Frequently asked questions (part 1)

Q) Why is my computer running so slow?

A) The most common cause for slow performance on a computer is too many processes running in the background. A good way to gauge how much your computer is doing without you knowing it is to look at how many icons there are down by the clock in the bottom right corner. Often there is an arrow you can click on that will reveal all the hidden icons you can’t see. When I get complaints about how slow a computer is, that’s the first place I look. If I see a whole bunch of icons (more than 5) then there’s a good chance we can get the machine running a lot better by clearing those out. On Windows 7 and older machines, you can go to START->Run (or hit WINDOWS+R) and type in “msconfig” and hit ENTER. Look for the startup tab. You’ll see a list of all the programs that are configured to run in the background. In most cases, we can just hit the “disable all” button and then re-check the box next to whatever antivirus program you are using. Once that’s done and you hit the “OK” button, you’ll need to reboot. Then the computer should run a lot more like you would expect!

Q) Should I get my computer fixed, or buy a replacement?

A) Computer problems boil down to one of two things; software problems and hardware problems. In a worst-case software scenario, you’re looking at an operating system reload (where Windows is reinstalled, then all your programs and data are reinstalled afterwards.) In those cases, as long as the computer can run whatever the latest version of Windows is reliably and with decent performance, we don’t typically recommend replacing the computer (although a hardware upgrade like increasing RAM may be suggested.) When the issue is hardware-related, it depends on what component is causing the problem. In the case of memory (RAM), power supply, optical drive, or peripheral device failure, we would simply recommend replacing the faulty component. If the root cause is a failed CPU or motherboard, we will most likely recommend replacing the machine. Computers have become so commoditized that it is often more cost-effective to replace an entire machine than a an expensive component like a CPU or one that requires a great deal of effort to replace like a motherboard. We use the same litmus test with regards to the machine’s ability to run the latest operating system to determine if it is too old to warrant any kind of repair as well.

Q) How can I tell if my computer has a virus?

A) When we sit down to determine if a machine has a malware infection, we typically look for symptoms such as:
1. Slow internet browsing in one specific Internet browser vs. all browsers on the computer
2. Random popup windows. These can look like antivirus software, random security alerts, or advertisements
3. Unfamiliar home pages on Internet browsers
4. Unfamiliar search engines being used by default when searching the Internet
5. Disabled antivirus software
If you are experiencing one or more of the above symptoms, there is a good chance your computer has been compromised.

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