MY Top 10 (or more) PC Tips
Some items not applicable for those running Linux or Mac


Other Digital Tips in my Consumer Guide
and my
Computer Consumer Info page

Tips from Microsoft on disabling junk that you don't use, but are enabled by default, which allows hackers to compromise your PC. Protect Your PC.
Spyware Warrior - Which Anti-Spyware programs are REALLY SPYWARE installers?
I'm running Linux at home now.
Strange tasks in your Task Manager? Find out what it is here.

10. SPAM!!!!!


You can't fight it thanks to the idiots in Congress who came up with the 2003 CAN-SPAM act. In a nutshell all it says is that spammers can spam you all they want as long they offer an "opt-out" option. There are no guidelines as to what an "opt-out" option is. It can be anything. The spammers can ask you to jump over the moon if they want. Usually the spammers try force you to go to their websites to "Opt-out". If you do, the spammers websites download spyware and adware to your PC. And if you do this, all you are doing is confirming that your email ID is valid on a valid domain and the spammers can and will attack you and your domain even more. Sure you can opt-out of their current Viagra spam campaign. There's nothing in the law to stop the spammers from sending you Cialis spam ads after that or their next generation of Viagra spam. There's nothing in the law that says the spammers can't share your validated email ID with other spammers.

Your web-admins are doing their best to keep your email flowing. But once your domain is attacked everybody on it may receive so much spam that you can't even get your own email for days. It has become a nightmare for web-admins. All you can do is to just DELETE the garbage. Thanks to Congress, neither you or your web-admins have the ability to protect you from the scum and garbage that Congress has authorized and blessed upon you.

The only thing at this point that will help the situation is if you delete all email that looks like spam or un-solicited email. Just opening their email on a Microsoft Windows machine may install more crap than you are technically able to deal with. Some of it turns your computer into a CAN SPAM relay machine.
Thanks to the scumbags in Congress who passed the CAN-SPAM act, neither you or your ISP have any rights. This should give you an inkling as to how Congress views Americans. The spam marketers have more lobbyists in Washington and so you lose.

Spam fun, hate and info. And support H.B. 1666 which makes the killing of spammers a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of up to one day in jail and a $50 fine.

9. On the net? Never be without anti-virus software.

McAfee or Norton are bad choices. There are many much better products available.
Check Ed Foster's link below for some insight on how they operate. The majority of "respected" reviewers that rated McAfee and Norton highly, are also on their Accounts Payable. Like other companies, McAfee and Norton also pay the big chains like Best Buy, Circuit City and Office Max extra NOT to stock competitor's products. Many people, including myself, have experienced a whole range of problems with the Norton and McAfee software and their customer service is non-existant. McAfee sells a "No Can Register" version in the stores. No can register, no can update, no can support. So I say, "NO! CAN McAfee!"

I Recommend AVG antivirus from for Windows users.

Why I don't like Norton.

  • Put on Vista machines before it was compatible
  • Hangs Windows from 95 to XP
  • They update the version and drop support right after you've paid them. Auto-update quits working. You're expected to buy it again.
  • Uses more computer resources than any other package I know of.
  • Designed for Microsoft. May cause problems with Mozilla or Firefox. Still has problems with Microsoft.
  • Detects fewer viruses than AVGs free product.
  • One version of Norton that I had hung Windows 98. They knew about it. After applying Symantec's patch, Windows lost all hardware above the C: drive. My CDROM and DVD drive were totaly disabled. Had to back off the patch and live with frequent system hangs (blue screen of death) to use my computer. Problem went completely away once Norton was replaced.
  • The Norton Loop. Run a full system scan on a PC with 30K files. Norton scans forever until it says it has scanned 99,999 files. Then your computer dies.
  • Ever since Symantec bought Norton from Norton, it has continually gotten more unreliable.
  • Definitely not worth the price.

Why I don't like McAfee.

  • They offer you a new version. You upgrade. You pay for it. It is worse than before.
  • Want help or support? That costs extra. You better be a corporate customer or fuggedaboudit.
  • Detects fewer viruses than the free version of GRISoft's AV.
  • So many versions, all look different, even the "No Can Register" version.
  • Two year old virus? Got infected anyway. McAfee drops the ball again.
  • The company got too big. Lost focus on it's core products. All they really want is your credit card number so that they bill you and hope you don't notice.

