Monday, January 30, 2012

Creating another User Account in Windows

Creating additional user accounts is a good idea if you have additional people using your computer.  You should have one user account for everybody that uses your computer.  Having separate user accounts keeps everybody’s “stuff” separate and allows you maintain better security on your computer.  In general you should have only one person as an administrative user and all the rest as standard or limited users.

Windows 7

  1. Go to Start >> Control Panel
    start-menu-control-panel
  2. In the Control Panel click Add or Remove User Accounts, which is under User Accounts and Family Safety.
    Control Panel
  3. Click Create a new account.
    control-panel-manage-user-accounts
  4. On the next screen type a name for the account and select the account type, like I mentioned above, I recommend using the Standard User Account option.  Click Create Account when done.
    creating-a-new-user-account
  5. The account is now created!  I highly recommend you add a password for the new account!  You can find directions here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2012/01/adding-password-to-your-windows-account.html.

Windows XP

Creating a new user account in Windows XP is almost identical to Windows 7.

  1. Go to Start >> Control Panel
  2. In the Control Panel go to User Accounts
  3. In User Accounts click Create a New Account.
  4. In the next screen type a name for the account and click Next.
  5. In the next screen choose a account type.  Limited is recommend; however, it might be too restrictive!  Click Create Account.  Once the account is created I highly recommend you create a password!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Tools Every Dialup User Should Have!

These tools are also good for those who may have slower DSL or Broadband connections as well.  Or if you have a connection that drops frequently.  Oh, and by the way if you have dialup, just because you have a slow connection does not mean you do not need Anti-virus software!

Web Accelerator – A web accelerator accelerates the internet by compressing content.  Text will look the same, but pictures will be poorer quality.  Now, do not expect the claims that some of web accelerators make, such as makes your dialup connection as fast as broadband or cable, to hold up; while the connection will be noticeably faster it still will not make dialup into broadband or cable.  Most dialup providers offer accelerators, which may require you activate the feature or download some additional software.  If your dialup provider does not offer an accelerator or the accelerator is an additional cost then is I would suggest you check out the Opera Web Browser, which has a built in accelerator – Opera Turbo: http://www.opera.com/.

opera-with-turbo-enabled

Download Manager – A download manager allows you to manage your downloads and most importantly pause and resume downloads!  If for some reason you lose your connection or simply need to disconnect from the internet, you can simply pause the download and then resume the download the next time your are connected to the internet.  One of the programs I like the best is GetRight: http://getright.com.

Download Window

Modem on Hold – Modem on hold allows your dialup connection to be temporary disconnected in the event you get a phone call.  Modem on hold functionality requires that your modem support V.92, which any modem newer than 10 years should support.  If your modem does not come with necessary software for Modem on Hold functionality, then I suggest you check out: http://www.phonetray.com/downloads.htm/.  Most modem on hold software also provide you with Caller ID if you have the feature for our phone.

Free Dialup Internet Access – for Michigan!  Yep, free dialup: http://dialinfree.com/!  Only for Michigan though.

Friday, January 20, 2012

How to Remove System Check

Please note: for all those worried about your data, it is still there!  System Check has just hidden it and I will cover how to get it back at the end of the removal instructions!

Of the fake anti-virus programs I have removed, System Check definitely tries to be the scariest!  I have never seen such a deluge of errors and warnings that range from hard drive failure to slow RAM and GPU problems.  But don’t worry, this can all be fixed for the low price of $84.50 if you purchase System Check!  If you have been conned into buying this program make sure you get your money back!  You should be able to call your credit card company and put in a dispute about the charge.

One of things I would like to point out first is the website where you can purchase System Check.  You will notice from the screen shot the impressive array of icons at the bottom of that page that would appear to show that System Checks website is safe; however, none of these icons can be clicked on like on a normal legitimate website, which would normally take you to a information page.

security-check-buy-options

Where did System Check come from?  In my case it came from a email sent by someone I know, who either has a virus problem or who’s email has been hacked.  The email contained a link to something I should check out, which coming from someone I know should be safe right?  In this case I knew even before clicking the link that it was not safe, but I decided to see what would happen anyway.  The website loaded Sun Java, which apparently has a security hole that is being exploited for the purpose of System Check.  Basically as soon as the website loaded, everything on my computer shutdown and almost all the icons on my desktop disappeared, also all the programs on the start menu disappeared as well. 

security-check-errors

And the next thing I see after all the error messages is System Check’s main window, which is scanning for errors:

security-check-main-screen

security-check-virus-screen

Now, how to remove System Check?

