All Posts By

Vanessa 'La Kiki' Ruiz

computers run slow

Why do computers run slow?

By | blog

Here is our system administrator checklist

In today’s world, where almost everything we do is done through the Internet, having one of our computers run slow is nearly a catastrophe.

Work, payments, essays, research, gaming, and even shopping is commonly done through PCs on a regular basis. Needless to say, their slowdown can have severe real-world consequences. It will keep us from checking our bank accounts, communicating with others during a crisis and so on.

It’s easy to see the need to have our computers running as best as they can and to shut down anything that might trigger lagging or crashes.

But the best way to eliminate speed issues in a computer isn’t by treating the symptoms, but by identifying the underlying issue that’s causing these problems in performance.

To help you administrate either your computer or a series of machines (like a work network), we’ve compiled a list of the common factors that might make computers run slow. This way you can possibly identify and fix the issue without losing too much of your time. It will also help you make the most out of your day by increasing the free time you’ll have on your hands.

To help as many people as possible, we’ll evaluate what causes a computer slowdown in general. We especially look for what might be slowing your system while you browse through the Internet, play video games, or even record videos or songs.

Let’s jump in:

1. Computer Viruses

Let’s start with the obvious one and the one we’re the most accustomed to seeing.

Viruses and other malware are programs made for the sole purpose to access your computer remotely or, depending on the malware, they also perform or trigger a set of actions that usually hinder the computer’s performance or steals information.

Thus, viruses are usually among the top quoted reasons that make computers run slow. Especially those viruses that mess with your browser to open up advertisements.

How to fix it?

Run an antivirus scan and eliminate the virus.

2. Antivirus Program(s) Running in the Background

On the other end of the spectrum, we have your antivirus which may be running scans without you knowing it. Antiviruses are often programmed to scan for viruses periodically in the background. And, since the antivirus scans run in the background, without necessarily opening a new window, you might not notice. This action usually takes away a lot of processing power and performance.

How to fix it?

Open up your antivirus’ settings and program it to scan the PC whenever you’re not using the computer.

3. Too Many Open Browser Tabs

Having several tabs running in your browser, especially those that keep refreshing like live streams, are a burden to your browser and your computer in general.

Internet browsers usually take away a lot of processing power, which makes computers run slow. Each tab takes away a bit of RAM. This is worsened by the number of tabs you have open. So, your memory won’t be able to handle the resources demanded.

How to fix it?

Close some tabs. Alternatively, if some of them are too precious to close, you can bookmark them before closing them. Moreover, you can use One-Tab to compile all of them into just one tab.

4. Saturated or Obsolete DNS

If what’s slowing down is just your internet connection, then the issue might be the DNS servers that the PC uses to access the internet.

You see, DNS servers are a sort of “translators” that process the addresses in websites, so that your IP address can access them and show them on your browser. Since DNS are used by a lot of people, they can get saturated and then slow down.

How to fix it?

If you see that your computer isn’t running slow, but the internet does, it might be because of the DNS servers. Change them for better DNS providers like Google or OpenDNS.

5. Too Many Browser Add-Ons

Usually bundled with free software downloads, add-ons come in the form of extra search bars, and many new features are shown under (or around) your browsers’ address bar.

How to fix it?

Simply eliminate or disable them from your browser’s settings.

6. Too Many Programs Open

Each program you open needs some of your RAM to function. Unfortunately, your computer also needs that RAM to perform smoothly.

Very often, people forget to close programs they’re not using, and end up with a lot of RAM wasted on minimised programs.

Let’s not forget about programs that initialise along with the computer, which means they turn on along with it. These programs can go unnoticed, and make computers run slow when you add in the other programs you’ll use.

How to fix it?

Close them. That’s it. Make sure you close any programs you’re not using.

And for those programs that boot up with Windows like uTorrent and MEGA, you can close them by right-clicking them on your hidden icons menu. That is the tiny arrow that opens up a menu next to the internet connection icon. Choose “exit”, “close”, or whatever option they give you to stop running them. Or even better, open their settings menu and set them to not start along with your PC.

7. Programs Running in the Background

Like antiviruses, some programs tend to close themselves and run in the background, even if it seems like you closed their window.

To see them, open up your task manager and access the CPU or “Processes” tab in it. If you identify a program that is running and taking away a lot of RAM , but it doesn’t show on your desktop or tab at the bottom of it, then it’s running in the background.

