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When Your PC is on the Blink: Let GoGeeks! Rescue You ...

When we think about repair of most items in our daily life -- such as your car or lawnmower or a major household appliance -- we typically are envisioning a worn or broken part that needs to be replaced. Sometimes that is the case with a home computer, but very rarely. Most of the time, your problem is not hardware-related. This is difficult to conceptualize for the computer novice, but most PC issues are software-related. What the heck does that mean? OK -- here's a free lesson -- get ready:

Unlike almost everything else you own, a home computer contains software -- lots of it! Many appliances in today's world use software too, but generally this is programmed into the unit itself and is not designed to be altered by the end-user: you! A PC has that kind of information in it also -- it is called the BIOS and is programmed into the motherboard that controls your computer. BIOS updates are rare and should only be updated by a computer professional. That is not the kind of software we are talking about!

The major piece of software in your computer is the operating system, and while there are several types of operating system software, most of the world utilizes the Microsoft Windows Operating System. (Another major operating system is the Apple Macintosh.) There are several different versions of Windows currently in use, including Windows XP, the somewhat buggy Windows Vista and the brand new cutting edge Windows 7 operating system. The Windows operating system is based upon a "registry" of information with thousands of pieces of info, much of it expressed in "0's" and "1's" -- the binary system of computer language. If your registry gets corrupted, your computer will not operate correctly -- it may not operate at all!

The operating system often includes other software programs "bundled" into it like picture viewers, music and video players, simple word processors and games. Many PC manufacturers also include other programs with the PC's sold at retail. Most consumers purchase other software for their computers, as well. Digital photo programs, productivity software, games, encyclopedias, and PC security programs are typical programs people often purchase separately and install into their home computers.

The greatest thing about computers is the variety of programs available for installation, making your PC almost infinitely expandable and customizable! But there is a flip-side to this as well: all software programs do not play nicely with each other -- literally! For instance, your system could be running great and one day you install some travel mapping software a buddy recommends. Everything might seem fine at first, but a few days later you might open a program you have been using for years -- like Word or Excel for example -- and suddenly there are all kinds of errors. Or let's suppose that your travel program causes no problems on its own, but a few days later your niece or grandson shows up with some kid's game. The child installs it (because kids know how to install stuff!) and the next time you restart your computer you get "the blue screen of death!" And by the way, the travel program and the kid's game run on other people's computers with no issues! This is a classic example of what an end user will often consider an unfathomable computer glitch, but it's fairly common. There are thousands of software programs in use today. The majority of these programs have successfully passed Windows testing. This means they will run on the Windows operating system. At the same time, they often have not been tested to run with all of these other programs in the same "environment."

Viruses & Spyware: An Epidemic ...

An even more common problem is the corruption of your operating system by viruses and spyware. The number one reason for GoGeeks! rescue missions is infection by virus or spyware, and most users have no clue that these are the culprits for their misbehaving machine. Viruses are malicious code that wreak havoc with your PC. In extreme cases, viruses can destroy your data and make your PC virtually inoperable.

Viruses are a kind of cyber-terrorism perpetrated by anonymous "vandals" who get a vicarious thrill out of "breaking windows" (ha-ha). But seriously, folks -- viruses are no laughing matter. Any computer with internet access through dial-up or DSL/cable is susceptible, often from opening an email attachment or visiting certain web sites, but infection can also occur from media like a floppy diskette or from simply being on a network in your office, for instance.

The only real way to protect yourself from viruses is to purchase and maintain a subscription to a quality anti-virus software that also includes an anti-spyware element.

Spyware -- a category that also includes "adware" and "porn dialers" -- are like viruses but often go undetected by the very best anti-virus programs. These are commercial programs deliberately intended to infiltrate your system, uploading your personal data, sending you annoying pop-ups, redirecting you to their websites and hijacking your browser to the degree that you can't get online anymore. Spyware is the number one malady we find on home computers today, especially in homes with teenage children. Why? Because spyware spreads rapidly through popular instant messaging (IM) services like AIM that virtually all teenagers rely upon to communicate with their friends. Messaging is not the only way spyware spreads (visiting adult sites and gambling sites are also risky), but it is such an epidemic among PC's that you can almost count on the fact that if you have a teenager, you have spyware on your computer. There are "spy-blocking" programs that can be installed to clean your system and prevent future infections, but be wary of "free" programs offered through internet pop-ups -- most of these are actually wolves in sheep's clothing -- spyware disguised as something else!

The GoGeeks! Tune-Up: Preventative Maintenance ...

A very popular GoGeeks! service is the tune-up. Just like a car, your PC will run better and faster with less errors if you get it tuned-up from time to time. For $69, we spend about 45 minutes: editing your start-up files to get rid of programs eating up memory by running in the background, checking for Windows updates, inspecting your anti-virus & spy-blocking software to ensure you are protected, dumping your temporary files and ensuring your PC is running the way it should be. We look for problems behind the scenes you might not detect until they become serious problems. A tune-up every six months or so can save you a lot of time, money and aggravation later.

Hardware Issues: We can Fix it! ...

It is possible that you have a hardware problem in addition to your software problem, or apart from it. Your hard drive might be going, in which case we need to back up your data right away or all of your precious pictures and the great American novel you've been working on will be lost forever. An electrical problem may have fried your modem. Your loud fan could be a symptom of a power supply that is about to die. While hardware issues are less frequent than software-related ones, we handle all hardware repair and replacement, as well as upgrades, and our parts are warranteed. We will also make a fair recommendation to you about repair. In some cases it would make more sense with an older machine to simply replace it, rather than fix it. We'll be honest with you about your options and let you make the call. After all, it is our job to rescue you!