How To Keep Your Computer Speedy As It Gets Older

Evan Schendel is a help desk specialist for Tech Experts.

As a computer ages, it inevitably becomes slower. Applications and files can slow down a PC as quickly as dated hardware or too much heat or dust can. Preventive maintenance is the first and most important step to keeping a computer running as swiftly as it did on day one.

Extraneous Files

A computer’s storage can only hold so much and leaving it to sit and rot – especially if you browse the Internet frequently – can slow the system down to a snail’s pace.

Simply by using the programs on a machine, a computer can amass files that, if not removed, can add up to multiple gigabytes of unused and unneeded data. These do, however, tend to clean themselves up in time.

Unused applications, however, can take up space and slow down a system. Keeping in mind what applications you do and don’t use, and deleting the latter, can really help a workstation run much faster.

Dated Hardware

Bar none, the hardware parts of a PC are the most important pieces of a system. After all, it’s the system itself.

So, what do you do when hard drives begin failing and other mechanical nightmares begin plaguing your workstation? Replacing a system is easier than upgrading pieces of it at a time, but what are the benefits of replacing over upgrading and vice versa?

A PC tends to last five to seven years if well-maintained, or three to four if left in disrepair. Replacing a computer every five years may be easier in the short term, but computers aren’t free and the costs can add up if you are replacing more than one system.

Upgrading pieces of the computer cost only the part, but you would end up having to replace it yourself or have another person do it for you.

Additionally, you may run into limitations on how much you can upgrade based on your other hardware’s or software’s compatibility.

Upkeep of these parts is also important, so keeping the hardware installed cool and free of dust will extend the lifespan of the workstation quite noticeably.


Malicious files are an obvious culprit when a computer is running slowly and, most of the time, it’s a fair assumption. There are any number of viruses that could slow a computer down drastically, but in turn, there are many programs that help defend against them too.

Suspicious links and files received in emails or from sites you should be dubious of can, and likely will, infect your computer. Steer clear of these sites and ensure all links you click on are trustworthy.

Certain applications also may contain trojans, which lurk in your system for an extended period of time, only to reveal themselves when a certain application or service runs. Other applications can help spot and remove these before they even have a chance to set in.

Many things can slow a computer down, but proper maintenance can keep it running like new for years. If you haven’t kept decent care of your computer and it’s running slowly, some of these causes, or even all, may be the reason, giving a starting base in fixing the issues at hand.

The Purpose Of Routine Maintenance On Your PC Or Server

Anthony Glover is Tech Expert’s network engineer.

Workstations and servers are valuable assets for any small business. This is why it’s very important that we take proper care of these vital attributes.

Computers can be great, long-lasting tools if taken care of correctly and routinely. This ensures that your PCs and servers will continue to run as they should, as long as possible. There are several steps to maintain your PC or server.

Monthly Hardware Cleaning
This will keep your fans running efficiently and keep your PC or server clear of dust and debris that can potentially cause a few issues (such as heating problems, fan malfunctions, or damage to devices like your power supply).

Heat also can cause computers to run slow or sluggish. This is extremely important and should be monitored and managed by an IT professional such as Tech Experts.

Monthly Software Management
This is to ensure you provide a safe operating environment for your business. It helps to keep the functionality of all your programs and keep your computer running smoothly. By clearing caches, you eliminate temp files that could potentially cause problems for some programs and will also free up space on your hard drive. This is another key process to keep your PCs and servers running at their full potential.

Registry Cleaning
Throughout use of your PC or server, you will accumulate registry errors from programs being installed, updates, etc.

This should be cleaned and corrected on a monthly basis to ensure proper operation of your PC. When it comes to speed when booting and operating your PC or server, this is an especially big factor.

Monthly Hardware Monitoring and Recording
When you are operating a business that needs your equipment to work efficiently (which is the case for most businesses), you’ll want to check your PC and servers on a monthly basis.

Having your vital components like hard drives scanned, checked, and recorded will let you know if anything needs replaced before it fails and leaves you in a bind.

