So you purchased that new PC, but what next?

Nearly every household owns a computer of some form. In this article, I will focus on new PC’s and explain what is worth doing when you get that new PC home.

This article is an indication and you don’t have to do any of these tasks if you don’t want to.

So you purchased that new PC, there are several things which you can do to make your life easier, Read on to find out what you can do.

Check for updates

Microsoft constantly releases updates and when you purchase your PC, it’s very likely that there will be updates waiting to be installed. To save you the hassle of having to reboot your PC and wait for the updates to complete when you’re busy. The first thing I would do is check for updates.

Update your drivers

Like Windows Updates, Hardware manufacturers constantly release updates for hardware components. Updates help to fix any bugs, security issues and issues.

This article on Windows Central shows a guide on how you can check for driver updates Free! Available here…

Create a backup image

Computers can go wrong and they do go wrong. To save you that trip to the shop and on some occasions spend more money you could try to re-install Windows on your PC. The only trouble is that on some occasions some of your drivers may be missing and you will need to re-install all of your programs.

To stop this hassle, once you have installed all of your programs, you could create a backup image which you can use to restore data on your computer. Just be sure to create a separate boot disk.

Windows Central explains how this can be done in their article. Available here…

Check for any presents!

Yes, sometimes manufacturers give you presents! When I purchased my Lenovo laptop, I received an offer of 30 GB on DropBox and 3 months of McAfee Live Safe antivirus. Not to say, that I used the offer, but it’s a very good gesture. Please note that I can’t guarantee that the offer is available on all laptops and models.

Uninstall any useless bloatwear

Bloatware is bundled software that might come installed with your PC. Sometimes it can be a good thing such as a Cloud Storage deal or a utility that will help you manage your PC but most of the time it’s useless programs which you don’t need.

Remember if your not sure about uninstalling a program Google it to see what it is.

Choose the right antivirus for you

Protecting your PC from viruses is vital, with several solutions available it can make your selection confusing. What makes things worse, is the fact that there are several opinions on Antivirus software, which one is best, I’ve even seen people recommend against using Antivirus software. Yes, antivirus programs can slow your PC down but it’s for a good reason!

Free or paid?

That’s a question that everybody is asking. The way I tend to explain it to people is that if they are confident in knowing what to look out for while browsing the internet and how to determine whether your PC is infected without your antivirus program telling you it is. Free solutions such as Windows Defender will be sufficient.

If you prefer to have an extra helping hand looking out for you or if you’re not a 100% sure about the above, paid solutions usually offer security advisers and additional features which help you stay protected. Sometimes PC’s come with cool offers on bundled software including antivirus programs it’s worth checking them out too.

At the end of the day, in its bare bones, all antivirus programs do the same jobs. But when looking at either purchasing antivirus programs or downloading free alternatives it’s important to check the specs to see what features that program will give you.

Create a backup plan

Backing up your data is very important, your PC can go down with all data when you least expect it and in some occasions, it might even lead to data loss.

Having a backup copy of your files is essential! Personally, I recommend purchasing an external hard drive and putting all your files on it on at least a weekly basis. You can even get programs to do this for you.

The other solution is cloud storage. The huge advantage of cloud storage is that if disaster strikes, and for some reason both your computer and the external hard drive fails, your data will still be there. Cloud storage providers will do everything to keep you as a customer, whether you pay or not. They will have some form of recovery procedure so that if something goes down at their end your data will still be there.

Do you have any other ideas or suggestions? Leave a comment below!



A Guide to making an old PC usable again!

With Smartphones and tablets being the go-to devices these days, not many people are buying desktop computers other than for work. In this article, I will explain what can be done with an old computer…

This article is ideal for someone who doesn’t know what to do with an old computer or if someone wants to purchase a budget PC.

In this article we will primarily be looking at older hardware and PC’s.

But what if I don’t have one?

There are several places where you can buy second-hand computers, I purchased loads of them on eBay but it’s a wise choice to look on Gumtree, Facebook or even local computer repair shops.

What to look out for?

