Is 'harmless' software clogging up your computer?
Computers are great when they are being fast and efficient. But when they're slow they can drive us crazy. Find out what MSN Money user Lily discovered eating up the hard drive on her system....
Thanks to so many of you for getting in touch recently - it's great to hear from you and to be able to try to solve your problems. Keep them coming.
MSN Money user Lily got in touch with a problem that made me check my own laptop in case it was happening to me too...
She told me her home computer kept bringing up a message saying the disk space on the hard drive was just about to be completely full and she had no idea why.
The system was only a couple of years old, had about 100 photos stored on it and around 30 iTunes files along with word documents but no games or complicated applications and nothing that could account for the huge bite out of her bytes.
She tried a few things that her colleagues at work suggested - such as checking the disk space and cleaning it up - but nothing helped.
Eventually, Lily took her hard drive to her local computer repair shop and the answer was revealed: the antivirus software she was using had taken up all the space.
Apparently, whenever it was updated it loaded a whole new set of files onto the computer rather than just updating existing ones. And then it failed to delete the old ones. So it would only need a couple of years of updates and renewals to clog everything up and slow down the performance.
Lily had no idea that the antivirus was the problem so she did what most of us would and consulted her local computer expert. They said the system had needed to unlock a special part of the system to fix it.
Lily told me: "They said they had seen several other customers with the same problem and because most people would not expect the antivirus programme to be the problem, they spent time and money following up red herrings."
The computer consultant took the Norton antivirus off and replaced it with a different brand, which is the same price but does not back-up old files. The repair cost £106.40.
I thought this was such a simple - but infuriating and possibly expensive - experience that it was well worth sharing with other MSN Money users.
But I also think that Symantec, which makes the Norton product that caused this, should warn customers before they upload the product and advise them on how to avoid this happening. And ideally it shoud be prevented rather than cured.
What Symantec said
Emma Jeffs, a spokesman for Symantec in the UK was very helpful when I contacted them. She looked into the case and said it was unusual.
She said Lily had an older version of product from 2007 and she had renewed her subscription every year but could have updated her Norton to the latest version for free, simply by visiting the Norton site and installing. Apparently a newer version of the product would have identified the problem on the hard drive and fixed it.
She added that Norton regularly communicates via email to customers on older products that they are eligible for updates to the most current product, but perhaps Lily had not seen these communications.
“The issue Lily had is rare. When she updated the virus definitions on her product, some of the update files on her computer saved themselves as separate files which took up much of her hard drive space. It is easily fixed by uninstalling and then reinstalling the product."
"This can be done by the customer themselves, or they can contact Norton Customer Services who will do this, for free, as part of the customer service which is offered by the product, in accordance with the terms and conditions. It’s a process which can be done by remote access and will take around 30 minutes. Customer support is available either through a tab within the product, or via the Norton update centre."
"Unfortunately, the customer in this case wasn’t aware that it was Norton files taking up space on her hard drive, so took her computer to an independent computer specialist to have it fixed. The specialist charged her to remove the Norton product and install a new security product, a process which would have been offered free of charge if she had contacted Norton Support directly."
After further investigation, Symantec offered to refund half of the money Lily spent so she has a payment of £55.
What you can do
The message here is to consider some of the legtimate software you have when checking out problems with your computer - there may be a free helpline that can deal with your problem, rather than taking it straight for costly repairs.
Have you had problems with software? Share your views and experiences - please leave a comment below...
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I wonder what sir tim berners- lee would think of the mess that has been made of his invention where 98% of time on line is spent trying to avoid tiresome stories of sportsmen/wome, alleged celebities and z list royal or politicians.also t.he fatuous and intrusive advertising really is bringing the web to the lowest common multiple
Non-technically minded users are unware of a surreptitious use of space known as "caching".
Caching, is done by many programs on a computer. The biggest culprit these days is your web browser. Each web browser comes with its own way (via the menu bar) of clearing the cache and web browsing history and things called cookies (which aren't tasty at all - but giveaway all the websites you've visited) to free up disk space but most of this type of user are unaware that this feature exists.
However, a web browsers own way is limited and doesn't often clear up everything because usually it can't make its mind up if the cached files can be safely deleted or not.
I maintain my PC's cache etc with this tool (and others)
A free (but older) version can be found here
When I ran this on my brother's PC months ago, it freed up 3.5GB of space.
Since, my PC is regularly maintained...by me...the space saving is far less.
What I do these days is have an external USB hard drive where I save all important documents. So, if the laptop/PC dies then at least all the files are safe on a seperate hard disk. So, the main system can be reinstalled without a care.
When did you last switch your current account?
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- 74 %I have never switched current accounts
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