This page is intended to provide some useful resources, hints and tips to make your PC computing experience easier.
Operating System Choices:
Microsoft Windows 10, free upgrades from Microsoft started 29th July 2015 and ceased a year later - However I have found this to work best on PCs with 8GB of RAM.
Microsoft Windows 8.1, released 17th October 2013 effectively now replaced with 10
Windows 8, released 26th October 2012 effectively now replaced with 8.1
Windows 7, released 22nd October 2009 and much faster than its' predecessor Vista. I used to recommend it for new users with no legacy hardware/software and it is was a logical upgrade for corporate clients who were moving on from Windows XP. Reached the "End of extended support" with Microsoft on 14th January 2020, if you are still using it consider changing ASAP.
Linux (comes in many flavours and often with the new small screen laptop types so called netbooks) ok, but be prepared for some technical headaches with networking, printer installation and file conversion issues on file transfers to your other machinery.
Apple Mac expensive but beloved by devotees, ideal for musicians and film/tv editors.
My view is you would not want to run a Nuclear Power Station with a PC but look how far they have come since the first IBM PC in 1981.
Hard Disk Maintenance:
There are two kinds of people in this world:
Those who have lost data as a result of a hard drive crash ... and those who will
A) Checking the drive for errors keeps the file system properly organised and can provide early warning of hard drive failure. This should be done every few weeks unless problems are found in which case it should be more frequent. N.B. Hard drive failure is not a possibility it WILL HAPPEN, the only question is when? Back your data up or one day it will all be gone!
B) Defragmenting* the drive can speed up your system but here are a few suggestions to help the process: Clean up the drive by deleting the web cache, browser history, empty the recycle bin, turn off system restore (make sure all is well first), delete all *.tmp files with dates older than today, compact your e-mail folders and delete the contents of the windows temp directory. Then turn off anti-virus software, screen saver, power management and any other running programmes now you can defragment. N.B. Unless you run large databases or accountancy software I would suggest defragmenting no more frequently than every three months otherwise your keenness may simply be speeding up the inevitable failure of your hard disk. Remember the defragment process moves a lot of data around your hard drive making it work very hard so check it for errors and back up before doing it. Reboot after completion and turn all disabled programmes back on, re-enable system restore and create a new restore point.
C) Consider having your hard disk cloned onto a new one before it fails.
D) Backup your data regularly to any of the following: USB stick, USB hard drive, CD, DVD, NAS drive, web storage or even floppy disk... remember them?... J Expect to change backup media periodically, before it too fails!
*N.B. If you have a new solid state hard drive (SSD) DO NOT DEFRAGMENT IT you are merely wearing it out!
Buy an up to date anti-virus programme, NOD32 (ESET), McAfee (Network Associates) or Norton (Symantec), keep updating it regularly, check for updates prior to downloading e-mail N.B. Update processes typically take longer than e-mail downloading so this is the only safe way to proceed. There is still a risk that you become infected by a new virus that the anti-virus programme has yet to provide protection for but this risk is a small one.
Expect to spend money on anti-virus software annually.
This is a growing nuisance it slows down your pc and internet connection and generates spam.
This is as helpful a description of spyware as I can find, (with thanks to Lavasoft)
"While the Internet is a powerful resource and provides users with many useful
and often entertaining things to see and do, it also has its dark side.
Most people are familiar with freeware, shareware, cookies, media players, interactive content, and file sharing. What they may not realize is that some of the aforementioned may contain code or components that allow the developers of these applications and tools to actually collect and disseminate information about those using them.
They can track your surfing habits, abuse your Internet connection by sending this data to a third party, profile your shopping preferences, hijack your browser start page or pages, alter important system files, and can do this without your knowledge or permission. The security and privacy implications of these exploits should be quite obvious and undesirable on any system or network!"
It is also a good idea to run and keep regularly updated a programme called Spybot Search and Destroy which can be downloaded from here www.safer-networking.org Please send them a donation if you like the programme. Please see some notes about spybot here. There is another good programme for getting rid of malware called Malwarebytes and it can be downloaded from here http://malwarebytes.org/ it is free for non business users and again if you want to have a system where most things are done for you, they have a version you have to pay for.
There is an interesting article about spyware here IT Week Article 2004
N.B. If you use any p2p file sharing services you will have to make sure that Malwarebytes and or Spybot does not disable them. However you are probably better off without them as you could be infringing copyright by their use!
I usually start looking up errors on the web type in the key words from the error message. If you are lucky you will find other people who have had the same problem and some suggested solution from technicians.
As is say of the front of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, "Don't Panic" you are very unlucky if you get a problem nobody has had before.
"This program has performed an illegal operation and will be shut down" on its'
own this message is meaningless, click details and write down the "programme x
caused problem whatever in y at z address" this is the real error message that
can be looked up. Do not bother with the registers or stack dump information
unless asked for it by support personnel (which has never happened to me).
The original computer screens were 5x4 ratio and capable of running 800x600 and 1024x768 resolutions unfortunately the new widescreen formats have drawbacks for people with poor eyesight, the 800x600 and 1024x768 resolutions tend to not work properly on these screens furthermore the biggest conventional 5x4 screen available at time of writing is 19" as the bigger sizes have been phased out (and even the choices for 19" screens are becoming scarce). Sadly almost all laptops are now made with a wide ratio screen. Sometimes it is hard to agree with progress particularly if it disadvantages people.
Regarding phone and battery life, I personally
find that my phone seems to require about 60 to 80% of itsí charge for one days
activity, thereby rendering pretty unworkable any routine other than charging
every night, I put it on charge just before I go to bed and unplug it when I get
I recommend synchronization through cloud services and daily backup of your Diary, Address Book and e-Mail data files on the Computer to External Hard Drive, Memory Stick or DVDRW. I have over the time I have owned a PDA experienced the following critical issues personally; PC failure, PDA complete power drain and outlook data file synchronization corruption, all of which I was able to recover from with a minimum of disruption due to the charging, synchronization and daily backup routine I pursue, and which I commend to you.
The information on this page is believed to be accurate at the time of writing, but is subject to change without notice.
Whilst I have mentioned a number of companies products on this page please note that any warranty and performance issues rest with the producers of these products and not with me. I hereby acknowledge all copyright rests with the respective owners and cannot be held responsible for the performance (or not) of any of these products nor can I guarantee that services available from external websites will continue to be available or will continue to operate as described above. You should always maintain an up to date backup of essential data and never install new software without disabling all running programmes and ensuring that your backup is readable.
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