Frequently Asked Questions
What is a virus?
A virus is a computer program that automatically copies itself thereby "infecting" other disks or programs without the user knowing it, then plays some kind of trick or disrupts the operation of the computer. Viruses are sometimes designed to change or destroy computer data. Viruses can damage data, cause computers to crash, display offending or bothersome messages, or lie dormant until such time they are set to "awaken." In the case of trojans, variants of viruses, they are designed to find their way onto a computer and cause no visible damage, but rather operate covertly in order to achieve some type of security breach. Trojans are often designed to steal passwords and other sensitive information. You can learn more by downloading PC Fixer's virus newsletter here
How often should I backup?
Backup as often as possible! PC Fixer recommends backing up daily to an external hard drive. Our technicians can create a custom plan to ensure that your system backup runs daily at a specified time most convenient to you (when your business is closed or when your home computer is not in use).
Be aware that a local backup is not enough. Every computer user's backup system should be comprehensive and include both local and remote backups. PC Fixer's consultants provide cost-effective solutions for complete backup systems. Call or email today for a free evaluation.
Should I shut down my computer every night?
A3.) This is an excellent question and one without a definite answer. First off, leaving your computer on all of the time wastes electricity and is bad for the environment and your pocketbook. Turning off your computer every night will save valuable resources. However, automated backups cannot occur if your computer is off. That is why PC Fixer sets up automated backups to shut down the computer upon completion. We believe this is the ideal solution to the question.
What is spyware?
A4.) Spyware is any malicious code that attempts to collection information about computer usage in an effort to sell that information for a profit. Spyware is the number one problem affecting computers today. Recent studies estimate that 9 out of 10 computers is infected with some kind of spyware.
PC Fixer has the tools and experience to eradicate spyware infections from your computer. In about an hour your compure will run much faster and will be more secure in the future.
What is an error code?
A5.) In computer programming, error codes are enumerated messages that correspond to faults in a specific software application. They are very typically used to identify faulty hardware, software, or incorrect user input in programming languages that lack exception handling, although they are sometimes also be used in conjunction with exception handling. Error codes are not to be confused with return codes, although both are commonly used together in error handling. Some of the most severe error codes visible to users are the "Blue Screen of Death" codes provided by the Microsoft Windows operating systems including Windows Vista.
What is RSS?
A6.) RSS is a group of Web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines, and podcasts in a standardized format. An RSS document (which is called a "feed", "web feed", or "channel") contains either a summary of content from an associated web site or the full text. RSS makes it possible for people to keep up with web sites in an automated way that can be piped into special programs or filtered displays. The main benefit of RSS is the aggregation of content from multiple Web sources in one place. RSS content can be read using software called an "RSS reader", "feed reader" or an "aggregator", which can be web-based or desktop-based. A standardized XML file format allows the information to be published once and viewed by many different programs. The user subscribes to a feed by entering the feed's link into the reader or by clicking an RSS icon in a browser that initiates the subscription process. The RSS reader checks the user's subscribed feeds regularly for new content, downloads any updates that it finds, and provides a user interface to monitor and read the feeds.
What is a Trojan?
In the context of computing, a Trojan horse, also known as a trojan, is a piece of malware which seems to perform a certain action but in fact performs another such as transmitting a computer virus. Contrary to popular belief, this action, usually encoded in a hidden payload, may or may not actually be malicious, but Trojan horses are notorious for their use in the installation of backdoor programs. Simply put, a Trojan horse is not a computer virus. Unlike such malware, it does not propagate by self-replication but relies heavily on the exploitation of an end-user (see Social engineering). It is instead a categorical attribute which can encompass many different forms of codes. Therefore, a computer worm or virus may be a Trojan horse. The term is derived from the classical story of the Trojan Horse. In the field of computer architecture, 'Trojan Horse' can also refer to security loopholes that allow kernel code to access anything for which it is not authorized.
What is a computer worm?
A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program. It uses a network to send copies of itself to other nodes (computer terminals on the network) and it may do so without any user intervention. Unlike a virus, it does not need to attach itself to an existing program. Worms almost always cause harm to the network, if only by consuming bandwidth, whereas viruses almost always corrupt or modify files on a targeted computer.
What is a server?
In net lingo a server is a computer that serves many things from user, or client machines. A server may only do a few things or it may handle many responsibilities such as email service, backup service, remote access and more. Everything a server does is called a service. Services are used by other computers that are called clients. The relationship between the client and the server is called a client-server relationship. For example, many modern corporations have a web server which has a service for sending web pages over the Internet. Your client computer talks to the company's web page service to get web pages for you when you connect such as for online banking. So that servers and clients can talk to each other, they need to be connected to a network, and they need to use the same protocol. In networks, a protocol is a set way for machines to talk to other machines - like a language. For example, the Wikipedia server runs the HTTP (Hyper-text transfer protocol) to send web sites to your computer, and your computer uses the HTTP Protocol to ask Wikipedia for pages. Usually, servers are specially made to be more powerful and reliable, and they are more expensive than normal computers. Sometimes, servers can be clustered, which means that lots of servers work together to do one service. In a peer to peer system, every computer is both a client and a server to each other.
