Tech Tips

Don’t let these simple oversights be the reason your business loses valuable data

I get it…I TOTALLY get it. Protect your business and personal data. Back it up. Backup the backups. Destroy old documents. Keep your passwords safe and secure. Use strong passwords.

*snore*…I so did NOT want to hear it again. That is, until I read an article from my insurance company (thank you, Hartford and author James O’Brien)…yes, my insurance company.

See…it’s not enough to simply have processes in place, but you need to TEST and EVALUATE those processes on an ongoing basis. Make sure that what you THINK is happening really IS happening. Make sure that you’ve plugged all the potential leaks in the proverbial dyke.

Say what?

As James says ‘How small businesses can lose their data in 5 easy steps’. As Sandy ammends, ‘do NOT be one of them’!

First, we’ll work on the assumption that you actually do make backups of your data. Have you ever tried to RECOVER data from one of those backups? Does the process work? You really aren’t sure that you have a valid backup until you actually try to RECOVER data from a backup. Put a process into place that tests your backup at regular intervals, say once a month. Select a file at random, then restore that file from your backup. Open the file up. Does it work? If so, great. If not, your backup isn’t worth a ‘hill of beans’, as my grandmother used to say.

Second, protect your sensitive company information (virtual and hard-copies) from angry or disgruntled employees. If you let an employee go, make sure that you monitor all movement (physical and virtual) before they have left the premises. “Trim” their access to electronic information. Make sure that they don’t delete important information and/or email themselves sensitive documents.

Third, don’t toss paper documents that contain important or secure information in the trash, or other waste disposal service. I once found carton upon carton of a company’s sales and employee records in the dumpster at my condo complex (this is a similar anecdote to the one shared by James, but I know it first-hand because I found the documents). Clearly, someone was trying to ‘safely’ dispose of the information by removing it from the company premises, but they’d exposed themselves to virtually ANYONE getting a hold of the information. If you have alot of paper to dispose of, have a mobile shredding service come to your place of business and shred it on-site. Personally, I’d want to SEE the shredding actually done, not have the documents hauled away by minimum-wage workers to some other place for disposal. That seems to open one up to exposure again.

Fourth (and I didn’t even think of this one), digital office copiers are computers themselves. You wouldn’t throw away a computer without first thoroughly wiping the drive. Don’t relinquish a leased copier, or ditch an old copier without making sure that it’s memory is wiped.

Fifth, don’t “nuke” your computer or other technology while trying to do simple maintenance…and yes, I HAVE DONE THIS myself, many years ago, but trust me, I learned a VERY valuable lesson. What do I mean? Words like ‘restore’ or ‘reset’ can be easily interchanged…however, in some technology, one will mean ‘go back to factory settings, but keep all my data’. In other technology, it means ‘wipe all my data and return my technology to its original state’. MAKE SURE THAT YOU VERIFY that your data will remain on the device BEFORE you run the process…and just in case, have a good backup (see the first item) before you proceed.

If you’re wondering how I messed this up myself, I was working in the command prompt (the old C: prompt pre-Windows) and I typed (accidentally) ‘del *.*’, then hit return. Basically, this very simple combination of seven keystrokes means DELETE ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING on this computer. There was no ‘are you sure you want to do this’ (this is back in the dark-ages of computing). It simple DID what I told it to do. Most of the time, but not all of the time, systems nowadays say ‘are you sure, are you really, really sure?’ before allowing you to totally wipe out your system and your data, but not always. When in doubt, go to the support section of your hardware or software manufacturer and read the detailed directions – they’ll tell you there.

Bottom line: The world is scary enough with data breaches occurring right and left. Make sure that you’re not contributing additional information!

Some maintenance tools for Mac Computers – yes, Apple does need some maintenance

Well, this week was the “Great iPhone6 Release”…I have a few friends who probably haven’t put the device down since UPS or FedEx dropped it at their door yesterday. Hopefully, you’re not like that poor guy who dropped it (literally) as he was taking it out of the box (iPhone6 Guy).

Anyway, the iPhone frenzy put me into thinking about Apple products this week. Additionally, a client of mine requested some assistance with “speeding up” a slow Mac. “You know, I don’t normally work on Mac’s, right?” says I. “I know, but I trust you more than I trust me to figure it out” says she. So, off to Mac-land I go.

What I found is that despite Apple’s ‘you don’t have to do maintenance on our products’ stance, there really IS some maintenance that should be done on Apple desktops and laptops should they start becoming sluggish. With just a few minutes of attention, a VERY SLOW computer turned into a productive machine again.

