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Tips for Keeping your Computer Running Perfectly

Even though it has all been said many times and in many places, it will never be enough until every computer user knows exactly how to properly care for their computer… inside and out. One of my regular community members who goes by the handle of Night sent in the following list. These are ten excellent ways to take good care of your computer.

I am avid about my computer’s performance and so I take a great deal of care in keeping it running smoothly. It is often little more than running a scan once every week or taking 5 minutes out of your schedule to wipe your computer case’s exterior of dust. I have several friends who several times within a year find themselves with a system full of spyware/adware, occasionally in a completely un-usable state. I rack my brain trying to figure out how the heck this is possible if I’ve never had any major incidents; we’ve all had one or two in our life since being online, but repeatedly is counter-productive and unnecessary.

  • Stick to what you know and trust. Often times we have friends who spend their days doing God knows what, visiting websites that are unknown or full of ads. There’s a reason they have so many ads, pop-ups, etc. Sites that are heavily covered in advertising are dependent on it for maintaining their service online, however, some merely use this to make money. I am not going to put down other search engines, but I am going to say, stick to Google. I have always used Google as my primary search engine since it came online years ago and have yet to be directed at a site that caused me any types of issues. It was when visiting sites that were out of the ordinary that i found myself at risk.
  • Don’t download everything you see. Just because it’s freeware does not mean you must have it. Several of these programs come with a catch. Real world rules apply online, trust no one or only those you know, but always be wary. Some things you really need, you shouldn’t cut corners on. Sure, that program does the same thing as this, and yes it’s free, but it comes full of spyware and internet trackers. I’d rather pay $10 and have my peace of mind.
  • Be paranoid. More often than not, this alone will keep your system safe and clean. Can you afford down time? Maybe you can. But it’s time wasted over poor judgment.
  • How well do you know this person? I must confess, one time several years ago I met this person online. I had a program I wanted to try out. It was a netbus trojan. Sure enough, I gained their confidence, had them try it out, disguised as a fun game. I had them visit a site through which I was able to capture their IP address. It was all for fun, all I did was open their tray a few times, scare them a little. And after, well, I felt bad, and worried. It’s easy to trust someone you’ve never met based on their word, however, it’s a bad call on your part. If someone sends you something always, always, ALWAYS scan it before you run it. And if it’s an *.exe file, don’t run it. Ask them for a link to the site where they got it from and try it there. If they can’t provide one, you’re better off missing out on the “fun”.
  • Scan your system. There are a multitude of free applications from known and trusted developers available online. AVG, Avast!, DrWeb CureIt!, SuperAntiSpyware, Comodo, etc.. the list goes on. There is no reason for you not to have at the very least an Anti-Virus. Nevermind the fact that some of the more well known products are resource hogs that just bog down your system, people have them installed. If you bought a new pc recently, chances are it came with your system. For those of you who don’t have one already, get one. AVG and Avast are free Anti-Virus programs. I use AVG myself and i am firm on what i run on my hardware. If it slows my system down at all, I’d rather not run it. If you’re paranoid about being online from hackers, you can try Comodo firewall. It’s free for personal use and it’s among the best, if not the best. A simple scan once a day will keep you safe.
  • Defrag your drive. It can be scheduled to run once a week at any time, I’d suggest while you’re sleeping or when you’re away from home as it can take several minutes to an hour or two if you have a large drive. This is important in maintaining an optimal running system. Heck, do it right now, go get some air, go grab a bite away from the screen for a few, talk to your siblings, or your parents, give that friend a call like you’ve been meaning to.
  • Organize your files. If you were more strict about where you put this and that, you wouldn’t waste time having to search through entire folders to find a single file. Keep a folder for your downloads, a folder for your documents, a folder for your programs, etc. It’s a bit of work at first to set up, but once it’s in place, you’ll be so much more efficient you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner. This also makes it easier when using applications that scan for a certain type of file ie: Winamp, WiMP, etc. These programs will offer to scan your entire computer looking for specific files, now, if you kept them all in a specific folder, you just point it there, it does its job and you’re able to enjoy it rather than having it scan your entire system pointlessly.
  • Finally, just learn when to say no. If it looks questionable, just say no and go elsewhere. You know when you’re somewhere you shouldn’t be. A folder on your system or a site online. Give a 5 year old a box of crayons and put him in a room with no paper and blank white walls, what’s gonna happen? Don’t be that 5 year old. You receive an email from someone you don’t know, it has an attachment..hmm, what should I do? you know what to do. Curiosity is a dangerous thing here too.
  • In closing, what else can I say but, be aware of your surroundings. You know some people here, you know there are bad among the good, don’t forget that and you should be okay. I’ll add one more pun to this, it’s like the ad for safe driving, “Just because you’re a good computer user, doesn’t mean your friends are”. How do you think most of the major viruses/worms have spread so fast? Let your friends know what you know so they can be safe as well. If they put you at risk, maybe you should be more careful about how you interact with them. Just a thought.

    Oh, and if you’re gonna keep your computer on the floor, have a can of compressed air handy, blast them every now and then and airflow should not be a problem. Think of it as keeping your computer’s pores clean, you don’t want it getting a pimple do you?

    Scanning Documents with OCR

    Chris | Live Tech Support | Video Help | Add to iTunes

    http://live.pirillo.com/ – I received an email the other day from someone wondering why documents they scan into their computer rearranges the text and doesn’t retain formatting. Well user-whose-name-I-can’t-pronounce, what you’re asking about deals with OCR.

    OCR, or Optical Character Recognition software allows you to scan a document and edit it. If the OCR software isn’t very good, then it probably won’t retain the layout that the original document had. You are probably using whatever software came with your all-in-one machine, and I don’t know what brand that is.

    The problem is, you’re not really going to get really good OCR software unless you pay virtually hundreds of dollars. Probably the best I know of is OmniPage. OmniPage Professional 16 is the fastest and most precise way to convert high volumes of paper, PDF and forms into files you can edit and search.

    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any open source or cheaper software titles that are on the same level with OmniPage. Do you? If you use something that works just as well, without the price tag, I’d love to hear about it. I’m sure that user-whose-name-I-can’t-pronounce would love to hear your suggestions, as well.

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