Most of us rely heavily on our computers for work, entertainment, household management or more. It’s important to take care of them well so they can continue to be helpful and not cause problems. Many frequent computer users often wonder if it’s better to leave their computer on or turn it off at the end of a session.
Here are a few reasons to turn off your computer or let it run:
One reason many computer users want to turn their computer off is to save on their energy bill. Generally, standard computers aren’t a huge power draw, but some custom built PCs can pull more energy. Regardless, if you are trying to conserve energy, either power down your desktop or keep your laptop unplugged when you step away. Always keep in mind the startup time required for your computer. You don’t want to shut down if you’re coming back to work in an hour, it’s just not good time management.
Let it sleep
While you sleep, it certainly won’t hurt or your computer to do the same. Some people swear that their computers run better when they get shut down regularly, and while you’re catching some zzzs is as good a time as any to shut your machine down. Generally speaking, if you’ll be away from your computer for over 8 hours, it’s a good time to power down.
If you’re taking your laptop on the go, it’s a safer bet to shut it down than leaving it running or in sleep mode. While most new computers run solid state hard drives and have fewer moving pieces, you don’t want to risk jostling any parts while you’re on the go. As you move from one meeting to the next or pack up for a cross-country flight, remember to turn your computer off.
One main reason you would want to leave your computer on even when you’re away is if you plan to access it remotely for any reason. You may have a local database or file server you need to jump into from another location. You would still want to shut this computer down every few days when possible, but overall you want to keep it up and running for quick and stress-free access.
Running backup or updates
If you are backing up your computer or installing new updates, it’s often convenient to let them run while you’re away from your computer, so you don’t sacrifice performance. When you need these to happen, set them when you usually have your computer turned off and let it stay on.
Generally speaking, whether you turn your computer off frequently or let it run won’t make a huge difference in its lifespan. If you’re having computer problems that aren’t resolved by turning it off and on, stop by and see us. We’d love to help get your computer back to peak performance.
Windows 10 is a powerful operating system that runs efficiently when left to its default settings. As with most operating systems, however, it can always be improved. By making a few tweaks to your settings you can have your Windows 10 computer running at top speed.
Here are 5 ways to get more speed out of your Windows 10 computer:
Before going any further, check that your computer is running the most recent version of Windows 10. Go to Start → Settings → Update & Security → Windows Update → Check for updates. Install any operating system or driver updates available.
Turn off visual effects
Windows 10 was designed to be visually appealing, which is nice but can also be slowing down your computer. In the search feature next to the start button on your taskbar, search for sysdm.cpl. When the Systems Properties window opens, click the Advanced tab → Performance → Settings. From there select “Adjust for best performance” and click OK. This will stop visual effects and shadowing that may be slowing your computer down.
Adjust power settings
If you are using a desktop computer or usually use your laptop while it’s plugged in, adjusting the power settings may give you a performance boost. Open the Control Panel on your computer and go to Power Options. Once there select the High performance plan. If you want to mess with the settings for this plan, click on change plan settings, otherwise close this window. If you are using a laptop that isn’t plugged in, go back to the Power Options to turn this off as it will quickly drain your battery.
Turn off TSRs
TSRs are programs and processes that run in the background and use your computer's memory. While some TSRs are necessary, not all are and can be causing your computer to slow down. By limiting these and other startup programs, you can increase the speed of your computer. Here’s how to do it.
Make some room
Windows 10 or otherwise, all computers slow down if they are low on storage space. Check for low disk space on your computer by going to Settings → System → Storage. This will show you all your disks and their storage levels. If a disk is close to full, it’s time to make some space. To do this go to Settings → System → Storage and under Storage, select This PC → Temporary files. Check the boxes for Temporary files and Recycle bin and any other unwanted files. Then hit Remove Files and restart your computer.
Navigate back to see your computer's storage to see if this cleared up enough space. If you are still close to tapped out, consider transferring files to an external hard drive.
With these few simple steps, your Windows 10 computer should be running faster than ever. If you are still facing performance issues, call us or bring your computer in. We would love to help you troubleshoot.
Your computer can be slowed down by more than just a cluttered desktop. Dust, dirt and food crumbs can do damage to your computer from the inside out. Keeping your computer clean is an important part of computer maintenance because a clean computer keeps air flowing well and your fan functioning.
Here’s what you need to know about keeping your computer clean:
How often do I need to clean it?
The answer to this question varies depending on where your computer lives. If you work in construction and have a computer on the job site, you’ll need to clean it more often than if you work from home with just your cat or dog. The general rule of thumb is to clean it every 9-12 months.
How do I clean a computer?