What did we do? Well, a little Googling brought some tools to light. All of them are free or built in to Apple products.

My favorite place to start when faced with a technology issue is CNET…and wouldn’t you know that the first article I read was published by them: Five Tips for Cleaning and Speeding Up Your Mac

Item #1 on CNET’s list was my first stop.

A MacWorld article was next on my hit list: Favorite Mac Cleanup Tips

Items #2 and 3 were the tips we tried.

Our third stop was Speed Up Your Mac

From WikiHow, we took Item #2

After all the ‘dead wood’ was cleaned out, we made sure that the programs were all up-to-date (use the Settings area).

Some of the other tips in the articles sound useful, but we didn’t try them and still had success.

FINALLY, the BIG TEST: Turn the machine off all the way and back on.

Our apps opened up 80% faster than they had before we started! SUCCESS!!!

So, for those of you who are feeling your Mac is letting you down because it’s getting sluggish, take a few minutes to try these tips and see what happens. You have nothing to lose!

Happy iPhone6, everyone!!

Do you miss your old typewriter – the clicks and clacks of the keys? If you own an iPad, you are in for a treat.

If you are a technology native (i.e. computers were part of the fabric of society when you were growing up and video games ruled the land, then you are a technology ‘native’), then this won’t resonate with you. If, however, like me, you are a technology immigrant, then this might hit home.

I don’t know about you, but many a moon ago, I was forced by my parents to take typing because it would be ‘useful’ later in life. I was 18. I knew “everything”. Typing would play NO ROLE in my life, of that, I was certain. I went kicking and screaming to class, but you know what? I became a very proficient typist despite myself. Kids today are almost born knowing how to type, but back in the ‘dark ages’, we had to LEARN how to type…and we didn’t learn on a computer keyboard…we learned on a TYPEWRITER. Some may even have learned on a MANUAL typewriter (the strength of your fingers ruled how hard the keys struck the paper). I was lucky enough to learn on an IBM Selectric – the most “sophisticated” of electric typewriters.

Alas, the last typewriter that I owned probably left my closet or desk about 25 years ago, but sometimes, I just miss typing on a typewriter. I don’t know why…keyboards just all feel the same. Typewriters each had their own “personality”.

I do like being able to go back and edit later…without having to retype an entire document…but sometimes, I just want to type the “old fashioned way” – on an actual typewriter.

Imagine my delight and surprise when none other than Tom Hanks (yes, THAT Tom Hanks) developed a typewriter app for the iPad. It really and truly simulates the old feeling of a typewriter.

I realized that I wasn’t the only one who missed that old time feeling when I read that this app, ‘Hanx Writer’, shot to #1 in the Apple store upon its release.

Yes, it REALLY feels like a typewriter – even on a virtual keyboard. Yes, ‘Return’ does return the virtual carriage. Yes, the sounds are there. Yes, the keys ‘move’. Yes, the bell rings when you hit the end of the row.

…and yes, it is FREE!!!!

For those of you who miss the old-time feeling of a “real” typewriter, head over to the Apple Store IMMEDIATELY and download ‘Hanx Writer’.

For a terrific review/write-up, please check out this article by TechCrunch:

Perhaps some of your grandparents can introduce your kids to a slice of life “before computers”.

Have fun!

Lets do some quick and easy housekeeping on our computers

IF YOU DON’T WANT THE “FLUFF”, scan down to the next BOLD/CAPITAL heading for the “MEAT” of the post

Mea culpa, mea culpa. I have absolutely NO IDEA where the time goes, but it certainly flies. So sorry for being MIA, but the longer I didn’t write a post, the guiltier I got, then I got more embarrassed that I’d ‘abandoned’ you all. It was just a vicious circle. Finally, I decided that that was silly…just sit down and write SOMETHING, so here I am. If I haven’t written in a while, people will often say to me, “I think that coming up with the topics would be hard”. Actually, I have tons of topics…I lack the time to write the way that I want to write…to make the information sort of fun and accessible. I’ll try to do better…can’t promise, but I’ll try.

Next, people ask about my dear Uncle – 87-years-old and going strong. He’s well, thanks for your concern and thoughts. He currently has one laptop, one iPad, and two Android tablets. His home entertainment system (self-designed, self-put-togeether) rivals the best I’ve seen…it includes FOUR (yes, count ’em, four) Tivos, DVR’s and/or VCR’s, so that he NEVER has to watch TV live. I think he can record 6 shows on the Tivo, plus the assorted DVR/VCR devices for a total of 9 or 10 shows at one time. We always have plenty to watch when I visit.

