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Sorina Urcan

computer keeps freezing

My Computer Keeps Freezing! Actionable Tips & Tricks

By | blog

Actionable tips for Windows 10

If your computer keeps freezing, or if Windows 10 has a slow startup and sometimes crashes while it starts, take it easy. There is no need to freak out just because at this time you may not know what else to do. Keep reading, and you will find the solution.

First and most important, you may have some apps that are programmed to run when Windows starts and consume resources that interfere with the proper functionality of other applications. Even if you only use that program once or twice a month, they will consume critical resources. For example, Adobe, iTunes, Nero, use these practices.

If Windows 10 keeps freezing, you can remove applications by visiting ‘System Settings’. There, you can check which applications are rarely used to uninstall them. You can also delay their commissioning for a few minutes. This way, they do not interfere with the system’s bootup, which will speed up your computer.

Note that there are multiple programs that are required to automatically start along with Windows. For example, the graphics and sound card drivers need to boot up with Windows 10 first and foremost.

Therefore, you can deactivate, uninstall or use jv16 PowerTools to delay software that you do not often use, such as iTunes, DVD recorder, PDF reader, etc.

Possible causes why your computer keeps freezing and its solutions

Delete temporary files

The easiest way is to check for leftover installation files that may still reside in your system. Check specifically in the Windows $ folders, such as the $Windows. ~ WS. This folder is created at the root of the hard disk.

However, you should know that if you delete the $Windows. ~ WS folder you will not be able to go back to the previous version. This option is available during the first month since the update.

In addition, if you have used several operating system builds through the Windows Insider program, you should also do some software cleaning. That way you will be able to delete some more trash through the Disk Cleanup tool included in the operating system.

In case you didn’t already know, there is an option called “Earlier Versions of Windows”. If ‘Enabled’ this option can occupy up to 20 GB of hard disk space. It could be the case that your operating system blocks these folders and they are impossible to eliminate through traditional methods.

The issue can be solved through an option included in the ‘Windows Explorer’. If you do not use the ‘OneDrive’ features and cloud storage, then you are most likely better off without it.

Uninstalling unnecessary ModernUI elements

If your Windows 10 keeps freezing, unification between desktop and metro applications may be the root cause of the general slowness, especially when the new operating system is running on older hardware. For example, there should no longer be two calculator apps installed at the same time for no reason.

Even so, if your computer keeps freezing, it is very likely that you will not make use of many of the utilities which were included by default, such as news blocks.

You can manage them by simply clicking the start menu button, search for the applications and double-check everything that is installed by default. To remove what you want, you just have to right-click on the item and click Uninstall.

Alternatively, you can use jv16 PowerTools to uninstall any 3rd party software that you do not wish to keep anymore on your system.

Sync your smartphone

Windows and other mobile operating systems (Android or iOS, Windows Phone) have always been considered two different things. This perceived separation between systems does not make much sense in the age of unification and integration.

Now that you have Cortana to give you a ‘helping hand’, it may be a good idea to use your Google account too. And while you are at it, synchronize your contacts book with Windows 10.

Doing these things will help you a lot with your Windows 10, especially if your computer keeps freezing, as the flawless communication between systems will contribute to keeping the PC running smoothly.

To do this, go to the Contacts tool. In there, you can hide the directory associated with your old Hotmail / Outlook account and use the default Gmail through your assistant. In this way, it will be possible to access the information about your contacts from the search bar itself, and that will speed up your computer.

The other step is to embrace some of Microsoft’s cross-platform products that have representation on Android, such as OneNote, Office, Skype, and Outlook. In fact, you can already use Cortana on Android, although the application is still in an early beta phase.

The battery life

Battery life is a relatively common problem every time an update of any caliber modifies an operating system. Often, it causes your Windows 10 to have a slow startup. Or your computer to keep freezing before it boots Windows 10.

If you have noticed that your hardware consumes battery faster than average, check out the manufacturer’s website for a driver or firmware update.

Last but not least, updates that are always downloading and installing on Windows 10 can have a detrimental effect on battery life. If the load level seems to be decreasing very fast, it may also be due to these updates. So you should manually update everything the computer has pending.

This will improve the life of your battery once you are no longer connected to a power source. If your computer keeps freezing, it will be less busy in the background and this problem may be solved.

