Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Common Computer Tips

Computer Tips

The fewer programs you have on your computer the better it will run. Efficient programs are best. Windows 2000 and Office 2000 Premium are well written programs that will operate very well, even with older computers. Don’t load programs on your computer just because they are free. Don’t load any program you are not going to use. Just because you remove it does not mean that it is “GONE” from your computer. Most programs leave remnants and cause fragmentation of your hard drive. They may slow your computer, take up hard disk space, or potentially cause your computer to malfunction.

In our opinion AOL, McAfee and Norton are all examples of programs that are easy to load but very difficult to remove. Often we reformat a drive rather than try to remove programs like this. The same goes for a virus. You can spend hours trying to remove a virus and many times it re-emerges again. Spyware can be tricky as well. Some spyware actually provides you with unwanted “pop-ups.”

We prefer to remove the hard drive of the infected system, hook it up to a “jump drive”, remove your vital information, burn this information to a CD for your safekeeping, and then reformat (wipe out everything) the hard drive so that it is definitely “clean.” It is then your responsibility to scan your backed up data with anti-virus software before you access it or put it on your reloaded system.

Windows 2000 Passwords

We leave the password field blank. Don’t change the password and then forget it. Unlike Windows 98, you cannot just hit cancel to get by the password screen. If you lose the password you lose your ability to boot your computer. All your data will be lost.

We recommend you create a folder (and subfolders) on your desktop where you keep all of your data. This includes all your important files and data back ups. For example if you use Outlook, you should be exporting the important folders (include subfolders) into a “.pst” file in this folder. And if you are using quicken or QuickBooks make sure you are doing a back up into this folder. If you have any questions about this then call us. Having all of this critical data in one place makes it easy to locate and restore if needed.

Commercial Class vs. Consumer Class Machines

We specialize in the sales of commercial class computers. They are built with better components and are far easier to work on. Someone figured out at Dell, IBM, and Compaq that IT guys at big companies make big bucks and the quicker they can work on boxes the less it will cost them and the more likely Dell, IBM, or Compaq will be to sell these big companies their computers.

Additionally, commercial class machines rarely use proprietary components so replacement parts are much less expensive.

Internet Connection

We offer RTPinternet.com connections for $14.95 per month. This is a direct connection to the Internet and is guaranteed to be the fastest connection available for dial-up. We know it is the fastest for several reasons.

  1. We only put three pieces of information into your computer and do it manually. We enter the user name, the password, and the local dial-up number. There are no programs loaded onto your computer: nothing to keep track of you or your Internet travels. There is nothing going on in the back ground, slowing your computer down or tracking your moves.
  2. We never have, and never will send you any thing, ever, except an invoice by US mail.
  3. Our Data Center is the same one all the big companies use but our Internet servers are not overloaded. The big guys put 10,000 people each server whereas we put only about 1000.

There are several things that affect Internet speed. Some of which can do something about and some we cannot.

  1. Length of the phone line. The shorter, the better.
  2. Clean computer. Don’t load programs you don’t use.
  3. Good modem.
  4. Wiring in your house or your apartment. (You cannot do anything about this)
  5. Bell South (or local telephone company’s lines).
  6. Data Center (We use inflow that is located on Miami Blvd. On the border of Wake and Durham counties (so all phone calls into the data center are non-toll (free)).
  7. Internet traffic. (You cannot do anything about this)
  8. Computer server and traffic on the site you are visiting. If you are going to a site that many people are visiting it will be slow or if the site is on a slow server. Our servers are speedy.


We do not sell our computers with Antivirus software. We recommend either www.grisoft.com’s free AVG or www.trendmicro.com’s PC-Cillin. If you do a Google search for PC-Cillin you will be directed to Trend Micro’s discount and you might get it for $39 instead $49. Don’t “Share” Information with any company for “marketing purposes”

Pop-Up Ad Blocker

Google is one of the best-written, efficient programs in the world. It is very powerful and very fast. Google allows a free download of its tool bar. We usually set the home page as Google. When you install the tool bar remember to click the box that says, “not advanced function,” because it asks you to share information with Google. You don’t want to share information with anyone for any reason.


You should do all critical updates on (non XP Home) computers. To do this go to the start menu and click on Windows updates. There will be three types: Critical, Windows, and drivers. The critical updates are the only ones you should do if everything on your computer is working properly. Again, any changes or additions to you computer could cause complications or slow it down.

Backing Up

There is a 100% chance that your hard drive will fail at some point. A back up copy of any information you care about should be stored in one location (a FOLDER) on your computer. You should know this location (desktop, C drive, D drive, etc.) You should copy this folder onto some form of external media (Floppy, CD, DVD, Camera Card, External Drive, Zip, Pen Drive) regularly and stored in a fireproof safe or “off-site.” When placing information in this FOLDER make sure you include your email and financial backups. For example an Outlook file (mail, addresses, etc.) needs to be exported from the “File” menu to a “.PST” file directed to this FOLDER. And “Quicken” or “QuickBooks” file backups must also be exported to this file. The reason for this is that the “data” files for these programs are stored in a location and format in the program file folder as opposed to the “My Documents” folder as most other personal files are stored. External Media is extremely inexpensive. You can purchase a 512 Megabyte “camera media card” for less than $30 after rebates and a card reader for less than $10. This way, if you have a digital camera, then you have extra media to store pictures until they get copied to your computer. When you use one of these drives they simply appear as another drive on your computer and you can “drag and drop” to copy files. Make sure that you are not just copying “short cuts” which is what happens when you drag and drop a program.


Power Strips do not offer great power surge protection. It is best to get a device called a UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that “conditions” the electricity on its way to yours system. The battery back up function of a UPS is nice to have but not the purpose of its $39 purchase price.

Advantage Computer 919-461-8507 - If you have any questions about any of these hints you should call!

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