Computer Repair - To pay or not to pay for anti-virus...
With the way the economy is, we are all trying to save a buck where we can. It's understandable; who wants to pay at least $49.99 a year for virus protection? Well, after reading you may see why it's justified.
Obviously there is going to be a difference in the quality of the free anti-virus product and the pay anti-virus product by the same company. For example, AVG has a free anti-virus product; it can scan files in real-time, stops viruses and spyware from entering the computer, checks webpages as you visit them and make sure that pages you click on are relatively safe. However, the free version doesn't monitor for root kits, spam, and virus infection over IM, nor does it have a firewall. While you are moderately protected with the free version, there are still many open doors for people to get access to your computer.
This model holds true with most antivirus vendors. The free version is always lacking some functions which ultimately leave your system insecure. Also, technical support is often limited to what you can find online through forums or other webpage’s, so if you have an issue with a virus, or have trouble installing or configuring an application to work with your anti-virus, you are left on your own.
The actual anti-virus / anti-spyware scanners are going to be the same in the free or the paid, but the other functions are what you should be concerned about. Once infected, a virus can cause many issues and often shutdown internet access or stop a computer from functioning. At this point you would have to take it to a professional to be cleaned, usually costing over $100! (Only $89.99 through me PLUS Free diagnostics and Free Optimization). If you are frequenting "bad" sites and becoming infected 2 or 3 times a year, it would make sense to purchase an antivirus product that is going to protect you from those attacks.
Norton Internet Security 2010 is what I have found to be the most useful in preventing infection. Like most top-of-the-line anti-virus products, its scanning method works well at monitoring files as they are coming in to your machine, rather than scanning after. It's this real-time protection combined with the ability to detect unknown viruses that allow it to be so effective. Without paying for an anti-virus, it difficult if not impossible to find a product that will protect you against unknown strains of viruses in real-time.
As an added measure, having an additional spyware monitor such as Spy Sweeper, can eliminate nearly all chance of infection. Both Norton and Spysweeper can run concurrently, and neither takes up a great deal of memory so the computer will still run smoothly.
So, to conclude, I would recommend spending the money to buy anti-virus/anti-spyware products. In the long run, the potential cost of a virus infection could be in the thousands if bank cards or identity is stolen. A free anti-virus just can't protect you from everything that is out there as well as a pay anti-virus can. Even the best defense can sometimes let viruses through.
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Dog On Fire - Computer Repair in Bellingham
Transferring data from an old Computer can be a daunting task, especially if the old Computer is not booting up. Most PC retailers would rather not hassle with helping you on something like this, and if they do they want to charge an arm and three legs.
To get your new Computer running similar to your old one, you not only have your data to think about, but all the programs that you once had installed. There is some software on the market that claims to transfer data and installed programs from one computer to another. I would not recommend this due to the fact that when a program is installed it throws files and creates registry entries in many locations. It's nearly impossible to effectively backup a program and move it to another computer.
The best way to go about doing a data transfer is manually installing and configuring the new system with only the programs, drivers and settings that are necessary, and then copying the data to the new system.
Transferring raw data files from one computer to another is fairly easy as long as you know where the data resides on your old computer and where it needs to go in your new computer (which is usually the first stumbling block for non-technical users) Most users have no idea how much personalized data exists on their computer.
Everyone is aware of the their documents, pictures and music but what about your e-mail messages (not just your Inbox), contacts/address book, printer drivers, network settings, network shares, wallpaper and any of the customized settings in just about every program? The best possible solution to make sure that you transfer everything that you care about to your new computer is to take EVERYTHING to your new computer.
In my service process for a new computer, I remove the hard drive from the old computer and attach it as a second hard drive on the new computer and transfer everything from your old data folders into your new data folders, overwriting as I go.
My advice to anyone contemplating the purchase of a new computer that isn’t familiar with all the steps of data transfer is to negotiate the cost of this critical work BEFORE you make the purchase so you aren’t left to figure it all out for yourself AFTER the purchase. My charges for something like this are incredibly reasonable compared to other local establishments.
Back up your data, or otherwise if your hard drive fails there will be no data to transfer.
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For any computer repair service issues, please feel free to come into my shop!
Dog On Fire
Over time, a windows installation becomes bogged down and begins running more slowly. There are several issue that cause this and some can be fixed by doing basic computer maintenance. Some issues are due to virus or trojan infections that can be costly or time consuming to eradicate. However, if you are like me, you may find it easier to start fresh every so often. What most people don't realize is that you don't have to start from the ground up every time you want to reinstall windows.
