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Registry Cleaners: What Are They and How to Use Them?

Registry Cleaners 101:

Registry Cleaners are third party software that help is clean the Windows Registry of useless files and registry entries in order to create more free space and optimize a computer’s performance. Every time you install a program, a registry entry is made in the Windows Registry and certain Registry files are created.

Over time, as you continue to use the program, the number of these files and entries increases and takes up more space on the drive that is running your Operating System.

People use a Registry Cleaner to deal with such issues and keep their computer clean. It is unclear to many people what their benefits are but Vendors of Registry cleaners claim they are useful to repair registry errors that are otherwise difficult to fix with any other software.

What is the Windows Registry?

Before knowing what Registry Cleaners are, it’s best to know what The Windows Registry is. The Windows Registry has been a part of windows that not many computer users really understand. It is a hierarchical database that saves and maintains settings and information on almost everything on a Windows Computer.

Everything, be it application settings, user passwords, device driver information, windows settings and pretty much anything else are stored in the Windows Registry.

Normally, application settings used to get saved in the form of configuration files that used raw text based formats. There used to be a separate file for every application that was installed. The Windows Registry was introduced as a solution to this issue. It served as a single platform to store all this data without creating physical files, thus saving up on space and clutter.

Aside from that, storing all this data in the form of a consolidated database means that accessing values in the registry is a much quicker experience than editing a text file based configuration, which means the registry can be used for more than just storage of settings files. Access to the registry is also instantaneous as most or all of it is loaded as soon as a system is booted.

What is a Registry Cleaner?

If you’ve worked around computers for a fair bit, you’ve probably come across the terms “registry” and “registry cleaner”. Registry is that database in a Microsoft Operating System which comprises of all the settings, configuration and other operational data concerning various components such as software, hardware, user settings etc. being used on the computer.

A Registry Cleaner (which many people do not know what exactly it is despite having used it several times) is a third party software built especially for Microsoft Windows’ Operating Systems. The main task of a registry cleaner is to get rid of all the junk registry files from the registry to keep a computer running smoothly.

How do issues tend to occur with respect to the registry?

It can happen every time you make certain changes in your computer system. For instance, let’s say you’ve installed a new game or edited a user profile or changed the schedule when your computer is supposed to carry out a scheduled check up of various system components. It could lead to loss of some data.

Issues in Registry which require Registry Cleaner to solve them are of various types. Some of the examples are rogue or useless or obsolete registry files existing on your computer, registry files with malicious values or problematic values (which may render your applications or computer dysfunctional).

Types of Registry Issues Which Require a Registry Cleaner

These issues can come up in various ways. For instance, after months of using your computer, you will realize that you installed and uninstalled various programs and hardware. As explained above, such installation and uninstallation will leave behind many registry files and settings which your computer no longer needs to store. A massive build up of such files can make your computer take a dip regarding its performance.

These issues also come up when you sometimes alter with the registry files and cause a crash of sorts. A fine example of this is when some of you might have tried applying cheat codes to games by editing their registry files. So in trying to turn yourself into a god in call of duty, you might eventually end up crashing the game and rendering it non-playable altogether. Now imagine a similar situation taking place except the affected program is your computer or an essential part of it.

Thirdly, these issues come up when you might accidentally install a malicious software which might have malicious registry values or files packed with it and executed on your computer.

In all these scenarios, it is essential to have a registry cleaner. A registry cleaner after performing a scan will tell you precisely how many of the files need to be removed from your computer to maintain an effective working atmosphere on it. At present Microsoft, itself does not have a registry cleaner, and hence you have to resort to other high performing registry cleaners.

Do Registry Cleaners Really “Fix All Our Computer’s Problems?”

The internet is full of advertisements and media that promotes Registry Cleaning Products that claim to give your computer a complete overhaul by cleaning up your registry. In fact, in some of the older versions of Microsoft, there was this utility called RegClean which some users must be aware of, forming the perception even more that Registry Cleaning is helpful. However, the real question remains, do registry cleaners actually do everything they advertise they’re capable of?

Unfortunately, the answer to that question is – no, they do not. As a matter of fact, most of these products are not worth running. While the better ones won’t infect your PC with malware and bloatware, they still do not provide any major performance benefits and are quite useless. The Windows Registry contains hundreds of thousands of keys and deleting 50 or even 100 of them will not really improve your computer’s performance in any way. Ed Bott,

Windows Expert claims “I’d go a step further: Don’t run registry cleaner programs, period. I won’t go so far as to call them snake oil, but what possible performance benefits can you get from “cleaning up” unneeded registry entries and eliminating a few stray DLL files?”

So they’re completely Useless?

However, it should be worth noting that there are a small number of cases where cleaning a registry entry does help. For instance, if you’re trying to uninstall a program and it isn’t getting uninstalled properly, a registry cleaner can do that task for you. Just ensure that you’re using a reliable one.

However, this kind of a situation can easily be avoided if you just keep yourself aware of what you’re installing on your computer.

In some rare cases, there are also users who want to clear a program from the computer right down to its very registry entries. Sometimes, an uninstall doesn’t really deal with this and there are also users who simply delete the program’s installed folder without really using the uninstall tool, in which case the program isn’t really getting uninstalled. Just deleted.

This can cause more issues because your registry has information stored on an installed program which isn’t on the computer and restoring the files via a 3rd party doesn’t always work. In such a scenario, use a registry cleaner. They’ll clear all the program’s settings and log files.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Registry Cleaners.

❖ Advantages
➢ Quicker, more convenient process of cleaning the registry. The sheer size and number of registry entries in the Windows Registry means that manually deleting registry folders one by one is a rather inconvenient and in some cases, risky task. Registry Cleaners are useful in such cases but don’t expect a whole lot of performance gains.
➢ Correct, repair or resolve Invalid Registry Keys. While Registry Cleaners are not very good at this, they do fix a few errors in some registry keys.

❖ Disadvantages
➢ There are a lot of Registry Cleaners that can cause Registry Damage to the computer as they are incapable of distinguishing the severity of errors and many of them that are capable simply categorize an error as “critical” and wipe out the entry entirely. These programs are made for deleting and erasing and not for repair so the “repair” option in a registry cleaner isn’t really repairing anything.

On the contrary, it is just erasing it which can lead to a damaged registry. Good luck booting your computer then. Any damage to an important registry entry can lead to you having to format the computer and install the operating system afresh.

➢ Malware and Bloatware. Most of these registry cleaners come loaded with malware and bloatware. They’ll hijack your browser, expose your computer’s files to viruses and display advertisements that you wouldn’t otherwise be seeing. You might want to be wary of the fact that a lot of these registry cleaners are an extremely commercial exercise designed to get money out of your downloads and then there are even users who pay for full versions of such registry cleaners.

➢ Scareware. This is a term used for advertisements that claim to have scanned your PC and found threats. This is a false claim and some gullible users can fall for it. Most of these registry cleaners use such advertisements and this can be a dangerous thing to fall for if that registry cleaner is linked with lots of malware.

