Friday, 22 April 2011

Big Risk Time.

This ageing computer is in desperate need of defragmentation. Desperate. I also have to clean up the Emails and compact the folders, and delete a load of stuff I never use any more, tidy up the photo collection...

I'm told I should do such things regularly. Well, every five years is regular. It is time.

This is risky because of the age of the machine. It's like taking a rusty old Cortina to a race track. It might come out the other side looking good or it might not come out the other side at all.

So first, there has to be a total backup onto an external hard disk, then it's fingers crossed and press 'Kill or cure' in the menu.

If things go quiet for a while, you'll know this rusty old Cortina didn't get through the track and I'm having to fire up the cobwebbed spare and load all the backup into it.

Oh, and I have print copies of Jessica's Trap at last. To those I owe, they'll be posted soon, although I'll probably wait until after the Bank Holiday.

Well, here goes. Nothing ventured, nothing broken.


winston said...

Keep the tired old thing clunking away in the background and get a £330 laptop for everday use.
The Compaq CQ56 or the Acer Aspire is fine. Avoid a Dell at all costs. Crashed hard drives and Asian call centres will be the price to pay.
Do a weekly disc defrag and a daily clean up of cookies and temp internet files with a good free anti virus software like AVG 2011 covering your back.

JuliaM said...

Scary time ahead! Fingers crossed...

JuliaM said...

"Avoid a Dell at all costs. Crashed hard drives and Asian call centres will be the price to pay."

That's what happened to my last Dell. Of course, I bought....another Dell!


winston said...


Ha ha. My friends Dell crashed after a week and online reviews seem to confirm this problem :)
From my limited research into budget laptops I found the following..

Compaq CQ56..
£330 from Comet. 3Gb of RAM. Pentium dual core processor. Noisy processor fan. No dedicated graphics card.No flash card reader for camera. No HDMI for connection to the tv. But a good laptop.

Acer Aspire..
£330 from Curry's / PC World ( although it was a sale price - may have gone back to £390 so shop around).
Built in camera flash card reader. HDMI connection for tv. Very quiet fan operation. Mousepad off centre to left which I didn't like.
3Gb RAM. Dedicated graphics card for games etc. Pentium dual core processor. A good allrounder.

Dell Inspiron..
£330 from PC World/ Currys
Looked and felt plasticy. Poor reviews - hard drive crash problems etc. One to avoid.


After half a decade any flavour of windows will need a complete 'nuking' ie format and re-install. I'm told by people who are more up on their technicals than i that windows is ,computerly speaking, the slutty woman of the computing world who upon coming home kicks off her heels, drops her dress on the floor and leaves her knickers under the bed.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX winston said...

HDMI connection for tv.XX

Stand fast laddie! Do you mean it is possible to use your T.V as a monitor?

PT Barnum said...

Do not buy an Acer. Every one (more than half a dozen) I've ever owned or met died (as in blowing up or motherboard meltdown) within a month of the warranty expiring. It's a design feature of the brand.

winston said...

Yes no probs. The HDMI connection seems to be the easiest way to go as it carries both video and sound. Most modern flatscreens tv's will have an HDMI socket.

Found this..


My old Acer has been going for 5 years no probs. Although it may be just luck ;)

I forgot to mention that Compaq are now owned by HP so that might put folk off them.

Stewart Cowan said...

Best wishes, L-I. I was just thinking - imagine if sick computers were treated on the NHS. They'd come back with more viruses than they went in with - if they came back at all. My old PCs have died peacefully at home, in my arms.

They were in my arms because I was about to throw them against the wall. I may be expecting too much, but a decent computer should live longer than a hamster.

Don't get a Mesh. I don't know anyone who's happy with theirs.

My Compaq - now a few months old and cost just under £200 plus VAT from Pixmania - is still working fine and is the quietest PC I've had.


My previous laptop and two PCs all died from hard drive failure. I lost some valuable data - always back up regularly.

English Pensioner said...

Don't forget to backup your e-mails, they are squirrelled away in the depths of the machine and not in "My Documents".

I've just bought a new HP Laptop (good buy at John Lewis) Machine is OK, but I'm not too happy about the screen which is very reflective compared with the matt screen on the old machine. And of course, you'll have to learn the idiosyncrasies of Windows 7!

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

What do you do with your old machine? Is it safe to take it down the dump? Is there a way of clearing all your personal details of it, so no-one can take advantage?

Anonymous said...

If it only needs a clean-up download and run CCleaner...

You'll be amazed how much crap you've accumulated over five years
It also cleans up your registry - I've used it for years and it's brilliant.

£60 cleaner...
Take the hard disc out and subject it to a 6lb lump hammer.

winston said...

The only way to make your personal stuff safe is to remove the hard drive and hit it with a big hammer until it's in little bits. Or at least well flattened.
Take the back off of the computer and locate the silver box approx 8" x6" x 1/2". Remove / cut the two cables and unscrew it.
Forget trying to re format and all that palaver as the computer will end up in an Indian backstreet shop and they're experts at retrieving info from 'cleaned up' hard drives.

James Higham said...

Mine's on its last legs too. Need to have a hiatus soon to do that.

Stewart Cowan said... you don't get an electric shock when removing the hard drive...

Furor Teutonicus said...

Thanks for the info, Winston.

Must get working on that. :-))

someday said...

Try Smart Defrag

sixtypoundsaweekcleaner said...

Many thanks folks!

Anonymous said...

Try Glary utilities for the ultimate clean up.

Billy the Fish said...

Leggy et al,

Having built my last two computers, a word about PC maintainence if I may...

