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Newsletter 12 – April 2005

In this Newsletter… why dust bunnies are killing your computer and portable, high capacity backup

How did you like our spring weather this past weekend? The consolation is that we know it can’t last! In fact today is Tuesday, 6th April and the snow’s all gone. About time, eh?

Once again, I attempt to provide you with useful information that Helps to Reduce the Frustrations of Computer Use. Please let me know if you find this information and that contained in previous issues helpful. Just click this feedback link and let me have your comments.

If you are interested in any of the items referred to in this edition, please feel free to contact me.

Electronic Components and Heat: Electronics dislike heat! Heat is the biggest contributor to component failure and you can do something about it. Take a look at the back of your computer in the vicinity of the fan built into the power supply. That’s the area at the back of the computer where the power cord plugs into the system. Invariably, you will find the intake area covered with dust (bunnies) – sometimes a trace… sometimes clumps. You can vacuum this area – make sure that the system is plugged into the power outlet so it remains grounded so as to prevent static electricity. The better way though, is to take the covers off the system and using a good air pressure stream and blow out all the dust and dirt from the system.

When I have systems in my shop and have the covers off, I always clean the inside with my high pressure air gun (no a Karcher with water just won’t cut it). The compressor in my garage is a touch heavy to “schlep” around in the car – it needs two-an-a-half people to move it. What I have done is got my hands on a portable unit and am offering a clean-up and system tune-up to my clients as part of a maintenance club I’ve started. Here’s what you get:
Twice a Year visit (Spring and Fall) to do the blowout of dust and dirt. Cleanup of all temporary files that accumulate on the system. Check for available updates and instructions on how to download and install them and startup of Disk Defragmenter program. You also get 5 telephone support calls, each not exceeding 10 minutes in duration. Contact us for more information or To participate, simply click on this signup link and we’ll contact you for a visit.

Portable Backup using USB 2.0 Connectivity:  I have uncovered an economical and effective, portable backup solution that I wanted to share with you. The picture featured above is a 2.5″ drive housing (the size of drive that is used in laptop computers) in capacities of 40GB, 60GB, 80GB, 100GB. The drive comes with two USB cables, one connecting to the enclosure’s USB interface and the other (when required) to the additional power supply port. It connects directly to system running Windows 2000 and Windows XP, and comes with drivers for Windows 98.

If you use Second Copy, an excellent and affordable automated backup application that can copy, zip or synchronize files or folders to another drive like the configuration above, you have a very good backup solution and the ability to take the data off-site.

USB Key Drives are now available in capacities up to 2 GB. Commonly available capacities are 256MB, 512MB and 1GB. They too connect directly to USB ports on Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems without drivers. If you need to move files greater than 1.44MB – the capacity of the floppy disk, for those of you with floppy drives in their systems, this is an excellent solution. Also great for your without floppy drives – more the trend in newer PC’s.

Sympatico: You may be aware that Sympatico has introduced SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to their new email service. If you’ve already changed your mail settings to and and life is good, no need to worry (or read this). Where you might encounter problems is with your AntiVirus program scanning email. In most instances, you will have to disable the scanning of Outbound mail (the SMTP side). In some instances you have to disable all email scanning – a dangerous practice.

For more information on the issue, go to Sympatico’s web site (click this link)… you need to enter a valid Sympatico email address! The following is a “clip” on the issue…

How do I fix this problem?
To continue using your current anti-virus software, you’ll need to turn off the e-mail scanning function in order to send e-mail. If you’re using Norton AntiVirus™, please visit Symantec’s Web site for information and instructions on how to disable e-mail scanning. If you’re using any other anti-virus software (not provided by Bell), please consult the appropriate user guide or contact the software provider for more information.

The problem also exists with Grisoft AVG. At this time, it looks like you may want to consider an alternate ISP or subscrible to Sympatico’s antivirus service for a fee. This might be their strategy anyway? I know what I would be doing!