By Roy Mathur, on 2012-02-06, for The Independent Daily, Mauritius (in which an edited version appeared)
Today, we're looking at some common computer problems. First, what to do if you lose your data, followed by some back up tactics you can use to prevent data loss in the first place. Finally, we'll look at some simple tricks to speed up that old computer gathering dust and cobwebs in the corner of your office or bedroom.
So let's say that you have accidentally deleted a vital spreadsheet the boss wants on her desk first thing in the morning. Now what? Well, if the file is still in your computer's recycle bin, then no worries. But suppose last night, in a surge of over-efficiency, you emptied your recycle bin before leaving the office? Luckily there are many free programs out there that should help you recover those files. Personally, I have had success with the following programs, so I can recommend them here:
Piriform Recuva Free (piriform.com/recuva) Windows
PC Inspector File Recovery (pcinspector.de) Windows
PhotoRec (cgsecurity.org/wiki/PhotoRec) Windows, Mac OS X and Linux
All are easy to use, especially PC Inspector with it's nice, simple menus.
The best way to avoid the above scenario is to make a copy of your files. Simple, but many people still do not do this, meaning that they have to pay my computer nerd brothers and sisters their hard earned cash to rescue them.
If you want to avoid paying the geek, there are many ways to make a copy of your data. E.g. simply copying your files to a thumb drive, DVD or external hard drive. To facilitate the bulk copying of files many tools exist. If you are lucky enough to be using a Mac, then you can use the excellent 'Time Machine'. If you are using Windows, try RichCopy:
However, you might also consider the option of online storage if your needs are modest, such as that offered by DropBox. The online storage solution offered by DropBox (dropbox.com) is free for up to 2 GB of data. The best thing about Dropbox is that once set up, the software will automatically make sure your files are copied without further action from you.
Remember, it's not a question of 'if your files get lost', it's more a matter of 'when'. Its inevitable, like death and taxes. So regular back ups are the best way to remain safe.
The simplest way to speed up any computer is to turn off all the fancy graphics. Here's how to do it:
Windows XP: Go to the 'Control Panel', select the 'Advanced' tab, click on the 'Performance Settings' button and then check 'Adjust for best performance' and click 'ok'.
Windows Vista: Go to the 'Control Panel', click 'System and Maintenance', click 'Performance Information and Tools', click 'Adjust visual effects', click the 'Visual Effects' tab, click 'Adjust for best performance' and click 'ok'.
Windows 7: Go to the 'Control Panel'. In the search box, type 'Performance Information and Tools', in the list of results, click 'Performance Information and Tools'. Click 'Adjust visual effects'. Click the 'Visual Effects' tab, click 'Adjust for best performance' and click 'ok'.
Linux (Ubuntu 11.10): At the login screen, click on the clock-work cog icon and select Ubuntu 2D.
Mac OS X: If you have one of these machines, it's probably recent and fast enough already, but you might want to try TinkerTool and Secrets, which let you disable some 3D graphics effects.
Next time we'll help you sort out all your social media.
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...and remember to chek sa tek!