Posts Tagged ‘finallyfast’

Read this and save money on software to fix your computer.

Sunday, August 24th, 2008

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Last week I got an e-mail from a woman who had a problem with her Windows-based computer and had tried several different titles of software (including the one I mentioned in this post).  She had contacted one manufacturer who gave her an enormous list of things to do to try to clean things up.  She mentioned that she felt it odd to be given this list when the software should have done it for her (the first half of which were just deleting temporary files).  I agreed.

I believe she found my earlier post when searching for help with the software she’s already tried.  She had a problem, tried a number of software titles to fix it, started following the instructions she got from the one manufacturer, and now her e-mail program doesn’t work.  She found me and asked what software I would recommend.  In the end, I had to give her the bad news that it was a little late and her best option was to backup, reformat, reinstall, and restore.

Now, on to the question of which software I would recommend to fix problems in Windows.  The answer is a clear one based on years of trying various titles and encountering various issues.  There is not a single software title that I would recommend to fix problems with Windows.  I honestly believe that if you spend any money on such software you may as well get used to a lighter wallet and being no closer to solving the problem than you were before.

Many years ago I had tried one title that purported to keep Windows from crashing and allow you to figure out what went wrong or to at least be able to save your work before Windows came to a complete stand-still.  The version of Windows I was running at the time was 3.1.  This version was fairly notorious for crashing any time you blinked (and even then it was more stable than its 3.0 predecessor).  My system was running fairly stably at the time, however.  I installed this software and immediately regretted it.  I went from a crash frequency of a couple or so each week to several per day.  The feature that was touted to keep Windows running never worked as advertised.  Thankfully, when I removed the software, my computer returned to its original reliability.  As a result, I’ve been cautious of any other software to make these claims.

One of the problems with using software to fix problems with your computer is that not all of the problems you have are going to be software related.  You may also have some malicious software on your computer which will fight off being fixed.  I can’t think of a single title that would be “find problems in my hardware, fix problems in my software, and remove bad software you find” software.  If you have the talent and experience, you either won’t need software or you’ll know exactly what would be used to properly diagnose the problem.  If this isn’t your area of expertise, you may not get the correct combination of software to do yourself any good.  There’s also the possibility that you wouldn’t be able to interpret the results.

That being said, there is software out there that you can use to maintain your computer.  One that I use on a semi-regular basis is called CCleaner.  It’s an all-around good utility for removing excess junk from your computer which is running Windows.  By default it will purge your temporary file caches, internet browser caches, Recycle Bin, and a bunch of other caches.  I am conservative in what I allow it to delete.  As one example, I don’t allow it to delete browser cookies as some of them are convenient for the user.  I would use Spybot Search & Destroy instead to selectively remove ad-related cookies.  CCleaner can also clean up your registry.  I’m of a mixed opinion about this as the Windows registry (under current versions of Windows) is fairly self-maintaining.  While useless items won’t delete themselves, they generally aren’t harmful, either.  If you find this feature scary, don’t use it.  How much will you pay for this software?  Nothing.  The developers of both CCleaner and Spybot offer them for free.

There is a lot of good, free software out there.  There’s probably more bad, free software, though.  If you have a need, I’m probably aware of a good, free title that will do the job.  It may not have the polish of a commercial title, but it won’t cost you anything but a little time to give it a try.

Don’t believe everything you see on TV

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

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Recently I’ve been seeing ads on television for FinallyFast(dot)com.  Supposedly a piece of software for Windows which will speed up your computer.  Since I’ve seen many pieces of software of this type advertised in various media, I was curious, though skeptical.

Going to the site, SiteAdvisor gives it an unknown rating at the time of this writing.  I’ve submitted it for them to review.  The site for the parent company, Ascentive, listed in the top right of the FinallyFast web site comes up red.  I used the SiteAdvisor plugin to get a report of the site and it stated that “Well-respected security researchers have analyzed the software available from this site and found that it offers little or no security protection and may use deceptive sales tactics.”  A link is then given for the Spyware Warrior Rogue Anti-Spyware list, a resource I’ve used frequently whenever I come across a new anti-spyware tool on a client computer.  It states for the Spyware Striker Pro software offered by Ascentive “ridiculous false positives; outrageous license terms; trial version uses outdated defs.”

So, how do you determine a source that you can trust for good software that isn’t going to make things worse?  That can be a huge challenge given that there are so many questionable options out there and they are pointing to themselves and other questionable software.  I could point you in a few directions but how then can you trust me?  I’ll admit that I have a business and a reputation to protect but that may not be sufficient reason.  Between flashy packaging, web site, TV ads, and your best friend, it’s a lot to take in.

As a starting point, the rogue list above also has a link to a trusted list of software.  It’s not the be-all, end-all list of options, but it’s something.  Feel free to e-mail me and I’ll let you know my thoughts.