A Computer Book for Old People or How to not get ripped off buying a PC

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It assumes that more code in the world is an inherently desirable thing. In my thirty year career as a programmer, I have found this … not to be the case. Should you learn to write code? No, I can't get behind that. You should be learning to write as little code as possible. Ideally none. It assumes that coding is the goal. Software developers tend to be software addicts who think their job is to write code.

But it's not. Their job is to solve problems. Don't celebrate the creation of code, celebrate the creation of solutions. We have way too many coders addicted to doing just one more line of code already. It puts the method before the problem. Before you go rushing out to learn to code, figure out what your problem actually is. Do you even have a problem?

Can you explain it to others in a way they can understand? Have you researched the problem, and its possible solutions, deeply? Does coding solve that problem? Most new displays and printers will simply start working in Windows just moments after you plug them in, even without installing their setup discs.

And a new PC will walk you through the registration and Internet-connection process with such careful hand-holding that it's inconceivable you'd require a pro's help. Otherwise, consider doing it at home. If you do feel like you need a hand, just about any neighbor kid over the age of 10 will be able to do the job, and will probably accept a spot for the trouble.

For someone who has never opened their system's case, contemplating a RAM, hard drive, or graphics card upgrade can be intimidating. Although we make the process pretty foolproof with our guides to upgrading desktops , laptops , and netbooks , we would never blame a novice for seeking an expert's help in upgrading a PC's internal components. Just don't let the repair shop gouge you. The biggest thing to watch for with hardware upgrades is overpriced hardware. Before you go down to the shop, check prices online for the hardware you're buying.

Page-turners under $5

Hard drives can fail. Houses can burn down.

PC Tune-Ups

Human error can result in lost data. When these things happen, you may find yourself weeping over the loss of all your digital photos, your music collection, essential business information, and more. Professional data-recovery companies can typically get all of your lost data back for you even from a fire-damaged hard drive , but you can expect to pay in the thousands for the service. It may sound like a rip-off, but these companies use advanced computer forensics systems that are wildly expensive in their own right and require deep technical expertise that you won't find at the tech shop down the street.

The best way to avoid finding yourself at the mercy of data-recovery services is to back up your PC often, using a cloud-based service such as BackBlaze , Mozy , or Trend Micro SafeSync. If the system reboots in less than a minute and the applications launch in less than two seconds each, then your system's performance is adequate; otherwise, perhaps you should consider implementing some of the measures outlined below to rejuvenate the computer's performance.

Caveat: If your firm or company employs IT staff or IT consultants, it may be best to have them fine - tune your computer's performance; after all, that is their job. This article focuses on Windows desktop and laptop computers because Windows is by far the most prevalent type of operating system used by CPAs on their main computer as opposed to Apple computers, tablets, or smartphones.


Boost your computer’s performance

While these instructions are specific to computers running Windows 8. Set your computer to perform faster. A simple measure to boost your computer's performance is to eliminate unnecessary visual effects, as follows. In the resulting System Properties dialog box, in the Performance area, click the Settings button.

At this juncture, you might be tempted to select the button labeled Adjust for best performance , but I advise you to resist this impulse. Instead, select the Custom option and uncheck all of the available boxes except Show thumbnails instead of icons and Smooth edges of screen fonts ; and then click OK , OK , as shown at the top of the next column. This setting adjustment will typically improve your computer's performance significantly.

If you neglect to check the two options I recommend, your Explorer windows will display icons instead of thumbnails, which is less user - friendly , and your screen fonts may be unacceptably more difficult to read. Disable add - ins. Disable unnecessary add - ins in Word, Excel, your web browser, and other applications as follows. Repeat this process for each Microsoft application you use, and for each type of available add - in.

If you later change your mind, you can reinstate an add - in you disabled simply by rechecking its box. After they are removed, add - ins won't load automatically, and your applications will launch faster. For example, I might want to disable the McAfee add - in , as pictured below, because I use Norton Internet Security and I have no idea how or when the McAfee add - in was loaded on my computer in the first place. Removing add - ins will most likely result in faster launching of your browser.

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Remove unnecessary applications. Most computers come preloaded with applications and trial software that you never use. These programs often include DLL dynamic - link library files, ActiveX controls, and system drivers that grab some of the computer's memory each time you reboot. To streamline the boot - up process and bolster your computer's available memory, remove software applications that you are sure are unnecessary, as follows. From Control Panel , select Programs and Features. Answer questions as prompted to complete the uninstall process. This step will eliminate the loading of unnecessary DLL files, ActiveX controls, and system drivers to produce faster computer reboots.

Warning: Don't kill any files you aren't absolutely sure you don't need. It's better to be safe than sorry. Clear your browser history. Clearing your browser's history will help the browser launch and perform faster, as follows. As an alternative, you might instead click the Browsing history 's Settings button, and then on the History tab, adjust the Days to keep pages in history to 1 day, as pictured below.

This setting will ensure that browsing history is kept to a minimum, which will improve the browser's performance. To clear browsing history from Google's Chrome browser, select History from the menu, and then on the History screen, click the Clear browsing data button as pictured below , check the items you are sure you want to delete such as Browsing history and Download history , and then click the Clear browsing data button.

The movie and TV collection you always wished for. Granted.

Reduce the number of startup applets. To help your computer boot up faster, you can adjust the way program applets start when you reboot, as follows.

Alternatively, you could also search for and run msconfig , and then from the Startup tab, select Open Task Manager. In the Task Manager dialog box, select the Startup tab, right - click any unnecessary applets, and select Disable , as pictured at the top of the next column. To access the Startup tab in Windows 7 and Vista, search for and run msconfig, and select the Startup tab.

How to Recycle Computers

You should delete only those applets that you are sure are unnecessary. Defragment your hard drive. Windows includes a built - in hard drive defragmenting tool called Defragmentation , which organizes files scattered across multiple sectors of your hard drive into one continuous sector so those files can open and run more efficiently. To use this tool, launch an Explorer window, navigate to and right - click on your hard drive, select Properties , and then on the Tools tab, click the Optimize button. Select a desired hard drive, and then click the Optimize button as pictured below.

Run disk cleanup. Windows includes a built - in disk decluttering tool called Disk Cleanup for OS , which searches for unnecessary large files, temporary files, unnecessary installation files, and other file clutter.