Don’t Buy the ACER Aspire Cloudbook 14. Just. Just Don’t.

So my old computer ended up getting wrecked by a tiny little piece of dried hot glue that had somehow gotten into the cooling unit. Unfortunately, my business, such as it is, is based online. From e-bay selling, tarot reading, and even Textbroker writing – I can’t go without a computer. And since I’ve expanded out into other types of online interaction, it’s become even more important.

So I ended up getting a new computer so my husband has time to fix (if possible) my old one. Due to money being a serious issue, I had to buy cheap. I ended up getting a ACER Aspire Cloudbok 14 – which is worth less than the $179 price tag at Walmart. It’s basically a glorified smartphone, without the touch screen. And it comes with Windows 10 right out of the box. Now, W10 has grown on me. I’ve gotten used to it, and in fact found ways to tolerate it and make it work for my needs. However, the sheer size of the operating system on most machines is peanuts compared to the Aspire Cloudbook. Wit only 2GB of RAM and 32GB of memory, Windows 10 takes up around 90% of it all. Leaving only 4GB of internal memory for the user right out of the box. Now, this is where it gets interesting – the Aspire Cloudbook 14 comes with a special offer – 1TB of OneDrive cloud storage, for about a year, when you install Office 365 Personal for a year. Windows 10 comes with 15GB of OneDrive storage FREE with your Windows 10 system. Since Microsoft Office is now a subscription service rather than a regular word processor you can buy one time and have for life, I never use it. I prefer LibreOffice or OpenOffice for my word processor needs. Due to memory issues and the lack of space on my Cloudbook, I opt for GoogleDocs lately (for the record, I HATE GOOGLEDOCS).

So, I installed the free Office Suite that I’d get for a year – and got my 1TB of storage. Then I uninstalled Office – and immediately LOST that 1TB of promised free OneDrive storage. And am back down to my free 15GB with my Windows 10 install.

All of this leads me to the following: with only 4GB out of the box, there’s not a lot you can do other than go online and do everything online only. Downside – that 4GB fills up QUICK with temporary internet files, cookies, etc. So you’re constantly having to close out of your browser (if it’s set to clear all of that stuff when it closes out), and then reload it. The Edge browser is inconvenient at best, and non-functional at worst due to the fact the browser keeps crashing every few seconds on the most simple of webpages. Most websites are no longer compatible with Internet Explorer, which also comes native with Windows 10 and CANNOT be uninstalled. Trust me, I’ve tried. So there’s 2 non-functional web browsers that cannot be removed. So an alternative browser must be installed  Firefox is my browser of choice, and takes up less space than Chrome on the Cloudbook. So I went with it. Now, let’s talk about bloatware!

Windows 10 is chock full of bloatware. So I set about uninstalling every single app that I do not use. Here’s part of the problem – the apps DO NOT SHOW when you look at your installed programs list. So you must uninstall apps from the start menu itself by right clicking, then selecting Uninstall. This does not completely remove the app, but it does get the bulk of it. We’ll get to how one removes all traces of it in a bit.

So, I uninstalled all sorts of things, from a 3D modeling program to a password saving program (which honestly, is not a smart idea because it makes your computer all the more hackable, and you’re screwed if you forget the master password to all your other passwords – depending on the program that is). And then there was the Amazon Prime app, which you have to not only install but then buy a subscription for. Netflix app, too. So got rid of all the WINDOWS bloatware. Next was the ACER bloatware! Acer’s bloatware consisted of Acer versions of Microsoft Office and GoogleDrive applications. So got rid of THAT.

Now, there’s a Mcafee app that activates with windows, and you get that free for a month. It’s unavoidable. Once that month is over though, I’m free to uninstall and put in whatever I like. (I’m going for Malwarebytes because honestly, it’s fucking awesome and so unobtrusive!) THEN there’s Avast SecureLine, a VOIP program. That you have to pay to activate, but hey it’s already installed! I’m leaving it for now, as I or my husband may have need of it at a later point.