Soooooooooooooo…on to the topic at hand.


A few weeks ago, my Godkids were visiting (they’re actually young adults now), and my goddaughter, a professional photographer, had to edit some photos for a wedding (shameless promotion: She’s great! – check out her work – she knows how to make a photoshoot fun: Laurel Houston Photography), and her computer was ‘misbehaving’. We all know the syndrome…big project due…little time to do it…computer decides it won’t work efficiently.

Time for a little computer “spa” time. Yes, right in the middle of the big project, so that it was possible to actually get through the job without pulling out her hair or wasting valuable time with time-sucking crashes. Two FREE tools installed. A few cleanup processes run. Computer back to functioning ‘normally’. Project finished on time (another shameless plug…link to the wedding photos: Alex and Allison’s Wedding).

What did we do?

First, go to Download and install the FREE utility (There’s a paid version that runs in the background all the time. The free version is ‘on demand’ meaning you have to run it manually). When you open up the newly installed Malwarebytes, you will see this screen:

Malwarebytes Main Screen

Click the large ‘Scan Now’ button. Malwarebytes is going to ‘do its thing’. What is it doing? It’s searching for any evil “stuff” that might have been dropped onto your computer without you knowing it. Some of the things are not malicious, some are evil. Whatever it is (and almost EVERY computer gets “stuff” if it’s connected to the internet), it tends to slow your computer down, or take resources that could be dedicated to your work.


Go away for a little while…this could take a few minutes or an hour (or more) for the scan. Remember, “watched computer doesn’t clean”! When the scan is done, you want it to say this:


If instead, it looks like this:


Click the ‘Quarantine All’ button ON THE LEFT SIDE. It will remove the offenders:


The resulting message will tell you that all is well now, and ask you to reboot your computer.

If the system finds issues, do the reboot after the quarantine, THEN RUN MALWAREBYTES AGAIN. Sometimes, everything isn’t caught the first time around. You want a ‘clean review’.

Now that you have any “cooties” cleared from your computer, it’s time to clean out your virtual closets, and throw away those shoes you haven’t worn in 5 years. No, I’m not making you go through your individual files and clean house there, but let your computer do a little housekeeping. Trust me, it does the heavy lifting, not you.

Go to and download and install the FREE CCleaner utility (again, there’s a paid version, but the free one will do just fine, thank you). When you open it up, you will see this screen:

CCleaner Main Screen

You can leave all of the default programs checked if you want, or manage what will be cleaned up. Note that there are two tabs (“Windows” and “Application”), so click both of them to see what will be tidied up.

Click the ‘Run Cleaner’ button on the lower-right side and let it “do it’s thing”. When it’s done, you’ll see this screen:



Next, click on the ‘Registry’ button on the left side:

CCleaner Registry

Click ‘Scan for Issues’.


When it has finished, leave everything checked and click ‘Fix Selected Issues’. You will be asked if you want to backup your registry. SAY YES!!! You can leave the default location and name, but make sure that you DO BACKUP.


Once you have backed up your registry, click ‘Fix All Selected Issues’


When it has finished, rerun your Registry Cleaner and repeat the steps above until the scan comes back empty. It can take a few passes. Sometimes you can’t see the boxes at the back of the closet until you’ve removed those at the front of the closet.

When it returns “clean”, reboot your computer…chances are that it starts up and moves a bit more easily.

Lastly, click on ‘Tools’ on the left side, then select ‘Startup’.

Click on the column heading ‘Enabled’ to sort by those processes which start when your computer starts and those that do not. Scroll down to the ‘Yes’ entries. Read the program name and published and decide if this program MUST START when your computer starts. The MORE ‘yes’ entries you have, the slower your computer will start. Remember, your programs will run even if they don’t start when your computer starts. For instance, I use Excel ALL THE TIME, but I do NOT have it start when my computer starts…it can open on its own when I need to use it.


Do not simply select ‘no’ to enable at startup. SOME OF THE PROCESSES NEED TO RUN. For example, you want your anti-virus to run, you want your backup service to run, etc. Anything that you WANT to be in the task bar in the lower-right corner…leave all of those as ‘yes’ to enabled. If you don’t know what something is, saying ‘no’ could make the computer not boot correctly. If you don’t know what something does, Google “Does insert program name need to run at startup”, and read the advice.

Reboot and away you go.

Your computer should be sailing along more smoothly now!

Happy virtual cleaning!

