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Welcome to the Hints, Tips section of our website.  Periodically we will post helpful information to help you and your computer function better.  This section will also contain a log of useful information such as products to avoid.  If you would like to contribute, please email your tips to webmaster@meyercomputer.net


Posted 12/30/2003 by Shelby Meyer
Last updated 03/25/2009
Software to Avoid and Why

Kazaa, LimeWire, Morpheus, WinMX, Ares, BearShare, File Voom, Flickr, MP3 Suite, MP3 Rocket, Snappy Music, Shareaza & other P2P music sharing software are EXTREMELY BAD! - Theses software packages disable security on your computer and can literally expose your files to anyone on the Internet.  This leads to poor performance, viruses, Trojans, and identity theft.    In addition, the Recording Industry of America has been taking legal action against the worst offenders for illegal swapping of MP3 files.  Worst of all, these programs open up your PC to the world.  Hackers know this and therefore take advantage of it.  Any computer with these programs installed is a PRIME target for spyware, malware and viruses.  These programs have NO redeeming value.

MySpace - I can't count the number of computers that I have had to remove spyware from after users started using MySpace.  This website is also a playground for child predators.

Weatherbug and similar live weather programs - This program will help slow your internet connection (especially if you have dial-up).  It has to continuously check the web to pull the temperature.  Its also a great way to obtain more pop-up ads and spam.  

Gator/Claria - Anything by Gator and Claria Software is design to intentionally feed your computer with more pop-up advertising.  These programs are often disguised as a semi-legitimate program that do perform a useful function.  For example, it may automatically set your clock in exchange for viewing the pop-up ads.  I'd rather set my own clock.

AOL - Any version of this software (especially the older versions) can have negative performance effects on your PC.  AOL has also been dubbed "the Internet on training wheels".  I also recommend that anyone not using AOL's services remove it from their system because it comes pre installed on many new computers.

Microsoft FindFast - This program creates an index of your hard-drive so Windows can pull up your MS Office documents faster.  However, when you reboot, the program re-indexes the drive.  Microsoft's intensions were good but the program spends more time thrashing the disk drive than the time its supposed to save.  Findfast can be disabled by removing the icon from the Startup folder.  Newer versions of MS Office have the same thing by a different name.  Remove 'Microsoft Office Startup' from your startup folder.


Posted 07/14/2004 by Shelby Meyer
Last updated 06/29/2008
Computer Buying Tips

Computers are available in just about any price range.   Midrange desktops would be in the $700-$900 range and midrange notebooks in the $1000 range.  The higher end units can reach up to $5k.  Choosing the right computer depends entirely on what you want to do with it.   If your looking for better graphics, video or gaming you need to be in the mid to high end range.

Buy the best computer you can afford. - By getting the best you can afford, you will have a machine that will not be as obsolete as quickly.  However all machines become obsolete eventually.  If you buy a low end budget PC, you can expect to replace it in as little as 1-2 years time; as opposed to getting as much as 3-4 years of life from a better machine.

More is always better. - Get as much CPU speed RAM, and hard-drive space as you can.  You won't regret it.  Its always cheaper to spend a little more up front than to add it later.

Buy what you really want. - If you want a CD burner, buy a computer with a CD burner.  It will cost you much more to add one in later.  This advice applies to pretty much any component.

Get at least a 1 year manufacturer warranty. - Many of the lesser known, no-name clone brands only have a 30-90 day warranty.  Some have no warranty at all!

Stick with a brand name computer! - Many local computer stores will custom build a computer for you.  This has several down sides.  The first is a very short warranty (if any at all).  The second is that the components of the machine haven't been tested together.  YOU will be testing it after you buy it.  A name brand machine will go through a lot of testing before it is sold to the public.

Memory is cheap! - Don't think of getting less than 512 meg on an XP computer or les than 1 Gig on a Vista computer.  Many Vista users are even going with 2 Gig and even 4 Gig!  You can't have too much memory!  This is never the place to skimp!

Hard-drive - Consumer machines may be purchased with as much as a 750g drive.  160 gig has become the new standard size for business class machines.  (Business users store data on networks and therefore can use a smaller drive in the desktops which will save a company money).  If you collect MP3 music or do a lot with digital photography you will want a larger drive.  Hard-drive technology is getting better, faster and cheaper all the time!

Intel Celeron - Celeron is another word for "Stripped Down Pentium".   A 2.4 Celeron is NOT the same as a 2.4 Pentium 4.  Its MUCH slower.  A Celeron is not recommended for applications that do heavy math and video rendering such as AutoCAD, PhotoShop and practically any game.

