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Frequenty Asked Questions

How can I tell if my computer has been infected by a virus?
What does antiviral software do?
What is RAM?
How much RAM do I really need?
How do I tell how much RAM my system has already?
What maintenance should I perform on my laptop or Desktop?
What is a Firewall?
What is a Domain name?
• What do the terms LAN and WAN mean?

Q. How can I tell if my computer has been infected by a virus?
A. Your system may have a virus if you notice odd or unreliable behavior with your computer. This doesn't "prove" that your computer is infected, but it does indicate something that needs attention and perhaps intervention. Often the search for an infection leads to finding corrupted or damaged files or applications, or even incipient system problems, which have nothing to do with a virus infection. You know your computer better than anyone else, and if it begins to operate in a way that seems "wrong" to you, you should start investigating.

Q. What does antiviral software do?
A. Antiviral software attempts to prevent, detect, and remove viral infections. There are three ways in which antiviral software attempts to do this: activity monitoring, change detection, and scanning. Most antiviral software uses, or makes available, all three. TCI supported / recommended antiviral software is McAfee which offers the ability to use all three types of strategies to combat viruses.
Activity monitoring does what the name implies; it monitors your computer for any activity that is "virus-like." When it detects this activity it can either notify you of the activity, so that you can determine if it is "legitimate" activity or not, or it may prevent the activity until the monitor is "turned off." This allows you to keep track of activity that you may not be aware of and to determine whether you want the activity to continue or be prevented.
Change detection monitors your system against a previously saved "snapshot" of your system to determine if anything has changed. Common areas that are frequently checked this way are the memory map, what is loaded into memory and where it is, and executable file sizes. More often than not these items are relatively static and most unexplained changes should be investigated.
Scanning is the lynchpin of most antiviral software. Scanning checks your system against a listing of code in known viruses, called "signature scanning." When a signature is discovered the application notifies you of the possible presence of a virus.
These strategies have flaws, but when used in combination they are usually very effective.
The key to making sure your system is virus-free is to use antiviral software and keep it up to date. Old software is not, and cannot be, aware of new viruses.

Computer Performance
The most popular way people speed up their computer is with RAM.
Q. What is RAM?

A. RAM is Random Access Memory. It is the part of the computer that processes information. When a program is started it is loaded into RAM to be run. The more RAM you have, the faster your computer processes information.

Q. How much RAM do I really need?
A. The answer really depends on how much and for what your system is used. Upgrading is easy and cost effective. RAM is used every time you open an application, download, play a game or simply turn on your computer. Additionally if you work with or plan to work with digital audio and video more ram is a necessity.
• Basic User - If you are spending more time surfing the internet, sending and receiving email, and doing word processing along with other applications, you can get by with 256MB, but would benefit from going to 512MB.
• Professional / Feel the need for Speed! - If you are running multiple business applications, want to play the newer video games and/or work with graphics, you can get by with 512MB, but your computer speed would benefit greatly by having 1GB.
• Advanced Professional - If you work with high-end graphics, CAD software, digital images, or video, you can get by with 1GB, but would benefit greatly by installing 2GB of memory or more.
• Graphics Design Professional - If you are, or plan to be, a professional graphics designer, use CAD or modeling software, digital images or video, you can get by with 2GB, but would benefit from going to more than this amount.
• Gamer - Buy as much as your system will handle. Max out your computer if you’re going to play games on it most of the time, because high-end games take up a lot of memory.

Q. How do I tell how much RAM my system has already?
A. In Windows, click your START button (bottom left) and click Settings, then Control Panel (In XP, click START then Control Panel). Then click the System icon and look at the info listed on the General tab. The amount of RAM in your system will be listed there in MBs. Or you can download our Memory Configurator (link) tool which will tell you much you currently have, the maximum amount your system will hold, and the type you need to buy.

Q. What maintenance should I perform on my laptop or Desktop?
1) Apply Windows Updates
Update your Microsoft Windows with the most recent security patches and keep updating it regularly. Enable automatic updates.
2) Scan For Viruses
3) Check for Spyware
Spyware are programs that sneak onto your computer when you are surfing the web. They operate quietly so you don't realize that your computer is being tracked or that you are being targeted by advertisers.
4) Defragment your hard disk (hard drive)
To maintain system performance you should defrag your hard drive on regular basis. To run the Windows defrag program, go to the Start button, click on Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter. This may take from several minutes to several hours depending on how large your hard disk is and how often you perform this maintenance.

Internet & Network
Q. What is a Firewall?
A. A firewall is either a device or a software package that blocks user defined or system defined ports preventing inappropriate content, such as viruses, spyware, and popups to be sent or received by the computer. A firewall is best used on a high speed connection such as DSL or wireless, but can also be used by a dialup connection.

Q. What is a Domain name?
A. The most common types of domain names are hostnames that provide more memorable names to stand in for numeric IP addresses. They allow for any service to move to a different location in the topology of the Internet (or an intranet), which would then have a different IP address

Q. What do the terms LAN and WAN mean?
LAN - Local Area Network
A LAN connects network devices over a relatively short distance. A networked office building, school, or home usually contains a single LAN, though sometimes one building will contain a few small LANs (perhaps one per room), and occasionally a LAN will span a group of nearby buildings. In TCP/IP networking, a LAN is often but not always implemented as a single IP subnet.
In addition to operating in a limited space, LANs are also typically owned, controlled, and managed by a single person or organization. They also tend to use certain connectivity technologies, primarily Ethernet and Token Ring.
WAN - Wide Area Network
As the term implies, a WAN spans a large physical distance. The Internet is the largest WAN, spanning the Earth.
A WAN is a geographically-dispersed collection of LANs. A network device called a router connects LANs to a WAN. In IP networking, the router maintains both a LAN address and a WAN address.
A WAN differs from a LAN in several important ways. Most WANs (like the Internet) are not owned by any one organization but rather exist under collective or distributed ownership and management. WANs tend to use technology like ATM, Frame Relay and X.25 for connectivity over the longer distances.

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