Why Do Computers Slow Down Over Time?

Is your computer slowing down?Remember the way you felt when you turned on your new computer and up it came in a flash? Your computer was the envy of your business colleagues and you loved all that glory. Turn on your system and you were ready to go – those were the days!

After a few years the computer now doesn’t seem to be quite as fast. No, you’re not imagining it, it really has slowed down. There is a measurable drop in speed and power but the good news is that with a little maintenance your computer can be faster.

Let’s look at what items can slow computers down:

Start-up applications: A lot of applications automatically add themselves to start-up when the computer starts. It may be convenient to have programs start automatically but others may be a hindrance. In fact many of the applications starting themselves with the computer are of little usage and are the main reason your computer is running slow.

For example, the iTunes helper loads in the background to speed things up when you connect your device – but if you can’t even remember the last time you ran iTunes on your computer then it is probably unnecessary and can be deleted from start-up. Programs like this are using your computer resources and adding to your speed issues. Some computers automatically load all sorts of programs which can be safely stopped from automatically loading.

Temporary junk: Computers programs leave temporary files and snippets of information all over your hard drive, each action leaving a trail rather like a roaming toddler with sticky fingers. Every webpage you visit, every program you run and every game you play leaves something behind.

It may be the tidbits of information called temporary internet file, cookies, saved game files, auto-restore files or even log files that are clogging your system.The more junk your computer builds up, the slower it gets.

Viruses and malware: These infections sit in the background consuming computer resources while doing various dangerous and unwanted things. They may be spying on your actions, stealing your information or reaching out through your network to infect others. Sometimes the impact is limited to seeing your computer slow to a crawl but other infections can easily reach into the thousands of dollars with lost data and productivity.

Bloating: With every new version of software comes a new set of features and other “improvements” – some are beneficial to you while others are not. The problem with this is that the applications becomes larger and larger with each new version and require more system resources to run – and slowing your computer down.

Hardware Issues: As with anything the older things get the more chances of failure or other issues occuring. Hard drives can have trouble reading data and fans get clogged with dust and cause over heating issues. A simple internal cleanout of the computer or a replacement hard drive (or even better an upgrade to a SSD) can bring the speed back to your computer.

Just like a car, computers need regular maintenance – check out our blog on computer maintenance for some hints and tips. We also offer a Tune-Up service to bring your computer back to its original speed and extend its life. If you are in Adelaide South Australia then email us now at support@dpcomputing.com.au to book your computer in for a tune up.

3 Reasons To Upgrade Your Computer

The business case for faster & better computers

Older desktop and mobile devices run slow and may cost your business in repairs and downtime. They also lack the latest security technologies which may place your business and customers at risk.

Broad Choice of Form Factors

Check out the following for some reasons to upgrade your current computer.

1. Increased Productivity

Increased ProductivityDevices powered by the latest 6th generation Intel Core processors deliver up to 2.5x faster performance compared to systems five years or older. Mobile devices also have 3x the battery life compared to 5 year old systems. A new device wakes in an instant and are up to date so users are never left waiting. New computers also run the latest MS Windows 10 and associated MS Office software suite all with no issues.

2. Hardware Enhanced Security

Hardware Enhanced Security

Safeguard your business data with hardware enhanced security. Windows 10 introduces secure authentication with Windows Hello and Intel RealSense Technology.

3. Broader Form Factor Choice of Form Factors

Broader Choice of Form Factors

New form factors allow you to choose from a wide range of designs. Current form factors include:

  • The traditional tower computer.
  • Space saving All-In-Ones.
  • Mini or ultra small form factor computers
  • Tablets
  • Hybrid and 2 in one laptops
  • Traditional laptops
  • Ultrabooks.

You also don’t need to sacrifice flexibility for memory, storage space, ports etc as most of these options are full configurable.

Get the performance and security you need to move your business forward with a new PC. Contact us now to discuss your options.

Grow Your Business Expo at Tonsley

This Thursday 24/11/16 we will be exhibiting at the inaugural Grow Your Business Expo @ Tonsley. The event is free and targeted towards both new and established business owners.

Local business experts will be on hand to share their knowledge. With over 30 exhibitors and 3 speakers it will be a great event.

