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Question and Answer
We have three identical Acer Aspire notebooks all running Windows 7 at home. Two of the notebooks run great. But the third one is driving me crazy! For some reason it runs much slower and takes forever to boot-up. Then, once it is finally running, it loads web sites slowly, apps don't respond, and sometimes it shuts down on its own. I've checked it with a couple of programs online without success. Now people are telling me to reinstall Windows, which I know can be tricky. Before I try that, can you recommend a tool or program that will restore and fine tune my Acer notebook?
– Sammy D., Philadelphia, PA
We agree that reinstalling Windows is time consuming and tricky. The best option is to try Reimage, a popular program that TouchStoneSoftware has recommended for years. Within minutes Reimage's free PC scan will safely detect all of the errors on your system. If your PC has a hidden virus, malware or even spyware, Reimage will detect and remove it. In addition, if you have corrupted files, Reimage's patented technology reverses damage to Windows with a full database of replacement files. Try Reimage for free today.

» Download Reimage
I bought a new hard drive, installed it and transferred the OS (Windows 7 Professional), along with all programs and data, to the new drive, mirroring the old one. Several weeks ago, I started getting messages from Microsoft claiming that I was running an illegal copy of Windows 7. I have e-mailed Microsoft explaining the situation, but have never gotten an answer. Is there some way I can get rid of the really annoying messages from Microsoft?
– Ron M., Brentwood, CA

There are a couple of possible reasons for the activation error that fit your scenario. First, you may have mistyped the product key, or the key doesn't match the version of Windows you've installed. If you don't fit into either of those situations, you could try to reactivate your copy of Windows 7 by phone. This page will tell you how to activate by phone: Microsoft Product Activation Center

Last week, I received an email from Microsoft requesting that I verify my account and provide another e-mail address where I could receive alerts, re: suspicious activity on my account. I confirmed my old phone number and entered an alternate email. My personal information appeared. I was unable to change anything. I received a message that the site could not process my request at this time. Have I been had?
– Teresa R., Andover, MA
These types of requests from e-mail providers, financial institutions and other online services are becoming more common in the wake of high-profile security breaches. As long as you didn't enter information into a third-party website, your account should be fine. If you're not sure, I would recommend changing your password and perhaps setting up two-step verification, which may require you to enter an updated phone number. The second step often involves the user receiving a code via text message and entering that number into the computer to verify their identity before accessing the account.

Driver Tip: Printer Drivers Can Be Tricky

Have you ever installed a printer driver and your printer stopped working? Or the new driver just doesn’t seem to install at all? With some printers the driver is pretty straightforward. It’s simply click and install. However, with other printer drivers the process can be a little more involved. If you are running into issues installing your printer driver, we suggest that you first uninstall the old drivers first. Then install the new ones. This should prevent any further issues and allow your printer to work properly. The old driver can be uninstalled by opening your Control Panel, and clicking on the Devices and Printers section. Right click on the printer, and choose PROPERTIES. Then click on the DRIVER tab, and choose UNINSTALL. You may be asked at this point if you want to keep the driver, say NO. Once that has completed uninstalling, you can install the new driver

PC Performance Tip: Disabling the Login Screen in Windows 8

Recently a customer asked us how to bypass the login screen in Windows 8, so that the system will just boot normally without needing to login. Here is how this can be done.

First boot up your computer and enter your log-in information and password. This is the last time you'll be asked to go through this.

Once you are logged in, press Win-X (hold down the Windows key and simultaneously tap the X key). This will initiate a pop-up menu on which you can click Command Prompt (Admin).

After the command prompt opens, simply enter the term 'control userpasswords2' (no quotations) and press Enter.

Lastly, uncheck the box in the User Accounts section marked 'Users Must Enter a User Name and Password to Use This Computer'.

Now click 'OK' and confirm the automatic sign-in option by entering the password twice will hide the log-in prompt until you go through the reverse of this process to activate it again.

It's important that you reboot your computer right after performing the steps listed above.

» Perform a PC performance scan now!

BIOS Tip – Why does a computer need a BIOS?

We were asked recently by a customer an interesting question. Why does a computer need a BIOS?