➢ No real performance benefits. Back during the Windows 9x Operating Systems, it could be said that a large resgistry could be slowing down a computer. However, as of Windows NT based Operating Systems (Including Windows XP and Vista), this is not the case.

➢ As computers got more modern, the impact of a loaded registry became more insignificant. As a matter of fact, nowadays, with most computers coming loaded with Quad Core Processors, at least 4 GB RAM and 1 TB Hard drives, the load on the windows registry is more or less irrelevant.

➢ Registry Cleaners, despite what they claim are incapable of dealing with undeletable registry keys. Sometimes, when a Registry Key becomes undeletable and you want to remove it, you think a Registry Cleaner can do it but in reality, it cannot. It is extremely difficult to get rid of an undeletable corrupt registry file and you’re going to need some skill and reliable programs to get rid of it.

Should You Get a Registry Cleaner?

At the end of the day, on paper Registry Cleaners can be considered third party software that modify, edit or clean Registry Entries at bulk without you requiring to individually open the Registry and clean/fix it one by one. However, in reality, Registry Cleaners are basically good only for basic skimming of a Windows Registry without really providing any major performance benefits.

Experts have repeatedly claimed that these registry cleaners are mostly not useful and on the contrary can expose your computer to the risks involved with Malware, Adware and Bloatware. Do not fall for their advertisements on Browsers and definitely do not fall for scareware tactics. You’re free to use one at your own risk and some good ones like CCleaner can even help you improve performance a slight bit but all of that can be done without a Registry Cleaner in general.

There are more ways of speeding up a computer than cleaning your registry and there are more reasons for a slow computer than just a clogged up registry, especially on a modern computer.

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Is your Computer Running Slow? Here’s Why

Perhaps the most annoying thing to use in the modern world is a slow computer. What with computer specifications improving by the day, you’d expect slow computers to be a rarity in this generation. You’d be surprised to know, however, that they’re not.

On the contrary, they’re far more common than you think. Even your Windows 10 computer with a quad core processor can run slow and it is a really frustrating experience when that happens. There are several reasons computers slow down. You’ll find that over time, your computer’s performance is deteriorating, especially if you’re using a Windows.

With time, desktops and laptops become slow and the performance becomes sluggish. Windows itself stores many unnecessary registries and junk files and other software add their own items. Additionally, you have the problem of malware or spyware generated from the internet which further damages the performance of Windows.

If the problems are left unattended, it can lead to system failures or the sudden blue screens interrupting your work. It is not always possible to format your disk and reload Windows. You need a comprehensive solution to take care of everything and make your computer faster.

A Complete Solution to Slow and Sluggish Performance

Our program is equipped with professional features to boost the performance of your computer as far as 300%. It takes care of the trivial task of removing junk files, registry items and anything that hampers your PC functions. Moreover, its professional options handle the following issues:

Slow Internet

Internet speed is hampered by malware or spyware and all those useless toolbar’s and plugins installed on the sly. Our tool will deep scan your computer for such items along with cookies and junk files. It will remove the problematic items and troubleshoot all aspects slowing down internet. The result is faster and smoother browsing with great download speeds.

Long Boot Up Time

Many computers take a lot of time to boot up as it is used for a long time. Many programs and services get added to the startup list without your knowledge. Our professional solution removes startup items which are unnecessary and also detects harmful items. This leads to quicker boot ups of up to 200%, within seconds of pressing the power button!

A Professional System Optimizer which Actually Works

Many developers claim to speed up your computer with their programs but fail miserably. The reason is that their programs are not engineered to address the issues which cause slow performance. But our solution scans, detects and identifies those issues and then troubleshoot them.

Items which require removal are attended instantly while the program also optimizes the computer’s processes for faster performance. A registry cleaner might just be what you need to clean up the mess.

Complete Security

Privacy is very important in the online world as many hackers are out there to invade it. Our tool keeps a strict vigil on any adware, malware or spyware that may slip in. They are instantly removed and your computer is kept safe from threats. You can even stop Windows from gathering personal information by using our solution.

The Top Reasons for a Slow Computer

However, it should be relieving to know that this is not uncommon and can, for the most part be easily dealt with. At times, it will be a hardware issue and that is when you need to start worrying but most of the time, a few software can help you speed it up and bring it back to pace. Here are the several reasons Computers run slow:

1. A Hard Drive That’s Running Out of Space

You might want to pay attention to your hard drive space, especially on the partition your Operating System and programs are installed on. Windows tends to create LOTS and LOTS of temporary data, dump and log files on these drives. Every time you browse the internet, then it takes up more space on your primary partition as well.

Aside from that, the more programs you install, the more registry files on your drive. If your main partition is 90% full, you’re going to start seeing a major drop in your computer’s speed of operation. There are a few ways to deal with this.

2. You don’t really need the temporary files

Clear all your temporary files before shutting your computer down at least once a week. A windows computer will create a lot of temporary files every time you run a program or application on your computer. Over time, these temporary files keep getting stockpiled up on your primary Hard Drive partition, occupying more space and slowing your computer down.

These files can be cleared. Right click on the Windows tray icon that launches the start menu. Select the “Run” option and type in %temp% in the dialogue box. This will open the folder that contains your temporary files. Delete as many of them as you can (Not all of these will be deletable). Just select all and delete and you will get a prompt when a file cannot be deleted.

3. Keep clearing Browser Cache

Every time you browse the internet, every image from every web page gets stored on your computer as part of the browser cache. It also stores cookies and login attempt information. Once every week, you can open your browser history and clear the cache and it will not only improve your computer performance but your browser performance as well.

4. Keep a tab on your downloads

By default, most browsers are set up to download files into a folder on your main partition. Keep clearing these downloads by either moving them to a secondary partition with free space or an external storage device.

5. Maintain an external hard drive for large files

This comes in handy as your computer remains relieved of large files that take time to process and occupy unnecessary space (Like Movies, Software Installations, Etc.) and you can maintain a collection of these files on a portable drive that is accessible to you on the go whenever and wherever you need them.

6. Maintain a clean desktop

Most of us have the habit of cluttering our desktop with random files that we’re too lazy to sort neatly. The more cluttered a desktop is, the harder it will be to find files you need access to urgently and the slower it will make your computer as all files on your desktop are stored on the primary partition.

7. Clean Up Useless Programs or Files.

You need to ensure that unwanted programs are not installed on the computer.This can be anything from a software that is outdated or alternated or a video game that you have completed or stopped playing and aren’t interested in anymore. You’d be surprised how often people overlook this simple little step here.

They often tend to clutter up their programs. Like for example if you’ve stopped using Google Chrome and Switched to Firefox or Opera, best to uninstall Google Chrome and save up on the space it occupies. Similarly, a lot of people tend to keep movies, TV Shows and videos collected on their computer that they’re already done watching. Deleting these or moving them to an external drive is always helpful on your computer.