Avoid installing a preview of Windows 10

Many users want to have on their computers the latest releases from Redmond. Therefore they subscribe to the program Microsoft Insiders. In this way, users receive those test versions of Windows 10 to help the company test them and report incidents.

Being able to check the latest updates implies counting on the computer with an unstable version of Windows 10. This version is prone to failure and can cause a blockage in your system.

If you want to avoid this risk, it’s best that you don’t install these trial versions of the operating system on your computer.

Keeping the system up to date

Since its launch last summer, Microsoft has tried to do everything possible to keep Windows 10 up to date. They do it by regularly sending updates that correct errors or security problems. These updates usually arrive automatically through the Windows Update delivery system.

In case updates do not get delivered automatically, you can try to update your operating system manually. This can be done from the configuration panel. From the ‘Start menu’, go to ‘Settings’ and then visit ‘Updates and Security’. Once there, select ‘Options’ from the Windows Update menu and click on the ‘Check for Updates’ button.

If there are updates available, you can force their download and installation  to check if they solve the problem. In most cases, this may also help if your Windows 10 to keep freezing.

If for some reason none of these actionable tips seem applicable for your particular error or PC performance problem and your computer keeps freezing, please consider our PC Optimization Expert service which may be carried out using a remote desktop connection.

Our experts will take a look remotely. However, your PC needs to at least be able to connect to the Internet.

windows 10 problem needs restart

Best Free PC Optimization Software of 2018 Previewed

By | blog

Fast start-up and speed of operation are two of the best things about a new PC. After all, you want your PC to run at full capacity. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cheap laptop or a powerful desktop gaming computer. But that speed usually does not last long. Every PC slows down, and it can happen suddenly. That’s where the best free PC optimization software deserve the tryout.

All computers end up losing the effectiveness of that first day. They become slow, unresponsive and unreliable. The operating system becomes saturated as programs are added and deleted incompletely. Behind are drivers and all kinds of waste in the OS. Your hard drive ends up filled with forgotten files. Programs create large blocks of cache that we don’t know of.

At a certain point, our full hard drive drowns when the operating system tries to run. The outdated drivers stop working correctly. Toolbars and other junk plug-ins can make our browsers unusable. It is then when you need the best free pc optimizer.

We often consider buying a new PC in two scenarios. When our computers become so run down that we can’t even use Microsoft Word. Also, when Steam games lose the speed and efficiency we were accustomed to. It’s a drastic decision that is usually unnecessary. Instead, you can get a “like the first day” performance for a dozen dollars.

You will no longer spend hundreds or thousands, thanks to a relatively inexpensive tool: a PC optimization utility.

What is an optimization utility?

Rememeber your computer at it’s peak performance? That’s what an optimization utily can do: analyse your system, find and solve problems. It can perform various functions including hard disk defragmentation, repairing the Windows Registry and eliminating duplicate, unusable files.

Some tune-up utilities perform only those basic functions, while more elaborate ones add numerous features that improve your computer in many other ways. Many of the utilities automatically fetch new drivers, shred, schedule and backup automatically.

Advantages of use

An optimization utility can perform a variety of tasks to keep your computer running smoothly.  Below is a list of some of the possible fixes and enhancements that can be made to your computer:

  • Optimize the computer’s registry
  • Increase Internet connectivity speed
  • Reduce Hard drive fragmentation (especially for non-SSD drives)
  • Increase overall computer operation speed
  • Reduce the overall computer boot time
  • Optimize various system settings otherwise unknown to end-users
  • Fix generic computer errors resulted from use of faulty software
  • Update system drivers and provide overall performance reports

As we use a computer, it keeps a series of temporary files and configurations. In the long run, they cause the processor to start slow, inadequately and even show us all kinds of errors. Although Windows usually has a series of individual functions to optimize its performance, in many cases, it’s necessary to resort to a PC optimizer.

How to choose a good PC optimizer?

First of all, you will need to ask yourself what do you need it for.

  • Can it optimize your Internet connection speed?
  • Does it make back-ups?
  • Can you defragment your drives with it?
  • Does it analyze your hardware?
  • Can it remove bloatware?
  • Is it user friendly?