Thermal Monitoring
Heat is a vital threat that should never be overlooked as it’s essential to speed and safe operation of your PC or server.

Heat can destroy components and cause Blue Screens Of Death due to heating issues, causing the PC or server to not function at all unless it’s corrected.

You want to make sure the environment of the equipment is clean, clear, and cool to avoid overheating.

Process Monitoring
This can catch potential threats like malicious software, of course, but it can also help you and your IT department find more subtle unwanted issues such as backdoors or even rootkits that allow onboarding of your PC or server without the end-user knowing at all.

Here at Tech Experts, we provide a preventative maintenance service that can be utilized on both PCs and servers at your business. So why hassle at all if you don’t have to?

You could have an IT professional manage your computers, saving your business money and saving you time. It could even save your computers or server.

How To Prolong The Life Of Your Computer

Печатьby Jeremy Miller, Technician
One of the questions we get asked most often is, “What can I do to prolong the life of my computer?” We have been working on computers for years and have found that hardware protection and regular maintenance is the best answer.

What is regular maintenance?
Regular maintenance is the general up keep of your computer over time. There is a number of free software out there that offer this service with a stipulation.

They will partially clean up your system or some malicious software will state it will speed up your computer if you upgrade to the paid-for version. You should not trust this free software because it can damage some applications or even your operating system.

What can I do?
There are many things you can implement to prolong the life of your computer. You first want to think about your hardware because all software can be reloaded, but once your hardware fails your computer can crash like a house of cards.

Cooling is Key
The first thing I recommend is to regularly clean out your computer with compressed air. Nothing kills a computer better or faster than high internal temperatures. On average your computer is about 30 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the room it is in.

You can also increase your cooling by adding more fans. Many desktop cases have space for additional fans.
The better the air flow the longer your computer will last. For laptops, you must always ensure the fan vents are not being blocked, and you can increase cooling by using a cooling pad that has additional fans to increase the air flow around your laptop.

Make sure you have reliable power
You should always have your computer powered by a surge protector. If you live in a dwelling that has power fluctuations, you should consider an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) which are also known as a battery backup. Many also protect against brownouts.

Most UPS come with multiple outlets, some are protected by the battery as well as surge protection and some are just surge protected.

UPS will provide regular power to your computer even if your power fluctuates, and it can shut your computer down properly if you lose power.

Without reliable power you can short out just about any component in your computer.

If you shut your computer down incorrectly or if you just lose power you can damage your data and can cause your operating system to stop functioning.

Regular software maintenance
Your computer will accumulate a lot of temporary files from software that does not clean up after itself.

Your hard disk will become cluttered from constantly moving files around, and most computers have old unused software still running in the background.
All of this takes a toll on your computer hardware over time. The idea is to keep the software foot print as small as needed.

The less items you have launch at startup will lead to a much longer computer life. This is because most software needs your processor, Random Access Memory (RAM), and hard drive to run.

The more you have running at one time the higher the stress level on your hardware.

Virus infections may not cause noticeable issues right away but over time you will start to notice things not running properly.

Virus infections and other malicious software can take most of your hardware resources which makes your computer perform poorly. You can attempt to clean these infections out yourself, but without knowing how your computer works, you may end up doing more damage than good.

Is there an easy way to regularly maintain my computer?
We are constantly cleaning out computers and are very familiar with issues that arise in these processes.

We offer a solution to clean out your computer on a daily basis, so that you can continually use your computer without interruption. Our service runs in the background and will take care of most issues that arise.

We can help increase the longevity while you get the most out of your computer. If you are interested in learning more or have questions please feel free to call us.

(Image Source: iCLIPART)

Server Maintenance: Why We Do What We Do

By Tech Experts Staff
Most small businesses have onsite servers, which is a change from years past when small businesses didn’t see the benefit of having a server in place and instead depended on sharing within a workgroup.

With the great benefits of having a server in-place comes some additional costs to make sure your investment continues to be beneficial.