So AFTER ALL OF THAT I managed to expand my 4GB of available space to 5GB of space. Next comes the fun part – Revo. Revo Uninstaller is a fantastic program. I use the freeware version, but the Pro version is worth it’s price tag and then some. (they do run 50% off subscription specials from time to time – and that’s the perfect time to purchase the full program.) As I said, I use the freeware version, which is given out by the developer via their website. Revo is good mainly for getting rid of malware and adware that’s managed to install itself and won’t leave no matter what you do. Specifically, it’s good for malware and adware that disguises itself as a legitimate program. I use it for all manner of things. Well, I got rid of a few pesky programs that were a bit harder to remove the normal way. from there I was given the option to dig into the registry files and get rid of all trace of those programs. So that’s what I did. After dealing with THOSE I then turned around and used their other tools. I boxed in the important stuff below.

revo1

Windows tools, obviously, will bring up your basic windows maintenance programs (Disk Cleanup, Defrag, etc.) so it’s good to use those at this point (but hold off on the Defrag just yet!) After dealing with all of the basics under Windows Tools, it’s time to get rid of the Junk Files. This is all the stuff that shouldn’t be on your computer in the first place. Some of it is leftover items from uninstalled apps and programs, some of it’s benign items from old viruses. Use that to clean out everything of that nature at this point. After THAT head down to the Tracks Cleaner and click it. That’ll bring up more options. There’s a Browser cleaner, which only works with Explorer and Opera. It’s worth running the Internet Explorer one, even if you’ve never used it and never do. It doesn’t hurt anything, and will help clear anything that is IE specific. There’s also the Microsoft Office Cleaner. Run this if you have Office – it helps get rid of all those recovery files that stack up for each and every document. This frees up A LOT of MBs! Once that’s done, scroll down the menu (there’s an upside down triangle right above Optimization. That’s what you wanna click.) This will show you MORE options and tools.

Of these next tools, there are 2 that are the most important. Windows Cleaner and Evidence Remover. Windows Cleaner wipes up literally everything that Disk Cleanup has missed. So run this now. Once Windows Cleaner is done, move down to Evidence Remover.

Remember how I said the Windows 10 apps get uninstalled, but it doesn’t remove all of the date involved with them? This is what DOES get rid of it. You can run Evidence Remover on ANY drive you have installed – be it internal or external. In the image below, I have it on the Evidence Remover tool. There’s 2 red boxes, because I have my internal and my external was hooked up at the time of the screencap. I’ve blurred them out for the purposes of this pic.

revo2

Run evidence remover and it’ll free up approximately another GB of space (it may free up more if it’s an older/larger system that’s never had a full service cleaning before. Or it may get rid of less, because there’s less to remove in the first place.)

By doing all the Revo tools (save a few that are situation specific) I managed to expand that 5GB to 6.70GB of internal memory. This fluctuates depending on my browser usage. I have to clean the cache a few times a day. As for saving pictures, music, etc, I have it all saved to my external drive (a Toshiba with 500GB of memory my husband gave me to use for this).

And for the sake of it being in the picture above, Unrecoverable Delete is the equivalent to a paper shredder, then taking those shredded pieces and then setting them on fire, turning around and taking the ashes, and shooting them into the sun. It’s used specifically for getting rid of seriously sensitive information or things you shouldn’t have on your computer to begin with. Honestly – Hillary Clinton could have really benefited from having Revo (even just the Freeware version) installed to deal with all those e-mails.

After you’ve done ALL OF THAT – now’s the time to Defrag, since all a Defrag does is move stuff around into a more efficient manner to make your machine work just a little better and faster. And with all of the stuff we’ve deleted here, it’s gonna need all that data moved around to deal with a lot of those gaping holes we just put in.