  1. Download and run RKill from: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/anti-virus/rkill.  I was able to download this directly to my computer.  If you are not able to you can either download this on a second computer and transfer using flash driver or you can try Windows Safe Mode with Networking, you can find directions here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2012/01/how-to-boot-windows-into-safe-mode.html.
    Just to note when I ran RKill (I used the .exe version), I received several error messages and I thought I was going to have to try a different RKill, but RKill actually still worked and killed System Check.
  2. Next to remove system Check.  For this I am going to use MBAM, which can be downloaded at: http://www.malwarebytes.org/.  I recommend running a full scan first, this way hopefully you will not have to run a second scan.  When done scanning click Remove Selected, for me, MBAM wanted to restart once done.
    mbam-removing-system-check
    Once I restarted the computer, to my surprise System Check was still there, while inactive, it was not removed!  I did a scan with Norton’s Security Scanner: http://security.symantec.com/sscv6/WelcomePage.asp, which revealed additional threats.  I then used Norton’s Power Eraser: http://security.symantec.com/nbrt/npe.aspx, to remove the rest of the offending items.
  3. Now that System Check has been removed, you will probably notice that your data is still missing!  Do not worry, it is still there, System Check has simply hidden it.  To unhide it were are going to use a tool from Bleeping Computer called unhide: http://download.bleepingcomputer.com/grinler/unhide.exe.  Simply download and run unhide.exe and it should unhide all your data and programs.
  4. Also, on my system, System Check really messed up my Taskbar and Start Menu.  To restore the Start menu, right click on the Task Bar and click Properties.
    taskbar-and-start-menu-properties
    Under Taskbar buttons: change to Always Combine, hide labels.
    taskbar-and-start-menu-properties-window
    Next go to the Start Menu tab and first check both the Store and Display recently opened programs in the Start menu and Store and display recently opened items in the Start Menu and the taskbar.  Next click Customize…taskbar-and-start-menu-properties-start-menu-tab
    Under the Customization menu click Use Default Settings.  Click OK and click Ok again and your Start Menu should be back to normal.
    choosing-start-menu-items
  5. Next, I need to fix the Notification area of the Taskbar, instead of hiding inactive icons, it is showing everything.  To do this right click on the Taskbar, click properties and in the dialog box that opens click Customize under the Notification area.
    taskbar-and-start-menu-properties
    taskbar-and-start-menu-properties-window
    Under the Notification customization window, uncheck the option to Always show all icons and notifications on the taskbar, click OK and OK again when done.
    notification-icons-settings-in-taskbar
  6. Due to the fact that System Check loads additional unwanted software I recommend you follow my additional cleanup options here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-1.html and if something still is not working right, you can find some additional help here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-2.html

How to Boot Windows into Safe Mode

Windows Safe mode is a diagnostic Windows mode that only loads the necessary components to get Windows running.  Safe mode can be used to restore/fix windows if Windows cannot boot normally.  For example a corrupt driver or bad setting or bad program that it is preventing Windows from booting.  Safe mode is also useful if your computer has virus since most viruses will not run in safe mode.

Safe mode is the same for all versions of Windows and accessing it is the same for all versions of Windows as well.  If your computer is not already off,  you will need to shut the computer off first.

Next, start the computer and while the computer is booting up continually press F8 on the keyboard.  If Windows starts booting up then you have missed your chance and will have shutdown and try again.  The screen shot below is of Windows 7’s Advanced Boot Options, XP and Vista differ slightly on the available options.

windows-safe-mode

From the list select Safe Mode and press Enter.  You will need to use the Arrow keys on your keyboard to select items.  If you want or need an internet connection then you need to choose Safe Mode with Networking.  Regular Safe Mode will not load network device drivers!  Once you press enter, Windows will start to load all the necessary drivers and components.

windows-safe-mode-loading-drivers

Once down loading, Windows will take you to the Login screen, or if you do not have a password, it will take you straight to the desktop.  Just be aware, because this is safe mode most normal programs will not work.

windows-7-safe-mode-desktop

How to Remove a Computer Virus?

I have been asked this a few times now already, “Why don’t I do a post on how to remove viruses?”  No, it is not because it is top secret, but more to do with the fact there really is no standard way to remove a virus.  Almost all viruses are different and thus require different removal methods.  There are however a few basics and tips that may help; as well as few tools that can help.

