FAQ

Take a look through our frequently asked questions listed below. If you are unable to find your answer, you can find more specific information about individual files by visiting the corresponding sections: .exe files, .dll files, and .ocx files.

1. What is the best way to keep my computer updated?

The best way to keep your Windows-based computer updated is to have automatic updating enabled. If automatic updating is disabled, or you wish to check for updates manually, simply navigate to your Start Menu, and click on ‘Windows Update’. From there you can scan for updates, and optionally download and/or install the updates you select.

2. Are anti-virus and anti-malware programs available for Windows 8?

Yes. Applications are constantly being updated and many versions exist for Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8. Additionally, options are available for the more dated Microsoft Windows operating systems as well.

3. How frequently are virus definitions updated?

This depends entirely on the anti-virus program that is being used. Some software scans for updates every 15 minutes and has updates propagated within 30 minutes. To maintain effective updates, a constant Interest connection is required.

4. What causes computer viruses, spyware, or other kinds of malware?

Warning Harmful Website

Some websites are used to intentionally spread malicious files.

Computer malware (viruses, Trojan horses, spyware, adware, etc.) may be caused by a variety of websites or applications. Some of the most common culprits of adware (advertising pop-ups) are ‘free’ games, weather toolbars, smileys, or other similar applications that are commonly installed on computers. Some websites also feature pop-up advertisements that can be disguised as a fake computer virus. Additionally, some viruses are caused by the downloading and installation of infected files or applications (generally files ending in .exe should be carefully scanned and analyzed prior to installation, especially if they are from a potentially unreliable source).

5. How do you get viruses, spyware, or adware off your computer?

While prevention of malware (avoiding it from the start) is the best solution, it is sometimes inevitable. If you catch yourself with some kind of malware on your computer, the best solution is to uninstall the application that caused it. If you are unable to uninstall the program (either you are unfamiliar with how to do it or the application will not let you), you have two suggested solutions.

  • First, install a scanner of some kind. An effective malware scanner is Malwarebytes (http://www.malwarebytes.org/). Just download the free version and install it. After setup and installation, run a complete system scan and purge/clean any infections.
  • If your problem persists, you may need to perform a complete system format (wipe the entire hard-drive and reinstall all applications). Depending on the severity of the infection, a format may be the best solution from the start.
Virus scan

Malware scans can not only remove any existing errors, they can prevent additional errors in the future as well.

Regardless, it is in your best interest to have an effective anti-virus program (here’s a secure download link for an anti-virus program) installed on your computer in the future to prevent these types of issues from arising.

6. What causes my computer to run more slowly after I have been using it for a few hours or more?

Even though you may think your computer is not working, it is constantly performing checks and reviewing files on the system to make sure everything is where it needs to be. A number of users experience slowness in their Internet browser after lengthy use to do the storage of cookies, temporary files, cached files, and unnecessary add-ons or toolbars. To help your browser run more smoothly, it is advisable to clear your temporary files, cookies, and/or your cache. The steps will differ depending on the browser you are using.

Overall computer slowness may be caused by the following factors (note: this is not a complete list and other factors may affect your computer speed as well):

  • Open/running applications – The applications you have open may be using a high percentage of the available memory on your system. Restarting specific applications and/or the computer entirely may resolve the issue.
  • Virus scanning software – Certain virus scanners may cause slowness as they are constantly searching the files on your computer for inconsistencies. Try temporarily disabling a scan and see if that helps while you need to get work done.
  • Backups – If you have backups enabled on your system and attempt to use it while a backup is running, this may severely hinder performance. It is advisable to wait until the backup has completed as opposed to canceling the backup.
  • RAM overload – Computer systems use RAM (random access memory). If you have left your system on for an extended period of time, the simple solution may be a restart. In fact, it is advisable to reboot your system every day to clear out the RAM and make sure it scans for and/or installs required system updates (see FAQ #1).

If you have followed the previous steps and are still experiencing slowness, it may be time for an upgrade. Computing requirements for newer software programs have expanded, and if your system is more than 2-3 years old, chances are it is at least somewhat outdated.

