Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Fixing Your Computer - Introduction [Sendables]

Too often I hear people with painfully ill maintained machines complaining that viruses are making their computer slow.

Yeah, it must be a virus...

A computer needs regular maintenance just like a car does! If I were to complain that my engine was running roughly and then seized up for no reason, you might ask when the last time I changed the oil was. If I were to respond "Never", you would probably just shake your head and think I was an idiot.

When a computer literate individual hears someone say:
"I hate ___ operating system! It is so slow and it always crashes!"
"I got a virus and now my computer runs soooo slow!"
"I need to buy a new computer because my laptop I bought last year is too slow now!"
"My _____ computer takes like an hour to turn on! That's why I only buy ____ products now!"
".... blah blah blah... VIRUS.... blah blah blah..."

It sounds just like someone complaining that their engine is ruined because they didn't put oil in it.
For some reason, most people have some type of issue with the idea of working to maintain computers. They would rather say, "Oh well, I don't really need my computer anyways!" and just continue using the pile of crap that they have made for themselves, than learn to do one or two new things.

With that simile in mind we can come up with a few simple rules:

  • Computers are not magic. 
    • Computers are machines which are tremendously more complicated than your car.
    • You should probably work on your computer three times as often as you work on maintaining your car.
    • That means on average you are looking at about three big issues a year for your computer.
  • Working on computers is just like working on a car.
    • You can buy a new car every year rather than replace the tires.
    • You can buy a new computer every year rather than replace the hardware.
    • You can have a shop work on your car for ten times the cost of doing it on your own.
    • You can have a shop work on your computer for ten times the cost of doing it on your own.
    • Replacing your water pump is probably going to take an entire day.
    • Replacing your boot hard drive is probably going to take an entire day.
    • Replacing your wiper fluid is going to take ten minutes.
    • Replacing your stock software is going to take ten minutes.
    • Seriously, this is not 1999...
    • If you have anything like a virus, you have malware, and you got it because you installed it without reading what you were doing.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself. If you have trouble answering then you probably need to work on improving your computer literacy.

How long have you owned your computer?

How long has it been since you formatted?

How many "special" programs are running concurrently starting at boot?
(ie. antivirus, backup service client, etc.)(these are usually icons down by your clock)

How long has it been since you cleaned out the inside of your case?

How are you managing heat dissipation?

Are you still using the programs that your computer came with?

Your answers should be:

  • 1 year or less for the format
  • Less than 10 programs running at boot for a modern quad core system or less than 5 programs for a single or dual core system.
  • Less than 1 year since cleaning your hardware.
  • Monitoring temperature sensors and maintaining good circulation for heat dissipation.
  • No, I removed all the CRAP that my computer came with immediately and used Ninite to install better programs.
I will be posting a series here on how to get started working on your computer, covering many of the most immediate and pertinent skills.

For those of you who are directing others to this series please use the 'Sendables' tag for more!

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