Posts Tagged ‘chesapeake’

Preventive Maintenance

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Most of us regularly bring our vehicles in for maintenance to have the oil changed and brakes checked, but having our computers checked regularly is not common practice for many. Vehicles and computers are both similar in that they are relied upon daily to perform important tasks. Both are also equally susceptible to failure. While the idea of running your car for months on end without changing the oil or filters sounds absurd to most, many do the exact same thing o their computers – for years – and don’t even realize it. Computers, like vehicles, can take a certain amount of abuse, but if not properly cared for, will fail prematurely.

We have developed a preventive maintenance program that keeps problems away before they begin rather than doing damage control after the catastrophe has occurred. The majority of problems we see are from the moving parts in computers. Specifically, the hard drive. This is where all your files and data are stored, and if you have no backup, failure of this single part could mean the loss of all your files, documents, pictures, programs and other data.

Another common cause of failure is overheating parts. Electronics love cold temperatures, and some will even operate far below zero Fahrenheit. While they love cold temperatures, anything above 70 Fahrenheit can cause malfunctions in some cases. What typically causes this overheating? Dust and lint collects over time in your computer, brought in by fans and vents. During our preventive maintenance visit, we thoroughly and physically inspect all fans, heatsinks and parts on your computer to ensure proper cooling.

A customer in Chesapeake recently reported a competitor had ‘cleaned’ their server, and setup a backup drive for them. After calling us due to recent failure, we opened the case and found the fans clogged with dust, causing the server to shut off. Some competitors’ maintenance programs only include ‘software’ cleaning, but we cover the complete computer, hardware and software. In addition, the competition simply plugged in the backup drive and left. The server had NOT backed up since they left the business! So the server had failed and they had no backup of their payroll data – what a winning combination! After our visit completed, the server was running cool and fast, while a test backup later completed successfully. This goes to show that heat as well as parts failure can be prevented if proper maintenance is followed. In this case, we were called soon enough to prevent permanent damage to the electronics. If this abnormal heating continues long enough, electronics will permanently fail and then must be replaced, if replacements can be found.

Maintenance is important for desktops, laptops as well as servers. Even some networking equipment can fail if left unchecked long enough. Computers will last much longer if regularly maintained, and will provide much more reliable operation as well.

Symptoms that a failure may be imminent:

  1. Strange whines or clicking noises
  2. Fans not moving that usually are
  3. Recent exposure to moisture or severe humidity
  4. Computer running slower that usual
  5. Computer shutting itself off randomly
  6. Computer shutting off with blue screen

These do not guarantee failure, but are definitely factors which show a higher risk down the road. If you notice any of these abnormal symptoms, call us as soon as possible to minimize the chance of failure. If you simply have a slow computer, we can resolve that as well.

Preventive maintenance, when done properly, is just as important for computer systems as it is for vehicles, if not more so. Any systems you value and depend on need to be routinely checked to prevent costly failures in the future. A small investment now can save many $$$ in the long run. Stay Cool!


Computer Maintenance

Are All Antivirus Programs the Same?

Monday, May 24th, 2010

In today’s world of computer repair we deal with numerous threats from malware, spyware, ransomware, viruses and others that require most of us to run antivirus / antispyware programs. While most other companies only sell the programs that bring the highest profit, we recommend you take a deeper look at what each program does and how it affects your system. Contrary to popular belief, the most well-known names do not necessarily mean the best performance. On the contrary, some of the least-known ones work the same, if not better. Many factors should determine which antivirus program you choose,  some of which are:

  1. Protection
  2. Compatibility
  3. Speed (Does it slow your system down?)
  4. Price

Some big names such as Symantec Endpoint Protection have the most media exposure, but our experiences have shown it can bring an entire network to it’s knees, including servers. We had one network in Virginia Beach that called after another company installed SEP and they were completely down. Removing the Endpoint Protection was the solution! Symantec’s home product, Norton 360, can be compared to a virus, in that it slows the system down to an unusable state. One user in Chesapeake had this program on her desktop machine. Removing and replacing the program with another antivirus program was comparable to a memory upgrade! Mcafee and other big names may work in some applications, but for the majority of users, it is not the best choice. Virus creators are always targeting the well-known protection programs as well, and we have seen many current malware programs that instantly disable both Symantec and Mcafee, then proceed to infect the computer, unrestrained. What can be done to avoid this? We believe using a lower-profile antivirus solution, combined with a layered approach helps. Still, in some cases, we recommend others based on specific needs. Watch out for antivirus programs that say they are free as well. There are many ‘fake’ programs out there that infect your computer instead of protecting it, or generate popups on your screen every few minutes. The moral of the story: Don’t be sold on a brand name. Dig a little deeper to see which solution is best for you. This requires research and taking many factors into account. What works on TV does not work for everyone. One size does not fit all!