I define computer support as any service I can provide to you that does not constitute education, or a project like website design, screensaver generation, or service.
Examples might be:
A "problem" could be that of a hardware failure, the software running on the computer, or the drivers that allow programs to interact with the hardware.
Computers, like all equipment needs a certain amount of maintenance. There are 2 type of maintenance we need to perform to keep the computer system running reliably.
1) Hardware Maintenance:
In most instances the problems will be will be related to the software or device drivers. The computer hardware is generally very reliable and with reasonable maintenance will last a considerable time with few problems. The software on the other hand can be poorly written, not compatible, or most often, poorly understood by the user. Then there are Viruses (virii ?). These can infect your computer without your knowledge or by lack of care and understanding by the user.
In the case of hardware problems we at Virga Technologies can do little for you other than to ascertain that you do indeed have a hardware fault. There are a number of good computer repair shops in the Comox valley and we would be happy to refer you to one.
Software problems on the other hand we can generally help with. It may need some digging to find a solution to a tough problem or it may be something simple. Once the problem is sorted out a little education for the user should keep it from happening again.
The single best thing we can do to prevent hardware problems is regular cleaning. The cooling fan(s) inside your computer draw in air from the room that contains dust and other contaminents. This dust coats all the components inside the computer and acts as a thermal insulator, causing these components to overheat. In addition the dust may accumulate to such an extent that it reduces airflow through the computer. These contaminents will also settle on the read/write heads of the floppy disk and CDROM drives and can cause an erratic or non-functioning drive. Printers, mice, and keyboards are also subject to invasion by dust and dirt.
At Virga Technologies we pick up your computer and take it to our shop for a thorough cleaning. This involves removing the case cover(s) and blowing it out with low pressure dry air, then clean the read/write heads of both the floppy drive and the CDROM drive. Next we remove all the cables individually and replace them, this helps remove the thin layer of oxide on the contacts. We then remove all expansion cards, clean their contacts and replace them.
The mouse is next....this troublesome rodent has the ability to pick up everything on your mouse pad and tranfer it all inside itself. We remove the tracking ball and clean it and the little rollers it comes in contact with. Lastly we reassemble the system and test it. Optionally we can clean the outside of the cases for cosmetic reasons.
The next biggest enemy computers have is electricity. The power coming to your home or office is not always perfect. The voltage may be too low, called sag, or too high. Both if extreme can cause problems. In addition very high voltages of even short duration, called spikes, can do very severe damage. And, of course, no power at all.....well you know what happens then!
There are remedies for these problems, such as surge protectors and Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS). We can talk with you about these issues and suggest an appropriate solution.
2) Software Maintenance:
This type of maintenance takes 2 forms. The first is to ensure that your hard drive is working to its optimal level. This involves removing un-needed files such as backup files (.bak), temporary internet files, and recycle bin. Then the disk is defragmented and checked for errors.
The second type of software maintenance is to download and install the latest updates and security patches for the operating system, your most frequently used software, and recent device drivers. This stage takes some time and there should be significant compelling reason for doing some of these upgrades. Most notably would be security upgrades, especially for computers that are permanently connected to the internet by way of some form of high speed internet connection.
Security of data on a computer or small network is a very often overlooked item. Security takes many forms. The most commonly abused is to not make copies of the data files. You may have many hours, days or years data on your system. What if the hard drive dies, or there is a major power problem, or fire, or theft? It could be all gone!
Backing up data could be as simple as copying a few files to a floppy once a week or copying large amounts of data to tape, CDROM or over the internet. But you really should do it. It might only be a simple address book or family photos. It might be your whole business records.
We can help. If you do nothing more in the way of security....protect your data from loss.
The other security items worth mentioning are:
- Password security. Does your computer or network contain data that you don't want other user to see?
- Data encryption. Does your computer or network contain sensitive data that you don't want anyone to see?
- Firewall. If you have an always-on internet connection do you have a firewall installed to stop outside access?
- Viruses. Do you have a good quality virus scanner installed and are its virus definition tables up to date?