8. Keep Startup Programs at a Minimal.

Most of the times, we install a large number of programs that add loading time to our startup process. Stuff like Torrent software, Software Updater, etc. take up startup program slots. These can be disabled rather easily. Open Up the task manager by pressing Ctrl+Alt+Delete and select the more options button. You will then see a startup tab. Disable the ones you do not intend to use on startup and that will speed up your booting times quite a bit.

9. Buy an SSD (Solid-State-Drive).

A solid-state-drive is like a Hard Drive with lower storage capacities but with MUCH faster file transfer rates. These drives can be installed in your computer along with a regular hard drive. In a modern computer, you can use this drive to install and run your Operating System and important programs on while using the regular hard drive as raw storage. This will make your computer a blisteringly fast machine without the burdens of main partition storage. The programs installed on the SSD will also run significantly faster than your average computer program.

10. Keep Browser Tabs at a minimum.

If you browse the internet with too many tabs open, this can choke up your computer’s RAM as the more tabs open in your browser, the more RAM it takes up. RAM is one of the primary tools of maintaining your computer performance and it needs to run efficiently in order to keep your computer running smoothly. Only keep the tabs you intend to use constantly open. The other ones can be closed as soon as you’re done with them.

11. Ensure Your Drivers are Updated.

Most hardware constantly get updated drivers. Once every two months, at the very least. Ensure your drivers are up to date so that all your computer’s hardware is running smoothly and with the latest updates. You can right click on My Computer, go to Properties and click on the Device Manager tab. Here, it gives you the option to check if the drivers for your individual devices are up to date. Most of these driver updates offer improved performance.

12. Disable OS Animations.

Sometimes, if your computer is not very highly specked, OS animations can slow things down quite a bit as they consume quite a bit of resources. Best way to fix this would be to open Control Panel, Display Settings and then optimize the settings according to your computer’s needs. This will speed things up quite a bit.

13. Perform a Virus Scan

You can never rule out a virus attack on your computer if it is performing oddly. Start up your antivirus and perform a full, deep scan of your computer. If it comes up with results, your antivirus program should be good enough to deal with the virus threat but a virus is never a small one. If problems continue to persist, you’d best consult your technician and ask him to get the job done.

14 Clean Up Your CPU.

This Is more a physical activity than a software related one. Open up your CPU cabinet and clear all the dust in it. Use a blower and a brush and gently scrape off all the dust from the parts, clear them out and you’ll find that after this process, your computer is running really well. This is usually because the accumulated dust clogs up your cabinet, heating it in the process and slowing your computer down.

15. Use a Registry Cleaner.

Registry cleaners are software that automatically perform clean up activities for you, ensuring that the important files remain, cleaning up only the unnecessary ones from your registry. These tools are handy for not only freeing up space but also to remove unnecessary files that are no longer being used. They’re also useful in better organizing your computer.

So, it’s pretty clear that your computer is slowing down due to several reason. It can be a full hard drive or it can be the dust accumulated inside your cabinet. It can be that you’ve kept too many tabs open while browsing or it can be that your computer has too many startup programs. It can also be a virus or an unnecessarily large program taking up space and processing power. Follow all the measures listed above and you should see results in your computer’s performance.

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Browser Hijackers – All You Need to Know

Have you ever opened your browser with the intentions of scrolling through your Facebook feed or checking out some videos on YouTube only to discover that your homepage is something entirely different from your new tab page and it seems to lead to all sorts of misclicks? Well, if you have, you’ve been a victim to a cyber malpractice known as “browser hijacking”.

It is more common than you think and believe it or not, effects more computers than you think. Sometimes, you may not even realize that you have to deal with a malware – simply because you may not realize that your browser settings have been compromised.

Browser Hijacking is one of the most common form of malicious software. It gets access to your browser’s settings and modifies them without your consent and knowledge. There are several methods of doing this and the perpetrator is often motivated by monetary gain. It is extremely easy to install a browser hijacking software into someone’s computer for a hacker. They usually infiltrate your computer by sending spam mail or in some cases, include them as part of installation processes of other softwares that a user is trying to install.

It is not always harmful for your computer but sometimes, browser hijackers come with spyware that records keystrokes and mouse clicks to gain access to details like bank account passwords, or even your personal information. As a user, you must be wary of the damage a cybercriminal can inflict on your computer and your personal data through a browser hijack and steer clear of such measures in general. There are times when all they do is change your homepage or browser opening page in order to direct traffic towards their website and earn money out of it, but this isn’t always the case.

For example, the browser hijacker, CoolWebSearch changes your default search engine to theirs and a hacker using this hijacker can alter search results to direct your clicks to websites and information they want you to see. They can also track your searches and information and sell them to other websites for marketing and monetary gain.

How do you know that you have been infected with a browser hijacker?

While it might be difficult at times to understand whether your machine has been comprmised, you need to look out for any abnormal behaviour to know whether you have been a victim. Here is a look at some of the things that you need to look out for.

– You might see that your searches are getting redirected to different websites even without you making any such list or query.- Your homepage or search engine isn’t the same as before and you are directed to a new page each time you open the browser.
– Webpages load slower than usual. It might be that your connection speed is slow so you would want to check on that as well.
– You see multiple toolbars on your web browser at the top or the side – which you did not install. In fact, most of these toolbars may be malware that you do not need.

– You get multiple pop-up alerts for advertisements no mater which web page you open up. Do note that some pages offer pop ups inherently and it would open through any browser so you need to know if it was happening before as well – perhaps login to a site you do always.

Browser Hijacker

Notable Examples
There are several examples of Browser Hijackers and there are chances you’ve come across a lot of them multiple times. Here are a few notable ones:

Ask Toolbar. The Ask Toolbar is usually bundled with important softwares like Oracle’s Java and users having to remember to disable it in the installation process. If they miss out on it, the toolbar gets installed, replacing your browser’s homepage and default search engine with the Ask Search Engine page. It has been widely regarded as malware by users and is an extremely annoying Browser Hijacker that Oracle has been criticized for including as a bundle.

Babylon Toolbar. The Babylon Toolbar gets installed as a part of several program and software installations, including CNet’s Download.com. It changes the default search engine to isearch.babylon.com which also happens to be a form of adware. The search engine displays several advertisements, sponsored links and a large number of paid search results. The program collects information on your search terms from your search queries.
Conduit. Conduit is a PUP (Potentially Unwanted Program) / Browser Hijacker that steals personal/confidential information and transfers it to a third party. The toolbar was identified as a Potentially Unwanted Program by leading malware research center, Malwarebytes. It usually comes bundled with free downloads and it is very hard to notice that it is being installed along with the download. Toolbars like this modify several parameters of your browser settings in order to collect personal information as well as alter search results and settings. This is one of the more dangerous Browser Hijackers out there and you would do well to steer clear of it.
CoolWebSearch. CoolWebSearch was one of the first browser hijackers. It is not particularly harmful for your privacy but it still does track your personal information as well as change your default search engine to the rogue CoolWebSearch search engine. This search engine delivers search results with several sponsored links and advertisements. It is also quite hard to antivirus softwares to uninstall or get rid of this search engine.

