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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 column: Dealing with viruses, malware


    Last week I found a virus on my laptop. While it was active, every time I went from one Web page to another, it would contain a spurious popup identifying itself as a financial assistance ad. I used Malwarebytes to quarantine the virus. Apparently every time I had gotten that fake ad popup, it saved a DLL file. Malwarebytes also quarantined several hundred similar DLL files. I don't get the fake ads anymore, but apparently my computer keeps trying to open those missing DLL files. I keep getting a popup message from my computer called "RunDLL" and containing the following: "There was a problem starting C:\Users\Owner|AppData|Local|ARCADE~1\...~1.DLL The specified module could not be found." Obviously I don't want RunDLL to open any of those files. How do I get the computer to stop trying?...

  2. Solutions column: tips for disk cleanup and problematic links


    I have 1.86 GB free of 17.0 GB on my computer recovery drive (D:). Do I need to perform a disk cleanup? I have Windows 7 operating system.

    No need for a disk cleanup, this is a normal state for your Recovery drive (D). You should not be attempting to store any of your data or programs there. I'm assuming that your C drive has at least 20 percent free space, so you are good. Aside from Disk Cleanup, compressing folders that contain data that you mostly read (and not write to) is a good way to save extra space. You can do this on a drive level, but I recommend just doing it on a selective folder level when free space is running low and disk cleanup doesn't free up enough space. Right-click the folder, choose Properties and then the Advanced button. Then you'll see the "Compress contents to save disk space" option. Reading compressed data is actually faster since the read heads have to travel less to pick up the data. The decompression takes place in memory where it is many magnitudes faster than disk (think jet plane versus a bicycle) assuming you have sufficient memory. Text documents are great candidates for compression; binary files (pictures, programs) not so much....

  3. Solutions: Dealing with advertising on email

    Personal Tech

    I have an HP Pavilion notebook with Windows 7, IE11 and Roadrunner for email. My problem is Bright House is allowing ads on my email login form and also my email menu listings in-box. Bright House says it can't block the ads, that I need a third-party ad blocker program. I have the ad-blocker box unchecked in my Internet options. What do you recommend I do?

    Check with Bright House to see if there are any options. Maybe there is an account level service change available that eliminates the ads. I would suspect that something like this would not be free. Unfortunately, the ads are a fact of life for most free Web services. Personally, I don't like Web email and use it as a last resort. I use Windows Live mail. It gives me much better control of my email data, better organizing, instantaneous search results and, of course, no ads. If I need to access through the Web, I can always go to my ISP's Web mail service and/or Hotmail (now for my other accounts. I would not look into ad-elimination add-ons. There is no way they can be 100 percent effective, and I bet they would cause other issues down the line. If you Google ''email hosting," you will be presented with a list of companies that offer email services for a monthly subscription, presumably ad-free. That seems like a lot of trouble to go through, plus you'll probably need to get a new email address. My recommendation is to look into Windows Live Mail....

  4. 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....

  5. 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....

  6. 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?...

  7. 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....

  8. 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. ...

  9. 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....

  10. 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."...

  11. 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. ...

  12. 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....

  13. 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....

  14. 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:...

  15. 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. ...