Basic SEO Tips

While SEO techniques can be highly advanced, there are many things the average website owner can do to improve the ranking of their website(s) in the search engines. For less competitive keywords, the below advice might be enough to meet your needs.

All websites would be well-served to have the following, at a minimum:

1. Take measurements: You wouldn’t try to lose weight without getting on the scale once in a while. Avoid doing the same with your SEO efforts. There are a variety of toolbars and websites, like Alexa and Woorank, that can help to track the results of your SEO efforts. GTmetrix has a good website speed/load-time test.

2. Choose the right keywords: What is your website about? What is your desired web traffic likely to search for? How popular and relevant are the appropriate keywords? Spend the time to choose the right keywords. There are many tools available to research keywords, including Google’s own tool.

3. Create internal links: Internal links are free and easy to create. You’ll keep your audience on your website longer and have more opportunity to create a long-lasting relationship with your traffic. Link back to your older material so people know it’s there.

4. Create relevant external links: Link to authority sites. You never know when you’ll get some links pointing back in your direction. Search engines expect that you’ll have some external links.

5. Have a sitemap: Sitemaps can make it a lot easier for the search engines to find all of your web pages. Search engines rely on indexing programs referred to as ‘spiders’ to crawl through your website. A sitemap makes it easier for these spiders to find everything quickly and efficiently.

6. Use image descriptions: The search engines can’t figure out whether you have a picture of a dog or a rocket on your website, yet. Making use of ALT tags is the best way to let the search engines know what your picture is all about. ALT tags were originally created to help those with vision challenges identify the content of images via text-to-voice programs.

7. Quality content: Have the best content you can create . . . then be sure that it’s updated regularly. Adding new content is the best way to keep your website fresh and to show the search engines that you’re serious.

8. Make use of social media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Pinterest, and all the rest are great ways to people to share your content with others. Think of it as free advertising. Learning to use these tools effectively is a feat in itself. Do the necessary research to do a good job.

While competitive keywords can potentially require a tremendous amount of expertise, time, and money to achieve success, there are many things the average website owner can do to improve the rank of his or her website. Put these 8 ideas into action and see what happens.

Skipping these SEO basics will get you nowhere fast and you’ll lack the foundation necessary to get the maximum number of visitors to your site.

Cleaning Your Desktop or Laptop Computer – Inside and Out

All computers require periodic cleaning. This is true for both laptop and desktop computers. It’s not just physical dust and debris; there are also junk files, malware remnants, temp files, program fragments and other computer software that needs to be tidied up on a regular basis. Here are the basics:

1. Computer screen: Turn off the monitor and find a dry, clean cloth. The cloth should be non-abrasive and lint-free. Then use the appropriate cleaner and apply it directly to the cloth, not to the monitor. This avoids drips that can damage electrical components. Gently wipe down the screen with gentle pressure. When cleaning a laptop screen, be especially careful not to get drips in the speakers or keyboard. In the absence of a cleaning agent, water can be used, preferably distilled. Otherwise use a non-ammonia based glass cleaner.

2. Keyboard: Use a can of compressed air and spray between the keys. In many cases, this is sufficient to clean out the crud under the keys. In most extreme cases, it may be necessary to pop out the keys with a pen. The underlying surface is then easily cleaned. Removing the keys is not recommended with laptops! However, a laptop keyboard can be replaced by your local computer repair shop. The key surfaces can be cleaned in a similar fashion as the monitor. Again, apply the cleaning agent to the cloth, not directly to the keyboard.

3. Cleaning Inside a Desktop: Most desktop cases are easily opened with a screwdriver or with the simple twist of a few thumbscrews. A can of compressed air can then be used to clean the fans, CPU heat sink, vents, motherboard, expansion slots, etc. Be sure to blow the debris away from the system when possible. If you have a laptop computer it also needs the inside of the case cleaned out periodically but I strongly recommend you take it to a qualified computer repair professional or computer repair shop for this. Tell them you want the fan basins cleaned out and the heat sink taken up and new thermal paste applied. This should be done once every three years and more often if you smoke or have long-haired pets in the house.