Recommendations for the best free PC optimization software

System Mechanic

This has a freeware and Pro version and is one of the most highly rated PC optimization programs for Windows. The Pro version includes some more advanced modules with anti-virus, internet connection tweaker, Windows customization and search and recovery tools.

System Mechanic has an intuitive UI design that includes most of the software’s tools and options within a left sidebar. It gives you a system status overview that highlights things that need fixing, such as registry issues, junk files or fragmented hard drive.

With the software’s startup manager users can remove the software that starts up when your computer turns on, to speed up boot times. In addition, you can also speed up Windows with System Mechanic’s RAM optimizer that defrags RAM. It can fix invalid registry entries, and that also comes with backup and restore options. Other tools: fixes invalid shortcuts, repair internet connections and defrag hard disks.

Ashampoo WinOptimizer

This software is a stripped down version of WinOptimizer 14, which has more extensive file management and system maintenance tools.

WinOptimizer Free has Drive Cleaner, Registry Optimizer and Internet Cleaner tools for system maintenance. It also has a useful shortcut to run those tools simultaneously.  WinOptimizer’s Startup-Tuner is another system maintenance tool with which you can disable Windows services and edit startup items.

You can schedule an optimization runs and save the most frequently used modules in Favorites for quicker access. In addition, you can split up, encrypt and recover files. It also includes handy Windows customization and file management tools.

CCleaner

You can use this software to free up hundreds of megabytes of disk space, remove software, manage startup items and repair possible errors.

The freeware version of CCleaner lacks some of the file recovery,scheduling and disk defragmentation tools included in the Professional Plus package, but it still has a few useful options.

CCleaner’s primary tools are its flexible hard disk and registry cleaners, which you can configure to delete a variety of more specific file and registry items. You can also select specific folders or files to either delete or exclude from system scans and clean up third party software file items.

WinUtilities Free

It’s an all-in-one PC optimizer with a freeware and Pro edition.  The UI design of both editions is very similar, but the File Undelete, Task Scheduler and Duplicate Files Finder only work in the Pro version, which also has free technical support.

WinUtilities Free has 25 modules that consist of PC optimization, clean up and repair, files & folders, registry and other system tools. Users can select Registry Defrag, Disk Defrag, Startup Cleaner, RAM optimizer and BHO (Browser Helper Objects) Remover tools.

Also, the software includes a Disk Cleaner to remove junk data, Registry Cleaner to fix invalid registry entries, Shortcut Fixer and Uninstall Manager. In addition, registry tools can split and merge files, analyze disk space, back up the registry and remove and restore context menu options.

Most of the clean up and defrag tools are incorporated in an 1-Click Maintenance option.

What is our recommended solution?

If you want to make a comparison between the software described above and our own optimization tool, jv16 PowerTools, you can read more on the blog. There, you can find extensive benchmark reports that will shed a light on the best free PC optimization software.

physically clean your computer

Learn to Physically Clean your Computer or Laptop

By | blog

Learning to physically clean your computer can save you a lot of money by keeping it functional for longer. Just like cars, bedrooms, and anything you own, you should clean your computer system every once in a while. This way you can keep it healthy and secure top performance from it. It’s also beneficial for your health: computer keyboards are one of the most contaminated objects in your house. And this is understandable since everyone uses a keyboard without washing their hands.

Keeping your computer clean

Cleaning your PC doesn’t take as long as you probably think it does, and it doesn’t need to be done as often. Ergo, it’s a relatively painless thing to do that will yield significant profits in the long run by keeping your computer healthy and free of dust. Especially if you work on your PC, be it by working as an accountant or writing for websites or papers, you must know how to physically clean your computer, so your job is not lost due to a critical computer failure.

How often should you physically clean your PC?

It mainly depends on where you place it. If you keep it off the floor, where it can collect dust quickly, don’t smoke or eat near it, and keep pets away from it, you should be fine by doing so once or twice a year.

However, if you do keep it directly on the floor, smoke nearby, or fail to do any of the things above, you should clean your computer system more often. The ideal ratio will be around three to six months if your PC is under those conditions.

Additionally, if you feel like your computer is getting hotter than usual or quicker than usual, it means you should clean it. That is because most of the dust and particles are collected on the PC fan. Consequently, the fan clogs and fails at doing its job of cooling your system.

