F.A.Q.

Common Computer Questions*:
  1. I'm using Windows 8. Where did my Start button go?
  2. What should I do if I have an e-mail virus?
  3. How can I check my email from a different computer?
  4. How can I cut down junk e-mail (SPAM)?
  5. Why can I not open attachments in Outlook Express?
  6. Can I get more computer speed by just replacing or adding memory?
  7. My computer won't shut off, now what?
  8. How do I change file associations in Windows?
  9. Do I really need to clean my computer case?
  10. How can I check my Internet speed?
  11. Should I leave the computer on or turn it off?
  12. My computer is now operating very slow and "strangely." Could this be caused by Spyware?
  13. Id like to contact a member of the technical support team.
Q: I'm using Windows 8. Where did my Start button go?

A: Microsoft elected to remove the familiar "Start" button in favor of the new "Metro" look. This new look is for the benefit of users that are already using touch screens. However, all is not lost! If you go to Classic Shell you will find a free application that will provide you with a program that gives you the Start Menu you know. There are other applications too, but Classic Shell is free and works well.
Contact us at Computer Alliance if you would like help in this area.

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Q: What should I do if I have an e-mail virus?

A: If you think your computer has received a virus via e-mail, DO NOT open the message! Some viruses can now be launched by simply opening the e-mail, rather than actually needing to open an attachment. If you are suspicious, and you do know the sender, write the person back who sent you the e-mail and ask them if this is something safe to open. Most viruses look like they have been sent from someone you know.

It is important to be sure you are running an antivirus program with current virus definitions! An old antivirus program or one without current virus definitions, is very ineffective in protecting your computer. If your virus scan detects a virus and asks you if you should clean it or delete (quarantine) it, always choose delete. Do not attempt to clean the file. Contact us at Computer Alliance after your system detects a virus if you have questions.

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Q. How can I check my email from a different computer?

A. Many email accounts that are setup as POP or IMAP accounts may be accessed from the web. The method of access depends on your email service. While traveling for example: you may enter http://mail.mydomain.com and enter your email address and password to view your email. Check with your provider to see if you can access your email on their server via the web.


Using Outlook or Windows Live Mail will allow you to set up several different email accounts on a computer. Select TOOLS from the menu and then ACCOUNTS and then select the mail tab and select the ADD button and follow the steps. You may not want to set up your email account to view on another computer because anyone using that computer could view your messages. If you have a Hotmail, Yahoo or Gmail account already you can check your email on the web anytime since the messages are not stored on your home computer. This way you can check your email using any computer connected to the internet by simply going to http://www.gmail.com/ (for example) and signing in.

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Q. How can I cut down junk e-mail (SPAM)?

A. Use several e-mail address's. Use your main account for yourself, family and friends and use another one for registering software, signing up for prizes etc. Although a lot of junk mail has an "opt out" button to remove from you from the list - DO NOT TRUST IT! Most of the time when you "opt out" it only verifies your e-mail address is valid! Simply put the best thing to do is just delete the message. Never use your personal e-mail address for registrations, contests, etc. Setup an account with Hotmail or Yahoo which you can discard if that address starts to receive SPAM!

Check with your email provider to see if they offer SPAM filters or a Boxtrapper feature. The way this works is Boxtrapper accepts all e-mail directed to your address. If the sender is already in your server address book, the mail is delivered to you automatically. If the sender is unknown, Boxtrapper sends a message to the sender. The message directs the sender to hit "reply." If the sender responds, their message is delivered to you and they are added to your address book. Most SPAM is automated and cannot reply to this message. It works! We use it for several of out own accounts at Computer Alliance.

There are also many E-mail utilities out there and some are even Free. MailWasher is just one of the many but worth checking out at: http://www.mailwasher.net/

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Q. Why can I not open attachments in Outlook?

A. Outlook includes an option to block attachments that may be unsafe and harm your system. Be sure the "Don't download pictures automatically..." is NOT checked under the "Trust Center"

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Q. Can I get more computer speed by just replacing or adding memory?

A. Possibly. The easiest upgrade you can perform is adding more Random Access Memory (or RAM). Many things affect computer speed and performance, but a processor or motherboard upgrade are not as simple as adding RAM. If you are operating Windows XP and have 2GB of memory, add another 2GB chip to bring the total RAM up to 4GB. Windows 7 or 8 will benefit from as much memory as your motherboard will allow. The minimum amount of memory recommended for Windows 8 is 4 MB but use 8MB or more. Other adjustments in Windows can also improve performance.

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Q. My computer won't shut off, now what?