The primary rule of computer clean is to not spray liquid on any component, ever. If you are using a liquid cleaner, spray it on a towel first, never directly on your machine. Clean the outside of your machine gently with a vacuum or compressed air to remove debris, but never us a vacuum inside your computer.
Only open your computer in a clean environment and only if you feel comfortable handling the delicate parts. If you feel uncomfortable messing with the inside of your computer, bring it in and we’ll take care of the rest.
What about my keyboard?
A dirty keyboard isn’t going to break your desktop computer, but you do probably want to keep it clean. Keyboards are some of the dirtiest parts of a home. Remove debris from your keyboard by using compressed air. It’s a more efficient and safer way to get out dirt and dust than shaking it upside down. After you’ve clean under the keys, simply wipe the top down with disinfectant spray on a cloth top clean each key.
Do I need to clean my screen?
Cleaning the screen of your computer isn’t required but it is highly recommended. Dust and fingerprints can build up quickly and make it difficult to see what’s on your screen. Never spray a cleaner directly on your computer screen. Use a microfiber cloth and spray screen cleaner on it and then wipe down the screen.
How do I clean the hard drive?
Computer hard drives can’t be physically cleaned, but it’s good to digitally clean them every few months to remove unnecessary files and keep your storage available. Read our tips for improving the spee of your computerfor more about keeping your hard drive clean.
When it comes to your computer, the key is to keep it’s environment clean. Working in an area with low dust is a good start, but remember to not eat or drink around your computer. If you feel uncomfortable messing with your computer, bring it in today and we’ll give it a good clean.
One of the biggest hassles of getting a new computer is transferring all your data from your old computer. Apple created a tool to help minimize the stress of this transfer called Migration Assistant. After your new Mac is all set up run Migration Assistant to get your data pulled over.
Here is how to transfer your content from your old Mac to your new Mac:
Connect the Computers
Run Migration Assistant
When the transfer process is done, login to your new Mac and check that all your content is there. If you run into issues or need help cleaning off your old Mac, contact us today.
So you did the research and decided to buy a Mac. Now it’s time to take it out of the box and get it running. It’s a pretty simple process, but you want to do it correctly. Before you plug it in and attach all your accessories, follow these few steps to get your Mac set up.
Here’s how to get your new Mac ready to use:
Follow the Setup Assistant
When you first turn on your new Mac, it’s best to have access to the internet and be plugged into power. When you turn on your computer by pressing the power button in the upper right corner, the Setup Assistant will start automatically. Follow the program cues. Apple recommends that you activate FileVault, iCloud Keychain and Find My Mac, but all these steps are optional. Only turn on what you are comfortable using.
The Setup Assistant will queue you to set up iCloud, a helpful tool to have especially if you use an iPhone. You can set up your Mac to automatically sync to your iCloud account, so you don’t lose anything, and can easily access it from anywhere. The basic plan for iCloud is free and gives you 5GB of storage. You can opt to purchase additional storage if at any time. If you already have iCloud set up from a previous device, just login.
Customize Your Dock
The dock is the bar that runs across the bottom of your Mac screen and shows icons of your commonly used and open applications. This part of your Mac can be easily customized to meet your needs. Click on the apple in the upper left corner and select System Preferences. On the next screen, select Dock. From there you can adjust the size, where it lives and if you want it hidden or not. Play around with it to find what works for you. You will frequently access this tool as you use your Mac.
Tweak Your Trackpad
The Trackpad on your Mac is a crucial tool. Just like the dock, it can be customized to the way you use your computer for the best experience. If you’re new to Mac, you may need to tweak this over time. From the apple in the top left corner select System Preferences and then open Trackpad. Take some time in the next window to play around with the different settings and find what you like and don’t want.
Install Accessories and Software
If you use an external keyboard or mouse go ahead and install those and any other accessories now. At this time, install any software, such as Microsoft Office, as well. You want to get your Mac set up in a way that’s custom , so you feel comfortable using it. You can also take some time to browse the App Store and install a few apps that may be helpful. If you don’t have a Microsoft Office license, try out Pages, Numbers and Keynote.
Working on a Mac can feel very different if you’re new to the interface, but with some simple exploring, we think you’ll feel at home in no time. If you find a glitch during setup or have any other questions, reach out today. We would be happy to help you troubleshoot.
Bluetooth devices can give you an external keyboard, wireless headphones, a mouse and much more. Since computers are limiting the numbers of USB ports on a device, Bluetooth is becoming necessary. However, as with many technologies, it doesn’t always run smoothly.
If you are having trouble connecting a Bluetooth device, here are a few things to check on:
Turn It On
Before you start trying to pair your Bluetooth device to your computer, turn the device on. Most Bluetooth devices run on batteries to keep them wireless. If the device doesn’t turn on, try plugging it in to charge the battery or putting new batteries in.
