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Tech It Out!

Keeping Your PC Clean and Quick
What you don't know can hurt you big time when it comes to what's hiding in your PC. From naturally occurring registry errors to more malicious threats like spyware, hidden problems can slow your computer's performance to a crawl or even cause it to crash. A little pro-active maintenance can go a long way towards thwarting potential issues. Keeping your PC clean and running at its best is as simple as establishing a routine maintenance schedule and using the right tools. The good news is, many of these maintenance tasks can be automated, I have my PC set to download virus updates daily and run a scan daily, check for spyware updates and download daily, and run a defrag weekly. You can even set these to run when you're not occupying your PC. Many of these scheduled tasks can be set up via the Control Panel and take a lot away for you to remember. Troubleshooting can be baffling but thanks to the automation process it doesn't really have to be. like Ron Popeil said about his little rotisserie oven; "Set it and forget it".

Here are three key "cleaning" tasks that you should perform on a regular basis (at least once a week):

Run a Registry Cleaner Often
If your computer is slower now than when you first bought it, your issue is probably registry errors. Installing and removing software, playing online games, application crashes and upgrades of software can all create the natural errors we mentioned earlier in your computer's registry. They accumulate over time and the more errors you have, the higher the likelihood that you'll experience slow down and crashing.

AVG UltimateThere are several registry cleaners on the market. Some free and some not. I recommend Ccleaner and you can download it here The software searches out and corrects registry errors and is completely free. For more information on this application go to www.ccleaner.com The program will scan and diagnose your PC's registry, tell you how many errors it found and then allow you to delete old or bad entries. Many registry cleaners are too intrusive and may take out many registry entries you may need. I highly recommend any "do it yourselfer" to use ccleaner and PLEASE remember to BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!!!

Destroy Spyware
Did you know that 61 percent of PCs have spyware on them? And of those infected, 92 percent of users didn't know spyware was present on their computers. Source: AOL and the National Cyber-Security Alliance.

Spyware is malicious software that gets installed on your computer without your knowledge or consent. This is considered a very serious security threat. Not only can spyware collect information about your Internet usage, it can install additional software, hijack your browser, change your computer settings, slow down and even crash your computer. Have you ever been in front of your computer and your mouse starts to move on its own? How about your homepage being changed to a shopping or even an adult site and you can't change it back? Even worse have you ever seen your computer still attempting to boot and it's been fifteen minutes? These are just a few symptoms of a spyware infeciton and if you've even seen even one of these then chances are you're infected. With this infection you could experience excessive popups even while not online, private information stolen from your computer all the way up to identity theft. A good spyware detector/remover can help you with this and I recommend Windows Defender. I've been using this application for quite some time now and it's been very effective and it's also another program that you can set to automatically run.

Scan for spyware daily. Especially if you are on the Internet often and download frequently.

Be Vigilant against Viruses
With so many different types of threats to your computer popping up daily, it easy to overlook virus protection. That could be fatal to your PC. Viruses continue to be a major threat to computer's security and could cost you dearly. For the home user, you could infect your PC to a point of no return and all computers on your network. Viruses have cost companies billions of dollars worldwide each year. There are more than a hundred different choices on the market for antivirus software. The two biggest names are Symantec; the developers of Norton and McAffee. For me, the bigger name doesn't always mean the best product. I would suggest you give two of the smaller guys a try. AVG has a free version of their antivirus that has kept me protected for quite some time. It downloads updates daily and is highly configurable. Oh and did I mention that it's free? Another good program is Avast Antivirus. This application has a free trial version and is $39.95 after the trial ends. This is a small price to pay for the safety and security of your precious data.

When it comes to computer viruses, the best defense is a good offense. Opt for a virus protection software that provides constant updates since new viruses emerge and old ones evolve into new forms every day. Scan for new viruses daily. Again set this to run automatically when you're not at your computer. As much as possible, stay away from malicious or questionable sites and NEVER open attachments from people you don't know. For that matter, be careful of attachments from people you do know. For those on a wired network; if you think you've just gotten a virus, immediately unplug your network cable and contact your I.T. administrator. Hopefully that's Eminent Design Group.

Bryan M. Whiteside
Creative Director
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