Tech Tips - Business IT Support Tips
Posts Tagged ‘systems’
Friday, March 15th, 2013
We always ask new clients if they would like us to come out on a regular basis to perform routine computer maintenance. Regular maintenance on your computer systems can extend the life of your machines by many years, and in many cases will help prevent catastrophic failure. As an example, we recently came upon a laptop that was given to us for repair. The system hadn’t been maintained in over three years, and in this case the system fan had stopped spinning. The fan was locked up as a result of dust buildup.
All kinds of bad things happen to a laptop or desktop when a system fan stops spinning. Here, without air circulation the CPU (processor) became so hot that the CPU’s metal fused to the metal on the heat sink. As you can see in the image below, there’s actually a strip of metal from the CPU melted on to the heat sink itself.
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Unfortunately, this is a costly repair requiring a replacement of the fan, heat sink, and CPU. It’s not as bad as it could be, however. The system board itself didn’t melt. We’ve seen that happen on some systems in a similar situation where the system fan had failed.
This failure could have been prevented with regular maintenance. Dusting out your laptop and desktop fans and cases with compressed air will prevent heat and dust from killing them. Heat and dust are the #1 killers of computer systems and electronics! Just like your car, your computers need regular care too if you want them to last longer. Extend the life of your computers, let my PC Techs help you maintain them with regular visits. Give us a call, (602) 456-0150.
Sunday, September 19th, 2010
How old is your existing computer? Did you purchase it longer than three or four years ago? If you haven’t purchased a new computer for yourself, new servers, or new systems for your office, it’s time to take a good look at what’s available! Technology has advanced considerably over recent years and prices have come down at the same time. There are some amazing deals available out there for system upgrades.
Take the Dell Optiplex 780, for example. Here are a few specs from a mid-range Dell system selling for only $750. But don’t let the mid-range category fool you, compared to older computers this is a beast!
- Windows 7 Professional
- Intel® Core™ 2 Quad 2.6 GHz Processor
- 4 GB System Memory (RAM)
- 160GB 7,200 RPM SATA, Hard Drive
Now, let’s compare this to a very popular system being sold by Dell in 2006 for around the same price range, the Dell Dimension 3100. These systems were very popular, and we still run across many offices with these systems still running today. How does it stack up to the Optiplex 780? Here are some specs from the 3100:
- Windows XP Professional
- Pentium 4 3.0 GHz Single Core Processor
- 512 MB System Memory (RAM)
- 80GB Hard Drive
The processor on the older 3100 system took 231 seconds to do the same office task that the new 780 system can do in only 114 seconds. Also keep in mind that the new 780 has FOUR cores, and that same task can be performed four times in the same span of time as the 3100 is cranking away on a single task. WOW, now there’s an amazing difference. This is the type of productivity increase that should not be ignored. With every computer in an office running tasks twice as fast, and capable of running 4 times as many tasks at once, it’s easy to see how an entire company can realize a massive jump in productivity after a minimal investment in new computer systems.
Some other benefits: Windows 7 is far more stable than Windows XP, which means fewer crashes and less troubleshooting to contend with. Also, any time a new system is setup and configured, you have an opportunity to clean out old junk files from the previous system that have been slowing you down. There’s also an opportunity to install the latest anti-virus and make sure that software is configured correctly for optimal performance. Finally, let’s not forget about Office 2010. If you’re upgrading computers, it’s probably a good idea to dump that old version of Office 2003 and get the latest and greatest, Office 2010. This software is packed with new features that make it easier and faster to compose and share documents.
The same increase in productivity, speed, and reliability also carries through to the latest laptops and servers on the market. New office technology is very affordable right now and will work wonders for any office of any size. We can help you pick out and customize the system that is right for you. Several important factors to consider include type of processor, hard drive size, network card, and operating system depending on where and how you will use the computer.
When deadlines matter and competition is tight, it’s important to provide yourself and your employees with the latest tools if you want to be successful. Let my PC Techs provide your office with a free, expert consultation. We can help you identify the best use of your yearly technology budget to make meaningful purchases that will increase productivity and save time and money. Call (602) 456-0150 to setup your free consultation today.
Saturday, September 18th, 2010
We do work for several restaurants and retail stores here in Phoenix, Arizona. These shops are all using windows based point of sale systems. While the software and database that run on the computers to transact credit card payments and process menu items are highly customized and supported by the franchise in most cases, the underlying operating system and hardware is not.
We have learned a lot about these systems and can say with certainty that the biggest issues we have run into are lack of proper backups and lack of spare hardware. When a point of sale system goes down for a store, especially a busy store, it is NO FUN. Employees need to process payments manually by hand and write out paper receipts. As you can imagine, the slowdown at the register does a lot to aggravate customers and employees alike. But there are three things that you can do as a retail store business owner to minimize downtime in the event of a system crash.