How to fix it?

Just click it (or right-click it) and choose “end process”. If you can’t identify the process or are afraid of ending an important one, you can also restart your computer.

8. Overheating PC

If you see your PC suddenly running slower than yesterday, then it might have collected dust on its fan, and it’s overheating.

Overheating is another prevalent cause for which PCs slow down. This is particularly the case when running demanding programs such as video games.

How to fix it?

Overheating means one thing: it’s time to clean your computer. If that fails, then you might need to replace the fan or another part.

9. Obsolete Parts

This might be the issue especially if the computer slows down while playing video games or using recording programs, such as audio or video editing software. An old sound card, video card, HDD or RAM, is usually what makes computers run slow.

That is because more advanced programs require more advanced system specs, such as: more powerful RAM, sound card or video cards. It could be because they take more HDD space than what you have to spare. And so, less powerful hardware tends to overload and malfunction, causing lagging, frame drops, or distorted audio.

How to fix it?

Either look for online guides on how to use your programs with the minimal setups (in the case of video games), use lower-end programs, or save up to replace the failing part.

free software

Why Free Software Most of the Times Is Not Enough

By | blog

Free software can be dangerous, but what can you do about it? Legitimate methods to protect our computers and smartphones have changed in recent years. Malware is becoming more sophisticated. Revelations by Edward Snowden and Wikileaks show us that cyber criminals constantly invent new ways to spy on us.

We have seen banking malware that intercept SMS messages to get authentication keys for each transaction. There is also software that takes advantage of bugs and security holes to sneak even through encrypted connections.

Good maintenance of your computer can be achieved by performing various tasks. Cleaning your hard drive, cleaning the Windows registry, updating drivers. Some of these tasks are laborious and for users with less experience, they can be complicated.

For these reasons, protecting and managing the security of your computer can quickly become a nuisance.

For those who have difficulties in doing so, or do not want to waste time by complicating their life, there are programs that can do one, several or all maintenance tasks – automatically.

Relationship between malware and free software

Viruses are the most widely known threat to computers, laptops, and devices. They can cause all kinds of damages. There are different types of viruses and each has the ability to compromise your device(s) in different ways.

Usually, users get malware by downloading dubious software. Such software falsely appears to be other things. Remember that ‘YouTube downloader’ you got for free? Usually they are are nothing more than a scam. And they don’t come alone! Meaning, more potentially unwanted programs usually download in the background.

You may think that you know what you are doing and that you will not download infected files or visit misleading websites. However, it is important to remember that cyber criminals are creating new social engineering tactics every day.

Such software can drastically slow down your computer’s processing speed. It can display ads from other vendors or even send out logs of your complete computing activity, including passwords and private chat logs.

Some will even power on your camera. In some cases, they may even cause irreparable physical damage to the system.

The importance of an antivirus

Remember this: if a product is free, then in some way your personal data is the product!

Currently, it seems indispensable to have an antivirus installed. Whether as a free or paid software, having the protection of an antivirus seems the ‘de facto standard’ as the number of viruses and virtual pests grow daily.

These programs help keeping your operating system, data, and personal files secure. Some antiviruses include a firewall which helps to create a barrier between your computer and the rest of the Internet.

There are several antivirus vendors on the market, and the existing “types” of antivirus fall into three categories:

  • Paid antivirus software: you must purchase the license to use the software (considerations: cost)
  • Free antivirus software: can be installed and used without restrictions (considerations: your personal data is usually collected by the antivirus company for research purposes)
  • Online: it can be paid or free. It does not need to be installed, but you need to be connected to the Internet (considerations: inefficient at detecting evasive malware)

By comparing free and paid antivirus, they seem respond in much the same way in some virus testing. Maybe antivirus tests of today are not really unbiased or maybe they all deserve to reach the finish line first.

The online antivirus is being used more and more, but it should not be a substitute for the previous ones. Although they can be used as an extra method of verification, most web based (online) anti-malware solutions of today fail to detect evasive malware.

Problems related to free software

Free software is simply software that you install on your computer free of charge, deliberately or not. For example, it may be a game that you installed on your computer, a free program that helps you control your expenses or lose weight.

Free software can be presented in various ways, including on CD or as a download from a website. At present, in addition, some free programs adopt another name: applet or widget.

What about security? Well, some free programs are safe and some are not. Often, it depends on its origin. Free software lacks some of the standard features that we generally expect any software to include, such as technical support, bug fixes, downloadable patches and virus definitions, among others.

