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John Torro, Times Correspondent

John Torro

John is the Solutions columnist for the Times. John started out in the computer industry in 1978 by writing Assembler language programs on punch cards, long before Windows made computing attainable for normal people with mouse clicks and icons. Over the course of his career, John has been a software developer and a systems and network manager for various mainframe and mini computers as well as Windows servers.

John stresses "common sense computing" and urges his readers to keep their systems simple, safe and streamlined in an effort to avoid aggravation.

John is a native New Yorker but has lived in Palm Harbor since 1981. John is married and has three grown children. He is passionate about sports and enjoys all types of music as well as playing and collecting guitars.


  1. Solutions: What to do if you download unwanted programs on your PC


    How can I get rid of notice at startup (not always) "Run DLL There was a problem starting c:\Users\M\AppData\Loca\lPLAYTO~1\Updater.dll The specified module could not be found"? I click OK and everything opens. I have gone to Programs and Playtopus shows, but no action, and I can't delete the listing. Also, every so often I get this message that Windows has stopped working. A problem caused the program to stop working correctly. Windows will close the program and notify you if a solution is available. It closes and reopens, and everything works okay....

  2. Malwarebytes Anti-Malware a proven product


    After overcoming many doubts, I followed your advice and ran Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This provided a pleasurable Internet experience. No more irritating popups or screen lockups. After several weeks I bought a $25 one-year subscription. You always recommend the free trial but I would like to hear your comment on the paid subscription.

    I'm glad that worked out for you. You may also think about reinstalling whichever antivirus you were using. Some malware/viruses, once activated, will disable your antivirus to avoid detection. Though your system is clean now, make sure your antivirus is active and running without issues....

  3. Solutions: AutoRuns program does not detect unnecessary processes


    I was fired up after reading your response about slow PCs. I downloaded AutoRuns and was shown over 150 line items and did not know what to do. Here is one line item:

    vsmraid VIA RAID DRIVER FOR AMD-X86-64 VIA Technologies Inc.,Ltd c:\windows\system32\drivers\vsmraid.sys 1/30/2009 9:18 PM.

    Does not the program identify unnecessary items? Who has time to research?...

  4. Solutions: How to speed up a computer that is slow to boot


    I have a Dell Inspiron 14R (N4110), Service Tag 7RX9YP1, Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium, SP1, 8 GB RAM (max, I think), Intel i3-2310M at 2.1 gigahertz. It's 3 years old. It used to be quite responsive and boot quickly, but now it is very slow to boot and a lot of operations are running. I have installed and do need: AutoCAD, Sketchup, Adobe Creative Suite, Autodesk Revit. Can you recommend the best tools to clean up and tune up the PC back close to its original state? I have Norton 360 installed but its Tune-Up appears not to help much....

  5. Solutions: Worries about 'free' malware program


    Per your advice, I have used Malwarebytes and Spybot (both free) successfully for years. Once every three to four weeks, I update them and have had no problems. This week when I updated Malware, the format was different, and I ended up with a "Free Trial." That scared me, so I turned it off. I am 86 years old and struggling to keep up with new technology. I need your help to get back on the right track with Malware. ...

  6. Microsoft's email change is confusing


    I have a Toshiba laptop running Windows 7, and when I click on your column, I used to use the file button on the top of the page, and when the email link is shown, I used to hit it and my email addresses came up so that I could forward your column to my sons-in-law. Now when I click on file and the email link, nothing shows. Can you help me? I have taken it to a computer service that did nothing but tell me to copy and paste, etc. I can use Windows XP to do this, and it works okay, but it is a desktop, and I don't take it with me....

  7. Solutions: Windows 8 upgrade is optional

    Personal Finance

    I have Windows 8 on my new computer. I do not want to upgrade to 8.1, as I heard it is a mega download and because I do not have a touchscreen. Is there any advantage to Windows 8.1 over 8 if you do not have a touchscreen? I use my computer for emails and Web surfing.

    Actually, the Windows 8.1 update contained several mouse and keyboard improvements. There is a power button right on the Start screen that lets you more easily power down or enter sleep mode — no more searching for the "magic Charm" spot to click Settings just to power down. There are also some new right-click options on Tiles. The most useful change for me was the Title Bar for full-screen apps that now allows you to minimize or close the window without having to ''grab'' the top of the window and drag it to the bottom. Much more civilized. If you're happy and working on 8, there are no other compelling reasons to upgrade. Eventually, you will need to, but for now, you sound like you're in a good place computerwise. And like I always say, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."...

