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CNET Membership newsletter October 22, 2004 

The 5 that matter

Dear CNET members:
For some of you, this week's Q&A may be just common computing sense, but other people have no clue about how to maintain a smooth-running computer (case in point: my 74-year-old father, although he is well-versed in digital photography and Photoshop). I know that this week's great, winning answer by Mark and all of the other submissions won't let me stop being my father's IT guy, but they will at least give him some guidelines for maintaining a safe and smooth Windows system. In addition to Mark's answer and the honorable mentions this week, I included two additional listings: recommendations for PC maintenance utilities and reference Web sites from our members. So Rhonda, I hope you and your kids find these answers by our members helpful. And if any of you have more to add, please chime in; the more we share, the better off we are. Thanks, everyone, for your participation.

1My kids and I have three computers at home, running Windows 98, Me, and XP. Granted, the XP system runs the smoothest since it is the newest one, but I would like to get some recommendations from people on some regular maintenance routines, hardware, or software that I should use to ensure their best performance.

--Submitted by: Rhonda E. of Durham, North Carolina

I am sure there are many ways to keep the hardware of your three computers running smoothly, although I am of the opinion that if it isn't broke, don't fix it. Meaning, if your computers' hardware components appear to run smoothly, I wouldn't do too much tinkering to rock the boat. However, there are little things you can do:

1. Keep dust away from the computers and everywhere around them.
2. Keep wires and leads tidy and out of harm's way as much as possible.
3. Make sure each computer case has plenty of ventilation around it, and that it is standing on a firm base.
4. Don't let your computer workspaces get cluttered up.
5. Don't eat or drink anywhere near the computer, printers, scanners, or keyboards. (Difficult I know, and I am the worst offender, but any crumbs in the keyboard or spilt drinks on the case or keyboard can do a lot of damage.)
6. Don't move the computers around when they are switched on. If you have to move them, shut them down first.
There may be other similar steps you can take, but the essence is, keep the computer area clean and clutter-free.

As to software and the operating systems themselves, there is much more you can do. Although you have three computers with different operating systems, (OSs), housekeeping is the same for each. In particular, upkeep Windows 98 and Me is very much the same, but the methods you use are the same for them as for XP. It seems to me that there are five main issues, but... Read more

--Submitted by Mark F.

Please click the following links for this week's:

For Mark's efforts, we’re sending him his choice of any Learning CD.

Check out next week's question:

I am running Windows XP and continue to get a warning message from my computer telling me that my system is low on virtual memory. Can someone tell me why this is and how to fix it?

--Submitted by: Jared Y.

We feature a new question every Friday. If you have the answer, e-mail us at If we choose your response, you'll get a free CD. Click here for Q&A submission guidelines and check out our previous Q&As here.

Best regards and enjoy!

Lee Koo
CNET Community
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If you were on a desert island with only one type of digital entertainment, which would you choose?

Computer with an Internet connection
HDTV with satellite service

and discuss about it here!

Have you installed Windows XP SP2?
Yes, but it doesn't seem any different. 33%
Yes, it's a big improvement. 18%
Yes, and it's causing problems. 14%
No, I'm waiting until most bugs are fixed. 12%
No, I'm waiting until it is absolutely necessary. 8%
I don't use XP. 8%
What the heck is SP2? 3%
No, I don't need it 2%
I don't do Windows, remember? 2%

Quick Poll archive

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1 Is it OK to use a CD-RW disc like a floppy?
How do you use your CD-RW discs? Do you use them to store temporary data, or do you use them like floppy disks, consistently writing and deleting data on them? Some members say there are risks involved using CD-RWs as floppy disks, because they are unreliable and inconsistent among different PCs. Do you agree or disagree? If you are a CD-RW user, let us know what the truth is. If you've been using CD-RWs like floppies, what are your findings, safe or unsafe? Please enlighten us. More from the Computer Help Forum

1 What's the best Internet browser in your opinion?
Did you know that there are enough Internet browsers out there today so that you can use a new browser every day of the month? With that many flavors to choose from, do you have a favorite you'd like to share with your fellow community members? Join us in this discussion to see what browsers members are recommending, and if you have an opinion or two about the browser you swear by, let's hear them, and please tell us why you think it is the best. We are all ears. More from the Browser Forum

1 PC desktops: buy off the shelf, custom-built, or build yourself?!
Here are few discussions in our Desktop forums from a few members in need of some sound advice about whether to buy a new computer, have one custom-built for them, or build one themselves. Perhaps you have had some experience recently with a similar scenario, are interested in a new computer for yourself, or need a few pointers on hardware selections. Find out what's going on in these discussions and add your voice to them.

1 Mac nugget: Need advice: Defragging the hard drive on a Mac
I'm new to Macs. I am using a Power Mac G3, with OS X. I am just curious to see if there is something like Windows' Disk Defragmenter or Disk Cleanup for Mac. The Mac is very slow, and I just want to know if there are some small things I can do to speed it up. If you know of any other easy speed-up tricks, let me know. --Posted by member, Nick  
More from the Mac OS forum

Digital cameras: what does "4-megapixel interpolated" mean?
Is there a way to disable the firewall in Windows XP?
Wireless network: 802.11b vs. 802.11g

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