1. The OS the PC is designed for

The Operating system the computer was designed for is a good indication of the computers age. For example, if the computer has a Windows XP sticker in the front it would have been built between 2001 and 2008. PC’s of this age likely won’t run on Windows 10 but as can still be used.

2. The Specs

Let’s start with the processor. The more powerful the processor the more possibilities you have. I would definitely go for a 64 Bit on if available.

Older operating systems weren’t as demanding as the current ones are. 2 GB of RAM should be enough if you are running a classic OS. I would recommend a PC with at least 4 GB.

Storage space is important! The more of it the better. If once again you are looking for a older PC, don’t be surprised to find some with 20 GB of storage space or less! In reality the more storage space the better!

If you will be using the PC for Gaming, it’s a good idea to look for one with a dedicated graphics card.

3. The overall condition of the PC

This is more if you are purchasing one, it’s a good idea to look at the condition of the PC as you don’t want to purchase something that is destroyed.

5. Any extras?

When buying a PC, it’s a good idea to see what it comes with such as any peripherals or extra hardware components such as a WiFi card.

I have a PC what next?

If you already have a PC or if you have purchased one, you may be thinking what to do with it. To give you some inspiration, I purchased an old Windows XP NetBook to play some retro games on which can’t be played on Windows 10…

As you can tell from the video, I restored the laptop to its former glory.

On this occasion, I purchased a cheap second hand laptop, which came with the installation disk. I reinstalled Windows formatting the hard drive for security reasons and installed my programs onto it.

How can I make my PC better?

There are numerous ways in which you can improve a computer. I would start with upgrading the Hard Drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD). Compared to a standard hard drive which has a spinning disk, an SSD does not. This improves the speeds significantly. If the PC has a low amount of storage space, it’s also wise to upgrade the amount.

The next thing I would upgrade is the RAM. I would first research the compatibility with the motherboard and give it at least 4 GB of RAM.

If you plan to use your computer for Retro gaming, It might be wise to upgrade the graphics card. Just remember to purchase one of similar age to the PC.

So what else can I do with an old PC?

Check out the article below to gain some inspiration…

Do you have any other ideas on what you can re-use an old PC for? Let me know in the comments!

How I started with PC building – A guide with useful tips and suggestions!

So, PC building and repairs – sounds fun right? In this article, I will discuss how I started my career with PCs. The article features tips, advice with real examples and how I learned from my mistakes.

I’m starting with a repair. When I was starting Year 7 in secondary school, I was given a brand new Zoostorm computer setup, including a base unit, a CRT monitor, printer, mouse, keyboard and speakers. It was the happiest day in my life!

Whilst, I can’t remember the exact specs of the machine, I can tell you that it was running on Windows XP Home Edition, that it had 512 MB of RAM and a 20GB Hard Drive.

One day, the PC just stopped booting into Windows. The hard Drive was corrupt. So what did I do? Well I decided to repair it! Being a newbie, I read a couple articles online and found a spare Windows XP disk. I just followed the instructions and before I knew it, my PC was back in action again! I can remember my parent’s being shocked!

Whilst this was only a small achievement, at the time I didn’t care I was over the moon again and because I fixed my own PC!

My First New Computer setup, still without a desk. I had a small TV unit at the time which the telly sat on. Eventually I got a desk!

My first experience with hardware

As time moved on, I needed something that will offer me more performance and flexibility. I decided to purchase a second hand Dell Optiplex GX280. Not only did the PC have double the RAM but it had more storage space and a better processor.

Tip!

If you’re new to PC building, get an old cheap computer to play around with. If it breaks don’t worry about it and get a new one! This is the reason I decided to go second-hand. I had many fun times upgrading the hardware and checking out new operating systems such as Linux!

The PC only cost me £40 including postage.

My Second more powerful PC setup – The Dell Optiplex GX280

As you can see I was able to get rid of the CRT monitor. I managed to buy a 15 inch Dell monitor for around £20 and a new printer for around £40, not that I used it much.

