The holidays are here again and that means food, fellowship, and family. If you are the technical one in your family, this time of year also means free – as in free tech support for your immediate family and beyond. This can be trying, and a little annoying, especially if all you want to do is spend your Thanksgiving afternoon in a tryptophan-induced haze watching football. However, with a little forethought and effort you can get through this time of year with minimal headache and get back to the game in no time.
Luck Favors the Prepared
Before you even think of packing your bags for the trip home, take some time to prep a disc or jump drive with the tools you will more than likely need to fix your mom’s laptop full of navigation bars and pop-up windows. Two programs you may want to take along with you are:
Revo Uninstaller Portable – http://www.revouninstaller.com/revo_uninstaller_free_download.html
Go to the bottom of the page, under Other Downloads, click DOWNLOAD for the Revo Unistaller Freeware Portable. This will download a ZIP file to your computer; you can then unpack the .zip file to your jump drive or burn it to a disc. Revo Uninstaller will help you to remove any unwanted programs or bloatware from your relative’s computer.
CCleaner – http://www.piriform.com/ccleaner/builds
Download the CCleaner Portable file. This will be a ZIP file and has no installer. Unpack the ZIP file to your jump drive or burn it to a disc. CCleaner helps get rid of temporary files, cookies, and other items that might be slowing down a computer. For more information, visit the Features page.
Operation Fix That Computer
Once you get in front of the computer, do the following:
Update the operating system
Sometimes the problem can be solved by updating the right files in the operating system. This might take some time, so grab some pie, sit back, and watch the reboots begin.
Update everything else
The operating system isn’t the only thing that will probably need updating. More than likely Java will need to be updated along with any other programs they use like iTunes.
Scan – Scan it ALL!
After the operating system and other programs have been updated, scan that computer for viruses and malware. If the computer has an antivirus program installed, use it. If not then Avast! Free Antivirus is a good place to start. Download the program here (click the green ‘Download Now’ button). Once it is downloaded, click the Scan option and let Avast do its thing.
Separate the wheat from the chaff
Take that jumpdrive or disc you made earlier and pop it into the computer. You are going to want to run the Revo Uninstaller to remove the programs that don’t really do anything for the computer and leave the actual useful ones alone. In the program, click Tools, then click AutoRun Manager. A list of programs displays. Go through the list and remove the checkmarks for the programs that are not necessary. For more information about what Revo can do see, the User’s Guide. Next you are going to want to run CCleaner. This program will remove any cache files and free up some space on the hard drive if need be. Open CCleaner, and click Run Cleaner. Depending on what has been downloaded and viewed on the computer, this process can take a matter of seconds or minutes. You can also clean the Registry using CCleaner. In CCleaner click the Registry tab, then click Scan for Issues. It can take seconds or minutes to scan the registry. Once it is complete, click Fix selected issues. You will be prompted to select to back up changes to the registry. Select either Yes or No. If you select Yes, you will be asked to name and create the file on your computer. If you select No, you will be asked to select to fix a single issue or fix all the issues found.
The Last Mile
Scan the computer again using your antivirus program of choice. Then reboot the computer. If after you reboot the computer is working better, pat yourself on the back and feel good for a minute. Then take a minute to talk to your relatives about safe browsing practices like not clicking on everything and making sure they don’t install unwanted toolbars/programs by paying attention to what they are installing. If the computer is still affected by the same maladies, then it might be time to do a full reinstall of the operating system or take the computer to a local repair shop.
Hopefully, your relatives have fairly simple computer issues that can be fixed using a few programs which will let you get back to your holiday festivities quickly. If not, then maybe you can feign temporary technical amnesia for the duration of your stay or hide in a closet to avoid the responsibility. Just try not to get any dressing on the coats while you are hiding out.