Be advised these points apply to physically cleaning your home computer. This means your desktop computer’s CPU, which is the computer itself. Other parts such as the monitor and keyboard can be cleaned together with it. But these parts are also less complicated and can be cleaned more regularly (especially keyboards to avoid the spread of diseases if multiple family members use the computer).

Although we will separate how to clean your desktop computer and your laptop, we’ll use the term “computer” to refer to both. So, let’s start with the easiest one:

How to physically clean your Laptop.

Laptops are usually handled more than desktop PCs since they’re easier to carry around. This means they tend to get dirty faster than desktop computers.

Luckily, what makes laptops gather dirt quicker also makes them easier to clean. You don’t need to take a laptop apart, and you can clean it in mere minutes (much faster than a desktop PC).

To physically clean your computer, when it comes to laptops, you’ll need:

  • A soft cloth.
  • A very mild dish detergent.
  • A bottle of Isopropyl alcohol.
  • A can of compressed air.

For starters, make sure your laptop is not connected to a power source. So, turn it off and unplug the charging cable. If your laptop allows it, you’re better off if you also remove the battery.

Now it is time to clean the outer surface: the lid and bottom panel.

Mix the detergent with warm water and lightly damp the cloth in it. Then, use the cloth to rub the lid and bottom panel.

Afterwards, rinse the cloth with tap water, squeeze it, and rub away the detergent from the lid and bottom panel.

Lastly, wipe down with a dry cloth to remove any water residue.

Make sure to squeeze the cloth every time you use it. That way it’s not completely soaked and doesn’t cause a mess on your laptop.

Next up, we have the keyboard

This can be the trickiest part when you physically clean your computer since the keys are very close to each other. What you must avoid is letting liquids drip down underneath it.

Firstly, grab the can of compressed air to remove crumbs between the keys.

Lastly, get some rubbing alcohol in a rag and use it to wipe the keys themselves. The benefit of using rubbing alcohol is that it’s safe because it evaporates extremely quickly and is extremely useful to remove natural oil from the keys.

If you or anyone has used the laptop while being sick, you can use also use a towel with disinfectant to clean the keys. Make sure you don’t get the keys too wet, and if you want you can rub some alcohol after doing this, so the disinfectant evaporates faster.

If you plan on removing the keys to be more thorough, remember to take a picture so you remember where each key goes.

For the air vents on the sides of your laptop, you can just grab your can of compressed air and blow away the dust collected there. And for the monitor, just use a cloth with window cleaner and wipe the screen gently.

Next up is how to clean a desktop computer, the more complex one since you need to deal with opening the CPU.

How to clean your desktop computer.

To physically clean your PC in this case, you will need the same items you needed to clean a laptop PLUS a set of screwdrivers.

To clean your keyboard or monitor, you can follow the same steps shown on the laptop instructions.

However, the main issue comes with the CPU, so let’s tackle that.

Start by making sure your computer is disconnected and has no power circulating in it. Also, take it somewhere open and ventilated for the sake of your health.

Up next open up the case. Consult your instruction manual for the location of the screws. Commonly, you’ll just need to unscrew a couple of them and then lift a side panel.

Now you should be ready to physically clean your computer.

To simplify things, remove any component you can quickly remove and then put back. Remember to take a picture, so you know where they go. There should be no need to remove the CPU nor CPU fan.

Take your can of compressed air and blow away any dust accumulated, starting with what you removed. Then move to the CPU fan and other internal parts. You can use a pencil to keep the fan from spinning while you blow away the dust on it.

Make sure that once you move to the inside of the computer, you pay attention to any open slot. Dust accumulates easily on them and affects your PC’s performance.

For the bottom of the case, you can blow away the dust as well and use a damp cloth to remove any dust that’s stuck to it.

After finishing cleaning the inside, make sure to clean any vent on the case that might gather dust. Lastly, close the computer.

And there you go! You’ve learned how to, physically, clean your computer. Now you can do it by yourself next time you need to clean your computer system, whether it’s a laptop or a desktop PC.

This will go a long way into having your equipment last longer and work better. And it’s especially valuable if your computer is your primary source of income or if you own a gaming PC where performance must be at its peak at all times.

