Is AVG All I Need?
Hi Rick, I have been
using the Spybot, which says my PC is free of malware. I followed your recent
Top Tip and downloaded AVG Anti-Spyware and it said that I had 18 problems.
These were mainly tracking cookies but one of them was ‘serious’. Is it worth
keeping Spybot or can I now just rely on AVG?
A. As I said in the
Top Tip I was been very impressed by AVG’s new free Anti Spyware program. It
found a fair number of infections on a PC that had just been swept with another
well known cleaner (not Spybot, by the way), but that happens with almost every
new malware cleaner I try.
The fact is no one
program catches everything. The people who create these things are constantly
coming up with new ways to exploit the weaknesses in web site and browser
security and it takes time for the cleaner companies to identify and work out
how to get rid of them. Cleaner ‘A’ may well pick up something that cleaner B
is not yet able to identify, but next week the situation may be reversed.
My recommendation, as
ever, is to have at least a couple of decent malware cleaners on your system,
and run them once a week. Adding AVG Anti Spyware to the mix is a good idea and
unlike most of the others it runs in the background, keeping a constant check
on your system.
Printing With Adobe
Hi Rick, I have downloaded to my PC a mobile phone manual and now want to print
it. The problem is I do not know how to reduce the size of the individual Adobe
pages so I can fit at least four or more onto a portrait A4 sheet. It insists
on printing one Adobe page per A4 sheet whatever the size of the text and with
117 pages to print it is a bit much.
A. Adobe Acrobat
Reader’s print options can be a bit limited and they can be further constrained
by the author, however. I have a couple of things to try. First go to Page
Setup on Acrobat Reader’s File menu, click Properties and this should take you
to your printer’s Properties dialogue box and check the Layout tab for a
‘multi-page’ printing option.
It is possible to convert Pdfs into Word documents, check Google and
you’ll find plenty of freeware and shareware pdf ‘rippers’, and you can even do
it online using a service like http://www.fastpdf.com/.
One final thought, I have found the most recent versions of Acrobat Reader slow
and unwieldy so I’ve gone back to Version 4, which is fast and stable and often
more flexible when it comes to printing. It is also free of those annoying
popups and upgrade reminders. You can find it, along with many other classic
programs at: OldVersion.com
Web Page Overhangs
Hello Rick, firstly, thanks for
being there over my PC developing years, I feel I am confident with most
problems thanks to you. BUT! always a but... In the last year or so I have
noted that some sites expect me to have a widescreen, almost Cinemascope (If
you recall that? you may be too young?) One example is: the online Telegraph newspaper. I have a
17-inch screen and the Telegraph 'overhangs' at least one column each side. All
this means that I have to shuffle both sides back and for to read. I tried
changing screen size and seemed to get in one hell of a mess. What do you think
is the problem? I know it's probably simple and an operator error as my PC is
Tony Wood, Manitoba
A. Not old enough to remember
Cinemascope, I wish… I’ve seen more cinema formats come and go than you can
shake a stick at, and I could add a few TV and video formats to the list as
well, but I digress.
There’s nothing unusual about the
Telegraph website, well, my bit of it at least, and it is designed to be viewed on a normal 4:3 aspect ratio
PC monitor screen so the problems is at your end. My guess is your screen
resolution is wrong. I can’t tell which will be the right one for your setup
but I suspect if both PC and monitor are less then five years old, and you have
the correct drivers installed for your video adaptor it should be 1024 x 768 or
1280 x 1024 pixels.
To change it right click onto an empty area of
the desktop and select Properties then the Settings tab. Move the Screen Resolution
slider to one of the two settings and click OK. Windows XP will automatically
resize the image and ask you if you want to keep the change. If the screen goes
blank this means there’s a driver problem but if you wait for a few seconds the
picture will reappear. To resolve a driver problem you need to visit the video
adaptor manufacturer’s website and download the correct driver. You can find
out the make and model of your adaptor by pressing WinKey + Break then click
Hardware > Device Manager and double click on Video Adaptors. Download the
driver then go back to your video adaptor’s entry in Device Manager,
right-click on it and select Properties, then the Driver tab and click Update
Drivers. When prompted point it to the location of the downloaded driver
Make Firefox Forget…
Hi Rick, using Firefox, when I
begin to type in a search, I get the list of previous searches beginning with
whatever initial letter I have used. Is there a way of deleting this facility?
