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Check here on our News and Events page to find up-to-date hints and tips on how to keep your PC or printer working at their best. You paid for your investment, now keep it running like new.
Tip #1) Having your PC or printer cleaned and inspected once a year can
keep it running longer and with fewer problems. The normal build up of dust
and dirt, can cause overheating problems in computers reducing the PC's
life span. The build up of dust, dirt and ink or toner in a printer can cause
the printer to print poorly, and increase wear and tear on other parts.
Tip #2) If your computer is connected to the Internet by a high-speed link
(cable, dsl, isdn, satellite, etc.), make sure that you have a firewall installed
on your computer or in your router. A firewall is a software program that
prevents unauthorized access to your computers. With high-speed
access when you turn on your PC, you are immediately connected
to the Internet. Even if you are not browsing "the net", your computer
is "connected", and any malicious person who wants to access your
computer, can access your computer. A firewall can help prevent
unauthorized people or programs from accessing your PC, and
also prevent a malicious program (virus or spyware) from accessing
the Internet from your PC without your permission.
Tip #3) Using refilled ink cartridges can save you money, however,
using them can also damage your printer and cause poor print quality.
The money that you save can be offset by the time that it takes to
fill the cartridges (yes, time IS money). The ink can leak inside
your printer causing damage to both the printer and any other item
with which the ink comes in contact. The ink cartridges (on most printers)
have electronics built into the cartridge, and the electronic components
do wear out. So replacing the ink cartridges with new "Original
Manufacturer" replacements will in the long run save you money and
much possible aggravation.
Tip#4) Most of our readers know to plug their computer equipment into a surge protector, but not everyone can tell an excellent unit from a poor one. Using a poor one is only slightly better than none at all and leaves you with a false sense of security. The first time the surge suppressor is really needed that false sense of security will get blown away, along with some expensive electronics.
Although a majority of power surges will be caused by electrical equipment in use on your property or in the local area, the most serious threat comes from lightning. Most computers and other electronic appliances are designed to withstand a surge of about 300-400 volts. A lightning bolt hitting the nearest power transformer can easily send an instant spike of 10,000 volts down the AC wiring, and if your surge suppressor isn't up to the task, that new computer system is toast.
There are several methods used by surge suppressors, no one of which is entirely satisfactory by itself. A good surge suppressor will use a combination of these methods:
1. Absorption - The protected line is clamped, or limited to a peak voltage, and everything over that is shunted into a circuit that will absorb it. Effectiveness is limited by the clamping speed and the amount of energy that can be absorbed.
2. Filtering - Isolated surges are filtered out, usually by using an inductor (coil) in series with the line. The inductor will impede sudden changes in voltage but provides no protection if the voltage goes up and stays up for more than a few milliseconds.
3. Diversion - This is similar to absorption except that instead of being absorbed, the excess is diverted to the ground leg of the AC line.
An important component of the suppressor unit is a metal oxide varistor (MOV). These devices are good at clamping surges of 300 volts or more, but are most effective when used in combination with circuitry for filtering and diversion or absorption.
The filtering capability of a surge suppressor is rated in joules. This is a measure of energy, and you might think of it as how big a punch the unit can withstand. Most cheap surge suppressors are rated at less than 500 joules. We recommend a rating of at least 1000 joules.
Here are some other features to look for in a good power surge protector:
1. Let-through voltage. This should be 300 volts or less.
2. Building wiring fault indicator. No surge suppressor will be as effective if the outlet is not grounded or the AC is improperly phased. This indicator will give you a heads-up for those conditions.
3. Protection function indicator. This tells you that the surge unit itself is working properly. If it's not, replace it. These are not field-reparable.
4. Fast-acting thermal fuse. No unit in my budget or yours will absorb a direct lightning strike. The best defense for that is to sacrifice a fuse and open the line completely.
5. Phone-line surge protection. Phones are cheaper than computers, but the phone line is also vulnerable to surges and should be protected, for personal safety if nothing else. This feature is easily recognized by a pair of RJ-11 jacks.
6. Coax TV cable protection. Whether you get a TV signal from the cable company or a rooftop antenna, it's another avenue for lightning surges to get in. If you use rabbit ears, you can safely ignore this one.
We would like to thank MICRO2000.COM for Tip#4.
We are often asked about the differences and compatability of various DVD formats (i.e., DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, etc.). Here is a link to A FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) that explains the different formats. DVD Demystified
We would like to thank Jim Taylor for his hard work on creating and maintaining this information.
Any links of interest that you think others would be interested in reading, forward to us for posting. We will post the link, and credit you with the recommendation.