Many businesses that put a server in place are always defensive about having server maintenances done within a month after putting a server in place.

The number one phrase we hear after putting a new server in is “Are you sure that needs done, we just put that server in?”

The problem with taking this approach with your new server is that you already put a substantial investment in your new hardware and want it to run great for a long time.

Neglecting the server, even if it is for a short period of time, or even if it was “just put in,” is dangerous.There are items that can go bad or cause problems if not addressed, even on a new server.

The first item and most arguably one of the most important are the server updates. Servers have to be kept up to date especially since they physically host your important data.

Allowing a server to become outdated is highly risky and potentially allows hackers access to your server via security exploits in the operating system, Internet Explorer, Adobe, etc. If these items go without their security updates you run risk of data breach.

The second item that is one of the most important items that we check is the health of your RAID disks.

Most servers (at least the ones we install) have a RAID configuration of some sort configured to help protect your server in the event of a hard disk failure.

Hard disk failure is not a matter of if it will happen but rather when it will happen.

Since this is the case we generally set our clients up on a RAID 5 configuration which allows up to two RAID disks to fail at different times.

The redundancy provided by RAID 5 configurations allows for a large amount of protection from data loss but does not guarantee it. If a business’s server was not having regular maintenances done it is very possible to have the RAID disks fail and lose all the data because it was not caught.

We have had clients bring in computers that are brand new with failed hard drives so it can and does happen at any time, even when they are brand new.

During our maintenance we also go through the logs on the system carefully combing over the entries looking for any instances that could potentially indicate a problem or an upcoming problem if let go.

If this is not done your server could be showing that it is starting to have problems but you would never know it until it is too late.

One of the logs, the Security Log, allows us the ability to see whether or not your server has had unauthorized attempts to login to it. Yes, we mean hackers trying to get in your sever and to your private data.

These are just three of the numerous areas we check with the server maintenances to ensure that your server, whether new or old, is running properly and continues to do so for years to come.

If a server is not properly maintained, it can degrade quickly into an almost useless piece of equipment and the investment you put into becomes a waste as well – not to mention the potential data loss.

Don’t waste your company’s hard earned money! Invest in systems maintenances, every month. This is the only way to prevent major issues with your server and avoid data loss or compromise.

How To Fall In Love With Your Computer All Over Again!

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Have you ever shouted at your computer because it froze up, crashed, and caused you to lose work? Have you ever whacked it with your hand, kicked it, or smashed the keyboard out of frustration?

If so, you’re not alone. Problems with a computer, cell phone or other gadget can be so frustrating that it has been called “computer rage” by some psychologists, and it’s on the rise.

According to a recent poll, three quarters of computer users have admitted to shouting, swearing, or committing acts of violence towards their computer (for the record, I think the number is much higher!).

While some simply curse the darn thing, others have admitted to hitting it until their hand bled or throwing it across the room.

One computer user was quoted as saying, “You feel so helpless. All you can do is sit there and watch the stupid thing freeze up and there isn’t a darn thing you can do about it. The error may only cause a few minutes delay, but it feels like a lifetime when you’re in a hurry to get things done.”

Deadlines are missed, work is lost, customers angered – all because of computer trouble. And the vast majority claim that problems like this happen on a consistent basis.

Apparently, technical problems are only the start of most peoples’ anxiety.

Many report that they are further angered by the time and process it takes to get the problem fixed, and some employees claim computer problems are their number one source of work anxiety and stress.

IT related problems further compound employee dissatisfaction since it often forces them to work late or take work home. If you are an employer, take note: your unstable computer network could be elevating your employees’ anxiety and job dissatisfaction levels, not to mention interfering with their productivity.

Our Experts Total Support Plans have helped dozens of clients end “computer rage” at their company. There are two ways we accomplish this: First, our 24/7 monitoring helps us detect and prevent problems before they show up. Your system runs faster, has fewer problems, and users aren’t constantly having to deal with system errors.