Yes, you really MUST pay attention to the Heartbleed “bug”

(Sorry, I don’t usually send out posts so close together, but this one is important)

By now, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you MUST have heard about the “Heartbleed” Security flaw. And, yes, *sigh*, it DOES involve your passwords and online security.

Some of your most prevalent websites were affected, potentially exposing your personal information to nefarious plotters.

THIS APPLIES TO ALL YOU MAC USERS, as well!! It’s not a computer hardware security hole, but rather, a website logon security hole.

So…how do you know if you’ve been affected? Trust me, 99% of you who have online signons were affected. I found two TERRIFIC articles (thanks Mashable and GitHub) on whether or not the most popular websites are vulnerable.

For a list of those sites which you most likely use – and whether or not you need to change your password for that site – please click here:

Change any passwords where they recommend you change them.

NOTE: If a site has NOT been patched for the security flaw, then changing you password will do NO GOOD. Wait and change that password once the site has been patched. Check the list every day or two for the next couple of weeks.

Want to check out a site yourself (maybe a smaller site that isn’t on one of these lists)? Click here and enter the URL you need/want to check. (Thanks for Jane McLaughlin, Lifecycle Software, for this site)

For a LARGER list – the 10,000 most popular sites which could be exposed because of password vulnerability – check out this list:

Tip: To see if a particular website you frequent is on the list, open up the list, then hit CTRL+F (Windows users) and enter a part of the site name…you’ll be ‘searching’ for just sites containing whatever you typed in. Makes it a WHOLE LOT faster than scanning 10,000 lines.

If password management just makes your head spin, you might refresh yourself with some password management tools in an earlier post that we did:

Your Tech Tamer spotlighted by

Imagine our delight and surprise when we found out that we were to be‘s customer spotlight!

While no one goes around looking for reasons to call any kind of Tech Support, we’ve found that it’s never painful to get on the phone with the friendly folks at HostMySite.

Anyway, we enjoyed being interviewed for the article, and appreciate the fact that we’re recognized by one of our partners!

Check out the article:

(Besides the fact that I look possessed in the photo, I think that they wrote a very nice article)

Control your desktop from your iPad, Android, iPhone, or Tablet – Seriously

Happy Fall, everyone! If you live in the Northeast, I hope that you didn’t wash away in the deluge this weekend. It feels like fall now…leaves turning, Halloween decorations out, cooler weather. Time to settle in for the race to the New Year (yikes!). When I was shopping the other day, the entire front wall of a big, box store was Christmas Trees. WHAT?!?!? It’s not even Halloween yet! Seriously, I can’t stand it!!

But you’re not here to discuss the weather or upcoming holiday schedule.

To the topic at hand: I feel like one of the biggest challenges that I have in managing a wide variety of devices (I have four that I work with consistently – my laptop, my smartphone, an iPad and a Windows Surface tablet) is that the information or program I want is on a DIFFERENT device than the one that I’m on. Perhaps I have a program on one device that doesn’t run on the other device (e.g. Office on the iPad). Maybe a program is quite expensive and I don’t want to own multiple licenses.

I know that I can use Dropbox (or a similar online data service) to store information (If you don’t know what Dropbox is, or why it’s important, please check out this post:, but that doesn’t handle having to license the programs themeselves multiple times to install them on different devices (assuming that that program is available for multiple devices types). Additionally, some data is massive in nature (e.g. videos, music, photos, databases) and you may not want to pay for the space required to store it (personally, I have almost a terrabyte of data [that’s 1000 GB/gigabytes of data], and I don’t care to pay for an outside service to store it all. I don’t need to access much of it regularly, but when I do, I need it!). Maybe you just forgot to save the data to your online storage site. Maybe the data is sensitive and you don’t want it “out there”.

Regardless of your reason for not having every program and piece of data on every device, there is a wonderful, FREE tool (free for personal use, commercial usage requires payment) that allows you access to your PC from virtually any device. Enter Teamviewer.

Teamviewer allows you to control your PC (and thereby, run ALL of your PC programs) from almost any type of device. Whether that’s totally practical or not is up to you (personally, I really can’t do anything from my smartphone…just too small). The idea is that you CAN IF YOU WANT/NEED TO.

Rick Broida, a terrific author on CNET, created a terrific step-by-step. Rather than recreating it here, I’ll let you check out his article, “How to Control Your PC from Your iPad for Free“. Rick has laid out all the step-by-step instructions (with pictures and suggested settings). Download Teamviewer from and away you go!

