Know How...

Dec 20th 2012

Know How... 24

Fix Your Parents' Computer

We've collected the tools, tricks, and tips that Leo and Iyaz found work best to fix an ailing machine.
Although the show is no longer in production, you can enjoy episodes from the TWiT Archives.
Category: Help & How To

It's time to travel and visit the folks. You're likely going to be fixing your parents' computer.

Here are the tips, tricks, and tools we've found work the best.

Carry Anti-Malware on You

  • Grab yourself a USB key and load it with some tools. We really like Hijack This, which is a great way to find out what exactly is going on a hosed computer.
  • You can also install a couple of tools directly to your USB drive thanks to
  • Install portable antivirus with ClamWin. Do yourself a favor and run ClamWin before you get to your parents' place and update the virus definitions while you're on your home machine.
  • To search for spyware, try out Spybot - Search & Destroy Portable.

Handling Toolbars

  • When you find a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer, there is an easy way to get rid of them. Go to Tools > Manage Add-Ons and find the offending toolbars.
  • Disable them.
  • From there, go to Control Panel > Programs and uninstall to your heart's content.


  • Don't forget to see what services are running. Use the Run command in Windows and type "msconfig" (without the quotation marks).
  • Go to the Startup tab to see what services are slowing down your machine.
  • If you have any question about a service, definitely do a quick Google search to see what that service does before you disable it.

Iyaz's Favorite Trick: Make Chrome into IE.

  • Make a shortcut to Google Chrome (or your browser of choice). Then change the icon to Internet Explorer's.
  • For the icon, put the following path C:\Windows\System32\ and find the shell32.dll file.
  • Select it.
  • Then you'll see a bunch of icons, the IE icon is about 3/4 of the way to the right.
  • Head into your browser's settings and make it the default browser.
  • Then go to Internet Explorer, click Tools, then Internet Options.
  • Uncheck the box that says "Tell me if Internet Explorer is not the default web browser."
  • Replace all IE icons with your new tricky browser.

Remote Access

Before you leave your family's home install Hamachi and a VNC server. We showed you how to use Hamachi to make your own VPN on a previous episode of "Know How."

Iyaz likes RealVNC for his VNC solution. That way you can remotely administer that computer wherever you are.

Leo's Picks

Leo liked a bunch of tools including Darik's Boot and Nuke which is designed to completely delete the contents of any hard disk it finds. If all else fails, wiping a drive and reinstalling the OS may be the best bet.

There's also Deep Freeze, which allows you to preserve a computer's configuration (it's like System Restore, but good).

Feedback: Almost every week, Iyaz asks the audience a question on Twitter. This time, we asked "How do you fix your parents' computers?"

  • EricSchneck: @iyaz I'm a big fan of TeamViewer. I install it on their PC and can remote in when needed. #twitkh
  • Jeremy Lusk: @iyaz Backup, wipe, re-install. Because when all you have is a hammer... #twitkh
  • merelyjim: @iyaz install #LinuxMint and don't give them root-password. Worked for 3+ years and counting #twitkh"

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