Biz Bits: 3 steps to better PC maintenance

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

Tip of the Week

Most people claim to be comfortable with performing their own maintenance on computers, but the reality is that they fail to effectively perform or even have the knowledge to perform routine maintenance, according to the Staples IT IQ Survey conducted by Zogby International. For many, computer maintenance is just too scary, confusing or not a priority, but here are a few guidelines to keep your computer up and running.

- Back up your data: More than 60 percent of respondents backed up their computers less than once a week and a third did it once a year or never. If you're not backing up and protecting your important files and applications, you may consider using a USB flash drive or external hard drive to back up your materials.

- Run spyware scans and virus checks regularly: One common misconception is that people falsely presume their computers are well-protected from the viruses, spyware, and other malware that put personal information at risk and decrease performance. Eighty-three percent of the survey respondents stated they are somewhat or very confident their computer is free of malware, but that is not necessarily the case. To protect your computer, run virus checks regularly and keep your antivirus software up to date.

- Remove unnecessary programs from your start-up routine: When you turn on your computer, does it take awhile before you can actually do anything? That's because you have a number of programs that are automatically loaded every time you start up. This slows your computer's response time and takes up a lot of memory. Fewer than 10 percent of respondents knew the best fix for a slow computer is to stop programs from running during the computer's start-up.


BBB Watch

Con artists are good at making fake checks. Just ask the thousands and thousands of people who have been scammed. How do you protect yourself? Sid Kirchheimer explains in his article “Reality Check” in the May AARP Bulletin. He gives nine ways of spotting those alluring, deceptive checks. Kirchheimer tips are worth repeating:

Edges. Legit checks generally have at least one perforated or rough edge.

Bank logo. There should be a logo, and it shouldn’t be faded.

Bank address. A bank wouldn’t use just a post office box. 

Check number. There should be a check number in the upper right-hand corner, and it should match the check in the MICR line. The MICR line is at the bottom of the check and has the bank routing number and the check number.

Amount. It’s usually less than $5,000 so that the bank sends the “check” through in a few days. Larger checks have a longer holding time.

Paper. Fake checks are usually printed on lighter paper and could feel slippery.

Signature. Does the signature look digitized? Are there numerous up and down strokes? It could indicate the signature was printed from a scanned original or was forged.

MICR line. Magnetic ink character recognition numbers are read by specialized checking-sorts machines. The ink should look and feel dull, not shiny.

Routing numbers. You can verify these numbers by going to There should be nine numbers, and they identify what bank issued the check.

For more information, go to

The List

Last week’s List mentioned the five richest people on the planet, and here are the next five, according to Forbes:

- Lakshmi Mittal

- Amancio Ortega

- Eike Batista

- Mukesh Ambani

- Christy Walton & family

Number to Know

4.6: Percent that U.S. exports grew in March, $172.7 billion, which set a new record for exports.

Tech Talk

Google recently announced two computers that run on Google software will debut in June. The Chromebooks, which will be lightweight laptops, will cost $349 to $499.

GateHouse News Service