What is a hard drive?
An Hard Drive is a rigid-disk drive, although it is probably never referred to as such. By way of comparison, a so-called "floppy" drive (more formally, a diskette drive) has a disc that is flexible. Originally, the term "hard" was temporary slang, substituting "hard" for "rigid", before these drives had an established and universally-agreed-upon name. Some time ago, IBM's internal company term for an HDD was "file".
What is an IP address?
An IP address (or Internet Protocol address) is a unique address that network electronic devices use in order to identify and communicate with each other on a computer network utilizing the Internet Protocol standard. Basically it is a computer address. Any participating network deviceincluding routers, switches, computers, infrastructure servers (e.g., NTP, DNS, DHCP, SNMP, etc.), printers, Internet fax machines, and some telephonescan have its own IP address that is unique within the scope of the specific network. Some IP addresses are intended to be unique within the scope of the global Internet, while others need to be unique only within the scope of an enterprise. The IP address acts as a locator for one IP device to find another and interact with it. It is not intended, however, to act as an identifier that always uniquely identifies a particular device. In current practice, an IP address is not always a unique identifier due to technologies such as dynamic assignment and network address translation. On the public Internet as opposed to private internets or intranets, IP addresses are managed and created by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA). The IANA generally allocates super-blocks to Regional Internet Registries, who in turn allocate smaller blocks to Internet service providers and enterprises.
What is a blog?
A blog (an abridgment of the term web log) is a website, usually maintained by an individual, with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order. "Blog" can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog. Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important part of many blogs. Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (artlog), photographs (photoblog), sketchblog, videos (vlog), music (MP3 blog), audio (podcasting) are part of a wider network of social media. Micro-blogging is another type of blogging which consists of blogs with very short posts. As of December 2007, blog search engine Technorati was tracking more than 112 million blogs. With the advent of video blogging, the word blog has taken on an even looser meaning of any bit of media wherein the subject expresses his opinion or simply talks about something. Courtesy of Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blog
What is RAM?
Random access memory (more commonly known by its acronym, RAM) is one of many types of computer data storage. RAM takes the form of integrated circuits that allow the stored data to be accessed in any order, i.e. at random. The word random thus refers to the fact that any piece of data can be returned in a constant time, regardless of its physical location and whether or not it is related to the previous piece of data. This contrasts with storage mechanisms such as tapes, magnetic discs (Hard Drives) and optical discs, which rely on the physical movement of the recording medium or a reading head. In these devices, the movement takes longer than the data transfer, and the retrieval time varies depending on the physical location of the next item. The word RAM is mostly associated with volatile types of memory (such as DRAM memory modules), where the information is lost after the power is switched off. However, many other types of memory are RAM as well (i.e. Random Access Memory), including most types of ROM and another kind of flash memory called NOR-Flash.
What is a firewall?
A firewall is a dedicated hardware device, or software program running on another computer, which inspects network traffic passing through it, and denies or permits passage based on a set of rules. A firewall's main task is to regulate the flow of traffic between computer networks of different trust levels. One example is the Internet which is a zone with no trust and an internal network which is a zone of higher trust. A zone with an intermediate trust level, situated between the Internet and a trusted internal network, is often referred to as a "perimeter network" or a Demilitarized zone (DMZ). A firewall's role within a network resembles firewalls with fire doors in building construction. In the former case, it is used to prohibit network intrusion to the private network. In the latter case, it is intended to contain and delay structural fire from spreading to nearby structures. Without proper configuration, a firewall can often become worthless. Standard security practices dictate a "default-deny" firewall ruleset, in which the only network connections which are allowed are the ones that have been explicitly allowed. Unfortunately, such a configuration requires detailed understanding of the network applications and endpoints required for the organization's day-to-day operation. Many businesses lack such understanding, and therefore implement a "default-allow" ruleset, in which all traffic is allowed unless it has been specifically blocked. This configuration makes inadvertent network connections and system compromise much more likely.
What is overclocking?
Overclocking is the process of forcing a computer component to run at a higher clock rate than it was designed for or was designated by the manufacturer, usually practiced by personal computer enthusiasts in order to increase the performance of their computers. Some of them purchase low-end computer components which they then overclock to higher speeds, or overclock high-end components to attain levels of performance beyond the default factory settings. Others overclock outdated components to keep pace with new system requirements, rather than purchasing new hardware products as expected by the computer industry. Users who overclock their components mainly focus their efforts on processors, video cards, motherboard chipsets, and Random Access Memory (RAM). It is done through manipulating the CPU multiplier and the motherboard's front side bus (FSB) speed until a maximum stable operating frequency is reached. While the idea is simple, variation in the electrical and physical characteristics of computing systems complicates the process. CPU multipliers, bus dividers, voltages, thermal loads, cooling techniques and several other factors can affect it. Credit: Wikipedia More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overclocking
What is a video card?
