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How to Use the Belarc Advisor Program

Many years ago I ran across this funny name program called Belarc Advisor. As an IT consultant, this program helped me a lot in ascertaining what hardware and software was installed on a machine.

The Belarc Advisor program is a free download licensed for personal use at home or work on a standalone machine. (Their is a network version for a price.) The Belarc Advisor builds a detailed profile of your installed software and hardware, local network inventory, missing Microsoft hotfixes, anti-virus status, security benchmarks and displays the results in a Web browser. Sorry, their is no free Mac version but you can find alternatives, just click here.

Belarc Advisor excels at providing those hard to find product keys or serial numbers for your installed programs.

Belarc products are used world wide in over 50 million computers. All of the profile information is kept private on your computer and is not sent to any web server. Some requirements are as follows:

  • Operating Systems: Runs on Windows 10, 2016, 8.1, 2012 R2, 8, 2012, 7, 2008 R2, Vista, 2008, 2003 SP2, XP SP3. Both 32-bit and 64-bit Windows are supported. Their commercial products also run on all other versions of Windows and on the Macintosh OS X, Linux, and Solaris operating systems.
  • Browsers: Runs on Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, Safari, Opera, and many others.

Installation

  1. Download your copy of Belarc Advisor.
  2. Either save the installer executable file to your download folder and run from there or click the file located in the lower left hand corner to install.
  3. You may get a popup dialog box about Windows is protecting your PC. If so, click on the More Info link then click Run anyway.
  4. Follow the install instructions.
  5. Click Yes to check for new Advisor definitions. When finished, click OK.
  6. Advisor will now build a profile of your machine and check your local network.
  7. A profile will be presented in your browser as noted in below screenshot:
Belarc Advisor Results
Partial snapshot of my Dell XPS machine using Belarc Advisor

Your Machine Profile Results

  1. In the upper left hand corner is a menu for the sections of the profile. Just click on one or scroll.
  2. Under the section Software Versions and Usage, you can click on the “i” for details.
  3. Your product keys are in the Software Licenses section. These are the ones the program was able to find.
  4. Pay attention to the Virus Protection, Missing Security Updates and Installed Microsoft Hotfixes sections to see if your machine is up-to-date.
  5. Since the profile is presented in your browser, you can right click anywhere and select Print to print the results.

You may be surprised at all the hardware and software installed on your machine.

My next post will deal with a detailed hardware inventory. Belarc Advisor is mainly for a listing of your installed software.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment about using Belarc Advisor. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Using PC Audit and Speccy for hardware inventory

How to Tweet a Live Photo as a GIF

Starting with the iPhone 6s series, taking a Live Photo is on your device. This tip applies to iPhone and iPad.

This is for iPhone, iPad and Mac or similar devices.\

How to Take a Live Photo

  1. Open the Camera app.
  2. Make sure that your Camera is set to photo mode and that Live Photo is turned on. When it’s on, you see the Live Photo button (3 concentric circles icon) highlighted at the top of your Camera.
  3. Hold your device still
  4. Tap the shutter button

Live Photo is on by default. If you want to take a still image, tap the Live Photo button to turn off Live Photo. You can preserve your Camera settings so that Live Photo is always on or off. Go to Settings > Camera > Preserve Settings.

Tweet Your Live Photo as a GIF

  1. Open your Twitter app
  2. In the bottom right hand corner, tap on the Compose button. Its icon features a feather encased in a blue circle.
  3. Locate and tap on your Live Photo in the quick-access image bar. You should see the Live icon overlayed on the thumbnail. If you are unable to find the Live Photo, select the Gallery button and then tap on your desired image.
  4. With the Live Photo loaded into the Tweet preview, tap on the “GIF” button found in the lower left hand corner. The Live Photo will be converted into a GIF and will play. You can select the Play button that appears when it stops to see the animation again.
  5. Type a brief message to go along with your GIF and tap the Tweet button.

That’s it. You are done.