Searching for the best free video editing software to run on Windows 10

By | blog

Searching for the best free video editing software to run on Windows 10 may be time consuming and fill up your computer with software leftovers.

Video editing has become increasingly popular due to the availability of video cameras and the trend of sharing videos on social networks. To save money, you can use completely free tools for video editing. However, it can be difficult to find good video editing software, especially if it is for Windows.

Which could be the best option?

Whether you want to make basic video editions or trying to become a Youtuber, you can probably not achieve what you want because of the high costs of some of the most professional editing tools.

That’s why it’s important to have a good list of free alternatives nearby, and that’s what we bring you in this post.

Best free video editing software compatible with Windows 10

Filmora is simple to use and has an intuitive interface that facilitates video editing even for beginners. This specific video editing software offers features such as green screen, slow camera, split screen and much more.

Including a full range of transitions, filters, texts, music settings, and animated elements, this video editor makes it easy for you to share your videos on an iPad, iPhone or directly to Facebook, YouTube and other social networks.

Official website: https://filmora.wondershare.com/

Windows Movie Maker is a free video editing tool for Windows with which users can create home movies with a simple drag and drop operation.

This program has functions that allow you to add video effects, video transitions, titles/credits, audio tracks and timeline narration. In addition, new effects and transitions can be added and existing ones can be modified using XML code.

Official website: http://www.windows-movie-maker.org/

VirtualDub is one of the best free video editing software for Windows 10; it has compression capacity, video split, and the possibility to add video tracks.

It also has batch processing capability, which allows the manipulation of a large number of files at the same time. The program can be improved and have it functionality extended by using third party video filters.

Official website: http://www.virtualdub.org/

Wax is a flexible and high-performance video editing program, useful for private and professional users. It can be used as a stand-alone application or as an add-on to other video editors.

Official website: http://www.debugmode.com/wax/

Avidemux is a free video editor for Windows. It is designed for simple video editing tasks such as cropping, filtering, encoding. This free video editor supports various file types, including AVI and MPEG files. Avidemux is compatible with DVD, MP4, and ASF thanks to a variety of codecs.

Official website: http://fixounet.free.fr/avidemux/

Blender is a free, open source 3D content creation program which is compatible with all major operating systems.

This free editing editing software is distributed under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Blender has many advanced features, such as modifier-based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools and nodes-based material.

Blender seems to be one of the best video editors for both Windows and MacOS, recommendable even for professional use.

Official website: https://www.blender.org/

How to ultimately choose?

While any of the above options may be a good fit for your particular purpose of use, it is always recommended to try two or three different software products before you decide to learn the deep methods of working with a particular tool.

Once you get to install and uninstall even some of the best free video editing software for Windows 10, leftover files and registry keys may clutter your PC.

To completely uninstall software and remove leftovers, use jv16 PowerTools instead of the normal Windows Remove/Uninstall software features (which may not clean traces related to software that does not register with the Windows software management system).

CCleaner malware puts over 2 billion machines at risk

By | blog, news

Update for customers asking about CCleaner malware: it seems that malicious software has been discovered as being distributed alongside CCleaner between August 15th, 2017 – September 13th, 2017.

While editing this blog post, I aim to provide an as unbiased point of view as possible, considering that this website also serves a PC System Utilities software product to its audience. For this reason, we should look at this event with humbleness and regard it as a good motivation to increase our awareness regarding the security of the software that we use.

Why was CCleaner used to distribute malware?

One way to distribute malware to different organisations is through software supply chains. This is usually very effective as it is based on the trust created between the software developer and the end-user.

An example of this is the worm Nyetya, that recently re-coined the term ‘ransomware’ using proof of concept network level spreading behavior.

According to the developers of CCleaner, more than 2 billion downloads had been registered by November 2016 and a growth rate of approximately 5 million downloads per week for its flagship product.

ccleaner growth rateFigure 1: CCleaner growth statistics

CCleaner malware – a ‘numbers game’

As recent events show, these look like just the numbers needed for a motivated malware developer / advanced attacker to step in and take control of the software distribution network.

Sadly, Cisco’s Talos Intelligence Group recently discovered that CCleaner version 5.33 contained malware attached to it. More specifically, a backdoor that allows the receiving and processing of remote command & control commands.

