My software recommendations

This page is just for tools and information to keep your computer running, not getting real slow, stopping viruses, spyware, etc. You HAVE to do this, otherwise it's just a matter of time before your data is lost, computer crashes, or just runs so slow you cannot use it. (Or you can throw away a good computer and buy a new one).


Yeah, yeah, don't teach me, just give the answer. Well, sorry Charlie, you have to get "learned" first or I'm wasting my time on you. So read this stuff. 

Viruses usually are a program that does something very bad to your computer, making it so it does not boot, or deleting files, or so that certain programs will not run.

You also need to protect from spyware. This is usually some type of software that "spys" on you, and sends information back somewhere. This can range from just a little demographic data, to tracking the sites you visit, to looking up all your address information, to searching your computer for passwords and personal account information.

There are also browser "hijackers". The browser is the program that lets you browse or surf the Internet, like Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari. These programs "hijack" you and instead of going to the web site you want, they take you somewhere else.

"Bots", short for "web robot" is a piece of code that is "hidden" in a web page and executes when you view the page.

There's a term "malware" to try to encompass anything bad for you. I'm defining things separately so you can pick the programs you want to use.

What you need:


You need an antivirus program. While viruses are much less popular than they used to be (because they do not make any money for the author), their effect can be devastating.

Antivirus products usually have 2 components, and "active" one and a "passive" one. Active means that stuff coming in is scanned, like emails, and to certain extents programs embedded in web pages. You MUST have this nowadays.

Passive AV is the part where the program scans your hard drive for viruses. Good AV products have both active and passive. By the way, I scan my hard drive EVERY evening.

I recommend "Avast Free"... there is a free version, look carefully, you do not have to pay for a full featured version. Be SURE when installing to do the "custom" and basically uncheck everything except the antivirus itself, and maybe the web browser. I used to use AVG, but they kept adding junk and popping up windows to buy extra stuff, and it was getting intrusive as well as the updates keep loading junk into the computer.

Avast install tips:

  • sign up for an account, free, and then you can manage all devices that have it, helps a lot
  • login, and then download the install file from
  • be sure to refuse google and select customize on the FIRST screen
  • I uncheck EVERYTHING except the FILE SHIELD, and use the MAIL SHIELD only if you have a program like Outlook, Thunderbird, for email. This option has NO effect on "web mail"

Web Shield will make your PC and internet slow. We will use other free software.

Mail Shield works only for 3rd party mail clients like Mozilla Thunderbird, SeaMonkey, or The Bat! and not for online email services like Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail.

Browser Protection will be replaced by other free software.

Cleanup and Browser Cleanup can be replaced by the free version of CCleaner.

I have used McAfee and Norton at work, because they have "industrial strength" verisons that also cannot be bypassed (easily) by employees. Unfortunately they are becoming "bloatware" where the perceived value has driven these companies to add more and more features. Usually the result is a significant impact to performance.

Avast and Nod are also good ones. Trend micro is junk in my opinion.

Misc notes on a weird problem, most of you can ignore this unless you are having networking problems:

I just found the problem and fixed it.  Tested and working great now.  You moderators and experts may want to take note of this so you can help others with this problem.

Avast changes, and in my case removed entirely, the IRPStackSize registry entry.  The default for this registry entry is (15) so even with it not present the default is 15.

For those of you encountering this error: " not accessible.  You might not have permission to use this network resource.  Contact the administrator of this server to find out if you have access permissions.  Not enough server storage is available to process this command" you need to modify/create the IRPStackSize registry entry.

Here's how you do it.  This needs to be done on the computer that holds the folders/drives you want to share.  Not the one trying to access the share.
Open your registry editor, (run, regedit) then go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINES\System\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters.
Look for the the IRPStackSize entry.  If it's there, modify the value to 16 or higher depending on your use.  I set mine for the max value of 50.
If the entry is not there, (which was my case since Avast deleted it) then create a new one as a DWORD, and make sure your spelling is correct as such: IRPStackSize.
Then modify it again to set the value, (size) at your desired level.
Problem solved.


This should be a major area of concern for you. Your personal information can be stolen, or sold. This makes money for the author, so it's real popular.

You might want an "active" spyware program. Spybot used to be tops, but it's slowed down a bit, need to evaluate the new one. AdAware also had an "active" part, but only on the paid version.

