Expert Tips and Tricks
Q: Windows XP support is ending. Should you be concerned?
A: I've been getting this question a lot lately. No reason for concern. Same thing happened with Windows 3.1, 95 and 98. Microsoft no longer supports them. In all fairness, they supported it for well over a decade and that is not common for them. What does it mean? Windows XP will still work fine and if you are happy with it, then just keep on truckin'! Windows XP is a fine OS and has been one of Microsoft's better OS's in the last 20 years. Why is the language they are using so much more "scary" this time? One reason, Windows 8. Windows 8 sales are in the toilet, cause it sucks. So, as you can imagine, Microsoft wants to generate revenue for themselves even if it just means you upgrade to Windows 7. As a result, they are using these "scare tactics" to try and convince people to upgrade, or they "may get a virus" or worse. Whatever, Microsoft. Lol!
The truth is, all Microsoft OS's have security holes and this is nothing new. The only difference is now, they won't be patching XP's security any more. As long as you use a virus scanner as well as some good spyware and malware scanners, you should be fine. Here is a list of good free ones that I use on customer's machines: https://www.malwarebytes.org/ for Malwarebytes Anti Malware free. http://www.safer-networking.org/ for Spybot Search and Destroy (Awesome classic Spyware removal tool that has been a staple of my arsenal for many years) http://www.superantispyware.com/ for Superantispyware Free Edition and also awesome. Finally http://www.avast.com for Avast Free Virus scanner. MAKE SURE TO ONLY GET THESE PROGRAMS FROM THE ORIGINAL makers of the stuff or their approved partners, otherwise you may end up getting them bundled with spyware or malware.
The same thing goes for Adobe Flash Player and similar programs, get them from Adobe and nobody else or you may end up infected. Many spyware and adware/malware and virus scanner programs masquerade themselves as legitimate when they are in fact not. It's called "spoofing" and catches a lot of people and infects their machines, especially bogus Adobe Flash player updates. Don't fall for it! Use these tips and tools for safe computing and you will be fine. Rock on Windows XP! If you do upgrade from it, skip Windows Vista altogether and go straight to 7 as it is the only other good one next to XP. If you want to downgrade from Windows 8 to 7 (a popular option with new machines that come with 8 pre-installed and people seem to hate), I can very likely do that for you, as most Windows 8 approved hardware is also Windows 7 compatible.
Q: Why should I use an insured power bar instead of a normal cheap power bar?
A: One very simple reason. They are better quality and also quite cheap. Wal-Mart sells them as little as $12.98! Insured for up to $15,000 You would not believe how many dead computers I see after a thunder storm! Isn't $13.00 or even $20.00 or $40.00 worth it? Considering how much you paid for your computer, it sure is. There is no reason not to for that price! This way the maker of the power bar is on the hook for the repair. The repair can be costly. Sometimes just a power supply at $50, but sometimes motherboard and CPU too! It's about $200 minimum for parts and labour to replace all that! For $13.00, I rest my case.
Q: How often should I get my computer physically cleaned?
A: About once a year if it is used a lot. It also depend on the environment it's in. Dusty places or smokers or people with wood stoves etc. should get it done every 6 or so months. Dust builds up, and creates heat. Computers don't like extra heat, they produce enough on their own, lots of it! I can blow it out with compressed air for $30 and take a brush, q-tips and alcohol if necessary to the stubborn stuff. That's includes opening the power supply and cleaning it out too. This is the main dust collector of the system, but the CPU fan gets lots of dust and gunk too. Cleaning out a system is like getting a good surge protecting power bar. If you've spent good money on the device, a little extra is worth the protection it offers for your investment. It is way more economical and sound thinking to spend the money there, than on an extended warranty and the price they charge for it. Extended warranties are a scam.