Coly Computer Help


Switching off.
Start buttonAlways
switch off the proper way. Click the Start button then click Turn off computer, then click Turn off. Failure to follow this procedure may corrupt the Windows program or wreck your hard drive and your computer will need expensive attention.

What if your computer is Frozen?
No response from your mouse or keyboard? Do NOT switch off. Click Here to see how to use the Ctrl, Alt and Delete keys to un-freeze the computer.

Whoops! You turned off the computer, then you remembered something you wanted to do, but you forgot. Don't immediately switch on again.

Wait at least 30 seconds to allow the memory to be cleared out completely.

Back up anything you would hate to lose if your computer fails. Windows has a built-in program called Backup, but don't use it. It is user unfriendly, and it refuses to restore files to a different version of Windows.

Click Here to find out how to back up.

Viruses can now enter your computer by opening a dodgy email. To prevent this, set Outlook Express so that the Preview pane is not displayed. Click Here to see how you do this.

Kill off chain emails containing hoax virus warnings. These are sent by well meaning acquaintances.
Refuse to worry your friends, break the chain.

Make sure you know how to recognise and deal with a hoax warning; click Here for information.

Phishing: Emails purporting to be from banks and building societies are scams called phishing (fishing for bank details). Kill them (hold down Shift and tap the Delete key). Scam emails will use well known names, e.g., spam pretending to be from Norton is labelled 'Online Symantec Store'. Kill any emails from unknown sources or sources you do not subscribe to. Emails from an unknown source saying you have been sent a greetings card are spam. Kill them, they may contain dangerous or unpleasant content.

A USB Pen drive (flash drive or thumb drive) must not be USB pen driveremoved from a computer without first turning it off. In the Notification Area (bottom right of desk top) you will see a small grey icon with a green arrow on it. Click it. A message will appear saying Safely remove Storage Device . Click the message. When a balloon pops up saying Safe to Remove Hardware, remove the Drive.

Viruses and Pen drives: A Pen drive (Flash drive or thumb drive) when used for backing up files can be infected by a computer that has a virus (particularly if it has a Trojan). Before backing up scan the computer for viruses. If you don't do this you could pay someone to remove the virus from your computer then re-infect the computer by inserting the pen drive.
The same precaution must be taken when backing up to a CD.
Security essentials. Make sure you have up to date anti-virus and anti-spy programs installed on your computer. Otherwise the removal of  viruses and spies can be expensive.

Anti-virus and anti-spy programs are useless unless they are updated regularly.

Green issues. Save on your electricity bill and help reduce carbon emissions by using your computer responsibly. If you do not intend to use the computer within the next hour close it down; then switch off at the mains. A computer and its attached bits can burn as much electricity as four one hundred watt bulbs. Avoid using stand-by on any electrical item.

Lightning strikes: If you live in an area where power lines and telephone cables are not buried underground, you could be vulnerable to lightning strikes; if so, during a local thunderstorm, turn off the computer, switch off at the mains, and unplug the modem telephone cable as a precaution.

Pop-up messages: Click Yes, OK or Install on the following pop-ups:
(i) Outlook Express can compact messages...
(ii) Windows Updates are ready to install...

Pop-up messages emanating from the notification area (bottom right of screen) telling you that you have viruses or trojans. These are false warnings. The pop-up urges you to click the pop-up to download a cure. DO NOT CLICK. You do have a Trojan, but not the one in the warning. The false one mentioned in the warning is a decoy to get you to click and download a much worse Trojan/virus.

SpyBot S&D or PC Tools Spyware Doctor will kill the Trojan which causes the pop-ups.

Grey Messenger Service pop-ups: These are nothing to do with the MSN Messenger program. Close the pop-ups immediately as they are dangerous. To stop these pop-ups from appearing on a Windows XP computer click Start--> Control Panel-->Administrative-->Tools . Then double click the Services icon. Scroll down the list of services and double click the Messenger Service . Select Properties . Click STOP in the messenger properties window. After the service stops, use the drop down list to change the Startup Type to Disabled . Click OK and close the Services window using the red and white X in the top right corner.

Spies are now a bigger menace than viruses. I am increasingly called out to fix non-connecting internet or email programs which have been crippled by spies. The symptoms of an infection by spies are:
(a) computer slowing down (b) slow shut down, or failing to shut down (c) slow start up (d) can't access internet or emails (e) home page has changed (f) pop-up messages.
Spies often disable anti-spy and anti-virus programs. The Windows Defender, McAfee, and Norton anti-spy programs are not very effective.