How To Prevent Browser Hijacking?

There are several measures you can implement in order to keep your computer safe from Browser Hijacking techniques. Here are the most useful ones:

1. Pay Attention to The Installation Process of Softwares.Ensure that you are paying attention to the installation process and not just blindly skipping steps to speed up the installation. This is the fastest way to getting an unwanted browser hijacker on your computer. Most of these browser hijackers come bundled as part of free downloadable softwares as “offers” during the installation process and you can avoid installing these by simply paying attention and unchecking these offers.
2. Read the User Agreements.It is understandable that the User Agreements for a lot of softwares are extremely long and take time to read but it is important for you to read so that you understand the terms at which you are installing softwares. Usually, these user agreements contain details and conditions, the acceptance of which leads to you giving the software access to your personal data and permission to modify your files. This is another common way in which Browser Modifiers get access to your computer.
3. Try to avoid downloading from Free Sites.As much as you can, try avoiding free download websites. These websites are almost always filled with codes that lead to misclicks and malware like Browser Hijackers and the “free” download almost always contains a bundled software installer that includes the installation for the Browser Hijacker.
4. Keep Your Browser Up-To-Date. Ensuring that your browser is up to date is one of the best ways of keeping it safe. It does not guarantee avoiding browser hijackers and such but it does definitely help in keeping your browsing secure. Browser developers usually roll out regular updates from time to time with updated security features that help in avoiding them from getting infected by
5. Use a Good Anti-Virus Software. Anti-Virus softwares come with anti malware toolkits and security programs that immediately detect and warn you of malware or spyware like Browser Hijackers. Ensure you have a good one and you’re good to go.

What to do when your browser gets hijacked?

It’s not the end of the world if your browser’s been hijacked. Unlike fatal viruses or malwares, browser hijackers do not block your access to the computer’s security and setting files. There are several methods with which you can get rid of browser hijackers. Here are some of the best ways to do it.

1. Uninstall and Reinstall Your Browser from an Offline Source.Perform a clean, complete reinstall of your browsers. First clear all its cache and cookies and then uninstall the entire thing through the Add or Remove Programs section. Delete any remaining files in the computer and then borrow the offline installation for the browser from a friend and install it again. Make sure you update it to the latest version after installing it.
2. Perform a full Virus Scan and Fix.Open your antivirus and perform a full scan and fix process. This may be a time consuming process but a lot of good antiviruses nowadays are capable of dealing with Browser Hijackers reliably.
3. Delete all extra or suspicious plugins installed on your browser.Many a time, through accidental clicks on websites that contain freeware, your browser tends to install plugins. These Browser hijacking programs can also infiltrate your computer through these plugins so a good place to start checking for browser hijackers would be to check out your browser’s plugins and extensions.

Why is it something that you need to worry about?

All in all, Browser Hijackers are the most common types of malware and in many cases, the most annoying ones to encounter. They can infiltrate your computer without you realizing when and how it happen and they’re a threat to your personal privacy as these programs have the capability to track your personal records when installed. Ensure you take preventive measures to avoid these malwares and if you’re infected, be sure to be quick to deal with them.

All in all, Browser Hijackers are the most common types of malware and in many cases, the most annoying ones to encounter. They can infiltrate your computer without you realizing when and how it happen and they’re a threat to your personal privacy as these programs have the capability to track your personal records when installed. Ensure you take preventive measures to avoid these malwares and if you’re infected, be sure to be quick to deal with them.

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The WannaCry Ransomware; What is it and How Does it Affect Us?

As of the last week, the WannaCry Ransomware has taken the world by storm in the form of a massive cyber attack that has hit over 200,000 Windows operated computers in over 150 countries in less than three days.

The attacks began on the 12th of May, 2017 when it started spreading across Europe, having hit Spanish telecommunications giant, Telefonica, Britain’s National Health Service organizations and a lot of personal computers in Russia and Ukraine. The malware eventually spread to Asia and further on to America and is now regarded as a major cyber threat to organizations around the world.

WannaCry reportedly makes use of a “vulnerability” in microsoft’s security system and was mentioned as part of a leaked stash of confidential NSA documents which an unknown group of hackers have taken advantage of. An accidental misclick can infect your computer and block access to your files.

The malware apparently demands a ransom in order to regain access to the blocked files, according to a screenshot that has surfaced on the internet. However, there is no guarantee that complying with the ransom demand will unblock the files.

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is a type of malicious software designed to block a computer until a ransom amount is paid for them in the form of a digital currency transaction. Most Ransomwares infect computers through phishing attacks when an unreliable website is being browsed on the internet. The latest WannaCry malware attack is the biggest instance of Ransomware attacks in history and has been declared a global cybercrime threat in a lot of major countries.

Other notable instances of Ransomware attacks in the past are Reveton (2012), CryptoLocker (2013) and FusoB (2015). Most of these ransomware attacks are the work of Hacker Groups looking to exploit weaknesses in cyber security systems and make money out of it.

What is the WannaCry Ransomware and how does it spread?

The WannaCry Ransomware is a type of ransomware that was leaked to the public by the Equation Group, reportedly a part of the United States National Security Agency (NSA). A hacker group called The Shadow Brokers was deemed responsible for the leak and an unknown hacker group began using the malware for their own benefits, spreading it across computers in Europe.

The malware blocks important files on the computer by encrypting them, taking advantage of a vulnerability in a Microsoft Operating System’s security codes and gaining control over its files. It then demands a ransom fee in order to unblock the computer in the form of a digital currency called bitcoin.

So far, there hasn’t been any reported instance of the ransom being paid so nobody knows if files are actually unblocked after payment. It is reportedly more likely to infiltrate computers running Microsoft’s older operating systems like Windows XP and Vista but it can also affect modern operating systems through phishing attacks and accidental misclicks while browsing unreliable websites on the internet, leading to the ransomware getting downloaded onto the computer.

They are also known to spread through Microsoft Word or PDF documents downloaded through emails, which are generally infected during the process of their uploading.

Who is responsible for the attack?

As of today, the hacker group responsible for this huge attack are as yet, unknown but this is apparently their second attempt at cyber-extortion. An earlier version of WannaCry had surfaced, back in February, demanding for 0.1 Bitcoin ($177) as payment to unlock files. In this instance, the WannaCry malware is reportedly demanding $300 worth of bitcoin currency from computers in large multinational organizations.

●Are the Shadow Brokers Connected?
Initial reports pointed out that the Hacker Group, Shadow Brokers could be connected to the attack that has sent several countries on red alert since its discovery. However, it has been debunked as the Shadow Hunters were the group responsible for the NSA leak but experts claim this to be the work of an opportunist developer who got access to the leak and took control of the malware.
Have there been any attempts to stop this attack?