First off some tools (don’t worry they are all free!):

Next are some basic steps for removing a virus.  For virus types you can see a previous post here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/06/types-of-viruses.html.

  • Of course you first need to make sure you have a virus and if possible identify the name of the virus.  A good tool for this is Security Task Manager and of course if you can a do a virus scan with your anti-virus program.  You can also check a previous post on this at: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/05/how-do-you-know-if-your-computer-is.html.
  • Once you know you have virus, the first step will be disabling the virus.  Most viruses will attempt to block all attempts at being removed.  RKill is good for this.  If you can stop the viruses process, then you should be able to regain control of the computer and perform the necessary steps to remove the virus.  If you are unable to kill the virus will Windows is running normally then you may have to use Window’s Safe Mode.
  • The next step is to actually remove the virus, or at least try.  For this you can try some of the tools I listed above.  MBAM is good general all purpose tool to start with.
  • Once the viruses is removed follow the directions here for a full cleaning and restoring if necessary: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-1.html and http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/03/cleaning-aftermath-of-virus-part-2.html.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Adding a Password to Your Windows Account

Adding a password to protect your account has several benefits.  It adds an additional layer of protection against threats, especially hacking.

Adding a password in Windows is a simple process, first go to Start.  Click on little picture at the top on the right side (in my case the orange flower).  This will take you to your account options.

windows-start-menu

Click Create a Password for your account.

create-a-password-for-windows-account

Type in your desired password and if desired a password hint.

typing-password-for-windows-account

Click Create Password when done.  This process is basically the same for Windows Vista and Windows XP as well.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Maintain Your Laptops Battery Life

I have seen a number of suggestions for maintaining laptop online, ranging from good to down right ridiculous.  Maintaining your laptops battery does not require anything fancy, simply using the battery will give you better battery life.  I have a laptop that is almost 6 years old and the battery is still going strong!  I would note that laptop batteries usually have internal circuitry that should prevent wrecking the battery.  Most batteries now days are Lithium-ion (Li-ion).  Li-ion batteries are usually rated for at least 1000 cycles (discharged/recharged).

Some of the more ridiculous battery life suggestions I have seen online include:

  • Discharge and recharge the battery at least once a week.  Seems like a lot of unnecessary work!  Plus it eats into your cycle count it is unnecessary.
  • Do not charge the battery until it is run down completely.  Just a bad idea all the way around!
  • Take your battery out whenever you have your laptop plugged in.  And the point is?
  • Set Windows to maximum power savings when on battery.  This may be great for getting your laptop to run longer on the battery, but I have no idea how this would help your battery to last longer?
  • Do not leave your laptop plugged in for extend periods of time with the battery in.  I believe they think that it will keep charging the battery?  Which is not the case, once fully charged, the battery will stop charging.
  • Have an extra battery on hand.  You should NEVER do this if you are not using the second battery, it will most likely die before the one you are actually using!

Some things I suggest for maintaining your laptops battery:

  • Use the battery – if you do not need a battery then you should have gotten a desktop!  Just be careful not to completely drain the battery, in most cases your laptop should shut off before the battery is completely discharged.
  • When recharging the battery, try to charge it back up all at once, do not charge part way, then finish charging latter.
  • Do not keep battery (or the laptop for that matter) in extreme temperatures.  Heat and cold are hard on a battery.
  • Do not store the battery for long periods of time.  If you do store it make sure you store it almost fully charged.  Over time the battery will lose its charge, if it loses too much you will not be able to charge it!

Some signs that your laptop battery are failing:

  • Just to note, no matter what you do, your battery will lose life over time!  If it starts losing too much then is is probably time to get another battery.
  • Obvious – the battery will not charge or is not recognized by the system.  Just note with Dell laptops this may be a problem with the power supply and not the battery!
  • While using the battery, the battery level suddenly jumps from a high percentage to a lower percentage, such as 97% to 40%.  This indicates the battery is not holding its charge or that the battery is not calibrated properly.
  • Battery will not charge all the way or gets stuck charging at a certain percentage.

Some things you can do to rejuvenate a dying battery:

  • Discharge and recharge it.  Basically run the battery down, then charge it all the way back up and repeat the process a few times.  This probably will not work if you battery is a Li-ion.
  • For Li-ion batteries run the laptop until it dies, basically run the battery as low as it will let you do (preferably 0-1%) and recharge the battery fully.  This probably will not give you any more life but should correct your battery percentages.

