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  • How can I determine if my hard disk drive is bad?

    Hitachi / IBM - DFT “Drive Fitness Test”

    Western Digital “Data Lifeguard”

    Maxtor “Powermax”

    Fujitsu “FJDT”

    Samsung “hutil”

    Seagate “Seatools”

    Toshiba - N/A
    There are no tools available for Toshiba, but you may be able to use IBM or Maxtor's drive tools as well as other third party programs

  • How can I determine if my memory is bad?

    Sometimes memory can be a little tricky to determine if it is actually defective. Since DDR memory is the most popular right now and it comes in DDR, DDR2, and recently DDR3. It also comes in different speeds and timing, which makes purchasing the correct memory for your motherboard cumbersome sometimes. I say this, but you might not have bad memory, but memory that is simply incompatible with your system. A great piece of software to help you determine this is Memtest86+. Since Memtest is a 32-bit application though, you should only test 2 gigabytes at a time.

  • How can I disable auto starting programs?

    The old fashion way was to dig deep into the registry in few key areas and change or remove entries. Today, there are several pieces of software that help you disable startup programs. I use and recommend three of them…

    Startup Control Panel

    Startup Control Panel Screenshot

    Startup Control Panel by Mike Lin is one of the original if not the original piece to let you configure which programs start. It interface is a control panel that let you tab through the various spots a program can be starting. You simply uncheck the program you wish to disable. If that breaks something never fear, you can easily add the check back to bring things back to normal. I recommend this to all.





    AutoRuns is a more comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations. At first run the ‘Everything’ tab it starts on can be overwhelming. If you’re more technically inclined and have a pesky application you can’t seem to stop from booting this might just be your answer. This application is more powerful, but still falls in a safe category as most of the time you can undo anything you’ve done.




    HijackThis Screenshot

    With great power comes great responsibility (I like saying that). HijackThis this is an awesome piece of software in skilled hands. Skilled hands I warn you. You can really screw your computer up with this software. Trend Micro purchased them a while back, but haven’t screwed it up, yet. HijackThis was designed more for helping you rid you computer of spyware but for the nastiest startup programs, this is the tool.



  • How can I encrypt private data?

    Encrypting personal data on the PC can be a daunting task. Not because it’s inherently difficult, but because of the vast amount of ways to accomplish it. I have experimented with various ways to encrypt data and my personal favorite is an open-source application called TrueCrypt. I prefer its approach of creating a virtual encrypted disk within a file that can be mounted and used just as if it a real disk. In other words, it simpler to manage and makes it easier to move encrypted data between systems or store on USB flash drives.

  • How can I make the internet safe for my children?

    There are numerous solutions but one of the best, OpenDNS, also happens to be free. We have an article about it here on our site called, “Safe Internet Browsing for You and Your Kids”. A cheap hardware solution would be the iBoss.

    Safe Browsing Kid

  • How do I backup Internet Explorer passwords?

    I should first say that using the remember password feature in Internet Explorer is not advisable. Passwords stored with this feature are easily decoded, so it is a potential security risk. Roboform is a great password manager that is vastly more secure.

    Internet Explorer Remembered Passwords Registry Export 

    The passwords for Internet Explorer 6 are stored in the registry, so to back them up you just export that section of the registry.

    1. Start the Registry Editor by clicking Start / Run then type “regedit” and press Enter.

    2. Navigate to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Internet Explorer \ IntelliForms \ SPW .

    3. Make sure you have the SPW folder selected and choose File / Export.

    4. Give it a name and export it to any folder you want.

    To import the data later on just double click (or right click and select merge) the file you created.

    This method will not work to move passwords from IE6 to IE7.

  • How do I backup Outlook Express Data?

    Outlook Express data is stored in various locations. You can just copy the messages and address book over, while the email account settings and rules must be exported from the registry and then importing into their new location.


    X:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Identities\{[your-user-identity-number]}\Microsoft\Outlook Express

    Address Book

    X:\Documents and Settings\[username]\Application Data\Microsoft\Address Book\[username].wab

    Email Accounts**

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Internet Account Manager\Accounts

    Blocked senders lists and other mail rules **

    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Identities\{Identity Number}\Software\Microsoft\Outlook Express\5.0\

    ** X:\Documents and Settings\[username]\ntuser.dat

  • How do I calibrate my new LCD screen?

    A couple of quick web based display calibrations I use are and Online Monitor Test.

    dvi cable hdmi cable displayport cable

    The above are the three types of digital connections (DVI, HDMI, & DisplayPort). This is considered the best way to hook up an LCD screen. Most of the time with these type connectors you can simply adjust the brightness of your display.

    vga connector

    The above is a standard vga connector.

    Adjust the Phase and Clock

    If you only have VGA available you’ll need to adjust the clock and phase before moving onto contrast and brightness. This is typical done by pressing the “Auto” button your monitor. The 1:1 pixel mapping screen from Online Monitor Test is a great screen to use to let your monitor adjust the clock and phase automatically. This is not necessary when using the DVI input as it is digital.

    Adjust Brightness and Contrast

    Go to and select “Brightness and Contrast”. Use the top two bars to adjust the contrast. Set the contrast as high as you can and still see a distinction between the left and right side. Some monitors will not display the top bar correctly, so use second bar if this is the case. Use the bottom bar to adjust your brightness. Set your brightness to its lowest setting that still allows you to see a difference between the left and right side of the black bar.

  • How do I check my SSD Partition Alignment?

    From a command line run:

    wmic partition get BlockSize, StartingOffset, Name, Index

    If the starting offset is evenly divisible by 32768, your partition is aligned.

  • How do I configure my email settings?

    Horry Telephone

    General Customer Service:
    Internet Technical Support:

    POP3 Server:
    IMAP Server:
    SMTP Server: port 995 (requires SSL) port 993 (requires SSL) port 465 (requires SSL)

    Web Mail:
    More Information:

    Road Runner (Time Warner Cable)

    Main Number:
    Internet Technical Support:
    POP3 Server:
    SMTP Server: (requires authentication)
    Web Mail:
    Manage Email Accounts:

    Frontier (FiOS)

    POP3 Server:
    IMAP Server:
    SMTP Server:
    Web Mail:
  • How much memory do I need in my computer?

    It mainly depends on your operating system and what type of applications you use. Memory is relatively cheap today, so it makes the question simpler to answer. In general I recommend 3 gigabytes or more for Vista and 1 gigabyte for Windows XP. We stock a variety of memory, but prefer Mushkin enhanced memory modules.

  • How to check the version of Office?

    Office 2003 - KB821549

    Office 2007 - KB928116

    Office 2010 - KB2121559

  • What is the best antivirus software?

    I evaluate antivirus software in two areas. The first is whether it actually stops your computer from getting a real virus, not some fake virus like the magazines test with, but a real virus. The second is the performance hit your computer takes running it. One of the main side effects of todays viruses is that they slow down your computer, so if you going to run a crappy virus scanner that makes your computer run slow from the start, you're not accomplishing much.

    Kaspersky has always excelled in the first area and with the release of their version 6 product they have the best Anti-Virus software on the market. We can install their latest offering on your computer for $50.

    AOL gave a watered down version of the Kaspersky software away for several months at They switched back to McAfree sometime in July 2007. That is unfortunate, because McAfee is one of the worst, if not the worst scanners on the market. It fails miserably in both detection and performance.

    Hazmat Cleaning Hard Drive from Viruses 

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