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Question and Answer
I don't see a reason to replace my 3 year old HP Spectre notebook. It has all the components of a new one with its i5 CPU, 8 gigs of RAM and Windows 10. However, I can't figure out why it's running so slow over the past few weeks. Today it shut down on its own and took me several minutes to boot into Windows again. My Avast anti-virus says I'm protected. I'm worried that I have a hidden virus or maybe some malware. I see apps that claim they will speed up my system, but I'm wary of scammers. Can you help me and make a safe suggestion to revive my notebook?
– Jonathan K. Brookline, MA

This is the top question we receive from folks. Seeing that you have a great notebook, you really need to repair and optimize Windows. But, this is not an easy task. That's why TouchStoneSoftware recommends a safe PC diagnostic and repair program named Reimage. This easy to use program will save you the time and risk of reinstalling Windows. Reimage's free scan will quickly and safely diagnose your system for all sorts of problems, like corrupt files, a deep hidden virus, malware and even browser injections. Next, Reimage will automatically repair the damage found on your PC with their patented technology that fixes your Windows OS with a robust database of replacement files. Reimage's award winning technology actually reverses the damage done to your Windows operating system.

» Download Reimage

Last week I searched Google for a new Sony TV. Now I see Sony TV ads on many of the sites I go to. I feel like I am being followed or worse that I'm being spied upon. Why do I see the same product ads regardless of the website I visit? And how can I prevent this invasion of privacy?
– Laura B. Crawford, TX

Advertisers and search engines secretly watch everything you do online without your knowing it. These malicious companies gather your data using a practice called "Digital Fingerprinting". Next, they sell your personal habits, whereabouts and activity to others in order to influence your on-line experience. These on-line ID thieves know exactly where your personal information is stored on your PC and they want it. To protect your on-line privacy, we strongly recommend using TrackOFF today. TrackOFF instantly stops on-line privacy thieves from tracking and stealing your personal information such as your family (age, religion, work and school), your finances (income, debt, credit, loans, bank accounts) and website history (articles, videos, shopping). Try TrackOFF's free on-line scan to see and hide the digital tracks you're leaving behind.

» Download TrackOFF

What is the difference between a computer with an integrated graphics processor and one with a dedicated graphics processor?
– James W., Dayton, OH

Computers with integrated graphics will either have a chip built into the motherboard or capabilities built into the processor that performs the task of displaying video onto your monitor. The integrated graphics share resources with your computer’s memory, which can degrade the computers video performance. A dedicated graphics card is an add-on card whose sole job is to handle video processing tasks. If you are someone who plays video games or plan on editing home movies on the PC, it would be wise to have a dedicated video card. One of the key graphics processor specifications is the amount of video memory the card offers. The more memory the card offers, the faster the computer will be able to play games and the greater support it will offer for HD video. To let you easily connect your PC to an HDTV, many new computers offer an HDMI output to let you use a single cable for audio and video.

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: Clear Your Cookies and Browsing History

Internet privacy and security starts with your web browser. Whether you use Chrome, Edge or Firefox, all of your browser history is stored
on your PC. Now you can quickly identify all your browser history in seconds and wipe them clean. Take a minute and run the newest version of
TouchStoneSoftware's RegistryWizard for a free PC Scan. Within minutes your PC will be clean and optimized.

» 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

Enabling Windows God Mode

God Mode brings up a special menu that puts lots of settings together in one place. To enable God Mode in Windows 10:
- Make sure your system account has administrative privileges.
- Right-click on the Windows 10 desktop and choose New > Folder.
- Name the folder: GodMode.{ED7BA470-8E54-465E-825C-99712043E01C} and hit enter/return to make it stick.

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Quote of the Month
"I hate to lose more than I love to win."

- Jimmy Connors

Sites of the Month

Fun Sites
Internet Archive: Wayback Machine
The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet.

Useful Site
Tips, tricks and downloads for getting things done.

Did You Know?

Your brain has a huge appetite: Though it makes up only 2 percent of our total body weight, the brain demands 20 percent of the body’s oxygen and calories.

Vocab Test

To howl like a wolf.

Browser Add-On

Improve Focus and Boost Productivity with Background Noise.

SmartPhone App

To do list and task manager. Free, easy, online and mobile.

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