If you have any suggestions to add to this, let me know!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

How to Remove Home Security Solutions

Home Security Solutions is another on of those wonderful fake anti-virus programs.  On the dangerous scale, this one does not seem to be too bad.  First off, where did it come from?  Naturally from browsing the web and it was installed by me (emphasis here on the fact that I actually had to install it, it does not install itself!).  By the way, yes, I did install this on purpose, I was aware what would happen!  Also, I highly suggest you check out a previous blog post on fake anti-virus software at: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/04/how-to-spot-fake-anti-virus-virus.html.

This screen shot below is the warning I received while browsing the web, I of course clicked on the Delete Infected and promptly ran and installed the download from the website:

windows-7-theme-fake-antivirus

Below is the main window of Home Security Solutions.

home-security-solutions-main-window

Here is one of the warnings that Home Security Solutions generates (when I tried to download RKill):

home-security-solutions-attach-firewall-warning

Removing Home Security Solutions, as far as viruses are concerned is relatively simple.  First, you will need to download and run RKill, you can download RKill at: http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/download/anti-virus/rkill.  I used the rkill.exe.  You most likely will have to download this on another computer as I was not able to download anything, then transfer this to the infected computer using a flash drive.  Once downloaded, simply run RKill and it will take a few minutes for RKill to complete and kill the viruses process.  Just note if the exe version does not work, just keep trying the different RKill processes until one works.  Once done, RKill will display a text file with the killed processes information, I highlighted the processes that are most likely the problem:

rkill-exe

ne This log file is located at C:\rkill.log.
Please post this only if requested to by the person helping you.
Otherwise you can close this log when you wish.

Rkill was run on 01/08/2012 at 14:50:31.
Operating System: Windows 7 Ultimate
Processes terminated by Rkill or while it was running:
C:\Program Files (x86)\Acer\clear.fi\MVP\.\Kernel\DMR\DMREngine.exe
C:\ProgramData\6316bf\HS631_8006.exe
\\DOZEMANSERVER\Files\My Downloads\Spyware\RKill\rkill.exe
C:\Windows\SysWOW64\InfDefaultInstall.exe
Rkill completed on 01/08/2012 at 14:50:36.

Second, once Home Security Solution has been terminated, we can download and install MBAM (Malwarebytes Anti-Malware).  MBAM can be downloaded at: http://www.malwarebytes.org/.  Again, you may have to download this from another computer.  Once installed run a quick scan to remove Home Security Solutions.  Just to note once the quick scan is done, I recommend you run a full system scan as well!

mbam-full-system-scan

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Allow a Program Through the Windows 7 Firewall

Allowing a program through the firewall in relatively simple in Windows 7.  Frist off, I will note that usually Windows Firewall will popup a warning the first time a program tries to access the network/internet.  In the firewall window that popups, simply check what network types that the Windows Firewall should allow the program through, in most cases you should just select Private networks.  Public network would be like a Wi-Fi hotspot or internet at a hotel, basically any network connection that is not necessarily secure.  Once you have made your selection, just click Allow Access.

allowing-program-through-the-windows-7-firewall-private-network

If you need to make changes or for some reason you not seeing the Windows Firewall popup, then you will need to manually change the settings in the Control Panel.  First go to Start and then the Control Panel.

start-menu-control-panel

Go to System and Security.

Control Panel

Under the Windows Firewall click All a program through Windows Firewall.

control-panel-system-and-security

In the Window that popups click Change Settings on the top right side.  If you do not click this you will not be able to change any of the firewall settings.

allow-program-through-the-firewall-no-changes-allowed

Once you have click Change Settings you will be allowed the change the settings.  The settings are fairly simple, a check in the check box will allow a program through, no check means the program is blocked.  Plus you have a column for Private network and Public Network.  If you do not see your program listed then you can click the Allow another program and browse and select your program.

allow-program-through-the-firewall-list

Sunday, January 1, 2012

How to Fix a Corrupt Font–Video

I happened to have the problem again, so I decided to make a quick video of the steps required to fix the problem.  You can find the original post here: http://www.computer-skills.info/2011/04/corrupt-fontshow-to-reinstall-font.html.

How to Fix a Corrupt Font in Windows 7