Helpful PC Hints

For the purpose of this discussion we will say that PC means personal computers of the non-Mac variety since I know nothing about Apple products. We will also assume for the most part that when we say Windows we  are talking about Microsoft operating systems 95, 98,98SE,ME, 2000, and XP. Now on to the problem as it is seen at the moment. In the beginning is the new smell and the joy of unpacking your first or the latest PC. If you are lucky you are or have handy a young guru to help install and set up your beast. If not you muddle through and it works, but what then? It should be like a washing machine or a TV with a few buttons that you click and then sit back and enjoy. But no, it's more like a car with all these things that people say you should do to keep it running smooth so you can assure a long trouble free life. The only thing is, as you soon learn, is that they are mostly do it yourself tasks that nobody seems to have time nor the inclination to learn how to do.

My study sample of mostly friends and relatives suggests that most people don't have the desire to get under the hood of the beast. It's new and it should be good to go, and go without any complications. There are some booklets that came with your PC around somewhere covered with dust, and they might as well be because once you get it going there's no maintenance schedule in them anyway. Most of what we learn about how to care for them comes form discussions with friends or surfing the internet. Sooner or later it starts to slow down and we wonder if  our internet connection, a virus, or lack of memory is to blame. And what about all that dust that is accumulating in the key board and on the back of the monitor? I'll bet it's really nasty inside the PC itself, but we don't want to go there.


Dust?

"What's a little dust?", you say. It looks bad on the outside, but inside it could be clogging your cooling fans and if they don't do their job you could have some fried components. When I open my tower I'm always amazed at how much is back since the last time I was in there.dust in power supplycleaned with air duster The little fan on the processor was making a loud noise, and when I went to change it there was a load of crud on it, and it hadn't been that long since I was in for a memory upgrade. A little surfing and you can find housecleaning suggested often. We have some before and after processor fanmother board dustimportant fanpictures my daughter took as I was cleaning her old Packer Bell. Click on the image and a little slide show will open..

Virus-- CARS ( Computer Always Really Slow)

What about all that Virus hype? That's just so people can sell software right? You would think that if your computer came with an anti-virus program that you would be safe, huh? Well that depends on if you have kept it up to date or not, and for the things that the little bugs can do try the Symantec web site. If you really get absorbed with reading on internet security look over this at Gibson Research.

Spyware

This is a broad term that covers a lot of applications that run behind the scenes and feed data to someone who may be a spouse or an advertiser. They get placed on your PC when you download freeware or shareware, and funnel data back to advertisers or other sneaky people.. You are rarely informed before hand. A boss or a parent might install spyware to keep employees from goofing off or kids from soaking up undesirable content form the web. Not many people want their web habits used to sell them something, and more little applications running must be adding to the CARS problem a bit. I recommend Spybot to see if you have problems in these areas.

Trojans et al

Do you have anything from the hacker community living in your PC house. I'm not talking about  the usual virus blasted out at the world through email or an infected download. No here we refer to code running on your PC that is evil and can steal credit card numbers or passwords or many other little tricks.  Trojans can be little programs that run on your PC and attack somebody else maybe in union with several other unsuspecting  PCs around the world. If the ports on our computers are left open without guards we will sooner or later have problems. Get a good firewall for real peace of mind. If you want to read a techno thriller check out DENIAL OF SERVICE.


Hard Drive Clutter

Does fragmented  disc space worry you? How about over loaded memory? Will that give you a headache? The more traffic you have or stuff you store, the more your PC will resemble a dusty cluttered attic. This is a big area in the  battle with CARS that has a visible pay off  in speed. Most people think you can't slow the latest ultra gig whiz machines, but they all start to droop when disk space is disorganized. Here is little piece on fragmentation  written for Windows XP.

Printer Ink

I have some ideas on how to conserve ink. Basically it involves just using black most of the time. The details are here.