How to find and play your Live Photos

  1. Open the Photos app
  2. Go to the Photos tab
  3. Tap the Live Photo
  4. Firmly press the screen and hold

Also, you can Edit or add Effects to your Live Photo by tapping the appropriate option.

What if you want to transform a Live Photo to a static photo?

Instructions are for iOS 13:

  1. Open your Photos app
  2. Select the Live Photo
  3. Tap Edit
  4. Tap the Live Photo icon at bottom of the screen from the available actions
  5. Tap the Live Photo icon at the top of the screen so that it is not enabled
  6. Tap Done

Now, if you press hard on the photo, you won’t see any movement. You can always restore a Live Photo that you’ve edited by following those steps and tapping the icon to highlight it.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

How to Use the Autoruns Program

Autoruns Results
Screenshot of Autoruns under Everything Tab

This is the third post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the free program Autoruns from Sysinternals.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Before following this post, refer to the previous posts on Delete Junk Files and Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions.

Introduction:

This utility, which has the most comprehensive knowledge of auto-starting locations, shows you what programs are configured to run during system bootup or login, and when you start various built-in Windows applications like Internet Explorer, Explorer and media players. These programs and drivers include ones in your startup folder, Run, RunOnce, and other Registry keys. Autoruns reports Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and much more. Autoruns goes way beyond other autostart utilities.

By default Autoruns starts by the Hide Signed Microsoft Entries option which helps you to zoom in on third-party auto-starting programs. Also, by default, the option to Hide Empty Locations is turned on. I recommend keeping these options.

You’ll probably be surprised at how many programs are launched automatically!

Running Autoruns:

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click the following for Autoruns for Windows. We are going to just run the program instead of installing. If you want to install, click the download link at the top of the page and follow its instructions..
  • Click the Run Now from Sysinternals Live. Its located at the top underneath the download link. The autoruns.exe file should appear at the bottom of your screen.
  • Click on the file to run

The program has several options in the main menu to include File, Entry, Options and Help that you can explore. For our purposes, you want to know what entries cannot be found. To do this:

  • Click on each tab, like Logon, and look for any entry highlighted in yellow as shown in the image at the top of this post. At the end of the entry, the program will say “File Not Found”. Uncheck the box at the beginning of the entry. This lets Autoruns bypass this entry, in our case, on Logon. The Logon tab is the most important as it depicts what programs are loaded when you start your PC. If you want to stop a program on startup, just uncheck the box for the entry.
  • Do this for every tab at the top of the screen as shown below:
Autoruns Results
My screenshot for Logon Tab

When you uncheck a yellow highlighted entry, you may get the following popup dialog box:

If so, click on Run as Administrator and the program will restart giving you Admin privileges. Now you are able to uncheck the “File Not Found” entry(s).

Do this for every tab at the top of the program

Close Autoruns and any other running programs and reboot your PC.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Delete Junk Files
Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions

How to Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions

This is the second post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the free program Defraggler. For a Mac, the best solution is also free: Back up your drive using Time Machine and do a clean install.

Before following this post, refer to the previous post on Delete Junk Files. There is no sense in defragging junk files.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Definitions:

Fragmentation occurs on a hard drive, a memory module, or other media (like SSD) when data is not written closely enough physically on the drive. Those fragmented, individual pieces of data are referred to generally as fragments.

Defragmentation, then, is the process of un-fragmenting or piecing together, those fragmented files so they sit closer, physically, on the drive or other media, potentially speeding up the drive’s ability to access the file.

Why Fragmentation:

Fragments, like you just read, are simply pieces of files that aren’t placed next to each other on the drive. That might be kind of strange to think about, and nothing you would ever notice, but it’s true.

For example, when you create a new Microsoft Word file, you see the whole file in one place, like on the Desktop or in your Documents folder. You can open it, edit it, remove it, rename it, whatever you want. From your perspective, this is all happening in one place, but in reality, at least physically on the drive, this is often not the case.

