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Question and Answer
I love my three year old Dell Inspiron notebook, but I have a problem that started a couple of months after I had upgraded to Windows 10. That's when I noticed it became much slower. It will lock-up several times a day and it takes much longer to boot-up. I'm thinking I have virus or malware, but Norton anti-virus says my notebook is "clean". Ideally I want to go back to a fresh start and really clean and tune up my system. Can you send me some ideas on what I can do please?
– Jamie P., Lawrence, MA

Believe it or not your problems are very common. There are several causes for Windows shutting down, locking up, and becoming sluggish over time. The most common issues include: corrupt or missing files, a hidden virus, malware, and spyware. You can try to do a repair of Windows or re-install Windows. Our #1 suggestion is to use a well regarded application named Reimage. In a matter of minutes, Reimage repairs and replaces corrupted files, removes virus damage and much more. First, the Reimage preliminary scan will detect all errors on your PC's Operating System. The repair process removes and replaces damaged files found during the scan. During repair, Reimage not only removes damage, but also reverses the damage done to your Windows OS by replacing corrupted and deleted files with fresh Windows files and components from their continuously updated online database. Your PC's performance, stability and security will be restored and improved.

» Download Reimage

I’ve been trying to use USB headphones with my computer. But when I plug them in, I still get music out of the speakers. How come?
– Richard J., Sacramento, CA

Windows realizes that the USB headphones are attached. However the program that is playing the music does not. It’s still using the audio channel that was set up before you attached the headset. Close the program and restart it. If that doesn’t work, check you programs audio settings to make sure the USB headphones are selected. If the program doesn’t have those settings, go to your Control Panel, under Sound and click Manage Audio Devices. Click the Playback tab and select USB headphones. Click the Set Default button then click OK.

Why is the total space of the hard available on a hard drive less than what it is supposed to be?
– Peter C., St. Louis, MO

The biggest difference comes in the way that drive space is measured in the first place. Drive manufacturers measure drive space in decimal terms. For example, they call one gigabyte 1,000,000,000 bytes. Operating systems use binary terms, so Windows considers one gigabyte 1,073,741,824 bytes. So when Windows reports available space on a drive, the resulting calculation suggests that the drive is smaller than what is advertised. Another issue is that drive manufacturers measure the size of the drives in terms of TOTAL space, meaning every single bit on the disk. The problem is that you cannot store date on every single bit on the disk. Formatting the drive takes up some space and Windows takes up space as well.

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Driver Tip: The Advantages of Updating Video Card Drivers

We get asked a lot if there really are any advantages to upgrading the drivers for your video card. Does it really make a difference?

The answer is YES. It does make a difference. There are several reasons to update your Video Card drivers. Here are a few:

First, if you are a gamer you will notice the difference much more than the average computer user. Secondly if you are someone who watches a lot of movies or videos on your computer, up to date drivers are a must.

With many of today’s game titles and streaming video technologies, the need for more advanced video cards has arisen. Along with the new equipment it is important that you keep your drivers up to date.

Keeping your video drivers up to date fixes Limited Screen Resolution settings, along with providing support for higher refresh rates, it will also eliminate jitters in 3D modeling. The newest driver will help with video creation/editing software and eliminate skips and pauses during video playback.

The drivers will fix issues where videos play normally when scaled down, but play poorly or refuse to play at full screen. The new drivers will also help with higher frame rates (or Frames per Second) during game play or video playback resulting in smoother appearance and better experience, which will lead to increased system stability.

PC Performance Tip: PC Performance Tip - Windows 10 Keyboard Shortcuts

Whenever a new OS is released there are always some new keyboard shortcuts that are available.

Here are some Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts you may want to be aware of - shortcuts that will really help your daily workflow:

Windows Key-Tab (Task View)

Windows Key-Right-Up (Moves app to top right quadrant)

Windows Key-Ctrl-Left or Right (virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Ctrl-D (new virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Ctrl-C (Cortana listening)

Windows Key-S (Daily Glance for weather, news, sports)

Windows Key-Ctrl-F4 (closes virtual desktop)

Windows Key-Up and Down (snap apps to top or bottom of screen or maximizes).

