Family Computer Support

This blog post covers various tasks I carried out when providing family computer support.

So a few months ago my girlfriend and I made a long overdue trip to visit my parents and sister at their home. First of all sorry to friends who live near my family, for not seeing them. It was a very short trip and we didn’t have a spare afternoon or evening to see old friends this time around.

So throughout the year I occasionally login remotely to provide computer support for my parents and sister, but most visits in person I also perform some computer support, and this blog post lists the computer support from my last trip and why. I’m sharing the information, as there might be some useful tips readers of this blog could use themselves.

Installing new hardware to speed up a computer.

I built my parents computer probably around seven years ago, back when I lived on the mainland and over time it has had various updates, such as a SATA hard drive to replace an EIDE hard drive, a graphics card upgrade and Microsoft Windows 7 replacing Windows XP.

graphics card

Last year my wonderful girlfriend and I, had started using laptops and abandoned desktop computer use, but I kept a couple of old graphics cards and RAM, ready to give to my family. So when visiting I replaced the AGP graphics card with a AGP ATI Radeon HD 2400 512MB graphics card in a tower computer. Plus I installed more RAM, taking the system from 1GB to 3GB of RAM. Both these upgrades gave the computer a major performance boost. I left a second graphics card there in case the other one fails in the future.

I could of sold the hardware, but instead decided to give it to my family. However I’ve advised that no more money should be spent on the computer, instead a new computer probably is the next step in the future. You have to know when to stop investing in computer upgrades, and when to put that money towards a new computer instead.

Configuring the system start-up to improve performance.

When installing new software, occasionally a piece of software will want to run at start-up, often only to save a few seconds later on, when you run the main software. Other times software should be run at start-up without fail, such as anti-virus and firewall packages.

So disabling software at start-up can be tricky, but if done correctly, can result in another performance boost. So I ran ‘msconfig’ (type ‘msconfig’ in the run or search bar in the start menu), and deselected a few items, that I knew I could disable without causing a security issue.

The add-on wouldn’t remove from Outlook!

There was an add-on that we were having problems removing from Microsoft Outlook. It turns out the solution was to start Outlook in safe mode, and then to remove the add-on. I managed to start it in safe mode by pressing the ‘CTRL’ key when starting the application.

Using Dropbox to share family photos.

It isn’t unusual for the family to email photos from holidays to each other. It is okay when sending one or two, but sending a huge batch of photos can be an inbox nightmare. So my family joined Dropbox, which is great for sharing files for work or with family and friends. Once a Dropbox folder was shared between our computers, all a family member has to do is place photos in the Dropbox folder, and they will automatically sync onto our computer.

The Microsoft Word document wouldn’t open.

I can’t quite remember what the exact problem was with the Microsoft Word document. I think it wouldn’t open if double-clicked from Explorer, but would if opened directly from Microsoft Word. Anyhow it was a basic word document, so I saved it as an older type of Word doc, deleted the original and now the document it will open when double-clicked.

To be continued…

In the future I will write more updates about family computer support, and hope you found a useful tip or two in this blog post.

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