Visit and
for product reviews and evaluations of some of your choices.

For those on a budget, GRISoft and SunBelt offer free anti-virus and firewall software that workS well together. I have tested these extensively and they work GREAT. The Sunbelt (formerly Kerio) Personal Firewall is a superb product. Unlike McAfee or Norton, Sunbelt will also warn you when a program requests the execution of other programs.
I also tried VCOM SystemsSuite. After installation I had nothing but problems. Mozilla and Firefox browsers disabled, excessive CPU overhead and finally a system restore to get the machine working again. It simply doesn't work.

CA eTrust EZ Armor, Pop-up and Cookie Blocker, Anti-Virus and Firewall
I reviewed the product (30 day trial) and I loved it. The $9.95 annual renewal was the best deal going. But their renewal website was messed up at the time. Otherwise, I would have bought it. The product shuts down after the 30 day trial so I moved on. They finally did get back to me that they had fixed the web problem. You may want to try out EZ Armour. Aside from my registration problems, it was 10 times better than Norton/Symantec or McAfee.
As for me, by the time they fixed that, I was running Linux and didn't need it.

8. Stay abreast of the latest threats against your internet experience.

If you are going to surf the internet, you should spend some time keeping informed about what is out there waiting to bite you in the butt (and what is not). Becoming an over-night PC expert after losing your data and restoring your operating system isn't much fun. Stay on top of the gremlins that are out there, how they try to trick you and the havoc they may wreak. Also you can look up the hoaxes that try to trick you into believing you have a virus and then instruct you to delete files or install a program.

Virus alerts - From Computer Associates
Virus alerts - From Symantec - Great Information
Virus alerts -From McAfee
Some offer an alert subscription that will email you when new threats are discovered. VERY handy. Sure, you may get several alerts a week but if you take the time to read them, you are going to save yourself a LOT of headaches. Most of them offer downloadable programs that will clean the latest threat if infected.
I do not recommend some of the products above even if they may provide some useful info. It's pretty sad when McAfee reports "New virus found! Buy our product and download the latest dat file for protection." And then it still fails to detect that threat and your computer crashes anyway. They are nothing but fearmongers trying to get your money without providing a product that works.

7. RUN A REAL Firewall.
NEVER EVER rely on ANY firewall from Microsoft. I have never seen the Microsoft firewall block anything. And you can be sure it is not going to block any of Microsoft's own spyware shenanigans. After 20 years Microsoft hasn't even been able to create a secure operating system?
Check out some of your firewall options. I also liked the firewall with EZ-Armor

6. Download and run the REAL SpyBot-Search and Destroy.
Check it out at

Stay away from Spykiller and Spyhunter. The demos run half-way and then require a credit card. They paid various internet search engine companies (like Google and Yahoo) to direct people looking for Spy-Bot to their malicious sites that try to make you think you are getting SpyBot S&D but all you end up getting is their lame products pretending to be SpyBot. Spykiller and Spyhunter are really in the biz of adware, malware and spyware. True to their name, they are hunters of spyware who will use fear to sell their killers of your computer. They get your money, you get nothing but problems.
It's a good idea to download the latest version of SpyBot occasionally as the product improves.
Freeware CWShredder and HiJackThis aren't bad programs to have in your arsenal either.

5. Be sure you have Windows Restore (the feature, not the restore disk or partition), GoBack or some other product that allows you to restore your computer to a day within the last week.

Give it plenty of space to store systems changes, the more space, the more days.

You never know when one of Microsoft's recommended Windows Updates is going to render your computer inoperable. But then again, this may not help. Many of Microsoft's Updates are designed to destroy Windows Restore. Once you update, you can never go back unless you are technical enough (which most people aren't) to do an image backup and restore. Of course if all goes to hell, you can spend another $300 to buy Windows again. Sure, you lose all of your data but as long as Microsoft gets more of your money, they don't care how much pain they've inflicted upon their customers.

4. Turn of automatic updates. Go to frequently and check the patches.

Review the patches and if you think they apply to your machine, assess if the known vulnerability has been exploited. I say this because when Microsoft first releases a patch, there is a chance it may do more harm than good. You don't want to be the first one to find this out as there is no support from Microsoft. The more time you can hold off, the more time Microsoft has to fix their broken fixes. By checking the threats and knowing when it was a good time to apply the fix for the Blaster worm, I managed to apply the patch the day before the worm hit and I was spared. Many were not so fortunate.

