Reading, reading, and .... reading !
The most important feature of The Ultimate Troubleshooter
(TUT) is the advice we give. If you take the time to read that advice properly and carefully, you will not only be able to fine tune your PC in the way top IT professionals do, but you will also be able to home in on spyware, adware,
or disastrous software. Those two reasons are
probably your prime reasons for purchasing The Ultimate
Troubleshooter in the first place. However,
thorough reading of our descriptions and recommendations
will also significantly enhance your understanding and
knowledge of PCs and Windows.
Thus, reading our advice carefully and
thoroughly is a win-win situation —
Please do it.
Check for TUT updates
If you have just installed TUT, the chances are that we will have released some database updates which contain new or updated Tasks, Services, and Startups write-ups. So, before you start, make sure you
have the very latest updates through the "Check for Updates" menu option under the HELP menu of TUT.
As shown below, TUT opens on the "Tasks running on this PC" tab which shows you all the programs (tasks) currently running in the background or in the taskbar of your PC. As you click on a task, our description and recommendations for that task are shown in the lower part of the screen.
Using TUT for the first time — colour coding and the right-click
The opening screen of TUT shows you the various tasks that are running on your PC. As shown in the above screenshot,
at all times there are many programs running in the background which do not show on the Taskbar at the bottom of the screen. Some of these programs (tasks) are necessary, some are absolutely fine, some may not be necessary for your particular needs, others are downright useless, and some are utterly nightmarish. We have used a colour coding system, the traffic lights colour coding system, to help you instantly work out which tasks you should immediately take a look at, as follows :
- White (Unknown) : this will show up against a task which this particular version of TUT does not yet know about. When that is the case click on the
Email Tasks button on the TUT toolbar to email us your unknown tasks. On receipt of those tasks we will investigate them and will include our findings in future versions of TUT.
please click the EMAIL TASKS button once only for TUT to email us the details of all the tasks, services, and startups which it does not know on your PC; you do not need to email us for every unknown task you find
– once is all that is needed).
Red (Useless, Pest, Problematic, or Dangerous) : We will flag in
Red any task which is either totally useless (Yes, there are indeed some totally useless tasks!), or which could cause Windows stability problems, or which are spyware, adware, or viruses.
When dealing with Red tasks, it is absolutely paramount to read our
Recommendations section carefully and thoroughly. Many users make the mistake of assuming that a Red task should automatically be deleted, and through not reading our Recommendations they end up doing more damage than if they had left the task alone !!
Read our recommendations carefully and thoroughly
– if in doubt, print our recommendations by right-clicking on the task in question and choosing
Print selected Task.
Yellow (May not be needed
– You decide) : We will flag in
Yellow any task where, based on our description and recommendations for the task, you have to make the decision as to whether you need the task or whether you should disable it. A typical example would be that you know you will never have a need to fax from, or receive faxes on your PC, yet the PC you just bought from the computer store has fax software starting automatically every time your start your PC, thus, as far as you are concerned, unnecessarily consuming valuable resources given that you will never need that software. Another person with the same computer, on the other hand, may be running a business from home and using the new PC to send and receive faxes and, in their case, the same fax software is absolutely necessary. We would flag such a task in yellow.
Green (This task is safe and is most probably needed) : We will flag in
Green any task which is either absolutely necessary for the proper functioning of Windows or of a particular program or printer or device that you use, or we will also flag in Green a task which is safe.
Important : while you may decide in your first TUT session not to bother with Green tasks, you should nevertheless make a point of reading about them at some stage later. There are two reasons for this : one, it will enhance your existing knowledge of Windows, but, more importantly, we may have flagged a task as green but it does not necessarily mean that you need it. For example : we may have flagged as Green a task that is vital to the proper functioning of your printer. However, if you no longer have that printer, then irrespective of the fact that we have flagged the task as Green, the fact is that you no longer need to have this task on your PC and you should therefore think of uninstalling that particular printer from your PC.
Blue (Multiple Possibilities) : We will flag a task in
Blue if TUT knows of more than one possibility as to what this task could be. This happens when two different software writers have used the exact same name for the program file that Windows runs to run their software. For example, at the start of 2005, PERSFW.EXE is the program filename for both the
Kerio Personal Firewall and the Tiny Personal Firewall, two entirely different firewall offerings from different software manufacturers. When that is the case TUT is not able to decide which is which and flags the task in
Blue. When TUT flags a task in
Blue, look in the bottom right-hand corner of the TUT screen, and you will seen two green
NEXT and PREVIOUS buttons. These buttons enable you to cycle through the different possibilities and it will then be up to you to work out which one applies to you.
Note : many viruses attempt to pass as Windows programs through having the same program filename as a known Windows program. When that is the case, TUT will show a
"Multiple Possibility". If this occurs (you have a "multiple possibility" and one of the possibilities is a virus), remember that if you have a daily updated reputable antivirus program, then it is
extremely extremely unlikely that you have a virus and the
good possibility is probably the one which applies to you. In any case read our write-ups carefully as they will almost always enable you to identify which "possibility" applies to you.
Remember, you should have a daily updated REPUTABLE antivirus program in addition to TUT (in 2015 our own list of reputable antivirus programs includes, in alphabetical order : Avira, Avast, AVG, BitDefender, BullGuard, F-Prot, F-Secure, Kaspersky, McAfee, Microsoft Security Essentials, NOD32, Norman AntiVirus, Norton AntiVirus & all Symantec various antivirus offerings, Panda Antivirus, Trend Micro, Sophos).
things to know
All of TUT's features can be accessed through a combination of the following :
- Right-clicking on a Task, Service, or Startup, will bring up a menu of actions you can perform with that task, service, or startup, such as terminating a task, changing the
Startup Mode of a service, disabling or enabling a Startup, etc...
- There are additional functions you can access through the
- And there are
yet further functions you can access through the
menus at the top.
For the layman : background tasks which start automatically whenever you start your PC, can be set up in two places under Windows XP/2003/Vista/Win7/Win8/Win8.1 and Win2008 and Win2012 Server. They can be started as services through the
SERVICES tab, or they can be started through the
STARTUPS tab (see below).
The STARTUPS tab
We will quite often refer to the STARTUPS tab in our recommendations. The three main things to remember are :
- If an item has a check mark against it, this means
that it will start automatically whenever Windows
starts. No check mark = item disabled. You can click
in the check box to enable/disable an item, or you can
right-click on the item for the full list of options
available to you.
- Disabling an item does not terminate it if it is
currently running on the TASKS tab. It
simply ensures that that item will not start
automatically when you next start your PC.
- Remember to click the big green APPLY
button to make any enabling/disabling changes stick.
The HARDWARE tab shows everything that makes up your PC, hardware-wise and software-wise. It can be useful purely for curiosity value, or as an aid to troubleshooting a specific problem.
Note : the information displayed on this tab is totally dependent on a Microsoft component called Windows Management Instrumentation, or WMI. On some PCs, WMI does not always work properly. Whenever that is the case the information displayed by TUT on the
HARDWARE tab will not be as complete as it could be.
TUT records everything you do, such as terminating a task, changing the startup mode of a service, disabling/enabling a startup, deleting a file, etc...
This log can be very useful if you make a mistake as it will enable you to trace your steps. You can access the Changes Log through the
View \ Changes Log menu option.