Dial-up WinModems - If you must use Dial-up Internet, please be aware that a 'WinModem' is NOT a real modem.  It uses the processor of the computer which will slow your connection speed and your computer.  Many companies sell computers with WinModems to cut costs by $20.  People that own WinModems are generally not satisfied with the performance relative to a real dial up modem

Monitor Not Included - Monitors are rarely included because everyone has different preferences.  Some people want 17", 19", 20", or 22" in either flat or square screen formats.  Therefore the monitor is sold separate from the computer.  The price of the monitor depends on what size you get and whether it analog or digital.  Any computer that has a monitor included as a package deal tends to be a lower end system.

Video - The video capability of the computer can determine how fast your screen draws.  The simple integrated video systems are designed for not much more than simple word processing and spreadsheets.  They are NOT intended for graphics, video or gaming.  Integrated video is typically found in the low end systems.  A better choice is a computer with a video slot.   You can always upgrade to a faster video card later if the original card doesn't meet your needs.  Good gaming video cards often sell separately for $200-$300.

Never purchase a machine from a discount chain - Manufacturers make special versions of the computers with lesser components to meet the discount chains price point (such as Wal-Mart).  The old axiom still applies.  You get what you pay for!   For example: A manufacturer may cut costs by $20 using a 5200 RPM hard-drive instead of a 7200 rpm drive.  This will slow the machine by as much as 30-40%!  These machines are almost always skimp on memory and are Celeron units.

Do you have a network? - If the answer is YES; you want a computer with XP Pro or Vista Business or Vista Ultimate.  The operating system is intended for network usage.  Windows XP Home and Vista Home have vital networking components stripped out.  Many small business owners will make the mistake of buy a computer with a home version (because they save about $90) and then later realize that they need a $200 operating system upgrade to move up to the business version that includes networking.


Posted 09/22/2006 by Shelby Meyer
Intel Processors - What's the Difference?

Assuming the same clock speed, Intel processors are ranked as follows:

  • Xeon Dual Core (Server Processor)
    Dual core puts two physical cores on one die.
    Similar to Pentium D
     
  • Pentium D
    Dual core puts two physical cores on one die.
     
  • Xeon (Server Processor)
    Hyper Threading makes use of extra cycles of a single physical core to provide a second "virtual" core.
    Similar to Pentium 4-HT
     
  • Pentium 4-HT
    Hyper Threading makes use of extra cycles of a single physical core to provide a second "virtual" core.
     
  • Pentium M
    This is a special version of the Pentium 4 designed for mobile computers.  (IE Laptops)  It consumes less power and thus generates less heat.
     
  • Pentium 4
    Does not make use of Hyper-Thread or Dual Core technology. - Processor is slowly phasing out in favor of the newer technologies shown above.
     
  • Celeron
    Stripped down Pentium - The slowest possible technology. - DON'T BUY ONE!
     
  • Explanation
    Given the same clock speed of a personal computer, a Pentium D 2.66 is faster than a Pentium 4-HT 2.66 machine which is better than a P4 266 without Hyper-Threading or Dual Core Technology.

Posted 12/01/2005 by Shelby Meyer, Content is from Microsoft
Antivirus software & firewall protection

Get special offers from the following software companies for antivirus and firewall packages.

Important:  Please uninstall any antivirus software you are currently using before installing a new product; having two different programs might cause problems on your computer.


Posted 07/09/2005 by Shelby Meyer
Free Online Antivirus Removal Tool

Most of the anti-virus products on the market today maintain free virus scanners on their company websites.  However these websites only detect the presence of a virus.  To remove it you must buy their product.  Now Panda Software has a scanner available that will not only detect a virus but it will remove it from your PC as well.  This is great news for all of the people out that that have unprotected systems or can't afford anti-virus protection.  Simply go to the website and click on "Scan your PC" and follow the instructions.

It may not be the best or the fastest method; but the price is right!

http://www.pandasoftware.com/products/activescan/com/activescan_principal.htm
 


Posted 06/29/2008 by Shelby Meyer
Avoiding Spyware and Adware and Pop-ups

Spyware and Adware is unavoidable - Everyone's PC will eventually get a certain amount of these unwanted programs.   Spyware/adware are programs put on your computer by various companies that are targeting you for advertising.  Some spyware is used to gather personal information and in extreme cases identity theft.  It's important that you keep your clean your PC of spyware/adware.  Most pop-up ads are in fact generated by spyware/adware.  Running a pop-up blocker only treats the symptom and doesn't get to the source of the problem.   By removing the spyware/adware you can eliminate 90% of the pop-ups.  I recommend using at least one of the following products.  In fact, I use them all.  At this time, there is no single program that will catch or remove everything.

