Computers and Internet

W
elcome to the Ask W1z111 Computers and Internet page.  Here, you can find helpful information and tools, like computer "clean-up" utility software download links, how-to articles (or article links), comments, links to online computer and Internet forums, and other tools to help you better understand (generally) how computers and the Internet do their "magic"; and, how to keep them doing it smoothly and efficiently for you. 

Everyone uses their computer and the Internet for different reasons.  Because of that, each person's experience and knowledge levels vary as well.  Likewise, each computer unit is likely to be affected in different ways, since the ways computers are used dictate what kinds of things might potentially "go wrong". 

Although computers and the Internet can be very confusing, there are many resources available to help guide you through most any situation or circumstances you might find yourself in while using your computer or the Internet. 

Hopefully, this page will provide some valuable resources, so you can find some answers to questions, and solutions to problems...through the content here and the links provided.  Please note:  Links and resources provided here have not necessarily been "tested" or otherwise proven by Ask W1z111, except where specifically noted.  Be sure to do your own "homework" on each product, to understand completely for yourself, just what each product does.  Good luck!


Here are some helpful websites that you can visit to learn about computers and the Internet.  Many of these links are designed to aid seniors and 'beginners' with many of the "typical problems" shared by others in similar situations.  Nobody knows all about today's digital world...there's simply far too much to know.  Younger folks seem to grasp high-technology devices quite readily, while those of us who recall things like "party lines" and "rotary dial" and similarly 'dated' technology are very often completely clueless with regard to the "latest-and-greatest" devices coming out these days.  

It is very important (in my opinion) NOT TO FEEL INTIMIDATED by any of the latest technologies.  Sometimes it's difficult, because every time we pick up a new device we have to go through numerous "hoops" just to use it.  And, if we don't get it "set up" right, we're afraid we'll do something that can't be "undone", then where would we be, right?  I guess it's true that such a scenario is possible (that we could inadvertently mess up when first setting up a new device), so it is crucial that we "READ THE INSTRUCTIONS"....BEFORE "all else fails"...as 'foreign' as that might feel, y'know (I mean, who reads instructions)?  I'm just sayin'...

Computer and Internet Tutorial sites.
If anyone wishes to view some online "free" tutorials for learning basic computers and related information, check out some of these links.



H
ere's some links to learn more about how to deal with e-mail "spam".  Everybody gets spam, and it can be more than just annoying.  Some spam can cripple your computer if you follow instructions to "open attachment", or other kind of interaction with the e-mail.  For best results, NEVER open an e-mail that you are quite sure is spam.  Most e-mail programs allow for a "viewing pane", where you can actually read the e-mail without actually opening it in a new window of its' own.   I'm pretty sure it is 'safe' to view it in the viewing pane.  Once you recognize an e-mail as spam, it is best to simply "delete" it.  

Once you've deleted your spam e-mails from your Inbox or Junk Mail folders, don't forget to empty your "Deleted" folder, too.

Read what Wikipedia has to say about it.
This site gives up to date information on what to watch for, and how to handle e-mail spam; including how to report them to authorities if you wish to do that.
Net Manners:  "How to Identify and Handle Spam
This site gives tips and instructions for recognizing and handling spam e-mails.



Computer clean-up/tune-up utilities

Some clean-up or tune-up and other utility programs take significant time to run, and to do their job of emptying your computer of things it does not need, things that might very well be contributing to slower and slower operation, crashes, and even worse.  The links provided here provide you with options, to determine which might be best for your particular situation.  
In addition, some clean-up or tune-up and other utility programs can potentially cause various kinds of "harm" to your computer, depending on many factors.  Always use these utility programs with caution, and always ensure you have recent "restore-points" established on your computer prior to installing and running these programs..."just-in-case"!  Data back-up is recommended as well.   

These links will bring you to sites which offer free download and use of various computer clean-up and tune-up software utilities.  Follow the instructions given at each site to proceed with downloading, setup, and use of them.  Please note that at the time of posting these links, all of those resources offer free downloads, although some might have certain limitations associated with their "free" versions.  Be sure to review the Terms of Use and other site conditions to understand the details for the specific products.