Microsoft reportedly rolled out updates for all versions of its operating systems including outdated ones like Windows XP and Vista, for which it had officially ended support a while ago in a bid to counter this malware.

However, by the time the ransomware began to spread and Microsoft could launch this update to control the situation, it had already affected a significant number of computers in the world, causing a frustrating situation for Microsoft as well as several large organizations whose computers had been affected who were too slow to download and install the update.

On the 15th of May, 2017, a young hacker and a web researcher who runs a blog called MalwareTech accidentally stumbled across a supposed “kill switch” for the malware, which slowed down its progress temporarily. However, a few hours later, improvised versions of the malware without the kill switch began to circulate and spread so now, cybercrime cells around the world are operating on high alert, trying to find a solution to stop the attack.

What are defence authorities doing to fight this attack?

The sheer scale of the ransomware attack means several cyber crime cells across the world have been actively making attempts to trace the source and stop the attack for good. The mode of payment it uses to demand ransom, Bitcoin is hard to trace but not impossible and similar such ransomware attacks have quickly been stopped in the past but not without leaving a trail of anarchy in their wake.

Why were NHS (National Health Service) hospitals attacked first?

At least 42 NHS Hospitals across Great Britain and Scotland have been affected by the attack and have had to turn away emergency services due to the malware. This is not primarily because they are being specifically targeted but because most of the computers in these hospitals run outdated Microsoft Windows XP operating systems which are particularly susceptible to the infection.

NHS Hospitals in Wales and Northern Ireland are reportedly unaffected by the attack but the affected hospitals are suffering major problems because of the attack and people seeking health care in these hospitals are expressing their frustration with the issue.

How many other Organizations have been affected by this attack?

Several major organizations around the world have been affected by the attack. Primarily, aside from the NHS, Spain’s leading telecom company, Telefónica, Romanian Carmaker, Dacia, The Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, Nissan Motor Manufacturing Company UK and French Carmaker, Renault are among the biggest affected organizations. Here are few organizations hit by the ransomware.
●Automobile Dacia (Romanian Car Maker)
●Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (Major Argentina Bank)
●Chinese Public Security Bureau (Chinese Government Body)
●Cambrian College (Educational Institution in Canada)
●CJ CGV (Multiplex Cinema in South Korea)
●Deutsch Bahn (German Railway Company)
●Dharmais Hospital (Indonesian Hospital)
●Faculty Hospital, Nitra (University Hospital in Slovakia)
●FedEx (American Multinational Shipping Company)
●Q-Park (Parking Garage Service, Belgium)
●Renault (French Carmaker)
●Russian Railways (Russian Railway Service)
●Sandvik (Swedish Engineering Company)
●São Paulo Court of Justice (Brazilian Court of Law)
●Saudi Telecom Company (UAE Telecom Giant)
●Sun Yat-sen University (Chinese Education Institution)
●Telefónica (Spanish Telecom Giant)
●Telenor Hungary (Hungarian Telecom Company)
●Timrå kommun (Local Swedish Municipality)
●University of Milano-Bicocca (Italian University)
●Vivo (Portuguese Telecom Company)

What are the Preventive Measures You can take during such an attack?

If you are running one of Microsoft’s modern operating systems like 8.1 or 10, install the latest microsoft updates and avoid downloading anything from the internet, especially documents from emails that are from affected organizations and avoid visiting unreliable websites like Torrent sites, Music downloading websites and free streaming websites. A lot of these websites lead to single click redirects that could potentially download the malware.

If you are running an older version of windows, immediately back up all your files, format your computer and install the latest Operating System with the latest updates. Ensure that your files are backed up so that you do not risk losing them in case of an attack. In case you are running a computer that has already been affected by the ransomware, immediately stop trying to boot the computer and report it to the authorities.

Do not, under any circumstances try to pay the ransom as that does not guarantee that your computer will get unblocked. Such an incident is usually short lived and dealt with as soon as possible, especially when it reaches such a scale.

What are the experts saying?

Several experts have criticized security agencies and organizations like the NSA because of their habit of stockpiling important data like this in order to use it offensively in case the need arises. The source of the leak was the NSA and it has come under heavy scrutiny from Cybercrime Experts in the past two days because of the rapid, epidemical take over of the WannaCry malware.

Director of digital and cyberspace policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations, USA expressed that “the patching and updating systems are broken, basically, in the private sector and in government agencies”

In addition, Segal said that governments’ apparent inability to secure vulnerabilities “opens a lot of questions about backdoors and access to encryption that the government argues it needs from the private sector for security”

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, stated as part of a damage control measure that the attack was not specifically against NHS outlets across the UK but an international attack.

Indian authorities have announced red alert in the country and most of India’s Automatic Telling Machines (ATMs), which run on Microsoft XP operating system have been shut down in order to prevent transaction hijackings and malfunctions.

James Scott from the Institute of Critical Infrastructure Technology stated that Health Care staff have no Cybercrime training and are known to “click on phishing links all the time,” as evidenced by the large number of healthcare institutions that have been affected by the attack.

Conclusion

What started off as a malware attack four days ago in Europe and Russia has now spread globally and is affecting more and more organizations at a rapid rate. It is making an impact on a lot of country’s major organizations and authorities are actively seeking measures to bring the situation under control. Till then, users are advised to use the internet with a cautious approach and avoid unreliable websites and internet downloads until the situation can be brought under control.

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Should you shut down your computer at night?

As long as humanity has existed we’ve pondered various conundrums…the chicken or the egg? … Regular or decaf? … Why are we here? … Should I turn my computer off at night or leave it on? Well, we’re not going to attempt the first three, there are plenty of new age blogs all over the internet that can help you out with those. But we will talk about the computer on vs. off at night debate.  Let’s have a look at both sides so you can decide what’s best for you.

But my computer will wear out faster!

…Say people on both sides of the issue. Some folks argue that shutting your computer down and starting it back up frequently has a negative impact on components, making them wear out more quickly. On the other hand, those on the other side of the fence argue that leaving your computer on all the time will also contribute to premature component wear.

So who’s right? Off or on?

The answer is…(drumroll)…it depends.

Yes I know, that’s possibly the most anti-climactic answer in the history of answers. But read on and find out why.

How often do you use your computer?

Whether to shut your computer off or keep it on largely depends on how often you use it. If you use it several times during the day, or in the morning and then again at night, leave it on. If you use your computer for only a few hours once a day, or less often, turn it off when you’re done.

You definitely don’t want to be shutting it down and restarting it several times a day. Leaving the computer on all the time is less stressful than turning it on and off several times a day, but it’s a constant stress.  Every single time a computer powers on there is a small surge of power as everything awakes, and if it’s done multiple times during the day, then things will wear out faster.

Some components have a limited life cycle, so they do benefit from shutting your computer off now and then. For example, an LCD panel is built to last for about 15,000 hours, so letting it time out will extend its life. The hard drive and battery also have limited life cycles, and will benefit from occasional shut downs.

