Getting rid of that old computer? If so, you need to Boot and Nuke It

December 18, 2014

If you are in a position where it is “out with the old computer” and “in with the new computer”, please keep in mind it is important to make sure that the data on the old computer is not compromised. What many folks typically do is “packrat” the old computer by putting it aside, for sometimes years; OR, they will give it away as a donation, etc… No matter the scenario, it is very important that you make sure the computer does not leave your possession until your personal information and data has been removed and/or destroyed. The only way(s) to ensure that your personal information is safe is to either remove and destroy the drive(s) or use software that is engineered to wipe the drive(s) (of everything).

An option to consider, for home based computer users, is the open source program called DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke. This program has been around for many years and was acquired by a company in Finland called Blancco in 2012. One of Blancco’s products is a powerful and secure data erasure tool that is geared toward the enterprise level of computing; however, DBAN – Darik’s Boot and Nuke is free erasure software designed for the home user. I can attest that this software will adequately serve the needs of the home based computer user when it comes to data removal.

DBAN is free erasure software designed for the home user. It automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer. DBAN is also a commonly used solution to remove viruses and spyware from Microsoft Windows installations.

Here’s how it works: I downloaded the DBAN ISO image file, wrote the ISO image to a CD and booted it on my old PC. You may have to go into the BIOS on the old computer to change the boot order so that the computer will boot from the CD. 

Once DBAN has booted, you will be presented with the following screen. At this screen you can type autonuke, press enter, and DBAN will do the rest for you (using the default settings). The Autonuke mode should be a sufficient in removing data from the computer.

DBAN start screen

 

The screenshot below is an example of the progress you will see. Erasing data on a drive, depending on the drive size and the amount of data, can take hours.

DBAN running in autonuke mode

 

When DBAN is finished, it will display a message similar what you see below to indicate that the CD can be removed and the computer powered off. You can feel confident that your data has been “nuked”.

DBAN autonuke finished message

 

Interactive Mode

There is also an interactive mode that you can select at the first screen, by hitting Enter. This mode gives you greater control (i.e. you can select the pseudo-random number generator, wiping method, verification method and rounds).

DBAN interactive

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Receive The Most Interesting News Headlines Three Times A Day Via Push Notifications With SmartNews

December 12, 2014

I depend on my Android devices (tablet and smartphone) to provide me with the latest news headlines from around the world. I have tried numerous news apps and the one that I have settled down to and really look forward to reading is SmartNews.

SmartNews - screenshot

SmartNews uses a proprietary algorithm to analyze over 10 million articles a day to give you the top trending stories from a variety of news sources. The interface is optimized for readability with zero loading time (read offline). If you are a newshound, I really think you will like this app.

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A Portable App To Download FREE Music

December 9, 2014

Download your favorite music for free with Free Music Downloader. Simply enter the name of the artist or the title of a song and Free Music Downloader can connect to over 20 online music services to locate the song. Once the song is located you have option of where you want to download the song from. After you make the selection, the song is downloaded and converted to a MP3. You also have option of including cover images, as well.

Free Music Downloader

Free Music Downloader is a Windows based application that requires no installation (portable app). Simply download, unzip the file (LastFM.zip) to a folder and run the “Last.fm executable.

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Backup The Content Of Your Website (or any Website) With HTTrack Website Copier

December 3, 2014

In addition to What’s On My PC and Bookmarks4techs, I also maintain a private site at Blogger for the condo community for which I reside. The content of these sites, all of my making, are very important to me. The easiest and most confident way I found to locally keep a mirrored copy (of each site) is to use the open source software called HTTrack Website Copier.

HTTrack Website Copier

 HTTrack Website Copier allows you to download a World Wide Web site from the Internet to a local directory, building recursively all directories, getting HTML, images, and other files from the server to your computer. HTTrack arranges the original site’s relative link-structure. Simply open a page of the “mirrored” website in your browser, and you can browse the site from link to link, as if you were viewing it online. HTTrack can also update an existing mirrored site, and resume interrupted downloads. HTTrack is fully configurable, and has an integrated help system.

When I use HTTrack Website Copier I typically go with the default configuration settings and follow the below steps:

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I needed software to print an envelope and I found this…

November 25, 2014

If you want something that is far easier to use than Microsoft Word, to print an envelope, then take a look at Envelope Printer (at Tweaking.com) which is a FREE Windows based application developed to exclusively print envelopes.

Tweaking.com - Envelope Printer

Tweaking.com – Envelope Printer will save (and store) the addresses you input and you can even add a personal logo (or graphic) to your return address.

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A Troubleshooting Tool To Delete Potentially Unwanted Software (such as adware, spyware, trojans, viruses and worms)

November 16, 2014

Recently during a software install I found myself in a hurry and noticed about halfway through the install I was authorizing third party installs (of other software) that was piggy backing the software that I really wanted to install. Needless to say I do not like the idea of software developers doing this; especially when the third party software is very questionable in nature. I know the developers work very hard and need a source of income, but they are affecting their reputation when the third party software installs are sketchy in nature. So, please; when installing any software make sure you read the initial install instructions and if there is a selection to customize the install, make sure you do that so that you can see specifically what is being installed. Anyhow, I have been testing Windows software for many years and found myself, due to being in a rush, becoming the victim. I knew immediately that I pulled the trigger on something that I did not want…

FreeFixerTo remedy my issue, where a third party start page modifier (browser hijacker) was installed, I performed research on the name of the poison I was seeing and then I ran a utility called FreeFixer to analyze and help me fix the problem.

FreeFixer

FreeFixer scans a large number of locations where unwanted software has a known record of appearing or leaving traces. The scan locations include the programs that run on your computer, the programs that starts when you reboot your computer, your browser’s plug-ins, your home page setting, etc.

Now, the catcher to FreeFixer is that following the scan that it performs (which is very extensive and impressive) it does not know what is unwanted, so it presents the scan results and it is up to you to determine what needs removed and/or set back to their default settings. The good here, following a scan by FreeFixer is that you can get more info on a suspicious file by click on the “more info” selection; AND, if you delete a selection the file selection is quarantined where you can restore from in the event you mess up.

In cases where FreeFixer is unable to delete files in normal Windows mode they are registered for delayed removal with FreeFixer’s Native Deleter, which removes the files upon the next reboot. The actual delete operation is done before the logon screen appear. The majority of malware can be deleted at this point.

In the end, I am finding that you need to have a good understanding of the Windows architecture in order to use this powerful utility. FreeFixer is definitely a tech toolbox keeper. There is a 32bit and 64bit version of FreeFixer available as a full install or portable app.

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NEW Web Browser Called Maxthon Nitro

November 13, 2014

Are you familiar with the web browser called Maxthon? If so, I discovered that the developers of Maxthon are working from the ground up to develop a speedster of a browser called Maxthon Nitro.

Maxthon Nitro

Maxthon Nitro is currently in the alpha stage of development. If you want to give it a try, no install is required; simply download and run the executable file…

The primary focus of Maxthon Nitro is speed and to keep things at a basic level of web browsing by eliminating the bloat. From my preliminary testing, it is definitely fast…

 

Maxthon Nitro Description


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