This PC is where my true adventure with PC’s began! At the time the above photo was taken, the specs were as follows:

  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4
  • RAM: 1 GB
  • Storage: 40 GB Hard Drive
  • System: Windows XP Professional 32 Bit
  • Other Stuff:
    • CD-ROM Drive
    • USB Wifi Dongle

As you can see, the specs were low, most smartphones of today are probably more powerful than this! I decided to make some changes.

Tip!

Before purchasing any new systems or hardware components, make sure that you research the compatibility with your build. I can’t stress this enough!

The first thing I changed was the hard drive, I upgraded it to an 80 GB drive, I picked up on eBay. I later installed Windows 7 on it. The system installed and was usable but I stumbled upon an issue. The built-in graphics couldn’t handle the system as well as Windows XP did. In fact, I was unable to play games and the Aero theme stopped working.

Suggestion:

If your PC is old or used for Education purposes, it’s not always a good idea to purchase brand new parts. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of money on something that might break. There are occasions when new parts are cheap enougth such as the Graphics Card I purchased below…

I fixed this by purchasing a small graphics card. It was only the EVGA Nvidia GF GT 210 with only 1GB. It only cost me about £20 and at the time it was the only one I could afford. But it fixed the problem! I was able to play games and the Aero theme worked.

I’m not going to tell you the entire history of this PC as that will be ridiculously long and you’re likely to fall asleep! But the last thing I used this PC for before I put it into retirement was to test Windows 10 Insider Preview on. That too, had it’s chalenges as the video shows…

Video showing the last thing I used the Dell Optiplex GX280 for

So what did I gain from this learning experience?

To summarise I learned, how to upgrade RAM, how to dissemble and put together a PC, why SSD’s are so much better. Most importantly of all, I learned how to diagnose computer faults, even if it includes testing each part individually. I gained a lot of experience, especially in how to keep an ancient PC working.

I also had a lot of fun with this PC, I made it into a NAS server, tested Windows 10 and 8.1 before they were released.

Overall, what started off a school work PC ended up being the start of my career in IT. How you may ask? I kept a log with photos, videos of, most of the upgrades and projects I used this PC for. There are tons of projects. I even started writing a blog on Blogger. The best thing I ever heard was the words of an interviewer for my first ever job in IT was I like your blog, and I got the job!

Tip!

Keep a log with photos and evidence of work that you have been doing on your computer. The log could include upgrades, experiments and even projects. If the projects fail, explain why it failed in your log. This will show your skills and willingness to learn and improve. Employers seem to like that. Or even better write a blog!

Although my first blog is now closed, it was popular enough to gain many subscribers and this is one of the reasons I got my first job in IT.

When I restarted blogging a couple months ago, I took a free online course by John Sonmez from simpleprogrammer.com. The course tought me what to do and how to do it. I highly recommend it!

Tip:

Before building your very first PC watch some YouTube videos showing how others build them. You can pick up loads of useful facts and techniques. I did this with the YouTube channel mentioned below.

The last thing I will talk about in this article is the big moment! After retiring my Dell Optiplex GX280, I decided it was time to build my very own Gaming PC, this decision wasn’t one I took lightly but I was very inspired by a person in the industry. This person was Dawid Nowak from wavepc.pl. Dawid is a Polish YouTuber, who is quite famous in Poland. He owns his own PC repair centre where apart from fixing PC’s he builds them. It was his amazing videos that got me into building my very own PC.

My First PC build

Pictured above is my first PC build. The specs included:

  • CPU: Intel i5 4690K
  • Motherboard: MSI B85-G41
  • RAM: HyperX FURY 8GB DDR3 1600MHz
  • PSU: Corsair CXM 600W
  • GPU: Asus Invidia GTX 750TI
  • Storage: SSD: SanDisk Plus 120 GB | WD Blue 1 TB Hard Drive
  • Optical drive: Samsung SH-224FB
  • Case: Corsair CC-9011058-WW Carbide Series SPEC-03
  • OS: Windows 8.1, later Windows 10

Suggestion:

Find a role model, who you can learn from and don’t put the thing you learn to waste! It’s supprising what you can learn. Have a go!

