Have you ever wondered about the difference between a laptop and a notebook computer?
The question came up last week when I was doing a purchase consultation and I thought you might want to know. Here is a great article that explains and compares them.
Things To Consider When Buying a New Gadget
Do you belong to a group that would like me to speak about Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Gadget?
Attendees receive a handy Needs Assessment Questionnaire, and have an opportunity to get their questions answered.
I do these presentations as a complimentary service because working with gadgets can be soooooo much easier when you buy the right equipment for your individual needs and you can save a lot of money by not buying features you don’t need. Also, I appreciate the opportunity to connect with new people who might need my services someday.
Most computer owners don’t know much about basic computer maintenance and their PCs are likely to slow down or crash as a result.
Of course, most of us don’t know much about cars either, but we know to give them gas, change the oil and keep an eye out for flat tires. It’s the same with PCs. You don’t need to be an expert to keep your PC in relatively good condition. You just need to perform a little basic PC maintenance and, more importantly, be observant.
Here are six simple steps you can take to keep your PC running quickly and reliably:
Windows Update scans your system and updates it with the latest security patches and service packs. You can schedule these updates to run automatically, so there is really no excuse for not having an up-to-date system.
To access Windows Update click on the Start button, All Programs and scroll through the list to find it.
This may surprise you, but all the applications and utilities on your system are prone to security risks and need to be updated regularly.
Programs that you use everyday like Adobe Acrobat Reader, QuickTime, Realplayer, Skype, WinZip and more require both maintenance and security updates from time to time. Even applications that run in the background like Flash and Java are at risk.
When update notifications pop up on your screen, allow them to install. Just read the screens as you go, to be sure they aren’t offering to install promotional software that you don’t want. You may need to uncheck some boxes.
If you have my business card, you have a list of safe updates on it. If you don’t have my care or aren’t sure if a pop up is a legitimate update, just give me a call.
No matter how good your spyware and antivirus software, it won’t do you any good if it’s not updated or, worse, not running because it expired.
Most antivirus applications load an icon in the Windows tray, (lower right corner) which lets you verify its status at a glance. Always verify that the application is running after starting Windows.
In addition, these applications should be configured to perform definition updates everyday and complete system scans at least once a week.
Having a lot of files on the desktop will actually slow down your computer because each file and its icon preview take up RAM and resources. The less RAM you have the more you’ll notice the sluggishness resulting from a cluttered desktop.
It’s really more efficient to get in the habit of filing things in the appropriate folders instead of on the desktop; but if you can’t be bothered to do that, just grab all the files and move them into the appropriate folders from time to time.
If you can’t remember to do it yourself, there are apps that will automatically clean it for you by moving files and folders to a designated place at a regular interval.
Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters. I recommend iDrive or Carbonite. They are easy to set up and make it easy to restore your data when you have a disaster, or upgrade to a new computer. You can access your files from your mobile gadgets too! If paying the annual fee bothers you, just think of it as insurance, like your auto and home insurance.
In order to maintain the integrity of your data there are two hard drive tests that you should run at least once a month.
The first is to Defragment your hard drive. Over the course of regular use, your files get fragmented or spread out all over your hard drive. So while an MP3 or WMV file appears as a single file to you in Windows Explorer, small pieces of the file could literally be spread across the entire hard drive. Gathering all of these distant pieces back together into a single continuous order, makes files load faster. Defragmenting your drive can can make your system noticeably faster if you had lots of files fragmented.
The other test is Check Disk. This tool checks hard disk volumes for problems and attempts repairs. (It can repair problems related to bad sectors, lost clusters, cross-linked files and directory errors…but you don’t need to know all that.) Just remember that Disk errors are a common source of difficult-to-track problems, and running this test regularly can significantly reduce your risk of having problems.
Windows has a built-in defragmenter and check-disk utility. Just open Windows Explorer and right-click on the drive you want to examine. Select Properties and then click on the Tools tab. To defragment your hard drive, go to the Defragmentation section and press the Defragment now button. To perform a check disk, go to the Error-checking section and press the Check now button.
You don’t need to be a computer expert to keep your computer running well. Preventing problems doesn’t require much understanding about computers. You just need to pay attention and actually read those messages that popup on screen during an installation and use the tools that come with your computer.
Just follow these basic steps, and your computer will be safer and far more reliable.
When your computer is not in use, do you shut it down, put it to sleep, or just keep it turned on?
In working with clients, it’s come to my attention that many people don’t completely shut down their computers from time to time. Letting your computer just go to sleep night after night can cause problems. For the average user, I recommend shutting it down completely, at least once a week. The same applies to mobile gadgets like tablets and phones. (See below for more details.)
If any of your techie tools are acting a little weird and slowing down, they may just need a reboot (shutdown and restart). Try rebooting and then call me if that doesn’t work.
I hope you have found this tip useful and that you will forward it to others so they too, can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.
Pros and Cons
The advantage to putting it to sleep is that it provides the easiest and fastest way to resume work while minimizing wear and tear on the hardware. The computer goes to sleep instantly and when it wakes up, all of your open apps, documents, window arrangements, and web pages, are exactly where you left off with almost no delay. For average users who want to quickly get back to what they were doing, sleeping is perfect.
- Pros: Quickly resume exactly where you left off; sleep and wake can be scheduled or even done remotely
- Cons: Minor power consumption; system temp fluctuations, swap, and cache files don’t get cleared out during as during a reboot process; system updates requiring reboots don’t install automatically and need a manual reboot; performance is best for computers with 4GB RAM or more
If you use your computer every day, simply putting it to sleep when it’s not in use or overnight is probably the best choice. Just be sure to reboot every once in awhile to allow system software updates to install. Waiting for an operating system Update or Security Update is generally a sufficient time between reboots.
Shutting it down isn’t necessary unless it’s going into a longer term state of inactivity or storage. Shutting down is slower because all the open applications and documents have to quit; and when you turn the machine back on, everything has to re-open again to get back to where you were prior to shutdown.
- Pros: Saves power, doesn’t strain hardware; system temp, memory, swap, and cache files get cleared out during boot; allows for major system updates to install
- Cons: Takes a while to boot up and resume previous activity
For the power conscious or for those trying to squeeze the absolute longest lifespan out of hardware and hard disks, shutting down when not in use is the best choice. This is also necessary if you’re going to put your computer in long term storage, won’t be using it for a longer than a few days, or you’re going to be traveling and not using it during the travel period.
Leaving a computer constantly turned on is best reserved for computers that function as servers. On the plus side, you don’t have to bother resuming anything since it’s already on, you can schedule all maintenance and backup tasks to occur in the wee hours of system inactivity, and it allows for a server or media center to be running on the machine. The downside is the constant power consumption and the constantly active hardware, which can limit overall lifespans of the computer components.
- Pros: No waiting for use; instantly resume all apps and tasks exactly where you left off; allows for servers to run with constant accessibility; backup and system maintenance tasks can be scheduled for off hours
- Cons: Constant power consumption; more wear and tear on hard drives, fans, and physical hardware due to possible heat
For the casual user, it’s best to put it to sleep when it’s not in use. It gives hard drives and fans a rest, and will generally lead to a longer lifespan of the computer.