This page contains answers to common questions I’m always being asked, or has been said to me before, the only dumb question is the one you don't ask.

My other computer won't start
My computer seems to be running slow
What is the difference between memory and hard disk?
3D graphics accelerator, do I need one?
What is Auto Update?

My computer won't start

If there is no sign of life at all, it’s possible the PSU (Power Supply Unit) has died, these can be replaced in desktop systems, but in older Laptops could require buying the manufacturers brand. However, if, when the system is powered on you hear beeps then it is generally a hardware fault. Normally, the BIOS (Basic Input Output System) will perform diagnostics and initialize system components, including the video system. (This is self-evident when the screen first flicks before the Video Card header is displayed). This is commonly referred as POST (Power-On Self Test). Afterwards, the computer will proceed to its final boot-up stage by calling the operating system.
Unfortunately different BIOS’ use different numbers to indicate the problem, for example the AMI BIOS is like this –
One beep: DRAM refresh failure. The memory refresh circuitry on the motherboard is faulty.
Two beeps: Parity Circuit failure. A parity error was detected in the base memory of the system.
Three beeps: Base 64K RAM failure. A memory failure occurred within the first 64k of memory… etc.
And the AWARD BIOS is configured thus –
One Long and Two Short Beeps Video Error
Two Short Beeps Any Non-Fatal Error
One Short Beep No Error During POST
Give us a call or send an email.

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My computer seems to be running slow

As time goes by the computer seems to gets slower and slower! There are many reasons why this happens. Every time you install a new piece of software your computers operating system has more to deal with. Some software is poorly written or installs other software you don't need, putting additional burden on your computers precious resources. But even worse, the moment you connect your computer to the Internet, or World Wide Web, your system became an open target for things that are not so simple to deal with. What if your computer is being used for some other purpose by someone else?
Well, this is something pretty much everyone deals with. Often I am asked how I keep my computer running so well – sometimes faster than their new machine
The Registry
The Registry keeps track of everything, from how your computer starts, changes you made to the way your desktop looks, applications you install, Internet settings, and how your computer is configured. Install a new program and your registry is written to, to reflect the changes - how it opens, the size of its window, etc… Every time you move, add, or change anything about your computer it is updated. It’s like a database that tells windows everything about its configuration.
Then you get software that may not be well written, when uninstalled doesn’t clean itself out of the registry, or include ‘extras’ that you don’t really need. These all make the registry grow larger, and as it grows it begins to affect your computers performance. It starts to take noticeably longer to ‘boot up’ or the system tray icons gets larger with icons you have no idea what they’re doing. Many times they are not required for the program to work normally. Download a free Registry Cleaner now.
Disk Defragmenter
Start / All Programs / Accessories / System Tools: Every time windows saves a file to your hard disk it tries to write it contiguously in one chunk. Over time these files become fragmented parts being saved in different areas of the hard disk - scattered across the surface, so when they need to be read again the hard disk has to travel all over the disk looking for the bits. Once a week or so it’s a good idea to run this as it reorders your files back into single blocks

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What is the difference between memory and hard disk?

Hard Drive
A HDD or Hard Disk Drive is a rigid non-removable disk in a computer and the drive that houses it, it is usually measured in Mega or Gigabytes (M/GB). It is used for storage of files that you save after you have finished working on them, ie, the computer writes the information (magnetically), and you may then turn the computer off, safe in the knowledge that the file is secure.

RAM is Random Access Memory and is a volatile (temporary) storage area that your file is loaded into when you want to work on it. HDD’s are slow – compared to RAM which works by electrical signals. Unfortunately, being volatile, once the electrical signals are cut off (switching off your PC) all that information is lost.

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3D graphics accelerator, do I need one?

The monitor can only display a 2D image, so why do I need a 3D accelerator?
The reason that they are becoming popular today is that software is trying to do more in 3D than has ever been done before. The drive for more realism, more finely-detailed graphics, and faster speeds in such programs as action games, flight simulators, graphics programs and Computer Aided Design applications, means that more 3D work must be done in a shorter period of time.
There is an obvious parallel between today's quandary with 3D and a similar one that occurred in the early 90s when graphical operating systems became popular. At that time, most video cards had no acceleration functions at all. When people started running Windows, their CPU had to do all the work of drawing all the graphics on the screen, which caused everything to slow down tremendously. To combat this problem, accelerators were designed that did much of this work with specialized hardware, instead of forcing the system processor to do it.
Similarly today, it is not necessary to have a 3D graphics card to do 3D graphics, but the large amount of computation work necessary to translate 3D images to 2D in a realistic manner means that without specialized hardware to do this work, it must be done by the processor, using much slower software. Using a 3D accelerator allows programs--especially games, where the screen image must be recomputed many times per second - to display virtual 3D worlds with a level of detail and color that is impossible with a standard 2D video card.
So, in effect, they are really only useful in speeding up the computers ability to display 3D images, e.g. for playing the latest games. If you tend only to use Solitaire or Mahjong or run office and internet access the card you currently use should suffice.

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What is Auto update?

Microsoft Update is a Web site that scans your computer and gives you a list, which you then download and install. High priority updates are critical to the security and reliability of your computer e.g. security gaps in your system, or the latest protection against spam for those who use Microsoft Outlook. Without these security patches, your computer is more vulnerable to attack from the internet.
The most reliable way to get updates is to have it delivered automatically to your computer using Auto Updates.
You determine how often, and what time of day or night you want to connect to the Internet and scan your computer for updates, Auto Updates automatically keeps your computer protected. Instead of giving you a list of updates, Auto Updates can download and install them at your convenience.

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