Multiple Antivirus Products

Many people like the idea of having more than one antivirus product on their computer at the same time, but it’s actually a bad idea.

Antivirus programs search your system for working-in-a-computer-repair-shop-i-see-this-way-too-often-28841
programs that are monitoring and sending information about your computer. And the other antivirus product will be doing just that. You end up with two (or more) antivirus products going to war, trying to disable and remove one another.

And when a virus is found, the multiple antivirus products may both detect it, but only one can remove it. This can lead to reports of viruses still being installed that are actually long gone.

Not to mention, because of the way they function, (scanning every file and process running on your computer and every connection to and from the internet)  antivirus programs can slow your computer down. Running two or more of these programs which are battling with one another for control of your system will bring most computers to a standstill.

You’re better off installing a full antivirus suite (I prefer Bitdefender), or a regular antivirus product and a companion anti-malware program like Malwarebytes.

 

Prevent Unwanted Software Installation with Unchecky

One of the greatest things about the internet is the amount of free software available at the click of a button. You can download Zone Alarm Free instead of paying for Norton Internet Security,  GIMP instead of Adobe Photoshop, and LibreOffice or OpenOffice instead of Microsoft Office. In most cases the free programs have all the same basic functions and are great alternatives for the majority of people.

Suites-Microsoft-Office-OpenOffice-LibreOffice_ELFIMA20120928_0005_1

One of the downsides to downloading free software are the additional junkware programs that may be included in the installation. Sometimes it’s easy to just click “Accept” in every window without reading them , only to find out later that you installed 2 or 3 programs unknowingly.

As an example, I downloaded the installer for a popular FTP program, FileZilla. The FileZilla logo is displayed at the top of the first two screens, and the giant ACCEPT button is just begging to be clicked on. A little reading makes it clear that you’re agreeing to install both the Vosteran Browser and Super PC Tools.


filezilla - pcoverhaul 1filezilla - pcoverhaul 2

 

Since we are all guilty of getting a little click happy, someone decided to make a program to un-check those boxes for you- Unchecky. A simple, lightweight program that runs in the background waiting for you to install software. When it detects unwanted junkware, it un-checks those boxes to help prevent you from installing them. And in the event that you check off the box by mistake, unchecky warns you about it.

unchecky pcoverhaul

If you download software on a regular basis I highly recommend installing this to save yourself the headache of unwanted toolbars or browser search re-directions.

 

VLC- The only Media Player You Will Ever Need

At some point, everyone runs into a problem opening a multimedia file (usually a video) . VLC player can solve most of these problems. It has a simple interface that’s very user friendly, but also enough extra features to keep you happy if you’re an advanced user. You can drag and drop music or videos into the player, use the file menu to open them, or click on them in Windows explorer once you have selected VLC as your default player for that file type.

The basic VLC interface. You can drag and drop any audio or video file right into the player or use the File menu.
The basic VLC interface. You can drag and drop any audio or video file right into the player or use the File menu.

 

Multimedia files are coded a certain way when they are created, and your multimedia software decodes them. This is done using software called a CODEC, which stands for CODE/DECODE. Widows comes with some codecs by default for the file types most used by windows. As you install other multimedia software, like CD and DVD burning software,  Itunes, or other media players,  you pick up new codecs and expand the file types your computer knows how to open and play.

There are all-in-one codec packs out there on the internet that try to provide all the codecs you will ever need for every possible file type, but they often come bundled with toolbars and other unwanted software. You don’t want that junk cluttering up your computer.

VLC player comes with a slew of codecs built in, and no configuration is needed to get them to work. VLC will open all the common audio and video filetypes and includes support for subtitle files.

A list of video file types VLC will play for each Operating System. Courtesy of videolan.org
A list of video file types VLC will play for each Operating System. Courtesy of videolan.org

 

VLC includes support for subtitle files if your video includes them. Even if you’re not going to watch something in a different language the subtitles can be useful. I’ve used them when my infant son was asleep and I couldn’t have the sound at my normally preferred earth shattering volume. They can also be used to decipher the dialogue in scenes that are just plain hard to hear.

Turning on subtitles is easy. Right click on the video and navigate the menus to Subtitle->Sub Track-> and then your language,
Turning on subtitles is easy. Right click on the video and navigate the menus to Subtitle->Sub Track-> and then your language,

 

One of my favorite features is the equalizer, under the extended settings button. There are separate controls for both audio and video tweaking.  I use this for brightening up older videos or home videos that are not the highest digital quality, but there are dozens of options starting with the basic brightness, contrast, saturation, hue and gamma controls. But it was also let you make the image negative, turn it sepia, rotate it, and even add a logo or watermark to it. Not bad for a free program!

Before the equalizer is used, the picture is fairly dark.
Before the equalizer is used, the picture is fairly dark.

 

The above image is before using the equalizer on the video. You can see the difference below after a few minor tweaks to brightness, contrast, gamma and saturation.

The red arrow points to the equalizer button. You can see a notable difference once I've tinkered with the settings.
The red arrow points to the equalizer button. You can see a notable difference once I’ve tinkered with the settings.

 

In the event that your audio and video are not matching up, there’s a submenu here for synching them together.

Easily fix audio and video that are out of synch
Easily fix audio and video that are out of synch

 

And VLC player give you the option to take a screenshot of any part of your video. Just go to the video menu and look all the way at the bottom.

Capture an image of the screen by using the Take Snapshot option in the Video menu
Capture an image of the screen by using the Take Snapshot option in the Video menu

 

You can set the default save location, file type and naming scheme for your snapshots under the Tools -> Preferences -> Video menu, shown highlighted here.

Snapshot settings
Snapshot settings

 

There are literally hundreds of other features to explore if you are into that sort of thing. Or maybe you want to simply watch a  movie and not have to do anything but click and drag. Either way, VLC player is the best free media player to suit your needs.

 

 

Should I Remove it?

One of the duties I perform most often for customers is cleaning out unwanted programs from their computers. Sometimes they are afraid to delete the program because they’re not sure if they may need it and other times they simply don’t know how to remove the program.

This is where Should I Remove It comes in. This small, free program scans your system and then helps you decide which programs to keep and which ones to trash.

pcoverhaul-shouldiremovescan

The next screen lists the programs you have installed on your computer, and displays a bar graph that shows which programs other users have uninstalled.  In my example, many users have chosen to uninstall the ask.com toolbar (a wise choice!).

pcoverhaul-shouldiremove-results

Click the uninstall button and walk through the uninstallation of your program.

pcoverhaul-shouldiremove-uninstall

 

Your computer now has a little less clutter installed on it.