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PC holiday checklist
Here's a handy checklist for any PC maintenance you are asked to do over the holidays.
If you're visiting people over the holidays and they know you work in IT, they're sure to ask you to have a look at their PC. Here are some things you might want to try.
Make sure Windows Update is switched on, and anti virus is up-to-date.
If there is no anti virus software, or if it is slowing down the machine too much (a problem with Norton), try one of:
These both provide protection without eating up too many resources.
If the PC has a version of Microsoft Office earlier than 2007, make sure the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack is installed to let them read office 2007 documents.
If they do not have Microsoft Office, consider installing the latest version of OpenOffice.org. As well as being a fully-functional office suite, it can read Office 2007 formats.
Some of the Microsoft Live Programs are great add-ons to Windows.
The most important part of backup is being able to restore important documents, emails, photos and videos if the machine fails. Backup software focuses on backing up the entire system configuration, but is not so useful when it comes to restoring files onto a new PC when you do not have the same or compatible backup software.
I prefer taking simple copies. Show the PC's owner how to compress their documents onto a zip file and copy that to a USB flash drive. If you are handy with batch files, use XCOPY (or on Vista ROBOCOPY) to automate the backup to a removable drive or another PC on the network.
To keep passwords securely, install a password manager like KeePass.
PCs are slow to start because of the large number of programs that insist on running at start up. Many of these are unnecessary. Use the msconfig utility, or download the Windows Defender and use the Software Explorer. (There may be problems if you run Windows Defender with Microsoft Security Essentials.) These will show you what runs at startup. A lot of programs install unnecessary startup components (particular Adobe, Apple, OpenOffice, Google). Experiment with disabling these to speed up startup.
There are thousands of fun free programs you could install. Two of my favourites are:
Keep in touch
I love Skype, and use it all the time for work and to keep in touch with family. If the PC has not got Skype, install it.
This is not a definitive list. But it should be enough to earn you an extra mince pie this Christmas.Next: Tidying IT
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