CCleaner -- (by Piriform)
Ask W1z111 uses CCleaner, and it has proven to be safe and effective for cleaning out "clutter".  It removes much more than typical web-browser clean-up utilities.  CCleaner provides several tools, including general clean-up of web and other clutter left on your computer; cookies, web history, temporary files, and more.  It also has a registry repair tool and a program management tool (to uninstall programs).  CCleaner is simple to run; and it does not seem to cause any noticeable harm to the operation of the computer. 

Anti-malware software
Nobody likes computer viruses and other "malware".  Computer malware (for "malicious software) is allegedly created by people (often called "hackers") who apparently have nothing better to do than to concoct computer code which is designed to invade and wreak havoc on unprotected computers.  Even some of the malware "protections" don't always work to prevent some of these potentially destructive "bugs" from gaining access to computers and doing their dirty-deeds there. 

If your computer has ever been infected, you probably know the signs.  The computer will "crash" for no apparent reason; or it might just act weirdly...perhaps your home page changes all by itself, or maybe the computer's speed just slows to a crawl...or maybe it is affected in other strange ways.  Needless to say, computer malware can create great frustration and sometimes even computer damage, if not dealt with quickly and thoroughly. 


Microsoft Support -- "Computer viruses: description, prevention, and recovery"
Check out this site for more information on computer viruses.

Here are some "free" programs you can download to help protect your computer.  "Free" might only be free for trial versions, demos, etc., so be sure to read the "fine print".  Follow instructions with each product, for setup and other user-specific information.  Remember to do your "homework" on any product you decide to download, to understand its intended use and operation.

Anti-Virus:
Microsoft Security Essentials -- (by Microsoft)  Ask W1z111 uses Microsoft Security Essentials; seems to help, though it did not prevent laptop from getting infected with the "Windows Security Center" virus earlier in 2011. 
Avast! -- (by Avast Software)
AVG -- (by AVG Technologies)
PC Tools -- (by PC Tools)

Anti-Malware:

Malwarebytes -- (by Malwarebytes)  Ask W1z111 uses Malwarebytes; seems to do a good, safe job of finding and removing adware, spyware, and others.
SuperAnti-Spyware -- (by SuperAntiSpyware)
Microsoft Safety Scanner -- (by Microsoft)
AdAware -- (by LavaSoft)



Hints, Tips and Links for Backing up Your Computer

Most of the true computer "experts" recommend "backing up" computer files, so you will not risk total loss of important data if something happens to your computer (it becomes "inoperable" for some reason).  Backing up your computer provides you with a "second copy" of the items on your computer that you deem important.  Of course, backing up files needs to be done 'periodically', to keep your backup file storage up to date.  

While most computers don't fail catastrophically to where you cannot 'resurrect' them (albeit at great cost, usually), it does occur, and when it happens it can create much frustration and stress, until such time that the situation is remedied (hopefully).  

Backing up your computer generally only means "copy and pasting" certain files or certain kinds (documents, pictures, and other files that you created and/or saved on your hard-drive) of files from your computer's hard-drive storage location to another, separate storage location, such as an external hard-drive, flash-drive, CD (etc.), or an online data-backup service (some sites charge fees, some do not - see more info with the links below). 

Microsoft Windows based computers are equipped with resident software to help with backing up your computer.  Visit THIS LINK (or click the first URL link in the listings below) to learn how to use the built-in Windows "Backup and Restore" utility software.  There are also numerous software utility programs available online (some free) to help you with backing up your computer.  

There are various hardware devices that can be used for actual file storage of your "backed up" files.  Much depends on how much size is needed (in kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes, etc.) when deciding which external (i.e., "separate") devices would work best in a given situation.  The storage media (device) for the files being 'backed-up' needs to hold the total combined size.  CD's hold only about 750Megabytes, which, by today's standards, is not considered "large capacity".  Flash-drives ('memory-sticks', 'thumb-drives', etc.) hold much more data, like 128 Gigabytes (recent news indicates these may reach 1Terabyte soon!).  SD cards hold at least 64Gigabytes , external hard drives hold up to 8Terabytes!  If your computer is equipped with USB ports and card-reader-slots, the choice is yours, really.  Please note that the capacities given here are very likely to change as technology advances.  These numbers are simply for approximation and comparison purposes. 

Sites to help you learn how to back up your computer most effectively and efficiently:

Sites where you can download utility programs to help with backup:

Sites where you can learn about external data storage devices to "copy" your backed up files to:

Sites where you can learn about online data storage services if you prefer storing your backup files there:

  


 
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