Posts and Discussions about the Microsoft Windows Operating System(s)

How to Uninstall iTunes

I was a little surprised when I found out iTunes was one of the programs people most often search for help uninstalling. But after I thought about it for a minute, it made a little sense. iTunes is installed on millions of computers and one of the first and easiest troubleshooting steps when working on an iTunes error is to uninstall and reinstall it. Sound simple enough.

Actually, it is pretty simple, but if you’re trying to uninstall everything that is installed with iTunes it’s not quite as straightforward as you might think at first.

Here’s how to completely uninstall iTunes:

To start, the usual first step for uninstalling any program, is to open your Control Panel and choose the “Uninstall a program” feature.

Then, here are the component names to uninstall, taken straight from the iTunes support page:

  1. iTunes
  2. Apple Software Update
  3. Apple Mobile Device Support
  4. Bonjour 
  5. Apple Application Support (iTunes 9 or later)

Important: Uninstalling these components in a different order, or only uninstalling some of these components may have unintended affects.

Like it says, make sure to uninstall the programs in that specific order. Then restart your computer to make sure the uninstall process is complete.

If you’ve followed all of those steps, iTunes is now completely uninstalled.

Need help uninstalling iTunes or any other program? ZookaWare techs are here 24/7 for remote technical support.

How to Run Two Operating Systems at the Same Time using VirtualBox

vboxI test a lot of software.

A LOT of software.

Literally hundreds, maybe even thousands, of programs both for my professional work and because I really like playing with computers.

But installing  and then uninstalling hundreds of programs on a single computer can cause unintended consequences. I really don’t like having a cluttered PC, and doing all that software testing is a good way to cause a lot of clutter.

Fortunately there is a way to run two (or even more) completely different operating systems on your computer at the same time using a technology called “virtualization”.

Virtualization technology basically ‘tricks’ your computer into running a whole operating system as if it were just another a program on your computer. But instead of the operating system talking directly to your compute hardware, the operating system talks to the virtualization software, which then translates those commands into something that can be used by your computer without interrupting your currently running operating system.

This is really useful testing software programs, or for testing new operating systems without having to install a new hard drive on your computer or overwrite your current operating system.

There are many different virtualization programs, and some of them can be quite expensive. But as luck would have it, one of the best virtualization programs, VirtualBox, is completely free.

To use Virtualbox, download and install it from the VirtualBox website. It’ll ask permission to install several specialize device drivers, be sure to allow this.

You’ll also need a CD or ISO file of the operating system you want to install, and several gigabytes of free disk space to hold the new operating system.

In Virtualbox, press the New button to start the operating system install process. You’ll need to point Virtualbox to the installation CD or file and then let Virtualbox know what operating system you’re installing by selecting it from the list shown. For most operating systems you can leave the rest to the defaults Virtualbox provides.

Virtualbox will then run the operating system install process just like if you were installing on a new computer. From this point on, it’s just like using another computer, except its running on top of you current operating system.

Virtualbox has a lot of more advanced features like snapshots and shared folders, but that’s a tutorial for another time.

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How to Easily Take a Screenshot

2014-05-30 17_05_13-Greenshot image editorWindows has some built in methods of taking screenshots, but honestly they’re a lot more trouble than necessary to do something as simple as take a picture of what’s on your screen. So today I’m going to show you how to easily take a perfectly sized screenshot using a free program called Greenshot.

Greenshot is very easy to install, just run the installer program, follow the on screen instructions and you’re done. Greenshot doesn’t come with any spyware, adware, or unwanted programs which is really a nice change of pace compared to most of the other “free” software on the internet.

Once Greenshot is installed and running is sits in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen.

To use Greenshot to take a screenshot, just right click the icon and select one of the 5 capture modes from the top of the list.

I normally select either “Capture region” or “Capture window” depending on what type of screen shot I’m taking. Capture region will let you use your mouse to select exactly the area of the screen you want to take a screen capture of, and Capture window lets you select a window you have open on your computer and capture just the interface of that window.

2014-05-30 17_27_17-Screenshot from 2014-05-30 15_51_05 - Windows Photo Viewer

After Greenshot has taken your desired screenshot, it’ll show you another menu with options of what to do with the image you just capture. There’s the normal “Save file” options, but Greenshot also has the ability to directly upload image to various image hosting websites, the print your image automatically using your printer, or even to open the image up in Greenshot’s own builtin image editor if you need to make changes or annotations.

2014-05-30 17_29_19-Screenshot from 2014-05-30 17_28_39 - Windows Photo Viewer

Because I do a lot of software and websites reviews I end up using Greenshot on a daily basis. It’s made taking good-looking screenshots an quick and easy process and saved me probably hours of time by now that I would have otherwise spent mucking around in an image editor trying to edit the screenshots Windows takes. I’d recommend it to anybody.

Greenshot can be downloaded from the Greenshot website here: http://getgreenshot.org/

Got a computer problem you just can’t solve on your own? ZookaWare ITZooka technicians are here for 24/7 remote technical support.