4. Clean the computer of‘software debris’: Depending on your preference, Windows has many utilities to keep your computer in good working condition; and, there are also many software programs available to help with this task. These programs tend to do a better job than windows utilities and are easier to use. One example is CCleaner. CCleaner provides a means to fix file problems, registry errors, repair broken shortcuts, delete junk files, etc. Running these utilities once every few weeks is one way to keep your computer running smoothly but it’s not a total solution.

5. Remove Malware: Although this may come as a surprise to many — your antivirus is no match for today’s infections. Some (and often many) will inevitably slip through your AV software. I suggest running a stronger aftermarket malware removal utility such as Malwarebytes to remove minor infections. Furthermore, you should take your computer into a qualified repair shop once a year for a professional virus check and removal.

Periodic cleaning of your laptop or desktop is a good way to keep your computer running smoothly, extend the life of your machine, and increase your overall computer using experience.

History Of The ‘Big 10’ Computer Manufacturers

Dell: Dell Inc. is located in Round Rock, Texas and one of the largest privately owned companies in the world. Dell sells servers, personal computers, peripherals, software and network switches. It also produces several non-computer-related consumer electronic items. By acquiring Perot systems, Dell began providing IT services.

Michael Dell began building computers in 1984 from his dorm room at the University of Texas. In 1985, the first Dell-designed computer was produced. The company began expanding globally in 1988. The company’s revenue has grown to ~$56.94 billion. While the company was once publicly held, Michael Dell and Silver Lake Partners successfully completed a leveraged buyout on October 30th, 2013.

HP: Headquartered in Palo Alto, CA, Hewlett-Packard was founded by Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard in a one-car garage. It is the world’s largest computer manufacturer, just ahead of Lenovo. HP has a vast business and successfully develops and manufactures networking and storage hardware, computer hardware. It also provides extensive computer-related services.

Both founders graduated from Stanford University and decided on the name with a coin toss. There was a 50% chance the company could have been called Packard-Hewlett. The company was created in 1939.

Lenovo: A large, Chinese company with nearly $30 billion in annual sales, Lenova is headquartered in both Beijing, China and Morrisville, NC. Lenova manufactures printers, scanners, storage, desktop computers, netbooks, notebooks, and tablets. The company was founded in 1984 and originally created under the name, Legend, by 10 engineers.

The company initially tried to import televisions, but was unsuccessful. The first foray into the computer world was the development of a circuit board for PCs that permitted to processing of Chinese characters. Lenovo was first publicly traded in 1994. It also acquired IBM’s personal computer business in 2005.

IBM: IBM started in 1911 as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company and was actually formed from the merger of 3 separate companies. The name, International Business Machines was adopted in 1924. IBM is a very large company with over 430,000 employees and annual sales of over $100 billion.

IBM first realized success by processing data for clients, including the US government. In 1952, IBM created the first computer to play checkers; this is believed to be the first self-learning system. IBM developed the programming language, FORTRAN, in 1957. Many other milestones were accomplished, including providing assistance to NASA for orbital flights. The first computer systems were developed in 1964. IBM has acquired many companies over the years. IBM’s association with the NSA has hurt its credibility around the world in recent times.

Sony: The Sony Corporation is primarily in the financial, entertainment and gaming sectors. The computer portion of the business is a relatively small part of the company’s activities. Sony has been a leader in developing optical storage technology and devices, including the introduction of the compact disk in 1983. Sony also introduced the 3.5 inch floppy disk in the same year. Flash memory was also created by Sony in 1998.

Sony produced computers in the 1980s, but these were only available in Japan. Leaving the computer market in 1990, Sony re-entered in 1996 with the VAIO brand. A series of tablet products were introduced in 2011. Keeping with Sony tradition they are some of the highest quality computers on the market…

Asus: A Taiwanese company, Asus got its start in 1989. Asus is well known for motherboards. Asus was tapped to produce Microsoft’s Origami models in 2006. Asus produced its first laptop computers in 2007. The first model was named the Eee PC. In 2008, the company restructured and formed a division dedicated to PC production. Asus launched the thinnest notebook ever built in 2010, only 19 mm thick.

