PARAMETER||The parameter is incorrect.|
|0x80070490||ERROR_NOT_FOUND||Windows could not search for new updates.|
|0x80070422||Windows Update encountered an unknown error.|
|0x80072EFE||ERROR_INTERNET_CONNECTION_ABORTED||Windows Update encountered an unknown error.|
|0x80072EE2||ERROR_INTERNET_TIMEOUT||Windows Update encountered an unknown error.|
As you can see part of the problem is that the error message are not always very helpful. In many cases, the update service simple reports the error message “Windows Update encountered an unknown error.”, which does not tell the user anything.
A possible screenshot of failed Windows Update may look like this:
Of course it is possible that not all updates fail, but only a specific update.
How to solve Windows Update Problems in Vista and Windows 7
The solution to Windows Update errors depends on the error you are getting. But a few things are common and can be checked or corrected in all cases.
Please note that for most of these steps you will need to use a user account with administrative privileges.
The first thing to check is that you have a working Internet connection. If not, Windows update cannot connect to the Microsoft update websites. This includes problems caused by proxy servers, security software and external firewalls. Microsoft recommends to turn on the Windows firewall and disable 3rd party firewalls and software accelerators in case of update problems.
Also make sure that you add the Windows update related websites to the Trusted sites on your computer. That will prevent any network traffic from these sites to be blocked. You can use the Internet Explorer to add trusted sites. Select the Tools menu -> Internet Options -> Security tab -> Trusted sites icon -> Sites button. Ad
http://download.windowsupdate.com as trusted sites.
Next, check the services that should be running. You can start the service manager by typing “services.msc” and pressing Enter at the Start menu. This will start the Microsoft Management Console.
In the services list, make sure that the Windows Update service, the Windows Modules Installer, and the Background Intelligent Transfer service are started.
Open the command prompt window as an administrator (type “cmd” in the Start menu, right-click the “cmd.exe” that shows in the list, and in the popup menu select Run as administrator), and then type
SFC /SCANNOW at the command prompt, followed by Enter. This will check the Windows system files on the computer.
Apart from that, there are specific solutions to specific problems.
Error code 0x80070424 for example means a problem with the Windows update service DLL. Reregistering the DLL generally fixes the issue. So start a command prompt again, and then type:
%SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32\REGSVR32.EXE %SYSTEMROOT%\SYSTEM32\WUAUENG.DLL /S
Press Enter and wait for the DLL registration to complete. Then try Windows Update again.
A number of Windows Update problems can also be fixed by using the Windows Update Readiness Tool. This Microsoft application can be downloaded and installed on your computer, after which it will check your computer for any known problems that can cause Windows Update to fail on Vista or Windows 7. The tool will not find and fix all causes though.
Internet Explorer 9 has a lot of improvements over earlier IE versions. But there are also more restrictions in the GUI, as a result of the effort to maximize the usable browsing area. A process that was started by Chrome and is now followed by Internet Explorer.
If you don’t care about maximizing your viewing area and want the menubar or status bar back, there is an easy way to customize IE9 to your liking. The application to optimize IE9 is called TweakIE9, and can be downloaded for free online.
After you download the ZIP file, extract the program and run it. The installer will check for the presence of IE9, and then show you the user interface.
There are obviously a lot of tweaks possible, some are also possible in a different way, but TweakIE9 gives you access to all kinds of settings for Internet Explorer 9 in an easy way.
Options can simply be toggled by clicking the gray pin (off) or the blue pin (on).
Also check out the option to configure the maximum number of downloads, which allows you to increase the number of parallel downloads in IE, which can help increase the download speed.
Take let the changes take effect, click the Tweak IE9 now button. The program will ask you if you want to create a system restore point, which is always a good thing if you make changes to your system configuration.
And best of all, there is a Restore IE9 button that brings everything back to the default! So no risk in playing with the settings or making a mistake.
To tun the program again, simply execute the program from the extracted ZIP again. This time the GUI will show up immediately, without the EULA and the IE9 check.
There are plenty of image viewing applications around. Irfanview is one of my personal favorites. But they all involve starting the program to view a picture file. For image file formats that require a large application to be started, like Adobe Photoshop, an alternate image preview application can be very useful. It saves time browsing through files based on a preview.
A different type of image preview is possible with an application called FastPreview. This application, when installed, allows the user to simply right-click an image file, and see a preview right there in the popup menu!
How cool is that?
Of course it is possible to configure Windows itself to show Extra Large Icons, which can allow you to see sufficient information of an image to use it for selecting pictures. But that setting will apply to all files in a folder, and also require more processing time, especially the first time you view a folder.
FastPreview shows the preview in the popup menu in the size that you want. While previewing an image, you can select the option FP ›› Info and Setttings in the popup menu (just below the preview) to change the size of the preview.
Keen on trying it out? You can download FastPreview here. FastPreview runs on Windows 7, Vista and XP,and there is a 32-bit and 64-bit version.
Most notebooks have a touchpad to allow cursor control with the absence of an external mouse. Touchpad software had come a long way in replacing a mouse, offering easy ways to scroll, and with the latest synaptics software also supporting gestures.
But one thing that can be a problem is the location of the touchpad. For easy of use, the touchpad is generally centered on the laptop, just below the keyboard. Although convenient for using it as a mouse replacement, it is not so convenient when you type a lot. During your typing, you need to make sure to not accidentally touch the touchpad surface with a finger (or your wrist), or you will risk the mouse cursor jumping. The typed text will end up in a different location in your document, or keystrokes might suddenly be send to a different application altogether!
The easy way around this is of course to use an external mouse and disable the touchpad in the Windows device manager. But if you don’t want or have an external mouse, this is not an option.
The better way to deal with this touchpad problem is to use a program called touchpad blocker. This simple little application basically disables the touchpad for short periods of time, starting when you start typing on the keyboard. As a result these accidental touches of the touchpad while typing don’t have any effect anymore!
The program is very simple to install and use. The program has a few configurable options, including an option to configure the delay between a keystroke and the re-activation of the touchpad. That way you can fine-tune the operation of touchpad blocker to your own personal taste.
Another handy option is the manual keyboard block, which can be invoked using a predefined key combination. Just select the Combination field and then press the desired key combination. The program will automatically pick up the keys pressed and record it in the configuration.