We also keep your security patches up-to-date, we prevent spyware, viruses, and hackers from invading your network, and we make sure you have a reliable backup of your system and data.

This basic maintenance is critical to the speed and performance of your computer network.Second, getting help is MUCH easier and faster with Experts Total Support.

Our secure software allows us to remotely log in to your network to diagnose and resolve most problems on the spot. No more waiting around for a technician to show up!

Sign Up Today And Get Your First Month FREE 

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, we want to “show you the love” by giving you the first month of service FREE. 

You’ll discover how Experts Total Support will make you fall back in love with your computer network. Give the office a call at (734) 457-5001.

New Year’s Resolutions For Problem Free Computing

Thomas Fox is president of Tech Experts, southeast Michigan’s leading small business computer support company.

Even though we’re a few weeks into the new year, it’s not too late to take a look at your company’s network and make a few resolutions for better computing in 2012. Here are a few suggestions.

Better backups – now!
Implement a better, more reliable backup system to ensure your critical business data is properly protected. If you’re still using tape drives or not employing the latest professional-grade backup software, there’s no bigger New Year’s resolution that you should have.

You should have both an onsite and offsite backup of your data that allows you to restore files fast. Your backup should also be image-based, not just file-based.

Data loss can happen from human error, hardware/software failure, fire, flood, theft or other disaster. Every hour that you’re without your critical business information could cost you thousands of dollars.

Check out the cloud
Is cloud computing is right for you? In many cases, parts of your IT infrastructure can easily be put in the cloud to save you money and give you better service. It is important to talk to someone who can honestly assess your situation and tell you the pros and cons of making the switch to the Cloud. It’s not for every business but it’s worth exploring closely.

Dump the old PCs
I know that no one really likes spending money on new computers but think about how much unproductive time your staff spends waiting for their slow machines.

You can get an entry-level business desktop now for as little as $600, and speed upgrades to newer machines are very reasonably priced. What’s the cost of staff sitting around waiting for their computer or dealing with computer problems?

Upgrade your server
New servers are light years ahead of the ones made three, four and five years ago. Your company is less productive and less profitable with a server that slows everyone down.

Change your passwords
Most businesses regularly have employees leave, including those who were involved with supporting the computer network. Changing passwords regularly will improve security and protect your valuable customer and business data.

Perform a security review
We’re seeing all sorts of increased threats from hackers these days and you need to make sure your security approach is up to date. There are many parts to your security that you should examine including password strength; anti-virus software; and getting a strong firewall that will prevent intrusions, attacks and other malicious activity.

Keep up with your preventive maintenance
Downtime and annoying IT problems can be prevented with regular maintenance on your computers and network. If you’re not doing this now, it’s time to start!

Start the year right with a full audit of your network to develop your IT plan for the year.

Our top of the line network audit is a 27-point review of the security, performance and reliability of your network, and includes a full hardware and software inventory, plus checks on the health of your server, firewall, and network backup.

Common Problems With Printers And How To Solve Them

If you have to print on any kind of regular basis, you know how frustrating printers can be. Fortunately, most printer problems are a lot simpler than they appear and are relatively easy to resolve.

Here are a few tips:

First, think about what has changed on your computer and printer since the last time you were able to use the printer. If nothing has changed, the problem should be easy to solve.

Check to see if the printer is on, you never know if someone during the day might have unplugged the printer or just turned it off.

Next, check the display on the printer if it has one. If it does not have one, then check for a status light. Usually if there is an issue, it will be blinking.

If it is blinking or there is an error code, then look in the owner’s manual which should give you a list of all the errors that occur with the printer. Most manuals will also give you a way to diagnose the problem.

A lot of printer issues are related to toner or paper and can usually be resolved very easily.

Check for obvious paper jams. There are usually a few covers that can be removed to help try to get the jam undone.

Most printer jams can be avoided if you flip through the paper before you put it in the printer. This eliminates static and clears any paper dust that might be on the paper.