Perhaps tech savvy users will understand and assess the risks of using free software. Most of us, however, will not want to expose their computers, files, and personal information to potential dangers.

When it comes to free software, you better be careful. Free programs you download over the Internet may contain malicious code that can cause damage to your computers or mobile devices. It could cause incompatibilities with other programs, take control of the computer or compromise your personal data and expose you to potential identity theft.

Not everything that is free is good!

Free software, also known as “freeware“, are increasingly accepted for use on mobile devices because they are easily accessible over the Internet. But accessing zero-cost programs also has a downside. The saying “quality and price go hand in hand” could be applied to free programs.

There is free software that claims to protect your computer, files, and information against online threats. But experts advise caution.

Using free software as a security program is risky. It is recommended to investigate the company and its products before downloading. Even so, it may be safer to pay for protection and opt in for some of the most consolidated security software.

How do you protect yourself from these threats?

Many users are content to install free software and think hey are protected. There is no doubt that basic protection of this type is better than nothing, but if this was enough, why does malware still find its way?

This question leads to another more interesting inquiry. How is a free antivirus different from a paid one? First, you have to leave behind old beliefs like “paid antivirus are expensive”.

In this life, almost nothing is free, not even on the Internet. Remember the old saying: “there is no free meal”. If the product is free, then the product is you.

Free software provides a basic protection service, true, but often includes advertising that is sometimes annoying or continuous warnings for you to upgrade to the paid version. More worrying are the cases that have jumped on the news: free antivirus sold usage data to third parties. Some even specify it in the contract of use.

With paid antivirus, there is no advertising and it is not trafficked with the data of use because it is a service acquired by the client. It is important to keep this in mind if you value not being interrupted by excessive notifications, or not being tracked for advertising purposes.

Main considerations

A. Performance and resource considerations

Analytical and comparative tests show that free software products consume more CPU and memory resources when compared to paid programs, slowing down the use of the computer. This is especially important if you have an old computer, where resources are scarce. If the antivirus makes your computer take a long time to boot or slow down, then you are paying, even if it is free.

B. Technology involved in developing free software

Not all antiviruses are the same, nor do they have the same protection systems or the same attack detection techniques.

Most free antivirus protects against known attacks, but they are not as effective at detecting new types of malware or new infection systems. It is a weakness that cyber criminals know and therefore continuously develop new types of malware created to circumvent the barriers of more known anti-virus.

Anti-virus software incorporates anti-exploit software that blocks the security holes of programs that users have not patched and an anti-keylogger, which prevents cyber criminals from tracking the passwords and personal data you enter when using the keyboard.

With the anti-phishing module, malware is prevented from supplanting the identity of a bank or Internet service, to steal your data.

C. Free software usually lacks customer care

An additional question to consider is something we do not value until we suffer the invasion of a virus or data theft: where to find an expert hand to help you out of the impasse?

Free software usually does not offer customer service. And in many cases, it comes with nasty surprises attached. If you have been infected by ransomware that has encrypted your hard drive, what do you do? Are you ready for such an event?

Or perhaps your phone has started to do strange things but the antivirus does not detect anything. Who do you go to?

Only in such situations is when you start to miss the customer care of a paid antivirus. This can help you recover your hijacked computer or detect if your equipment really has a virus.

Last but not least, an option is to ask for our help. We may not know everything but we do learn on a daily basis! Our PC Optimization Expert service is available. Due to the nature of the service offered, we must ask for a premium.

D. The cost of licensing quality software should not be an excuse

All this leads us to the main issue that always carries greater weight when it comes to choosing between a free software and a paid one. We speak, of course, of the price.

It is understandable that if you pay an amount of money for a smartphone or tablet (a little more if it is a computer), then you do not want to spend money on a security solution that accounts for 30% of the total expenditure.

Nowadays, it seems that installing a cleaning tool is a must have in a Windows environment. It is something that you should not leave aside. Even more if you are working with the computer all day.

Keep the operating system updated to the latest version. This will help to protect your machine’s security and stored data. In turn, the stability of the system may be somewhat less of what you expect after the new patches. These often cause new problems to surface (hence the development life-cycle).

Create a backup of your important files and keep the backup copy updated and safe.

