Question:  Do you recommend upgrading computer hardware?

Answer: Upgrading depends on why you want to upgrade and what your needs are. Ordinarily, I do not recommend upgrading a computer much beyond adding a larger hard drive. Usually, when a computer starts getting slow running applications it is due to a slow processor, hardware system, and new applications which require faster computers. Upgrading hardware is like putting a 6 cylinder engine in a four cylinder car. First the transmission can't handle the extra power, then the drive shaft, then the rear end, etc. If you want a faster computer, with the prices continually creeping down it doesn't pay to put money in an old computer.

Question: Should I upgrade my operating system?

Answer: This depends on many factors, such as:
Do I want to learn the new operating system (OS)?
Will my hardware support the new OS?
Will my hardware and software work with the new OS?

Question: What kind of things should I document on my computer system?

Answer: (Long winded answer) Everything!! Most people don't realize how important this is until something happens. First, keep your original invoice in a place where you can find it if needed. Get a fine point permanent marker and write the registration numbers on the center hub of the program CD ROM's or floppy disks. You can't install the programs without these numbers. You wouldn't believe how much trouble I have when people try to find registration numbers for programs. Also, make sure you know where ALL the driver disks are, you CAN NOT setup Windows without them (not as important with newer versions of Windows since Windows will search for newer drivers, however, for items such as modems or network adapters, if you don't have the original drivers you may not be able to access the Internet to download newer drivers. Next, start up the computer and go into the setup program, these settings are probably the most important and almost no one knows or has documentation on these settings. The next part can be tricky since some computers will not print when in the setup program. If your computer falls into this category, write this info down, or take pictures with a digital camera or phone. Go into every screen in the setup program and at each screen, press the print screen key. The printer will not print until the buffer is full, usually two screens worth, and MAKE SURE YOU DON'T CHANGE ANY SETTINGS (if you make any mistakes, you may render your computer unusable). After you have documented all the setup options, exit out and restart the computer. When windows starts, you can print out the rest of the stuff, just remember, hitting the print screen key will copy the entire screen to the clipboard and holding the Alt key down and tapping the print screen key will copy the active window. Start up your word processor. Go to the Start button, Settings, Control Panel, and double click on the System icon. Click on the Device Manager tab and go down the list clicking on all the + symbols so the list is fully expanded. Go back to the top of the list and press the Alt key and tap the print screen key. Switch back to the word processor and do an Edit-Paste. Move down to the bottom of the device manager window and move the list so you get another full screen of items and continue the process until you have printer out the entire list. After you have printer everything under device manager go to the Modems and Network icons and go through all the screens and items until everything under all of them have been printer. You can also resize the windows as you paste them into the word processing program so you have two windows side by side so it takes less pages to print. This is a time consuming process but in the long run, if someone has to reload your computer, it will be a lot cheaper if the technician knows what the drivers and settings were. The same if your hard drive fails, it'll save a lot of time and money. Also make sure you know all of your ISP settings and passwords for setting up the Internet.

Question: What is the right way to navigate and do things in Windows?

Answer: There is no right or wrong way to do most things in Windows. There are several choices because different people like to do things different ways. Some people like to keep their fingers on the keyboard while others like to "mouse" around. You should do what you are comfortable with and like to do rather than what someone else tells you to do. Using the mouse is pretty straight forward. Using the keyboard has the advantage of being faster. Rather than going into everything here, click here for more info.

Question: What does it mean if I'm getting messages that system resources or memory are low?

Answer: This is a common question so, without getting too technical, when a program is running it uses system resources to run and display stuff on the screen. When you shut a program down, it's supposed to give those resources back to Windows. Sometimes things don't go the way they're supposed to and the resources get "lost" and then there are not enough to run the other programs. Usually, before getting alarmed, close all programs, click the Start button, click Shut Down and select Restart. When the computer restarts, everything should be OK. If not, it's time to call The Help Desk!

Question: I lost my task bar, how do I get it back?

Answer: Every so often someone call me and says their Windows task bar has disappeared. This is an easy fix. First, hit Ctrl-Esc. When menu appears, hit Alt-Spacebar, then select Size. Move the cursor to the edge of the task bar and click & drag to move onto screen.

Question: My task bar somehow moved to another side of the screen, how do I get it back where it belongs?

Answer: This is another common problem which is easily solved. Simply go to the blank area below the Start button. Click the left mouse button, hold, and drag to the edge of the screen where you want the task bar and let go. Cool huh?

Question: Why doesn't my computer clock keep good time?

Answer: The clock in your computer isn't designed to be used for telling time, it just turned out that way. To keep things non-technical, some computer clocks seem to keep fairly accurate time and others are terrible. There are a lot of shareware programs on the web you can use to synchronize you computer to the National Bureau of Standards.  (UPDATE 4/1/2012)  Now, Windows does this itself, so you don't need to add another program for this.  When I originally created this discussion, the time sync function wasn't available in Windows.

Please Note: All information provided in The Help Desk web site is in easy to understand terms, in my opinion only, and may not necessarily be the only accepted answers or advice.  I will not be responsible for any problems caused from anyone making any configuration or hardware changes to their computer system resulting from information obtained from this web site.  Please contact me prior to using any content from this web site.