Acer: Another company based in Taiwan, Acer has been building lower-end computers since the late 80s. It was originally a distributor of electronic parts. Over the years, Acer has acquired several companies, including Gateway, Packard Bell, E-Ten, and iGware. Acer produces and sells a wide variety of desktop, notebook, tablet, netbook, and Chromebook computers. Its offerings also include servers and storage solutions.

Toshiba: Toshiba is based in Japan and was founded in 1939. The company started in the heavy engineering and equipment industries. Toshiba began manufacturing personal computers in 1986 and has grown into the fifth-largest personal computer vendor in the world. The company is also well known for several Japanese firsts, including the development of radar.

Samsung: Based in South Korea, Samsung boasts annual revenue of $270 billion. Its first personal computer, the SPC-1000 was introduced in 1982 and only sold on the Korean market. In 1992, Samsung became was the largest producer of memory chips. It also became the largest manufacturer of LCD screens in 2005. Samsung acquired a portion of the Sony Corporation in 2011 as the result of a joint venture related to LCD technology.

Samsung is also in several other industries, including the music business. It has grown into one of the most respected companies in the world. Many believe it will become the most powerful electronics company.

Gateway: First known for shipping its personal computers in boxes spotted like cows, the company was founded on a farm near Sioux City, Iowa in 1985. It was one of the first PC companies to successfully sell computers via direct selling. Gateway struggled after the dot-com bust and has struggled to be profitable since. Acquired by Acer in 2007, Gateway ceased all direct sales in 2008. Gateway continues to sell desktop and laptop computers through major retail outlets, such as Walmart and Best Buy.

Things to Consider With A Free Email Account

While there are many advantages to using a paid-email service, there are many great options for those seeking a free email service. It’s not always easy to determine the differences, but a little bit of research can go a long way to finding the perfect service for your requirements.

What to look for:

1. Security: Where intentional or inadvertent, most of us store a plethora of personal and confidential information in our email accounts. Passwords, bank account / credit card information, and tax returns are just a few examples. Be sure your free email provider has multiple layers of protection.

2. Features: What does the service in question offer beyond the ability to send and receive email? How much storage is included? Is there a messaging app? A calendar feature? Is the ability to filter and sort your incoming email important to you?

3. Support: Does the provider have a good reputation with regards to help and support? It can be more than a little inconvenient if your email is down and no help is available. If you’re looking for service stability, the more popular services are usually a better bet.

Popular Free Providers:

1. Gmail: Google is everywhere. It’s difficult to not have a Gmail account. At the very least, a Gmail account is required for any real functionality with Youtube. Gmail includes a messaging and calling feature. There is even the ability to get a unique phone number that can be linked to your cell or home phone. Gmail arguably has the greatest functionality, but limits users to 10 GB of inbox storage.

2. Yahoo email: Yahoo email is still very popular, though has fallen out of favor in recent years. Many email users appreciate the ability to avoid the nesting that is forced upon users of Gmail. Yahoo boasts unlimited inbox storage, but lacks the cloud storage feature of Gmail.

3. Mail.com: This relative newcomer also has unlimited storage and the ability to utilize aliases to protect your identity. The maximum attachment size is 50 MB, falling between Gmail’s 20 MB limit and Outlook’s 300 MB limit.

4. Outlook.com: There’s a lot to like about Outlook’s email offering. Unlimited storage, 300 MB maximum attachment size, and 7 GB of cloud storage. While Outlook lacks Gmail’s video chat feature, it does include aliases, an RSS reader, and social media feeds. Outlook is growing in popularity and many users look to alternatives to Gmail and Yahoo email.

There are numerous free email providers, many more than listed above. Be sure to examine all the options before making a choice. Compare features, security, and support to find the one that is the best fit for you.