These are just few of the many ways in which you can remain calm in the event of an incident.

best dns servers

Best DNS Servers to Use for Free in 2018

By | blog

Some of the best DNS servers are actually the backbones of the Internet as we know it today. They allow for the information available online to arrive at your IP address and show up in your web browser. However, some DNS servers are better than others, depending on your preferences.

There are some very fast, commercial DNS that usually come with your ISP package. Also, there are anonymous DNS, public DNS but also free DNS servers, among other. Overall, there is a broad array of options for you to choose.

Because of this, picking the best DNS servers can be hard or bothersome to do. Mostly because of the amount of searching and testing that one must do.

How to choose the best DNS servers in 2018?

Don’t worry, we are here today to lift that weight off your shoulders. The research has already been done by us in the past and was recently updated for this blog post.

At this point, you might ask yourself why should you care about DNS servers when you can get one (and usually do so) automatically from your Internet Service Provider (ISP)?

There are several reasons why you should get a new DNS. For example, some DNS are more private, but others DNS are faster. That means you can choose the best option for you

Usually, though, using public (free) DNS servers allows for a more rapid internet speed. That is the main reason people change their DNS.

You see, DNS servers work by “translating” addresses on the Internet so that your web browser can access and display that content. However, many variables might affect this process. Thus, making it slower or more vulnerable to overloading.

So the best DNS server is the one that can overcome these faults and, in return, offer the fastest and most stable route for information to come through.

However, a lot of people don’t consider this and are stuck with slow and inefficient Internet speed. They blame it on their ISP or pure bad luck, not knowing that fixing it might take just a few clicks in their operating system’s settings or configuration panel.

How exactly do you change your DNS server?

  1. Open up the Settings / Control Panel
  2. Click on Network and Internet Connections
  3. Open up Network and Sharing Center
  4. Locate the network connection for which you wish to change the DNS server
  5. Right click on its named icon
  6. In the contextual menu, click on Properties
  7. Double click Internet Control Protocol Version 4 (IPv4)
  8. Select “Use the following DNS server addresses”
  9. In the blank spaces, enter the best DNS server addresses you could find
  10. Do so as well for the alternative DNS server
  11. Check “Validate settings” and then click on “OK”

Note that instructions and word usage might vary slightly between Windows Versions.

For mobile devices, there are many apps available to change your DNS servers, especially on Android.

Our list contains 8 of the best DNS servers to use this year:

1. Google’s Public DNS Server

  • Primary DNS: 8.8.8.8
  • Secondary DNS: 8.8.4.4

Often listed among the best, Google’s free DNS servers are both easy to remember and highly available to everyone. It even offers impressive speeds (even more so when you consider how much people use them).

The main advantages from Google’s DNS come from their established name as a company. Their substantial quarterly revenue allows for some of the faster, most stable, and resilient DNS servers.

The only issue with these servers is the fact that they store information about your operations, and they could be shared with third parties should the government decides it needs the information. However, for users not worrying about this topic, Google is often cited as the best DNS server.

2. Norton ConnectSafe

  • Primary DNS: 199.85.126.10
  • Secondary DNS: 199.85.127.10

Norton is well-known for their excellent antivirus, and Internet security services and products. However, people don’t know that their DNS servers don’t disappoint.

The DNS addresses listed protect against malware and scams. It’s the first of three levels of Internet protection they have available, named “Policies”, the one listed being Policy 1.

Policy 2 (199.85.126.20 and 199.85.127.20) additionally block websites with pornographic content, and Policy 3 (199.85.126.30 and 199.85.126.30) adds, even more, blocked content that Norton considers non-family friendly, If you are curious, you can find the list of non-family friendly content in the Norton ConnectSafe – DNS FAQ.

These options make Norton ConnectSafe an easy choice for parents with underage children looking to protect them from unwanted material online.

3. OpenDNS

  • Primary: 208.67.222.222
  • Secondary: 208.67.220.220

Another old competitor that still stands today, OpenDNS is another commonly seen candidate on several of the best DNS servers listings found online. Its quality is comparable in efficiency to Google’s DNS.

Again, for users concerned about their children’s Internet safety, OpenDNS offers a service called OpenDNS FamilyShield that blocks adult content (available at the servers 208.67.222.123 and 208.67.220.123).

4. DNS Watch

  • Primary: 84.200.69.80
  • Secondary: 84.200.70.40

A DNS focused on transparency and liberty of choice, DNS Watch offers its best DNS servers free of any form of censorship. They also guarantee no information will be stored on their servers, and their resolvers aren’t set to log any of your data.