If there is a toner issue, then it might be because either the cartridge is bad, low, or completely empty.

Almost all printers will give the computer user some sort of error message by either the display on the printer, status light, or the actual computer itself.

If the printer is a laser printer, then there is a toner drum that should be replaced about once a year depending on how much it is being used.

If your printout is fuzzy or faded, then this is a sure sign the drum needs replaced.

If there are no signs of issues with the printer then check the USB cable connected to the printer. Most cable problems will say the printer is offline due to connectivity issues.

Printers can be connected to a computer via USB or parallel port. Check both ends to make sure the cable is completely connected. If you have another cable, it never hurts just to swap them out to test the cable.

If you have an ink jet printer and you get smudged or blurry images, you might want to look up the utility on the printer that cleans and or aligns the print heads.

Most ink jet printers either have software that can start this process or have a setting on the printer itself that can kick start it.

If your printer produces strange characters, it’s likely that you have a printer driver problem. When a printer acts up and there are no hardware problem, the solution is often a driver issue.

A driver is a piece of software that helps the computer communicate with the printer. Drivers are updated constantly – be sure to check yours.

These are just a few problems that can happen. These should help a novice user start to troubleshoot typical problems with a printer.

Number One Security Risk For Small Business: Poor Patching

Symantec, one of the leading antivirus software companies, released their 2009 security review, and according to the report, the largest single threat to small business’ computer security is the failure to apply new security patches as they’re released by the manufacturers.

A “security patch” is simply a software fix to a security problem in a software application.

Once a security vulnerability is discovered, software companies rush to develop a security patch to prevent hackers from using the security breach to access PCs or servers, obtain confidential information, or erase files.

When the fix is released, cyber criminals often look at that as the best time to write a virus or trojan to exploit computer users who haven’t kept their systems up to date. That’s why regular server maintenance is so important.

With the national economy teetering on recession, more and more hackers are trying to take advantage of unsuspecting computer users. Economies of scale often come into play with cyber attacks – a well written trojan or virus can spread like wildfire in just a few hours.

Even if hackers are only successful in compromising a few hundred machines, that’s more than enough to obtain information that’s useful to steal someone’s identity or hold their electronic data hostage.

The real problem – most of the time, you can’t tell you’ve been hacked until it’s too late.

Since the majority of small business owners use their computers for everything from banking to client management, anything a hacker obtains will be useful.

PDF’s Can Be Dangerous
Adobe’s PDF application is the most hacked and exploited software program in use by small businesses. PDF-based security exploits rose to account for 49 percent of online attacks. Coming in second was Internet Explorer, accounting for 18 percent of webbased attacks.

Here’s an interesting fact: The Internet Explorer vulnerability that makes up the majority of the 18% is the Microsoft Internet Explorer ADODB> Stream Object File Installation Weakness that first came to the world’s attention in August 2003. Microsoft released a patch the following July.

Nearly six years later, this Internet Explorer exploit is still being used by hackers, which means an incredible amount of businesses simply aren’t patching their systems on a regular basis.

Regular Maintenance Is A Must
It seems strange to think of your computer this way, but it helps to think of your PC as an automobile. You know that to keep it in top running condition, you have to change the oil, rotate the tires, and flush the radiator once in a while.

Your computers and servers aren’t any different: To maintain optimal running condition, you have to perform regular, scheduled maintenance.

Downtime is expensive. When you consider the cost of lost employee productivity, the expense of the IT services to repair your network, and the amount of time it would take to recover your data by hand, the investment in regular maintenance seems a wise choice.

We perform regular, scheduled maintenance for the majority of our service contract clients – but if you’re not on one of our service plans, we should definitely talk about a comprehensive maintenance and update schedule for your business. If you’re not patching regularly, it’s only a matter of time before your system is compromised.

Removing Unused Programs Will Speed Up Your Computer

If you’re wondering how you can make your computer run a little faster, removing old and unused programs might be the best place to start. It’s simple to do, low risk, free, and doesn’t involve much time.

