In this month's newsletter you'll find some reminders, some general computer advice, plus another Microsoft comment .
1) When was the last time you updated your virus checker? You need to do this chore at least monthly. I am seeing more and more preventable virus infections. An outdated virus checker is not a virus checker at all. The most common viruses tend to be ones that email themselves to everyone in your address book, and sometimes even anyone on any email you've received. It is very embarrassing to find you've unknowingly emailed your friends, boss, customers, etc. a virus. As always- NEVER open attachments unless you know what they are AND are expecting them. Most viruses don't come from strangers... they come from people you know. Watch for Windows security updates on microsoft.com. Consider updating to Internet Explorer 6 if you have a machine less than 2 years old. My favorite virus checker is Norton 2002. The present Norton seems to have good stability and speed on the PCs I've tested, and is user friendly . McAfee and other major brands are good, too.
2) Backup... when your hard drive fails (this is not an "if"- it will fail... it is just a matter of "when"), do you have copies of the important data you need?
On hardware upgrades... RAM is still cheap, and not hard to install. Check your computer's manual and find out what kind and how much it will hold. You can purchase it online or even at local stores such as Sam's and Staples.
On software or operating system upgrades... "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" still applies unless you really need the new features. Check hardware and software compatibility and make backups before proceeding.
On buying a new computer... New PCs are a good value right now. I'm frequently asked what brand I prefer. I always stay with major brands. Their prices are quite competitive, the websites have driver updates, plus they usually have better compatibility. All manufacturers have cyclical "ups and downs". Components used to build PCs change virtually monthly. That is why a friend may say they hate Dell and love HP, when someone else never had a Dell problem, but knows someone with a Gateway that was nothing but trouble. My favorite right now is Compaq. The operating system of choice is Windows XP. You'll likely find problems running older software and using older hardware with any new PC. Ask questions before buying.
On Internet access... If you are online frequently and have an extra phone line for your computer, seriously consider "Road Runner" if it is available to you. Dropping the extra phone line will likely come close to saving the extra cost of Road Runner service. It is always on, and reasonably trouble-free. And no, I have no affiliation or special loyalty to Time Warner. Nor can I get Road Runner at my home.
Another Microsoft comment...
My friend Paul Baxter (thanks Paul!!) sent me an interesting article on Microsoft's future plans. Here we go again! In order to "fix" various file access, searching, and retrieval problems, Microsoft is planning a re-vamp of the way your information is stored on the hard drive of your computer. At present, there is an "index" area and then the files are stored individually. Microsoft is considering using a database technology to store items. All information (data and programs) would be stored in a "database" on the hard drive. This in Microsoft's second attempt at this. (They scrapped the first.) These are the same folks who brought us Microsoft Access, a powerful, very complex, and somewhat buggy database program. Changing the way files are stored affects everything that is done on the computer. Microsoft's competitors will be hurt by any change such as this. If done well, it could be a good thing. I am very skeptical, though.
That's it for this issue... if you have a topic you would like me to discuss, just email me!
Until next time... Happy Computing !
To get more information or to FAX us: call 1-315-583-5513 or send e-mail to
us at firstname.lastname@example.org.