» Perform a PC performance scan now!

BIOS Tip – Why does a computer need a BIOS?

We were asked recently by a customer an interesting question. Why does a computer need a BIOS?

A BIOS is a hardware dependent piece of code stored on the motherboard itself. Every different motherboard needs a custom BIOS written for it, so it would be impossible to have a generic BIOS/OS all-in-one (although the BIOS is technically just stored code, so you could theoretically write an OS for one particular motherboard).

The purpose of the BIOS is to do the following:

When the PC starts up, the first job for the BIOS is the power-on self-test, which initializes and identifies system devices such as the CPU, RAM, video display card, keyboard and mouse, hard disk drive, optical disc drive and other hardware.

Note that you can still start a computer without any external storage - which is why the BIOS is a requirement for a computer. In other terms, the BIOS provides a common software interface to allow a stored computer program to communicate with various hardware devices connected to the motherboard. For example, if I have two different motherboards with two different SATA controllers, the BIOS allows me to write a piece of code that can work with both, without my knowledge of how the motherboard actually sends commands to the SATA device. I just have to tell the computer "read sector X from this SATA device", and the BIOS is responsible for actually sending those commands to the hardware.

Where it actually gets the "read sector X" information from is a stored program contained within the BIOS, which usually directs the computer to start reading from a bootloader stored in a common location. These common locations are agreed upon by various software and hardware developers, and usually provided to the public toallow for more compatibility between systems.

Once a basic level of interfacing (again, logical interfacing through software) is established, the operating system itself builds a common interface with your various hardware devices (usually by using "device drivers"), and the operating system can then control the hardware.

Finally, it should be noted that the BIOS is also used to make modifications to the computer hardware configurations, and store them in the on-board EEPROM (so your computer remembers the changes next time you start it up). However, once the operating system is loaded, it has full control of the computer.

This allows for motherboard manufacturers to develop software allowing you to make these changes from within your operating system, as opposed to having to reboot into the BIOS. Again, this is very hardware and software dependent, but goes to show that all computer interfacing is relative. The BIOS is exactly what its name implies - a basic input/output system, to allow a common software interface for a more advanced program ("operating system") to take control of the machine.

» Perform a BIOS scan now!

Tech Tip

Changing The Theme In Windows 10?

Did you know you can change the theme pretty easily in Windows 10? In the Personalization settings, click on Themes and then on Classic Theme Settings. This will take you to the Classic Theme Settings in Control Panel where you can see three default themes and four high contrast themes which are purposely designed for night usage and for those with challenges. Select the desired theme and click on Save Theme. You can also create new Windows themes too.

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Quote of the Month
"Respect your efforts, respect yourself. Self-respect leads to self-discipline. When you have both firmly under your belt, that's real power."

- Clint Eastwood

Sites of the Month

Fun Sites
AfterBuzz TV
An online broadcast network that specializes in after-show podcasts for a wide range of television series.
Useful Site
A resource for Computer Technicians to start or improve their Computer Repair businesses.

Did You Know?

Halloween is the second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas.

Vocab Test

When you give online props to someone because you can't high five them in person.

Browser Add-On
Resurrect Pages

Resurrect Pages - What do you do when a page is dead but you still want to see it? This add-on will help you.

SmartPhone App

The easiest and quickest way to post entire photos on Instagram without cropping.

Twitter Tip
If you retweet every single tweet you're mentioned in, followers will think you crave attention.

iPhone App



iOptimizer is the ultimate application for getting to know your iPhone, iPad or iPod better. iOptimizer monitors the performance of your device, so that you can configure it for optimal use. It will also help you find out everything about your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch both on the system and on the user level. iOptimizer is powerful, intuitive, and extremely easy to set up and use.

  • iPad Support
  • Improved 'Activity' Section
  • Improved 'Processes' Section
  • Improved 'Battery' Section
  • Improved 'System' Information
  • Improved 'Network' Section
Best of all — It's FREE!

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