Windows XP is the second most successful operating system produced by Microsoft thus far (only Windows 7 has been better received). First released on October 24th, 2001, Window XP has approximately 500 million users globally who still use this operating system. For over a decade now, the XP support provided by Windows has been a major reason for its success and user satisfaction. Three service packs were released by Microsoft for XP. Nevertheless, all good things much come to an end. And Microsoft will be ending support effective from April 8th, 2014. What does this mean for those millions of users who are still using XP on their computers?
No more XP Patches
With XP support gone no more patches for XP will be released. Patches are normally designed to fix problems or update software related to the operating system. They also provide security updates and improve OS performance. Without these patches an outdated OS is more vulnerable to malware and other virus infections. No security fixes means anyone running XP stands a greater chance of being becoming infected and also having data stolen.
No more Driver Updates
Drivers are pieces of software that run various parts of your computer such as your keyboard, monitor and USB Ports, for example. Manufacturers of machine components create software to run the components, then release these software and updates to the computer manufacture to put on their website. When an OS stops support and updates the component manufactures also stop releasing driver updates. Therefore, in time XP users may start finding it difficult to use a XP computers at all as the individual components on the machine may start to become “glitchy” (start to malfunction).
What are the options?
If you are an individual who uses XP on your home computer for basic use, you may try and move to Windows Vista or Windows 7. It might also be time to consider replacing your computer. In general, the decision to withdraw XP support is beening looked upon by some users as Window’s last effort to force users and enterprises to move from XP to Windows 7 or 8. Whatever the reason, if you’re a “tried-and-true” Windows XP fan and hold-out — you should accept the inevitable — your time with XP is limited….
The motherboard is the heart of a computer. As long as your computer’s motherboard is intact if other things go wrong your computer it is often repairable at a reasonable cost. Motherboard repair or replacement, on the other hand, is usually very expensive. That said, there are several things to think about regarding prolonging the life of your motherboard. Here is a list of different reasons your computer’s motherboard might fail — along with suggestions on failure prevention.
Electrical Spikes and Surges
An electrical spike or surge is a short-lived burst of energy in an electric circuit. This can be the result of power hungry appliances, problems with wiring, problems with the power service outside the house, or the result of a lightning strike. Lightning is the #1 culprit of spike/surge motherboard failure I see — and it will often go in through the Ethernet port and bypass a surge protector! This sudden change of voltage can cause damage to the delicate circuits in a motherboard. Connecting your computer to a power outlet that has frequent fluctuations in electrical output may also cause damage to your motherboard. Though at times immediate damage may not be visible, it may harm the motherboard over time. To protect your motherboard from electrical spikes, use a high quality surge protector that can neutralize the effects. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to protect from lightning strikes.
Dust, Pet Hair and Debris
Dust pet hair and debris can be a sure motherboard killer. At my shop in Louisville, KY I can’t tell you how many times I see fans and fan basins clogged with dirt, dust, and debris. When these things collect in your machine, they start blocking the air circulation that keeps the machine cool. It is like harmful fat that blocks your arteries that cause a heart attack. A computer intake pulls all these things in when the fans rotate. This leads to blocking the airflow, which causes overheating.
Tar from cigarette smoke (it’s not the nicotine, by the way) is not good for your health and also for the health of your computer. Cigarette smoke, when combined with dust produces a sticky gooey substance inside a computer. It smells bad and is also very difficult to remove. This tar can cause overheating — which may damage the motherboard. It is recommended that you have a periodic schedule of cleaning the interior of your computer (at a qualified shop) and try and keep it away from cigarette smoke.
Overheating of the motherboard can occur if multiple operations are performed simultaneously and power supply is continuous (give your computer a periodic rest if gaming, watching videos, etc). Also, clogging of fans can cause a motherboard to overheat. In some cases, overheating may also occur due to fluctuations in power supply or in one of the parts of the motherboard circuit. Finally, using a laptop in your lap or on another soft surface can cover up intakes and exhaust fans causing your machine to heat up. Overheating can be prevented by keeping the fan basins clear, giving your computer a rest after heavy use, using your laptop in the cooler rooms in the house, and using it on a cold hard surface. Temperature monitoring software can be installed to monitor the temperature of your computer internally (Core Temp, Real Temp, SpeedFan).
Impact or Spill
An accidental impact to your motherboard can cause severe damage to the circuits which may cause motherboard failure. I have seen motherboards fail immediately due to impact from drops. Spill damage is also quite common. I have seen every type of liquid kill a motherboard instantly but thicker liquids (e.g., milk) seems to be the worst. Spills can cause your motherboard to short out instantly. Water can also cause damage to the different chips on your motherboard causing your motherboard to fail. If you do spill something into your laptop do NOT turn it on again and take it to a qualified computer repair shop, immediately.
Manufacturer Design Defects
Motherboards are mass produced and there are chances that manufacturing defects occur. Cheap motherboards also tend to fail more quickly. The capacitors installed may be faulty and may cause problems. The bus architecture of the board may have been engineered incorrectly and there might be cooling issues. Most motherboards come with a warranty so it should take care of expenses if problems arise during the warranty period, but that is often only a year and doesn’t cover user generated problems, of course. Sometimes the manufacturers admit to the faulty designs but usually not. Usually computer repair shops can tell if there is a “known issue” because we see the same problems occurring over and over with the same make and model of computer. I can see some trends related to certain generations of computers and it’s not with only one manufacturer. Sometimes these manufacturer defeats aren’t “known” for years (after enough of a make and model show up at the shops and enough complaints are filed that it becomes obvious there is a known issue with a particular make and model) and then it becomes more obvious based on discussions on the internet.
