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Tech tips to help you start off the New Year

 Tech tips to help you start off the New Year

CLEVELAND – As we move into the year 2011, check out some tech tips to help you speed up your computer – and become a little more tech savvy.

Speed up your PC First off, your home computer may be suffering from the ever-so-common slowness syndrome. Before you take it the shop, there are a few things you can try to make it run a little faster.

1) clean out your temp files. these are files that are used for a short period for various programs on your computer, but are no longer needed. Microsoft Windows makes this a relatively easy task. Here’s how to do it:

a. Close any other programs running on your computer, including Web browsers. b. Click on either “Computer” (Vista, Win7) or “My Computer” (XP and older versions) c. Your system drive is most likely your “C” drive. Right mouse click it and select “properties.” d. While under the “general” tab, select the “Disk Cleanup” button in the lower half of the window. it will likely take several minutes for your computer to determine how many files can be safely erased. e. Check the boxes for the items you want to delete. unless you’re using your recycle bin as a storage bin (note: you don’t want to do this), it should be fine to check most of the boxes here. however, you probably don’t want to check “compress old files” or “catalog files for the Content Indexer” options, if they appear for you. f. Click OK. this process may take a few minutes.  

2) Defragment your hard drive. this process usually takes a long time, but typically increases the speed on your system – especially if you haven’t defragged in a while. What this does is recombine files that were split up on the hard drive so that the computer doesn’t have to search multiple areas of the drive when calling up those files. Here’s how to do it:

a. Close any other programs running on your computer, including Web browsers. Also, temporarily disable any screensavers you might have running – as this can cause the defrag process to start over. b. Click on either “Computer” (Vista, Win7) or “My Computer” (XP and older versions) c. Your system drive is most likely your “C” drive. Right mouse click it and select “properties.” d. Click on the “Tools” menu tab and select the “Defrag Now” button. e. You can click the “Analyze” button to see how defragmented the files are on your system first, or simply click “Defragment.” f. While this is running, try to refrain from doing any other activity on the system, as it may start the process over.

3) many virus scan programs use a lot of system resources – even just to run in the background. this can drastically slow your system to a crawl. there are lighter, free options – but one that many people overlook is the one provided for free from Microsoft. It’s called Microsoft Security Essentials and it’s offered through the “optional” list on your Windows Update installer. even if you’ve paid for a virus scan, this may be worth trying. Check out more details about it here: microsoft.com/security_essentials/

4) If you’re willing to spend some money, but not enough to buy a new computer, try a new Solid State Drive (SSD). this is a hard drive without any moving parts that essentially works like a USB drive — but provides some of the fastest read/write speeds you can get for a single drive. SSDs cost a lot more per megabyte than a traditional hard drive, but these drives usually significantly speed up even the oldest computers. Right now, this option is recommended only for those of you who are semi-techie, because you need to make some system tweaks to keep down the number of “writes” to the drive. these drives only have a finite number of writes allowed before the end of their life. You should use an SSD in conjunction with a standard hard drive, where you store all of your own files.

Back up your Facebook profile Facebook now offers users a feature to download all of items associated with their profiles. this essentially captures the current state of your profile and turns it into a file you can keep on your own computer. this may be a good way for you to get a copy of all of the photos you’ve uploaded, or keep a copy of your profile if you’re going to delete your account. Either way, it might be something you want to do in 2011.

One warning: you’ll want to keep your copy of the files in a secure place. there is no login required to view the content once it’s on your machine.

Here’s how you get a backup copy of your profile:

1) Log in to Facebook 2) in the upper right corner, go to ACCOUNT –> ACCOUNT SETTINGS 3) look for “Download your information” and click “Learn more” 4) Read the disclaimer and click “download.” 5) Facebook will compile all of your files and send you an e-mail when the zip file is ready to download.

Skype for iPhone Do you want to impress your friends by having a video call while you’re out ringing in the new Year tonight? On Thursday, Skype released a new version of its iPhone app that allows video calls while on 3G service. this means you

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