Once you’ve installed and configured Teamviewer, you can access your PC from almost any of your other devices with just a few simple “clicks” (or taps). No longer is that critical piece of information “back home” when you need it HERE!

SEO – top organic rankings, keywords – and avoiding scare tactics

Many of my clients have heard me go off on a rant or two about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how to avoid getting taken to the cleaners by people promising you extraordinary ranking results.

What is SEO, you ask? SEO is the ability of a search engine (e.g. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) to locate your web page in response to a search string that a user has entered. Simple example: If you’re looking to purchase a cupcake in Maui, Hawaii, then you might enter the following search in your favorite ‘Search’ box: cupcake bakery maui hi (NOTE: I know that there would be proper capitalization and punctuation if you were typing an email or letter, but ‘search’ doesn’t care about capitalization and grammar). Hit return. If you’re the local cupcake baker in Maui, then you want to come up at the top of the listings. That’s SEO. Getting your listing to appear at/near the top.

So now that we’re clear about what we’re discussing, let’s delve a bit further into HOW pages become ‘top’ of the list. Bottom line: Pages come up at the top of the list because they are RELEVANT. Search engines try to prioritize pages by how closely to the question posed during the search matches the specific page content…and it does it based upon finding KEYWORDS. Words on the web page that match the words in the search question.

The trick is to get your pages to show up near the top of results ‘organically’ (no, we’re not talking about Whole Foods). In this case, ‘organically’ means that you’re not paying for placement. Your pages appear in the results on their own merit…naturally.

The trick is two-fold. First, you have to come up with the questions that your potential clients are going to ask of a search engine when they’re trying to find you. Second, you want to get your page to appear near the top when they do ask the question. Being buried on page 5 of the results won’t do you alot of good.

It is possible to ‘do it yourself’, but it requires time, study, and a great deal more patience than I possess. Good marketing people know the ins and outs and can help your pages climb up the ladder of search results by targeting the correct keywords (words used in the search queries) that your potential customers are likely to use. That said, if you’re going to invest in marketing assistance, you don’t want to fritter away your hard-earned money – you want results. And all of the people who guarantee a ‘Number 1 result’ can actually be yanking your chain – ALOT – but they are not necessarily fibbing.

To quote Kim Landry of Hollister Creative, “Their [the people who say they’ll make you number one] guarantee is solid because a web page optimized for a keyword phrase for which no other web page is optimized will take the top spot in search results for that phrase. But that “win” won’t help your business because chances are, the reason none of your competitors optimize for that phrase is that no one searches for it.”


Kim continues by pointing out the following (which I have been preaching for years, so I’m feeling vindicated today by her corroboration). I’m going to paraphrase, but please, PLEASE visit her original post here.

First, your keywords and the content of your page have to be relevant. No one wants to end up on a page for butterflies when they searched “cupcakes”. Kim says: “The best keyword phrase is highly relevant to whatever you are “selling” on your page. It is a phrase your target audience would type into the search field to find exactly that. Brainstorm a list of phrases. Do a Google search on each one. If the results show pages selling something very similar to your page, the phrase is relevant.”

Second, find out how many people conduct searches on a given phrase using another FREE Google tool (we LOVE free tools here). Landry again: “Using the free (and amazing) Google Keyword Tool, find out how many people search your keyword phrase each month. High search volume is good, but low can be fine if your phrase is so specific that only a knowledgeable prospect who is ready to buy would search that phrase. If the search volume is zero, you can pose as an SEO expert and con your competitors into optimizing for this phrase.”

Third, know the competition for a particular phrase. Kim’s tip: “The Keyword Tool will also tell you if competition for your phrase is high, medium or low. High means it is a very popular phrase that many competitors are optimizing for. It will cost you to pursue a page one spot for that phrase. Fortunately, the Keyword Tool automatically suggests alternate phrases, some of which have medium or low competition.”

Bottom line: You need to know your customers, and what your customers need from you, to be able to optimize your website for search results. YOU know best. Do some homework. Give it thought. Then, engage a reputable marketing firm to ‘make it happen’. The results will speak for themselves!

Why does my computer start up so slowly?

Ah…remember when you first got your new computer (like I did just a couple of weeks ago), and it starts up almost immediately? Back when the time from pressing the ‘on’ button to being able to do something productive wasn’t measured with a sundial? Want to get your computer back in ‘fighting’ shape?

Enter your friend, ‘msconfig’.

This is a well-hidden, but powerful tool built right in to your Microsoft computer. For those of you using Windows 7 and earlier, go to Start-Search and enter the term ‘msconfig’ without the single-quotes around it.

