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Solutions: Spamfighter? First try disabling startup programs

I use the free version of Spamfighter. They advertise a program that promises to speed up my computer by repairing entries, and show endorsements by McAfee and Microsoft. The free version turns up 1,000 errors, 25 of which they repair free. Is it worthwhile to purchase this? My computer does run slowly.

I guess if they did not find any "errors," there would be no reason to buy their product — right? I'm not saying these products are a sham, but everything you need to run a safe and efficient PC comes with Windows or you can find free. To make a PC run faster without upgrading hardware, you have to give it less to do. Many unhappy PC users have lots of unknown programs starting up at Windows boot. If you get a clean scan from your antivirus/spyware program, next find out which programs launch at startup and whether they are necessary. One way is to click Start, Run and type MSCONFIG. Antivirus and antispyware applications always need to be running, but just about everything else is optional. Web sites such as www.processid.com and www.processlibrary.com list information that can help you choose. Another popular program is AutoRuns ( www.sysinternals.com, under Process Utilities). AutoRuns goes into more detail and many may find it easier to use than MSCONFIG. Every PC will be different and it takes a little detective work, but the results will be worth it.

My Dell computer uses Windows XP. I recently deleted some photos, downloaded from AOL, and emptied the Recycle Bin. Is there any way to get them back?

Possibly. When you empty the Recycle Bin, the files you think you're deleting are just reassigned as "free space." The data's still there until those sectors are written over. There are multitudes of "Undelete" programs (just do a Web search for "undelete files"). Most of them allow a free trial that will tell you whether the files can be recovered. You may first want to try a free program called Recuva ( www.piriform.com/recuva).

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: Spamfighter? First try disabling startup programs 12/13/09 [Last modified: Sunday, December 13, 2009 3:30am]

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