On our stand we will have some new hardware on show and will help with any questions IT related. We will also have some freebies and will giving away a VR headset in our business card draw so come along and say hello.

To register or find more information check out the following link:

https://www.marion.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=131&t=uList&ulistId=0&c=29380

grow-your-business-expo-sponsors

 

SSD – Is It The Best Upgrade For You?

SSD versus HDD - which are better?

SSD versus HDD – which are better?

If you have a computer or laptop that is a few years old and running slow you may think it is time for a replacement. There is a better option – upgrade to a super fast SSD drive. A SSD (or Solid State Drive) performs the same job as a normal hard drive (ie it stores data). A SSD though stores the data in solid state memory (similar to a USB or thumb drive) while a hard drives stores data on a spinning disk. This makes data access much much faster on a SSD.

Before you all rush out and upgrade to SSD’s though there are a few things to consider with pros and cons for both devices. So first take into account the following:

Hard Disk Drives (HDD)

The main advantage of a hard drive is storage capacity, you can often find a hard drive with a storage capacity of several terabytes (you can store roughly 200 movies on a terabyte hard drive). Inside each hard drive, is lots of spinning parts and it is the speed of these spinning parts that determine how quick your computer can open your files such as pictures, word documents and music.

As a hard drive fills up with data, files can become scattered across the hard drive. This can result in a sluggish feel to the device you are using – defragmenting the drive can improve this but there is only a finite amount of speed to be gained from older hard drives..

Solid State Drives (SSD)

Solid state drives are built for speed. They do this by storing the data on them using a motionless technology, meaning there are no moving parts and the data can be accessed almost instantly. They are ideal for laptop users as hard drives can be easily damaged if you move your laptop while it is still powered on. They also run cooler and use less power than traditional hard drives meaning your battery lasts a lot longer.

The downside to SSDs is the cost. They are more expensive compared to a traditional hard drives. If you are not using all of your existing drive space, then seriously consider swapping it for an SSD – they are much faster compared to a traditional hard drive.

So which one should I choose?

The bottleneck on most computers comes from the hard drive, so if you are looking at improving the performance of your computer, and have less than 200GB of data, it is worth upgrading to a SSD. However, if you have a lot of data and want to keep costs down, a hard drive is perfectly fine.

If you need help upgrading to a SSD please contact us.

Crypto Virus

The CryptoLocker virus (or similar variants – CryptoWall, TorrentLocker, PC Lock) are still very active on the Internet.  This family of viruses is known as ransonware and can effect computers and any connected networked devices. They are spread via email and / or infected websites.

Trojan-Horse-BackDoor_Generic15_BPGV_-150x150The virus encrypts all files it has access to on your local computer which can include any network shares, USB hard drives, memory cards, backup system drives etc. Usually the first sign of infection is being unable to open files and / or noticing files names with the words decrypt or how to decrypt (eg DECRYPT_INSTRUCTIONS.txt) on your computer.

Currently the only way to decrypt the files is to pay a ransom fee, but this method may not work. Generally the only other way is to recover files from a recent backup.

This is a really nasty virus because its possible for your backups to be compromised depending on your backup strategy and network topology / server configuration.

Further information on the virus is available from the following link:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker

Keeping your antivirus up to date and ensuring your computer systems are to date on security and application patches is CRUCIAL to stop this virus entering your systems. You should regularly install any patches available from the MS Windows Update website and also update other software which includes – Java, Flash and any other applications installed on your system.

Check and double check that your backups work and ensure you backup to multiple devices which aren’t all connected to a machine or the network at the same time (ie an air gap backup).

We regularly assist clients in keeping their systems up to date and regularly perform such maintenance. We also help clients infected with this virus (but it is cricital that you contact us ASAP). If you need help please let us know – click here for our contact details.

What’s So Good About Windows 10?

MS Windows 10 has just been released. We have written this blog and produced some videos to help you decide whether to upgrade to Windows 10.

To get a great feel for the new operating system, check out our Windows 10 Tutorial and Windows 10 First Looks & Impressions video.

