Killer Tech Tips

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Best Software Tools for the Family Tech Support Guy

with 33 comments



Most of you reading this have encountered people asking you solve problems on their computers – more than once. You’re an expert in their eyes, and they want you to solve the problems they’re facing with their PCs. They might be your family members, your colleagues or whatever.

If you frequently encounter situations like this, you can arm yourself with the following tools and make things easy for yourself and others when you’re working on a problematic computer system. Feel free to suggest your favourite softwares in the comments section below.

Anti Spyware

You gotta have one. Install Spybot Search and Destroy and/or Ad Aware. Both do a good job, but the former is a bit slow when compared to Ad Aware.

Anti Virus

Avast! Free – That does a lot for being free, I should say. The On Access Scanner is the best part and you’ll have to leave it installed on the PC – the next time any of your closest ones click on a ‘Congratulations, you’ve won $$$’ banner, their PCs are protected for sure thanks to Avast’s on access realtime web traffic scanning.

Another good antivirus is AVG, does a lot of stuff, but still Avast! wins. You can read a comparison of AVG and Avast! here.

Junk File Removers

You surely must have seen disks filled with nothing but junk. Sometimes they go up to a few GBs or more, and that’s the place where tools like these get handy.

CCleaner -That’s the best junk remover I’ve ever used. Has all that you might need in one place: a junk file cleaner, an uninstaller and also a registry cleaner. It’s more reliable than other such junk removers.

HijackThis – Scans the nook and corner and checks and reports to you. You can remove bad items from start up and take down other suspicious services. But beware – be sure of what you’re doing with this program.

PC Decrapifier

Rightly named, this tool removes the nuisances that come pre installed with your Windows PC. If anyone from your family has just got a new PC installed with Windows, you gotta run this program to cut the crap. Download it here.

Partition Manager – GParted Live CD

Sure you’ve tried many partition managers else before, but I can’t resist myself by putting this up here. GParted is open source and is very very light. It can do copying, resizing, moving operations in around a dozen filesystems.

Ultimate Boot CD – Recovery Tool

It’s the ultimate Swiss Army Knife that comes packed in with tools that do varied jobs like memory tests, hard disk diagnosis, partitioning, system benchmarking and lots more. Definitely a must have. Get it here.

UBCD for Windows

UBCD4Win is imilar to the above mentioned software, but runs directly on Windows.

DriverMax

DriverMax lets you copy your current hardware drivers and reinstall them later if you don’t have the setup files of each of your hardware drivers.

Quite useful, but the person on whose computer working on must already have a driver backup that’s been done using this software.

gOS

Ahh! You can ask why this is listed here, but what if you can’t get your PC’s OS to work? You want the internet to work and need something desperately done, but XP won’t start.

Not a problem if you have a Linux live CD in hand. Just pop the CD in, access the internet, send the email that you had to send or do whatever you wanted to get done. All without writing on to your hard disk and not damaging anything that’s already there.

I’m mentioning gOS here specifically because it has got quite good integration with Google services and pretty much works out of the box.

There are many other Live CDs available, you can check here for that. Make sure you download one and have it burnt on a disk for emergency uses.

Written by Killer Tech Tips

January 12th, 2008 at 7:33 am

  • http://www.rakshitk.com/blog Rakshit

    Excellent post dear. Now, if you face any problem with your home computer, no need to call up local computer engg, here lies the solution to nearly all the problems we face on our home PCs.

    By the way, their is no linking address to “stumble” at the end of the post.

  • http://techalerts.blogspot.com/ Keshav Khera

    great post buddy, very informative

    @Rakshit
    the link isnt there coz ppl have the toolbar LOL :P

  • http://www.rakshitk.com/blog Rakshit

    @Keshav
    I see.
    May be u r right.

  • http://www.whoismadhur.com Madhur Kapoor

    Generally i keep all these softwares with me but i have not tried the Ultimate Boot CD or any such thing. Its time to look into that as well.

  • http://www.processlibrary.com/processscan/ Hilary Rogers

    Anyone concerned with their PC’s performance and security will find the tool extremely useful.

    It’s an essential, easy-to-use little app that delivers a full inventory of processes on your system, categorizing them by status, security threat, performance requirements, network usage and source.

    ProcessScanner is available as a downloadable scan from http://www.processlibrary.com/processscan

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com Shankar Ganesh

    @Madhur: Do try it. It’s an excellent tool, and should come handy some time.
    @Hilary: Thanks for dropping by. My bad, I missed ‘ProcessScanner’. I’ve heard of it before, but just forgot to mention it.

  • http://www.processlibrary.com/processscan/ Hilary Rogers

    Thanks!!

  • http://techie-buzz.com Keith Dsouza

    Nice list of tools definitely a must have for all people with limite knowledge.

  • http://www.shankrila.com K-IntheHouse

    A must have for anyone who trys to solve problems for others! Excellent work buddy! Stumbled and del.icio.us ed!

  • http://techmalaya.com Syahid A.

    I don’t know that Decrapifier exists! Love it. (and do advice members of the house not to open suspicious email attachments.)