Most of these are "passive" scanners that you run every so often. The best known of the free ones, and tops in my opinion, is Malwarebytes. There's others, but it's the best every time I look around.

Spyware also comes through on browsers, since web pages can have "programs" in them that execute when you view the page.

I recommend these 2 things: AdBlock Plus (stops popups) and Ghostery (stops all kinds of "bots". Both can be turned off or you can "whitelist" sites.


Spybot used to do a good job, I have not used it for some tiem. Windows Defender is free, and resident, and catches SOME hijackers of Internet Explorer - no other browsers. It's a free download from Microsoft. I recommend using it unless your computer is slow and you have to "ration" the number of resident softwares. 

Another thing to keep your browser safe is to block popups and bots, see above for recommendations.


Malwarebytes, hands down... be SURE to uncheck the "start free trial" box at the end of the install.

Disk and Registry cleanup:

There is some regular maintenance you need to do. One thing is getting rid of temporary files that you do not need. This reduces fragmentation, speeds up defragmentation runs, and saves disk space.

You also need to "clean" the windows registry. A simple explanation of the registry is that it is information to all programs on how to run and where files are. Basically it can accumulate errors or "dead ends" which may not stop programs from running, but seriously slow down their execution.

I find CCleaner to be very effective. Just remember not to get rid of the "uninstaller" or "windows hotfix" information when you use it. If you do, you lose the ability to uninstall windows patches and upgrades. Microsoft makes mistakes sometimes, or worse still, sneaks in a software in Windows Update you do not want, you want to reserve the right to take that crap out.

Also in CCLEANER is the ability to enable or disable "startup" programs and the context menu and addins for your browsers. A word of caution, don't delete stuff here, just disable it. If something stops working, then you can re-enable it.

Lastly, I do not like the monitoring option, I disable that.

Disk defragmentation:

Since day 1, DOS (and Windows) does something remarkably unintelligent when using disk space, it uses the first available chunk of free space on the hard drive. If the file does not fit in it, it is broken into pieces (fragmented) and another piece or more is put in another location. So when your disk is heavily fragmented, reading and writing files is slower.

I have found a couple of free disk defragmenters. One is Ultradefrag and the other is Defraggler. They are pretty good, both can do the boot files which cannot be defragmented only at boot time. This includes the boot files and the Windows swap file. Once Windows is booted, these files are in use and cannot be defragmented.

Now this defragmentation can really affect the performance of your computer. So far I have been only talking free software. One of the programs I actually pay for and update on a regular basis is PerfectDisk, by Raxco. This works so much better than the free ones, that I pay for it. Try it out as a trial and see what you think. They have special settings for SSD, and several different defrag modes.

Note: do NOT defrag SSD drives, you are just shortening it's life.


The Windows firewall is ok, it does not suck real bad, but it still sucks!

I used to use ZoneAlarm but last time I checked it was trending towards bloatware. I have left this section in to recommend what NOT to do. Do not get the firewall from McAfee, it is pure crap, and so is the Norton one. Trend micro's "free" software sucks also. Many issues with software not working come from over-zealous "firewalling" by these products. Years ago, there was a lot of software trying to attack your computer directly, but almost all the attacks are done via "bots" in web pages.

Other software:

Something I fell in love with was PerfectUpdater. At first it was the greatest and safest driver updater. But after a while it got 2 negatives, the driver  database started lagging, and a few times it provided drivers that were not appropriate and things stopped working.

Now I use Driver Booster, and it's better and easier to compare the current driver version with the suggested one.

It scans your computer, and scans ALL drivers for your hardware, even things not currently plugged in, and recommends and provides updated drivers.

I was ASTOUNDED at how old many drivers were in a brand new Windows 8 computer. Many people have no idea how many drivers there are in a computer, and how many are involved with the basic functions like memory access, hard drive access, etc.

Keeping your drivers updated makes everything run better and also is really necessary as the operating system is updated.

Also, for diagnostics on hard drives and recovering crashed drives, I use Steve Gibson's SpinRite, which has been around since 1987. It takes low level control of the hard drive and does some miraculous things, and really gives you an idea of the "health" of your hard drive.

Hardware memory test:





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