Normal Aging and Wear
Your motherboard will eventually fail (if something else doesn’t fail first.) This is a fact. It is an electric circuit board and has a finite life span. Some good motherboards will give you around fifty thousand hours of work time or even more if taken care of properly. Once they have reached their useful life span, they do fail and you may have to replace it or replace your computer. The good news is when you are aware of the reasons motherboards fail preventative and preparatory actions (see my article on backing up important files) can be taken to minimize the negative impact.
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Data backup is one of the most important processes for any individual, enterprise, government organization or non-profit. Data is critical. Data is not your programs or apps. You can reinstall those with discs and reenter your license number for it. What matters are the files you created with that software. For most people this means your photos, documents and spreadsheets, and music. And if you’re a business your accounting file. Of course these need to be protected against loss loss or damage. So how do you do that exactly? It is called “redundancy.” You need to have those file in at least two places. They are already on your computer and you should have them on another device in case of a catastrophic event with your computer or facility.
And, please allow me to demystify something about the cloud. It’s just another device. It’s another device at someone else’s location. Nothing more and nothing less. Your data is not floating around in the sky. So, you only have to decide if you want to send your data elsewhere for backup or if you’re capable of doing your own backup on site. I do my own back-up and it is very, very easy but below I’ll lay out the advantages and disadvantages of both types so you can make in informed decision.
ð Ease of access – Armed with just a login id and password you can access all your files anytime, anywhere with ease. Although I’m not sure why you would want to do this. It’s a back-up right?
ð Security – No worries of your data being stolen or lost in a fire. Your files are securely encrypted and made available only to those who you permit to access.
ð Speed – Data transfer depends on the speed of your internet connection. If there are big files to be transferred and a slow internet connection you may have to cultivate patience.
ð Cost – You need to pay on a monthly or a yearly basis, though the charges may be low it needs to be considered based on your usage.
ð Control – You do not have full control over your data. If your service provider decides to run maintenance on the storage, you can hardly do anything but wait for the system to start again.
External Hard Drive or Flash Drive Back-Up
ð Cost Effective & Simple – The prices for storage is fast decreasing. A 2 TB (which is an absurd amount of storage) external hard drive will cost you around $120 USD at Amazon.com or Ebay and if you ever need to increase your storage all you need to do is replace the existing one with a higher storage capacity.
ð Speed – A transfer speed of USB 3.0 means huge amount of data can be transferred in just a matter of minutes or hours.
ð Security – With an external hard drive you are in total control of your data. You can protect it with a password which means you are the only one who can access it.
ð Simplicity – You don’t’ need to use the automatic backup feature of your external hard drive or flash drive. I prefer to simply drag and drop my data. Then 30 days later, I delete the information on the external device and drag and drop the updated folders again. Very smart and simple
ð Security – Though your data can be securely encrypted, you always run the risk of losing your hard drive or someone else stealing it. But I think this is not likely.
ð Technical Problem – With the external hard drive you always run the possibility of the drive failing or crashing. But if you have redundancy in data (remember this from earlier) you have one copy at all times.
ð Onsite – If you have a fire it is possible that both of your devices will be destroyed. All you have to do to prevent his is put a third copy on a flash drive in your bank box.
What is the best then? Both of these methods have their own benefits and drawbacks. It comes down to what you prefer. For most circumstances it is not necessary to do a cloud backup, in my opinion. But the pros and cons are above so now you can make an informed decision.
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Virus removal can be a difficult task even for the tech-experts and some viruses can resist removal. If your computer is playing sounds, moving extremely slow or taking you to wrong websites I recommend you seek a qualified computer repair shop for removal. If on the other hand your computer is running well and you want to do a routine virus scan here are some tips to keep your computer free of infections. You should do a weekly virus scan with a powerful malware removal tool (not your antivirus software suite) such as Malwarebytes free edition which I will explain in detail below.
Start in Safe Mode
Safe mode is used for troubleshooting issues and runs only the minimum software and drivers necessary to start your computer. To start in safe mode you should remove all the CDs, floppies, or USB storage from your computer and restart. Press and hold the F8 key while the computer is restarting. You need to press F8 before the Windows logo is shown. If it appears before you press F8, then you need to go through the entire restart cycle again. You will be shown a black screen with white lettering and an advanced boot option menu. Use the down arrow to select “safe mode with networking” and hit enter.
Remove Any Suspicious Programs from Control Panel
You should manually remove any suspicious programs from your computer using the control panel. The file path in Windows 7 is: Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs. Make sure you know what you are removing and take precautions not to remove any of your system software that is critical for your machine to run correctly or application software that you use which is “non-problematic.” I especially target games, toolbars and media players for removal. If you have a question about what an application does “Google It.”
Remove Aftermarket Browsers and Reset IE
I recommend removing aftermarket browsers such as Chrome and Firefox and resetting Internet Explorer by following the below steps. To remove Chrome and Firefox go back to Start > Control Panel > Add/Remove Programs. Internet Explorer can be reset in control panel too. The file path in Windows 7 for resetting IE is Start > Control Panel > Networking and Sharing >Internet Options > Advanced Tab.
Run Malwarebytes Free Edition and Restart
The Malwarebytes is a free Anti-Malware program, which features high speed scanning and removal of the suspicious Malware on your computer. If not installed, you can download it free from the internet at http://www.malwarebytes.org. Be sure to stick with the free version and do not enable the Pro Version (uncheck checkbox for pro). Once installed, select full scan. After the scan if finished check the box by the infections and click remove. Restart your computer.