When you have programs on your computer that you don’t use anymore, they are taking up your hard drive space and they could also be running in the background.

This consumes memory and resources. Removing the programs frees up resources and memory, making the PC run faster.

Before you start removing programs from your computer, make sure that you really don’t need them. Double checking everything before you start will prevent you having to reload something you thought you didn’t need.

You don’t want to remove a critical system program, or some other application, and find yourself in a bind.

Uninstalling programs is easy – but you want to make sure and use the system option in Windows to clear them out.

Deleting the programs directly, instead of using the Add/Remove Programs function, can damage your Windows installation and cause a lot of problems.

Windows XP
If you are running Windows XP, click on start, click on control panel, then click on the Add/Remove Programs icon and wait a brief second for the list to be generated.

If you have a large number of programs installed, it might take a few minutes – just be patient.

Now all that you have to do is to click on the program that you no longer need and select Change/Remove and follow through with the removal process.

Windows Vista
Windows Vista users will click on start, Control Panel and make sure that at the top of the window that you have “Classic View” selected.

Double click on to the Programs and Features button (wait a brief second for your list of programs to come up) and select the programs that you do not need anymore and select Uninstall to remove them from your computer.

Remember: Only remove applications that you’re absolutely certain you don’t need.

After you’ve removed all of the programs that you don’t need, it would be best to restart the computer. After the machine is restarted, you should notice an increase in speed. It probably won’t be dramatic – but it should be a marked and noticeable improvement.

If you’re still not satisfied with the speed of your computer, we offer a System Tune-Up service. We’ll go in an clean out any programs you don’t need, and fine-tune Windows to give you the best performance possible.

For a limited time, the system tune up is priced at just $69. Give our office a call at 734-457-5000 to schedule your appointment. Or, email

Analyzing And Cleaning Out Your Computer’s Hard Drive

These days, hard drive space is incredibly inexpensive. If you’re running out of space, installing a new hard drive could be an easy option to free up storage.

Many times, though, hard drives can become cluttered with old and uncessary information, that, when removed, will give you plenty of free space.

There are a few tips that that will help you find where your storage is being consumed, and potentially save you the investment in a new hard drive.

Disk Space Fan
The first utility to examine is a little application called Disk Space Fan. The standard version of the program is free, and there is also a professional (paid) version. The free version will work for freeing up some space.

Disk Space Fan will show you what folder or folders are using up all of your hard drive space.

When you open the program it will show you all the current hard drives on the computer. Most users will be just working from the C drive. On the C drive there will be a “Windows” folder and a “Program Files” folder.

Next to those folders you will see the size of the files in the folder. This will help you by seeing which folder has more files in it. By clicking on whatever folder you want to analyze you can keep clicking on the folder to find where the most hard drive space is taken up.

This will give you a better idea of where your space has disappeared to. Be extremely careful when deleting files and folders.

If you’re not sure if the folder can be deleted, the best practice would be to leave it in place and talk with your computer professional.

The above method works if you are really looking to cleanup space on a hard drive. For other people maybe just cleaning out temporary files or some old program files is enough.

A great application for cleaning up temporary files and folders is a tool called CCleaner. This tool is an all in one tool to help clean up a computer that might have a lot of old and unused files on it. The software is free for everyone to use.

CCleaner will clean extra program files, Internet explorer temporary files, disable startup items, remove programs that you do not want installed and even cleanup unwanted registry entries.

I am not a person to ever recommend a user to play with the registry but CCleaner does a great job in analyzing the registry and only removing the unwanted registry entries.

The only setback with CCleaner is that it does not have any scheduling feature to allow you to run it regularly without manually running the program every time you want to make a change on the computer.

ATF Cleaner
Finally, if you are a Windows XP user there is a very simple application that I recommend you run every week or so.

ATF cleaner is a freeware application that the user does not even have to install. This application cleans out only temporary files from programs and also the Windows cache.

These are just a few nice little programs that every user can use to help keep their computer running fast and free up disk space.