5 Reasons to Love Macintosh Computers

If you’ve never owned an Apple computer, you don’t know what you’re missing. On the other hand, if you regularly use Macintosh computers, you understand that once you have a Mac, you’ll never go back. An Apple Macintosh – whether it’s a MacBook, a Mac Pro, or an iMac – takes personal computing to a whole new level. I bought my first iMac in 1998, have upgraded twice, and am still happy as a proverbial clam. Here, then are five reasons to love the Apple Macintosh.

1. Cool elegance. If there’s one thing Steve Jobs knows how to do, it’s designing electronics that are ultra-cool yet beautifully elegant. Why have a cumbersome big box desktop computer when you can have everything you need in an elegant iMac? Behind that clear, bright 16:10 aspect ratio monitor is the entire computer, including a DVD drive and a 64-bit Intel Core 2 Duo processor. There’s even a webcam built into the iMac so you can video chat or video conference whenever the whim strikes.

2. Intuitive functionality. Even though Windows copied the friendly desktop interface from Apple Macintosh, they still haven’t been able to get it right. Navigating the Mac’s interface is truly intuitive, engaging, and just downright fun. With a mobile computing product like the MacBook, you can take full computing functionality wherever you go. And, wherever you’ll go, you’ll always be connected, since the MacBook automatically finds nearby wireless networks and gives you nearly instant online access.

3. Digital living. Macintosh computers are designed to embrace the digital lifestyle. MacBooks and iMacs come with iLife, a wonderful array of applications that let you effortlessly share photo albums, record podcasts and songs, and even create and edit movies. You can even publish your creations on the Web with a single click. How cool is that?

4. Bug-free. If you’ve been wrestling with Vista the past few months (or any other Windows operating system, for that matter), you don’t know the meaning of freedom. Macintosh computers’ operating systems are bug-free, and as for upgrades, you get to choose when to receive software update notifications, and always have the choice of updating now or in the future. Mac simply isn’t intrusive; you get to control technology, instead of having technology control you.

5. Workhorse. Macintosh computers are more than a way to frolic in your spare time. They’re also workhorses. For years, graphic artists and publishers have almost exclusively used Macs for work. With the Mac Pro, you can get Adobe Creative Suite 3, a suite of tools specifically designed for creative professionals. Whether you’re a web designer, a graphic artist, an art director, or a video professional, Adobe Creative Suite 3 will make your work easier, better, and more fun.

MAC vs PC – Which is the best computer for your home business?

Why do people love MAC computers? Are they really the best choice for your home business? To answer that question you need to understand the basic difference between MACs and PCs. A P.C., the acronym for “Personal Computer”, is the machine that most of the computing world owns. That actually should be the acronym for “Popular Computer”. You’re likely reading this from a PC.

How can you tell? Well MAC computers, manufactured by Apple, run on their own operating system, versus the PC which all run on the Microsoft Windows operating system, i.e. Windows 98, 2000, etc. That’s it…that’s the defining difference between the two types of computers. If you’re running a computer with a Microsoft operating system, than you have a PC.

Most media and creative professionals, who work in design or in the film and music industries, only use these computers. That’s the foundation of their business. But other than that, you don’t find them too much in many business settings.

Now I’ve never owned one, but I’ve worked with other business owners who have and I actually fiddled around with one a few times. Here’s what I can tell you….
MAC users LOVE MACs!!!!!! They’re generally like cult followers, they worship them and would drink a vial of arsenic before switching to a PC.

That in itself does say a lot! You don’t generally see PC users feeling the same way. I admit they are really hot machines, but since I’ve worked with PC’s for over 15 years I am admittedly biased. It’s really just a “comfort”, “familiarity”, “feels like a good ol’ shoe” kind of thing.

The truth is MACs are essentially better-made. Apple tends to “over-engineer” their computers, so that you can get by without an upgrade for a much longer time. It’s about eight to ten years, as opposed to the PC’s three to five year span.

Their operating system is superior to Windows and they have far fewer technical issues, especially relating to viruses. Macs only make up about 2% of all computers out there, so hackers don’t think it’s worthwhile to develop viruses that affect their operating system; hence computer viruses on MACs are virtually non-existent.

Not to mention computer hackers hate the fact that Microsoft has created a monopoly. Viruses are their way of creating a massive migraine for them…and unfortunately us as well.

Now on the other side, since there are fewer Macs in the world, not all software, especially specialty software, is available to run on their operating system. So you have to look into that before you decide to purchase one.

So if they’re so great, then why doesn’t everyone own one?

Simple…they are more expensive than PC’s. That’s the main reason why PC’s are more “popular”…period! You see “Popular Computer”…oh never mind!

