Regardless of your computers speed or operating system there are several items that will help your PC run faster smoother and eliminate a lot of potential problems.  We seriously recommend you install or acquire the following items.

OPERATING SYSTEM UPDATES

Microsoft is constantly improving their Operating Systems to meet the needs of our changing world. Many problems can be solved by installing these updates which are provided on Microsoft's website. You can either go to their Updates page or install the Service Packs individually.

ANTI-SPYWARE SOFTWARE

Spyware has become a billion dollar industry.  Spyware is any software that covertly gathers information about a user while he/she navigates the Internet and transmits the information to an individual or company that uses it for marketing or other purposes.  Often you don't even know these programs have even been installed on your system.  These hidden programs will often run undetected in the background and take up memory and processor speed causing your system to run painfully slow.

The solution is to install anti-spyware software.  We recommend you install one or preferably both of the following:

Windows Defender (Beta) - This is a FREE program that will protect your system from spyware attacks.  It will automatically scan your system nightly, if you leave your system on,  and protect from spyware installation.

LavaSoft's Ad-Aware Personal - This is also a FREE program but does not have the same automation as Microsoft's AntiSpyware.  Ad-Aware does not protect you from spyware installation but the LavaSoft database is a little larger than Microsoft's and catches more spyware.  You must manually scan your system weekly if not more frequently with this program for it to be effective.

ANTIVIRUS SOFTWARE

Viruses are computer programs that are designed to replicate themselves by copying themselves into the other programs stored on your computer. It may be benign or have a negative effect, such as causing a program to operate incorrectly or corrupting a computer's memory.  A virus can even shut down your system by corrupting the files.  No computer should be connected to the internet without anti-virus software.

Symantec Antivirus is our recommendation for virus protection.  It provides all the security you will need with an automated system to protect you from incoming viruses and viruses already on your system.  It can be downloaded directly from their website or picked up from you local software retailer like, Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, etc.

FIREWALL

A firewall is any of a number of security schemes that prevent unauthorized users from gaining access to a computer network or that monitor transfers of information to and from the network.  If you are running Windows XP a firewall will automatically be installed if you have installed the latest updates.  You can check you settings by clicking the Start button, Control Panel, Security Center.  If you have an older version we recommend the following.

Symantec Personal Firewall provides all the security you should need from hackers and unwanted traffic.  It can be downloaded directly from their website or picked up from you local software retailer like, Best Buy, Circuit City, Fry's, etc.

BATTERY BACKUP

Battery Backups or UPSs provide protection from loss of power which may cause loss of data and information.  They are much like a surge protector but if the power goes out it provides you an opportunity to save you data and continue working. There are two basic types for workstations; managed and unmanaged.  

Unmanaged UPSs have a battery that will allow you to continue working when there is a power outage.  If the power comes back on before the battery runs out you won't even see any interruption.  In California metro areas, a UPS that will keep your workstation running for 15 or 20 minutes should protect you 90% of the time.  They cost about $125.00 

Managed UPSs provide more custom abilities.  For example you can set your backup to shut down your system right before the battery runs out.  These units cost about $150.00.  We recommend the APC brand.  If you buy one of these, do not forget to install the management software. 

Remember when sizing your UPS, get one that will support everything you plug into it.

Battery Backups or UPSs provide protection from loss of power which may cause loss of data and information.  They are much like a surge protector but if the power goes out it provides you an opportunity to save you data and continue working. There are two basic types for workstations; managed and unmanaged.  

Unmanaged UPSs have a battery that will allow you to continue working when there is a power outage.  If the power comes back on before the battery runs out you won't even see any interruption.  In California metro areas, a UPS that will keep your workstation running for 15 or 20 minutes should protect you 90% of the time.  They cost about $125.00 

Managed UPSs provide more custom ability.  For example you can set your backup to shut down your system right before the battery runs out.  These units cost about $150.00.  We recommend the APC brand.  If you buy one of these, do not forget to install the management software. 

Remember when sizing your UPS, get one that will support everything you plug into it. Consult APC for which unit would serve you best.  Cheaper units are available but they do not let you know when they fail due to end-of-battery-life.  You can use these but we recommend you go with one of the others we have mentioned.

Best Buy, Fry’s, Circuit City and the internet all have these products.
 

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