Mount Vernon Computer’s Top 7 Tech Tips of 2021

Disclaimer: While nothing below should compromise your data or system, it’s always better safe than sorry. Run a backup!

Here are our favorite tips, tricks, and utilities for 2021.

1. uBlock Origin Adblocker

An adblocker is an Internet necessity, and nothing is as easy on system resources while blocking irritating banner ads and pop-ups like uBlock Origin. Boasting over 22,000 reviews averaging 4.8/5 stars, we install uBlock Origin on every PC we work on. Download as a Chrome extension; and here’s a Firefox version.

Note: You can toggle uBlock Origin on & off for individual websites; e.g., sites that require ad views to access coentent, or when you want to support a site by not blocking their ads.

TECH AFFECTED: Google, Facebook, and other websites that rely on ad revenue.

2. Speccy: Get All The Info

Not only does Speccy monitor your motherboard and CPU temperatures (and turns red when too high), it also allows access to your hard drive’s S.M.A.R.T. diagnostic tool, warning against imminent failure, and some other useful info. Find product numbers of your computer’s individual component. If you want to learn a little more about your computer’s specifics, Download Speccy for free.

TECH AFFECTED: Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Repair Shops

3. Printer Ink Alternative

There’s a reason manufacturers sell printers for $100 or less: ‘genuine’ printer ink is more costly than blood or 1985 vintage champagne. For the past decade I’ve saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars by simply entering my printer model number followed by “ink” into… eBay. There are numerous sellers that refill cartridges for ~10% the cost of ‘genuine ink’ … with no noticeable drop-off in quality. And eBay is extremely buyer-friendly, so if there is ever an issue, return the ink and receive a full refund. But with 99.9% feedback on most ink sellers, it’s unlikely a refund will ever be necessary. This is a huge money-saving opportunity especially if you use large format printers. 

TECH AFFECTED: HP, Canon, Brother, Printer & Ink Manufacturers

4. Ninite & Classic-Style Start Menu

Ninite auto-installs many common programs of your choosing, automatically removing any ‘additional’ software like toolbars and unnecessary scanners, plus saves you from clicking “next” over and over. Click here to use Ninite to download Classic Start – an extremely useful applet that transform the clunky, tile-ridden Windows 10 start menu into a minimalist Windows-7-style start menu, including a superior search feature over default and exceedingly obnoxious Siri-wannabe “Cortana.”

TECH AFFECTED: Consultants, Repair Shops, Microsoft’s Start Menu Engineers

5. Free Antivirus: Avira 

Windows offers “built-in” antivirus through Windows Security — once known as Microsoft Security Essentials – but additional protection should be installed. If you are currently using a paid-for antivirus such as Norton or McAfee, you must uninstall your current AV before switching to a new solution. And be sure to call and cancel your subscription as well. When it comes to free AV solutions, we recommend Avira

TECH AFFECTED: NortonLifeLock (Symantec), McAfee, other paid-for AV services and their distributors

6. Windows Key = Power Key

Most users are familiar with the various functions of CTRL + letter. But what many don’t realize are the numerous commands executed using the Windows Key + letter. Here are my favorites:

  Win + E = Opens Windows Explorer
•  Win + X = Power User Options including Device Manager, Disk Management, Task Manager, etc
•  Win + P = Change Display Settings When Using Multiple Monitors
•  Win + Right or Left Arrow Key = Snaps current window to right or left side of screen
•  Win + M = Show Desktop

Feel free to experiment and discover your own WIN (and CTRL) combo keys – you’re (probably) not going to break anything! (And if you do, email me for help).

TECH AFFECTED: Consultants, Repair Shops

7. AdwCleaner & HitManPro Scanners

Virtually every computer that connects to the Internet contains some form of adware or malware. While some is harmless, AdwCleaner & HitManPro remove innocuous adware along plus nastier spyware. AdwCleaner has been a favorite in the repair field for a while, and was recently purchased by another company with a great scanner, Malwarebytes.  A little more powerful, HitManPro is an extremely lightweight yet efficient malware removal program – they offer a free 30 day trial which includes total virus removal.

TECH AFFECTED: Best Buy’s Geek Squad, Repair Shops, paid-for virus removal manufacturers

BONUS: Like Snipping Tool? Try this . . .
Win + Shift + S  takes a selective screenshot!
Just highlight what you want, then paste (CTRL + V) wherever.

Want everything above and more installed, explained, with individualized attention to your specific needs and system, & more . . . ?

Daryl Elliott

Daryl Elliott

Founder | Mount Vernon Computers

Mount Vernon Computers was founded in 2004 by Daryl Elliott with a simple goal: to serve families and small businesses with fast, reliable IT support. Whether a broken screen, a wine-drenched MacBook, or just a general tune-up, each and every bit and byte is treated with care and respect.

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