DON'T waste your money on utility software like Norton or McAfee; they're a rip-off and will slow your system down with pointless self-checking bloatware. Computer maintainence is one area where you actually CAN get something for nothing.

I agree wholeheartedly with the recommendation for Ccleaner. Great for getting rid of the day-to-day crap. Use it often!

Also, make sure to use these two free products from Auslogics once a week:


Finally, once a month, run Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to get rid of any bots or rootkits you may have picked up...

You DO NOT need to pay a penny for PC utilities, just use these freebies, stay off the porn sites, don't open emails from people you don't know and all will be well!

When considering new kit, NEVER buy from the high street, take a look online at places like Novatech or Cyberpowersystem, who will give you truckloads more for your money than PC World or Dell ever could.

Or, if you have lots of money and prefer style over content, you could always buy Apple...

Fish x

Paul said...

They say you should degubble a Mac or whatever regularly. What's the point in that? Just fix something when it's broken. Simples. :)

Gentoo said...

I speak as an Apple loather, but no, a Mac will not require defragmentation, because of the underlying reliability of the operating system and filesystem (end of science bit) - all part of the software

There is nothing wrong with your hardware.

A permanent solution, that will bring a different mix of stuff to deal with, but certainly give you freedom from forced upgrades, housekeeping problems and viruses, is to seek out your nearest Linux user group and ask them to help you install a flavour of Linux.

It will also surprise you how unknackered your PC actually is.

You will have learn to do a few things a little differently but once you've got over that, you're away.

Ian R Thorpe said...

Good luck with that, and if you'll take a tip from an old pro, clean your registry before and after.

Old computers can be kept going a long time but that registry just gets bigger and bigger. A good tool that costs about £25 a year in RegCure You can also find registry cleaners and other goodies (some free) at

And you could think about sticking more memory in your PC, it is more effective than a processor upgrade for increasing speed.

If you need any (free) help or advice contact me via:
Boggart Blog Leave a comment or use a personal message. Always glad to help a fellow blogger.

Anonymous said...

LI, please do a blog on how you grew your own tobacco.
Thank You
John Gibson

Anonymous said...

@ John Gibson.

I have just pointed out to LI a You Tube video which illustrates the cultivation process. Here is the URL:

I found it very helpful.

Leg-iron said...

Well, it survived. Not as cleaned-out as I'd like but it's so cluttered it'll take a few passes to get it sorted. It's certainly faster now.

Or I could just reformat and reinstall the lot. That would put me out of action for days and mean having to redownload all those Windows updates so sod it.

What I chiefly want to get rid of is a program called 'helpsvc', a Windows program that comes on at random and does nothing other than occupy all the machine's systems. It doesn't appear on screen, I only know it's started when the fan starts screaming like a burning heretic and everything else stops.

So far, my only solution is to open task manager and end that process. Doesn't seem to do any harm.

Is it safe to just delete the file, or does it have some actual neccesary purpose?

Anonymous said...

You may find this advice from Microsoft useful.

Leg-iron said...

Adam - I tried that some time ago. It made it happen less often but didn't clear it.

I'll put up with it until it's time to move to a new computer. Or scrap the lot and install Linux, as Gentoo suggests. I have a little netbook that runs Linux, and it doesn't look all that different. Apart from never crashing, of course.

Anonymous said...

If disabling 'helpsvc' doesn't do any harm. Then you can prevent it from starting using...
CCleaner -> Tools -> Startup
The program is not removed, it's just prevented from starting when you bootup.
If any problems appear you can always re-enable it as above.
The fan goes wild because the CPU is running at 100%
It's just crappy M$ software.

TheFatBigot said...

Don't like the sound of "Glary" - a combination of Glitter and Gary but not, I fear, in that order.

Anonymous said...

'Clean up' is very good.

View from the Solent said...

CCleaner won't touch Helpsvc, it's a service.
You can disable it as follows.

Logon to an Admin -level account.

Start > Control Panel > Performance & Maintenance > Admin tools.
Double-click on Services.
(scroll down if needed)Right-click on Help & Support.
Select Properties.
On the General tab, you'll see Startup type. Select manual or disabled, then Apply & OK.

'disabled' will switch off Start > Help & Support. If you ever want to use that, you'll have to repeat the above process to switch helpsvc back to auto. And perhaps reboot (not sure about the this).

'manual' should mean that helpsvc only fires up if you do Start > Help & Support.

Or for a hassle-free method of starting/stopping windoze services, I love winpatrol. The free version is sufficient, it's missing a bell & whistle, that's all. I've used the (paid) version for years.

Anonymous said...

Forget Windows, its riddled with holes, and the hackers target of choice, use Ubuntu.

Or buy a Mac.

Anonymous said...

Li, Linux is a great idea but its not without its problems, I use Mint 7 Gloria because its easiest to navigate around and use on a serious level than everything else including newer versions of Mint. Linux moves fast, but the rest of the world does not. If you want something that works use an older version. Ubuntu is lovely don't get me wrong but i always find little things that get on my nerves and ending up coming home to Mint 7. When they stopped supporting it the comments board lit up with previously silent happy users who like me had discovered it was just rock solid, and didn't want it to end. Well fortunately it still works perfectly, enjoy. Oh and i would dual boot linux with windows 7, your still gona need it every now and then trust me. There's vids on yt on how to do it and it needn't cost a penny ;) I know about virtual machines but trust me dual boot win7/mint7 ftw, good luck. (Oh, Once your in mint - click on xchat to go straight into the help chat room :) just ask your question and fellow software freemen will guideth the to safe ground. - Stealthy

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