Instead, your hard drive is probably saving portions of the file in one area of the storage device while the rest of it exists somewhere else on the device, potentially far away… relatively speaking, of course. When you open the file, your hard drive quickly pulls together all the pieces of the file so it can be used by the rest of your computer system.

When a drive has to read pieces of data from multiple different areas on the drive, it can not access the whole of the data as fast as it could if it had all been written together in the same area of the drive.

Over time, as more and more fragmentation occurs, there can be a measurable, even noticeable, slowdown. You might experience it as general computer sluggishness but, assuming excessive fragmentation has occurred, much of that slowness may be due to the time it takes your hard drive to access file after file, each in any number of different physical places on the drive.

A dedicated defragging tool is what you need. Disk Defragmenter is one such defragger and is included for free in the Windows operating system. That said, there are many third-party options as well, the better of which do a considerably better job at the defragmentation process than Microsoft’s built-in tool.

Installation

Defraggler is hands down my favorite one.

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click here for Defraggler Download at from Piriform
  • At the top you see the Download Free Version button
  • Click on Download Free Version. The screen will scroll to the bottom.
  • Click on the Free Download button
  • Click on the Download button. I don’t know why they make this so difficult.
  • Follow the download instructions. Below is an image of what to expect:
Install Defragger
Download of Defraggler
  • After downloading, click the Install button
  • After installation has finished, you are presented with two options: Reboot Now or I want to manually reboot later. For this demonstration, I am choosing the second option.
  • Click the Finish button
  • A shortcut will appear on your desktop

Run Defraggler Analyze

Now we are ready to run the Defraggler program

  • First, restart/reboot your machine
  • Click on the desktop Defraggler shortcut
  • You are presented a screen like my image below
Analyze option

Next highlight a drive other than as SSD drive or flash drive and click the Analyze button. It is not recommended you defrag an SSD drive or a flash drive. These drives have no moving parts. Starting with Windows 7 these drives automatically have a TRIM operation to free up space. If I get a decent response to this post, I will explain how to check to see if TRIM is enabled in a future post.

If the Disk Health does not show GOOD in green you may have a problem. Your hard disk is either bad or is going bad. I recommend closing any open programs and shut down your machine. Kindly take the PC to your local Geek shop, like Geek Squad at Best Buy, and have them take a look at your hard drive. If it needs to be replaced, hopefully, they can copy your data from the old drive to the new one.

Following is my screenshot showing the Analyze results of my drives:

Analyze results

Now I want to show you what the Windows 10 Optimizer stated about the status of my hard drive.

Windows analyze results

There is a big difference on C and D drives. Windows Optimizer says 0%, Defraggler has much different results; C drive is 6% and D drive is 11% defragged. In my experience, Defraggler is the best software to defrag your hard drive(s) and/or partitions.

On my PC, I have one hard drive split into 3 partitions, C, D and E. C is an SSD drive that contains the Operating System. D drive contains all my programs. E drive stores my backup data. (G and L partitions are for my external backup drive.) By doing this, I can easily backup all my data because its only located in one place, the E drive. Windows wants to store your data all over the place. So, if you are buying a new machine, I recommend partitioning your hard drive into 3 partitions and point any program data to the E drive. Install all your programs on the D drive. Some programs give you no options on where to store the program or data; these programs default to drive C. Okay, enough of my soap box drama. Lets continue.

After Analysis is completed, if any drive shows greater than 10% fragmentation, I recommend you defrag the drive.

Run Defraggler Defrag

To run properly, Defraggler needs at least 10% free space on your hard drive. It will run, rather slowly, if there is less than 10% free space available.

Click on the drop down box of Defrag and choose Quick Defrag. This defrag process can take several hours. You can pause or stop the defrag and continue later. I recommend defragging just before you go to sleep; let the program run all night. Also, I recommend you turn off your screen saver before running.

After running, if the fragmentation still shows greater than 10%, then run the Defrag option from the drop down box.

