Windows. Is it really that complicated?

By davem48 ยท 18 replies
May 12, 2007
  1. I spend about 50% of my time on computer working, and the other 50% getting the damn things to run. (A desktop and a notebook running XP and a new notebook running Vista).

    Does it really have to be this complicated? I have been told I could be dead of cancer in 2 - 3 months, or I could go another 20 years. Either way, I have a lot to do, so I would appreciate anyone who can give me a simple way to keep these machines in good running order. I would also like to pass along the knowledge to my wife, who is much less technically inclined than I am.
  2. Route44

    Route44 TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 11,984   +72

    50% of the time to keep them running?! What kind of issues are you experiencing whereby you have to spend such an inordinate amount of time making sure they work properly?

    1. Avoid suspect websites.

    2. Keep your OS updated.

    3. Router, Anti-Virus software, Malware/Spyware remover, Firewall.

    4. Defrag periodically.

    5. A case with good ventilation.

    6. Good power supply, plenty of RAM, occasional harddrive diagnostic.
  3. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    See? I just typed in 15 specific Items in answer to your questions. When I went to Post it told me I was not logged in and discarded all of them. I realize this is a function of the browser, or the site, and not the OS. Just the same it is terribly frustrating.
  4. CCT

    CCT TS Evangelist Posts: 2,653   +6

    That is a time-out problem with this site, not your Windows. Happens to me all the time - I just calmly log-in on that display screen and let it find its' merry way back and MOST of the time my posts take.

    In answer to your original post however, I would say buy a MAC (and I have NEVER owned one).

  5. howard_hopkinso

    howard_hopkinso TS Rookie Posts: 24,177   +19

    When you login, make sure you tick the remember me box. Then, you shouldn`t have any problems with being automatically logged out after 15 minutes. ;)

    Regards Howard :)
  6. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    This is in re notebook #1 (XP), and is just a few of many questions I have. I
    decided not to repeat all 15, until I see if the responses give me the sort of info I need. Desktop is also running XP, and has similar issues. Both are about 3 -4 years old, but OS has been constantly upgraded. Vista machine is new, and not really showing any problems yet.

    1. Very slow to reboot. Suspect loading services not being used. Have 69
    processes running when I look in task manager. Very hard to tell which are
    needed, which are not. How does XP decide what to start, anyway? I think it checks a couple of .ini files first. Then the registry? Is 238 registry errors a lot? (free scan). What is best to clean registry?

    2. AV: AVG free home edition. Firewall: Zone Alarm free home edition
    Both frequently updated (daily to weekly).

    3. Very slow opening Outlook, Firefox. Sometimes will not open Outlook at all
    until rebooted several times (sometimes have to reboot in "safe mode" and then reboot in regular. This happens most often when we have t'storm or some other type power glitch

    4. What is best, and most cost effective, for registry cleaner, AV, Firewall, disk checker, and other PC tools? Can certain ones be installed on CD and used on multiple machines? Is there a whole suite of tools that can be used for different things, or is it necessary to get one for this, one for that?

    Lot's of questions, and lot's more. Does it have to be this complicated?
  7. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    If that's true, I'd recommend not worrying about any of it, and concentrating on having a good time.
  8. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Oh, it is true alright; but so is the uncertainty. Statistically I should be dead already, but from my first bout with cancer I learned that statistics only apply to groups of individuals, but each individual is just that. For now, I have been told that I have a slow growing form, but it could change at any time. Meanwhile I want to set my wife up as best I can. She depends a lot on PC for her work, but needs to be a little more tech-savy.
  9. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +421

    Sucks about your health.

    I've never really had any problems with bad things happening to my Windows installations.

    What I do to all my XP installations is use a Retail install, this eliminates all the pieces of crap that your OEM wants you to run.

    Then I get Opera downloaded and only use IE for Windows Updates (or you could set automatic updates to download - and depending on your trust of microsoft you could have them automatically install too). This is done because it sidesteps the inevitable Internet Explorer exploits that will appear. Security through obscurity in a sense.

    Next, I don't do any pop3 mail where people typically use Outlook or Outlook Express. Gmail will do your pop3 stuff for you now if you like that interface. If you absolutely must have a local copy of your mail, then Thunderbird is probably a decent alternative to Outlook or OE. Again this is avoiding Outlook/OE exploits much the same Opera does compared to IE.

    AVG or Avast antivirus, probably good to have just for piece of mind, but avoiding IE and Outlook/OE is a big step in being safe.

