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Welcome to the third edition of the PC-Advice.net newsletter. Now that the snow has gone it's time to take a deeper look at some of the more common computer issues.
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Having discussed Scandisk and the Defragmenter in previous issues let me now discuss temporary files. When ever a program runs on your computer it needs space to work. If it is a program like Microsoft Word then it will create temporary files for every document that you open. If everything goes well then when you finish working in Word the temporary files will be deleted, but if something goes wrong then you might need to tidy up afterwards.
Here is how and why Word creates temporary files. If you open a document called mytext.doc in Word it will create a file called ~$text.doc in the same folder. As you type in your text every action that you perform is written to the ~$text.doc file which enables Word to perform the Undo/Redo functions. If something goes wrong and Word crashes before you save your file then when you restart Word it will attempt to recover you document using both the files mentioned above.
There are lots of other temporary files which are created by other programs, as well as when you install files or download files from the internet. Any files in the c:\temp folder or c:\windows\temp can usually be deleted. There are also other locations which may contain files like the Temporary Internet Files folder which can be cleaned by opening Internet Explorer and going to Tools-> Internet Options and then clicking on the Delete Files ... button. This will clean all the small files that make up internet pages and get downloaded with every page you view.
While it is possible to prevent most types of viruses from infecting your machine and from spreading there is one classification of virus which is very difficult to avoid, namely the hoax virus. Virus hoaxes seem to feed on the human desire to warn everyone of danger and offer a simple solution, but they do cause problems.
Consider the following:
A real virus sends itself to everyone in your address book, spreads panic to all your friends, often deletes important system files.
A virus hoax is send by you to everyone in your address book, spreads panic to all your friends and often requires you to delete important system files.
If you do get a warning about a virus how do you know if is is a hoax, a virus or a genuine warning? If it is a virus then it will be picked up by your antivirus software (which is up-to-date and turned on, right?). If it is a genuine warning then it will come from a recognised authority who will back up the claim with links to web sites and independent information. The fact that the warning comes from your friend's hairdresser's neighbour's boss's mate at some big company, does not mean it is true.
Always check that virus information is accurate by going to the web site of your antivirus software provider. Also remember that companies like Microsoft do not email all their users about viruses. They do have security bulletins which you can subscribe to, but these tend to be very technical documents.
For more information take a look:
My favourite Virus Hoax is the Fighting Canaries Hoax, which you can read about here:
Another hoax is the Irish Virus Hoax at
Stupid Computer Tricks, the thinks that people do to their machines ... http://sct.staghosting.com/index.html
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