Their image is that of a selfless service and team. Their only purpose is looking to make efficient Internet available to everyone. They also claim that the fact that they aren’t a big firm helps in avoiding government regulations. So for you freedom-lovers out there, this is an excellent alternative.

Additionally, and keeping up with their transparent attitude, they even offer live statistics on their free DNS servers. That transparency makes them a good candidate for best DNS server, at least regarding trustworthiness and anonymous DNS servers.

5. Comodo Secure DNS

  • Primary: 8.26.56.26
  • Secondary: 8.20.247.20

Another easy-to-set-up server (like Google’s). There is no need for much research or choosing with Comodo. All you do is input one of their addresses, and you’re good to go.

One of the upsides of Comodo Secure DNS is the fact that it spans 15 nodes around the world. On each continent, each node containing several servers ready to serve local users. That makes Comodo Secure DNS an exceptional choice for users.

One of the many issues regarding DNS server speeds is how far away you are from its servers.

Comodo’s worldwide coverage makes it fast regardless of where you are. Comodo Secure DNS is known to be one of the top, best DNS servers as it also keeps you away from malware and scam sites. They keep their block lists updated regularly.

Global coverage at fair speed, coupled with the fact that it automatically detects “unused” or “ghost” pages, make it a compelling option for the title of best DNS server. Especially recommended for those who long for a publicly accessible, yet secure DNS server.

6. Verisign

  • Primary: 64.6.64.6
  • Secondary: 64.6.65.6

Verisign bases its services on two propositions: being an anonymous DNS server, and providing protection from malware and malicious sites.

They specifically made a point about letting its clients know that they won’t sell their information to third parties nor they will serve any ads to users.

7. OpenNIC

  • Primary: 192.95.54.3
  • Secondary: 192.95.54.1

OpenNIC is a great choice for users who don’t want to figure out where is the closest server to their location.

The DNS servers listed here are only part of a vast array of servers they have available. If you visit their website, you can, not just look up the closest DNS to your location, but also let the site automatically do it for you. That way you can save yourself the hassle of searching for the best option.

8. GreenTeamDNS

  • Primary: 81.218.119.11
  • Secondary: 209.88.198.133

Another runner-up for best DNS server regarding family-friendly Internet, it not only block websites with pornographic content, but also blocks those containing malware, bots, and websites related to violence and drugs.

This is especially useful, as said before, for parents since it offers options for blocking content other DNS listed won’t block.

Here is how we can contribute to your computing experience:

Now that you have your DNS servers in place, would you care for some extra house keeping?

Cleaning and speeding up computers around the world for more than 18 years has taught us a few things. A free, fully functional 60 day trial of the jv16 PowerTools PC system utilities is available for download on our website.

system mechanic

Should you use system mechanic software?

By | blog

If you wonder why you should use a professional system mechanic software, let me ask you this first: how many of the programs that you have installed on your computer do you really use on a daily basis?

If you look at all the programs installed on your PC, you will probably find that you have long stopped using many of them. In fact, you may find that some of them do not even function properly anymore. This software unnecessarily takes up space on your hard drive, and it does not help the performance of your PC.

Windows offers an integrated tool that can be used to uninstall software. You can access it from the control panel. However, if you have ever used it you will know that it is not always 100% effective.

In many cases, although the process of uninstalling a program is apparently done correctly, there are actually remains of unwanted software scattered throughout the system. This is where the use of a professional system mechanic software comes in handy.

On other occasions, you may find that the application you want to eliminate is not even in the list of programs installed on your PC. For a more effective removal process, there are many programs that can help you perform this task safely.

This particular program perform a global scan of your computer and erases all traces of the application that you want to eliminate.

When do I need a professional system mechanic?

One of the biggest headaches for Windows computers is the time it takes to start the operating system. This causes the start-up to slow down because of the amount of memory consumed.

One of the most common causes why you have accumulated more “useless” things in your PC, is the installation of “a thousand programs” that by forgetfulness or ignorance remain in the system.

Without the help of a professional system mechanic this gets worse; the operating system gives you the option to uninstall the desired program comfortably through the control panel, although this may not be sufficient at times as leftover traces are often left behind.

The problem can be even greater if you have bought the computer in a store, as resellers usually include bloatware  with the preinstalled OEM versions of Windows. You should uninstall bloatware using jv16 PowerTools if you do not use them.

