Preparing for summer

It’s that time of year again to get your computer ready for the warmer (and wetter) weather ahead. Let’s take a look at what you should be doing to keep old Nellie going until fall.

One of the things that we have to put up with is brownouts and power outages. Fortunately, the price of a battery backup power source has dropped to $50 or less. These devices, known as a UPS, are designed to keep your computer running for a few minutes if the AC power goes off. The few minutes of time are sufficient for you to complete the work you are doing and to safely shut the computer off.

The UPS also acts as a surge protector as well as supplying a clean source of power to the computer. The more expensive the UPS, the longer the computer will run on the battery. Just remember these are not generators and will not allow the computer to run for hours.

The next thing your computer needs is a telephone modem lightning protector. Even if you are using a DSL Internet connection, a voltage surge from a nearby lightning strike can come down the phone line and zap your computer. Many UPSs have the phone protection built-in, otherwise plan on spending $10 or so for a device.

If you have your computer in a desk cupboard or other enclosed area, you should be certain there is sufficient airflow so the computer doesn’t overheat. Given the speed of today’s computers and the high performance video cards, it is quite easy to cook the computer. A good guideline to follow is if you are comfortable, the computer will probably be OK; but if you’re hot and sticky, the computer is more than likely in the same condition.

To keep the computer from overheating, it is important to provide adequate airflow. Symptoms of overheating would be computer lock-ups, random reboots, and the computer actually running slower. I know these are normal occurrences when using Windows, but this time the heat causes them. The newer processors have a sensor that monitors the temperature, and if it gets too warm, the processor will reduce the speed of the computer to cool things down.

The solution to the problem is to either add additional cooling fans inside the computer case or to have a small fan placed so that it forces air over the case.

If you are traveling with a laptop computer, it is important that you protect the display screen. The computer should be in a padded case and should not have any other luggage piled on top of the case. If too much weight is applied to the display, it will crack, and you will discover it will be cheaper to replace the computer than to have the display replaced. Also, it is important to keep sand and water out of the computer.

By taking a few preventive measures, you can protect your computer from damage over the summer.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times, e-mail, or call 243-1162.

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