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The newest thing is not always the best thing

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Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013 1:45 pm

‘A dog’s New Year’s resolution: I will not chase that stick unless I actually see it leave his hand!” So what does that have to do with computers? Honestly, nothing; but I thought it was kind of funny. Actually, it does have a lot to do with technology and computers.

Too often we get tricked into thinking the next best thing is truly the next best thing when in reality, what we have is the best thing. That may seem confusing but consider someone who has an aging computer and is in need of upgrading to a new computer. What are the options? Of course there is the next best thing in Windows 8, but there are issues with the learning curve as many people have found. Windows 8 was designed for a touch pad and although you can operate the computer using your mouse, it is challenging, at times. Most computer manufacturers are still offering Windows 7 with new computers so that is a very viable option and one I would highly recommend for those technologically challenged users.

How many times have we “chased the stick” and fallen for the next best way to speed up our computers? We see ads on television and hear on the radio all about the latest revolution in computer technology that will make our computers run better than new. Trust me, in many cases, this is really not possible. The next best thing they are selling are registry cleaners, for the most part. I have nothing against registry cleaners when used with a routine maintenance program but if your computer has a few years on it and is getting sluggish, a registry cleaner may cause more issues than it fixes. In those ads you see displays of finding 1,100 errors and more. In my opinion it is dangerous to try to fix all of those registry errors at the same time. Computer programs and operations are dependent on one another and if you fix one error, it may cause errors in other programs or, in some cases, cause fatal errors resulting in blue screens and a total operating system failure. Again, I have nothing against a routine maintenance that includes a registry scan along with uninstalling unwanted programs but taking the next best thing registry cleaner is not something I would recommend for an older computer.

Some people have told me they are not sure their anti-virus and/or anti-spyware programs are working because they never see anything popping up. Some people have chased the stick and uninstalled their current programs and have bought and installed the next best thing, only to find they now have issues with the new program. Most protective programs create logs that can be viewed to make certain your program is performing scheduled scans and updates. If you are unsure whether your program is working properly, check these logs. Lately almost all the most popular protective programs like Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware and others have created completely new updates to their programs. If you receive a pop-up in the lower right-hand corner of your desktop from your protective program alerting you to a new update, you should take the time to install this update.

Naturally, there is a caveat to updating programs so if you are at all concerned about a program that wants to update, please email me the message and I will be happy to give you my opinion about whether or not you should install the update.

I am as guilty as the next person in chasing the stick but in 2013 I am going to try to be more diligent, cautious, and make sure the stick has been thrown before I chase it.

• Mike Smothers is president of Smothers Computer Services, based in Ahwatukee Foothills. Send questions to or call (480) 753-7667.

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