Thursday, January 21, 2010

To RAM or Not to RAM

I can’t tell you how many time people come in my store and say “I NEED MORE MEMORY”. I usually just say “Drink plenty of water, take 2 ginko bilobas, and call me in the morning”. Of course, if they say their COMPUTER needs more memory I take a more technical approach.

Most of the time when a computer slows down, people listen to some “guru” that says “add more memory”. Those “gurus” remind me of the old man on “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” where when someone burns their finger he always says “Put Windex”. For you who do not know, RAM is the same thing as memory. RAM stands for Random Access Memory. RAM is a volatile memory on the computer. Volatile memory means it is “Temporary” - it does not require an ongoing power source. That means when you turn off your computer, it is erased. Non-volatile memory would be like your hard drive, where all your programs, pictures, and stuff are saved.

So, how do you know if you need more memory? If your computer formally ran fast and you were happy with it and you have not added a lot of programs or games on your computer, then you probably don’t need more. If your computer is slowing down there are several issues that can be the culprit.

1. Virus – it doesn’t matter if you have a virus protection or not (but you better), if you do certain activities on your computer, such as go to those Web sites your momma wouldn’t approve of, open “FWD: etc” email, open email that is considered “SPAM”, then you are more likely to have your antivirus disabled and a virus will be installed on your computer. You DON’T need more memory here.

2. Overload – if you have loaded a lot of programs or games on your computer you are likely to slow it down. Of course the more you have opened up at one time the slower it can get. You DO need more memory here.

3. Too much stuff – if you have a lot of pictures, music, movies, and/or data on your computer and your hard drive is getting close to 80% capacity, then it will slow down. It can also crash. You DON’T need more memory here.

4. Hardware issues – you can start having hardware problems such as video, hard drive, power supply or any other components of your computer if they deteriorate. Of course if it is the memory going bad then you definitely need more memory. Any other components, you DON’T need more.

5. Aging – an old computer is like an old man. It starts to slow down naturally. Electronic parts DO wear out. How would you like to have a bunch of electrons running through your body all day? Sometimes more memory will help but most of the time not.

If you are in question if you need more memory, drink plenty of water, take 2 ginko biloba, and bring your computer to me or any other QUALIFIED technician. That “guru” probably doesn’t know what he is talking about.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Intruders in your cyberworld

Hi, welcome to the ComputerPRO blog. I am Dennis Kilcrease, owner of Computer PRO. The purpose of this blog is to share information, and to answer questions.
We are seeing a huge influx of intrusions at Computer PRO these days. When I say intrusions, I mean viruses, Trojans, Malware, Spyware, worms and other varmits that attack your computer. You have got to be really savy these days to avoid what is an inconvieniance at best, and a major problem and big expense at worse.
The ComputerPRO staff just attended a conference on Micro Forensics, where we got to work with FBI agents, staff from Homeland Security, and attorneys from the Justice Department. We learned about the bottom-dwellers that try to worm (literally) their way into the lives of innocent citizens, mainly for the reason of stealing identities. They are a varied bunch, many from northern Europe, where extradition for prosecution in the US is complicated, and some are long-haired hermits with Cheeto bags laying around holed up in their houses here in the US. Once they infect your computer, they can gain access to your world--your information, your finances, and your IP address. There are literally websites where these creeps go to buy and sell identities--almost like a drug pusher selling from his car.
I have a strong background in security, working as the Chief Network Engineer for Army Space Command, and on the SPPRnet project for the Pentagon email, among work with other international companies such as General Dynamics and SI International. I have seen first hand what these intrusions can do to a major network, as well as a home computer.
People often assume that all they need to do is to put half-way decent anti-virus protection on their computers and they are bullet-proof. While having anti-virus is essential, it is also crucial to educate yourself in safe practice so that you don't manually load a virus. Any computer that is fully covered with anti-virus is still susceptable to viruses if the operator uses unsafe practices.
Over the next days, I will talking more about out-smarting the bad guys and reducing the liklihood of becoming infected. I also will be talking about basic care and feeding of computers, and some hints on Vista, Windows 7, and organizing files on the computer. Thanks for reading today.