Make it Discoverable
When pairing Bluetooth with your computer, both devices need to be discoverable. Many speakers and simpler devices are always discoverable, but your computer may not be. If you are running Windows 10 and have Bluetooth enabled, then you should be in good shape. If you are having issues, go to Settings > Device > Bluetooth and click “more Bluetooth options.” On this window, you can select the option to make your PC discoverable.
With Bluetooth devices, there is a difference between pairing and connecting your device. When you pair your device to your computer, you’re telling your PC that you trust the device. Once the device is paired, you need to be connected for it to work. To pair a device, follow the instructions to put it in pairing mode so you can find it from your computer. If you are having issues connecting a paired device, visit Settings > Device > Bluetooth to forget the device and then go through the pairing process again.
Windows comes with generic drivers for Bluetooth, but they may cause your connected devices to work poorly or not at all. If you are having issues with multiple Bluetooth devices, check for an update to your drivers. Go to Settings > Device > Bluetooth and select the Drivers tab to see if you have updates available.
Bluetooth is a short-range technology. Devices need to be close to each other, think in the same room, to connect and work well. If a speaker is crackling or your computer can’t see a device, check that they are in the same room or try moving them even closer.
Bluetooth is brilliant technology and should work seamlessly. If none of the tips above resolve your problems, come in today and we’ll take a look at your computer.
Your laptop is a critical part of your life, but you sometimes feel stuck trying to find an outlet because your battery seems to last for just an hour or two. Before you blame your computer, look at the technical specifications from the Apple website to see if your battery is underperforming. If it is, there are a few things you can do to stretch your battery life.
Here are 7 tips to improve your Mac battery life:
Energy Saver Settings
Click on the battery icon in the status menu at the top right of your screen and select “Open Energy Saver Preferences.” Here you can control the sleep settings of your Mac to improve your battery life. Set your display to sleep when you are idle so it temporarily turns off the backlight and saves battery power. You should also select the option to dim the display when disconnected from a power source.
Chrome, one of the most popular internet browsers, is not doing your battery any favors. Chrome requires a tremendous amount of RAM causing your machine to work harder than it needs to. When trying to extend your battery life, use Safari because it’s optimized to work with your Mac and won’t drain your battery as quickly as Chrome.
Dim the Lights
Your Mac gives you control over screen and keyboard light brightness. When you are disconnected and trying to extend your battery life, dimming these lights helps get you more life. Dim your screen by pressing F1 and dim your keyboard light by pressing F5.
If you can live without pop up notifications, then turn them off for the sake of your battery life. Go to your System Preferences and select “Notifications.” From there you can choose which apps you would like notifications from, or set your computer to do not disturb to turn off all notifications for a set period.
Update Your OS
The newest Mac OS, High Sierra, fixes a known battery issue that incorrectly displays how much power remains on your battery. By updating you’ll have better knowledge of how long your battery lasts. This tip may not increase battery lifespan, but it will save you from unexpected shutdowns.
Bluetooth, WiFi and location services all run in the background and can drain your battery. When you’re away from an outlet turn off as many of these services as possible to get a bit more time on your charge. Bluetooth and WiFi can be turned off from the status menu. To turn off location services open your System Preferences and select “Security & Privacy.” Select location services from the menu on the left and unclick “Enable Location Services.”
Battery life decreases over time, but these tips can help you get more time on each charge. If your battery isn’t charging or dies in under an hour, come in to see us.
If you’re looking to purchase a new PC or need to upgrade your current one, you’ve likely wondered how much RAM you need. There isn’t a clear “this works for everyone” answer. As with many computer related things, the amount of RAM you need depends on your PC use.
What is RAM?
RAM stands for Random Access Memory. It is the hardware inside a computer where data is stored temporarily. When programs are running, you are using RAM. If your PC is running slow, you may need more RAM to keep up with the programs you run. RAM is not long-term storage like a filing cabinet. Think of it as your workspace. You pull things out, set them down and eventually put them away.
Here is the ideal amount of RAM for 5 main categories of computer users:
This user primarily runs word processing programs and a web browser. The web browser uses a lot of RAM, but word processing is pretty minimal as long as the files are small. Most office users function well with 4GB but 8GB will be helpful when working with large files.
Web browsing is a big draw on RAM space, especially if there are a lot of tabs open. The browser works almost exclusively online and relies on connectivity. Basic browser will do just fine with 4GB. Browsers who like to leave tabs open will have a better experience with 8GB of RAM. This works for frequent steaming as well.
Photo editing requires more RAM than basic word processing and browsing. For avid photographers and photo editors, 8 to 16GB of RAM will give the best performance and the least frustration.
