Answers to the Most Frequently Asked Questions

sample imageThis is a list of the most commonly asked questions that we get time and time again. Only the simplest questions are listed here, complex questions usually require unique answers. For any questions you may have please contact us and we’ll assist you.

My computer seemed faster when I bought it, and now it seems slow. Why does this happen?

As you install new programs such as antivirus software, RealPlayer, browser add-ons and other programs that run automatically when your computer boots up, they use more system recourses. This is the process that slows the system from operating as fast as the first time using the new computer.

One of the most common problems that slow a system down is spyware. Spyware is a general classification for software that is designed to track the way you use your computer. Spyware usually just tracks your internet browsing habits, and sends you popup ads based on the sites that you regularly visit. Some spyware is malicious, and causes you to receive unsolicited emails called (SPAM). A competent computer professional can assist you in removing the spyware from your computer, and configuring your computer so that you are less likely to get spyware again in the future.

Over time, the hard disk drive becomes fragmented. This is when a file like a photograph should be written to one location on the hard drive, but is actually written to multiple locations though out the disk. This will affect the overall speed of everything the computer does.

 

What can I do to make my computer faster?

There are a many ways you can make your computer faster. These break down into two major categories; hardware and software. Hardware upgrades will give the largest performance increase.

  • Hardware Solutions

The easiest and most effective method to increase the speed of your computer is to add RAM (memory) to your computer. Adding RAM can cause a noticeable improvement in the performance of the computer. The type of RAM your computer takes will depend on the age of your computer. RAM prices have dropped significantly, making this one of the most easily justified upgrades for most systems.

Replacing the hard drive is another way to increase system performance. The primary purpose of replacing the hard drive is usually more storage space. New hard drives are larger, and faster than old hard drives.

If you are looking for more performance than RAM and a hard drive can add, you are looking at a major overhaul. To substantially increase the speed of your computer, you will need a new processor. As technology goes, new processors require new motherboards, new RAM, and usually a new video card. This is OK, because all of these other new parts will also improve the performance. This kind of upgrade is not always worth it. You will still have some old parts on your computer, and sometimes you are better off just replacing the computer.

  • Software Solutions

As discussed above, a fragmented hard drive will cause the drive to work harder than it needs to. This can lead to the drive failing sooner than it should, so defragment the hard drive.

Stop any unnecessary programs from loading when your computer boots. This is a complicated process, if you are not comfortable doing this on your own, have a professional take care of this for you.

 

What preventative maintenance should I do on my computer?

There are a number of things that can be done to keep a computer running smoothly, and avoid losing your valuable data.

  • Backup your data often, if it isn’t backed up you may lose it. Regular data backups are essential to protecting you from hardware failures. Sometimes, computer hardware will fail without notice. If you do not have a backup, you could lose everything.
  • Run a thorough scandisk on your computer monthly. This will notify you if your hard drive is starting to fail. It's more likely that your data can be saved if you catch a failing hard drive earlier than later.
  • Buy a good quality surge protector (If you use a modem, get one with telephone line and cable protection). There is a big difference between a power strip and a good surge protector. We recommend APC or Belkin surge supressors and uninterruptible power supplies. A good surge protector will come with a connected equipment warrantee, which insures if your computer equipment is damaged by an electrical surge while properly connected to the surge protector, they will pay for it up to a specified limit.
  • Defragment the hard drive monthly. This will help keep your computer running smoothly.

 

What is a “tracking cookie”?

My antivirus, spyware program has found a 'tracking' cookie every day for the last four days. It says it is 'low risk' and has gotten rid of it each time but what is it? How did it get in my computer?

Cookies are small text files that by themselves cannot hurt your computer. Cookies are "set" by almost EVERY web-site that you visit. You can delete all your cookies today and by tomorrow you will have dozens again just be visiting web sites. Cookies do NOT slow down a computer. They are not a virus or spyware, but some people consider "tracking" cookies to be an invasion of privacy. These tracking cookies are "3rd party cookies" from advertising servers. They can track your movements around the web in order to deliver to you customized, targeted advertising. It doesn’t hurt to delete your cookies every 6 months or so.

 

Why does my computer shut itself down all the time?

Sometimes this is an indication of overheating or it also may be a faulty hardware component, such as a power supply, memory module motherboard or video card. If the system feels hot you can try to clean out the fans. We're here to help if cleaning it up isn't enough.