 

Figure 2: Screenshot of the Cisco’s notification date for Avast

 

As a result, the CCleaner version released on August 15th, 2017 presented risks of infection for an unprecedented number of computers (including those that run on critical infrastructures) and enormous potential damage to software users across the world.

Since then, it is now estimated that over 700,000 machines were infected and may still be receiving command & control remote tasks from the owners of what now seems to be the fastest growing botnet of 2017.

ccleaner malwareFigure 3: Screenshot of CCleaner – Version History

 

Few weeks later, on September 13th, 2017, Cisco’s Talos informed Avast (the antivirus company that had recently acquired Piriform) of the attack and to initiate relevant action on the matter.

According to Talos, “over 700,000 machines reported to the malicious software command & control server over this time period, and more than 20 machines have received the second-stage payload”.

During the installation of CCleaner 5.33, the 32-bit CCleaner binary was also contained in a malicious payload that featured Domain Generation Algorithm (DGA) as well as hardcoded Command and Control (C2) functionality. We have confirmed that this malicious version of CCleaner was hosted directly on CCleaner’s download server as of September 11, 2017.

 

It remains a mystery if the CCleaner version update released on September 12th, 2017 was related to the necessity of removing malware or if removing the backdoor from the distribution repository happened only after the notification by Cisco on September 13th, 2017.

Getting to understand the CCleaner malware incident

The infected CCleaner version 5.33 was distributed through the official CCleaner download site, using a software installer that could trick most security solutions. The malicious installer was signed using a certificate issued to Piriform Ltd by Symantec, with validity date until 10/2018.

In its analysis, Talos found the following compilation artefact in the CCleaner binary:

  • S:\workspace\ccleaner\branches\v5.33\bin\CCleaner\Release\CCleaner.pdb

With the fact that the software installer was validly signed, along with the presence of this malicious compilation artefact attached, several hypotheses have been thought about the malware and how it became part of the system. None has been confirmed so far.

What is certain is that the version containing the infected loads has been removed and is no longer available for download.

CCleaner malware indicators of compromise: registry keys

Talos also identified what is believed to be a software bug in malicious code related to the C2 function. A DGA computed IP address was found at the following location in the registry:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Piriform\Agomo: NID

This IP address apparently does nothing and its purpose is unknown because the malware does not use it. Once the malware transmits the system profile information to the C2 server it can use an HTTPS POST request. Then, it stores the current system time value plus two days at the following registry location:

  • HKLM\SOFTWARE\Piriform\Agomo: TCID

CCleaner malware indicators of compromise: files

Any file names that own the following SHA-256 unique signatures are supposed to be part of the first phase infection:

According to VirusTotal, a multi-antivirus web scanner that is now owned by Google, the CCleaner malware has received the detection verdict of ‘Trojan.PRForm.A’ from Ad-Aware and ‘Backdoor.Win32.InfeCleaner.a’ from Kaspersky.

Avast, the antivirus company that currently owns CCleaner, is now detecting its own infected software, CCleaner version 5.3, under the verdict ‘Win32:TlsHack-A [Trj]’. Avast recently acquired Piriform, the makers of CCleaner, only few weeks before the incident occurred.

What to do in order to be 100% sure that the CCleaner malware is no longer in my system?

In order to be 100% sure, it is recommended that users who downloaded CCleaner v5.3 should restore their systems to a state before August 15, 2017, or the full reinstallation of the operating system.

What if restoring the operating system is not an option?

There are naturally multiple inconveniences that can jump to mind when it comes to restoring your operating system to an older state. Luckily, there are ways in which you could maybe get a 96% chance of have gotten rid of the CCleaner malware without a system restore.

Here are the steps that you need to follow:

  1. Make sure that your system does not still have the CCleaner – version 5.3 installed. If it is still installed, you can use the Software Uninstaller tool in an attempt to completely remove it.
  2. Scan your computer using a reputable antivirus product. If in doubt which one to choose, please consider the results of these independent antivirus tests.
  3. Install a second opinion antivirus solution in order to have an extra point of view. If you need our help, let us know. We will be glad to assist!

Unfortunately, security events that are not completely understood are often downplayed in severity. This can work counter to a victim’s best interests.

Therefore, companies should remain conservative with their advice before all of the details of the attack have been determined.