In trying to troubleshoot vexing Windows Explorer problems, I encountered one piece of advice repeatedly. It is best summarized as “Turn off unnecessary Explorer extensions.” According to the company which makes ShellExView, NirSoft, “Shell Extensions are in-process COM objects which extend the abilities of the Windows operating system.” In plainer English, this means that shell extensions in Explorer add to the range of objects you can access, and operations you can perform, using built-in menus and commands inside Explorer.
Since the late 1980s I’ve used the TCP/IP-based File Transfer Protocol, or FTP, to upload and download tens of thousands of files for hundreds of book and Web projects. Along the way, I’ve transitioned from command-line FTP (anybody else remember put, get, mget, hash, and all the rest?) to numerous GUI FTP tools. I have yet to find another one that I like as well as FileZilla, or that costs the same to acquire (nothing!).
After spending some more time at the Uniblue Process Library site, I discovered that they also offer a free process scanning tool that offers another, possibly more usable and expeditious way to conduct active process research on your Vista PC. You can download their Process Scan tool (901 KB) and install it on your PC (see note at end of blog for an additional helpful tip on installing freeware/shareware on your PC).
Back when I still did software engineering, one catchphrase I learned that has stuck with me is: “Fast, cheap, and good: Pick any two, and you’ll probably get them. Pick all three, and you probably won’t.” By that metric, Revo Uninstaller succeeds in delivering a highly improbable hat trick, along with great functionality, good support, and frequent (self-installing) updates.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve got more disk drives than you have installed in your systems at any given moment. Until recently, I accessed these drives using an Antec MX-1 Hard Drive Enclosure with its top off for quick’n’dirty access to various SATA drives. Then I happened upon the Thermaltake BlackX ST0005U, a plain and simple SATA drive dock that accommodates both 2.5″ and 3.5″ drives.
When I started developing problems with a couple of SP1 Vista installs recently—application crashes, system instability, system software components shutting down—I started my troubleshooting by eliminating potential hardware-related causes. Once those were behind me, I encountered some issues with the accretion of application installs and uninstalls over time.
The Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service exists to produce clean snapshots of disk volumes, and to create shadow copies of data or files that are consistent, readable, and associated with some specific timestamp. Microsoft abbreviates this service as VSS, for some odd reason or another omitting the C, as in the command line program that manages its behavior: vssadmin.
Now that the high-definition DVD options available to home theater and PC users have narrowed to Blu-ray only, it might be worth posing the question as to whether or not Blu-ray has any relevance to your entertainment and computing situation.
If you’ve run Vista for a while, you probably know you can get to many programs by looking them up in Help and Support. This typically produces a list of help pages, among which you can usually find a link to launch the program you want. Take this infrequent but common Windows task, for instance: partitioning and formatting a new hard disk.
Why would you — or should you — consider a solid state drive (SSD) for your notebook PC? Most important, an SSD can save time and stretch battery life nicely. For some, those benefits may outweigh the high cost of acquiring one.