Our PC system utilities solution jv16 PowerTools

No matter how many hours you spend at your computer every day, you definitely want its job done as fast as possible. Like a car, your equipment also requires maintenance to give optimum performance for daily activities.

There are not just a few but thousands of reasons why your software equipment might not work as it should. jv16 PowerTools is a suite of maintenance utilities that aims to solve these problems.

The latest version published allows you to clean, optimize and repair your system with relative ease.

The program offers a wide range of advanced tools that provide a friendly way to use various tools to optimize the system. It comes in several languages, allowing you to delete the ones you do not need. From the point of view of usage, it is indeed a remarkable product.

What comes with jv16 PowerTools system mechanic

This professional system mechanic offers four sets of basic tools.

The registry toolkit provides you with ways to manage, find, replace, compact and control log entries. It also presents an easy-to-understand registry information tool. You can find the size of the record structure, the number of entries it contains and their type. You get to know the amount of data that the record contains.

The program also come equipped with file tools which include the following: File Finder, File Cleaner, File Recovery, File Organizer, and a Duplicate File Finder tool.

While experiencing the system tools, you may see that there are a lot of tools in one place. They are sometimes in the form of 3rd party individual software packages online. The big difference is that jv16 PowerTools does not come preinstalled with adware or spyware.

Why should you use jv16 PowerTools instead of other software?

Our tools are designed for the professional system mechanic and include the Startup Manager. This tool works quite well, detailing the programs that run automatically on boot. Scan results also include the dynamic libraries that most other programs of this type often skip.

In addition, the automation tool allows you to run the other instruments automatically. The most outstanding feature of this set is the Clean and SpeedUp My Computer tool. This tool gives a significant boost in computer speed.

In total, jv16 PowerTools is composed of tools which will help you with the always complicated and never-friendly Windows registry. This way you can clean your registry automatically to remove obsolete data from old installations. You can also delete files and links that some applications leave unused.

Apart from the manual, the professional mechanic system jv16 PowerTools includes the online support option.

Most individual tools work by scanning relevant areas of your machine to prepare a diagnosis before allowing you to optimize. However, if at any time there is a problem, you can always restore the backup. You can also protect the software settings with a password that a professional system user always configures.

Using the jv16 PowerTools Backup Tool

  1. Run jv16 PowerTools from the Start menu or your shortcut on the desktop.
  2. On the start screen, go to Backup Tool
  3. In this screen you have all the backups of the Windows registry.
  4. Select the backup you want to restore and click Restore.
  5. To delete a specific backup, select it and click Remove.
  6. To select all backups at once, click on the select menu and click on “all”

If you have any questions about our system machanic software or wish to offer us a feature suggestion or improvement tip then please do not hesitate to reach out to our support! We love it when our users engage in a discussion as it helps us to learn and grow.

laptop slow to startup

Why is my laptop slow to start?

By | blog

Manage startup applications in Windows

It’s essential that your laptop works at its best at all times. However, as time goes by, the regular use of your computer increases unnecessary files and fragments your hard drive (especially if it is not a SSD drive). Lousy computer habits may also lead to a laptop slow to startup.

The usage of several programs at the same time doesn’t help. Other bad habits are: putting the equipment to sleep instead of regularly restarting it, browsing the Internet with several open windows of navigation, adding add-ons and services, and neglecting to perform maintenance on a regular basis.

All these can be reasons when looking to find out why is your laptop slow to startup.

We present some common causes and recommendations to improve this issue. In truth, there are a plethora of reasons as to why your laptop may be slow to startup.

What to do when your laptop is very slow to boot up

1. Control which applications start with the laptop

The programs that are configured to run when the laptop is turned on can also make the laptop slow to startup. So another step is to make sure that only the strictly necessary programs run when the laptop boots up. For that, you need to remove startup programs that you don’t need.

Windows has an integrated utility that allows you to disable the automatic execution of programs. In Windows 8 it is called Task Manager, while in Windows 7, Vista and XP are the old Msconfig.

With this procedure, it’s also possible to disable important and necessary programs for the correct operation of the PC, such as the antivirus. Therefore, it is needed to be aware of which processes are being modified. If in doubt, search the internet for the name of the program and, if you do not find what it is, better ask our PC optimization experts to take a look remotely.

There are different steps to follow in Windows 8 and 7.

