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Computers, Laptops

Question: My dell 8400 tower went down, replaced power supply and ..nothing. How can I get everything off the hard drive, install into another tower, or take it somewhere to download to external drive?

Question: My computer is taking a really long time to shut down or restart - like a few minutes. Drives me nuts. Any solutions?

Answer: I had the exact same thing happen on my kid's PC that's running Windows XP. I tried all kinds of things, like registry cleaner programs, disk optimizers, windows update, and applying service packs. Nothing worked, and for a long time I had to just endure the problem.

I recently installed Panda Internet Security on that machine, and it found a slew of viruses and malware programs that were installed (probably from one of the kid's games websites they visited).

It was able to remove them all from my system and the slow shutdown problem went away immediately.

I'm not sure which virus caused the problem, but it hasn't returned since I installed Panda, so I'd recommend giving it a try.

Here's a link to the Panda download page where you can try it for free.

Question: My computer keeps locking up and runs quite a bit slower than it used to. Programs like Internet Explorer and MS Office freeze when I try to open them. Is it time to buy a new computer?

Answer: Before you go out and buy a new system, consider this: your computer's hardware hasn't changed (the processor, the memory, the hard drive, etc), so it's not likely the cause of the performance problems you're experiencing - which is good news because I'm sure you'd rather not shell out several hundred dollars for a new computer.

Chances are good that you have a virus that has infected your system and is slowing down performance.

How to find out if your system has been infected with a virus:

If you're experiencing performance problems and in particular are seeing weird behavior such as programs freezing or the system locking up, then it's time to scan your system for viruses (even if you have Norton or McAfee already installed - those programs are notorious for not knowing about the latest viruses).

I recently found a program that will scan your system and remove viruses for free. It's called AVG Free, and here's the download link: http://free.avg.com/

Here's what it found when it scanned my system:

I recently posted a write up about how I used my Motorola Razr as a bluetooth modem for my laptop, which let me surf the web on the way to work each morning. Well, sort of... it was extremely slow! Remember how slow 28.8k dialup modems used to be? This setup was even slower, and dropped the connection ever few minutes.

And to make matters worse, I discovered during the second week that Cingular doesn't actually allow their MediaNet plan to be used in this way. They officially require tethered internet traffic to use one of their "data plans", which costs $59.99 a month for unlimited internet usage.

Sierra Wireless AirCard 875u USB Data Card(AT&T)After insisting on a full refund from AT&T (after all, it was on the advice of their sales rep that I purchased the MediaNet plan in the first place), I upgraded to their unlimited data plan and bought a Sierra Wireless AirCard 875u (USB Data Card with broadband speeds).

I'm riding the bus home as I write this, using the Aircard to connect my laptop to the internet. It's smoking fast!

I performed a speed test using http://www.speedtest.net, and registered about 1.8 Mbps download speeds (it's rated at up to 3 Mbps). That's faster than my company's T1 LAN connection, and I don't have to worry anymore about trying to find a wifi hotspot. It's always connected, wherever there's cell phone coverage.

Aircard 875u Speed Test

Question: How much do you think my computer is worth? The specs are:

384MB of RAM
1.8GHz Intel Pentium 4 Processor
38GB HD
52x CD-R Drive
Floppy Drive
Updated BIOS

I'm selling it because it is aged, and I recently bought a 3.4GHz system that's much faster.

Answer: That’s still not a bad system for young children to play games on or for just doing email and shopping online, but when you can buy a brand new system for only a few hundred bucks than I’d say your system is worth only about $100 (or less). One selling point that might give you an advantage is the software that’s already loaded on the system. If you have MS Office, Adobe Photoshop, or a few other expensive-but-popular programs than it can significantly add to the value of your system.

Sell it

If you own two or more computers, you can connect them together on the same network and gain some immediate benefits.

With two or more computers on the same network, you'll be able to print to the same printer, which is the set up I have at home. My wife's laptop is downstairs in the kitchen desk, and the printer is upstairs next to my workstation. We can both use the same printer, which means we don't have to keep a printer in the kitchen - a big plus for saving precious desk space.

You'll also be able to copy files from one computer to another if they're connected on the same network, and can even share an Internet connection.

To set up a home network on Windows XP, you'll need to run the Network Setup Wizard on each computer. Click the Start button and then select Control Panel --> Network and Internet Connections --> Network Setup Wizard.

Choose one computer to be the main server, through which the other machines will connect to the Internet. The other computers will then connect to the Internet through this main server.

Run the Network Setup Wizard on the other computer(s), but select the option to connect to the Internet through the first computer.

Give each computer a unique name and description, so they can be identified on the network.

Use the same WORKGROUP name on all your computers - this is how Windows figures out that they need to all be on the same network.

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