Norton AntiVirus (includes antispyware)
McAfee AntiVirus (includes antispyware)
Lavasoft AdAware
Spybot Search and Destroy
Spyware Doctor
Windows Live One Care
Windows Defender

BEWARE #1 - There are many FAKE ant-virus and anti-spyware programs which are actually spyware.  Stick to software you know and trust such as the ones listed above.

BEWARE #1 - AVG antivirus is free.  However it misses a LOT of stuff.  You get what you pay for!  I don't recommend it but its better than nothing at all.

If you need help with spyware or virus removal, please contact us or CLICK HERE.


Posted 01/04/2004 by Shelby Meyer
Last updated 01/07/2004
Useful Websites and (Free) Downloads!

Device Drivers - Do you have an older piece of equipment for your computer that you may have lost the driver disk?  The website http://www.driverguide.com will probably have what you need to get you working again!

Windows Update - This is the best site on the Internet that nobody is using.  This website will scan your PC and give you a list of everything your need from Microsoft to plug security holes, update drivers, obtain service packs, and get new features.  I recommend everyone check this site once a month!  http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com

Microsoft Message Bases - This contains a separate message base (newsgroup) for nearly all Microsoft products from Access to XBox. Post your questions here and someone is sure to answer!  http://communities.microsoft.com/newsgroups/default.asp

Protect Your PC - This Microsoft web utility will scan your system to see how well your are protected against intruders and will recommend ways to improve your situation.  http://www.microsoft.com/security/protect/

Internet Speed Test - Test the speed of your internet connection and see how you compare with others.  This highest I have achieved was 5.2 megabits with a cable modem.   http://www.bandwidthplace.com/speedtest

SpyWare Removal - Spy Ware are programs put on your computer by various companies that are targeting you for advertising.  These programs give the advertiser yet another way to send you more pop-ups and spam.  Download AdAware from LavaSoft as a way to remove these programs from your PC.  http://www.lavasoft.de

Acrobat Reader - This reader will allow you to read the .PDF files found on many websites.  http://www.adobe.com

Real Player - Use this program to play streaming media on websites and as an alternative to the Windows Media Player.  If you already have an older version of real player I recommend you get the new version.   http://www.real.com

Java Runtime - As you may be aware, Microsoft lost the lawsuit with the makers of Java.  The Java Virtual Machine is no longer offered or supported by Microsoft.  Go to http://www.java.com to download the new Java runtime environment to access all those online game websites such as the ones found on Yahoo.


Posted 12/30/2003 by Shelby Meyer
Networking Articles

Several informational articles for small networks can be found here.


Posted 12/30/2003 by Shelby Meyer
Last updated 04/01/2004
Speed up your PC!

These are some simple things that anyone can do to help their machine run better.

Periodically do a disk cleanup.  Start/Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Disk cleanup.  Check all the boxes EXCEPT "Compress old files" and click Ok.

Empty the TEMP folder - Many software applications will create temporary files in the C:\Windows\TEMP folder.  Periodically it is a good idea to delete everything in this folder.  Computers can be very slow if you have hundreds or even thousands of files in this folder.  The Windows Disk cleanup doesn't do a good job of getting everything in this folder.

Defragment regularly  The entry level defragmenters built into the different versions of Windows are painfully slow.  We recommend using Executive Software's DiskKeeper.  Their website has a FREE trial version that is excellent.  The full version gives you scheduling so you don't even have to remember to defragment.

There is no perfect defragmentation schedule that will fit everyone.  Rule of thumb is that the more you use a computer the more you should defragment.

Cleanup your startup folder.  A large number of programs will place a program in your startup folder.  Everything in the folder will be run when the computer is rebooted.  The more items in the startup folder the slower your boot time will be.

Remove old software and unnecessary software.  Every PC gradually accumulates at least some software 'clutter'.  The 'cleaner' the machine the faster it will run.  Remove any old applications and games that you no longer use or need.

Remove slow software.  Anything that runs in the background will slow you down.  Some software is especially notorious.  See the section "Software to Avoid and Why".


   

 

 


 
   

 

 


 

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