Tag Archives: file storage

Spotting Extra Annoying Programs

Whether you read this headline and thought “Extra programs are annoying”, or “Yep, some programs are extra annoying”, it doesn’t matter. Both are equally true.

Annoying programs come in all shapes and sizes. Some are free, some are not, and some are free for a certain number of days. These free trials are known as Bloatware. Like Microsoft Office, they come pre-installed on your new computer or mobile device. You pretty much have no choice with these. The only thing you can do is decide which ones to keep (i.e. eventually buy), and which ones to delete.

Where you do have a choice are with programs I like to call tag-alongs. They’re officially known in the tech industry as adware, spyware, junkware, or crapware… and those are only the names I can reference in polite society. These names alone should tell you what the IT World thinks of them.

Grab a cup of tea and let me tell you about tag-alongs.

smiley bookOnce upon a time in computing history, a business decided when a person downloaded a chosen program it’d be profitable to add theirs as a bonus. The end-user thought receiving extra stuff for nothing was wonderful until he downloaded four more programs and was extended a dividend of four more tag-along programs. He realized some blessing were really curses in disguise, just like King Midas.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a happy ending… yet. But I’m going to help you recognize where these tag-alongs come from, and how to avoid them.

Most tag-along programs come with free downloads. I won’t say all tag-alongs come with freebies for the same reason a person shouldn’t say “never” or “always”.

In our story, we don’t care what causes those pesky additional programs to attack our computer, we just care that they do.

 Why Are Tag-along Programs Bad?

  • They slow down your browser.

Ever wonder how the Internet knows the exact brand of something you’ve just purchased?  Tag-along programs. Stealth programs known as Spyware or Adware sit in the back of your computer watching your purchases and website visits. Later they automatically toss-up advertisements that might interest you.

Why is this bad? These programs take precious seconds off your download speeds and clog up your computer’s RAM and hard drive memory.

Yes, we’re only talking extra seconds added, but Headache computercompound this by several programs and your computer speeds may rival 56K dial-up modems. Remember dial-up? I really don’t either. Trust me, it was horribly slow; we just didn’t realize it at the time.

  •  They load too many toolbars.

PC Magazine posted a super example of what happens when bonus toolbars load along with other programs. See the bottom where it says PC? That’s the PC Magazine website… under all the toolbars.







  • They take up memory.

Programs are programs. People think a few extra megabytes of RAM or storage space used has no impact. It does.

It’ll help us understand by knowing how computer memory works.

How Hard Drive Memory is Used

Imagine your computer hard drive as a piece of graph paper. There are squares across plus up and down where we save data. The top left square gets the first item saved. We’ll pretend each square stores a byte of data.Mona Lisa

First, I save a word processing document worth ten squares (bytes). Then I find a picture of the Mona Lisa I like so I’m saving it. Mona’s cost in space is five squares. So far I’ve saved fifteen squares of total data.

Oh, I forgot. I need to edit down my document; it’s too long. I erase two squares of data and re-save. I now have two open squares between my document and Mona on my hard drive.

Now I create a spreadsheet worth seven squares. Data saves in all open squares first. This means two squares of spreadsheet data are saved between my document and Mona while the last five of the seven squares save behind Mona.

This happens over and over as we save items to our hard drives. Computers slow down when we ask them to piece together an item spread out over many squares. NOTE: To speed up your computer, you can defragment or defrag your hard drive. You’ve heard that before, haven’t you? See. You’re smart.

What is RAM Memory?

Think of RAM memory like a kitchen counter. I store my food (data) in a refrigerator (hard drive), but when I want to use it I need a place to set it while I cook (RAM memory). Computer items (documents/internet pages/pictures park in RAM memory as I edit/read/view them. The larger the countertop (Random Access Memory), the more food (data) I can have out at one time.

 Spotting Tag-along Programs

Let’s talk about spotting rogue programs that seek us out. They sneak into our computers when we’re on auto-pilot after a long day, or after a frustrating hour trying to find a usable download.

  • Make sure to download the correct program.

This is the download screen I posted a few weeks ago in Password Protecting Items in Windows 8.

Even a trusted site like Download.com can be confusing. I wanted the 7-Zip download. There are at least two other programs on this page vying for my download. Neither of which I want.Download 7-zip


  •  Uncheck all boxes that will cause you to say, “Huh? How’d that get there?” later.

This is Java. You know Java. Almost every computer in the world runs something that uses Java. Well, when you update your Java — don’t worry, it’ll remind you — you’ll see this.

If you don’t uncheck the boxes, not only will you download and install the Ask search app, you’ll make it your default browser and your homepage. Don’t do it.added unwanted toolbars








  • Uncheck the boxes unless you really want the toolbar. You probably don’t if you’ve been fine searching the World Wide Web up to now.unwanted toolbars







There. Don’t you feel better? Now you know what to look for to avoid downloading adware, spyware, junkware, and crapware.infected

What? You think you’re already are infected? Don’t worry. You can get rid of those with no needles involved.

I can’t do better in my explanations than to direct you to Kim Komando’s site. She has easily understandable instructions. Thanks, Kim.
Remove Unwanted Toolbars-Kim Komando

Have a wonderful week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. Y’all come back now, ya’ hear? 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.


How Secure is Dropbox?

I was invited to Dropbox many, many months ago. I scanned info about it and decided the security risk might not be worth the free membership. I didn’t need it at the time so I shoved it into the recesses of my cluttered little mind.