Laptop slow to startup in Windows 8

If you’re using Windows 8, go to the Desktop, move the cursor to the taskbar, right-click and select Task Manager. Closing the programs in autorun is one of the most effective methods to speed up Windows startup.

If you notice that your PC is slow in the loading phase of the operating system, this may be due to the many programs that run every time you turn on the computer and start Windows.

Laptop slow to startup in Windows 7

Msconfig is the built-in Windows tool to eliminate processes running automatically. In Windows 7 it will suffice to click the start button, type the msconfig command in the search bar, and press Enter. Once inside the System Configuration, go to the Home tab, deselect the programs that you don’t want to be opened at Windows startup, and then click OK.

We also have programs that are responsible for this task, such as Advanced SystemCare. This program is responsible for managing the startup programs. The only and significant disadvantage about this program is that you must buy it to use it. However, it’s great if you do get it. It can manage all the startup programs and increase the speed of your PC. If you don’t want to buy it, don’t worry. There is no wrong answer here.

For a quick fix, you don’t have to buy a program to increase the startup speed. Try our own solution, jv16 PowerTools. You can download our flagship PC system utilities software free of charge and use it fully for 60 days. Then you can decide if you wish to support us by licensing your maintenance software.

2. Undo temporary files

Temporary files are created by Windows applications when they can’t allocate enough memory to their tasks, or the operating system itself makes backups in case it needs to be restored. They usually are removed automatically. But either by a malfunctioning program or by shutting Windows down incorrectly, this is not always the case.

Usually, these files do not cause many problems, but they can accumulate on the hard disk, and make the laptop  slow to startup. That’s why it is recommended that if you want to accelerate your laptop boot up time, you must get rid of temp files to recover some internal memory. These data can be found in the folder C: \ Windows \ Temp.

If you don’t want to go that deep because you want to avoid making a mistake, there are always applications that can help you, like jv16 PowerTools. This program is a complete PC system utilities software that will scan your computer for leftover files, including temporary ones, and propose them for you to delete them. Just make sure that you use it regularly (once per week is more than enough!).

3. Optimizing the loading process

During the Windows boot process, the operating system performs different tasks that could take more or less time depending on its configuration. To ensure maximum optimization, it’s crucial to start with having the BIOS configured to boot directly from the HDD Windows is located, instead of wasting time looking first in other drives. That causes any laptop slow to startup.

When there is some peripheral or component connected to the laptop and you don’t have the drivers configured, Windows will query its database for a solution. So, the system load will be a little slower. You should go through Device Manager occasionally to make sure there is no conflict with any component. To check if something is failing during system boot, Windows also has a native application that can be useful.

The application is called Event Viewer, and it’s executed by launching eventvwr with the Run tool. In the Application and System folders on the left menu, you can see a log of all errors that may have occurred. To ensure that the tool only logs the system starts it is necessary to empty its registers. Then you have to restart the laptop and reopen it. This way, you can be sure that only the Windows startup process problems come out.

4. Enable quick launch on your laptop

Some versions of Windows have an option to perform a fast system startup.

To locate it, open the Control Panel and access the Hardware and Sound option. In the Power Options, look for the one that changes the actions of the start/stops buttons in power off setting. It’s vital to make sure that the Activate quick start option is activated.

What this option does is to change where the necessary files are saved when the computer is turned off. If the option is not activated, they will be kept in RAM. But once enabled they will be saved in a folder on the laptop’s HDD. That means that they will open faster. It is always good to check this option if you have a laptop slow to startup.

5. The physical cleaning of the computer also matters

The dust is one of our more significant enemies. It can cause the laptop slow to startup when you least expected. Dust can also reduce airflow, which will cause overheating, slowing down any computer’s operations.

Finally, it can also affect the performance of some applications, and even generate a lot of noise pollution by making the laptop sound like an aeroplane.

Therefore, it’s advisable from time to time to open your laptop and dust it off. Of course, extra care must be manifested when performing this type of cleaning, especially if you never did this before. Laptop hardware components are very delicate and some can be damaged during the process if it’s not done correctly.

What can we do for you about a laptop that is slow to start

If you wish to have a complete set of tools that can manage your startup applications, clean and speedup your computer, then give our software a try. Being older than even Google, our company knows its way around PC optimization quite a lot.

Professional PC system utilities software designed to make your computer work fast and smoothly is not easy to find, especially if you don’t want to have additional adware or spyware installed!

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.