5 Myths About Your Antivirus Software Suite

In this day and age, nearly every computer user has had the misfortune of dealing with some type of computer malware –although some don’t know it. In my computer service career I have rarely run across a machine I can’t reveal some type of malware infection on. I’d say about 80% of the computers I see at my shop have at least one malware infection. When I tell people they usually respond in shock with “WHAT . . . . but I have antivirus software . . . how can this be?” My answer – very easily.

That’s why I wrote this blog post — to shed a bit more light on the subject . . . . and a few other misconceptions surrounding the programs that are SUPPOSED to prevent malware infections.

1. There’s no such thing as a 100% effective anti-virus program. There are literally thousands of new malware programs being released each day. It can take time for the developers of your antivirus program to develop methods for dealing with these new programs. In the interim – you can be infected.

2. No antimalware program can replace good web browsing and computer management habits. It’s not just downloading pirated copies of expensive software or movies from file sharing sites or pornography where all infections come from. This is a myth. They are often rolled into relatively benign free utilities that most people think will help them in some way, shape or form. It can be difficult to determine if such files are safe, useful utilities (some are) or actually serving as a virus-spreading mechanism.

Other popular places to get infected are sites where there are free games, music, apps, movies, recipes, or anything else you don’t have to pay for. Often times malware and virus infections will come in through these websites as drive-by downloads and slip right past your antivirus software.

3. Antivirus software is both proactive and reactive. The software available today is able to use heuristics to examine the behavior of a computer file. Even if a specific known virus isn’t identified, the file can still be determined to be malware. This is a great method of early detection when dealing with new malware but not even close to 100% effective.

4. Files and software on your computer that have been damaged by malware can’t always be repaired. While it is possible for a highly skilled computer repair shop owner to remove the infections from your computer completely repairing all your files or software to their pre-viral state isn’t always possible. That’s why back-ups are so important!

5. One is better than two. Never do this, period. Anti-virus software is very heavy software and running two antivirus programs simultaneously slows system performance to the extent it can actually expose your compromised system to infections.

Insidious CryptoLocker Virus – Back up your files NOW!

Cryptolocker is the nastiest virus I’ve seen in my computer repair career. It ups the ransomware stakes by encrypting your files and holding them hostage until you pay the ‘ransom’. Understand that your files can be lost forever. The virus is most commonly spread through email attachments. Phishing attacks have also been used against companies.

You might be thinking that someone will certainly break the encryption and put an end to the problem. However, the encryption is an asymmetric RSA that requires both a public and a private key. The public key is used to encrypt the files and the private key is used to decrypt the files.

Keep in mind that this is the same type of encryption that the US government uses, and by most accounts, the NSA is unable to break this style and level of encryption! Without the private key, there is no way to unlock your files. The types of files that are encrypted vary with the particular variant of the virus. But the virus appears to target businesses, based on the targeted file types but also affects many non-business users as well.

The current cost to release your files is $300 but I’ve seen some variants of the virus seeking up to $500. Paying the ransom might or might not be successful in releasing your files. Many times it is NOT. I would not suggest paying the ransom. The success rate of recovering files this way is not high. The lesson here? Back up your files. Period. The virus infection, like other virus and malware infections can easily be removed by a qualified computer repair shop for around $125. The problem here is the encrypted data. If you data is backed up – although you’re not perfectly protected against the infection – you’re protected against data loss. See my blog for more articles on how to back up your data.

A new version of the virus, referred to as Cryptolocker 2.0 was recently discovered at the end of 2013, though the original version is still in full-force. Both versions asymmetrically encrypt files with particular file extensions and then request a ransom.

There are a few differences:

1. The earlier version uses RSA-2048, while 2.0 uses RSA-1024. However, the latter claims to use RSA-4096.

2. 2.0 only accepts Bitcoins for the ransom payment. The previous version accepts Ukash, MoneyPak, cashU vouchers, or BitCoin.

3. 2.0 was programmed in C#. The original Cryptolocker was programmed in Visual C++. This strongly suggests that the original programmers were not part of the new version.