A BIOS is a hardware dependent piece of code stored on the motherboard itself. Every different motherboard needs a custom BIOS written for it, so it would be impossible to have a generic BIOS/OS all-in-one (although the BIOS is technically just stored code, so you could theoretically write an OS for one particular motherboard).

The purpose of the BIOS is to do the following:

When the PC starts up, the first job for the BIOS is the power-on self-test, which initializes and identifies system devices such as the CPU, RAM, video display card, keyboard and mouse, hard disk drive, optical disc drive and other hardware.

Note that you can still start a computer without a hard drive- which is why the BIOS is a requirement for a computer. In other terms, the BIOS provides a common software interface to allow a stored computer program to communicate with various hardware devices connected to the motherboard. For example, if I have two different motherboards with two different SATA controllers, the BIOS allows me to write a piece of code that can work with both, without my knowledge of how the motherboard actually sends commands to the SATA device. I just have to tell the computer "read sector X from this SATA device", and the BIOS is responsible for actually sending those commands to the hardware.

Where it actually gets the "read sector X" information from is a stored program contained within the BIOS, which usually directs the computer to start reading from a bootloader stored in a common location. These common locations are agreed upon by various software and hardware developers, and usually provided to the public to allow for more compatibility between systems.

Once a basic level of interfacing (again, logical interfacing through software) is established, the operating system itself builds a common interface with your various hardware devices (usually by using "device drivers"), and the operating system can then control the hardware.

Finally, it should be noted that the BIOS is also used to make modifications to the computer hardware configurations, and store them in the on-board EEPROM (so your computer remembers the changes next time you start it up). However, once the operating system is loaded, it has full control of the computer.

This allows for motherboard manufacturers to develop software allowing you to make these changes from within your operating system, as opposed to having to reboot into the BIOS. Again, this is very hardware and software dependent, but goes to show that all computer interfacing is relative. The BIOS is exactly what its name implies - a basic input/output system, to allow a common software interface for a more advanced program ("operating system") to take control of the machine.

» Perform a BIOS scan now!

Tech Tip

Is Your Windows 8 Computer Having Trouble Keeping the Correct Time?
Right click on the clock icon in the bottom right corner of your Windows 8 screen. When the options menu pops up, select 'Adjust date/time'. A new window will then appear. Click on the 'Internet Time' tab and then click 'Change settings'. From the next screen you can select the option 'Synchronize with an Internet time server'. Once the drop-down menu appears you can select the option ''. After that's complete, simply tell the system to 'Update now'.

TouchStoneSoftware UndeletePlus RegistryWizard BIOSAgentPlus

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Quote of the Month
"Life should be like a good Tweet - short, pithy, convey a message and inspire others to follow."

- Ashok Kallarakkal

Sites of the Month

Fun Sites
This social media site is focused on books. Members can build virtual bookshelves, discover, rate and discuss books, and participate in online groups.
Useful Site
Fixing My Computer
Fixing my computer, the Absolutely FREE computer repair guide. The site is designed to be as easy and complete as possible.

Stat of the Month

Worldwide Sports Video Consumption Forecast

Global Market Revenue Forecast for Professional Broadcast Equipment & ServicesIn Billions of Hours (May 2014)
IHS Technology

Vocab Test


The futile investment of time and energy in marginal technical issues, it implies that technical disputes over minor, marginal issues are conducted while more serious ones are being overlooked.

Browser Add-On


When you find something on the web that you want to view later, put it in Pocket.

SmartPhone App


A fun way to explore the world and immerse yourself in new cultural experiences through your iPhone.

Twitter Tip

Tweet frequently. No one is going to follow someone they do not know who has not tweeted in months.

iPhone App



iOptimizer is the ultimate application for getting to know your iPhone, iPad or iPod better. iOptimizer monitors the performance of your device, so that you can configure it for optimal use. It will also help you find out everything about your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch both on the system and on the user level. iOptimizer is powerful, intuitive, and extremely easy to set up and use.

  • iPad Support
  • Improved 'Activity' Section
  • Improved 'Processes' Section
  • Improved 'Battery' Section
  • Improved 'System' Information
  • Improved 'Network' Section
Best of all — It's FREE!

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