Does your Internet access seem a little sluggish? Shpritzing WD-40 on your screen won't help. A better idea: try my all-time favourite cheap system speed-up tips to make your Web browsing pleasurable again. I also have a better way to block ads, and fast ways to move files.
The Hassle: I've had ADSL for a year, but at times it still feels poky.
The Fix: OpenDNS offers faster Internet access (e-mail and FTP, too), and it's free (see http://opendns.com/faq). Domain Name Servers (DNS) translate site names, such as www.pcworld.idg.com.au, into IP addresses that PCs employ to locate one another on the Net.
Most people use their ISP's DNS services by default, and some providers are slow. Switching to OpenDNS has advantages. First, it's faster because it stores requests in a large cache; if you ask for the same IP address that other users have requested, OpenDNS doesn't need to look elsewhere - it has it. Make a typo - say, "netfliks.com" - and you're delivered to the correct site. Not only that, a warning appears if you reach a phishing site. Setting up OpenDNS is a snap (see www.opendns.com/start for instructions).
The Hassle: My free ad blocker isn't keeping up with the ads. And I still get a few pop-ups despite using Google's pop-up blocker.
The Fix: Ads? Where? I don't see any. My secret weapon is Ad Muncher, the most effective (and simple-to-use) ad and pop-up blocking utility I've seen. Granted, the tool is about $33 (with a 30-day trial; get it at www.admuncher.com), but it works well and blocks almost all banner, Flash, floating and text ads I've encountered. When you try it, be sure to uninstall or disable your existing ad and pop-up blocker.
If a Web site doesn't work correctly, or if you want a site's pop-up to pop up, the fix is easy. Right-click Ad Muncher in the system tray, choose the My Filters tab, click New, cut and paste the address into the Keyword field, choose No Filtering in the Filter Category and click Close.
The Hassle: Windows Explorer has 355 assorted menu items when I right-click a file, and the list takes forever to appear. (Okay, I'm joking; there are only 100.) How can I get rid of some, especially those from long-deleted programs?
The Fix: I saw one PC whose monitor tilted to the right because it had so many items in the context menu. Seriously, though, many programs add menu items with or without permission. Getting rid of unused ones can range from easy to exasperating. Start by opening the corresponding program to see whether it allows you to remove the menu item (look for something like "Shell integration"). In WinRAR, for instance, choose Options-Settings, and uncheck Integrate WinRAR into shell. WinZip puts its removal option in Options-Explorer Enhancements.
For what's left, I would bring out the big guns. NirSoft's free ShellExView program (www.nirsoft.net/utils/shexview.html) lists virtually all menu items (my PC had 300) and lets you disable them so that they don't appear when you right-click.
Sort and move files more easily
Do you regularly need to organise and move a hodgepodge of files from hither to yon (or just to another folder)? For my files, I use FileSort (download it at http://mwynwood.com/blog/?p=231). I have a folder that contains my daily, incoming e-mail attachments - Word documents, videos and images. In FileSort I've created rules to move specific files from that folder to others; for instance, it shuttles 15MB or larger video files to one folder and puts JPEGs in another. I've set the program to run every 30 minutes. Some rules can use wild cards, too: for example, the expression *.jpg moves every file that ends in .jpg.