This time of the year, illness is prevalent all over the country I live in. From coast to coast, Americans spend much of their winter fighting colds, flu, and other bugs. We fill hospital emergency rooms and doctorís offices only to hear the same refrain: prevention is key. Although many of us know this, we habitually ignore our bodyís warnings, even when we know the potential outcome could be severe. I ignored my bodyís repeated attempts at telling me sickness was right around the corner if I didnít slow down. With my PC, however, I always react immediately when it sends signals that disaster is looming.
Much like my doctor, I believe that prevention really is key Ė for your computerís sake. Do you know when your computer isnít behaving normally? Would you recognize symptoms of an impending technical catastrophe? I canít stress it enough, and Iíll repeat it again and again: get to know your computer! You donít have believe in psychic phenomena to know when your computer is in trouble.
- Your computer takes a really long time to boot up. A really, really long time.If you can turn on your computer, grab a cup of coffee, check the weather, make a phone call and come back to see that your computer is still booting, thatís not good. As a general rule, a boot up of longer than 3-4 minutes may indicate a problem. Donít panic though. A long boot up time doesnít necessarily indicate that your system is infected with a virus. It may just indicate that you have a large number of programs, a small amount of available memory, or a few unnecessary programs booting when you start your PC. You should worry if your PC boots a lot more slowly than it typically does very suddenly.
- Inconsistency is never good. From the awesome boyfriend who suddenly stops calling to the weaving driver in the lane next to you, erratic behavior is a sure indicator that thereís a problem. If your computer sometimes runs great and other times is barely functional, pay attention. Slowing down during different applications, frequent error messages, long wait periods for programs that should start up without a hitch Ė these are all good signs that thereís an issue somewhere. Donít be satisfied with constantly rebooting to get things working well. You shouldnít have to do that at all.
- Crashing! If your computer freezes while youíre using it and can only be used again after rebooting it, thatís a crash. If your computer interrupts you and reboots itself without prompting Ė thatís a crash too. If your computer often crashes, itís a good indicator that there may be a virus lurking somewhere.
A few other indicators include: mysterious pop ups, distorted graphics, unusual dialog boxes, or disconnection from hardware.
Remember, when your computer exhibits these symptoms, it may already be too late! So act immediately to save your data. Treat your technical system like you would treat your body Ė donít ignore the warning signs. Prevention can keep you and your computer from ailing.