    Firewall, if you are on broadband and are going through a router that is inherently safer than directly connected to the modem, but it isn't perfect. Windows XP SP2 and Vista offer their own software firewall which coupled with the hardware one with the router should be sufficient for most everyone. No firewall is going to be 100% but you chances of being exploited are also lower and lower with them in place. 3rd party software firewalls cause all sorts of problems you and your wife probably don't want to deal with, and you likely don't need that added protection over the Windows ones anyway,

    P2P should really be avoided, those are big doors into your system, obtain the stuff legally and you'll save yourself potential headaches. If you must, torrents and a little common sense can be a better option, but one that won't be discussed here.

    Adaware/Spybot Search & Destroy are decent things to have, probably not gonna have much show up on your scans if you use Opera as your browser - this is a good thing.

    I think those are the main things that I'd recommend. I'll post again if I think of something else.
  10. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Help with Backup

    I wish to use the Windows backup tool to perform a backup of folders on my PC to an external hard drive that is attached to another PC on my home network. I have installed the backup utility on my PC by following the instructions given in the computer's Help files. (Compaq) I have also set up a folder on the external drive that is to hold the backup file. I've shared it out to other users on the network, so that I can sign on to my PC and perform the backup. I can "see" the folder in Network Places from my PC.

    Now, when I attempt to do the backup, and click the Start Backup button I get the following error box:
    Backup Utility; The backup file name could not be used. "\\Computername\Backup\Backups April\20080419-2-Backup.bkf"; Please ensure it is a valid path, and that you have sufficient access.

    What must I do in order to make this work? Does it have anything to do with how I was signed on when I created the shared folder, or when I tried to perform the backup?
  11. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    Instead of replying to your thread made in May last year (discussing general issues with Windows operation)

    I would suggest you make a new thread by clicking here:

    You would get more support for your new problem, instead of links on how to use Windows
  12. ISPEED

    ISPEED TS Rookie

    SNGX1275 has the right idea i run all of my PCs this way...pretty much exactly except i run firefox instead of opera
  13. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    When you have two systems that are both 3-4 years old, you may need a major tune up. It is time to update the hard drives, replace the CPU fans, clean away old thermal paste and replace it, add a case cooling fan, with at least 1 GB or memory in each machine, but preferably more. Install a better power supply. At the very least, I would back up everything and reinstall Windows and all your software.
    Once should expect the problems you describe with equipment this old. Laptop cooling channels become filled with dust and hair. CPU Fans can be very fragile, and bearings can have a lot of wear over that much time... Too cheap to replace to ignore them. Hard drives age, and wear out. Many of the drives made 3 and 4 years ago were trouble... particularly Western Digital, Maxtor, Fujitsu, and Hitachi
    Tell us your equipment configuration, brands, models, etc.
    If money is a problem, I would start budget the upgrading the laptop one component at a time, then do the same with the desktop.
    The Backup Tool is a sure sign of problems that will become greater.
    Start with the drive fitness test of your hard drive manufacturers. Be sure the S.M.A.R.T tests are solid. Burn backups to CD's until you get your backup drive system working.
  14. freemont

    freemont TS Rookie Posts: 20

    This part sounds to me like a simple permissions issue. You must have write permission on that backup folder. Sharing it isn't enough.
    If you don't know how to check or set this, post back and someone, maybe even me, will surely explain it. :)
  15. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    I thought I had started a new thread, but obviously I've not. I use several boards to try to get info when I get stuck. Naturally each one has different links and different paths to start a new thread; very confusing. Will review procedure and try to do it better next time.

    Thought it might be a permissions issue, so I gave read/write permission to all users on the network. Can now go to second PC and create files, folders, etc. on the external drive. However, an attempt to do a backup to that drive is giving same error message. If there is another type of permission that I need to set, please let me know the details.

    I've already done most of the things you've suggested, including a good cleaning of all cooling channels. I really don't think it's a hardware issue. But I will start backing up to CD until I get this resolved. Good idea!
  16. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Giving up on this approach, but thanks.

    I am giving up on Windows backup tool for now. Will find some other way. Thank you all for your efforts to help.
  17. davem48

    davem48 TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Found the Answer

    Thanks to all who tried to help me solve this. I finally solved her myself, however. The answer is that I was not using the proper format to refer to the file where I wanted the backup to go. Since it was on a different computer I needed to start with two backslashes followed by the computer name on the network, then the rest. I had tried to use the notation for a file on the same computer.
    Thanks, again.
  18. kimsland

    kimsland Ex-TechSpotter Posts: 14,523

    But you did (Post #10 above, from you, has two backslashes in the path)
  19. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Thanks for getting back to us with a solution.
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