My Computer Is Infected with Malware. Should I Just Throw It Out?

Some time ago, news broke that the U.S. government had plans to destroy up to $3 million worth of computers. In fact, they had already destroyed thousands of dollars of computers by the time the story came out.

Why were they doing it? Because of a malware infection.

I get the question, “Should I just throw it out?” due to malware more often than you think. It’s the knee-jerk reaction of someone who has a machine that is fairly infected and feels utterly hopeless about getting it cleared up again.

But I want to be very clear about something. There is never, ever a reason to destroy hardware because of malware.

Read moreMy Computer Is Infected with Malware. Should I Just Throw It Out?

Why is Windows using more memory over time?

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I’m currently using Windows 7 Pro, but my question applies to all versions of Windows. I have 4 GB of RAM on my office laptop and after a clean reboot with my basic always-on apps running (Outlook, Communicator, anti-virus, etc.). I have 2 GB free. After running normal apps (Word, Excel, Sequel Server Management Studio, etc.) throughout the workday and closing them, I will only have 1.5 GB of RAM free at the end of the day. Then, less each day after, forcing me to reboot every couple of days if I don’t want to be strapped for memory. This has been happening ever since I can remember. Now I can understand poorly managed apps not freeing up memory after use, but this will happen after using nothing other than Microsoft apps which one would think would have memory management under control? What gives? Any insight would be appreciated.

Memory management in any operating system is unimaginably complex. It’s either the stuff of nightmares or pure magic, depending on who’s talking about it.

From what you describe here, I actually don’t see a problem. That may sound weird, but I’ll talk through why I feel that way.

Read moreWhy is Windows using more memory over time?

Can I replace my processor with a faster one?

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I have a Lenovo Tabletop C series with 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive. I love it all except the speed of the processor. How hard is it to replace the processor with a faster one?

To be perfectly honest, it’s rare to replace a CPU simply, much less replace it with one of a higher speed.

Speed is typically tied to the motherboard. Even when you can replace the CPU (and we’ll talk about a couple of scenarios where that can happen), the motherboard determines the speed. It’s the motherboard that is most often the limiting factor.

As for speed, let’s look at what you can do about that.

Read moreCan I replace my processor with a faster one?

How Do I Keep My Computer from Being Hacked at Night?

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I’m online sometimes late night into the morning. Being an IT student, I’ve read about hackers using the night to scan for active IP addresses and hack it using back doors for fun. Can you recommend any free software that can help prevent back door attacks and work alongside my anti-virus and my Windows firewall? Also, should I change from Windows firewall?

To be honest, I’ve never, ever heard of this so-called nighttime scanning. I wouldn’t believe it if I did. It’s always nighttime somewhere and the internet is global.

My servers are located somewhere in Michigan, but hackers from China try to hack into them at all hours of the day. It  happens constantly. The reality is that any computer connected to the internet is being attacked in one form or another pretty much all the time.

It’s one of the reasons why tech people like me speak so religiously about anti-malware tools and firewalls. But there are a couple of different ways to discourage hackers from choosing you.

Read moreHow Do I Keep My Computer from Being Hacked at Night?

Why is my computer’s fan coming on?

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My computer fan kicks in for no reason. It never did this before, but it does now. I know that a dirty computer fan could cause overheating, but I checked and blew out the fan with compressed air. Nothing came out. What could be the problem?

The problem is still heat related. The question then becomes: where’s that heat coming from?

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Does an unstable system imply a hardware problem?

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I have a PC that does… well, weird things. My Adobe Flash suddenly doesn’t work on some major sites, yet it’s OK on others like YouTube. Adobe Flash is suddenly not displayed on Add/Remove listings. I also lose parts of some other PC components so that their features don’t work properly. Now, this usually starts after I carefully uninstall some “accidentally” downloaded toolbar or some other program I have “added/removed” in my Windows. Now, technicians say there is no problem with the computer. Can there be a flaw in the motherboard or something making this happen? It’s like the uninstall that I do appears to gut some of my other programs, especially Adobe Flash.

Motherboard and other hardware issues are typically more consistent. You would see the same issue over and over again. Or the issue would be more severe, like your computer would just stop working or crash completely on a regular basis.

While it’s still possible, I don’t believe there’s a problem with your motherboard. What you’re describing sounds more like software rot.

Read moreDoes an unstable system imply a hardware problem?

Should I upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?

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I just installed a new board and CPU that is 64-bit capable, but I have a 32-bit operating system. Would it be worth the time to go to 64-bit? I have 16 GB of RAM that (from what I read) is not being accessed with the 32-bit OS. Is this something to be concerned about?

“Concerned” is hard for me to judge, as is whether or not it’s worth your time to go to 64-bit.

Ultimately, you have to ask yourself some tough questions. How much time would you feel like spending on this? How much money is involved? For instance, if you’re running Windows, you may have to buy a new copy of the operating system. How much do you use your computer?

Let’s talk about what that might involve.

Read moreShould I upgrade to a 64-bit operating system?