Beware: Every time you let Windows Update scan your computer, Microsoft also scans your computer for other info. They wrote the system and they can scan your computer for personal info, surfing habits, installed software or anything else their prying and curious eyes want to know about you. It's a Catch 22. Do you want your system repaired from all the holes Microsoft left in it, or do you want to leave those holes open to the hackers? That's the conundrum MS has imposed upon its customers. It's no wonder Macs and Linux are gaining ground. How much pain and costs are the users of Microshaft willing to endure? I reached my limit $4000 ago. I haven't used Microshaft for my home computers for three years now. Two Linux machines and a Mac. I haven't had a problem since and I've saved myself a ton of money and a ton of headaches.

3. NEVER EVER open any email attachments that you are unsure about. Especially if they have extensions such as .vbs, .exe, .pif, .com, .scr, .zip, .eml, double extensions or you do not know the person who sent it. Some may even arrive as being sent from you.
There are a million tactics the tricksters use to lure you into opening attachments or going to malicious websites. The Can Spam act of 2003 that Congress passed actually gives malicious spammers more rights than you have and they now have the right to spam you with junk until they trick you into getting more spyware and viruses on your system.

2. Ordering Products online?

If you do, check to see if your credit card company offers "one-time" or "single-use" charge numbers. You just have to call them to get one before going online and committing to a purchase. This will ensure you don't get caught up in many of the credit card frauds that happen to millions of people every year. Another tip is to use a card that has an expiration date of less than a year. This will only protect you though from companies that impose an automatic annual renewal fee even though you never intended automatic annual renewal.

Read the fine print. Like many of the big chain stores, companies selling things over the internet have policies which allow them to share all of your account data with anyone who will pay them for it OR anyone they are affiliated with. For example: you order some concert tickets online through TicketMaster. If you approve of the purchase, TicketMaster assumes you are authorizing them to give your account information to everyone they do business with. Some of their affiliates may only spam you. But anyone in the chain of employees who have access to this info, many of which are minimum wages earners (or even outsourced, or offshored employees in other countries) can take your credit card info and go on a shopping spree. If you are a victim, the odds are good you can get it fixed if the people who stole it commit a crime within the city of your residence. The criminals know this. Once the fraud crosses a city, county, state or country boundary, you have a BIG problem as U.S. law enforcement totally breaks down. Online shopping is nice and it is easy. But online identity theft is now one of the fastest growing problems in the world. Be careful. If you can pay in person and pay cash, you are safe. If you only make one or two online transactions a year and become a victim, then you at least know where the problem originated. This was my case. But if you buy dozens of products online, when you get hit by fraud, you probably will never know who stole your information and you will be useless in helping the police in Botswana catch the perpetrators.

1. Be careful when typing in links/URLs.

Almost every bad guy out there has taken advantage of the fact that people fat-finger URLs when typing them in. So they buy up domain names that look similar to the most popular names on the internet. This is called typo-squatting. Often the domains look like the real thing. And more often than not, once you click, your machine is infected.

0. Best tip yet. Ditch Windows. Switch to Linux or a Mac.

No one deserves the crap that Windows is.

Thinking about buying a HP, Compaq or Sony? Think again.

Their policy of giving you a restore partition instead of "un-corruptable" restore disks may leave you out in the cold when the next virus or worm is unleashed. If you value what you have on your computer, don't even think of buying their products. Their products are only good for those who don't mind, "losing it all and starting over." And if your warranty has passed the one year point, you get to go to your local Best Buy and pay $100+ just to buy MS Windows to restore your computer to working condition. You may lose EVERYTHING you had before but HP doesn't care. They will tell you to go to Best Buy and buy a new HP computer. I just learned that Sony no longer gives you restore disks for applications or other installed software. You must purchase these separately. Sony ships a tool they claim can be used to burn restore disks. My sources tell me it DOES NOT work.

Then there is bad customer service and support. Your PC dies. They make you mail it in. 10 months later you get it back and it isn't fixed.

And another fun thing: HP/Compaq come loaded with spyware. Apparently they also want to know what is on your computer, where it's been or has been used for. They collect info and send it to their websites when you connect to the internet.

Visit Ed Foster's Gripeline for great commentary and forums on the scams you may want to avoid.

Rebate Scams

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