SpyBot 1.62A most successful strategy is to scan weekly with SpyBot  S&D (version 1.6.2). Spybot immunises the computer against 100,000 spies.

A most effective solution is to download and install SuperAntiSpyware, this can also protect against scareware ( rogue anti virus scams).

WARNING: You won't be able to access this website if your computer won't start, or your internet is faulty.

What should you do to find the solution? There are two ways: (1) view the website using another computer such as a friend's or the library's. (2) While your computer is functioning properly, print out the items from this website which concern crashed and frozen computers or internet failure. Keep them somewhere safe so that you can refer to them in an emergency.

VERY IMPORTANT: make absolutely sure that you store safely all the CDs, invoices, and manuals that came with your computer (and with any subsequent purchases). Ensure that your ISP's internet/email set-up details can be easily located. CDs must be kept in plastic containers and stored away from heat, sunlight and damp. To replace one of the CDs in an emergency will cost you between £60 and £400. I f a technician has to wait, twiddling his thumbs, while you hunt for the disks, that will also cost you money. His hourly labour cost can soon mount up even when he is just waiting for you. Put everything where you can immediately find it.

Beware of tear jerking emails. Sometimes these are aimed at Christians and they ask for help for Africans and victims of natural disasters. Do not send money, always donate to a reputable organisation. The emails always contain a request for your bank details. NEVER give any bank details to anyone except when logging on to your Internet Bank. Internet banks use a web page and a secure code with drop-down lists to protect you against fraud.

Ordering goods on the internet using a debit or credit card is completely safe providing you are buying from a reputable company. Look for a gold padlock at the bottom of the screen (Internet Explorer 6) or to the right of the address bar (internet Explorer 7 and 8), this means your entries will be encoded and will be safe.

Another security test: When internet banking or giving debit/credit card details on a company website, look at the web address at the top of the screen, it must have the prefix https instead of http, ('s' stands for secure).

Screen capture. If you have a problem and a pop-up panel appears, save a picture of the pop-up panel to show to a technician so that he can diagnose the problem. With the pop-up panel on the screen, hold down the Alt key and tap the Print Screen key (right hand end of the top row of keys). Load the Windows Paint program as follows: Start-->All Programs--> Accessories-->Paint . Then hold down the Ctrl key and tap the V key. The pop-up screen picture will appear. Save it to an appropriate folder.

Homework scams. Emails from firms offering payment for work done at home are scams. they require money up front or a deposit. Most pay a pittance for a great deal of work, so beware. Preferably, do home work only for a local well known firm.

Cream balloons:
Cream coloured balloonWhen an irritating cream coloured balloon appears in the bottom right corner, don't click it . Read whatever the balloon says and act on it. For instance if it says your anti-virus database or anti-virus definitions are out of date then go on-line and update the anti-virus definitions/database using the icon on your desktop. Clicking the balloon is a waste of time as it merely results in another warning in a different format.

That little yellow shield with the exclamation mark puzzles some people. It appears in the Notification area when you are on-line. It simply indicates that, while you are on-line, it is downloading the latest improvements to your Windows XP, i.e. security and other critical updates. Rest your cursor on the yellow shield and it will indicate what percentage has been downloaded so far. You do not have to stay on-line until it says 100%. Go off-line whenever you wish, when you next go on-line, the download will continue from where it left off.

When the download is eventually complete, a cream balloon may inform you. Agree that you wish to install the downloads. Another balloon will tell you that you can carry on working on other things while the installation take place.

When you next shut down your computer, you will be told not to power off (shut down) because the updates need installing. The installation is entirely automatic, just wait. When the installation is done the computer will power-off all by itself.

The most convenient method of downloading and installing Windows XP updates is to set it to be semi-automatic as follows:
Click Start-->Control Panel. On the next window, look at the left hand panel, if it says Switch to Classic view, then click that instruction to select the classic view. If it says Switch to Category view, you are already in the classic view. Near the bottom of the screen you will see an icon labelled System , double click it. Click the tab labelled Automatic updates .

Now select Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.

Click Apply and then click OK.

Windows XP users: If you see a screen from Microsoft announcing the new version of Internet Explorer (IE 8), download it if you have broadband. Do not uninstall the old version, it will be replaced automatically. If you are on dial-up, it will take 90 minutes to download, alternatively, call a technician (like me) who can promise to load it from a CD in 15 minutes.


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