Most businesses, especially small businesses, don’t need to spend the extra bucks on a computer just to run simple word processing and database programs…it’s really not a necessary cost. That’s an important concern when starting a small business.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t consider one. They’re really great machines and will certainly keep your business running at peek efficiency. And the upfront price may be worth the cost, because it may actually save you money on the back-end. The savings from not having to upgrade hardware every couple of years or having to update virus protection software will save you lots over the long-term.

Better Computer Performance – 9 Free Or Inexpensive Fixes

Poor computer performance by your Windows-based machine can sneak up on you gradually. You may find its performance deteriorating increasingly until one day you realize you must fix it or buy a new one. Signs of poor performance can include applications running very slowly, programs closing or freezing up suddenly, and a generally slower response time to OS (operating system)-related commands. I have compiled 9 fixes for you here that you can leverage right now to greatly improve your computer’s performance.

Fix #1: Download and run MS Service Pack 2:

Every operating system requires patches and upgrades by its maker from time-to-time, with Microsoft XP being no exception. While Service Pack 2 was released in 2002, some people with older systems are still not running it: make sure your computer is. You can download it FREE from Microsoft’s Web site.

Fix #2: Run the Disk Cleanup utility:

Your computer likely has a number of unused and unneeded files that take up valuable space on your hard drive and slow performance. Run your FREE, built-in Disk Cleanup utility to automatically remove these files. Find it by going to: Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Cleanup and following the prompts.

Fix #3: Defragment your hard drive:

Over time, your computer will store files in an increasingly inefficient manner on your hard drive, affecting file retrieval times and other performance factors. To fix this, you need to defragment your hard disk drive. To do this for FREE, just go to: Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools | Disk Defragmenter. First, highlight the drive you want to clean up (e.g., C drive) and choose Analyze. Once complete, choose Defragment. Note that the defragmentation process could take up to an hour or more, so do this during a time when you can step away from your computer.

Fix #4: Run an anti-virus tool:

Computer viruses are malicious programs that drastically affect your computer’s performance, either all at once or insidiously over time. You can stop a virus attack by installing and running anti-virus software which performs regular scans, locates the offending viruses and quarantines them.

Fix #5: Clean your registry:

Your computer’s registry is a tool that most non-computer specialists never see but which is vitally important to computer operations. Your registry stores settings and options for your hardware, operating system, and other software. Unfortunately, given its fundamental role in the performance of your system, your registry is often the target of attack or infection. To thoroughly and automatically clean your registry, run a regular registry scan using a registry cleaning tool. I recommend RegCure, which recently found 1,626 problems with my registry (ugh!), is cheap and easy to use.

Fix #6: Run anti-spyware software:

Spyware is computer software that installs itself in your computer and performs a number of unwanted functions, including monitoring your computer usage and interfere with your control.

It represents a real threat and has become a significant problem in recent years. Fortunately, fixes are easy to find and include a number of free and inexpensive anti-spyware programs. Try SpyBot Search & Destroy. Get it FREE online.

Fix #7: Increase your computer’s memory:

Today’s applications require more and more memory (RAM) to run. If your computer is more than two years old or if you selected the minimal memory option upon purchase, you might benefit from adding another 1 GB or more to your computer. Check online or at your local computer dealer for pricing.

Fix #8: Clean your hard drive:

More comprehensive than the Disk Utility tool introduced above, cleaning your hard drive with professional cleaning software is a great way to improve performance. Try CCleaner for FREE by doing an online search.

Fix #9: As a last resort, re-format your hard drive:

If after trying all of the above items and your computer still performs poorly, a last resort is to completely reformat your hard drive. Warning: proceed with caution since this action will erase your entire hard drive, including your operating system (OS)! If you decide to take this route, consult an online tutorial for how-to steps. At minimum, remember two things: be sure to back up all of your files and applications and retain a copy of your OS on CD so that you can re-install it later.

Beware Of Spyware – Steps To Take To Protect Your Computer

Spyware refers to malicious software that takes partial control of a computer’s operation through unauthorized access without the computers owners’ knowledge or consent, and has become one of the biggest security threats to computer users today.

Spyware exploits infected computers for commercial gain, usually by including unsolicited pop-up advertisements; by monitoring the users’ online activities; by routing http requests to advertising sites; or by stealing personal information such as financial information. In fact, it is estimated that identity-thieves have stolen over US$ 24 billion worth of account information in the United States alone.

Spyware most often infects a computer by piggybacking on a desirable software and the user unknowingly downloading and installing it. Spyware also often lurks in rogue anti-spyware programs that pretend to be security software. Spyware also comes bundled with shareware or other downloadable software and music CDs.

Yet another method of distributing spyware involves tricking computer users by manipulating security features designed to prevent unwanted installations. For example, surfers using the Internet Explorer web browser may unwittingly click on a command prompt that appears to be a Windows dialog box, when in actual fact it initiates the spyware download.