What is the Best AntiVirus for 2014?

When I first started using a Windows computer (back when Windows 98 was brand new) there were really only two popular antivirus programs to choose from, at least as far as most computer users knew about. You either had Norton or you had McAfee. Well, I guess some people just used nothing at all, but even back then that was a terrible idea.

Now 15 years later (give or take) there are literally hundreds of antivirus programs fighting malicious software, and each other, for the title of best antivirus software.

Last month AV-Test.org conducted a test of all the top antivirus software currently available for Windows 8. Each program was tested on three main feature categories: Level of Protection, Performance, and Usability. I’ve gone through the raw data they collected so you don’t have to. Here’s what they found:

The Best Paid AntiVirus

According to the AV-Test.org test results the highest scoring antivirus program in terms of protection, performance, and usability was…

… drum roll please …

Kaspersky AntiVirus. Kaspersky was the only program to earn perfect scores in all three of the measured categories. As one of the first anti-virus companies Kaspersky has since grown into a huge international enterprise. It’s not really surprising that Kaspersky would take home the top honors, they’re always near the top of the antivirus bunch as far as malware detection goes.

The Best Free AntiVirus

I used to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials to people looking for a cheap, fast, effective antivirus program. It was all of those things, and it didn’t bug you to buy the full version because it was included free from Microsoft with your operating system. Alas, those days are gone and Microsoft no longer shows MSE the attention it would need to be a top contender. While Microsoft Security Essentials (or Windows Defender as it’s called on Windows 8) is certainly better than nothing, I recommend using an antivirus program where the company behind it actually puts effort into it. With that being said, here’s the top Free antivirus software for 2014.

2014-05-30 16_59_35-Microsoft Security Essentials

I used to be able to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials, but not anymore thanks to Microsoft’s lack of effort to keep it competitive.

Close on Kaspersky’s heals, Avira AntiVirus can currently claim to be the top performing Free antivirus program. While Avira scored on the same level as Kaspersky for level of protection and usability, it fell behind slightly in its impact on system performance. Even then, however, the difference in performance impact was slight and not likely to be noticed by the average computer user. Avira is another one of the older competitors in the antivirus world, even older than Kaspersky.

While these two programs are currently the top rated, you should also keep in mind that the computer security world moves fast. What is best today could very easily not be best tomorrow. However, both Kaspersky and Avira have a long history of excellent malware detection and system performance, and seem likely to me to stay near the top of the antivirus herd for the foreseeable future. Also, this test was done only on Windows 8. Other Windows versions are likely to show similar results, but they won’t be identical.

For those of you who would like to see the results directly, here you go: AV-Test.org April 2014 Results

Got a computer virus, malware, or other problem that won’t go away? ZookaWare’s Remote Tech Support service is here 24/7 to solve all your computer related problems

How to Reset Internet Explorer

2014-05-30 15_41_27-Meet your new browser - Microsoft Windows - Internet ExplorerIf you use Internet Explorer as your primary web browser, you’ve probably managed to pick up an unwanted toolbar or browser addon here and there during your travels around the web.

While toolbars and browser addons aren’t as bad as viruses and other malware, they can still be an annoyance, invade your privacy, and be a total pain to remove if you’re not sure how.

What I’m about to show you is the easy way to remove any toolbars and unwanted browser junk thats causing problems in Internet Explorer on your computer. We’re going to just remove everything from internet explorer and reset all of its settings and configurations as if it had just been freshly installed. This has the benefit of removing unwanted nastiness, but can also remove setting you actually want to keep. So if you have a toolbar you actually do like or a browser addon you need for a particular website you visit, this strategy may not be best for you.

Honestly though, if you’re not sure whether or not that warning applies to you, it probably doesn’t and you can reset your browser without issue.

The first step in the reset process is to open Internet Explorer. If Internet Explorer is so badly clogged up on your computer that you can’t open it, there is an alternative method, which is to open Control Panel, then open the Network and Internet Category, and then finally click Internet Options. This will open the same menu that I’m about to explain how to open in Internet Explorer. From inside Internet Explorer click the Gear icon near the top right of your screen, and then select Internet Options from the menu that appears.Internet_options From the Internet Options menu click on the “Advanced” tab. It should be the tab at the very end. At the bottom of the Advanced tab, you’ll see a button that says “Reset”. If you’re ready to reset your Internet Explorer to the way it was when you first started using it, click this button. You’ll also have to click a button asking if you’re sure you want to do this, but after that it will reset. You may also see a checkbox that offers to “Delete personal settings”. If an unwanted program has changed your homepage or search page you may want to check this box to reset them also. Resest_IE_2 After the reset process is finished, you’ll have to restart Internet Explorer. The next time you run Internet Explorer is should be in the same state it was when it was new. Are browser toolbars, unwanted addons and homepage hijackers driving you nuts? ZookaWare Remote Technical Support technicians are available 24/7 to help with any computer problem.

