Question:  Is ADSL service better than using a modem?

Answer: It is much faster than using a modem, particularly if you are downloading files from the Internet. From what I've been reading, the service here on Maui is probably as good as it gets. About a year ago, it was pretty bad, then last fall they added a new line and it has been good ever since. Some places on the mainland have had terrible problems, so we've been lucky. The biggest problem here is coverage. You have to be within a certain distance from the switching office and only Hawaiian Telcom can do the test to determine eligibility. It also pays to have a consultant optimize your system. I have been able to increase the ADSL speed by as much as 30% on a couple of systems. Speed differences between a modem and ADSL service are relative, in other words, if we have a lot of problems because of the Internet backbone, ADSL will be faster than a modem, but still slow relative to the published speeds.

Question: What's the difference between Road Runner cable service vs. ADSL?

Answer: The main difference is the bandwidth (techy stuff about how everyone is hooked up) is not shared with ADSL whereas with cable, it is. The end result is, with cable, as more people get the service, your speed gradually slows down according to the number of people on the service. As far as the real world differences, the only way to measure is to use a download bandwidth test on each service at the same time and measure the results. Road Runner has had some bandwidth problems, but so far, has been able to correct the problems and is about 3 times faster than ADSL!

Question: I'm considering replacing my CD-ROM drive, what do the numbers really mean?

Answer: They mean whatever the manufacturers want them to mean. If you get a 50X CD-ROM is it 50 times faster than a 1X drive, I don't think so. While there are subtle differences, you can't use the numbers as the only criteria. It's kind of like buying a printer which is advertised at 12 pages per minute and you print out one page which has graphics and it takes two minutes to print. The advertised speed is printing text in draft mode. The color graphics speed is 1/3 of a page per minute. CD-ROM drives are a similar situation. I would also use the price as a gauge.  Also, remember, as far as CD/DVD burners are concerned, it doesn't make any difference what the speed of the burner is if you don't have disks to match.

Question: Why is my mouse movement erratic?

Answer: I have had several clients who threw away their mice because they were jerky when the only problem was dirt build up on the rollers. Turn the mouse over and rotate the ring around the ball so it will open. Remove the ball and clean it using rubbing alcohol. Clean the two little rollers off using alcohol. If the alcohol will not remove the dirt ring, use the back side of a knife blade to scrape it off. After cleaning it will work like new again. The oil from your thumb and little finger collects on the mouse pad which transfers to the ball. The ball then picks up dirt and transfers it to the rollers.

Question: If I get ADSL service do I need to worry about people getting into my computer?

Answer: ADSL, or any connection to the Internet, requires some tweaks and setup to help make sure you are not vulnerable to access, especially if you have computers networked together. Through a combination of the hardware connections and configuration setup most problems can be eliminated and there are sites you can go to which will test your vulnerability for you, click here.

Question: How do I backup my e-mail stuff?

Answer: This depends on the program. since the majority of my clients use Outlook, Outlook Express, or Eudora, I will attempt to indicate the locations of the files you need to backup. First of all, Outlook. Everything is kept in a file with a pst extension, for instance, it may be called outlook.pst. The best way to locate this file is to go to the Start button and click on Search. Search for *.pst. The result should give you a folder probably in the vicinity of c:\windows\application data\microsoft\outlook, but do the search to make sure. The files for mail programs can end up in other places so doing the search will help locate the right file. In the case if there are more than one, note the names and the dates. You'll probably also have an archive.pst and backup.pst also. You should also backup these files. With Outlook Express, search for inbox and the results should find inbox.dbx. Once you locate the directory go there with Windows Explorer and note there is a file for all the folders in the mail program so make sure to back them all up. Eudora will usually have it's own directory and the files are usually in the c:\Eudora directory.

Question: What is the Windows swap file for?

Answer: Most people think when they have Windows, they have the capability to run several programs at the same time and if they get lots of memory the computer will be fast and run great, - - WRONG! First of all, if you research computer memory you will find that getting anything over 1gig is really a waste of money.  For instance, let's say you are using Microsoft Word and Excel. Windows needs a swap file, which is contiguous disk space and roughly two and one half times the size of the memory in the computer. If you are in Word and you want to switch over to Excel, the computer first of all looks at what files are in memory used for running Word. It now saves that information to the swap file. Next it unloads the program. Now it goes back to the swap file to see what had been loaded when Excel was running. It then goes to the hard drive, locates the files, loads them in memory, and resumes operation of Excel. When you understand how this process works and you see how fast the computer switches from program to program you can appreciate how much work the computer is doing and how fast it does it.  The computer speed doesn't really change when going over 1gig.  Maybe once Windows Vista is released, things might be different, but for now, don't waste money on more memory.

Question: How can I stop e-mail spam?

Answer: It's difficult, but I suggest getting a secondary e-mail account on a service such as Yahoo or Hotmail and use that address anytime you have to give an e-mail address in order to get info on a web page. That way, all the mail which goes to that account is junk and you can just delete it without reading it. Make sure to check it every so often so the account will stay active.

Question: What is power management?

Answer: When it works, power management can be used to shut down the monitor, hard drive, and computer to save energy and to start up faster than from a turn on condition. Problem is, memory management hasn't worked very well on most computers and you are better off to turn those features off. Some computers never have worked right and some have so if you want to use it, you can, but I don't recommend it.

Question: Should I leave my computer on all the time?

Answer: Everyone you ask this question will give you a different answer. I personally turn my computer off when I'm not using it. If you leave the computer on, the hard drive is spinning anywhere from 5,200 to 7,600rpm. It has bearings, and bearings wear out from use. Another problem with leaving a computer on is, sometimes, if a program doesn't behave and you have to shut it down and you don't restart it, there may be some Menehunies which can cause problems as time goes on. When you shut down the computer at the end of the day it always starts up the next day fresh. Some people will argue that electronic components tend to fail most either at start up or shut down. Even though this is true, I don't personally feel there are enough benefits to leaving on a computer to justify the additional run time but use your own judgment. There is no right answer to this question.

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.