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Question and Answer
Every so often my Inspiron laptop locks up. It just freezes. Then I have to wait it out, which can be minutes or just reboot. If that isn't bad enough, it's now visually slower. This all started after I installed a piece of software that was immediately uninstalled. I don't know if it's my Chrome browser, Windows 10 or a system setting that's the problem. My AV scan and several ideas I read online didn't help. Something bad happened and my one year old Dell needs serious help. As someone with little computer skills, what do you suggest I do to restore or fix my system?
– Bailey M. San Jose, CA

PCs like most machines needs to be regularly maintained. Daily use over time can and will take its toll on performance and stability. For example, Windows shutting down or locking up, along with becoming slower over time can be caused by common issues like corrupt or missing files, a stubborn virus or malware, or even spyware. TouchStoneSoftware's best recommendation is popular PC & Windows repair app named Reimage. This app is safe but powerful and trusted by millions of users since 2007. Give it a try and within minutes, Reimage will repair & replace corrupted files, remove virus damage & so much more. The first step is to run Reimage's system health scan. It will quickly detect all of the errors on your PC's Windows OS. Reimage's patented repair process safely removes and replaces the bad files found during the initial scan. During the repair and restore process, Reimage reverses the damage done to your Windows OS by replacing corrupt 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

Recently I read that having old versions or out of date software installed on your computer can be a serious online security threat. Is this true? Is there a simply way to check and update my 40+ applications?
– Gigi W., Arlington, VA

Yes, this is in fact true. If you have an older version of software installed on your PC it is an open invitation to hackers and numerous online vulnerabilities. Having out-of-date is the weakest link in PC security. That's why most software companies come out with new versions that include the latest security measures and patches. To ensure that you and your PC are fully protected, you must update your software regularly. We strongly recommend Software Updater. This powerful and 100% free utility will quickly identify all of your installed software. Next Software Updater instantly compares your software version to a real-time database of more than 10,000 up-to-date applications from thousands of companies. Finally, Software Updater instantly provides users with the newest versions for simple installation. The entire process takes just minutes.

» Download Software Updater

I'm having a problem with files opening in the correct programs automatically. For example, when I try to open an MPG filer, it asks me which program to use when it should be using Media Player. I went to the file association list and the file type is not listed. What am I doing wrong?
– Henry P., Greensburg, PA

To associate any file with the program that should be able to open it, save the file to a folder on your hard drive. Right click on it, and select Properties. On the General tab under Opens With, click the Change button. If you do not see program listed, click Browse. Navigate to the program file (this will likely be on your C: drive in the Programs folder), and select it to force Windows to associate that file type with that program with a double click.

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.

» Perform a driver scan now!

Internet Privacy Tip: Know Your Privacy Options

Limit gathering of tracking data. Go to your privacy settings by hitting the Start button, type “settings” and then click on Privacy.

» Download TrackOFF

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

PC Takes Too Long to Boot?

If you PC takes too long to boot, it's probably because you have too many programs running at start-up.

To disable programs running at start-up, go to RUN by pressing the windows key (the key with the Windows symbol) + R.

Next, type 'msconfig'. Next click OK.

Next, click start-up tab, then simply click ”open task manager” to disable programs that run at start-up.

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Quote of the Month
"Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it."

- Dwight Eisenhower

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