Ask Rick Maybury 2014

  

 

Ask Rick 292 18/01/14

 

Cash Registry

I want to install a Registry cleaner from the Internet and visited a website that had an assessment of the top ten cleaners, all of which offered a free scan. I tried three, with vastly different results as to how many problems there were on my year old computer. How can this be when they all claim to scan for the same things, and how can I tell which one to buy? Do you have any recommendations?

Ron Giddens, by email

 

Yes, save your money and leave the Registry alone! Unless you are seeing error messages that specifically mention the Registry then it is probably okay. The Registry is a basically a large database containing configuration settings for Windows and the programs and devices used by your PC. It is often unfairly blamed for a wide variety of common problems, from erratic behaviour to slow booting. That used to be true but from XP onwards the Registry is regularly backed up, well protected against corruption and Windows can even fix some problems on its own. In addition System Restore keeps copies of important Registry files that may be altered or damaged when new programs are installed and changes can be easily undone. It is true that over time the Registry grows in size, but even on a very well used machine it only adds a few seconds to the boot up time. Registry cleaners are supposed to remove redundant entries that might cause problems but in most cases they are harmless. The wide variations in the error reports can be explained by differences in the criteria used to decide which entries are no longer needed, and therein lies the danger. It is tempting to think that the cleaners finding the greatest number of errors do a better job. In fact the opposite is true and the more aggressive, or less selective cleaners run the greatest risk of deleting critical files that could wreck your system. Just remember the wise old mantra, if it ‘aint broke, don’t fix it, (and if it is broke, it’s probably not the Registry…).

 

 

Final Flash

I have learned that Flash is no longer available to download for Android tablets, I have a Samsung Galaxy 10.1 Is there a suitable alternative so I can watch the BBC News on-line?

Graham Matthews, by email

 

It is not a problem; simply download the free BBC Media Player app from Google Play. This replaces Flash and works, as before, with BBC iPlayer. If you need Flash player for some other reason you can still get the final Android version from the Adobe archives. Instructions and a link to the download can be found at: http://goo.gl/VyhSzA.

 

 

Boot Bother

Recently my PC would not start and just displayed error messages stating that ‘Bootmgr’ could not be found. I booted it up with a system repair disk; it was unable to find my Windows 7 installation, and the repair options did not work.  I then tried partition software, which showed that the drive was flagged as Inactive. I changed it to Active, retried the repair disk and it successfully fixed the PC. Could this be due to a virus; if not do you have any ideas so I can watch out for it again?

Geoff Earley, by email

 

This doesn’t sound like the work of a virus, and changing the drive status flag from Active to Inactive can normally only be done through the Windows Disk Management utility, so unless you have been tinkering with it this is a bit of a mystery. Hopefully it won’t bother you again but to be on the safe side I suggest that you check a couple of things. Firstly, and only if you don’t mind poking around inside your PC, check that the cables connecting the drive to the motherboard are securely seated, at both ends. Second, download and run a freeware utility called HDDScan (http://goo.gl/zaA5). This performs a series of health checks on your hard drive, testing for the kind of errors that can cause boot failure. It is a good idea to save the reports and repeat the test after week or two and compare the results. If there is a noticeable increase in the number of errors then this might be a sign that the drive is about to fail and you should take steps to back up your irreplaceable data and replace the drive.   

 

 

Stop Start iPad

I am fed up with my iPad repeatedly stopping playback of TV catch-up programmes. I get five minutes then it stops, I restart and get another two, then it stops again, or won't restart at all. I know my wireless broadband isn't brilliant but the indicator in the top left hand corner of the iPad screen shows a full signal most of the time, but even it doesn't seem to make any difference to playback. Is there something, anything, I can do to play TV programmes without glitches and stoppages?

Lesley Walford, by email

 

Those signal bars simply show that you have a good wireless connection to your router; it doesn’t tell you anything about the amount of data flowing into your tablet, which is almost certainly the root cause of this problem. Frequent pauses or buffering are almost always due to a slow Internet connection. There is no hard and fast figure but you need around 2 megabits per second (2Mbps) for standard definition TV channels and a minimum of 4Mbps for HD material. You can check your broadband performance using an online speed tester and I suggest that you use two different ones, and take readings at several times throughout the day to get an average. There are plenty to choose from but the BBC diagnostic utility at http://goo.gl/2t6Zq and the Bandwidthplace tester at http://goo.gl/ZLJS are both easy to use and generally give consistent results. If your connection routinely falls short of those minimums or is significantly less than you are paying for then you should ask your broadband provider to test your connection, or upgrade to a faster service.

 

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© R. Maybury 2014 3012

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