A. This is Firefox’s version of the
AutoComplete feature in Internet Explorer. It is largely benign and designed to
make your life easier but I can see why some people regard it as a potential
infringement of their privacy, especially on PCs that are used by other people.
It’s very easy to switch off and clear the memory, simply go to Tools >
Options, select the Privacy tab then the Saved Forms tab and deselect ‘Save
information I enter in Forms and the Search bar’. Click OK and it’s done.
Rick - I have just downloaded IE7 and am frustrated at trying to find
my way around! It will come in time I guess. However, one function I found
useful in IE6 was the small box that appeared asking if I wanted to disconnect
or stay connected when I closed IE6 or Outlook Express. I cannot find it in IE7
- is it still there, waiting to be turned on?
A. This feature has a life of its own and is wont to
disappear for no particular reason. I suppose it’s possible the IE7 install had
something to do with it, but equally it might just have been due for an
awayday… Fortunately behind the scenes nothing much has changed in IE and you
should be able to get it back easily enough. Go to Tools > Internet Options
and select the Connections tab. Highlight your dial-up account, click Settings
then the Advanced button and uncheck the box marked ‘Disconnect when connection
may no longer be needed’.
Hi Rick, I have had
my PC system for several years and it is time to move on. About a year ago I
added an extra hard drive (80 Gb) myself to supplement the original 9Gb one, on
a master/slave basis. I kept the original one for programs and transferred my
folders on to the 80 GB one. I liked the idea of this clarity, but am unsure if
it really has any benefits.
I now wish to buy a
new PC with a Windows XP op system and probably a 160Gb HDD. My main use is small office work, and digital image storage and
manipulation. Before I spend too much time assessing the options could you
advise if it would be sensible to plan to take the 80Gb HDD out of my current
PC and add it to the new one, when I get it. Also, would it be better to have
the 80Gb HDD for system & programs with the 160 GB for my folders, or would
this be too complex to change over.
A. There are no hard and fast rules
when it comes to drive installation and management. Ask a dozen experts and
you’ll get a dozen opinions. In your case you have several options. The most
efficient use of space would be to have the OS on the 80Gb drive, assuming that
the performance to drive in your new PC, and use the new drive purely for data
storage and backup. However, this is only a practical proposition if you have
an installation disc and the option to choose where to load Windows otherwise
it can get messy. If that’s not possible then simply fill your old 80Gb drive
with everything you want to move across to the new PC and slave it to the new
drive, you can then shift your data folders onto the new drive, or leave them
where they are. I would be inclined to do the former as this will make more
efficient use of the new drive and leave you with the option to wipe the old
drive and use it for backup or ‘cloning’.
Run That By Me Again…
Hi Rick. You often, very
knowledgeably, refer to useful commands that can be used in Start/Run or in
Desktop short cuts. Is there anywhere that we can find a definitive list of all
such commands, with full details as to their use?
A. Off the top of my head I would probably have
said there were more than fifty Windows apps, utilities and processes that
could be launched from Run on the Start menu, so imagine my surprise when I
Googled for a list of Run commands and came across this page from Fixmypc, which currently
details 156 of them…
Drive Noise Annoys
Hi Rick, many thanks for
all of your articles and information over the years. I approach PCs with
less trepidation than when I first started and that was late enough in life! A
quickie for you - I recently purchased a second Maxtor HDD for my Dell
PC. It accepts data and seems to work OK. A scan with HDTune showed no
errors at all. However it searches for data very noisily as if
the data arm is busting a gut. Is this just one of those things or
should it be 'returned to sender'? The other Maxtor is almost silent in
operation. I did read somewhere that is possible to slow down the
rate of data search on a drive, but cannot find it again - any ideas?
