Because computers don't fix themselves

Posts Tagged ‘Windows 7’

“Bliss” and other Desktop Background pictures

I recently read a neat little article about the most viewed photograph of all time. 

The default background image for Windows XP is universally recognizable. It’s a photo of the Sonoma Valley, taken in 1996.

You can read more about this famous photo here: Bliss – on Wikipedia

That got me thinking more about backgrounds. Specifically, the “architecture” backgrounds in Windows 7. This is my favorite theme, and I like the pictures. But, I had no idea what buildings they were. So, I did a little research.

Seattle Center – Space Needle, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
Will Austin.  Read more about him here:



Seattle Center – Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
Will Austin.  Read more about him here:

Dusseldorf Theatre – Dusseldorf Germany.

Read the Wikipedia article here

Seattle Center – Experience Music Project Museum, Seattle, WA.  Photo by
Will Austin.  Read more about him here:

Puportedly Selfridges Department Store in Birmingham, Great Britain. 

Melbourne CityLink Gateway – Melbourne, Australia. 

  Hope you enjoy this little bit of computer trivia!

Reduce size of winsxs folder

I am contemplating re-imaging my personal computer, and even loading Windows 7 onto a solid state drive for maximum performance. However, when contemplating how large a drive I would need, I realized that Windows 7 was taking up 30 gigs of space on my current drive. That’s waaay too much real estate on a measly 128 gigabyte SSD.

So, in searching for some solutions to this issue, I found this excellent blog post which can help you severely reduce the winsxs folder in your computer. This folder keeps backups of important files in case you need to go back to older versions. Specifically, say, if you were to roll back a Microsoft Service Pack. But, sometimes it keeps way too many files and takes up lots of room. Like, the 11 gigs on my machine. After following this simple tip, I cut that almost in half.


Setting up a New Computer

It seems about half the time of setting up a new computer is uninstalling all the crap that comes on it. There’s tons of software that is pre-installed on most computers, and a lot of it is completely unnecessary and/or even detrimental. Before I do anything, I go to Add/Remove Programs (or Programs and Features) in the Control Panel and start removing stuff.

Here’s a quick guide to what I uninstall before I even start using a new computer.

1). Toolbars

Toolbars are almost always completely unnecessary, and usually slow down your internet experience. You can use add-ons or links to do everything a toolbar does, without having to load extra software. Some of the ones that commonly come on new computers:

- AOL toolbar
- Bing bar
- Google Toolbar
- Skype Toolbars (Skype is a good program. You can leave it. Skype toolbars are rarely used.)
- Yahoo Toolbar

2). Registration

I’ve never been a fan of online registration. Computer companies can tell exactly when you bought the computer by looking up your serial # or system tag. Registering your computer primarily adds you to their mailing list so that you get more spam, and doesn’t give a whole lot more benefit. Plus, it’s annoying when it keeps popping up asking for you to register. So, just remove anything that says registration in it.

3). Anti-Virus and/or Internet Security

Most computers come with Norton or McAfee. As you might know from other posts, I consider these two pieces of software the devil. Trend/Micro is a common 3rd offender. It’s not nearly as bad as the first two. Plus, quite often the pre-installed one is a limited trial anyway. But, If you want a boost in performance, and a less expensive and higher quality protection, remove the one that came with the computer and use a combination of Avira and Malwarebytes instead.

Whatever you do, though, don’t load two different virus checking programs. That will make your computer slow to a halt. Choose one virus checker and one malware checker, and stick with them.

4). Online backup software

Many new computers are coming with some sort of branded online backup. Norton and Dell are two common ones. I highly recommend using an online backup service. However, I prefer Carbonite to the pre-installed ones. Just like virus checkers, definitely do not load two different online backup programs. If you’re going to use Carbonite, make sure to remove the pre-installed ones.

5). Branded power management and wireless management software

Dells and Lenovo laptops are notorious for this. Windows can handle power settings and wireless network management just fine. So, there’s no reason to load an additional software to handle this instead. Except to put their name in your face. So, remove them. It’ll speed up your computer. Just be sure not to accidentally remove an actual driver.

For example: Intel wireless management utility is completely redundant. But, if you remove it, it also removes the wireless driver. Instead, just go into the settings of the Intel wireless utility and disable it (choose the option to let windows manage wireless networks).

If you remove all these, your computer will be clean and quick from day one.

Removing IE9 on New Computers

So, brand new Windows 7 SP1 computers are now arriving with Internet Explorer 9 pre-loaded. Progress, right? Well, there’s nothing wrong with IE9 inherently. However, many websites aren’t ready for it yet, and many big companies suggest you don’t use it yet if you want maximum compatibility. Two of the bigger companies I work with both have corporate websites that aren’t compatible with IE 9 yet.

Usually, you can just uninstall Internet Explorer 9, and then IE 8 will automatically show up. Problem solved.

However, if you go to Add/Remove programs (or, rather, Programs and Features), you’ll find Internet Explorer 9 isn’t listed there. And, if you uncheck it from Windows features, it completely removes IE, and doesn’t roll it back to 8.

Here’s the trick:

Go to Programs and Features. Click the link in the upper left hand corner that says “installed updates.” Internet Explorer 9 is at the bottom of the list. If you remove it from here, it will roll back to IE8.

Remember to prevent IE9 from downloading itself again, or else you’ll be right back where you started in a few days. You can download a tool from Microsoft to prevent it from updating until you’re ready.

Block Internet Explorer 9 Automatic Update