A disk imaging utility creates a snapshot of your disk at any given time, with the operating system included. So, the idea with this is that you do a fresh installation of windows, do all of the windows updates, update your drivers, install any programs you want running such as Open Office, Skype, IM clients, etcetera and then create an image of the drive. Obviously, you aren't going to have the tools to make the image right off the bat. You will need software to create this snapshot of your drive.
The program that I would recommend for disk imaging is Acronis True Image. I have used it extensively and have found that it trumps the competition by far. It is significantly more reliable and when you're making images of your drive; you want a program that is reliable and going to make a non corrupt image the first time. There are many features with this program that freeware alternatives don't have. With Acronis, and I will talk more about this in future blogs, you have the ability of backing up individual folders as opposed to backing up the entire disk. So, it could not only be used as an imaging program, but double as a means of backing up your data reliably. At the end of the day, it comes down to how much your time and frustration is worth. When using Norton Ghost and some other free alternatives, I have found that images I write are sometimes corrupted. If you have a corrupted image, the program cannot write it to your drive meaning that you have to reinstall windows from scratch, defeating the point of the imaging software.
My recommendation to you is this: Bring your PC in and let me run a free diagnostic on your hard drive. If it passes the tests, I can backup all your user data (documents, pictures, music, movies) and make sure it's virus free. Then, reinstall Windows on your drive, do all the windows updates and update your hardware drivers, install any programs you would want, copy your data back onto the hard drive, optimize windows as much as possible, and then create an image of the drive for you on an external hard drive or a separate partition on your current hard drive. By doing this, you will have Windows exactly how you want it, with all your relevant data virus free, updated and optimized so you can restore it after a few months when your computer begins to low down, or whenever you might pickup a virus infection. The restore process is simple, just a click of a button, and only takes a short amount of time. In the long run, this method is not only easier and less frustrating, but less costly and saves you a significant amount of time.
If you need any help with doing this, please feel free to give me a call or stop into my office. Dog On Fire - Computer Repair is located in Fairhaven @ 1001 Larrabee Ave. See my website for a map and directions: http://www.Dog-On-Fire.com
I wanted to address the importance of moving files to external media. It's an issue for two reasons:
One, you want to do file backups in the case of hardware failure. If your hard drive begins to fail and you only have copies of your pictures or music on the one location, it's entirely possible that they will be lost for good. There are several different ways and medias to backup your data to and you can feel free to call me or stop in if you want to know more about it. I plan on writing a detailed blog in the next few days that will outline a simple backup plan that would be fairly cost effective. What it comes down to is the importance of your data. If you don't mind recreating moments of you life, or spending time re-downloading programs, then this probably isn't something you need to worry about. However, if these things are priceless to you and you had no idea that you could wake up one day and all hope would be lost, stay tuned for my recommendations in the next blog.
The other reason you would want to move files to several locations, and generally off of your main disk, is disk space. If your windows partition becomes bloated with files, the entire operating system is going to run slowly. The less free space the slower it will go. I would recommend moving large files to discs or external hard drives to free up space and make the computer run faster overall. After doing this it would be wise to run a disk defragment on your drives as well to reorganize the disk structure.
If you are interested in data backups, please come in and see me for help. I can figure out an easy solution that will meet your needs.
Thanks for reading!
Dog On Fire Computer Repair
When your hard drive becomes fragmented, the computer slows down. It's as simple as that. When you write data to the disk, windows saves it in free areas of the hard drive. This means that when you save a picture or a movie, it can actually be split into several sections and stored at different locations on your hard drive. As you delete files, new spaces become open that are available for writing. These spaces quickly fill up with new pieces of data. When you go to a webpage, the temporary files such as pictures, html code, scripts, and other goodies are thrown on your disk. The problem here is that over time, your disk takes longer and longer to assemble a complete part of a file. Pulling up a picture one day may take a second or two, and the next day it could take three or four. This is because windows has to sort through all the files that are on the drive, causing the head on the hard disk to go back and forth in a search to assemble it into one complete picture.
When you defragment the drive, it lines all the separate sections up so that when you open a file, the disk can go from one section to the next without searching back and forth. This significantly improves file access times, as well as the time needed to boot up or shut down. Have everything organized and in order is also a lot better on your hard drive's lifespan. The less that the head on the disk moves the better.
In Windows XP:
Click Start, goto All Programs, goto Accessories, goto System Tools, and click Disk Defragmenter.
This screen will come up. At this point, select the disk you want to defragment and click on Defragment.
In Windows Vista:
Click the Windows button at bottom left (Start), in the search box type "defrag", then hit the enter button.
This screen will come up. At this point, click on Defragment Now.
It's sometimes beneficial to do this a couple of times, and it would be in your best intrest to do it often. If you have any questions feel free to stop into my store at 1001 Larrabee Ave. Suite 101.
Thanks for reading!
Dog On Fire