4. Cryptolocker didn’t attack video and music files; the latter version does.

Experts are uncertain whether the same programmers created the 2.0 version or if it is merely a copycat. Though most believe it is was not created by the original programmers. There is one certainty; both can be detrimental to your files. Avoid opening email attachments unnecessarily, back up your files at regular intervals, learn good web-browsing habits — and run an effective and up to date anti-virus program.

5 Simple Data Backup Methods to Avoid a Data Loss Catastrophe

Of all the important computer tasks that people regularly ignore, backing up their data and important files must be at the top of the list. At my computer repair shop in Louisville, KY at least once a week I deal with a customer in a panic because their computer or laptop won’t start and it is the only device that contains all their data. With computers, things can go very wrong, quickly. Hard drive failure is a very common occurrence and now there is computer virus going around that destroys data.

Backing up your computer and keeping your files safe should be a regular part of your computer maintenance routine. The frequency will depend on the importance of your files – the value you place on them. It’s advisable to backup immediately after uploading anything you consider important. A common sense test would be to ask yourself how you would feel and how would it affect you if the file was gone. For most users, once a week, bi monthly, monthly or even quarterly is a reasonable schedule. Again, depends on the value you place on the newly created files.

Perhaps, part of the problem lies with the fact that people aren’t sure how to start or what tools and software to use. If I have any advice along these lines it is one thing: keep it simple. I recommend keeping your data on two devices. Your machine and one other device. If it’s at your home or facility or at someone else’s (meaning the cloud – which simply means your data is transferred to someone else’s facility via the internet not into outer space) makes little difference really unless you’re concerned against protecting against a flood or fire. In which case you do need a copy at another facility – but you still don’t have to use the cloud. You can give a copy to friend, or put a copy in your bank box for example. No need to send it via the cloud to someone stranger’s facility.

I do not use a cloud back-up. The only solid, logical reason to do a cloud back up that I can think of is to protect against fire. Rather than losing control of my data and sending it to ”who knows where” I simply have a third copy of my data on a flash drive in the bank box. This is simple and logical to me and makes me feel happy. 

I also keep the backup itself simple and logical (by my way of thinking, anyway). I transfer (copy and paste) five folders and my accounting file to an external hard drive about once a month. That’s it! The folders are: My Documents, Business Documents, My Pictures, My Videos, and Favorites. I use QuickBooks accounting software for my businesses and each business has one file that I save to the external.

My backup method is very simple as I think it should be. I am in control of my data and my back-up and quite frankly I don’t think this needs to be automated process. Automated back-ups can fail and drain system resources I’d rather use for actual creation and production. But as my grandmother, who lived to be 100 always said “to each their own.” Here are some more back-up options for you to consider.
1. External Hard Drive: The most common method for backing up computers at home is the use of an external hard drive. These devices come with software to make backups automated but you don’t have to use it. You do have to option of using the backup software, or just dragging and dropping your data or if you prefer – cut and paste. This is a very inexpensive option a 500GB external Hard Drive is about $59 bucks now.

2. USB Flash Drive: You’re not likely to be able to fit all the contents of your hard drive on a flash drive but this isn’t the way you should be doing a back-up anyway, in my option. The capacity of these little drives is impressive. You can get a 64 GB or 128 GB flash drive which is enough to back up all of my important, irreplaceable data. It’s a great way to go, frankly.

3. Online Storage: Dropbox is one such option. This software also allows file sharing with other people. The first 2 GB of space is free. There are other comparable solutions — Cabronite and others. I don’t use cloud back-up so I can’t give you many options here but Google it and I’m sure you’ll get a Google-zillion results. Search criteria: “best online back-up” –read some third party reviews and articles about your options.

4. Windows Backup and Restore: While previous versions of Windows had backup utilities that left a lot to be desired, the back and restore utilities in Windows 7 and 8 are actually OK but this my least favorite way to back up data. I would pass on it.

5. NAS – Network Attached Storage: NAS is a good option sometimes for business users and it wouldn’t be entirely incorrect to think of this as an external hard drive for a network of computers. Unless you enjoy complicating your life more than it already is I would stay away from this for home use.