Recently, I wished to download a free ebook. It comes Dropboxto me via Dropbox.

Now I had a decision to make. Did I pay $10 for the ebook or did I take the plunge and download Dropbox?

I downloaded Dropbox.

My first concern with Dropbox was at sign up. Their Terms Of Service shot me in the face at pointblank range.

“When you use our Services, you provide us with things like your files, content, email messages, contacts and so on (“Your Stuff”).”

Whoa. Hold on, buddy. I’m providing you with my files? How many of my files? I’m providing you with content? What kind of content and how much of it? The list of questions went on and on.

I was not letting Dropbox, or anyone else, get the drop on me. It was notcowboy hat rifling through my confidential files. I bank online, I dabble in the stock market online, and more.

It was time to saddle up and investigate.

Is Dropbox Secure?

My first order of business was to figure out what exactly Dropbox did.

Dropbox is a server that houses whatever you save to it — or anyone else saves to it — for later use by you or anyone you want to share “Your Stuff” with.

Okie dokie. That’s fine. But the elephant — or Clydesdale since I’m on an American West theme today — in the room is how deeply into my computer can an install of Dropbox dig? And could the Dropbox desktop program installed on my computer access my files without my permission?

My first clues are in Dropbox’s Privacy Policy.

1)  “If you give us access to your contacts, we’ll store those contacts on our servers for you to use.”

“If you give us access” calmed me. It told me unless I was an idiot and uploaded something, they couldn’t access it.

FYI: This quote refers to the option they give you to upload your contact list. You can; I didn’t.

2) Dropbox will legally protect my data the same if “… it’s stored on our services or on [my] home computer’s hard drive.”

This just told me Dropbox can’t access my hard drive. Only the files I choose to upload to their site. But I am gambling on the fact they have no security holes allowing unauthorized people to rustle information off my computer’s hard drive.

3) “Dropbox uses certain trusted third parties …. These third parties will access your information only to perform tasks on our behalf … “

clock with wingsI don’t have time to check out Dropbox’s trusted third parties. I am taking a leap of faith here, and praying they’d pass muster with me.

4) Dropbox also says I can — not they will — give third parties access to my info and Dropbox account. They mean third-party apps I choose to use with Dropbox.

5) Dropbox says they keep my information safe with “two-factor authentication, encryption of files at rest, and alerts when new devices and apps are linked to [my] account.”

I am very happy with the latter two statements. The first? Not so much. I pay per text received or sent.

I know what you’re thinking, We’re taking piggy banktechnology advice from a woman who has no keypad on her phone?

My personal economic philosophy is pretty much use what you have as long as it’s cost-effective, getting the job done and repairable. When it’s not, it’s time to upgrade.

6)  Dropbox’s Terms of Service include: “We need your permission to do things like hosting Your Stuff, backing it up, and sharing it.”

This tells me since my permission is needed to do things their site is designed to do, they won’t be doing anything their site isn’t designed to do …unless I give them permission.

Would I recommend Dropbox?

For some things, I would.

Dropbox seems a God-send for business people who work away from the office, and for business teams or students working on projects without the ability or need to meet frequently.

Dropbox allows a person invited to view a file to edit it also. FYI: Dropbox is working on a Read Only business option.

Any downside?

Besides security issues — I know, I know. Dropbox says they’re as secure as your bank. I’m not buying it  — the only downside I foresee is account/file maintenance.

  • Any file edited on Dropbox must be downloaded and resaved by each participant who wants/needs a final copy.
  • Once a project is finished, and all the participants have resaved the product data, any Dropbox file should be deleted and cleared.

I would never use Dropbox to back up my hard drive/files and folders. There are safer and better choices for that.

Other Cautions and Concerns:

  • Early on Dropbox was not the safest cloud to float data on. But neither were a lot of others. Recently, mostly in 2014, Dropbox has dealt with issues and strengthened their security after easy infiltration by independent security researchers and the bad press that generated. I would still never use Dropbox to convey sensitive information.
  • If you think urgent security updates, changes, or notifications will be sent to you via email by Dropbox, you thought wrong. From what I’ve read, most of Dropbox’s important security explanations and/or information is only posted on their blog. You can access it at the bottom of Dropbox’s website.
  • Dropbox still seems nosey to me. Its memory banks retain things like my phone number and physical address.
  • Dropbox does have a policy titled Government Request Principals. Users rights seem to be first and foremost in Dropbox’s mind when data is requested by government entities, and I appreciate that.
  • Their encryption is server-side, not client-side. Meaning the key codes are stored along with your data on their servers. So if the data is lost to hackers, dishonest employees, etc. so is the information to decode it. 😦


  •  It’s the user’s responsiblity not to post/share files that could at any time potentially fall into the wrong hands. These would include things like your personal income tax returns, your bank statements, licenses, etc.
  • It’s always a good idea to log out of social media sites and other online sites (Dropbox included) that hold your personal information. Yes, I know it’s much easier to just leave them logged on, but logging off lessens your security risks.

Frog thoughtREADER INVITE:  There are thousands upon thousands of individual apps usable with Dropbox. I’m specifically interested in the password protection apps. The ones that keep your file password protected after it’s uploaded to Dropbox. Let me know which one is your favorite and why.

Thanks for reading, have a great day and safe computing! 😀


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.