For those of you on Windows 8, go to the Start menu (the one with all the tiles) and just start typing ‘msconfig’…it’ll find it for you and display it:

Once you’ve located ‘msconfig’, open it up. The initial screen will appear something like this (this is a Windows 8 version – earlier Windows versions will look slightly different):

Click on the ‘Startup’ tab. If you’re in Windows 8, you’ll need to then click the ‘Open Task Manager’ link.

In Windows 8, it will look something like this:

If you’re in Windows 7 or earlier, it will look more like this:

Now, start unchecking or disabling (by highlighting and clicking ‘disable’ in the lower-right side of the window), to turn off processes that clearly don’t need to start when your computer starts. For instance, I WANT my backup to start every time I start my computer, so I leave ‘Mozy’ enabled (checked). I do NOT want ‘Adobe Acrobat Reader’ starting when my computer starts, so I disable (uncheck) that one.

Once you are satisfied with your choices, click ‘OK’ to save and restart your computer. The first time it restarts, you will be warned that the startup options have changed. That’s OK…you changed them!

If some of the processes seem ‘odd’ or you don’t understand what they’re for, Google the process…there are plenty of sites which will assist you in determining whether a process has to run at startup or not.

Should I remove a program from my computer?

WOW…where does the time go? I have no excuses for being AWOL. I do, however, have tons and tons of ideas for articles…many of which can be attributed to the fact that my laptop died on me last week…Yup…done…over…kaput.

As an aside (skip over this paragraph to the next paragraph if you’re interested in the topic of this article and not my ramblings), my laptop was about a 18 months old. Sounds ‘young’ to many people, but it was an inexpensive laptop (cost in August 2011 about $450), and I used it ALL THE TIME…basically, I wore out the keyboard. Replacing the keyboard (yes, I got brave enough to try that before deciding to retire it to the big laptop parking lot in the sky) didn’t work. So, after consulting with some people who are better with hardware than I am, I decided to just bite the bullet and purchase a new laptop. After all, if I can’t type, I can’t service my clients! So I headed off to Staples and bought a Lenovo Ideapad for about $550. Not the cheapest laptop around, but certainly not the most expensive. So far, I’m OK with it. Its nice enough (geez, it has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 750GB hard drive) and the keys actually type what I ask them to – what more could you want?! It’ll take me a while to get used to the new touch/feel of the keyboard (and a smaller-than-standard numeric keypad), and a slightly smaller screen (15″ vs 17″ on my old laptop). BUT, the biggest challenge is getting used to Windows 8 – so be prepared for some upcoming articles on it. Once I found the desktop, I was much happier.

Anyway, back to the matter at hand…(those of you who skipped can tune back in here)…when one purchases new electronics (virtually any kind of electronics), one turns it on for the first time and are confronted with…all kinds of JUNK! “Bloatware” is a common term. Your computer comes pre-loaded with all kinds of programs that you may never need or want…but how do you decide what’s OK to delete and what’s not?

Aha! I found a great little tool that helps tremendously. It is called “Should I Remove It” and can be downloaded from Simply go to the website and press the free download button:

Once the file has downloaded, double-click on the file and install it on your computer (yes, you actually WANT this software!). Open up the newly installed piece of software and you’ll see this screen:

The bar on the right indicates the likelihood that you should uninstall a particular piece of software. Click on the name of one of the installed programs, and you can choose to investigate that program further or uninstall it – right from that screen.

It’s a pretty safe bet that if no one else has uninstalled a program that it’s an important one – but not always – so check it out and see. For instance, if your computer comes pre-installed with Microsoft Office, but you don’t want to use it, then it’s OK to uninstall that, as well, even though many people wouldn’t consider it ‘bloatware’…it is for you.

Anyway, the ShouldIRemoveIt rankings go from red (most everyone removes it) to green (only some people remove it). Check each one out. Decide for yourself, but be sure to read the ‘What Is It’ area before uninstalling those programs that aren’t clearly ‘in the red zone’. You don’t want to uninstall something ‘important’.

I found some of the statistics on the website to be interesting. Toshiba seems to install more bloatware than other manufacturers (Acer, the least). The most actively removed program by this tool (at the time of this writing) is the toolbar (yes, I uninstall that one whenever it creeps onto my computer).

NOTE: You can run this tool on an old computer, as well, to help clean it up. Once you’ve removed the programs, I’d recommend running something like Disk Cleanup, Defrag or CCleaner to clear any cobwebs from your computer’s brain!