A. I’m not sure about slowing a drive down to make it less noisy, even
if it were possible, and it probably is, I wouldn’t recommend it. Anything that
changes the way a drive operates should be avoided like the plague. If Maxtor
wanted you to be able to slow down their drives they would have put a knob on
It’s difficult to say if there’s a problem with the
drive without hearing it but If, as you say, it is much noisier than your other
drive then there’s either a fault, or it is being made to work too hard by
Windows or some application on your PC. I would be inclined to be safe rather
than sorry and return the drive (having first backed up and deleted any
information it contains), because the noise could be an early warning of
failure and if it pops its clogs you could loose data or even your system. If
the new drive is still noisy let me know and we’ll delve deeper.
Missing Scroll On Dell Laptop
I came across your site from the
Daily Telegraph and it’s been useful to the extreme. My question is
probably childishly stupid: how in the name of all that’s holy do I get virtual
scrolling to work on my Dell Inspiron laptop touchpad? I’ve been through
every possibility that my limited IT skills point me at and no joy. It
used to work but I had a disk failure and had to have a total re-install. I run
XP Pro, if that’s relevant. It’s a handy
feature, so if you can be of some help, I’d be eternally grateful.
A. I’ve checked the specs for your model and it seems
that this model doesn’t have a built-in scroll functions so I’m wondering if
you are referring to the hidden Scroll feature in Microsoft Word. As well as
being handy for reading long documents it can turn your PC screen into a
teleprompter or autocue. To fire it up click on Customise on the Tools menu,
select the Commands tab, scroll down the list and highlight 'All Commands' in
the Categories window. In the right hand Commands window find, single click and
hold on Auto Scroll, drag and drop it onto a toolbar and a button will appear.
Close Customise and click on the Auto Scroll button, you can vary the speed and
direction using the arrows that appear in the left hand scroll bar.
Silent Dial Up
Hi Rick, I have a dial-up Internet connection and when I connect, with the
speakers turned on, I have always been able to hear the computer dialling
out. For some reason the dial up is now silent. The connection
works and my .wav files are audible. Is there an explanation please?
A. This is almost always caused by a mute switch
or volume adjustment in your modem’s ‘Properties’ menu, rather than by anything
in Windows. In most cases all you have to do is go to Modems in Control Panel
(Windows 9x) or Network Connections in XP, right click on your modem icon or
entry and select Properties and you’ll usually find a volume slider of mute
button on the General tab.
Otherwise the driver, or the actual modem may be
faulty. You can try installing the latest driver from the manufacturer’s
website, or swap the modem if you have one (if not they’re really cheap
nowadays, typically less than £10 for an internal PCI card type). One last
thought, some ancient modems connect to the PC’s audio adaptor so check behind
the PC to see if there is a cable going from the back of the modem to the
soundcard, if so test or replace.
Free Alternatives to AVG Anti Virus
Hi Rick, what is the best option
for home users anti-virus now that AVG-Grisoft are charging for their products?
Thanks for this excellent series – Boot Camp 446 etc., Linux - Mandriva – I am
following it closely. I’m awaiting Mandriva DVD, I will then get this installed
and dual boot with Windows XP on my DT Mk2.
A. Thanks for the encouragement, much
appreciated, and good luck with the Mandriva dual-boot
project on your DT Mk 2 computer (DIY
Vista-ready PC for around £200), I think you'll enjoy trying it.