Gamers are all about RAM and PC performance. Gaming can have a big RAM draw, not all games are created equal, and each game has specific RAM requirements. Many gamers will be happy with 8GB, but for best performance, experts recommend 16GB.
Most PC users fall into this category. They are browsing, streaming and word processing. Multitaskers will have a good experience with 8GB of RAM. Users who run multiple programs simultaneously will see better performance with 16GB.
Extra RAM is wasted money. Many machines allow you to upgrade RAM later, so start low and increase if needed. If you need help adding RAM or selecting a laptop, stop by and we’d love to help you.
An external hard disk drive is connected to your computer through a USB or FireWire connection. Most drives have high storage capacities and can be used to backup or even run a computer. These drives can be very helpful, but they don’t come without a downside.
Here are the pros and cons of using an external hard disk drive:
One most common uses for an external hard disk drive is extra or backup storage. This is handy if you are working with large files to keep space free on your PC or Mac. You can also use an external hard disk drive to backup your computer to protect your data in the event of a hard drive crash.
You can choose to use cloud storage options for the their perceived accessibility, but you may find yourself frustrated in the event of a power outage. The cloud is widely accessible as long as you can connect to the internet. However, an external hard disk drive is accessible when you have it with you, no internet connection required.
Consider setting your computer to run an external drive as a boot drive to increase speed and performance. This is specifically true of Macs which often run slower internal drives.
External hard disk drives don’t come password protected. If you misplace your drive, anyone can plug it in and access your data. An external drive limits your level of security. Keep your drive somewhere safe to avoid data theft.
Drops and static electricity are real concerns for an external hard disk drive. External drives have less protection than your PC and can break easily if handled poorly. Use a protective case designed for drives to help protect from damage.
Newer computers, specifically laptops, have few USB ports built in. You may find yourself having to unplug other devices to plug in your external hard disk drive. Additionally, cords can be easy to lose which render your drive useless.
If you need help backing up your computer or are wanting to run it on an external hard drive, give us a call today! We’d be happy to help.
Cars and computers have one thing in common—when something goes wrong it can easily ruin your day. If you’re not a tech wizard a computer snafu can throw you into a tailspin. In reality, many PC problems can be easily troubleshooted and your day can return to it’s previously scheduled program.
Here are 5 common PC problems that you can easily troubleshoot:
Not turning on
Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the office or sitting down to watch some Netflix and discovering that your computer won’t turn on. Unfortunately, this is more common than you would expect, but it doesn’t mean your computer is lost and gone forever.
Before you throw in towel, there are a few things you can try:
● Ensure your computer is plugged in
● Try a different outlet
● Check your memory and video cards
If everything seem to be in good work order, you may have a minor hardware issue that needs professional repair.
Blue screen of death (BSOD)
You know that terrifying moment when your computer goes from trying to start up to the terrifying BSOD. It can almost stop your heart. But it’s not a guaranteed death wish for your computer.
If you have your information backed up, one of the easiest potential solution to the BSOD is to restore your computer system to its factory settings. If that’s not an option, scan for malware and update your drivers.
If you encounter the BSOD when you are trying to turn your computer on, try starting up in safe mode.
● Hold Shift and F8 upon startup
● Select See Advanced Repair Options
● Select Troubleshoot then click Advanced Options
● Click on Windows Startup Settings and select Restart
If the problem persist, give us a call.
Page not found error
This is usually not a computer problem but rather an internet problem. Often when you get this error, the solution is as simple as checking the spelling of the url you typed in. There also could have been a glitch in your internet service, so try hitting refresh to see if you can get the site to load.
If neither of those work try using a search engine to find the URL. It’s possible you just have bad information and were given the wrong website address. If you still can’t find the page then it’s likely the host has taken the page down.
DLL file missing error
A DLL file is a Dynamic Link Library. It’s a file that contains instructions that other programs read to do specific tasks. Running into a missing DLL file can be incredibly frustrating. If this error pops up, first try restarting your computer. The problem could be temporary and resolve itself.
If you’ve been cleaning up files recently, there’s a chance the missing file lives in your Recycle Bin. Browse your Recycle Bin for DLL files and restore them.
If the problem persists, try to reinstall the program. This should restore all necessary DLL files and get thing back up and running.
This could be due to hardware issues, but there are a few software issues that could be causing restarts. For instance, a new Windows update could cause your computer to automatically shutdown and restart for installation. Check to see if that could be the problem. If it appears to be cause by something else, it’s time to run a scan for viruses and malware.
If you don’t find any viruses and your computer is fully updated, it’s time to bring your computer in for a professional opinion as you may have a hardware issue on your hands.
If you run into any of these problems and you aren’t able to successfully troubleshoot, give us a call for some help! Or if the problem is urgent, bring your computer in -- we don’t ever require an appointment.