We all know that light can be both harmful and beneficial for our vision and our overall health, especially sleeping. Natural sunlight contains both UV and blue light. We all know the dangers of UV or Ultraviolet light and we often wear sunglasses to prevent long term damage. But, what do we know about Blue light? Blue light, which is part of the visible light spectrum, reaches deeper into your eye and its cumulative effect can cause damage to your retina and it is connected to the development of age-related macular degeneration, worst of all, it makes your brain wide awake when you are about to go to bed. This is a must have software for those that works late into the night for a better eye protection, health and productivity.
Apple and Microsoft have tackled this issue by baking new features into their operating systems. You can now turn on nighttime settings to filter out the blue tones that trigger the nervous system to become more wakeful, interfering with sleep for people who use the devices before going to bed.
The science behind these features is convincing, according to James Stringham, a psychology researcher at the University of Georgia. “There’s a plausible rationale for blue light filters to work,” he says. “Fundamentally, if you reduce blue light with a yellowish filter, that certainly would help.”
f.lux makes your computer screen look like the room you’re in, all the time. When the sun sets, it makes your computer look like your indoor lights. In the morning, it makes things look like sunlight again. Tell f.lux what kind of lighting you have, and where you live. Then forget about it. f.lux will do the rest, automatically.
Uninstall bloatware that came with your laptop or PC.
Or even apps you installed but no longer want. Head to Control Panel | Programs | Uninstall a program and take the hatchet to anything, such as unwanted games, that you’ll never need. Many programs will load processes at boot time and take up valuable RAM and CPU cycles. While you’re in here, you can also click “Turn Windows Features On or Off” and scan the list to see if there’s anything you don’t use. You might also try software like PCDecrapifier and Revo Uninstaller.
2. Limit Start-up Processes
Limit startup processes.
In the Start button’s search box, type MSCONFIG, then head to the Startup tab. You’ll likely see a slew of apps, mostly for system support, but you’ll be able to identify some that clearly aren’t necessary. There’s absolutely no need to have GoogleUpdate or even QuickTime running all the time, for example. Don’t delete those that support your hardware or security, but anything blatantly nonproductive can go. You may have to check the program names online with a site like processlibrary.com to see what they are—they may even be malware. If you want to get more granular, run Microsoft’s Autoruns utility.
3. Add More RAM
Add more RAM.
Windows 7 isn’t has much of a hog as Vista, but if you’re moving from XP, the memory requirements are greater. Here’s a great article to show you how to add RAM
4. Turn Off Search Indexing
Turn off search indexing.
In Vista I, would only do this if I saw the search indexing icon in the system tray and noticed a performance lag, but that notification isn’t present in Windows 7. Of course, if you do a lot of searching, this won’t appeal to you, as some searches will be slower. To turn off indexing, open the Indexing Options Control Panel window (if you just type “index” in the Start button search box, you’ll see that choice at the top of the start menu), click “Modify” and remove locations being indexed and file types, too. If you want to leave search indexing on, but find that it occasionally slows you down, you can stop its process when you need extra speed. Right-click on Computer either in the Start menu or on the desktop, choose Manage. Then double-click Services and Applications, then Services. Find Windows Search, and double click on that. From this properties dialog, you can choose a Start-up type of Manual or Disabled to have the process silent by default.
Defragment your hard drive.
Your disk stores data in chunks wherever there’s space on disk, regardless of whether the space is contiguous for one file. Defragging tidies everything up and blocks a program’s bits together so that the reader heads don’t have to shuttle back and forth to read a whole executable or data file. While this is less of a problem with today’s huge hard drives and copius RAM, a slow system can still benefit from defragmenting the disk. Windows 7 comes with a built-in defragger that runs automatically at scheduled intervals. Mine was set by default to run Wednesdays at 1:00 AM, when my PC is usually turned off; so it never got defragged. If you’re in a similar boat, you can either change the scheduled defrag, or defrag on demand. Just type “defrag” in the Windows Start Menu search bar, and click on “Disk Defragmenter.” The version of the utility is improved in Windows 7, and shows more information about what’s happening on your disk than Vista did. The Windows 7 engineering team posted a very in-depth, informative article on the Engineering Windows 7 blog.
6. Clean Up Your Disk
Clean up Your Disk.
From the Start menu, choose All Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and Disk Cleanup. This finds unwanted junk and files such as temporary, offline Web pages, and installer files on your PC and offers to delete them all at once. You may even find that your Recycle Bin is bulging at the seams: Mine had 1.47GB I didn’t know was there! This will generally only have a noticeable affect on speed if your machine is getting close to full, however.
7. Check for Viruses & Spyware
Check for Viruses and Spyware.
You can run the built in Windows Defender or a third-party app. You could start with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware or HitManPro. If you want a paid solution, though, I would start with VIPRE Anti-Virus.
