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Tag Archives: PC Trouble

Things Around Your Home That Could Damage Your PC

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Your personal computer (PC) is an important purchase, and quite an expensive one too. With the advances planned for PCs and wireless technology, it is only a matter of time before PCs will be considered a household appliance. Now, although a PC is usually a fairly tough piece of machinery, it is possible for computers to be brought to a premature death by the environment they are kept in.

When it comes to taking care of a PC, maintaining it and keeping it trouble-free, the media most often warns us about protection from viruses and back door intruders. Because of this emphasis, many PC owners fail to realize that there are many external things that can just as easily cause damage to a PC. Things in the home such as dust, humidity, water and even power surges can all cause your computer to break down.

When you bring a PC into your home, you should think carefully about where you will place it. Firstly, never keep your computer too close to the humid areas of your home; the bathroom and the kitchen especially. Humid air contains minute droplets of water which can settle on the electronics of your PC. Over time, humid air will cause rust and corrosion inside your PC, creating a host of problems.

PC owners should use a surge protector as much as possible to protect against spikes in their electrical current. Power surges are sudden peaks in voltage that happen from time to time and that can damage your computer. PCs should be plugged directly into a surge protector and then the surge protector plugged into the power outlet. If you live in an area with high lightening activity you will be at even more risk from power surges.

Since dust and moisture exist in every home, it is important to regularly clean your computer to remove any excess dust. Cleaning your computer will protect the electronics. If you see a large build up of dust around your computer fan, it is a sign that there is probably a large build up of dust inside your computer as well. To resolve this, hold the hose of your vacuum cleaner against the outside of the fan and gently suck out the dust inside.


How to tell if you have Spyware/Trojans/Virus

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The Internet is revolutionary and it has, and will continue to, change our lives in ways that we have not and could not have imagined. Although the Internet brings great opportunities and conveniences into our lives, there are some negatives that have developed alongside the positives. I am sure you have heard of viruses. I doubt that there are many Internet users that have not been attacked by a computer virus at some point or another. Viruses are the plague of computer and Internet users and so are Spyware and Trojan horses.

You may have heard less, though, about Spyware and Trojan horses. Spyware is software (a computer program) that is created to spy on computer users through the things that they do while they are on their computers. Some Spyware programs are designed to record every letter/word that is typed, some silently watch the web sites that are visited. Other Spyware programs have the ability to take control of your computer, change your settings, redirect your browser and basically wreak havoc on the user experience.

Trojan horses are programs that can potentially access all of the files on your computer. They do not stop there. They are usually programmed to send your files to another computer (usually a computer specified by the programmer of the Trojan horse). Without software to detect Trojan horses, there is no way for you to know when you have one and when one is operating on your computer.

Spyware and Trojan horses get onto your computer in the same way that computer viruses do. This can be through infected files that have been downloaded to your computer, infected flash drives and sometimes through visiting web sites that are infected with them. Often the writers of this malicious software will break into a web site and install the program there to catch web site visitors unaware.

To detect and remove Spyware and Trojans, you not only need a good antivirus program, you need a software that specifically sniffs out Spyware and Trojans, as well as viruses. The makers of strong antivirus software spend their time investigating new viruses, Spyware and Trojan horses and then writing programs that will counter what the writers of malicious software (malware) intended.

For continued protection against malware you must have a strong antivirus installed on your computer. You must keep your subscriptions up to date and run updates regularly. Updates link to your antivirus maker’s web site and provide you with protection against any new malware they have discovered. A good firewall is equally important. Firewalls guard against unauthorized access to your computer and prevent your personal files from being sent to writers of malware.


Data Management Tips

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Your personal computer contains a large amount of your personal information. Files held on your computer are called data in “techie” talk and they are more important than you might think. Often when I talk to people, they speak about their computer files as though they are not important. They are not worried at all about getting viruses or about others accessing their personal data because they feel they have nothing important stored on their computer. I think the reality is that we quickly forget what we actually have stored on our computers.

Everyone uses their computer in a different way and at different rates. Some people are on their computer 24/7; they are online, working, doing homework or just socializing. Through doing these simple-sounding tasks, stacks and stacks of data is created and held on your computer. Work files are created, records of instant message conversations, bank passwords and more. My advice is to place a lot of value on the data stored on your computer.

The amount that you use your computer should determine how often you choose to back up your computer. Backing up your computer can serve two purposes. It can simply save your information in another location in case your computer is stolen or comes to some type of harm and files are irretrievable. Creating back up files can also be beneficial if you are running low on storage memory and you need to place files in a different location to make room for new data.

If you don’t use your computer very often, then you could potentially back up your computer every six months or even once a year. If you use your computer for work or school then it is wise to back up your computer often. I recommend that the average user back up their files every three months at minimum. Higher than average users should do back ups more often because they have more to lose should anything happen.

Backed up files can be placed wherever you want. If you have a back up drive with huge amounts of storage memory then you can place your files there. Alternatively, you can record files on a CD or DVD and file them for later retrieval. When doing this, I often make two copies of the data since CDs and DVDs are susceptible to scratches and damage.


How to give your PC a quick health check

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The first sign that your computer is having trouble is when it starts to slow down. Slowing down is just a sign that something is wrong, it in no way signals the death of your computer. I don’t know how many times I have heard people say, “my computer is starting to get slow, I think its time to get a new one”. Wait. A slow computer means its time for a check up, not time to throw it out! After all, you wouldn’t prepare for your burial each time you caught a cold, would you?

Your computer came with quite a few useful utilities already installed. They are usually found by clicking, Programs/Accessories/System Tools. These programs were designed to help keep your computer in tip-top condition. Run these programs on a regular basis, along with a good antivirus program and firewall to give your computer a health check up. They will keep your computer humming along nicely, instead of coughing, spluttering and aggravating you by freezing and hanging in the moments when you need it most!

When you save files, they can sometimes get stored in different areas of your computer memory. A single file can potentially have parts of it stored in several locations on your computer. A fragmented file, as this is called, takes a long time to be retrieved and opened. The Defragmenter utility fixes this and places files together in one place and should be run every time you do a check up of your computer.

Often when you delete files and programs, they are not completely erased. Parts of them linger on your hard drive. The Disk Clean utility gets rid of unwanted files, which frees up memory and helps your computer to run much faster.

Aside from your system tools, an antivirus program and firewall are must haves. They do not usually come installed on your computer although, at times, you may receive a trial copy with a new computer. Both an antivirus and a firewall should be installed on your computer before you ever go on the Internet with it.

Viruses slow your computer down significantly. An antivirus program will protect your computer from infected files. A firewall protects your computer from intruders, just like a burglar alarm. Any program that tries to enter your computer through a port open to the Internet will be stopped by your firewall.

So, if your computer is playing up, don’t throw it out try the above techniques or call us and we can send out a technician who can help


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