Affordable Computer Solutions

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Self Help for common computer issues

It's normal to get that sinking feeling of desperation in the pit of your stomach when your computer runs into problems. But many of these problems can be solved quickly. Here's a list of common problems and solutions that should help you to solve them. 

ProblemLikely CauseSolution
PC won't startPC unplugged or corrupted system filesCheck to make sure plugged in securely/use startup diskette
Application won't startConflict with .dll file/corrupted fileReinstall application
File won't openCorrupted fileReinstall from backup
Keyboard/mouse won't respondCords not connected securely/drivers corruptedCheck connections; reinstall drivers
Invalid Page Fault errorCan't access necessary file/conflict with another programClose application and restart
General Protection Fault errorMemory conflict with another programRestart; don't run unnecessary programs
Password won't workWrong passwordLook up password in kit

Don't I know you guys from somewhere?

Yes you do! Due to popular demand the techs from Computers for Charity decided it was time to broaden their services to be able to offer Affordable Computer Solutions to families, small businesses and non-profits in Northwest Ohio. This is an extension of our goal of leaving no child or family behind in the digital divide.

The great thing is that because of our affiliation with Computers for Charity, we can offer a tax deduction to businesses when we upgrade their equipment as opposed to a disposal or recycling fee. A percentage of all that we earn also goes to supporting the charity as well. 

If you know of a child or family in your community who would benifit form a computer please visit

Why do computers 'crash' anyhow?

An application typically crashes when it performs an operation which is not allowed by the operating system. The operating system then triggers an exception or signal in the application. Unix applications traditionally responded to the signal by dumping core. Most Windows and Unix GUI applications respond by displaying a dialog box (such as the one shown to the right) with the option to attach a debugger if one is installed. This behavior is called "crashing". Some applications attempt to recover from the error and continue execution instead of crashing.

An operating system crash commonly occurs when an hardware exception occurs that cannot be handled. Operating system crashes can also occur when internal sanity-checking logic within the operating system detects that the operating system has lost its internal self-consistency.

Modern multi-tasking operating systems, such as Windows 7, Linux, or Mac OS X usually remain unharmed when an application program crashes.

What is a computer virus?

A computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer. The term "virus" is also commonly but erroneously used to refer to other types of malware, adware, and spyware programs that do not have the reproductive ability. A true virus can only spread from one computer to another (in some form of executable code) when its host is taken to the target computer; for instance because a user sent it over a network or the Internet, or carried it on a removable medium such as a floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB drive. Viruses can increase their chances of spreading to other computers by infecting files on a network file system or a file system that is accessed by another computer.

What is spyware?

Spyware can be installed on your computer without your knowledge and can use keystroke logging techniques to collect passwords you enter, your bank account numbers and PINs, your credit card numbers, and other personal information. The effects of this identity theft can be costly and very time consuming to rectify. Everyone should take steps to detect and remove any spyware running on their computers, and to guard against its future installation.

A related category of software, adware, may cause pop-up advertisements to appear on your screen, change your home page, disrupt your network access, and reduce the stability and usability of your system.

Warning: A few of the other programs that claim to remove spyware are themselves spyware. Never install "spyware-removal" software that you see advertised on pop-up windows without checking it out first.

Why would I need to upgrade my hardware?

Got a new piece of hardware and need to install or need to upgrade your computer to get the most performance you can out of it? Is your computer slow, getting messages that your low on memory or want to run some of the latest software or games?

Then it may be time for an upgrade. Your computer is just like a car when it comes to hardware. If you what more speed you have to add some performance parts or upgrade the current part to the newest compatible performance part.

Why backup data?

Few would argue with the need to backup data and would have historically cited
the potential for hardware failure or user error resulting in data loss as being the reason for data backups. These reasons are no less true today and perhaps are truer than they ever have been considering the value of information to today’s businesses and the cost of recreating it. For example, one study reported that if a company experiences a server failure an average of $10,000 in lost revenue is experienced

Additionally, another study by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics found that of those companies experiencing what was referred to as “significant data loss”, 93% went out of business within a five year period

This being the case, surprisingly, the study cited above indicating a $10,000 loss in revenue per server crash also found that 35% of its respondents did not backup data on a regular basis. Apparently there is still a disconnect between an understanding of the need for data backup and actual implementation of backup practices.

What is a firewall?

A firewall is a system or group of systems that enforces an access control policy between two networks. In the context of home networks, a firewall typically takes one of two forms:

Software firewall - specialized software running on an individual computer,

Network firewall - a dedicated device designed to protect one or more computers.

Both types of firewall allow the user to define access policies for inbound connections to the computers they are protecting. Many also provide the ability to control what services (ports) the protected computers are able to access on the Internet (outbound access). Most firewalls intended for home use come with pre-configured security policies from which the user chooses, and some allow the user to customize these policies for their specific needs.

Why would I need a home network?

The benefits of networking (either wired or wireless) in homes are:
file sharing - Network file sharing between computers gives you more flexibity than using floppy drives or Zip drives. Not only can you share photos, music files, and documents, you can also use a home network to save copies of all of your important data on a different computer. Backups are one of the most critical yet overlooked tasks in home networking.

printer / peripheral sharing - Once a home network is in place, it's easy to then set up all of the computers to share a single printer. No longer will you need to bounce from one system or another just to print out an email message. Other computer peripherals can be shared similarly such as network scanners, Web cams, and CD burners.

