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COMPUTER MAINTENANCE

Quick Facts:
-Changing your BIOS settings and booting directly to your Windows CD can speed up an installation. 
-
Most computer viruses use e-mail attachments to propagate.
-Adding memory is the most efficient way to speed up your PC.
-Computer freezes are sometimes associated with heat buildup, so check your fans.
-Power sags (low power) can be more damaging than a surge. Protect your computer with a UPS.
-ESD (electrostatic discharge) from your finger can fry sensitive pc components. Ground yourself and use a wrist strap when installing hardware.
-Preventive maintenance will extend the life of your computer. Keep the fans clean ( power supply and case fans ) and use utilities in Windows to defrag and scan your hard drive.

Safety Tips

  • Update your virus software weekly - there are always new viruses.

  • Scan for viruses every night - you have to do it these days.

  • Back up all your data files at least weekly to a tape drive - lots of people lose everything!

  • Take one copy of your back-up disk to a second location in case of emergency - many people have thanked me for this advice.

  • Use a firewall if you have DSL or a Cable Modem connection - or you will become infected with a virus or harmful file.

  • Upgrade to Windows2000 or XP for more security and less reboots!

  • Keep a back-up of all you files on another hard disk - easy to retrieve.

  • Don't DEFRAG more then once a month - too often wears on your hard disk.

  • Don't fill your hard disk with too many MP3 files - keep a min. of 300 MB available. 

  • Get a good back-up battery - Just a surge protector is not enough.

  • Despite what others have told you, it is better for your computer (not server) to be shut down every night.  Windows 95 and 98 particularly likes to be restarted.  Windows 2000 and XP are better designed to be on all the time, however, your system may still heat up and reduce the life of your hard drive if you leave it on all the time.

 

Windows Update
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Keeping your system up to date could save you from being exploited. Visit Microsoft Update today!

Microsoft's newest operating system, Windows XP, is more reliable than Windows 98SE and ME.

Run the Windows XP Advisor to see if your system meets the XP's requirements.

 

 

Windows XP

Windows 2000

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Internet Explorer

Direct X

There are several important things to do to keep your car running at optimal efficiency, likewise there are also things for computer. Here is a description of how to do a basic "tune-up" on your computer to help improve the performance and speed.

  1. Clean up Cache and Temp files. Every Browser has a file that stores every picture and cookie from web pages that are visited while on the Internet. These are stored temporarily to improve the speed and ease of browsing. If you spend at least a few hours online a week it is good to clean out your cache from your browser. Cookies also build up over time, most of which are designed purely to determine whether or not you have been to their site before or to record info about you so that they can improve there web site. Other cookies store passwords and setup files so that when you return to a site it will recognize who you are or will eliminate the need to login to the site. For security purposes I like to delete them all. Internet Explorer, Netscape, and Opera all have their own storage files for cache and cookies. Usually you can find in your browser, at the top, a menu that will let you delete cache and cookies under categories such as Edit, Tools, Preferences, Options, File.
    Another utility in Windows that is helpful in your cleanup efforts is to use Disk Cleanup located by clicking on Start - Programs - Accessories - System Tools - Disk Cleanup. Choose the default drive and check all the boxes.
  2. Run Scandisk (Windows 9.x, ME, 2000/XP). Scandisk is a utility to see if there are any errors on the system and you can set it to automatically fix the errors (recommended). You can find this utility to use by clicking on My Computer - right click on C: Drive (or Local Drive) - Tools - Error Checking. Make sure you choose Standard and check the box that says Automatically fix errors. Click Start. Depending on how big your hard drive is and how much data is on it and the speed of your processor, the time it takes can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 40 minutes. When it is finished you can just close it out.
  3. Run Disk Defragmenter (All Windows OS). Disk Defragmenter is a utility designed to clean up and organize the data scattered across your hard drive. Over time as you add and delete information on your computer, your hard drive becomes fragmented with information all over the place. When you run Disk Defragmenter it will take that information and clean up and organize the data, some of which is put at the front of the disk where those items are most frequently accessed. This is why it is smart to put all of your documents and text based files, music files, pictures, etc. into My Documents. Microsoft recognizes this as a frequently accessed file so those files will be able to be accessed faster than if they were located in another directory. You can find this utility to use by clicking on My Computer - right click on C: Drive (or Local Drive) - Tools - Defragmentation. Simply click OK on the drive you want to defrag and it will begin. If you only have 1 drive it will begin immediately.
  4. Online updates for your OS. Windows Update makes it easy for windows users. The most important update is the Critical Updates & Security Patches. Update all of your browsers such as Netscape, Internet Explorer, or Opera. Most of all these updates can be done at no cost to you and simply just takes a little time. Windows Update at Microsoft.com
     

One of the greatest benefits of keeping your system up to date, besides the fact that it will work better, is that when you need support from a technician, they will be able to help you easier and quicker. This may also save you money.


 
Dust Problems.

Dust can be a major problem for the inner workings of your computer.Dust can block the vent holes in your computer causing a lack of airflow through your system which can cause overheating problems.Dust can also accumulate in your cpu's heatsink and fan which affects the overall cooling of your processor.If the processor overheats windows can shutdown and restart or more permanant damage to your processor can occur.It is advisable to have your computer checked from time to time to make sure dust is not a problem in your system.

Q:
What's the best way to keep my computer safe during a thunderstorm? A friend told me I should unplug it even though I have a surge protector. Does that make sense?

A:
Actually, I tend to agree.

A good surge protector can keep your computer safe during a thunderstorm, but I still unplug mine. After all, if the thing isn't plugged into the wall, it's kind of hard for a spike or surge to get through. Also, try to keep all your computer's external components (monitors, scanners, printers, etc) plugged into the same surge protector as the computer. That way, when you pull the plug, all your equipment is protected and you don't risk a spike / surge coming through an external component and damaging your computer.

In addition to unplugging your computer, modem users should also unplug their phone line. As we mentioned a couple weeks ago, phone lines are probably the # 1 way to for surges to get to - and fry- your computer. Note that if you're using a surge protector with a phone line pass through and you unplug it, you need to unplug the phone line as well (most surge protectors don't protect if they are unplugged).

Another cable to unplug would be a high speed internet connection cable. After all, if you're using a cable modem (or DSL) and a surge comes through that line, it may be able to get to your computer. I'm not even 100% sure there is any kind of surge protection available for them yet (there may be, I just haven't seen it).

Now, do you have to do all this each time you hear thunder in the distance? Personally, I usually do - especially if the storm is of the mean and nasty variety. I have a good surge protector and all, but the information on my computer is very valuable to me and I don't like taking chances. Besides, it gets me away from the thing for a half an hour or so :-)

Also, keep in mind that cheaper surge protectors can wear out over time. The power strip type surge protectors can protect you against one good surge (although a direct lighting hit happily rips right through them) or lots of smaller ones, but they can wear out. Problem is, most of them have no way of telling you when they've become useless.

Finally, if you are using a really good quality surge protector this may all be a bit paranoid on my part. So, the decision is yours. Just tellin' you what I do.

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