With the spyware threat worsening, several anti-spyware programs have emerged that are designed to counteract or remove spyware. Programs such as Ad-Aware SE and Spybot – Search & Destroy are some of the more popular and effective tools to remove and intercept spyware programs. Microsoft has also released Windows AntiSpyware to combat the spyware problem. Other popular anti-spyware programs include Spy Sweeper, Spyware Doctor, XoftSpy, and CounterSpy.

Anti-virus firms Symantec, McAfee and Sophos, while reluctant initially to add anti-spyware features to their anti-virus products, have finally added anti-spyware features to the recent versions of their anti-virus products.

Computer users have also become savvier in detecting spyware. Many users now install a web browser other than Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), such as Opera or Mozilla Firefox which are not as vulnerable as IE is to spyware – though that is not to say that Opera and Firefox have not suffered from similar security vulnerabilities. No one single browser is 100% safe, as “security” all depends on the person using the browser.

Some internet service providers, especially colleges and universities, block spyware by using their network firewalls and web proxies to block access to Web sites known to install spyware.

Spyware sometimes hide in shareware programs offered for download, so downloading programs only from reputable sources provides some protection from this source of attack.

Adware: Are Your Business’s Computers Secure?

Adware, software dedicated to displaying advertising, can really slow down any business that depends on computers. Adware promoters use some cunning tricks to get you to install their software on your machine. Here’s what to look out for.

Adware is, by definition, something reasonable people don’t want on their computers. That’s why adware can’t just come out and ask people to install it. Often, the computer owner is completely unaware of it being installed. But not always.

When adware doesn’t want to sneak in through an open window, it will try to trick you into letting it in through the front door. Don’t think you could be tricked? Don’t be so sure until you’ve checked out these most common ways people have been tricked into allowing malware to be installed on their machines.

Adware Installation Trick 1: Piggybacking

How it works: malware may come bundled with a legitimate piece of software the user actually wants, such as a game or emoticon. The malware is merely labeled “companion software,” without any indication of what it will do.

How to fight it: the fact that adware so often comes bundled with “entertainment” software, most notably the file-swapping program Kazaa, is a very good reason to separate business from personal when it comes to computing. But adware can sometimes comes bundled with non-entertainment software, such as search tools or cracks of legitimate business software. Be very suspicious of any software that comes bundled with other software. Don’t installed software that comes bundled with other software unless you know everything that the bundled software does. After all, if the bundled program has anything to do with the program you actually want, why couldn’t the software developer just get both programs’ functionalities into a single piece of software? Software developers are now very sensitive to malware concerns and will provide a lengthy explanation of just why the bundled software is necessary, in the cases when they actually do need to use bundled software.

Adware Installation Trick 2: Bait and Switch

How it works: since people are getting more and more suspicious of bundled software, the program’s developers may simply label it as valuable software, for instance, a browser plugin that supposedly accelerates web browsing (but in reality only shows ads).

How to fight it: again, a suspicious mind is useful in avoiding malware. Ask yourself some questions:

* What will this software actually do? Adware and adware-bundled software often come with very fuzzy claims attached. Sure, it says it will improve your browsing experience, but how? Often, this improved browsing experience just means a browsing experience with more advertising.

* If the software is so great, why is it being given away free? Most commonly, software is only given out free in two cases: if it’s OpenSource (designed by a community of developers and not proprietary–OpenSource software is always clearly labeled as such); or simply a come-on for a fuller-featured version of the software. If neither case is true, there’s a real chance the software is financed by adware.

Adware Installation Trick 3: Outright Lying

How it works: adware may even be labeled as something else entirely, such as a well-known piece of software or a crucial component of the computer operating system.

How to fight it: this is the trickiest adware of all, and requires extreme caution. You don’t want to start deleting any of your program files, much less your system registry entries, unless you’re absolutely sure it’s malware. Plenty of overzealous parasite hunters have shot their own machines to bits this way. This is one case where you want to be using an anti-spyware program, and preferably a second anti-spyware program to provide a second opinion.

Getting Rid of Adware

Adware is so tricky that trying to uninstall it by yourself could be like a trip into the Matrix. Luckily, there are good anti-spyware programs that tackle adware as well–after all many adware programs are also spyware since they monitor your internet usage.

True, it may feel like adding insult to injury to have to install more software to get rid of software you never meant to install in the first place. But keeping your computer free of adware is just one new cost of doing business.

Computer Slow? Optimize It With The Right Tools

Why does it seem like every time you get a new computer it operates at lightning fast speeds for only a few months before becoming slow and laborious over its tasks? Is this just something that we have to live with or can we do something to keep our computers running at optimum speeds?

The truth is that computers do not get slower as they age, a slow computer is a sign that something is literally holding your PC back and affecting its performance. And the good news is that you can do something about it.