Internet connection sharing - Using a home network, multiple family members can access the Internet simultaneously without having to pay an ISP for multiple accounts. You will notice the Internet connection slows down when several people share it, but broadband Internet can handle the extra load with little trouble. Sharing dial-up Internet connections works, too. Painfully slow sometimes, you will still appreciate having shared dial-up on those occasions you really need it.

multi-player games - Many popular home computer games support LAN mode where friends and family can play together, if they have their computers networked.

Internet telephone service - So-called Voice over IP (VoIP) services allow you to make and receive phone calls through your home network across the Internet, saving you money.

home entertainment - Newer home entertainment products such as digital video recorders (DVRs) and video game consoles now support either wired or wireless home networking. Having these products integrated into your network enables online Internet gaming, video sharing and other advanced features.

What is social network integration?

Social networks offer organizations a variety of ways to leverage their users to communicate your message. Delivering tools that allow information to spread through social networks in novel, thoughtful ways is one of the best uses of the Internet today.

These days, social media strategies often include integration with major social networking portals, and for good reasons. There are over 140 million users on Facebook today, and the number keeps growing.

Organizations can use tools for publishing information about their activities into social network portals as a means of leveraging that user base, and do so in a highly personal way that becomes part of the user profiles within those networks. Social networks offer the opportunity to distrbute information, drive traffic, humanize your organization, create a dialogue with specific demographic groups, and deploy creative applications that allow users to participate directly in your organizational mission.

What is an intranet? Don't you mean internet?

No, an Intranet is the generic term for a collection of private computer networks within an organization. An intranet uses network technologies as a tool to facilitate communication between people or workgroups to improve the data sharing capability and overall knowledge base of an organization's employees.

Intranets utilize standard network hardware and software technologies like Ethernet, WiFi, TCP/IP, Web browsers and Web servers. An organization's intranet typically includes Internet access but is firewalled so that its computers cannot be reached directly from the outside. A common extension to intranets, called extranets, opens this firewall to provide controlled access to outsiders.

Many schools and non-profit groups have deployed them, but an intranet is still seen primarily as a corporate productivity tool. A simple intranet consists of an internal email system and perhaps a message board service. More sophisticated intranets include Web sites and databases containing company news, forms, and personnel information. Besides email and groupware applications, an intranet generally incorporates internal Web sites, documents, and/or databases.

What is open source software?

Open source software (OSS) is computer software for which the source code and certain other rights normally reserved for copyright holders are provided under a software license that meets the Open Source Definition or that is in the public domain.This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified forms.

It is very often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open-source software is the most prominent example of open-source development and often compared to user-generated content. The term open-source software originated as part of a marketing campaign for free software. A report by Standish Group states that adoption of open-source software models has resulted in savings of about $60 billion per year to consumers

My computer won't even boot, how can you save my data?

Data recovery is the process of salvaging data from damaged, failed, corrupted, or inaccessible secondary storage media when it cannot be accessed normally. Often the data are being salvaged from storage media such as hard disk drives, storage tapes, CDs, DVDs, RAID, and other electronics. Recovery may be required due to physical damage to the storage device or logical damage to the file system that prevents it from being mounted by the host operating system.

The most common "data recovery" issue involves an operating system failure, where the goal is to simply copy all wanted files to another disk. This can be easily accomplished with a Live CD, most of which provide a means to:

  • mount the system drive
  • mount and backup disk or media drives
  • move the files from the system to the backup with a file manager or optical disc authoring software.

Further, such cases can be mitigated by disk partitioning and consistently moving valuable data files to a different partition from the replaceable OS system files.

The second type involves a disk-level failure such as a compromised file system, disk partition, or a hard disk failure —in each of which the data cannot be easily read. Depending on the case, solutions involve repairing the file system, partition table or MBR, or hard disk recovery techniques ranging from software-based recovery of corrupted data to hardware replacement on a physically damaged disk. These last two typically indicate the permanent failure of the disk, thus "recovery" means sufficient repair for a one-time recovery of files.

A third type involves the process of retrieving files that have been "deleted" from a storage media, since the files are usually not erased in any way but are merely deleted from the directory listings.


What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system that has become very popular over the last several years.

Operating systems are computer programs. An operating system is the first piece of software that the computer executes when you turn the machine on. The operating system loads itself into memory and begins managing the resources available on the computer. It then provides those resources to other applications that the user wants to execute.

Linux is popular for many reasons.

1. It is very fast, easy to use and reliable.
2. Writing programs and scripting on Linux is often times much easier than doing so on Windows as many of the users are that use linux are computer savy but also because the framework that makes up linux is completely open source, thus allowing programmers to program with linux not around it.
3. Linux's security features are that of excellence, most distributions and server editions of linux have the highest security ratings of any OS.
4. It has many desktops to choose from (KDE, XFCE, FLuxBox, and Gnome)
5. There are many different distros or flavors of linux to choose from, many with the same use in mind but more features and positives than others.
6. It uses an advanced shell scripting terminal allowing for an easy to use command line system based off of Unix making it very powerful and versatile.
7. Last but not least its free and open source so you are free to do with it what you want at absolutely no cost.

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