As far as I am aware AVG Free will continue,
the current version (7.1) is going to be discontinued early next year but it is
being replaced by v7.5, which is available for download now. If you fancy a
change try AntiVir or Avast!
they're both free and work well, at least nothing has got through yet and
believe me, I do get quite a few dodgy emails…
Running Out of Space on Windows 98
Dear Rick, my computer is more than
8 years old and uses W98SE. I am very happy with everything, except that, if
practicable, I would like to obtain extra disk space. I have always been the
only user, but in case I did something foolish, I originally set up a User
named Test. Test is exactly as I want it and I never log on the standard screen
view. My C:\windows\profiles has two sub
directories: All Users (approx 34 Mb with 206 folders and 696 files) and Test
(approx 62Mb with 565 folders and 1035 files, plus with more than 100 folders which do not contain any files,
visible, hidden or system).
I presume I can at least delete the
empty folders; but do you have any other suggestions? I am not brilliant, but I
persevere, and I could and would take a full back up if you have any
suggestion, which might be somewhat complex.
A. Tinkering with an old and obviously well used
system almost always ends in tears so I wouldn’t delete anything. However, your
PC is now well past its sell by date and you can expect something to fail,
probably sooner rather than later. You can effectively kill two birds with one
stone by installing a second hard drive as a ‘slave’. This will give you the
extra storage space that you need, and allow you to backup your data, which is
at risk if it only exists on your 8 year old drive. When the time comes to
replace your PC you will b able to move your slave drive to the new computer
and copy your files across with minimum disruption. Hard drives are cheap --
you can pick up an 80Gb model for less than £40 and they only take a few
minutes to install (see Boot Camp 87
for Win98 details).
Budget Laptops and Projectors
Hi Rick, my question is about connecting a budget laptop to a budget digital projector for
use at a camera club meeting. Any advice would be welcome before we buy a
projector. I stress the word ‘budget’ because we are a group of
A. The first thing to say is that cost isn’t a consideration because
one way or another any laptop can be connected to any video projector. If all
you want to do is display still JPEG images then you can safely get away with
the cheapie laptop. The cases and keyboards may not to be as rugged, and they
may not be as well-built or stylish as their more expensive cousins but under
the skin the key components -- operating system, CPU, memory, hard drive and
quite often the screen -- can be identical to those used in models costing two
or three times as much.
With projectors higher prices usually does translate directly into
performance, more specifically the resolution, contrast ratio, brightness and
the lens get better the more you pay. You will also get more secondary features
but this may not matter too much if you are only showing still images.
There are several connection methods and the one most
likely to be supported by both projector and laptop is VGA -- the same method
used to connect a PC to a monitor. Many laptops also have video and sometimes
S-Video outputs as well, and these are also more or less standard on most
projectors. In the extremely unlikely event you end up with a laptop and
projector and laptop that cannot be connected directly then there are plenty of
conversion and adaptor devices available that make a connection possible. The
best advice I can give is buy your laptop first then use it to audition
Slipstreaming XP Using ImgBurn
Hi Rick, I want to make the slipstreamed Windows XP disc,
following your guide, but I have neither of the disc burning programs you
mention there. As I haven't needed them before, I'm loathe to install
them just for this one job.
More recently you've mentioned ImgBurn, and I can see from
one of the guides there how I can specify ISO 9660. However, I can't
see how to specify the value 4 for "loaded sectors" or "Sector
Count". Is there any chance of you elaborating on what this latter
criteria refers to, so that I can see how to specify it (and perhaps, do you
think I will be able to use ImgBurn for this job.
Thanks for the work on the site, and very glad to see you
back in print on Saturdays - also very much enjoyed the DT Mk2 articles.
A. And thank you for the
encouragement, much appreciated! The short answer to your question is possibly,
maybe… I suspect that you can use ImgBurn to
create a Slipstreamed XP installation disc (see Boot Camp 428),
I haven’t tried it myself and my guess is it involves a fair amount of faffing
around, which is why I suggested the commercial programs. They are reasonably
easy to use and I know they work. By the way, you can download discontinued versions of
Nero, which supports ISO burning, free from Oldversion.com
If you still want to have a
crack with ImgBurn I suggest you read the through this Forum
thread on the ImgBurn website first, which tackles this issue and let me
know how you get on.