1. Perform regular system maintenance
Hiring a firm like my PC Techs to regularly maintain your equipment each month can save you from several hours worth of headache and hundreds or thousands of dollars in lost sales. Our technicians will visit your store and examine your systems for irregular performance. System errors, faulty hardware, failing hard drives, botched OS updates, and corrupted data can, in many cases, be identified and corrected before it becomes a larger problem. Dust can be cleaned out (the largest cause of hardware failure), and parts inspected. Unnecessary programs can be removed and system performance improved. The best part of this scenario, the repairs can be performed before or after regular hours, so customers never experience delay.
2. Perform regular, complete data backups
Usually during the same time as the system maintenance, our technicians can perform a complete data backup of all of your POS systems. This is important. When a hard drive crashes, you want to get your system back online as quickly as possible. To rebuild an entire system, restore data from on off site repository, and get all the hardware and software working correctly could take many hours. With a complete system backup, it could be as simple as popping in the right piece of replacement hardware and running a 30 minute recovery.
3. Identify and build an inventory of replacement parts
When a system failure happens, recovery time can be improved considerably when the right spare parts are kept on hand. Rather than buying hard to find computer equipment online, and waiting for it to be shipped, a replacement part can be obtained from storage and quickly installed to replace the broken component. That part can later be replaced to storage, so you always have a backup on hand for the next time disaster strikes.
When you think about the security of your data and your ability to transact business, keep in mind your local computer experts and ways that they can work with you to help improve the reliability of your computer operations. For help with the maintenance and emergency support of your POS systems, contact my PC Techs today. (602) 456-0150.
Monday, September 13th, 2010
The modern office is definitely an amazing thing to watch. Emailing, scanning, printing, digital document processing, online database systems, more. What isn’t done via computer in today’s office? As a business owner or manager in charge of running an office, it’s important to remember that productivity in a digital office is often directly tied to the computers that power the office. Office productivity can be boosted significantly with simple technology upgrades. When is the last time the computer systems in your office were upgraded? What about the network? ISP? Accessories, such as printers, scanners, copiers? How about recently added mobile computing technologies (laptops, smartphones)?
It is important for your office to stay up to date with the latest technologies. When humans using computers power the majority of the operations in your office, it makes sense that faster computers will allow for faster work and increased productivity. Computers that have become old and slow due to age act as a handicap to your employees, and will hold them back from performing at higher levels. In addition, the speed factor is not the only negative that comes from using old technology. Older computers, networks and accessories are more prone to fail, causing office staff to take time away from work to focus on bugs, viruses, errors, and repairs.
Every office should maintain a reasonable technology budget that allocates a reasonable amount of money to spend, every year, on technology upgrades. When planning this budget, you should go beyond simply looking to replace computers that break. You should be looking to make upgrades that will increase office productivity. Simple things like replacing still working old computers with faster units, installing faster printers, giving employees access to email while in the field via laptops or smartphones. In addition to upgrades, your budget should include regular maintenance. A technician should visit on a regular basis, as often as once per week. Your technician should keep your computers updated, solve minor errors, and perform cleanup tasks to increase performance. That will limit the amount of time office staff must spend fiddling with computers and will allow them to focus on their work.
Ultimately, faster computers in your office will allow your office to perform more efficiently. You will process more work and, as a result, your business will have the capacity to grow further and faster than ever before.
Wednesday, September 8th, 2010
Can anyone name a small business, or any business for that matter, that doesn’t rely upon technology for day to day operations? Computers play such an integrated role in our lives. Much like automobiles, it is important to maintain your computers and run periodic checks on them to avoid failure.
When doing routine system maintenance, there are several different areas of the computer that should be checked for potential problems. The operating system itself, installed software, updates and patches, anti-virus definitions, the network settings, the system fans, dust levels, hard disk drives, backups, and external devices! Some are more important than others. For example, if your hard drive fails, you could face some very costly data recovery issues. Dust is another one, dust and heat are the biggest killers of electronic components. A competent computer repair firm will have a checklist of items that a technician will run through, the hard drive and dust levels being just one of those, to ensure optimal performance.
Not to get stuck on the automobile analogy, but it’s so easy to do comparisons between that and computer repair. If you forget to change your oil, over time your engine suffers. If you go long enough, eventually your engine will fail. Computer maintenance is the same way. A lot of clients have come to us with failed hard drives. Sometimes we can get their data off pretty easily and recover their systems. In the worst cases, those hard drives need to be sent off to a lab where data recovery becomes extremely costly. Client with crashed hard drives are usually surprised when we tell them that the crash could have been avoided. There are warning signs that most equipment will give when things go bad, and the signs usually begin a while before the actual crash takes place. For hard drives, it could be slow performance, errors while working, errors in system logs, or even clicking or grinding sounds. Most computer fans make noises too when they are about to fail.
Our experts service and repair machines and are experienced in the different ways you can identify computer problems. If you hire a team of professionals that know how to keep your computers working, and have them come out monthly for a quick checkup, you too will be able to keep working. For most people, computer failures usually happen at the worst possible time. Like, right before an important project deadline. If your computer suddenly crashes or the network is not working you may lose work and income. All of this could be avoided with just a couple hours of preventative maintenance per month.
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