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Keep your business computer trouble free.

By John Watson
Posted Thursday, November 11, 2004

I see Danny Burke of PC Magic once a week to sort out any problems on my computer and to help me move ahead with an internet info product business. He spends most of his week rescuing business owners who are having problems with their computers.

Last week I asked him for the advice he would give a business owner who was having trouble with his computer. This is the advice he gave me:

Keep things simple on your computer. Don’t use it for games etc. Just use it for business. Danny finds that half his customers have caused their own problems by the extras they have downloaded from the internet such as:

Additional toolbars for internet explorer
Unnecessary utilities like internet speed boosters which seldom work
Eye candy such as wall paper changers, animated cats etc

All most businesses need is

A base operating system
An email client
A web browser
An office suite
A firewall and anti-virus system

Don’t download any old stuff off the internet. The more stuff you put on your hard disk, the more likely it is that you will have problems. Microsoft cannot check all the different applications you might download for compatibility.

Your first graphics package and another graphics package might fight over the file extensions. Try to stick with one package. Similar problems occur with music and video players which should not be on a business system anyway unless you are in that field.

Don’t upgrade unless you could name three good reasons to upgrade. After Danny gave me this advice, I rather guiltily tried to upgrade my BT broadband service to the new combined BT Yahoo broadband service.

Sure enough as soon as I had installed the new service, things started to go wrong. Things that had worked before (like links in emails) no longer worked. I’m not blaming BT Yahoo. I just had too much stuff on my computer! When I uninstalled the new service everything started working again.

Danny comments: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” When you upgrade, the file formats are sometimes different from the earlier versions of the software. This means you cannot go back to the earlier versions because they don’t recognise the new file format.

Do not assume that newer versions are better than the earlier versions. All you have done is make the software producer richer!

Have a firewall and virus checker and keep them up to date

Back up your data. 90% of companies who have a catastrophic data loss go bankrupt within two years. You should have two copies of important data and three copies of critical data stored in three different locations. One copy should be in a fire safe offsite. This should be standard practice. You cannot trust computers. Sooner or later they will get you! If you don’t back up, you are an idiot and deserve all you get!

Today I received this message from an ezine owner:

A lot of you sent me an ad this week, which I had saved on my hard drive and guess what?

My computer crashed and I lost every one.

I have a backup computer, but no ads.

Please re-send your ads so I can get them in the Friday edition.

Sorry for the trouble.

The ezine owner is obviously a nice guy but he may lose customers who haven’t got the time to resend their ads. No one likes to repeat their efforts.

Maybe his computer crashed because he had broken not only the back up rule but some of the other rules.

As a general principle, use your machine and don’t tinker with it. Once it is working, leave it alone!

Leave it alone!!!

About the Author
John Watson of ( was interviewing Danny Burke of ( John Watson owns a martial arts school in Kent, England. He is a retired teacher. He uses a computer for business. His website is (


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