7. My computer displays much less memory than I actually have. Why?

Windows System Information

If your system display shows less memory than installed, be sure it was installed properly.

If you have taken the do-it-yourself approach and added more memory, the first step is to make sure it has been installed properly. Common complications when installing memory include installing it backwards or failing to properly ‘seat’ the chip (make sure it fits perfectly into the motherboard).

Another possibility is that your motherboard cannot support as much memory as you have installed. When DDR memory was becoming popular, certain chipsets would support a maximum of 4GB, so installing anything beyond that point, although possible, was useless.

8. What is the best way to clean my flat screen monitor?

Nothing is more annoying than a big smudge on your monitor. The best way to clean it is with a soft cotton cloth and warm water. That’s it! It is strongly recommended to avoid chemical cleaners, Windex, and ammonia-based products. If water alone does not properly clean your screen, use a solution of vinegar and water. Remember, do not apply the solution (whether water by itself or water and vinegar) directly to your monitor. Instead, dampen the cloth and then wipe the cloth on the screen.

Also, be sure to wipe side-to-side or up-and-down. Do not swirl.

9. What is the best way to clean my keyboard?

Compressed Air Can and Keyboard

Use compressed air for a quick and effective way to clean your keyboard.

Over time, your keyboard can collect an extreme amount of gunk. The best steps for cleaning your keyboard are:

  • Turn off your system and unplug your keyboard. This will be sure to prevent you from accidentally turning on the system.
  • To remove large pieces of junk that have collected, you should use a pressurized air can. Do this over a garbage can and tip your keyboard sideways or upside-down. Then spray between the keys.
  • To clean the dust from the keyboard and between the keys, you can use a toothbrush with warm water (make sure the brush is only damp and not dripping wet) or a soft cloth.
  • After it has been cleaned, wipe it dry and plug it back in.

If you have had your keyboard for awhile and would rather just buy a new one, most places have keyboards for under $15.

10. My computer is really loud when I turn it on and either stays loud or is intermittently noisy. What is going on?

The likely culprit is your power supply. It may be time to replace your power supply. However, to be sure, take the following steps, as they may save you a couple hundred dollars.

  • Turn off your computer and unplug everything.
  • Open the case and see if any wires/cords are rubbing on any fans. If so, move the cords so they pass around the fan. Do not unplug anything unless you are sure where to plug it back in!
  • Use the pressurized air can and clean your computer. It is likely extremely dusty/dirty. Make sure you clean your power supply fan as well.
  • Put the cover to the case back on and plug everything back in.

This may be all that was needed. If not, you may need to buy a new power supply.

11. Is it better to sleep/hibernate or shut down my computer overnight?

Sleep/Hibernate Shut Down

Shutting the computer down completely allows for it to clear system RAM.

The best solution for you really depends on how you use your computer. As mentioned in FAQ #4, simply restarting your system can improve performance and/or solve a number of problems. Putting your computer to sleep is not considered restarting it, as the applications are still ‘active’ on the machine when you wake it from sleep. However, a complete shut down will act exactly as a restart. The applications will be closed, RAM will be cleared, and performance may improve due to less applications running.

If you have a newer computer system with a lot of memory/RAM, using sleep mode is effective most of the time. Remember, restarting the machine is definitely suggested and may help resolve various issues experienced when using your system.

12. Can I lose information when my computer is in sleep mode?

Yes. While the applications and information is still open and available, you should be fine. However, if your computer shuts down (battery life ran out, power outage, forceful shut down), your data will be lost. The only way to recover any files that were open would be if you have backups enabled for various applications (Microsoft Word/Excel), or if you had previously saved files you were working on. To be sure your files are safe, it is strongly advisable to save your work frequently.

If you have additional questions, feel free to contact us.

Lead Editor (Bio)

Allen Quinn, Editor
Hey everyone, Allen here. I've been involved in tech support roles for more than 15 years and understand the pains and frustrations associated with broken computers. It's my goal to provide you with the help and knowledge you need to get and keep your computer in working order.

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