To cap off this Friday, I thought I'd offer up some experiences from the front of consumer technology to help make your buying, deciding, and upgrading easier. It's like some reviewers like to say: we go through this so you don't have to.
First up is a Windows install tip. I had come to the point where Windows 7 needed to be reinstalled. My system was a mess after almost three years. So after a largely careful backup (I forgot my Rainmeter skins), I wiped my SSD clean and did the reinstall. The actual Windows install took 20 minutes. The updates I had to download took three hours.
But there was a problem. Performance had degraded. Everything from Windows itself to apps were slow to respond. It felt like trying to use a PC at full CPU utilization, even though it wasn't. Plus there were all sorts of app problems, like Chrome failing to load sites or properly render them.
I did a little digging and found a post by someone with a similar problem on a hobbyist board. The other commenters asked if he had disconnected the other hard drives during the reinstall and only left the C: drive connected. The reason, they said, is that Windows has a habit of putting the boot loader in places other than the Windows target drive. So this person did another reinstall with only the C: drive connected and it worked.
So I backed up my C: drive, remembering the Rainmeter skins this time, disassembled my tower to disconnect the D: and E: drive, and did the reinstall. Sure enough, Windows was considerably faster and more responsive. Everything works fine. Except Chrome. So I use Firefox.
So let that be a lesson if you do a reinstall. Disconnect everything but the C: drive. Don't ask me why hobbyists know this and Microsoft does not.
The cloud backup service that led to a flood of spam
I've been considering a cloud backup product for a while now. OneDrive and Google Drive didn't impress me, so I had been looking at the alternatives. By accident, I found ZipCloud. Its features interested me, so I gave it a shot.
The first and obvious problem was the uploader had no UI, let alone a progress screen. I double clicked it to run and got… nothing. No app window popped up to say it was doing something. After a few tries, I removed it, chalking it up to a poor product.
Then began the spam. Daily. They would not stop bugging me to upgrade my account. So I clicked on the unsubscribe link to put an end to that. Nope. The daily spam continued. I wrote to the firm, demanding they stop writing me. It did nothing.
Every day I was hounded about it until finally, after my 30-day trial ended, they said they would delete my files, which I had no idea were uploaded in the first place. They also threatened to dump me as a customer.
Is that a promise?
A system cleanup tool I actually liked
On the positive side, I can't say enough about Wise Care 365 from WiseCleaner. I've tried other utilities, like Iolo, but Wise is the niftiest, least obnoxious and most effective. The toolbar sits in my lower right window, monitoring system temperatures and memory usage. With one click I can reclaim memory, and it does a fairly good job. On my 16GB machine, I routinely get back about 700MB of memory as it cleans out the clipboard and unnecessary files from memory.
I get a cleaner popup daily, which gets rid of accumulated junk files, cache files, temp files, and whatnot. It has a very good app for speeding up system boot time. My system boots in 35 seconds, and that's with a whole lot of start time apps.
I recently upgraded to the Pro edition, with a discount that cut the price to $40 for a lifetime license. It includes a file undelete utility, file and folder management, secure delete, and a better app uninstaller.