Computers and their owners are trapped in a never-ending soap opera. And just as is true for any self-respecting soap opera, you and your PC have fine moments, and then you have heart-rending problems.
Reader emails give me a pretty good way of knowing what the most common computer glitches are. Today, well take a look at some.
Ill introduce you to the single most likely cause of any computer problem: the person sitting at the keyboard.
What you do and dont do is the usual source of computer woes. So well discuss how you can become less of a troublemaker.
The machine, once fast and dependable, is just creeping along. That sets readers to wondering if they need more RAM, or maybe a new hard disk or even a new PC. A slow computer is, by a mile, the most common problem readers report.
But in almost every case, adware and spyware are a bigger problem than viruses. Its not uncommon to see a hundred or more of these little programs infecting a computer.
Its easy to see why they slow down your computer. For one thing, each of these small and ugly programs takes up some of your computing power. When your computer has a bunch of them, it can slow your machine in a dramatic way.
Excellent programs are available that keep adware and spyware out of your computer, and find and eliminate sneaky ones that slip past. Im most impressed with Superantispyware (www.superantispyware.com).
That website offers both a free program that does an excellent job and a for-pay one that is even better.
If youd like to check out some of the other candidates for doing that, visit : www.tinyurl.com/57cmn7.
Most of what we do depends on having a good Internet connection. Without it, theres no email, no way to use the Web, no way to kill ugly-headed monsters in our favorite online games.
So when your Internet connection becomes undependable or goes out, panic sets in. Luckily theres a simple way to restore that connection more than half the time.
Turn off your computer, turn off or unplug your modem and any router you use. Count to exactly 22 and then turn everything back on. Doing this forces your computer to establish a new connection to the Internet and usually solves the problem.
At times, that wont work. The sensible thing to do next is to call your Internet provider and ask for help. Uninformed tinkering can take a pebble-size problem and turn it into a boulder.
Maybe your mouse is acting as if its drunk or the screen has frozen. You are experiencing a computer with the hiccups.
Try this: Turn the computer off and take a break for a few moments. Then turn it back on. If the problem goes away, stop fixing. One-time problems should be ignored. Not all problems will disappear after restarting a machine.
My advice: Try to think of any changes you made just before the problem started. Undo it if you can. If you added a program, remove it.
Once youve returned things to normal, see if the problem persists. If the problem is gone, you now know what caused it.
If things are still a mess despite all your efforts, use that credit card of yours and take the machine in to a repair shop.
email@example.com. Bill Husted writes for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.