The best reasons to leave it on – or turn it off

The original concept that frequent shut downs and start-ups have a negative impact on your computer is a bit dated, because the components that were thought to incur extra stress are not used in more modern systems. But there are still several good reasons to leave your computer on. They are:

  • You want to be able to remotely access your PC because you’re using it as a server
  • You don’t want to wait for it to start up
  • There are updates, virus scans, or other things you’d like to run while you’re away

And now let’s hear from the “turn it off” camp:

  • Leaving it on wastes electricity and can slightly increase your power bill
  • You don’t want to have to deal with notifications or fan noise
  • Computer performance benefits from the occasional reboot

Sleep or Hibernate?

Putting your computer in sleep mode is the meet-in-the-middle solution. Sleep mode puts your computer in to a low power state without turning it completely off. You can save a lot of power without putting added stress on your system.

In Hibernation mode your computer stops using power, then resumes where it was prior to being put in that mode. It’s the less desirable of the two because it produces wear and tear similar to shutting it down and restarting it.

Other ways to help your computer’s lifespan

There are other things you can do to extend the life of your computer as well. For one, always use a surge protector. For the best lifespan get a universal power supply (UPS), which is in essence a battery backed up surge protector. Surge protectors help to even out the power to your system, preventing power spikes that can lower the lifespan of your computer’s components.

You can also help your computer last longer by keeping it clean. Inside and out. On the inside periodically check your software, and uninstall old software you don’t use, and clean up old files and processes as well. On the outside, open that baby up to clean out old dust and debris so your computer can breathe properly.

So which is it?

To reiterate – if you use your computer frequently, it’s best to leave it on, at least all day. If you use it in the morning and the evening, then leave it on overnight as well.

If you use your computer less often, such as for only a short time during the day, or less, then turn it off when you’re done.

 

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Do I need more than one antivirus program?

Sometimes it’s easy to forget just how quickly and thoroughly malware or a computer virus can take over your computer and wreak havoc.  And those despicable people who create them are getting savvier and more inventive every day. You need strong protection to make sure your device isn’t attacked. There are many good antivirus programs out there, but you may be wondering if you can (and should) have more than one on your computer.

The answer is no. One antivirus program is good, but you may still have vulnerabilities in your system. You need more than one good guy on your side fighting to keep the bad guys at bay.

Why do I need more than one?

The malware landscape has changed tremendously in the past decade, and the old way of eliminating it is no longer enough. What has changed? Glad you asked.

  1. It’s easier than ever to become infected – It used to be that you could simply avoid picking up a virus by avoiding clicking on suspicious links or staying away from bad sites. This isn’t the case anymore. They have come up with new attacks and new weapons; malvertising for instance. In such an attack a legitimate site unknowingly gets malicious content from an infected site, and that content seeks ways to install itself on your computer. They are sometimes referred to as “drive-by downloads”. You can get infected by simply visiting the wrong site at the wrong time. Scary.
  2. Malware is everywhere – Software products such as Java and Flash, and many others, were created during a time when computer security wasn’t such a huge concern. Threats like exploits are proliferating online. Exploits is software, data, or commands that ‘exploit’ a weakness in a computer system or program to carry out some type of malicious intent. Some examples of exploits are denial of service attacks, Trojan horses, worms, or viruses. What is really frightening about exploit based software is that the average time between the initial infection and detection is almost a year.
  3. Response times to new threats from traditional antivirus programs are too slow – According to research from Panda Research, traditional antivirus programs only stop between 30 and 50 percent of new zero-hour malware when it first appears. Some take up to eight hours to reach the 90 percent level, with the majority needing a full 24 hours. Then it takes them seven days to get into the high 90% level. This is an eternity to go without adequate protection.

A couple examples – Let’s say someone in China or a hacker makes a never before seen, totally custom virus. It’s then sent to one system in an obscure place rather than blanketing the internet with it and allowing McAfee to stumble upon it quickly. Do you think that McAfee will find it and then send out a signature file for the rest of the world to protect itself? Unlikely.

It’s also known that many heavy hitters in Antivirus software will white list (i.e. ignore) some malware for law enforcement or other intelligence agencies (FYI this includes private companies). So you might have a keylogger, Remote Access Tool, or other malware on your machine that your antivirus program is allowing. Feel dirty yet?

Do I run them all at once to really disinfect my computer?

You don’t want to get a bunch of antivirus programs and then run them all at the same time. Antivirus programs don’t work well together, and running two at the same time may lead to one identifying the other as a virus. In some extreme cases it might even cause file corruption. Besides, running to apps at once will eat up your system resources.

It’s best to take a layered approach when it comes to antivirus protection. Think of it as locking your doors, and also having an alarm. Both systems work to keep you protected, but they work in different ways.

When you use the layered approach you spread out your antivirus resources in order to more effectively combat malware. Each program has its own strengths and does its own things.

First, you need a good traditional antivirus program. This will make an initial sweep of your computer and remove all known threats. After performing a traditional system scan and fixing any issues it finds, then use a good complementary software like Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes is designed to work with traditional antivirus programs. It is a lightweight (and free) product that works well to block threats that your antivirus program misses.

Then add a third layer like CCleaner. CCleaner will also take a complementary approach and work well with the other two programs, as long as you run them in sequence rather than all at once. When used together these programs will help keep your computer malware free and safe from attack. But do remember the basic rules of avoiding these issues in the first place. They are:

Don’t install anything you didn’t specifically request

Keep your antivirus software up to date

If you’re not using a piece of software anymore, uninstall it

It’s a crazy world out there, make sure you’re protected!

 

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The Best Free Antivirus Programs

There is no debating the fact that you need antivirus protection on your computer. Without it you risk picking up a virus, malware, or other unwanted software on your device. But you don’t have to spend a fortune to get protection. In fact, you don’t have to spend anything. These free antivirus programs can provide you with all the protection you need.

Keep in mind though,  many of these free programs exist because they are advertisements for bigger, more comprehensive programs. But for the average user, the free versions will be plenty. The free programs listed below will help you detect and eliminate any potential threats.