 

While no computer program or operating system is perfect, Microsoft is getting a lot of things right with Windows 10.  Some of the highlights include:

  • The return of the Start menu Many of the folks who experienced the previous operating system, Windows 8, were very put off by the Start screen, which highlighted “metro-style” apps and live tiles. In Windows 10 Microsoft have brought back a more familiar style start menu in the lower left corner of the screen.  It is a hybrid between the Windows 7 start menu and the Windows 8 app-driven start screen. It is highly customisable and makes it easy to access most things you need on a daily basis. If you love the start screen though don’t despair as Microsoft gives users the option of using the new start menu or the Windows 8 style start screen. 
  • Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant.  Cortana is a bit like Siri, Apple’s voice-driven assistant.  In Windows 10, Cortana will be available on every device – phone, tablet, desktop and laptop.  You can essentially talk to your computer to perform searches or access information on your computer. Cortana learns about you and will start to use what she knows to offer increasingly relevant information when you ask for it.  
  • Microsoft Edge, the new web browser.  Windows 10 introduces Edge the new web page browser. Edge is very minimalist compared to Internet Explorer. There are no toolbars, icons and settings to get in the way of viewing various web pages. Internet Explorer can still be installed in Windows 10 for users who must use it for compatibility reasons. You are also free to install other web browsers, like Google Chrome or Firefox.  
  • Virtual desktops – Users will be able to set up multiple desktops on their Windows 10 computers.  For example, you can set up a desktop with all of your work-related icons and a separate desktop for all of your personal items.  Another use might be to set up a different desktop for each user in your home, rather than separate accounts for each user.  
  • Free upgrade for the first year.  For users who are running Windows 7 (service pack 1) or Windows 8.1, Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade for the first year after it is released.  If you don’t upgrade within that year you will have to buy the operating system.  

Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

While I believe that Windows 10 will be successful for Microsoft, I would strongly advise you not to upgrade straight away once it is released. The initial release may still have some bugs to work out which may cause issues on your computer.  It may be better to wait a few months for these to be worked out.  

When you do decide that you want to upgrade, here are some things that you will need to do first:

  • Make a complete backup of your system.  If something goes wrong during the upgrade process, you want to have a way to restore your computer to the way it was before the upgrade.  The easiest way to do this is to use the built-in tools with Windows 7 or 8 to create a system image on an external hard drive.
  • Install all of the latest updates on your operating system.  It would be best to run Windows updates on your system prior to an upgrade to be sure that you have the latest security and system patches.
  • Make sure that your current software and hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  Everything may run just fine on your current system but it may not run smoothly on Window 10.  Microsoft will release a compatibility tool which will inform you if your hardware and software will work with Windows 10.  We recommend that you install the latest device drivers for your computer (particularly video and network devices) prior to upgrading.  
  • Be sure to back up your data.  In addition to a full system upgrade, it would be wise to create a separate copy of your critical data (documents, pictures, music, videos, etc.) prior to upgrading. You should be doing this on a regular basis anyway.

Upgrading your operating system is a daunting task for most users.  If you are in Adelaide South Australia and feel that this is beyond your technical ability, we encourage you to give us a call. We will be offering a special Windows 10 upgrade service to our customers beginning in early August.

Can I return to Windows 8 / 7?

If for what ever reason you don’t like Windows 10 you can revert back to your operating system if you did an upgrade install.  To do this follow these steps:

  1. Click StartSettings or type Settings in the search bar.
  2. Click on Update & Security and then the Recovery section on the left hand side.
  3.  Then under the Go Back to Windows 7 (or 8) heading click on the Get Started button.
  4. Then follow the prompts.

Note: you may lose data and or programs so remember to backup all your data.

 

If you have any questions please leave a comment below and we wil try our best to help you out.

What is a NUC?

nucNUC is a funny name but relates to a new form of PC. It is a small form factor PC measuring 4 inches by 4 inches. Why have a PC so small you say and wouldn’t it be too slow? Well the size open up a whole new range of applications such as:

  • digital signage.
  • multimedia PC (HTPC) connected to a large screen tv.
  • point of sale (POS) system.
  • create an uncluttered office area by attaching the unit to the back of a monitor.
  • great for dirty and dusty locations.
  • thin client machine.
  • retail kiosk.