Below is the image after I defragged partition D:

Defraggler results

Notice that partition has no fragmented files. I recommend analyzing your hard drive every 4 months and defragging if necessary. The only sub option I use is the File List to see which files are fragmented.

Remember, your SSD or flash drives will not need to be analyzed/defragged by Defraggler.

Shut down Defraggler and any other running program and reboot your PC.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Delete Junk Files

How to Delete Junk Files on a PC

This is the first post in a series on “cleaning” your machine. The instructions are for a PC using the program CCleaner. There is a Mac version of CCleaner.

Your desktop and/or laptop needs a regular cleaning, like washing your car. When your system crashes, programs crash, your Internet browser fails to work properly, you perform lots of searches on the Internet; these issues leave junk files and traces of information on your Solid State Device (SSD) or hard drive(s). The more of these situations you experience, the slower your PC.

CCleaner can delete temporary files for Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Google Chrome and Firefox. Some of the major options are built into Windows 10 latest update; you just have to find them. Some experts say that CCleaner is no longer needed. But I still find it useful. The details on how to use Windows 10 features similar to CCleaner will be available in a later post.

This tip explains how to get rid of these Junk files. You can do this manually or setup a schedule (Professional version only). I recommend you run this program for your PC desktop and/or laptop at least once a month.

The basic steps are to install the CCleaner program. The program is free or you can upgrade to a professional version for a price. Once installed (you only have to do this once), you can let the program Analyze your PC. Then you can Clean your machine.

I have used this program in many countries on all types of PCs. CCleaner has been in existence since 2004. By running this program at least once a month, your PC will be faster and smoother.

This is for Windows based operating systems

Install the program CCleaner (you only have to do this once).

  • Close all running programs
  • Empty your Recycle Bin
  • Click here for CCleaner Download at from Piriform
  • For the Mac version, click here
  • Scroll down till you see the Download button (this is the Free version)
  • Click on Download
  • Follow the download instructions. Below is an image of what to expect:
Install CCleaner
CCleaner download

On your initial install you can immediately run the program. You are doing the Easy Clean option of CCleaner.

  • After downloading, click the Install button
  • Click the Run CCleaner button
  • Click the Start button
  • CCleaner may want you to close some programs. If so, click on the Close All button
  • The program analyzes your machine and presents you with the following screen:
CCleaner Results
CCleaner analyze

Do not be surprised if you see tens of thousands of Junk files.

Now you are ready to click the Clean All button. When the program has finished you will be presented with the following screen:

CCleaner Results
CCleaner results

Now close CCleaner and restart your machine.

That’s it. You are done! CCleaner will add a shortcut to your desktop.

There are other options available:

  • Custom Clean for a more robust cleaning by changing the settings. I do not recommend changing any of these settings. If you do change them, they will remain set for subsequent runs of CCleaner or until you download a new version.
  • Registry allows you to find and fix Registry issues (always backup the registry first). I do not recommend you use this feature.
  • Tools has many sub options. The most useful for me is the Uninstall option which allows you to uninstall a program. If you highlight and right-click on a program name, you are presented with other options. I recommend only using the Uninstall option or click on the Uninstall button.
  • Options has many sub options as well. Sadly the Scheduling option is only available in the Professional version. I use none of these options.
  • Upgrade option is for updating the Free version to the Professional version.

On any screen you can Check for Updates. Just click to check.

My next post with be a will cover the topic of disk fragmentation; how to check and resolve the issue.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

Related:

Defrag Hard Drive(s) and Partitions
Wise Disk Cleaner

Introduce Yourself

I am Raymond Oglesby with 30 years in Information Technology (IT). I have taught Microsoft Applications and troubleshot computers in 15 countries as well as many States. Half of my IT career has been on mainframe computing in a dozen computer languages; the other half in the Personal Computer (PC) client server environment.

I am starting my first blog on using technology at home or work. I plan on updating the blog twice a week. Stay tuned and hope you enjoy my blog.

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.