8. Performance Troubleshooter
Use the Performance Troubleshooter.
In Control Panel’s search box, type “troubleshooting” and under System and Security, you’ll see the choice “Check for performance issues.” Run the troubleshooter and it may find the root cause of your slowdown.
9. Turn Off Desktop Gadgets
Turn off Desktop Gadgets.
Now we come to the tips that require shutting down some of the operating system’s bling. Windows 7 ditched the actual visual sidebar of Vista, but there’s still a sidebar process running. Turn it off by typing “gadgets” in the start menu search bar, choosing “View list of running gadgets” and select each in turn and click Remove to shut any gadgets you can live without.
10. Don’t Use a Beautiful Desktop Background
Don’t use a beautiful desktop background.
This will free up extra RAM and therefore boost speed slightly. Right-click on the desktop and choose Personalize, then Desktop Background at the bottom of the resulting dialog window. Set it to a solid color.
11. Turn Off Aero Eeffects
Turn off Aero effects.
Head to the Control Panel’s Performance Information and Tools section, and choose Adjust Visual Effects. Here you’ll find a long list of effects, but simply choosing “Adjust for best performance” will turn everything off. You’ll feel like you stepped back into a decade ago.
Disclosure: While there are definitely many other tips to speed up Windows 7 that are not covered in this article, these 11 tips have been chosen for their ease of implementation and effectiveness for the average computer user.
Summary: If you want a PC running Windows 7, where do you look?
Skip your local office superstore or big-box retailer and go where the business buyers go.
In those channels, you’ll find that Windows 7 never went away. In fact, it’s not just alive, it’s thriving.
The manufactured kerfuffle over HP’s decision to promote a few Windows 7 PCs on its online Home & Home Office Store is an attempt to stir up a fuss over something that every savvy business buyer knows already. Windows 7 doesn’t need to make a comeback, because it never left.
In fact, it’s easy to find PCs running Windows 7. All you have to do is shop in the right channels.
This morning I conducted a thorough check of business-focused PC channels. As expected, I found a huge assortment of Windows 7 PCs available for purchase there.
As I noted yesterday, those Windows 7 PCs are a drop in the bucket at HP’s consumer-focused online store, which currently has a grand total of three Windows 7 desktops on offer, with 33 distinct Windows 8 and 8.1 desktop machines on offer.
On those sites, Windows 7 continues to be well represented. This isn’t a change from last year or a reaction to Windows 8. It’s business as usual.
When I checked last May, HP’s business side had 120 Windows 7 desktop and notebook PCs on offer, almost three times the number of Windows 8 PCs in the business store. Today, the total number of models is down slightly but the percentage is equally skewed.
Dell isn’t quite as unbalanced, but you can still choose from more than 60 discrete Windows 7 options in the Desktops and All-in-Ones and Laptops and Ultrabooks sections. You’ll even find high-end Windows 7 machines under the Alienware brand, traditionally aimed at gamers but certainly fit for business use.
Here’s the raw data.
Table: Which operating systems are available on Dell and HP business PCs?
Your options get even more interesting if you visit some of the big online sites that specialize in serving the commercial channel, businesses and educational institutions. HP and its other archival, China’s Lenovo, sell extensively through commercial sites.
Take CDW, for example, one of the biggest business-focused resellers around. I went to CDW’s Computers section this morning and searched for downgrade in the Desktop computers category. That produced 378 results, all with Windows 8 Pro licenses downgraded to Windows 7 Pro.
First on the CDW list is the HP Pro 3500, a solid if slightly staid desktop PC with a 3.2 GHz Core i5 (Ivy Bridge), 4GB of RAM, and Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.
If you want something beefier, you can get the EliteDesk 800 G1, with a Core i7 4770 (Haswell), also downgraded to Windows 7 Pro 64-bit.
In fact, at CDW 9 out of first 10 machines on the list of desktop PCs with Windows 7 preinstalled as a downgrade are from HP. Out of the top 20, 14 are from HP, with Lenovo getting 5 models and Acer getting a single mention.
These aren’t crappy machines, either. In all, CDW has 69 configurations available with Core i7 CPUs and Windows 7 downgrades, including a nice-looking Lenovo small-footprint PC, the ThinkCentre M93p 10AB, which has 8 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SSD, Bluetooth 4.0, and a Windows 7 downgrade.
Even the consumer-friendly Newegg, a favorite of PC hobbyists and DIY system builders, has lots of choices available: Search for Windows 7 downgrade and you get a list of 27 desktop and notebook PCs with Windows 7 pre-installed, ranging in price from $398.00 all the way up to more than $3,900 for an HP EliteBook Mobile Workstation with a Haswell Core i7, 32 GB of RAM, twin 256 GB SSDs, and AMD FirePro graphics.
