How can I tell if my computer has
been infected by a virus?
• What does antiviral software
• What is RAM?
• How much RAM do I really
• 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 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.
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
Q. How much RAM do I
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
• 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?
Update your Microsoft Windows with the most recent
security patches and keep updating it regularly.
Enable automatic updates.
2) Scan For
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.
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
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?
- 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
As the term implies, a WAN spans a large physical
distance. The Internet is the largest WAN, spanning
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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