How to Login to Windows With a Legal Message

This post is for a PC Windows 10 Operating System having multiple users or several PCs in a small business environment. We are going to change the Windows Registry to provide a Legal Message at login. I am using a lot of screenshots to ensure you are successful.

First and foremost, lets backup your PC Registry. This is extremely important in case you update the wrong key or your registry has problems. I want you to have a safe experience. Changing the Registry is tricky and not for the “faint of heart”.

Starting in Windows 10 Version 1803, the Windows Registry is no longer automatically backed up. You can change this behavior by following these instructions. This requires editing the Registry. Instead, I recommend using a software program to backup the Registry.

This is for Windows based operating systems

The RegBak Software Utility

The program I recommend is called RegBak, a freeware program. You can download the program here. Click the Download button for RegBak then click the regbak.exe file at the bottom of the screen and follow the install instructions. Once installed, you should see a screen like the one below:

RegBak Install
After installing RegBak

To backup your Windows registry:

  • Click the New Backup button
  • Enter a Description (this is optional)
  • Click Start

Below is a screenshot:

RegBak Install
Starting to run RegBak
  • Click Close

Your screen will look like the below image:

RegBak Results
Results of running RegBak
  • Click Close to exit

Your screen should look like the below image:

RegBak Results
Registry backup complete

To Restore from a backup: Note! only do this if your Registry is corrupt.

  • Highlight a backup entry
  • Click the Restore button
  • Click Close

You can also delete a backup by highlighting an entry and clicking on Delete. Feel free to check out the Options button. I would just leave the default options as is.

Setting up the Legal Message

Now lets edit the Registry for our Legal Message at Windows login:

  • Type “regedit” (without quotes) into the Cortana search box to open the Registry Editor
  • Expand the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE and keep expanding until you reach HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE_SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System

Your screen should look like the below image:

Registry
Registry screenshot for editing legal caption and legal text

In the right hand pane, find these two listings: legalnoticecaption and legalnoticetext.

The value of legalnoticecaption acts as the heading of your legal message.

  • Double click on legalnoticecaption and change its value to something like “Important Notice!” (without quotes).

Your screen should look like the below image:

Legal Caption
Adding a legal message caption
  • Click OK

Now we will do the same for the Legal Message text.

  • Double click on legalnoticetext and enter something like “Remember to keep all passwords private!” (without quotes).

Your screen should look like the image below:

Legal Message
Adding a legal message text
  • Click OK


What if you wanted more than one line of text for your Legal Message? This requires hexadecimal editing and is not recommended. However, if you need this:

  • Complete the text field first
  • Right click the legalnoticetext key
  • Select Modify binary data

Your screen should look like the below image:

Binary Data
Before modifying the binary data for the legal message
  • Find the appropriate spot for a paragraph break. Click the space just after the last character in the message where you want to put the carriage return.
  • Enter this four digit code for a carriage return, 0D00. Finding the right spot to insert a carriage return can be tricky.

In my example I am entering a carriage return just after the word “passwords”.

Below is a screen shot:

Binary Data
After modifying the binary data for legal message

When the changes are complete click File>Exit to save your work and close the Registry. The next time a user logs into the Windows 10 PC they will have to acknowledge the Legal Message by clicking the OK button before they can move on to the normal login screen.

If you applied a carriage return in the binary data and it doesn’t work, try entering the 0D00 in a different spot for the Legal Message text. To do this, remove your text message and reenter, then insert the carriage return key.

Important Note

Its important to understand, that the Legal Message will appear each and every time the Windows 10 PC is booted. At some point, you may wish to cancel the Legal Message. In that case, repeat the above steps for editing the Registry and remove the text in legalnoticecaption and legalnoticetext keys to cancel the message. This will resume the typical login sequence.

I Would Like to Hear from You

Please feel free to leave a comment. I would love hearing from you. Do you have a computer tech question? I will do my best to answer your inquiry. Please mention the app and version that you are using. To help me out, you can send screenshots of your data related to your question.