There are many things that can affect your computer’s performance, from low memory to a fragmented hard drive and everything in between. The things that can affect your computer’s performance are usually of your own doing. You see, each time we download a program or delete a program, we affect the way our computer operates. This change in operation can leave holes in our PCs operating procedures or may even leave behind programs that can affect our computer’s performance.

Here are just a few things that could be making your computer slow:

· Running Background Programs – These programs are software applications that are running behind the scenes even when they are not in use. You may not even know that they are running, but they can zap precious memory and slow down your other tasks considerably. To see if you have programs running in the background, press Ctrl + Alt + Delete at the same time. The box that pops up will show you all applications that are running.

· Full Hard Drive – If your hard drive is too full of data, it will not have enough space to perform chores. Your hard drive should have at lease 2MB to 3MB in free space.

· Fragmented Hard Drive – When you download and delete programs, you create holes in your hard drive. These holes mean that your PC has to search for the files it needs over greater distance and not necessarily in the order that it needs them.

· Left Over Parts – When you install and uninstall Windows programs, they leave behind parts or applications that can slow down your computer. You may even unknowingly delete a file needed for other software applications. (Note: Spyware and viruses can also slow down your PC’s performance, but for the purpose of this article we are assuming that the problem lies in application errors.)

Make Your PC Run Like New

While it’s not rocket science, making your computer lightning fast once again will take a little work from you. Sometimes, this is as easy as running your Windows System Tools program. You can find these programs by clicking “start,” “all programs,” “accessories,” and “system tools.” Here you will find several system optimizers to help you free up your disk space, defragment your PC, and detect and repair disk errors.

In addition to tools already installed on your PC, you can opt to download additional programs to optimize your computer’s performance. These optimizers can be purchased as a set with other software programs that can help you get the best out of your computer. Here are just a few of the extra optimization programs that you may want for your PC:

· Memory Optimizer – When you are using your computer, it takes several programs and application to handle everything that you are doing. Each of these programs uses memory. When memory is short, computer response time is slow. Memory Optimizer helps to make the allotment of memory to each program more efficient. This can help you eliminate slow PC execution time, Windows hang up or crashing, loss of data and unwanted shutdowns.

· Registry Deffrager and Optimizer – As mentioned before, a registry with holes results in slow response times as your PC searches for the data it needs. This program improves the system response time and saves memory by creating a smaller registry.

· Windows Optimizer – We all use our computers differently. Some use their computer as a media and entertainment centerpiece while others use their PC for data storage and business purposes. Windows Optimizer allows you to tweak program settings so that they will perform in line with your needs.

Granted, a slow computer is a nuisance and it may leave you wanting to go out and purchase a new model. But before you give up on your current model, make sure that you have optimized it first. You may be surprised by how much life is still in your PC.

Housecleaning Your Computer Hard Drive: Wipe Disk Free Space

From the earliest beginnings of computer usage the issue of how to prevent private or sensitive information from being recovered has been discussed. People used to be careful about putting files of this sort into the recycle bin, then emptying the recycle bin. It has become more apparent now though that is procedure does not prevent the access to any and all information which is or has been stored on the computer at any time in its history.

Another method commonly believed to eradicate private files is the process of defragmentation. Then the experts assured computer users that even defragmentation was not enough to permanently remove information from the computer. In essence the statement has been made that the only truly effective way to permanently destroy the information stored on a hard drive is to completely destroy the drive.

A brief analogy of how the files on a hard drive are arranged might help to understand the difficulty. If you had an enormous warehouse filled with file folders in file cabinets and drawers and you had some bit of information in one of those files that you no longer needed. If you left the material in the file folder yet removed and destroyed the label then returned the folder to a drawer somewhere in one of those cabinets you would have a somewhat similar situation. The file folder full of information would still be in the file cabinet, but would be impossible to find without going through each folder. Now imagine this one step further by imagine the computer files with a map to each one’s location contained in the registry, then instead of removing the files, you just remove the reference to them from the registry or map. The files are still there, right where they were before, the map just doesn’t show where that somewhere is.

On the computer registry, when a file is deleted the space where it is located is changed to available, so eventually the file with no map location identified is overwritten with a new file. The difficulty is that it may take months or even years of writing files to the hard drive before this particular free space is covered up with another file.

Even then, more sophisticated file recovery software can find and reconstitute the hidden data, sometimes two or three levels down.

Changing the magnetic orientation of each bit by overwriting numerous times is known as wiping free disk space. In fact, it is not taking something away, as would be understand by using the term wiping. It is actually overwriting the spaces which may or may not have files which were deleted. The same is true of temporary files which can show a determined expert what sites you have visited and what files you have tried to remove from your computer.

By using wipe disk software on your computer, you can be sure that your deleted files are not recoverable.