Uninstall Hard to Remove and Broken Programs with this Free Tool

If you’re like most computer users, myself included, you’ve probably installed something on your computer unintentionally before. Maybe it was a browser toolbar. Maybe it was some other technically legitimate program that technically asked you if you wanted to install it, but worded the question in a really confusing way while still technically gaining your consent. Technically.

I’m not a big fan of technically legitimate programs (sometimes known as PUPs or Potentially Unwanted Programs). I know a lot of you aren’t either. Unfortunately, these programs are notoriously hard to remove from your system. Try as you might to go through the normal Windows uninstall process, at the end of the procedure the program is still there. It’s infuriating…

Or maybe you have a completely legitimate program that you just don’t want any more, but can’t remove it because the uninstaller isn’t working correctly.

In my many trials and tribulations as a computer technician, I’ve run into both issues on many occasions. Normally resolving the issue involves a combination of guessing, praying, and banging my head on the keyboard repeatedly out of shear frustration. Fortunately, for you and for my forehead, those days are behind us.

IOBit has created a program they call “Uninstaller 2” that has taken the hassle out of removing tough to remove programs.

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Uninstaller 2 takes the standard uninstall process up a notch by providing a “Batch Uninstall” feature. With Batch Uninstall enabled, you can select multiple programs that you’d like to remove at the same time, and Uninstaller 2 will automatically run the uninstallation process for each program one after the other. It sounds like a simple feature, but if you’ve ever had to remove a dozen or so programs at once, you can see how this can be a real time saver.

To take advantage of Uninstaller 2’s most powerful features, make sure that you’re using the program in “Advanced” mode, which is the default.

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Even in the event that the uninstaller for the program is broken (intentionally or not) Uninstaller 2 can still take steps to remove the program from your system.

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The “Powerful Scan” feature is where Uninstaller 2 really shines. Powerful Scan will search your computer’s registry and Program Files for any remaining traces of the program that it just attempted to remove. You’d be surprised how often little bits and pieces are left behind by uninstallers.

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If any remnants are found, Uninstaller 2 allows you to choose which remaining items you’d like to delete, and removes them from your system for you.

Uninstaller 2 can turn what once was a tedious several hour long procedure of tracking down software leftovers into a painless 2 minute process. While Uninstaller 2 won’t remove programs that deliberately infect your system for malicious purposes, like computer viruses or spyware, it can handle just about anything else.

Uninstaller 2 can be freely downloaded from IOBit’s website here: http://www.iobit.com/advanceduninstaller.html

How to Add a Start Menu to Windows 8

I’ll be honest: I HATE Windows 8!

Well, hate is a strong word. I’m fond of the parts it shares in common with Windows 7. I like the updated task manager, and with Windows Defender being included by default I’m glad to see Microsoft is making strides to make Windows as secure as it can be out of the box.

But I can’t stand “Metro”! For those of you lucky enough not to know, Metro is the name for Microsoft’s new default user interface. If you haven’t seen Metro in action, I’ll give you the most succinct description of it I can think of: Imagine a user interface that combines the most annoying aspects of a touchscreen device with a color scheme that looks like it was picked out by a 5 year old child who’d had a few too many candy bars. Metro “apps” (how original) run in full screen mode exclusively. Awesome, I know. Who would want to use a multi-tasking operating system to actually do multiple things at the same time? Nobody at Microsoft’s design team, apparently. (I take that back, apparently you can run up to two Metro apps at the same time. Next to each other. Still taking up your full screen. So it can be twice as useless for getting actual work done.)

Actually, it’s not that bad. I’m sure it’s great on tablets. But, like more than 90% of Windows users, I’m not using a tablet. I’m using a grown-up computer with a keyboard and mouse. To do, you know, WORK. This brings me to my biggest problem with Windows 8: They killed the Start Menu.

I didn’t realize until Windows 8 just how important the Start Menu was to performing useful operations on a PC. It was the one place you could click to start just about any action on the computer. Whatever you wanted to do, the first step was usually to click on the Start Menu. And now it’s gone.

Fortunately, I’m not alone in my appreciation of the magical, wonderful, dependable Start Menu. The folks at IObit have managed to recreate our previously shunned friend in the form of “Start Menu 8”, their Start Menu replacement for Windows 8. In a number of ways it’s actually better than the Start Menu that was in previous versions of Windows. It keeps the look, feel, and usefulness of the Windows 7 Start Menu, but is completely customizable, so you can tune it to exactly your desired level of functionality. Using Start Menu 8 has made being productive on Windows 8 much easier for me, despite Microsoft’s best efforts to the contrary.

If you’re like me, and want to be able to use your PC to do useful things instead of spending your day staring at a cubist interpretation of a bag of skittles, give Start Menu 8 a try. It’s free.

http://www.iobit.com/iobitstartmenu8.php

It is bundled with some other “system cleaning” software, be sure to uncheck the box if you do not wish to install the bundled software.