Other useful tips and advice

Invest in a good tool-kit including a magnetic screwdriver!

PC’s cases have some real tight spots, if you drop a screw or even putting a screw in can sometimes be challenging. Magnetic screwdrivers can be a life saver!

Don’t put the motherboard in straight away!

There are many tight spots inside the case. Putting the CPU, Thermal compound and RAM in first will be a lot easier. I personally start building on top of the motherboard box.

Research comparability

This is an important one! Especially when selecting a CPU and motherboard as buying a processor with the incorrect pins, later attaching it into your motherboard can damage your PC.

Consider what you will be using your PC for

If your needs are basic such as browsing the internet, school work and writing the odd document, you don’t need to buy the latest and most powerful components. On the other hand, if you are planning to game, set aside a budget and see what parts you can afford.

Get an SSD

Solid State Drives (SSD’s) are the devices you will be storing your system and files on. SSD’s offer more performance compared to standard hard drives because there are no moving components inside. The inside of a hard drive is like a record player, you have a spinning disk and a handle that reads the data.

If you don’t use CD’s don’t get an Optical Drive

Most software is now downloadable, to be honest I can’t remember the last time I purchased a program on a DVD. I mean even my current PC doesn’t even have a bay for a CD drive!

If you can’t afford to buy all the part’s at the same time, buy them separately

This something that I did with my first build. On my first go, I started with the case. This was a big mistake as I had nowhere to store it at the time.

A guide to creating a Windows 10 installation USB

You’re most likely here because you need to install Windows 10. You’re in the right place! In this article, I will show you how to create a Windows 10 installation stick.

You could be here due to a number of reasons. Such as an upgrade, or because you build your own PC. Please bear in mind that you will need to purchase a license.

If you don’t feel confident installing Operating Systems, please take your PC to a PC repair shop. I am not responsible for and damage or data loss caused. You are following this guide at your own risk!

You will need:

  • A USB stick with at least 8 GB
  • An internet connection
  • Windows 10 Licence

1 . Format your USB Stick.

Please bear in mind that this step will wipe your USB drive meaning that you will lose your data.

To format your USB

  1. Insert your USB drive
  2. Backup any data
  3. Go to Computer
  4. Carefully select your USB drive
  5. Right click and select Format
  6. Click “Restore device defaults”
  7. Click “Start”

2. Download the Media Creation Tool

Available here

The tool will do all the work for you, you just need to follow the steps

3. Follow instructions until you get to the “What do you want to do” step

Select “Create installation media”.

4. Select your language, edition and architecture

5. Select “USB Flash drive”

6. Select the correct drive

7. Wait for the download and installation to complete

Once the installation is complete your USB drive is ready!

A Guide to fixing a slow Android Phone

Like most devices, Android Phones do get slow over time. If your phone has slowed down you are at the right place! In this guide, I will show you how to speed up a Slow Android Phone.

This guide will work for Android tablets too!

1. Clean your Storage!

Storage problems are known to cause performance issues on Android devices. When your phone or tablet gets low on storage space, it will have limited space to store files that are required for an app to run smoothly.

There are many apps that will help you clean your storage. Below are the two that I recommend:

Files by Google is a file manager which helps Android users Free up space by giving users recommendations on useless files that don’t need to live on your phone. Since the app is technically a file manager, it also helps users find files quicker, backup files and share files.

On the other hand, CCleaner is an advanced optimisation tool which removes useless junk from your phone. It also allows you to monitor your system.

You can also manually clean you app Cache!

2. Uninstall apps that you don’t use

Sometimes, we install apps just for that single occasion. Those apps take up valuable storage space so get rid of them!

But what if you need those apps?

Sometimes we just can’t help it our phones are full, the list below shows your options. This works well for low end phones!

  • Check if there is a lite version of the app
  • Check if there is a browser version
  • Check for an alternative

You may find that some apps will not delete. If that is the case you should disable them.

3. Try a different launcher

Sometimes device manufacturers create launchers that are way to heavy for that particular device. They probably do it to save money, especially if they create that launcher for more then one model. The beauty is Android is that you can customise it. There are loads of cool launchers out there.