9 Things to Know About Windows 8.1

When Windows 8 was released, it was immediately obvious that a drastic change was upon us. Windows 8.1 has changed things even more, but does ease some of the issues that users disliked about Windows 8.0. The Windows 8.1 update is free for those with Windows 8.0.

Here are some of the more significant changes to be found:

1. It’s less awkward for desktop fans than Windows 8. The good news is that the Start button is back! It’s not exactly the same Start button we all love, but it’s a good start. It’s also relatively easy to get your system to boot to the desktop instead of the tiles than many users dislike. This can be done from the desktop. Right-click on the taskbar -> Properties -> Navigations and check the box that states “Go to the desktop instead of Start when I sign in”

2. Apps can be organized into groups and the groups can be named. It’s much easier to stay organized. You could group all your apps together by certain task and keep your work more organized. No more hunting around for apps.

3. The tiles can be resized. Windows 8 had two options: large and small. There are a few more choices now. It’s a little easier to customize and organize your workspace.

4. Bing is integrated into Windows 8.1. This might be a great thing, if you love Bing. This can be disabled from the Settings app.

5. Hot corners can be altered. Windows 8 required a third-party solution to turn off or change those pesky corners. However, Windows 8.1 includes the option to disable these corners. From the Charms menu -> Change PC Settings -> PC & Devices -> Corners and Edges. If you like to operate out of the desktop mode, disabling the corners can save a lot of frustration.

6. Default apps can be set from the Charms menu. Simply click on the lower right corner of the screen and go to Settings->Change PC Options->Search & Apps->Defaults. Defaults can be set for email client, music player, photo viewer, web browser, etc. While it was possible to set defaults before, now it can be accomplished in one location.

7. Your apps can automatically update. It baffles the mind why this wasn’t included in Windows 8. Automatic updating is the default setting.

8. There are privacy options associated with the Apps. It’s possible to set controls that limit the data that is used by the Apps. It’s possible to prevent you name, account information, picture, etc., from being accessed.

9. Libraries are hidden in File Explorer. This isn’t an issue if you don’t use or care for the library concept. If you use libraries to organize your files, it might be helpful to be able to find them. Open file explorer -> View -> Options -> Folder Options -> General -> click the “show libraries” box.

Microsoft has made the effort to respond the various criticisms that were generated by Windows 8.0. There is a lot that can be done with Microsoft’s latest operating system. Take the time to realize its full potential.

Computer Repair Topic: What Does The “Blue Screen of Death” Actually Mean?

If you’ve ever booted up your computer and faced a blue screen, you know the feeling that results. Most computer users at some point have experienced the sweaty palms and feelings of dread that seem to go hand-in-hand with the occurrence of a blue screen error. Will your computer ever boot up properly again? Is it dead? Will you lose your files? How did this happen? These panicked thoughts are all too common. In fact, not too long ago MY computer blue-screened.

The dreaded blue screen has been a feature of all Windows-based operating systems since Windows 3.1. Software developers invented the term ‘blue screen of death’ to accommodate the color of the screen and the finality of the situation . . . but only the situation, not the computer. It refers to the “death of your computer processes” not the “death of your computer.” And, this is almost always the case. Your computer is still alive. The processes are dead, is all.

The Blue Screen of Death is more formally and accurately referred to as a STOP error. It’s an error serious enough to ‘stop’ the computer’s processes. Troubleshooting is challenging, since a STOP error requires a restart. It is often necessary to seek out the help of a qualified computer repair shop to assist you in troubleshooting the error. File issues can cause these errors, but hardware problems are also common. These can include a faulty power supply, physical memory issues, and overheating. The causes can be wide-ranging. This is part of the challenge to finding a solution.

In most cases, a STOP error provides an error code. This is the key to rectifying the issue. Unfortunately, some error codes are more difficult to manage than others.

Three of the most common blue screen error codes:

1. UNMOUNTABLE_BOOT_DEVICE: A corrupt of missing low-level system file is the most common cause for this error message. The issue can be related to a physical failure in the drive, though the problem is most commonly associated with file corruption.

