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Good to Know
by Cate Eales

Appeared May 21, 2012 on

Summer is coming; at least that’s what’s supposed to happen. And with it comes a flurry of calls every year from people whose laptops have “shut down for no reason.” This week, learn how to not be one of those people. And as a bonus, learn how to control what programs load when Windows starts up.

Keep your laptop cool
Laptops need airflow, or they will get too hot and shut down. If you look closely at your laptop, you'll probably see vents and air intake ports. And when I say "closely" I mean you might have to look at the bottom of the computer. (Please turn it off first!)

If you see intake ports on the underside of your computer, try to imagine how air is going to flow through the unit if you put it down on a table. Or a granite kitchen counter. Or a glass patio table. I can't imagine how, either, and that means it's going to heat up!

There are many fancy and expensive solutions to this problem. "Laptop cooling pads" come in a range of styles and prices and generally do the job. But you don't need to spend a lot of money on this.

Do you have a couple of wine corks around? Either synthetic or real cork will do. Put them on the table (on their sides --- not standing up) and place the back of the laptop on them so the computer is an inch or so off the table. Honestly, this will help, and it's an enjoyable DIY project!
I have customers who use a wine cork sliced in half the long way, a golf ball cut in half, and a couple of small Post-It Notes pads.

I use a couple of rubber door stops that I got for $1.50 from The Dollar Store. The rubber keeps the laptop from slipping, and the keyboard is tilted so it’s a little more comfortable to type on.


Stop programs from starting up with Windows
Almost every time I visit a new customer I find unnecessary (and, often, unwanted) programs starting up along with Windows. Most programs simply do not need to run all the time. They will happily start up when you click on them. (Exceptions are antivirus programs!) Yet people who write programs like Skype, and Adobe Reader and almost anything that comes with a camera seem to think that their program is the most important thing in the world and has to start up with Windows. Besides being rude, that makes Windows take longer to boot up.

I use Autoruns to clear out these startup entries. (If Autoruns is confusing, you could use the Startup tool in Ccleaner, as explained here.)

But often when I return to a customer, I find all kinds of junk in there again. Wouldn't it be good if you could choose whether or not to allow a program to start up with Windows? Good news: you can.
Some anti-spyware programs will warn you about pushy programs like this. But if yours doesn't and you want the chance to approve or deny any change to your start up routine, try StartUpMonitor by Mike Lin. Here's the description from the website:

StartupMonitor is a small utility that runs transparently (it doesn't even use a tray icon) and notifies you when any program registers itself to run at system startup. It prevents annoying programs from registering themselves behind your back.

The program is free, and you can download it here. I used it for years on my Windows XP machine. Although the website says he has not tested it with Vista, we have run it successfully here on Vista and Windows 7, including 64-bit versions.

Mike Lin's StartupMonitor
Mike Lin's StartupMonitor

Another excellent program, called WinPatrol, available here, combines some features of StartUpMonitor and Autoruns, and adds some more. There are free and paid versions. A comparison chart is here.

I welcome your comments and questions. I can also visit your home or office to help you and your computer get along. Call me at 250-764-7043, email or visit Computer Care Kelowna on the web.

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Laptop cooling pads at BestBuy Canada
Managing Autostart programs with Ccleaner
Mike Lin’s Startup Monitor
WinPatrol version comparison chart:
Computer Care Kelowna
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