4. Check for updates

Sometimes all it takes to speed up your phone is an update. Manufacturers often release updates to fix stuff.  Give it a go!



A Beginner’s Guide to Ubuntu

So, you’re interested in Ubuntu? You have come to the right place! In this article, I will explain the basics you need to know to get started!

So what is Ubuntu?

Well, Ubuntu is an open-source Linux operating system based on Debian. You’re probably thinking what that means right? Well, open-source means that it’s free to use, download and modify. Debian, on the other hand, is another free Linux Operating System. Ubuntu is also one of the most popular Linux Distributions.

What do I mean by free?

Yes! You heard correctly! It’s free. But it’s not only free to use and download, but you can also modify it to suit your needs.

What about security?

Since it’s free you may have security concerns. Ok, yes it’s a free system, which users can modify as they please. But actually, Ubuntu can be considered as a more secure system. How have I worked that one out? Well, the Linux architecture does not allow viruses and malware to penetrate the system easily. This limits the need to run posh anti-virus software. In fact, many users might say you don’t need antivirus software on Ubuntu, I would still recommend a basic virus scanner, especially when you use and share files between other operating systems. Ubuntu also receives regular updates that provide firm security. These updates are not aggressive, meaning that you can choose a suitable time to install them. If you’re a Windows user, you may face the issue with constant and aggressive updates. These updates are a good thing, but since Windows is one of the most popular systems out there, these updates are essential.

So what about the hardware compatibility?

Ubuntu is very well designed, most drivers are included as standard. I have been using it for years and I only ever had 1 driver issue on an old laptop, where the WiFi card was not supported. The fix was easy, all I did was purchase a USB WiFi adapter for under £15 and it solved it.

What if I get stuck and need support?

Ubuntu has a huge community of pro’s who are always ready to help you out with any situation you may have.

What is Linux?

Linux is a kernel, no not the army one. It’s actually the core component of an Operating system and it allows the software to connect with the hardware. It’s important to note that a kernel on its own is just a set of instructions.

It was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991.

Why Ubuntu?

What a great question right? Here are some reasons…

  • You don’t have to be an expert to use it.
  • It’s Free!
  • You can try it out before installing
  • It has a stylish interface, just bear in mind that the true beauty is in the terminal 😉
  • It works well with older and low spec computers
  • You can customise it to suit your needs!
  • It’s fast and most importantly of all stable
  • It’s supported!
  • Say goodbye to the blue screen of death!
  • It has good security
  • Don’t like the style, there are tons of flavours to choose from
  • Tons of free software in the Software Center
  • The Terminal

The Desktop Releases

Ubuntu currently comes as two releases.

LTS

This is the latest version with long-term support. It usually means about five years. It will give you free security and maintenance updates.

Latest version

If you feel experimental, The latest version comes with 9 months worth of support, you later update to the next latest version.

How do I try it out?

Easy! All you need is a USB drive and the Ubuntu Iso file.

  1. Download Rufus, Available here
  2. Download the Ubuntu Desktop, Available here
  3. Run Rufus
  4. Insert your USB drive. Please bear in mind that your USB drive will be wiped!
  5. Select USB drive under Device – Choose carefully as choosing the wrong one may lead to data loss!
  6. Select FreeDOS under boot selection, press Select and browse for the Ubuntu ISO file
  7. Select Start
  8. If the Download required box appears click Yes to continue
  9. Once complete boot from your USB drive.
  10. Select Trial Mode. Please note that if you press install you might wipe your current Operating System causing data loss!

Also Checkout…

A Guide to installing Ubuntu

Is your laptop running low on storage space? Try this life hack!

Storage space is precious, especially when you don’t have much of it. When it comes to desktop PC’s the solution is easy, all you do is add a second hard drive. But what if it’s a laptop?