2. PAGE_FAULT_IN_NON_PAGE_AREA: This is one of the less descript error messages. This category of error is very general and can be related to numerous types of errors. The full error code can be useful to narrowing down the problem. Troubleshooting this type error can be especially challenging. Chasing down these error codes can be analogous to going down a rabbit hole.

3. DRIVER_IRQ_NOT_LESS_THAN_OR_EQUAL_TO: A device driver is the cause. The name of the file should be indicated in the error messages. A common solution is to boot the computer in safe mode, remove the offending driver, and then download the latest version of the file. The driver should be found on the manufacture’s website. A simple solution can usually be found.

Depending on the operating system, a blue screen error consists of a hexadecimal error number, the name of the error in CAPS, and four parameters that can assist the computer technician in identifying and fixing the error. It might also include the address where the error occurred. Be sure to record the error messages; they can be instrumental in finding the right solution.

In most cases, a blue screen error code is not the end of your computer or your data. An experienced error code troubleshooter can, in most cases, solve the problem without a loss of data or computer functionality.

If you find yourself faced with a blue screen, there’s probably no reason to panic. Your local computer expert can probably find the solution quickly and effectively.

For more information on computer repair related topics or information on computer repair in Louisville, Kentucky visit the company website at https://computerrepairlouisvilleky.com

9 Creative Ideas For Your Old Computers and Printers

At some point, all computers become obsolete. The situation with printers isn’t much different. Printers have a finite life and aren’t supported indefinitely. What can be done with old printers and computers? There must be something better than throwing them in the trash. Here are a few ideas to consider.

1. Donate it: Many local schools, daycares, charities, and churches would like to have your old computer or printer. The local school computer lab might like to have it for parts. It’s possible to get a tax write-off, too. Perhaps a friend would like it. There are also international organizations that take donations of computers and some even attempt to rebuild them for underprivileged children. See PC United and Computers for a Cause to read about two of these organizations.

2. Experiment with it. If you’ve ever been interested in an alternative operating system, like Linux, your old computer might be the perfect testing ground. You might want to take your old computer apart and learn about how it works. There might be something interesting inside of that old printer, too. If you’re interested in computer electronics this is a good opportunity to study them a bit. What do you have to lose?

3. Sell them. They might only be worth a few dollars, but something is better than nothing. Try ebay or craigslist. Someone is likely to want your old stuff, for the right price.

4. There are buy-back programs for printers. Hewlett-Packard will buy back printers from any manufacturer. Staples will recycle Dell printers for free and others for a small fee. From time to time, they offer rebate incentives toward a new printer purchase.

5. Dedicate it to a single task. You might want to use that computer only for word processing, or multiplayer gaming, or as a multi-media station. You might want to use it to play older games that only run on DOS on Windows 98. Maybe you do graphics work part-time. It can be handy to have a dedicated computer.

6. Create a home network. An old computer isn’t the best server, but for a small home network, it can be entirely usable. It’s good experience, and the whole family can benefit.

7. Use it as the ‘family’ computer or printer. It can be nice to have a light-duty computer that’s used in front of the TV for simple gaming or Internet surfing. You probably don’t want your 5-year old on your brand new laptop anyway.

8. Use it for parts. If you like to build computers, the old computer can be used for parts. Maybe you only want the case and power supply. Or perhaps the hard drive is relatively new, and you’d like to salvage it. Printer parts are bit more challenging to salvage, but it can be done.

9. Recycle it. Almost every community has a recycling center that takes computers. You can do a Google Search for “computer recycling” and probably get some good results. These organizations will make sure nothing is wasted on the computer or laptop. This might be the best option for the environment.

If another person/organization will be getting your computer, be sure to remove all traces of personal programs/data before it leaves your possession. There is feature in Windows 8 called ‘Remove Everything’ and will remove everything from the hard drive and install a fresh copy of Windows. Other versions of Windows will require other means. If you are not very computer saavy you might need to contact your local computer repair shop and ask if they do secure data destruction before you release your old machine to another person or organization. You don’t want your personal data in the wrong hands. For more information on computer repair in Louisville, KY or related articles you can visit our blog called PC News.

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