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ONSULTING

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Annual
Computer Check-up

Jim Stamm • 231-882-5673

Send Email • Beulah, MI, 49617

Web: www.ATIC.biz

Mobile:
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SERVICES OFFERED
• Consulting and Support
• Web Site Design and
Domain Services

COMPUTER & INTERNET
RESOURCES
• Computer Resources
• Internet Resources
• Recommendations For
Healthy Computers
• Submit Your Site
to Search Engines

BENZIE COUNTY,
MICHIGAN RESOURCES
• Benzie County Michigan
Web Site Directory
(separate site)
• West Benzie County,
Michigan Internet
Service Providers

O
UTDOOR RESOURCES
• Canoe & Kayak Links
• NW Michigan River Guide
• NW Michigan Trail Guide

We offer a service called the Computer Check-up – it looks at all of the security, maintenance, and other critical issues listed below. We diagnose your computer for these issues, then help with the understanding, installation, configuration, training, and/or performing of any tasks that are needed. Most issues will involve you doing tasks on a regular basis – preventative measures to avoid bigger and nastier issues in the future, and to keep your computer safe, happy, and healthy.

We recommend getting this Check-up now and then reviewing it annually to make sure all issues are being thoroughly covered.

In most cases it takes 30-60 minutes to diagnose everything. Any installation, configuration, training, and performing of tasks involved will require additional time.

Computer Check-up

Antivirus -- Is an effective antivirus solution installed? Does the software offer real-time protection continually monitoring your system, continually updating itself, and regularly scanning your entire computer?

  • Macs – An antivirus program is not essential, but can help with the handful of Mac viruses out there, and to keep from relaying Windows viruses (important for anyone who shares files with Windows users).

  • Windows – With over 500,000 Windows viruses (and growing) a full-fledged antivirus program is absolutely essential and is probably the most important software on your Windows machine.

Antispyware - Handles many forms of "malware," including adware, spyware, Trojans, keyloggers, and rootkits.

  • Macs – Antispyware is not essential, but can help with the few pieces of Mac spyware out there. The function is usually part of antivirus software.

  • Windows – Another absolute essential. You need one good antispyware program that provides real-time protection, regularly updates itself, and scans your entire computer. Then, you need at least one additional antispyware program that you regularly run manually to detect and remove all the spyware the main program will likely miss.

Firewall -- Do you have a firewall installed and running?

  • Macs – You should have the built-in Mac OS firewall turned on, if not also third party firewall installed and running.

  • Windows – Another absolute essential. You should have the built-in Windows firewall turned on. Better yet is a third party two-way firewall, like that built in to many security suites.

Disk Permissions, Registry

  • Macs – Are you repairing Disk Permissions on a regular basis?

  • Windows – Are you maintaining the Windows Registry on a regular basis with a effective registry tune-up tool?

Disk Directory

  • Macs – Are you performing the Verify Disk directory operation and using any tools to repair or rebuild the disk directory on a regular basis?

  • Windows – Are you running the built-in Error Checking (disk repair) tool on a regular basis?

Disk Defragmenter -- Defragments files and optimizes their location on the hard disk.

  • Macs – Defragmenting Mac OS X hard disks is very likley never needed, as explained here.

  • Windows – Are you running the built-in Disk Defragmenter tool on a regular basis?

Repair and Recovery Disks -- Do you have CDs or DVDs that you can boot from to repair or recover your system?

  • Macs – These are the Mac OS disks that came with your computer. You can boot from these and perform a Repair Disk operation or do complete restore of the operating system.

    For those with Mac OS X 10. 7 (Lion) see Apple Lion Recovery Disk Assistant page for more details and to download the Lion Recovery Disk Assistant Tool -- for help creating an external bootable recovery drive. Here is more about Lion Recovery.

  • Windows – Have you created your own System Repair and System Recovery disks? You should have done that when you first got your computer, but if not, do so now.

Use a safe-surfing / safe-browsing tool within your Web browsers. A good example of this is Web Of Trust, a free download for all major Web browsers. It provides Web site ratings & reviews BEFORE you visit a site, warning you of potentially harmful sites before you load them.

Create Restore Points (Windows ME, XP, Vista, and 7) — Part of the System Restore process. Are you creating these on a regular basis and any time before you make a significant change? Should things go wrong, they allow you take the system back to the way it was at the checkpoint date (without affecting your personal data).

Device Drivers, BIOS (Windows) — Maintaining the drivers (software that "drives" devices) for all your hardware (internal and external) to the latest versions, as well as the BIOS, can help improve your computer’s performance. Be sure to create a restore point, before doing any such updates. Visit the Web site for the manufacturer of your computer, as well as the Web sites for internal and external devices. You'll see the most improvement from upgrading your system's BIOS, motherboard drivers, and graphics card drivers. (For Macs most of this is all done for you by Apple in Software Update).

Junk Mail Filter-- Do you have an effective junk mail (SPAM) filter solution, one that catches at least 90% of junk email?

Update the Operation System (Mac OS and Windows), Web Browsers, Email Programs, Adobe Reader, Flash, Java, security programs, and other major software -- Are you updating all of these on a regular basis and keeping them upgraded to their latest versions?

Clean Up -- Are you doing all you can to remove unneeded and unwanted files and other gunk from your computer?

Remove Software -- Are you removing all the software you never use and/or no longer need? What about all the games or music software your kids put on and are no longer using?

Remove Your Data -- Are you removing any of your own files you no longer need, especially large files such as videos, music, and photos? Also consider archiving to CD or DVD any large files not often needed .

Turn Off Indexing (Windows) -- If you are fairly organized, you'll likely not need the ability to search your entire computer for files at extra-fast speeds. Therefore you can disable the Windows Search indexing service from running at start-up, a service which, when running, can hinder your computer's performance.

Disk Space -- Sometimes called long-term memory, the hard disk is easy to fill up these days with music, videos, and photos. If your disk space is approaching 85% full, you're slowing your machine down significantly by having too much on the hard disk.

RAM -- Do you have enough RAM (random access memory) for the age of your computer, the version of your Mac OS or Windows, and the software you normally run? Having too little is a major factor of a slow computer, especially for Windows.

Back-up -- The most important safety feature of all -- are you regularly making copies of all your important data, such as documents, financial records, photos, music, movies, videos, email, email addresses, favorites, bookmarks, databases, projects, and more? Think about anything on your computer from which you would be devasted if it was lost. If any of this information is accidentally deleted or damaged, or something happens to your computer, a back-up is the only "insurance policy" for the recovery of your data.

Electrical Protection -- Are you doing all that's necessary to protect your equipment and your data in case of any power problems and/or lightning?

Safe computer and online practices -- Even after doing all of the above, there are many safety practices that all users should follow and privacy settings all users should make when using a computer, going on-line, using email, etc. to avoid all the potential hazards of modern computer use. Here are just some of many safe computer and online practices.


NOTE: For more information, some of this material is covered in detail here: Recommendations For Healthy Computers

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