  1. Avira Free Antivirus – Avira consistently lands at the top of free antivirus lists, and for good reason. It has only very slightly less protection than heavy hitters like AVG, and it comes in a slick, clean package that is also easy on your system. It doesn’t slow your computer down and it’s not in your face every two minutes when you’re online. Avira doesn’t install other things like a VPN or safesearch plugin by default, although it’s available should you choose it.
  2. AVG AntiVirus Free – AVG’s free version scored at 100% for protection in independent tests, so you can be sure your device is safe if you’re using it. It’s also quick to scan and very easy to use. You can even set it to scan and clean out a device without having to be near it, thanks to the mobile app. There are only a couple things to be wary of – for one, this version is essentially an advertisement for the full, paid package. This can be slightly annoying, but the protection you get with the free version will be more than sufficient for most people. It also asks for a host of permissions on the AVG Web Tune Up extension, but fortunately this is an optional part and doesn’t need to be used.
  3. Comodo Free Antivirus – This software features a ‘default deny’ mode, which basically will block every single program that you haven’t white listed. So if you have it running and something gets through and infects your computer, you have only yourself to blame. It has cloud scanning, so in theory it keeps up with the latest threats out there and will automatically update users with that info. It scored very high in independent testing. It’s design can be a bit daunting, opening window after window on your device, so you’ll never forget that it’s there. One perk – it includes a game mode, so when you need max performance you can scale the program back.
  4. Panda Free Antivirus 2016 – Panda claims to be the world’s lightest antivirus because most of the processing work is done in the cloud rather than on your computer, but it scored a bit slower than Avira in some tests. It’s at the industry average when it comes to virus detection, at about 98%. Panda is good software, just remember to deny it permission to change your browser’s home page and search engine when you install it. It scans quickly, and is user friendly enough that it’s not intimidating to the average user. You can switch on its automatic USB vaccination to make sure you don’t get an infection when you insert something into your USB ports.
  5. Zone Alarm Free Antivirus + Firewall – Zone Alarm was the leading free firewall back in the internet’s early days. So it’s no surprise that this free software includes a firewall by default. This is a rare feature, and a big benefit to you. It’s easy to configure and will show you data on traffic coming to and from your computer. But fair warning – seeing what it deflects might be unnerving. If you want a firewall along with your antivirus protection be sure to give Zone Alarm a look.
  6. Immunet AntiVirus – Immunet is unique in that it is exclusively cloud based, and it’s designed to run either independently, or alongside your existing antivirus software. Because Immunet has yet to go through comprehensive testing, it’s probably best to use it side-by-side with another software. It is, however, a great complement to other programs, and it’s worth trying out. And the longer it’s out there, and the more it’s used and receiving feedback, the stronger its protection will get. It doesn’t noticeably slow down your computer. But design lovers be warned – it’s not a pretty program to look at.
  7. Qihoo 360 Total Security Essentials – Qihoo uses third party engines to scan your device. Both Bitdefender and Avira are there, plus 360 provides a couple of its own engines on top of them. Because it’s such a big package, it eats more system resources than the other software packages we’ve recommended, but it passed independent tests with fantastic scores. Avira on its own is a bit simpler and just as effective though, so if you’re looking for simplicity stick with Avira.

There you have it. Any of these free antvirus software packages can help protect your computer from all the nasty programs out there just waiting to take over your machine.

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All about Malwarebytes

Do a search for effective antivirus protection, and chances are you’ll run across someone discussing Malwarebytes. This is because it’s a very popular malware fighter, and it’s extremely effective. Millions of people have downloaded Malwarebytes, making it one of the most popular antimalware downloads around, comparable to AVG and Avast. It’s been around for nine years, and now boasts over 100 million downloads and 5 billion pieces of malware removed. Let’s go through what makes it so good, and some of its potential weaknesses.

In an extremely competitive market, Malwarebytes has established itself as a capable of going against the heavy hitters in the industry. Malwarebytes scans quickly, can fight malware that tries to block it from running, and is not filled with unnecessary extra features.

Malwarebytes Anti-Malware does a fantastic job of untangling and destroying offending programs that can write themselves into registries and the actively mask themselves. If you have an infected machine, performing a once over with Malwarebytes will more than likely remove the malicious software. This can result in a noticeable improvement in your computer’s performance. Keep in mind though, no anti-malware software is going to be able to find and destroy 100 percent of malicious code 100 percent of the time on an extremely infected machine, so there is a change that Malwarebytes (and other software for that matter) won’t remove everything from an already infected device.

Malwarebytes plays well with others (other software that is)

One great feature of Malwarebytes is that it is designed to work in tandem with other antivirus programs. So if your device has been hijacked by several malicious programs, you can run Malwarebytes along with other programs you have installed when you attempt to remove all of the infections.  Malwarebytes stands apart in this respect, as not all antivirus software systems work well with each other.

One thing to be aware of – major third party tests have not been conducted yet for the most current version of Malwarebytes. In addition, it does not have many tools specifically designed to protect you while you’re interacting online using chat features or social media. According to the developers, independent testing is lacking for Malwarebytes because it doesn’t exist to be a comprehensive anti-virus program. It’s focus is on the newest and most subtle online threads that other, more traditional security programs miss.

How does it work?

Malwarebytes is easy to install. If you want the free version, their Free Version Download button is displayed conspicuously on the company website. When you click on it you’ll be led directly to the download page. This is a refreshing change from many antivirus companies that redirect you to third party sites to obtain the free versions of their product.

Once the installer is downloaded, installation is simple. But note, in the last stage of the set up the option to “enable free trial of Malwarebytes Anti Malware Premium” is checked by default. Uncheck it if you know you’ll want to stick with the free version only.

The paid version will let you schedule scans; the paid version does not. If you opt for the free version you’ll have to manually open the program and click the Scan button when you want to check for malware.

When it’s finished scanning it will list the suspicious items it detected, and ask if you’d like to quarantine them, ignore them, or exclude them from future scans. Most likely you’ll choose quarantine – this puts them in a safe area of the computer that Malwarebytes controls. If you decide later that something is not malicious, you can go to the History tab and select individual items. You can then permanently delete them from quarantine as well.

Not all features are available on the free edition, but most users will be just fine using it rather than the paid version. Malwarebytes Free doesn’t have a quick scan option, or automatic updates, but there are some tools that you can access on their website that are helpful.

Tools available on the free version

  • Chameleon – This is a countermeasure against malware that tries to disable anti malware programs on the computers they have infected. Chameleon disguises Malwarebytes so that these malicious programs can’t locate it.
  • Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit – This is a tool that monitors for attacks that enter through software flaws rather than malware.
  • Start Up Lite – This tool helps speed up your computer on start up by disabling extra programs.
  • File ASSASSIN – A tool that lets you delete files on your computer that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to delete, like locked files or files used by other programs
  • RegASSASSIN – It can remove registry keys from your computer that are often used by advanced malware.

Remember, Malwarebytes should not be your only antivirus protection, but it’s great to have when disaster strikes, and to help you avoid disaster in the first place. It’s meant to complement your traditional antivirus software, not replace it.

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What is CCleaner?

If you’ve done even a small amount of research, chances are you’ve heard about CCleaner. It’s very widely recommended both online and offline. You may be asking yourself, should you use it? And how often do I need to run it?

CCleaner primarily does two things. It erases personal data such as your browsing history, and lists of recently opened files in varioius programs, and it scans and deletes unnecessary files, freeing up disk space.

It’s a Disk Cleanup tool

You might be wondering why you would need a program to free up disk space – after all, Windows includes a disk cleanup tool. The Windows tool frees up space on your hard drive by deleting things such as temporary internet files and error report logs. This tool can be used any time you want to free up some space on your hard drive.

