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Hints & Tips for Computers and Networks

Computers are such a broad topic that having a conversation about them could go on indefinitely! In this post, we will attempt to address just a few of the basics. This may be a review for you, but let’s include them anyway.

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Basic Operations

For openers let’s talk about what occurs when you start your computer.  Does this process take too long? If your computer takes a long time to start, perhaps there are too many programs associated with startup. To check this out, enter “Run” in your programs search, and then enter “msconfig” to open your System Configuration folder and click on the Startup tab. This will display the programs that are running when you start your computer. From here you can turn off startup programs and shave several seconds from the startup time. Before turning any of these off, be sure they are not essential to some of the required processes that are required by your programs and drivers.

Are you interested in speeding up the process when you are typing? Using keyboard shortcuts can be a great time saver.  Move the cursor to the beginning of the previous word using CTRL + Left Arrow or to the beginning of the next word using CTRL + Right Arrow. For superscript text use  CTRL + SHIFT + = and for subscript text use CTRL + =.

To paste copied text as plain text CTRL + Shift + V instead of the standard CTRL + V. To remove formatting from text already pasted use CTRL + Spacebar.
Do a screen shot without copying your entire display by using ALT + Print Screen to just capture the active window to the clipboard. Go direct to the Windows Task Manager by typing CTRL + Shift + ESC instead of going through CTRL + ALT + DEL to get to it. Instead of moving the mouse and clicking to view a different tab in your browser, save time by pressing CTRL + TAB.


Lock your computer to prevent unauthorized use while you are away from your desk. Use Control + Alt + Delete and select Lock this Computer. If your computer is equipped with a camera, you may have the option of AutoLock. It can be set to automatically lock when the camera detects that no one is there.

When installing a new program on your computer, read each step of the installation process to ensure you are not getting unnecessary default options installed that may cause you future problems. Avoid just clicking on “NEXT” repeatedly throughout the installation.


Whether your file storage is on your desktop computer, server or NAS, having a backup is critical to ensuring preservation of your data in the event of equipment failure, theft or disaster. Here are some options to consider:
• If you are using Windows, it is wise to use the backup and restore feature as one part of your backup plan. This should be done on a regular basis to keep everything current. However, it will not protect against theft or disaster.
• Duplicate your files to an external device. External hard drives are available with built-in backup software to automatically perform this task for you. Consideration needs to be given to where this device will be stored securely.
• There are cloud backup services offered for backup as well. This offers off-site secure storage for your important data.


Wired Networks

comp 2Wired networks transport over copper, fiber or coax cables and utilize various hardware components.

Cable Selection

Copper cable is suitable for local area networks and is manufactured in various categories with specific characteristics to suit your network requirements. CAT7 or Class F cable will soon be replacing CAT6a as the new standard for 10GBASE-T networks. Labor is a major portion of your cabling costs, so keep this in mind when selecting cable for a new installation and be sure to select a cable that best suits your expected future needs.
Copper network cables are limited to a maximum of 100 meters between active devices such as routers and switches. To meet the standards of their category, they must be terminated using connectors that meet the standards of their category or a higher category. Hence, the overall network is rated in the category of its lowest component.
These cables are available with different outer sheaths depending on environmental requirements.
Structured cabling is an organized arrangement of cable and hardware which may include patch panels, and outlets for end points, all of which match the category of cable being connected. Matching patch cables of various lengths provide the connections between the patch panels and network switches.
Fiber optic cable is suitable for extended distances and has an effective range of up to 80 kilometers between repeaters, or optical amplifiers. It is useful for serving different areas within large buildings, or over longer distances between buildings or communities. Fiber optic cable can contain up to 1,000 fibers in a single cable and is available with different outer tubing for environmental protection. Unused fibers in a cable are referred to as dark fiber. “Lit” fiber commonly has a capacity in the terabytes per second range.
10BASE2 Coax cable still exists in some local networks but has become increasingly obsolete.

Network Routers

Network routers are used to connect multiple networks together and forward data packets as efficiently and quickly as possible. As an example, routers connect computers to the internet, or to other networks. Routers are usually hardware devices. However, software-based routers are becoming increasingly popular.

Network Switches

Network switches connect computers together in a network and may be equipped to support both copper and fiber networks. They may be sized to handle from a few ports to 48 ports. A basic layer 2 switch may be found in most LAN environments. Layer 3 and layer 4 switches are used in more advanced and specialized networks. The more sophisticated switches also perform routing functions. There is more demand for switches to provide power to end point devices such as IP cameras and telephones. So PoE (Power over Ethernet) switches are often required rather than using a power adapter or power injector for the end point. An uninterruptible power supply (UPS) is a wise equipment component to support your routers and switches. It is important to remember to size the UPS devices and PoE switches to support the required current loads.

Wireless Networks

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Wireless networks use radio communications between nodes, reducing the cost and inconvenience of installing cables into, and between, buildings.
Access Points
A wireless access point (AP) provides the connection to a wired network and can be a stand-alone device, or part of a router. In large buildings and outdoor spaces, multiple APs are often required in order to reliably cover the area. These APs may be designed to mesh wirelessly with each other, or be hard wired to the network. Each site needs to be assessed to ensure the wireless network is designed to perform as required.

Network Security

Security on either a wired or wireless network is an important ingredient in order to ensure that only those people who you want to have access may use the system. Security options on wireless networks include Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) which encrypts the information and helps to ensure only authorized users have access by authenticating users. The later version, (WPA2), is more secure, but may not be compatible with some older devices.
In a workplace environment, users may be validated, and access provided by 802.1X authentication. This offers the network administrator the potential to design a secure wireless network.

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