  • http://space-action-hero.blogspot.com Kenny

    Thanks to your recommendation, I’ve switched to Avast some time ago and I’m lovin’ it.

  • http://www.bleepsblops.com Aristides

    Great collection of tools for the family IT guy!
    Thanks a bunch for collecting and posting them in here.

  • http://earn-cash.in Logesh

    Nice Post Buddy ! But i would recommend to use Ubuntu instead of gOs. Because Ubuntu itself could replace the Partition manager and other disk management softwares. I always use Ubuntu Live CD to get the data back from a crashed Windows :)

  • http://blog.ashfame.com Ashfame

    Now I got it. I earlier missed it. Good idea. Will have one of my own with my set of tools. :D

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com Shankar Ganesh

    Thanks for dropping by to comment everyone!
    @K-IntheHouse: Thanks for the bookmarking support. It really helped.
    @Syahid: Glad you found the program useful.
    @Kenny: Oh, I’m so glad to hear that :) Avast! rocks all the way.
    @Aristides: You’re welcome. It was a pleasure writing this up.
    @Logesh: Yeah, Ubuntu is very good and pretty much works out of the box.
    @Ashfame: Do tell us what programs you’re using for this kind of purposes ;)

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  • k

    I LOVE YOU!!

  • k

    I LOVE YOU!! Avast rocks. everywhere i go i see avg or norton. Norton simply makes me want to puke and avg simply doesn’t have a virus database quite as extensive as avast. Not to mention it doesn’t have an on-access scanner.

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com Shankar Ganesh

    @Mr. k: Haha! Avast! does rock. On Access Scanner is the best part of Avast! IMHO :)

  • ROFLface

    @ spoonman – That’s just the epitome of irony. Bad luck.

    Excellent compilation of tools. Especially with Avast! and its On-Access scanners. Auto-Updates perfectly straight out of the box, and catches damn near every virus, trojan, and even *compression bombs. On top of that, it has a free registration that lasts for 13 months. Glad to see Avast! getting the recognition it deserves.

    With Hijack This, thanks for noting that you need to know what you are doing with it. Improper usage can be potentially fatal to your system, and no matter how many times I see Hijack This referenced, only a handful of people make sure to warn of it’s inherent danger when used without knowledge.

    Driver Max has saved my butt a few times. On more than one occasion have I lost a driver for something, and for one reason or another, I have needed to reinstall the driver, but it’s the only driver I can’t locate. Driver Max definitely helped out there.

    And most importantly are the boot disks. No matter what flavor of *nix system or what-have-you is on the disk, boot disks come in handy every 9 months when Windows crashes in a most spectacular fashion. Recovering data is a god send in those situations.

    Note: Also /not/ usable at school to bypass pesky internet blocking software. You /cannot/ pop in a boot disk, load up Firefox, remote access your computer from home to act as a proxy, and browse the web. Remember, that just /not/ possible.

  • Deroc

    What about spyware doctor that comes with the google pack?
    Not the one from the site. I believe its a good anti-spyware compared to spybot (i was using spybot earlier).

    And eusing registry cleaner?
    What are your views?

  • g00ber

    You gotta be kidding me.
    http://www.logmein.com is not here?
    This is the ultimate tool if your the family tech support guy.
    I’ve helped my parents, aunts, friends, all over the world with this.

  • http://www.shankarganesh.com Shankar Ganesh

    @Deroc: I haven’t tried Spyware Doctor so can’t comment on it, but still yet I’m guessing it should be good since it comes with the Google Pack ;)
    @g00ber: I’ll update the list with logmein.com as well. :)

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  • Tal

    You should probably give Faronics Deep Freeze a look. It freezes a hard drive partition into a “baseline” configuration that the computer will reset to after every reboot, effectively making it impervious to even the most willful end-user stupidity.

    I put Deep Freeze on my parents’ computer, and after explaining how it worked and that they should save their work on an external drive, we haven’t had computer problems since.

  • http://www.techtola.com Rajavanya

    Well.. I tried another one called Avira AntiVir, downloaded it after reading somewhere (sorry lost the link) on the web that its the best.

    About gOS, does it have hardware drivers installed is the question. Many times I get stuck saying no network support, no display drivers so only VGA etc.. all due to drivers !

  • http://www.troublefixers.com abhsihek

    all these tools always helps…i would like to add one from my end i.e unlocker and i must say these tools always helps but some times the even small pc problems becomes so critical that these does not help….neways gud post.

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  • Anthony

    Anyone who happens to come across this looking for useful tools might want to look into gbridge, easily the most efficient and easy to use remote program I have ever tried. This tool is amazing.

  • George

    Has anyone used MalwareBytes Anti Malware. If so what do you think of it, does it work? Is it worthy to add to the list?

  • Sdog

    Yes and it has worked very well for me. In fact I had a couple of nasty hijack viruses and it was the only tool I tried that removed them. I would highly reccomend.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NZSHZF64UGGB7YI3FPG47SVPLE Maria Jones

    RHUB (http://www.rhubcom.com) is a simple, easy-to-use tool for web conference, remote support and remote access across various platforms.

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