It’s true that PC retailers aimed at consumers tend to push the newer, touch-enabled Windows 8 devices. But don’t assume that means you can’t track down a Windows 7 box. At the most consumery retailer of them all, Best Buy, you can still find PCs running Windows 7. When I searched at BestBuy.com in the Desktops and All-in-ones category, the filtering tool told me it has 369 Windows 8 machines to choose from, as well as 227 Windows 7 options, including choices from third-party sites that sell through Best Buy.
Personally, if I were going to buy a Windows 7 PC today I would look for one that includes a Windows 8 Pro license and has been downgraded to Windows 7 Pro by the OEM. That configuration gives you the flexibility to upgrade to Windows 8.1 (or, presumably, 8.2 or 8.3, if those versions arrive in the next year or two) for free. If you buy a PC with a Windows 7 license and decide later that you want to upgrade, you’ll have to pay dearly for the privilege.
The bottom line: Windows 7 never went away. It continues to be widely available today, just as it was before Microsoft released Windows 8. Under Microsoft’s normal sales lifecycle, OEMs would be prohibited from building and selling new PCs when the two-year anniversary of Windows 8 rolls around in October 2014. We’ll see what happens then, however. I won’t be surprised if Microsoft extends that date.
Windows XP holdouts may soon face an explosion of malware that targets the unsupported operating system, cautions Microsoft.
The company is ending support for its enduring, 12-year-old desktop operating system on April 8, 2014. On that date, “Microsoft will no longer provide support for Windows XP users. This means that customers and partners will no longer receive security updates to the operating system or be able to leverage tech support from Microsoft after this time,” wrote Jeff Meisner, editor for The Official Microsoft Blog, in an April 2013 post that served as a reminder that users had a year to prepare for the XP support sunset.
Now, armed with historic data, the company is turning up the volume on the importance of migrating from Windows XP.
Tim Rains, director of Microsoft Trustworthy Computing, said in an Oct. 29 Microsoft on the Issuesblog post that XP is living on borrowed time. “Microsoft Windows XP was released almost 12 years ago, which is an eternity in technology terms,” he wrote.
Rains added that “inevitably there is a tipping point where dated software and hardware can no longer defend against modern-day threats and increasingly sophisticated cyber-criminals.” With Microsoft no longer expending resources to keep those threats at bay, hackers and malware coders will go gunning for XP, Rains said. And he has data that backs him up.
“In the two years after Windows XP Service Pack 2 went out of support, its malware infection rate was 66 percent higher than Windows XP Service Pack 3—the last supported version of Windows XP,” Rains said. XP, while still officially supported, already trails its successors in malware infection rates.
According to the company’s data, Windows XP, Vista 7 and 8 “all had roughly similar malware encounter rates—between 12 and 20 percent,” said Rains. “But Windows XP systems had an infection rate that was six times higher than Windows 8.”
When Microsoft drops support in five months, users and organizations still running the OS will face a very different online security landscape from that of the operating system’s inception.
Lone hackers “developing malicious software from their basements in the 1990s” are a thing of the past. Today cyber-criminals are sophisticated, “well-funded underground organizations,” said Rains. Often leveraging “large-scale malware automation,” they “are motivated by profit or seek to cause real financial or political harm.”
Further, Microsoft’s own efforts to harden its newer operating systems may give malware coders pointers on attacking Windows XP. Rains predicted that when his company releases “monthly security updates for supported versions of Windows, attackers will try and reverse-engineer them to identify any vulnerabilities that also exist in Windows XP.”
This echoes Rains’ warnings from this past summer. In an Aug. 16 blog post, he wrote, “Since a security update will never become available for Windows XP to address these vulnerabilities, Windows XP will essentially have a ‘zero-day’ vulnerability forever.”
Windows XP support has expired as of April 8, 2014, that will include both security and non-security hot fixes, free or paid support options and online technical content updates. There are still many Windows XP users that still won’t upgrade their operating system by April 8, 2014, they would rather wait till Windows XP no longer works, keep reading to discover why this is a poor choice and why you must upgrade before the clock runs out ! What is the risk of still using Windows XP after the cutoff date?
Without security updates using Windows XP will be like having a door made of swiss cheese without anyone to patch the holes that would let would-be attackers get into your computer. Once they have identified the vulnerability they will attempt to develop code that will exploit it and then pass it around to every would-be attacker as well as use it to infect your Windows XP computer. There is antivirus software out there to help protect and fix infected computers however that is not an effective one-size fits all solution to the real dilemma and challenge which is now you will never know with confidence that you can trust your computer with Windows XP on it without those critical monthly security updates. As a result, the security features that are built into Windows XP will no longer be sufficient to defend against modern threats.