Tag: maintenance

Backups Don’t Have to Be Hard or Confusing

diagram of cloud and mobile devices

Image courtesy of Pixabay

I love articles by How To Geek because they often cover basic information that my clients should know.  The articles are written very clearly but sometimes I make them even simpler by providing a shorter version and definitions of technical terminology.

I’ve talked about backups many times, so I think most of you will be able to understand this article as it is:  What’s the Best Way to Back Up My

If you know me at all, you will know that I recommend Chromebooks and Google Drive as the best solution for most people.  My second choice for simple and secure would be an Apple iPad and iCloud backup.

As they say in the article: “Everyone loses data at some point in their lives. Your computer’s hard drive could fail tomorrow, ransomware could hold your files hostage, or a software bug could delete your important files. If you’re not regularly backing up your computer, you could lose those files forever.  Backups don’t have to be hard or confusing.”

Please just make a decision and do it!  And check monthly to be sure it’s working.

If you need help, you can make an appointment here or call 760-348-8867.

Let us know what you use for backups in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and for sharing with others. 🙂

Enjoy!

Mardi

 

 

Six Simple Maintenance Tips for Windows PCs

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 Updates1. Keep the Window Operating System (OS) Updated with the Latest Patches

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.

2. Keep Your Applications and Utilities Patched  Java update message

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.

Norton Expiration Notice3. Keep Your Spyware and AntiVirus Programs Updated

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.

4. Clean Off the Desktop  Cluttered Windows Desktop

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.

IDrive Online Backup5. Regularly Backup Your Computer

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.

6. Defragment and Check Your Hard Drive for Errors Regularly  Defragmenter Utility

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.

4 Simple Apple Computer Maintenance Tips

Did you know that your computer needs some regular maintenance, just like your car?

Just like your car, your computer is a substantial financial investment and causes major inconvenience when it doesn’t run properly so it’s important to keep it in good shape. In both cases, you can learn how to do the maintenance yourself, or you can pay someone to take care of it for you.

If you don’t want to deal with it, I’ll be happy to take care of it for you…one time or on a monthly basis via remote connection.

I hope you find this information helpful and that you will forward to others so they can more fully enjoy the benefits of computer technology.

There are four simple maintenance tips that will help you keep your computer in tip-top shape and running at its best.:

Run Apple Disk Utility1) Run Disk Utility

Running Disk Utility every month or two is a good for: repairing permissions, and more importantly, verifying and repairing the hard drive.

Disk Utility is included on all Macs and found in the /Applications/Utilities folder, under the “First Aid” tab and can be run one after another.

Repairing permissions is a good procedure to run, especially after installing or uninstalling a lot of applications.

Repair Disk s probably the most important thing to do with Disk Utility. Be sure to run Verify Disk not only on the drive itself (physical drive name), but also the boot partition (Macintosh HD). If any errors are found, they’ll appear in red, and thankfully Disk Utility is usually more than capable of handling such repairs on it’s own.

The best way to repair the boot disk is to boot from the recovery partition by holding down Command+R and running Disk Utility from there. This will be necessary if bad blocks are found or if the drive is corrupt.

Mac Software Update2) Keep your Mac Software Updated

Keeping your software up to date is vital. Periodically run Software Update from the Apple menu, and periodically check the Mac App Store for updates of your apps too.

Updates contain bug fixes, feature enhancements, and security fixes. and it’s so easy to do there is no excuse not to.

Software Update will check for updates once a week by default, but the Mac App Store has to be manually checked for updates in OS X Lion.

With OS X Mountain Lion and newer, Software Update moves to the Mac App Store so this whole process will be automated for modern OS X users, including El Capitan, Yosemite, and Mavericks.

Mac Desktop Clutter3) Clean Off the Desktop

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 is more efficient to get in the habit of filing things into 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.

Set Up Time Machine4) Regularly Back Up Your Computer

Performing regular backups is essential for you to be able to quickly recover from potential disasters.

The simplest back up solution for Macs is Time Machine. You’ll need an external hard drive, but once you set up Time Machine, automatic backups occur without any effort.

If you haven’t set up Time Machine yet you really need to do so. Get a large external hard drive and configure Time Machine through System Preferences.  I’t’s easy to do and you’ll be very thankful you have a back up in the event of a hard drive failure.

You should also do a manual back up before allowing system software updates. I’t’s rare, but things can go wrong, and it’s best to be prepared.

“Listen to your Mother” and do your maintenance so you won’t have regrets later ; )

Enjoy!

To Sleep or Shut Down, That is the Question

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

Putting It To Sleep   Computer in sleep mode

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 down computer for updatesShutting It Down

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.

Computer as a serverKeeping It Always Turned On

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.

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