A video card, also referred to as a graphics accelerator card, display adapter, graphics card, and numerous other terms, is an item of personal computer hardware whose function is to generate and output images to a display. It operates on similar principles as a sound card or other peripheral devices. The term is usually used to refer to a separate, dedicated expansion card that is plugged into a slot on the computer's motherboard, as opposed to a graphics controller integrated into the motherboard chipset. An integrated graphics controller may be referred to as an "integrated graphics processor" (IGP). Some video cards offer added functions, such as video capture, TV tuner adapter, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 decoding or even FireWire, mouse, light pen, joystick connectors, or even the ability to connect multiple monitors. Video cards are not used exclusively in IBM type PCs; they have been used in devices such as Commodore Amiga (connected by the slots Zorro II and Zorro III), Apple II, Apple Macintosh, Atari Mega ST/TT (attached to the MegaBus or VME interface), Spectravideo SVI-328, MSX, and in video game consoles.
What is Malware?
Malware, also known as Malicious Software, is computer code in the form of software designed to infiltrate or damage a computer system without the owner's informed consent. The term is a combination of the words malicious and software. The expression is a generalized term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software or program code. Many normal computer users are however still unfamiliar with the term, and most never use it. Instead, "computer virus" is incorrectly commonly used even in the media to describe all kinds of malware, though not all malware are viruses. Software is considered malware based on the perceived intent of the creator rather than any particular features. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, most rootkits, spyware, dishonest adware, and other malicious and unwanted software. In law, malware is sometimes known as a computer contaminant, for instance in the legal codes of California, West Virginia, and several other American states. Malware should not be confused with defective software, that is, software which has a legitimate purpose but contains harmful bugs. Of all computer code released today the majority may be malicious. Preliminary results from Symantec sensors published in 2008 suggested that "the release rate of malicious code and other unwanted programs may be exceeding that of legitimate software applications." According to F-Secure, "As much malware [was] produced in 2007 as in the previous 20 years altogether." Malware's most common pathway from criminals to users is through the Internet, by email and the World Wide Web. More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware
What is a CPU?
A Central Processing Unit (CPU), or sometimes just called processor, is a description of a class of logic machines that can execute computer programs. This broad definition can easily be applied to many early computers that existed long before the term "CPU" ever came into widespread usage. The term itself and its initialism have been in use in the computer industry at least since the early 1960s (Weik 1961). The form, design and implementation of CPUs have changed dramatically since the earliest examples, but their fundamental operation has remained much the same. Early CPUs were custom-designed as a part of a larger, sometimes one-of-a-kind, computer. However, this costly method of designing custom CPUs for a particular application has largely given way to the development of mass-produced processors that are suited for one or many purposes. This standardization trend generally began in the era of discrete transistor mainframes and minicomputers and has rapidly accelerated with the popularization of the integrated circuit (IC). The IC has allowed increasingly complex CPUs to be designed and manufactured to tolerances on the order of nanometers. Both the miniaturization and standardization of CPUs have increased the presence of these digital devices in modern life far beyond the limited application of dedicated computing machines. Modern microprocessors appear in everything from automobiles to cell phones to children's toys. Credit: Wikipedia More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_processing_unit
What is an SSD (Solid State Drive)?
A solid-state drive (SSD) is a data storage device that uses solid-state memory to store persistent data. Unlike flash-based memory cards, an SSD emulates a hard disk drive, thus easily replacing it in most applications. An SSD using SRAM or DRAM (instead of flash memory) is often called a RAM-drive. The original usage of the term solid-state (from solid-state physics) refers to the use of semiconductor devices rather than electron tubes, but has been adopted to distinguish solid-state electronics from electromechanical devices as well. With no moving parts, solid-state drives are inherently less fragile than harddisks and therefore also silent (unless a cooling fan is used); as there are no mechanical delays, they usually enjoy low access time and latency. SSDs have begun to appear in laptops, although they are at present substantially more expensive than hard drives. Credit: Wikipedia More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_drive
What is a motherboard?
A motherboard is the central or primary printed circuit board comprising a complex electronic system, such as a modern computer. It is also known as a mainboard, or system board or, on Apple computers, a logic board, and is sometimes abbreviated casually as mobo. Most motherboards produced today are designed for so-called IBM-compatible computers, which held over 96% of the global personal computer market in 2005. Motherboards for IBM-compatible computers are specifically covered in the PC motherboard article. A motherboard, like a backplane, provides the electrical connections by which the other components of the system communicate, but unlike a backplane also contains the central processing unit and other subsystems such as real time clock, and some peripheral interfaces. A typical desktop computer is built with the microprocessor, main memory, and other essential components on the motherboard. Other components such as external storage, controllers for video display and sound, and peripheral devices are typically attached to the motherboard via edge connectors and cables, although in modern computers it is increasingly common to integrate these "peripherals" into the motherboard. Credit: Wikipedia More: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motherboard