A Computer Primer...

Get the BEST Virus Protection for FREE
A virus is a program that has negative effects on your computer. It may download other viruses (virii), record your actions, or infect operating system files. If caught at the first sign of trouble, they can be quite easily recovered from. An effective anti-virus tool can be your best friend when you're in need.
Originally, anti-virus programs were simple. They protected you from disks or downloads that contained a virus. Over time, competition has driven them to add more and more features, most of which are unnecessary. The top two anti-virus programs in the U.S. are Norton and McAfee. They display an immense amount of sub- standard features that bog down even the most advanced machines.
Unfortunately for the consumer, to keep profits flowing, these anti-virus programs have also switched to a "subscription" plan, forcing you to pay each year for protection. The good news is that there are several programs available to the home user for FREE.
Choosing the right anti-virus program can be a complex choice. For many users, we recommend AVG FREE Antivirus, with MalwareBytes as the Spyware/Adware/Malware remover. Depending on your skill level, your best choice may be different. We will be happy to help you make this choice, and we'll even install your choice for free when you bring your computer in for service.
FREE Anti-Virus Program Toolkit
Click here to download MSE FREE
Click here to download MalwareBytes FREE
Click here to download Norton REMOVAL Tool
Click her to download our Windows remote support tool.
Make Media Work
VLC Media Player
AVI Codec
Foxit Reader
Recommended FREE "Open Source" Software
Firefox (Internet Browser)
Thunderbird (Email Client)
Open Office (Word & Data Processing)
MozBackup (Email & Browser Backup)
Top 5 issues that cause a SLOW computer
You are infected by Spyware or a Virus.
An infection can slow your computer down by downloading other infectious programs, (e.g. Trogan Horse Virus) adding new tasks, such as sending your keystrokes over the Internet, or using your network connection to attack other computers. Most anti-virus programs will not catch every infection. However, some programs are far superior to others.
Windows Degradation
Over time, inefficiencies accumulate within Windows. The registry can become large, slowing down the system. The file system can contain fragmented files, creating a performance bottleneck with the hard disk.
Large Process List
As software is installed, it often times will create a process (program) that runs every time you start your computer. It is not unusual for a client's computer to be running 200 processes when it is started. By selectively reducing the number of processes that start during the boot sequence, we can decrease start up, and increase performance.
Bloated Programs
If you're running Norton Antivirus, you are slowing your computer by at least 20%. McAfee is better, but not by much. Peer-to-peer file sharing programs such as Kazaa and Limewire are also major offenders. By carefully choosing programs based on your actual needs, you can save not only time, but also your money. (Please NOTE: We are NOT suggesting to operate without any Anti-Virus program.)
Inadequate Hardware
Often times, there will be a bottleneck in older hardware configurations where one piece of hardware is able to slow the whole machine down. Whether it is a simple memory upgrade, a faster hard disk, or even a faster processor, by eliminating the bottleneck, an impressive performance increase can often be achieved at a low cost.
Major Computer Problems (that aren't)
The computer does NOTHING...
In this instance, your computer isn't as bad offas you are without it. Often times, a single inexpensive part has failed - such as a $30-$80 power supply. Other parts that are easily replaced include hard drives, memory chips (RAM), and cables.
The computer doesn't finish starting.
This is most likely not even a hardware problem. By simply repairing or re-installing Windows, your computer can be back to its speedy old self. In what we consider our flagship service, the format / reinstall is the equivalant of an oil change for your computer. Not only is it necessary, it is the best solution to 95% of computer problems, and the most often overlooked repair solution.
I smell smoke!
UNPLUG IT! This is the one where we know we're looking at a hardware problem. Something has shorted out, been overdriven, or just plain decided that its time had come. Thankfully, most computers are built with easily replaceable components. We can replace whatever was smoldering with a standardized replacement part.
Backing Up - A Beginner's Guide
What event(s) do you need protection from?
The most aggressive backup solutions provide protection from any software failure, such as a virus, a hardware event, such as the failure of your hard drive, and an external event, such as theft or fire. In many cases, certain events result in completely different data sets that are required. For example, in the event your computer is stolen, you will have no need for a backup image of your operating system, while this image may be extremely important in the event of a virus. Additional methods can be employed for advanced users, such as a redundant hard drive, off site backup via the Internet, or a periodic on-site backup performed by a professional.
What items do you need to recover?
In almost every situation, the most important things to recover are your personal files. These are your pictures, e-mails, spreadsheets, and other documents that you have created. In most cases, these files are otherwise unrecoverable. This data should be protected from any perceivable event. We recommend both a local and remote backup for these files in the event of a fire or theft. Your operating system image, while extremely important to restore your computer quickly in the event of a virus, is a very large piece of data, which takes quite awhile to back up and restore. We recommend that a local copy of the data is stored on the hard drive, preferably within a separate partition isolated from Windows. A unique tool for doing this is g4u, which is free (open source) software. This can be done periodically, and for even greater protection, can be stored on an external hard disk. If a proper file backup is made, this image only requires updating when additional software is installed.
What backup and recovery process best suits you?
The most commonly overlooked portion of the backup plan is the method with which files are backed up and restored. Many users make diligent backups, but find that they often forget, or find themselves without the time to back up, at the times that it is needed most. For these users, an automated backup process may be necessary. Even more important is the recovery process. If the user has never had to restore with the current configuration, and is unable to perform the restoration, the backup may well have never been done in the first place. Is a backup service handled by a professional your best choice? Is it best to leave restoring data in the in the hands of the pro, or do you need full circle self backup and restoration abilities? Once you prepare for, and consider the restoration needs required in the event the worst happens, you can feel much more secure in your data backup plans.
You don't need expensive software, EVERYTHING is FREE!
Everybody loves free. What everybody doesn't know, though, is that the programs available for sale in stores aren't your only option. For several years, programmers have volunteered to create software packages that are free to users. Usually these FREE software packages are built to be compatible with documents and files created by their well-known paid counterparts (such as Microsoft Office, and Outlook Express). Often times they also have better features due to the fact that there are thousands of programmers working to make the application better each day as opposed to a handful working for a corporation.
These software packages are called "open source," and when we say free, we don't mean just to your wallet. Sure, these programs don't cost you any money to install and use, but they also allow an advanced user to change the program. Users can fix bugs, add new features, and allow for the program to be modified to support customizations.
To find open source software packages, check out www.osalt.com.