A. Your computer crashed, "locked up" or displayed the "Blue Screen of Death" (BSOD) so you push the power button to restart it, and nothing happens. Most newer computers have power buttons connected directly to the motherboard that will allow you to shut down the system if Microsoft Windows crashes. Just hold the power button on the front of the computer in. After about 5-10 seconds the computer will shut off. This is not a solution to the cause of the crash, but will allow you to restart the computer.

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Q. How do I change file associations in Windows?

A. To change the association for any type of file, open Windows Explorer and highlight one of the files of that type. Then hold down the Shift key and right-click the file. The menu that pops up will have an Open With option, which allows you to change the program that file is associated with. Check the box to make the change for all files of that type.

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Q: Do I really need to clean my computer case?

A: NOTE: Dust can hold static electricity! Discharging static electricity can seriously damage computer components! DO NOT attempt to clean your computer case interior unless you are comfortable with this risk!

Your computer has at least one fan (probably more) that it uses to cool the processor and internal components. It does this by drawing in air over the boards. The easiest method to remove dirt and debris is to remove the computer case (cover) and blow the dust and debris out with compressed air. A small can of compressed air will work but it can be expensive. We use an air compressor set to under 90 PSI for best results. The pressure should NOT be set over 90 otherwise it may damage the computer. A shop vac with a blower option will also work. Disconnect the power cables, etc. and take the unit outside. When you blow out the case, a significant amount of dust will be dispersed, preferably NOT in your house! The inside of a computer can become very dirty from animal hair, dust, and even cobwebs! (see attached photo) Dust actually retains heat and in dry environments static electricity, so cleaning is good. If you are not comfortable opening your computer case, do not do it! Have a professional like us help you!

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Q. How can I check my Internet speed?

A. Once you have connected to the Internet you can move your mouse over your connection icon in the taskbar (bottom right of your desktop) and it will show you at what speed you are connected. Even though you may have a fast connection the Internet may seem very slow or really fast. For cable modem users, your Internet connection speed can vary depending on the number of users sharing the cable in your neighborhood. Also, the overall speed of the Internet can vary depending on the time of day and the number of users accessing the same sites to which you are connecting.

Whether you are using a Cable Modem or Digital Subscriber Line (DSL) connection, or just a 56K Dial-up modem, an Internet Speed Test will give you the answer to your bandwidth speed. To have your connection tested visit one of these sites at:

1.) Cnet.com
2.) Toast.net
3.) Bandwidthplace.com
4.) Speakeasy.net
5.) Speedtest.net
6.) Century Link

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Q. Should I leave the computer on or turn it off?

A. This is a common question. The answer depends on how you use your computer. If you perform daily backup routines (like you should), virus scanning or other activities at night, then leave the computer on. If you only use the computer only occasionally, turn it off when it is not in use! Never leave your computer on when you are away for the weekend or over an extended period unattended!

Another reason you should shut your system down periodically is memory leakage when using Microsoft Windows. When you run a program it allocates a sector of memory to use and it is suppose to release the memory when you close it, but sometimes it doesn't release all the memory and it becomes unavailable for other programs to use. When this happens your resources may become low and your computer sluggish. Re-starting the unit will solve this problem. A restart once a week at the very least is a good thing to do when using Microsoft operating systems.

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Q. My computer is now operating very slow and "strange." Could this be caused by Spyware?

A.
A general term for a program that surreptitiously monitors your actions is called Spyware or Malware. Most Spyware acts very much like a virus and can slow your computer down significantly! The best solution for an end-user is try to clean the computer of ALL Spyware. Two free utilities can help you. First "Spybot - Search & Destroy" from Safer-networking and Malwarebytes from Malwarebytes.org. Install the programs and "Check for Updates." After you scan your computer, select all objects found and remove them! During the scan you may be asked to restart your computer, as these programs may need to finish the scan from startup. If you periodically run these programs, you will notice an improvement in your computer performance. However, these programs are no guarantee all the spyware objects will be removed! Newer infections such as Rootkit's and others require a professional cleaning. If you need this done, it is inexpensive and possibly save the data on your hard drive. Contact us if you need this help!

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Q: Id like to contact a member of the technical support team. How do I do this?

A: Please send an email directly to . Our tech support team is usually out in the field or with a customer, so sending an email message will get you in contact with a team member quickly. The staff at the help desk that receive your message will be able to route your request for the quickest response.

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*Disclaimer: Computer Alliance or any representative of Computer Alliance does not accept any responsibility for damage caused by a user using any suggestions on this page. Any user that is unfamiliar with the proper configuration of computer hardware or software should seek professional assistance. Before ever attempting ANY software or hardware changes to a computer, a good backup should always be made of the entire hard drive.