January 13, 2014

Simple Tips for Keeping Your Tech Tools Humming

This week I'll talk about some IT issues which arose recently that may be of interest to you. As an independent advisor, I don't have my own IT department, so whenever an issue comes up, it's best to have a plan of action. 

Bad RAM

This is an extremely busy time of the year for me and with a large number of items on my to-do list, all I heard Thursday morning when I powered on my computer were four beeps followed by a brief silence followed by four more beeps, etc. No video, only the beeps separated by brief silence. I called my son, an electrical engineer, who found the answer was likely a memory failure. However, rather than try to fix it myself, I called my tech guy and by 1:00 PM it was fixed and I was back in business. The problem? The RAM had gone bad! The lesson? If you don't have the knowledge yourself, you should have a "go-to" person who is willing to assist when you have an IT issue. 

Pop-Up Problem

I have been getting a large number of pop-ups over the past several months. I tried the pop-up blockers, but to no avail. Here's what I did to resolve the issue. In Windows 7, click the start button and type the word "remove" in the "search programs and files" space. This brings up any programs with this word in it, such as "Add and Remove Programs." Go through your list of programs, sorting by date installed or alphabetically, and delete any items which don't belong. If you're unsure about a particular item, Google it.

Apparently, I had a lot of programs which had self-installed, probably as a result of downloading another program. Often, when a program downloads it will install a separate program which will install third-party ad software and toolbars without your consent. I had a few programs which were installing ads. Fortunately, the problem is solved and the pop-ups are gone. 

Virus, Spyware, and Malware

It's a good idea to run a virus scan and spyware scan weekly. I use Microsoft Security Essentials. It's free and it plays well with my other programs, which is more than I can say for some other virus software I've tried. Microsoft Security Essentials is good for virus, spyware and malware. 

Backing Up Data

We all need to back up our data. You can buy an external hard drive, back up to a server (but then you've got to back up the server) or you can store data up on the cloud. I've been using Carbonite for several years and have found it is reliable and inexpensive. For about $55 per year, per computer, my files are backed up in real time. Well worth the money. 

Summary

I've come to realize just how critical technology is to my business. Not that I wasn't already aware of this, but this week when it failed, it really drove the point home. So here are my four tips to consider: have an IT person on standby; check your programs and delete unwanted items periodically; use a good virus/spyware software; and back up your data regularly. 

Thanks for reading and have a good week!

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