Now then – as for the ACER Aspire Cloudbook 14 – overall it’s a decent machine, once you get used to the quirks and have a way around the memory issue. The hardware is NOT upgradable, and the battery cannot be replaced. So once it dies, that’s it – you’ve got a 2-3 pound paperweight. As a travel box, it’s a good idea since it does have windows 10, and can access data storage (such as Cloud Storage, Google Docs, Dropbox, etc.) so you can leave the more expensive device at home. It does have 2 USB ports for plugging in USB devices (flash drives, external memory, spare keyboard/mouse, etc.) and a HDMI port for hooking up to modern televisions for presentation purposes. It’s a decent box for first time computer users who just want to check out Facebook and go online (or use things like ABC mouse, etc.) It’s a basic machine with a long battery life (7 hours depending on what you’re doing with the thing), so if you’ve got an external drive with plenty of movies or tv or anything, it’s a good thing to have on a long trip. Unfortunately, it’s not got enough going for it to make it worth the $179 price ($210 on average when you include tax) and Microsoft isn’t doing anyone any favors by putting a full bells and whistles version of Windows 10 on the machine. If not for the fact that a lot of what I do depends on having Windows installed, I legitimately would make the switch to Ubuntu on this machine, as it’s highly easy to customize and is memory friendly for small-memory machines.

Overall, this works as a temporary fix, and lets me do the basics of the things I need a computer for, but it’s not good for anyone who needs memory, power, and plenty of specialized programs. It’s just not got the space for it all.

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3 responses to “Don’t Buy the ACER Aspire Cloudbook 14. Just. Just Don’t.

  1. Pingback: Cloudbook Troubles | Ravings of a Madman

  2. I was reading up on that model – isn’t it designed to be a Chromebook rather than a Win machine? If they didn’t make special HW upgrades to accommodate W10, I’m surprised you don’t see an animation of the system barfing with all the bloat of Win OS.

    I’m still on Win 7 on my desk system, and am not looking forward to upgrading my system OS.Your mention that IE on Win10 is still obsolete doesn’t make me feel any better. Now I know why they stopped updating the Win7 version- it’s a lost cause. By the way, I’ve been having some issues with Firefox being somewhat sluggish with all the tabs I have- so if you want to use an alternative, try Comodo Ice Dragon, which is a FireFox core with built in security enhancements. They also have a variant that uses Chrome as it’s core.

    It runs well, and I have no issues. I use it for general browsing, but I still use only FF or Chrome for secure transactions like ordering/banking just to be safe since I’m still testing it.

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    • Yeah, they didn’t make any special HW upgrades. The darn thing doesn’t even have a true hard drive, instead it’s got flash memory storage, and it’s not very good.
      I’ve heard about CID, as my husband was trying it out for a while but he ultimately went back to FF. He still uses Win7 and refuses to upgrade even to Win8 (which was stable on non-mobile devices), let alone the glitch-happy 8.1. That’s manly due to the software he uses not being compatible with anything higher than 7 anyway. So I don’t blame him. (Myself, I’d go back to XP if I could.)
      IE was only included in Windows 10 because so many businesses rely on it. My old job had me using I.E. because the Firefox version of Silverlight wasn’t compatible with the company website I had to use to file my reports.
      For this thing, I had to resort to editing the actual OS through the Poweshell program itself. Not fun – as the first attempt had me so screwed up I had to do a full wipe and clean install (thankfully, I keep all my stuff on my external hard drive now due to necessity.) – Plus side – after the clean install, I had 5 extra gigs free before even mucking about with the uninstalls and the poweshell so there was some kind of bloat that I managed to get rid of without even knowing it.
      FF for Win7 has been acting up for both my mother and my husband though. It might be an OS thing. I know when they did the first rollout of Win10 nearly everyone I knew with 7 and original 8 reported severe slow downs and odd “security updates” that weren’t even security updates. Periodically, it still happens. Best advice I can give is to check each windows update, and read up on what it’s meant to be before letting it install. Since husband started doing that, it’s not been as bad. He also changed his FF settings to clearing cookies, cache, and history each time he closes the program. That’s helped the sluggishness a bit for him. So if you don’t already do that, try it. Couldn’t hurt.

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