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Solutions: After six years, time to buy new PC

My computer is about 6 years old. I am thinking of replacing my computer's tower. I have a PC with Microsoft XP. It is running very slowly. I would appreciate your advice. Would it be beneficial or cheaper to have it serviced (cleaned of cookies and ads)? I will need it to go back to school in September. Would you also be able to recommend brands?

I love spending other people's money, so I say help out the economy and buy a new one.

Your old computer could probably benefit from some additional memory, and I suspect that over the years it has picked up more than a few programs (both wanted and unwanted) that are starting up at boot-up and are slowing it down. Paying someone to do this for you, plus the cost of the extra memory would probably come to not much less than what you would have to spend to buy new. Depending on how computer literate you are, you may be able to do much of this yourself.

Here's what I would do: First make sure your antivirus/malware protection is up to date and returning a clean scan. Next, click Start, Run, type MSCONFIG and click OK. This will open the System Configuration Utility window. Click the Startup tab. The Startup tab shows all nonservice level processes. Some you will recognize, some you will not. This is where you need to do some detective work on the Internet to look up the process names to determine whether they are essential, bloat-ware or even harmful components of spyware or viruses.

Two excellent sites to use as a reference to look up processes are www.answersthatwork.com (Task List) and www.processlibrary.com. If you do decide to buy new, I have had very good luck with HP/Compaq PCs and laptops.

What is the easiest way to utilize an external hard drive? I am not computer savvy. My computer is a link to friends and the outside world.

By far, the files that use the most disk space are your multimedia files, such as pictures, video and music. These files are not part of the operating system or installed programs, so they are great candidates to move off to an external hard drive or flash drive.

Just about any external hard drive will be recognized and configured automatically by Windows, and it's as simple as just plugging it in. Right-clicking on the folders that contain multimedia files should present you with an option under the "Send To" list that points to your external or flash drive. Or you can open File Explorer windows and simply drag and drop files from the source to the destination. Once copies have been made, confirm that files are on the external drive. Then, if, you like, you can delete them from your PC.

I got a computer with Microsoft Vista. How do I activate the Print Screen feature?

The Print Screen key is a holdover from the days of DOS (before Windows). The Print Screen key can be used in a few different ways. Pressing the Print Screen key while also holding the alt key will copy the active window to your Paste buffer. Doing the same while holding the ctrl key will copy the screen to the Paste buffer. On laptops, you may need to press the fn key in conjunction with the Print Screen key.

Now that it's in your Paste buffer, there are any number of ways to print it. The easiest is to run MSPAINT (click the Vista button, type MSPAINT and press Enter). From the MSPAINT menu, click File, Paste. There you can edit the image or just click File, Print. You can also paste into programs such as Word if you want to incorporate the image into a document.

Send questions to personaltech@sptimes.com or Personal Tech, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731. Questions are answered only in this column.

Solutions: After six years, time to buy new PC 08/09/09 [Last modified: Sunday, August 9, 2009 4:30am]
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