In terms of speed the units can come with CPU’s up to a Intel Core i5 providing plenty of power and combine that with a SSD drive and you have one small powerful unit.

For a look at the insides of a NUC check out our video below:

Inside an Intel NUC – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvKAFMnNtPw

Windows XP and Office 2003 – End Of Support Information

xp-endofsupport

Support from Microsoft for both Windows XP and Office 2003 will end as of 8th April 2014.

With this change coming it is important that you are aware of the impact this will have on your business and existing IT infrastructure.  You will still be able to use both Windows XP and Office 2003 after this date but “End of Support” means that you will not receive the following:

  1. New security updates for Windows XP and Office 2003
  2. Non-security hotfixes for Windows XP and Office 2003
  3. Free or paid assisted support options from Microsoft for Windows XP and Office 2003

XP End of Line

What does this exactly mean though and what impact can it have on my business if I continue to use Windows XP and / or Office 2003:

1) Security and Compliance Issues

Unsupported software is vulnerable to security risks. These risks will not be fixed by Microsoft and will leave the door open to viruses and other malware being more easily able to infect your computers. If your business is subject to any sort of certification or audit this could potentially lead to loss of any certification or accrediation you may have,

2) Lack of Independant Hardware Support

In future hardware companies may not be releasing Windows XP compatible drivers for their hardware products (eg printers, scanners etc). Say if your printer dies and you buy a replacement it may not work under Windows XP or if you call up the hardware manufacturer for support they may deny any sort of support.

3) Lack of Software Support

Newer versions of software may not run under Windows XP. You may also be denied support by a line of business software vendor for using a non supported operating system.

4) Websites

Some websites already don’t work on older versions of browsers. If future versions of Internet browsers aren’t compatible with Windows XP you may not be able to access certain websites.

What are my options?

You can continue using what you currently have but be aware of the factors listed above. Or you can upgrade to a new computer running a new operating systems such as Windows 8. Please note: we generally don’t recommend upgrading a Windows XP system directly to Windows 8.

But I don’t want Windows 8?

Many people have heard rumours about Windows 8 and as such are delaying the upgrade until Windows 9 or something else becomes available?

You shouldn’t hold off for this reason and there are a number of options you can take now. These options include:

  1. Upgrade to Windows 7. You can still purchase Windows 7 from various sources. So contact your computer supplier and see what they can do.
  2. Windows 8 can be made to look and act as Windows 7. Check out our blog on how to bring the start menu back to Windows 8.
  3. Try Windows 8 for yourself as it is not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. The Windows 8.1 update has also added some improvements. We have also created some videos to help users get the most out of it so have a look at:
        1. Windows 8 Tutorial
        2. Windows 8.1 Tutorial and New Features

To help you prepare for any necessary changes or upgrades you should contact your local IT support provider. Don’t wait until it is too late!

If you are located within South Australia please contact us to organise a free consultation to discuss your requirements further.

Crilock – Encyption Virus / Malware

Trojan-Horse-BackDoor_Generic15_BPGV_-150x150

We wish to inform you of a potentially extremely destructive trojan horse / ransom-ware virus that is spreading around the Internet. This virus can effect any networked or stand alone machine.

What the virus does is encrypt all files it has access to on your local computer which can include any network shares, USB hard drives, memory cards, backup system drives etc. Currently the only way to decrypt the files is to pay a ransom fee, but the decryption usually fails or never works. The only other way is to recover files from a recent backup.

This is a really nasty virus because its possible for your backups to be compromised depending on your backup strategy and network topology / server configuration.

Further information on the virus is available from the following link: http://www.microsoft.com/security/portal/threat/encyclopedia/Entry.aspx?Name=Trojan%3aWin32%2fCrilock.A

Getting your computer systems up to date on security and application patches is CRUCIAL to stop this virus entering your systems. You should regularly install any patches available from the MS Windows Update website and also update other software which includes – Java, Flash and any other applications installed on your system.

You should also ensure your backups are working and that backups are stored on multiple devices which aren’t all connected to a machine at the same time.

If you don’t know how to update your machines or perform a backup please let us know.