For the Beginner
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What To Do When You Get Your Computer Home
Since the focus of this issue is finding and fixing computer problems, we thought we'd talk about what to do immediately after you bring home your PC.
Always plug your computer into a good surge protector.
Never plug a computer directly into a wall socket. Computers need good, clean power. A few extra dollars ($30 to $50) spent on a good surge suppressor will go a long way in protecting your expensive PC from power spikes, plus your system will run better with fewer memory problems. Don't cut corners here. Buy a surge suppressor that guarantees protection, with a warrantee that will pay for any power-related damage to your PC while connected to the unit.
Create a safety startup disk as soon as you get your PC up and running if one is not included with your system. To do this:
COPY C:\AUTOEXEC.BAT A:
COPY C:\CONFIG.SYS A:
COPY C:\WINDOWS\*.GRP A:
COPY C:\WINDOWS\*.INI A:
After the first two commands, you should see a message saying "1 file copied." After the next two commands, you will see that many files are being copied. When all files from the last command have been copied, simply type the word EXIT and depress the Enter key. This will take you back to Windows.
You will now have a quick way to start up your system if something ever happens to your hard drive, like a virus or a hardware problem. You would simply put this disk in your A: drive before you start your computer to have your computer use the Safety Startup disk when it starts up. You will also have critical Windows files on this diskette (.GRP and .INI) which can be used to recover your original Windows settings. To do this, you would get into MS-DOS, as explained earlier, and type the following two commands.
COPY A:*.GRP C:\WINDOWS\
COPY A:*.INI C:\WINDOWS\
Consider buying a portable tape drive or a writable CD-ROM drive for backups if one is not included with your new computer.
This will allow you to backup your entire hard drive overnight, as you sleep. Then, no matter what happens to your system (theft, tornado, hardware problem, etc.), if you stored your backup tape in a safe location with your safety startup disk, you will be able to restore all your files and programs to a new system in just a few hours.
By taking these few precautions, you can prevent or quickly cure most computer ailments.
Take a tip from the Boy Scouts, and Be Prepared!
An Ounce Of Prevention . . .
An ounce of prevention is worth many pounds of cure. To help prevent computer problems, begin with these simple guidelines.
»Keep your system clean. Weekly, with the power turned off on your PC and all components, vacuum the keyboard, disk drive openings, paper path on your printer, and all surfaces on and around your system. Periodically, open the computer and blow the dust out of it using a vacuum cleaner, preferably outdoors. Layers of dust act as heavy insulation on tiny microchips, causing overheating.
»Give your system plenty of breathing room. Confined space causes damaging overheating in PC's, printers, and other components.
»Don't smoke around your system. Smoke film deteriorates internal connections and disk/tape media surfaces. To better understand this problem, try to clean a smoker's inside car windows.
»Place a secure board between your monitor and PC if you place a monitor on top of a PC. Many monitors are heavy enough to bend the top of PC's and damage internal parts.
»Use a surge protector, uninterruptible power supply, or a power conditioning unit to give your computers, printers, and other critical components the good power they need. Look for models that guarantee to pay for damages to your system, caused by power, while connected to their device.
»Use a humidifier, and/or anti-static products in your work area to prevent static electricity. When you see or feel static, you have about ten times more static than your computers can handle.
»Monthly, run disk diagnostic and tuning utilities, like Norton Utilities, Windows 95 System Tools, or MS-DOS 6 utilities to check the hard disks' health. Defrag your disk periodically for optimum disk performance. Windows 95/98 has a disk defragmenter System Tool.
»Keep food and drinks a good "spill distance" away from your systems. If you do spill something on your system, power it off immediately. If it is a non-sticky liquid, many times your system is OK after the liquid dries. If it is a sticky liquid, you may need to have your system cleaned by a professional.
»Keep magnets away from your magnetic media. They will erase disks and tapes. Pay particular attention to the not so obvious magnets in paper clip holders, refrigerator magnets, key chains, desk toys, speakers, etc. Only use speakers designed specifically for computers that have proper shielding around the speaker magnets.
»Keep electronic air filters and desk fans several feet away from diskettes and hard drives. Many of them create a damaging electromagnetic field that acts like a powerful magnet.
»Continually backup your files. Then, if you have a disaster, it is much easier to recover.
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Till next month . . . Happy Computing! J
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