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AFRICABIZ VOL 1 - ISSUE : 27
JULY 15 - AUGUST 14, 2001
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Editor: Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum
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REGULAR MAINTENANCE IS THE RECIPE FOR GOOD PRODUCTIVITY

Few days ago, I got two phone calls - one from my sister in law; the other one from a business partner - both complaining that their computer is slow to load and performs very badly.

The computers in question are Pentium II 600 / 800 MHz CPU and 128 MB of RAM. I asked them if they have recently "DEFRAGED"? My sister in law said: What is that? The business partner said no. Both were daily using their system since six months without running any maintenance task. Since six months they have not run defragmentation of the hard disk.

I decided then to devote the Control Your Desktop of this issue to the maintenance problem.

Your computer, like any electronic appliance you have or your car, needs to be, from time to time, checked and pruned in order to perform at its best.

In order to properly perform maintenance tasks, it is good to know what you have at hand. Here, in one of of Africabiz's "Freebie Section" a powerful system analyzer had been brought to your attention: SISOFT SANDRA.

With Sisoft Sandra you will know all about devices installed into your system. You will know for instance your Random Access Memory RAM capacity which is far more important than Clock speed of your system - the CPU. RAM capacity commands the stability and loading speed of your system more than the CPU.

So you should absolutely upgrade your RAM capacity if you are running several and or powerful utilities. Nowadays, anything less than 64 MB of RAM is useless as far as stability and productivity are concerned. 128 MB is even better if you have games and heavy productivity tools like Microsoft Office 2000 installed. And even that won't be enough if you are contemplating the upgrade to Windows XP.

Knowing your computer and regularly performing routine maintenance tasks will help avoid troubles and wasting time.

Below are listed three essential actions you should take / perform in order to avoid problem or troubleshoot them when they occur:

- Create a startup disk:

1-Start 2- Settings and then Control Panel 3- System Device and then Add / Remove Program 4- Punch Startup Disk and StartUp Disk again; follow instructions on screen to create the StartUp Disk. That StartUp Disk will be the vital troubleshooting tool necessary to booting up your computer in case of failure of the normal booting procedure; or if you are obliged to reformat and reinstall your operating system. For more see issues: 17; 18; 21; 23

- Run regularly disk defragmenter:

When you compose messages with your mail system; letters with your editor or download files and delete all these various undertakings, most of the files are scattered all over many clusters on your hard disk. The more you compose and delete, load etc. your various files are no more bound "together"; and when you load a specific file you may find that it loads more slowly. This slowness is happening because your hard disk is fragmented.

You need to run DEFRAG to reestablish speediness: 1- Click Start 2- Accessories 3 - System tools and finally 4- Disk defragmenter.
Before you defragment, you may need to run ScanDisk: 1- Click Start 2- Accessories 3 - System tools and finally 4- Disk defragmenter.

- Many factors may impede the defragmentation process to proceed smoothly. A screensaver, a running software, an add-on to your browser Etc. For more on that click here.

- Install an Antivirus program:

You need a good Antivirus Program that you should regularly update. Make sure that your chosen Antivirus program scan you mail at the entrance port of your mail system.

Sure, you have heard of Melissa and Kournikova These kinds of beasts may erase your hard disk and or transform your computer into a mail server for the benefit of a hacker. I personally use AVG Anti Virus from grisoft.com. An excellent killer / performer on the virus battlefield. However a Antivirus alone is not enough if you surf the Internet. You need also a personal firewall. Click here for more.

-Do you know that without your knowledge, your computer, during your surfing sessions may be offering some or all of your computer's data to the entire world? See here for more. I strongly advise you to check if your computer's ports are leaking information to the world at large without you knowing nothing about it.

You may visit Steve Gibson, Gibson Research Corporation, webpage to perform a simple "Test My Shields" or and "Probe My Ports" sessions. You may get the shock of your life!

When I run the tests my computer was functioning on a perfect Stealth mode The tests results read as follows:

"A machine configured in this fashion is well hardened to Internet NetBIOS attack and intrusion. Unable to connect with NetBIOS to your computer. All attempts to get any information from your computer have FAILED. (This is very uncommon for a Windows networking-based PC.) Relative to vulnerabilities from Windows networking, this computer appears to be VERY SECURE since it is NOT exposing ANY of its internal NetBIOS networking protocol over the Internet"

Thanks to tools and configuration
here available.

However, quoting Steve Gibson, please be advise that:

"Ask any real security expert, like Bruce Schneier of Counterpane Internet Security. They will tell you flat out that it's an impossible task to secure a personal, consumer, computer. Why does Microsoft continually insist otherwise? Because it is what people desperately want to hear, and desperately want to believe. Well . . . it's not possible."

Nevertheless, one should take as much as possible precautions not to make it easy and simple for malicious hackers to perform their tricks.

- A word of caution: Beginning of June 2001, a hoax about a virus - send by mail - which cannot be detected by virus scanner / software spreads like fire over the net. Emails were circulating and warning against SULFNBK.EXE which is apparently bypassing all available Virus scanning systems and nesting itself inside computers waiting to strike and destroy hard disk. It was just a hoax! .SULFNBK.EXE is a legitimate Windows Operating System file. It is not a file which normally arrives by mail.

Beware! Any executable sent to you by mail should be deleted immediately (AVG Virus Scanner does that automatically by sending the exe file into a safe vault) as it has the potential to be infected and sent by a malicious correspondent.

FREEBIE


PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE WITHOUT HASSLE

Here is a software which will help you greatly maintain your assets / equipment without hassle.
AssetTracker is a maintenance management tool which does the job of scheduling and planning all preventive maintenance tasks in a snap. It tracks maintenance history and expenditures on each asset, tracks spare parts inventories, and creates purchase orders for parts. If you care for the smooth operation of your business; if you do not want to meet trouble half way, you should get AssetTracker. Click here to reach AssetTracker site.

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