  8. Beware of browser hijack


    I am getting random word links, with pop up windows, when the mouse goes over the link. I am not getting them on banking or financial pages. An example: on the City of St Petersburg site, the word "computer" turned into a link with pop-up window page that contains the following: "Free Local job search, Search thousands of jobs: Aid by Highlight, click here". There are several other words turned into links such as access, backdraft, online account and more. I am using Internet Explorer v11, Windows 7 and Microsoft Security Essentials. I tried to correct the problem with a full scan and using Security Essentials and IE Tools (Internet options, programs, manage add-ons, disable all), but had no luck. Using Google I found a website,, that offers free software to correct the problem, I am afraid of using free software. ...

  9. Solutions: Don't click on pop-ups


    I have Microsoft Outlook email and Microsoft Office Word 2007, and almost daily a pop-up comes up with the following message: "A tool to aid in developing services for Windows NT Microsoft Windows. … " My daughter said never click on the pop-ups, so I have not. What is your opinion?

    My opinion is that your daughter is smart. It looks as if that issue has something to do with Garmin Maps GPS software. If you have that installed and don't use it, go to Control Panel, Programs and Uninstall a Program and remove it. If you need to keep it, remove it from your Start Programs menu....

  10. Solutions: How to get rid of 'PUP' programs

    Personal Tech

    I have Malwarebytes and Windows Defender as my protectors. I am trying to remove I keep getting this annoying website with more tabs. I have tried to eliminate it several times, without luck. Every time I think it's gone, it comes back. When I Google info on uninstalling it I get several suggestions which, of course, will give me more trash. Is another protector out there?

    Trovi is known as a 'potentially unwanted program' (PUP) and should show as such on a MalwareBytes scan. Make sure your Malwarebytes is up-to-date with the latest definition, which as of July 23 is Trovi takes over your Internet search engine and is usually installed as an add-on application from some other software you may have installed. It is important you read the EULA (end user legal agreement) and/or other install instructions when installing any program....

  11. Solutions: Solving 'Run Error 383'

    Personal Tech

    I tried to update Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and got this message: "Run Error '383' text property is read only." Can you help?

    There are two possible steps to fix this issue depending on whether it is due to missing Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Common Controls (mscomctl.ocx and comctl32.ocx) or a problem in your current Malwarebytes configuration files/registry. Always try the easiest fix first, which in this case is downloading the Microsoft Visual Basic 6.0 Common Controls: Go to and click the Download button. On the Web page, click to expand the Install Instructions and follow the steps. If you still experience the error when running Malwarebytes, proceed to this:...

  12. Solutions: Notebook downloads fast but desktop is slow

    Personal Tech

    I have a 4-month-old Notebook, Wi-Fi connected, Windows 8, running at 1.50 GHz, and a 2-week-old desktop, cable connected, Windows 8.1, running at 1.40 GHz. Facebook experience on the Notebook is lightning fast downloading pictures, info, etc. On the desktop it is pain­stakingly slow with intermittent messages, lasting for a few seconds, that connection to the website has failed but then is quickly reestablished. Takes maybe 30 seconds before scroll bar can be used. When activated once, it stops for perhaps another 30 seconds. Various sessions with tech supports have been unable to determine why this is happening. ...

  13. Solutions: Security systems for an older laptop

    Personal Tech

    I have a Dell Latitude D620, with Windows XP Pro. It is serviceable on the road to check email and other lightweight tasks. You've recommended Windows Security Essentials and Windows Defender as good security programs. Since Microsoft ceased support of Windows XP, neither program will run on the laptop. Are there other anti-virus programs, free or paid, suitable for an older computer and Windows XP? ...

  14. Solutions: Should computer get hot when watching videos?

    Personal Tech

    I'm running Windows 7 on my HP Notebook. The computer runs fine and is cool until I view a video. Then the computer gets quite hot. Do I have any reason to be concerned, and if so what can I do about it?

    What you're seeing is normal as long if it is not a prolonged period beyond the running of the video. That particular action can be CPU-intensive, which is why the fan kicks in. Go into Internet Explorer, Tools, Internet Options, Advanced tab. Under Accelerated Graphics make sure that "Use software rendering instead of GPU rendering" is not checked. That would be the default setting already if your video/system board has a separate GPU (graphics processor unit, like a CPU just for graphics). Almost all modern PC's come with one. Also, check HP's support website and make sure that you have the latest video drivers. ...

  15. Solutions: Problems sending email using Word

    Personal Tech

    I purchased a new computer earlier this year with Windows 8. My old computer used XP, and I never had any problems with it. Now, when I send emails to three of my friends, they get many pages of code with no conversion to text. I am using Microsoft Word. Any recommendations for a fix?

    If you are sending out Microsoft Office Word documents in your email with a later version from your Windows 8 PC, it is possible that your friends do not have a matching version on their PCs. That would explain the "code," which is actually just the binary encoding of the Word document. Your friends can go to to download/install the Microsoft Office Word Viewer. This should allow them to read your Word documents....