Many new laptops come with SSD’s, some of which have less than 240GB of storage space. 15 years ago that amount was amazing, but most computers were running on Windows XP and the system requirements weren’t that heavy. I mean last year I purchased a Lenovo IdeaPad, which had a built-in 120GB SSD which got filled up extremely fast. Most laptops at that price range had them. Luckily this laptop was well designed and had a slot to put a second hard drive in. But not all laptops do.

So, the question is how often do you use your CD drive? Not many people use CD drives these days, would you be willing to give yours up? The reason I’m asking is that you can actually swap out your CD drive with a hard drive enclosure. I have done this with two laptops, both of which are working without issue. The last one I did was for my mid-2012 MacBook Pro. I purchased the hard drive enclosure and a 2.5″ hard drive pictured below….

 

Check out…

Yes, I know CDs are slowly becoming extinct, but can I survive with my new rig not having a CD drive?

 

So where do I start?

Warning!

If you do not feel confident in carrying out such tasks, take your laptop to a computer repair shop and please remember to back up your data before carrying out any maintenance tasks!

To start with, you will need a 2.5″ hard drive. I purchased a 1TB Seagate Baracuda drive and a specifically designed enclosure. Most laptops are SATA, It’s worthwhile to double check what you have before you make the purchase. It’s also good to check the dimensions of the hard drive.

Steps:

  1. Connect and secure the hard drive in the enclosure
  2. Remove the old CD drive from the laptop
  3. Carefully remove the front cover from the old CD drive
  4. Attach the front cover to the enclosure
  5. Connect the enclosure and hard drive into the laptop.

Costs:

  • 1TB Hard Drive: £49.99
  • Enclosure: £9.99
  • Total: £59.98

Check out…

My previous patient was an HP ProBook. I have just upgraded it to an SSD to improve performance. Unfortunately, that came at a cost and that’s the amount of storage space I had.

 

Was it worth it?

Definitely! These hard drive enclosures can be life savers!

A Guide to switching your phone to one with a different OS

There are many things to consider when switching or upgrading your phone. This article is a guide to all people who are planning to either upgrade from Android to IOS or from IOS to Android. I will explain the things you need to know, the advantages and my experience switching from Android to IOS.

To begin with, I was always an Android user. I loved the freedom of the system, the customization side of things as well as the phones. For some reason, I was always against iPhones. However, since I was due an upgrade, I decided to try something different. It wasn’t a big upgrade as I didn’t want to top of the range phone, I just wanted a phone that would suit my needs and the iPhone 6 suit my needs perfectly. Yes I know it’s old now! but I got a great deal on it!

Was it easy to switch?

Upgrading from one Android phone to another is easy, most of the things are backed up to your Google Account, therefore it’s just a case of restoring all apps and data from your old device to your new device during the initial setup. I believe it’s similar to iPhones. However, it wasn’t as easy when it came to switching from Android to IOS. Luckily Apple has developed a useful app known as Move to IOS. On the other hand, the Android doesn’t currently have an app like that, but they do have Google Drive, which you can upload your contacts, calendar and photos and videos too. You will need to find and download all of your apps to it manually unless there’s an app I don’t know about that can do this for you. Leave a comment in the description if you know of an app or a better method.

The first problem I found, is that not every app I use is available on the Apple Store. However, I seemed to easily find similar apps. The second issue was getting used to the new system, which to be honest didn’t take that long.

So personally, I found it easy to switch, but it might not be as easy for everyone as it was for me. Therefore, below are two guides which will help you.

 

Did I face any problems?

Yes, as I already mentioned, not all apps that I use are available on IOS, but there are alternatives. But, to be honest I haven’t faced any other issues.

Was the change worth it?

There will be loads of mixed opinions here, however, for me, it definitely was worth it. Yes, I do like Android, however, IOS seems to be less laggy and it just performs well. I had many great Android phones, such as the Google Pixel 2 but, if I’m not getting along with them, they aren’t worth keeping. The Google Pixel 2 was good and it had a great camera but the battery didn’t last long and I didn’t like using it, but we all have our preferences, but that’s a different story.

To me, the change meant, I finally have a phone I like using. Yes, it’s not the newest, but it’s enough for my needs.