Alchester Business Systems – A simple Checklist to help you with your computers

Sometimes you just need someone independent like Alchester, to guide you through what’s troubling you with your computer systems, and help you with the selection of special software or hardware for you or your business – or let’s simply remedy what’s gone wrong. As a complimentary service to our clients, we hope the following tips will help you enjoy your computer more, by understanding some of the more basic matters that we come across!

Call us at any time on (03) 97626293 to help, or simply email us now about your concerns.

Urban Myths and Troubleshooting your computer.

We often receive calls from new clients, (mainly those running Windows) that are in trouble because they’ve overlooked some housekeeping chores, causing them a lot of lost time with their computers. So, here’s a quick list we’ve compiled over many years, many which apply to Windows systems and others that relate to misunderstanding on how technology actually works.

  • Failure to cleanup the system folder c:\windows\temp (monthly for most of these procedures here)
  • Cleanup your profile which has its own ‘temp’ sub-folder. Most programs have to wade through this just to start/stop!
  • Delete your internet cache as this can become unnecessarily large and really slow down your internet usage
  • Clean out the hidden ‘content.ie5’ sub-folder in the ‘temporary internet files’ sub-folder also in your profile that needs clearing
  • Email settings must be adjusted for longer server timeout values like 5 minutes (not the factory default of 30-60 seconds)
  • Incoming email attachments larger than 1Mb can invariably cause email program timeout errors if the above setting is default. Of course sending larger attachments can present problems for the person receiving it. Anything over 4Mb can be a problem!
  • Website access failures may not be due to your equipment/connection, but to the many intermediary connections. Some low-cost ISP’s exacerbate this situation because you, or they are not positioned close to the internet backbone. Call us for the full story
  • Lost contacts/favourites. User’s of notebooks or those who keep their contacts, email and internet favourites on their own computer rather than on a central server, risk losing all this valuable information, and the default location of these files, is buried away in their ‘profile’ and often overlooked in terms of backup on a regular basis.
  • Unlicensed software. Users of new equipment are often confused by TRIAL copies of software (particularly Anti-Virus, security/malware/spyware software) compared with genuine licensed versions or annual subscription licences. After 90 days, many of these products stop working – so you are not protected – or you effectively no longer have the product in use (Despite its appearance on the screen.). Always ensure you are getting and paying for all the products you need, including subscription items that need to be regularly upgraded and annually renewed. We’re familiar with many of them, and can arrange them on your behalf.
  • Software costs. We get calls from new customers to fix bugs in software that they think they own – only to uncover the fact that they have no licenses or CD’s, and the entire product needs to be re-purchased. This is expensive, because many software products are heavily discounted, provided they are purchased at the time of buying new hardware (what is called OEM software). Buying software after 90 days, means you need to consider retail boxed product, often 50% dearer! Even ‘Upgrades” can be dearer than OEM.
  • Memory sticks (pen drives, memory disks… they have many names) can fail if you pull them in/out of your machine without telling the operating system that you want to safely remove the USB item! We’ve seen some brands become unreadable, and even worse, unable to be reformatted for future use. Also remember: they’re only a delicate, portable interim device for getting information from one place to another. They’re NOT designed for use as a long term reliable archive but can be used as a quick extra backup. (Get a few if doing this, and rotate them regularly.).
  • Cameras with great MegaPixel sizes. You know, some great photos can be taken with a modest 2.1Mp or 3Mp camera, but today’s cameras boast capabilities like 7, 8, 10 12Mp! If you run them to the maximum, all you end up with, is huge files to store, the need to buy more camera memory, and greater difficulty sharing the files around on email or memory sticks. Unless you want great magnified detail, the average happy-snap is quite good at a file size of only 600Kb. And then you can email it, copy it to CD easily. So gear your camera settings back to something simple and reasonable like 2000×1600 resolution. (not 12megapixel!)
  • Separate your DATA. Keep your business/personal files, photos, multimedia and databases clearly separate from your systems and programs. Upgrading and changing systems/programs can be made a lot easier if you never store data in the ‘program’ locations. And, the ubiquitous “My Documents” would have to be the most obvious place for virus and hackers to create trouble for you. So put all your work somewhere nice and safe – NOT on drive C:. And then you can back it up so much easier, because it is in one nice tidy location. … and yes: back it up ! Call us about splitting up your existing hard drive to have a separate local DATA area – or use a server!
  • Smarter/faster tools. Fresh out of the box, factory standard Windows lacks of lot of tools that can make life easy for you. Viewing pictures, compressing files, making PDF’s, reading long log files…. all the things you tend to do every day….. We can advise you and show you some great time-saving techniques so you get more out of your computer, by using some open-source tools that freely permit you to enjoy simple solutions, rather than forever learning changing branded technologies all the time. Just call!
  • Power outages, particularly during summer months when there are lightning storms, can cause a lot of damage (not obvious on the day, but later as the damaged machine components and software corruptions emerge). Surge Arrestors only go so far. But a UPS power unit charges a battery which in turn, produces cleaner and continuous power, giving you time to save and exit vital work. UPS units should be on your shopping list for machines you can’t tolerate being off the air.
  • Desktop settings. We’re still surprised to find users not aware of simple features like “Show Desktop”, and “Quick Launch” for placing your top 5-10 popular programs down along the ‘Start Bar’ line. Have a think about what tedious steps you take on your keyboard everyday, and let us show you some smarter shortcuts to find your favourite files, programs and information. Features like Google Desktop with its powerful indexing for instance, can help you locate those forgotten files, photos and emails anywhere on your system.
  • Slow computer, or not enough memory? Sometimes this is simply due to lack of enough RAM (main memory). It’s not expensive – get 2Gb, it’ll make a big difference. The trouble today, is that many machines come with preloaded software you don’t need, all sitting around as background processes stopping your real work from happening.
  • Background pictures. Do you need that high resolution photo on your desktop as a background? It is using a lot of computing resources to refresh it every time you move the mouse. And do you need to be running high quality 16 million colours for everything you do? You sure don’t if you’re running 2D drawing, or typical office applications and accounting. Turn off some of these needless features, (and particularly any screen savers!) and sport yourself a nice photo frame on your real desk instead!
  • Faster Hard Drive? Perhaps just a bigger or faster disk will help too, and in many instances, we can transfer all your old disk software/settings without need to rebuild and re-license an entirely new machine again. Check this before you consider a new machine.
  • Faster Processor? Otherwise. maybe it is time for a faster boxbut you don’t necessarily have to replace everything else like screen, mouse, keyboard, printer and so forth. Just make sure your problem is not one of the above issues first. A new box usually means another set of licenses, and complete setup – so the cost is not just the box.

Need some quick help? Perhaps our checklist will assist you right now.    If its URGENT we respond around the clock in Melbourne’s Eastern Suburbs area handling any emergency support challenge.    And there are NO CALL OUT or local TRAVEL FEES!

“……….     At Alchester:    We take care of everything!              …….    Why not email us now or call (03) 97626293