Has the new edition of AVG, your beloved free antivirus tool, slowed your system to a crawl? Is the sound missing from your favorite time-wasting YouTube videos? I have fixes for those hassles, plus an easy way to restore the Windows Task Manager Toolbar and a free utility to transfer music from your iPod to your PC.
Speed Up AVG Free Antivirus
The Hassle: I upgraded to AVG Free 8.0, and now Firefox is slow and my whole system is unusually sluggish. What happened to my favorite antivirus program?
The Fix: The latest version of AVG Free does more than detect viruses; it has stronger protection against malware and malicious sites. But one of the new security tools, LinkScanner, can bog down some PCs. LinkScanner checks Google, MSN, and Yahoo search results for exploits or phishing expeditions. The tool disguises itself as an Internet Explorer component so that malware programs can't detect it and hide from it.
If LinkScanner is a drag on your PC's system resources, you can remove it by downloading and reinstalling AVG Free (and no, you don't have to uninstall it first). When installation starts, choose Add/Remove Components, click Next for a list of components, uncheck LinkScanner, and finish the process.
You'll probably need to reboot, and make sure to do a manual update to grab the most current virus definitions. To suppress any annoying warnings that LinkScanner isn't working, choose Tools, click Advanced Settings, Ignore Faulty Conditions, check the LinkScanner check box, and click OK. If you still aren't happy with AVG, try Avast Home Edition; or for under US$30, use my favorite, Kaspersky Anti-Virus 2009.
No Sound on the Web?
The Hassle: Suddenly I can't get audio when I play a video--on YouTube or CNN, for example--from within Firefox or Internet Explorer. Odd, because I can play and hear MP3s in Windows Media Player, and system sounds work, too. Talk to me.
The Fix: Here's a quick news flash about Flash: The last time you upgraded your Adobe Flash player, a handful of Registry entries that handle the mapping of Microsoft codecs probably went south. The fix will take a few minutes. Read this tutorial and download the .reg file.
Restore Task Manager's Toolbar
The Hassle: XP's Task Manager somehow lost its tabs. I don't have option tabs, or even buttons, and the only way I can close it is from the system tray. What gives?
The Fix: It sounds like you've been clicking where you shouldn't--on a blank area surrounding Task Manager's tabs. One of your clicks stripped Task Manager of its menu bar. You can bring back its default setting by double-clicking any gray area on the Task Manager window, which will cause the menu bar to reappear magically. Okay, you can stop clicking now. It's fixed.
Recover Lost Tunes From an iPod
The Hassle: I recently reinstalled Windows, but forgot to make a backup of over 400 songs and playlists that I had recently added to my iPod. Now I discover that iTunes won't allow me to transfer anything back to my PC. Am I stuck?
The Fix: I'm going to make you a happy iPod user. Grab a free copy of iDump (classy name, eh?) and let it transfer all the tunes on your iPod back to your computer.