So what makes CCleaner better? Well, Windows Disk Cleanup could go farther. For instance, it deletes Explorer’s cache files, but it won’t delete cache files for other browsers like Firefox and Chrome. On the other hand, CCleaner does. It also takes disk cleanup a step further by extending its reach to more data in Windows and some third party programs that Windows Disk Cleanup doesn’t find.

CCleaner makes the process easy. Simply select the types of data you want deleted, click “Analyze” and take a look at the data CCleaner will delete. If you’re comfortable with the data then click the “Run Cleaner” button and it will delete the selected files. One nice feature is that CCleaner remembers your choices the next time you open it, so on future scans you won’t have to start from scratch.

It can delete your personal information

As we mentioned in the beginning, CCleaner’s main functions are to free up disk space, and clear out private data. CCleaner will erase your cookies, browser history, and cache files for any browsers you use, including Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera. It will even go a step further and clear out the cookie data stored by the Flash Player. If that wasn’t enough, it will also erase other potentially damaging data like lists of recently opened file names in Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Windows Media Player, and other well-known applications.

CCleaner’s default settings clear out all this data without you needing to customize it. It’s like having a tool on your side that deletes your history throughout your computer, rather than just your Internet Explorer browsing history. It doesn’t get every single program (no tool out there does), but it goes much farther than the Windows Disk Cleanup tool to keep your private information safe.

 

Since it does all these cool things, should I run CCleaner every day?

You can certainly use CCleaner every day, running it using the default settings. But before you do, it’s possible that it could slow your computer down over time. It does this because CCleaner is set up to delete your browser’s cache files by default.

What is a cache file, you ask? They are bits of web pages – images, stylesheets, HTML files, scripts…the list goes on. Your browser holds on to these bits. For example, if you pull up Target’s website, your computer downloads small bits of information, such as the Target logo. That way, as you navigate from page to page, your browser doesn’t have to download the logo over and over, it just loads the file from its cache. This speeds up pages loading, because your browser doesn’t have to load the same information over and over. Your browser is constantly doing this, with many different bits of information.

So think about it – if you’re constantly clearing your browser’s cache, you’re forcing it to re-download the same files each day. From a performance standpoint, it doesn’t make sense to clear out your cache so often, because you can’t reap the benefits that having a cache offers. That is, speeding up your web page loading.

On the flip side, your cache can also be a privacy concern. If someone were to access your browser’s cache files, they could look at websites you’ve been frequenting, as well as your browser history. (Side note: This is why private browsing mode exists, it doesn’t save cache files when you’re using it.)

If you’d still like to run CCleaner on a regular basis, and aren’t worried about people snooping in your browser history, make sure to disable the Internet Cache-clearing options.

What should I clean?

If you decide to use CCleaner, you can select what types of data you want to remove from the Cleaner tab. The Windows section has options for cleaning data with Windows, and the Application section contains cleaning options for any third party applications that you have installed. If you want to stop CCleaner from clearing your browser’s cache, then you’ll want to go to the Applications tab to access and disable it. CCleaner will also wipe out your website logins if you have it clear cookies, forcing you to log into the same websites over and over. Disable this feature to avoid that problem.

CCleaner is the best application deleting usage data and temporary files. All computer users can benefit from using it.

 

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Why is my computer running so slowly

Have you noticed your computer is running more slowly than usual? This isn’t an inevitable part of computer ownership. Let’s look at some reasons why your computer might be slowing down, and how you can fix it.

  • Check your system tray programs – Some applications run in the system tray, or notification area. They typically launch at start up, then stay running in the background, remaining hidden behind the up arrow icon at the bottom right corner of your monitor. Click that arrow near the system tray, and right click any applications you don’t want running. Close them and you’ll free up your computer’s resources.
  • Locate programs that are eating up your resources – When your computer runs slowly it’s because something is using up its resources. For instance, one runaway program may be taking up 90% of your CPU resources. An app might be using a large amount of memory, or an app might be using the disk a lot, which would cause other applications to slow down when they need to save something to the disk. Open the Task Manager to check this. Right click on the taskbar and select “Task Manager” to open it. Click “CPU”, “Memory”, and “Disk” headers to sort the lists by the applications using the more resources. If an app is using too much, close it normally. If you can’t then select it there and click “End Task” to force it to close.
  • Disable start up programs – Rather than go through ending tasks after you’re up and running, go to the source and stop those applications from starting in the first place. On Windows there is now a startup manager in Task Manager that allows you to manage your startup programs. Go to the Startup tab in Task manager and disable the programs you don’t need. Windows should tell you which applications are slowing down your startup process. Free programs like CCleaner can also help you manage your start up programs.
  • Malware and Adware – Malicious software is a big reason that many computers start performing slowly. It may not even be malware, it might just be software that tracks your web browsing so it can send you additional advertisements. This is annoying, and a potential threat. Scan your computer using a good, reputable antivirus program, then follow that up by scanning with Malwarebytes (a program designed to run alongside your main antivirus software). Malwarebytes has a great reputation for catching a lot of “potentially unwanted programs” (PUPs), that many antivirus programs will ignore. They sneak onto your computer when you’re installing other software, and you definitely don’t want them hanging around. They may not all be dangerous, but they will certainly slow your computer down.
  • Your web browser – It’s a safe bet that you use your web browser a lot, and the browser itself may be slow. To help this, use as few browser extensions or add-ons as possible. They can slow down your browser big time and cause it to use more memory. To fix this go into your web browser’s Extensions or Add-Ons manager and remove the add-ons you don’t want. It’s also worth considering enabling ‘click-to-play’ plugins. If you enable the plugin then Flash and other content won’t automatically open when you open a web page; it gives you a choice whether to download it or not. This conserves bandwidth, improves page load times, reduces CPU usage, and can even extend battery life on your laptop.
  • Get rid of programs you don’t use – Chances are you have programs installed on your computer that you never use. They can be taking up space and slowing your computer down, so go in and uninstall those programs. To do this, open the Control Panel from your Start menu and find the list of installed programs. Find the ones you don’t want or need and uninstall them. This can really help speed up your computer, as some of these programs might be running background processes, system services, autostart entries, and context menu entries, among other things. Deleting these unused programs will save room on your hard drive and improve system security.
  • When all else fails…reset your PC or reinstall windows – If you’ve tried all the tips I’ve presented here already and you’re still having problems, there is one more thing you can try – get a fresh and clean Windows installation. This has gotten much easier with Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. It used to be you had to get Windows installation media to reinstall Windows. No more. Now you can simply use the “Reset your PC” feature that’s built into Windows and get a brand spanking new Windows system. This is very similar to the prior reinstall of Windows and will wipe your installed programs and system settings while keeping your files.

As you can see, there are many reasons that a computer might slow down. It might be only one of these things, or a little bit of them all. Use these tips, and hopefully you can get your computer running like the day you brought it home.