KNOWHOW general Q&As

KNOWHOW general Q&As

Find the answers to your computing queries here

1. Cleaning inside the computer

It’s important to keep the inside of your computer free from dust as it can block cooling systems and shorten the lifespan of your computer.

Please note: You may need to remove the computer’s casing to complete this process. Doing so is at your own risk. This can invalidate your warranty, so please check the user documentation.

  1. Turn off the computer and unplug it from the mains
  2. Remove any cables and devices connected to the computer
  3. Remove the case or panel by undoing the screws or switches holding it in place

Important: Do not touch components, metal connections or wires inside your computer with your fingers

  1. Gently remove any large dust balls with a cotton ball or soft brush
  2. Hold the fan in place, only touching the plastic, and gently wipe off any dust with a cotton swab or soft brush
  3. Use short bursts from a can of compressed air to blow away any other dust in the computer – pay attention to the instructions on the can
  4. Lightly dust down the outer case or panel

You can now replace the case and reconnect the cables. 

2. Using a firewall

When surfing and shopping online, it’s important to have good security software installed, including a firewall .

Firewalls help control the flow of data to and from your computer. They can stop someone else accessing your computer and can block unwanted software like viruses or Trojans.

The firewall software will deny access to intruders by using an assortment of filters that block unwanted websites, user accounts or even specific internet provider addresses.

Windows has a firewall built-in, but we would advise you to look at some of the dedicated security software for added protection. For example, Norton™, Kaspersky®, McAfee® or AVG® all produce trustworthy and reliable security software.

You only need to run one firewall on your computer. Security software with a firewall will have additional features and benefits, so it will turn the standard Windows firewall off as seen in the image below.

Firewalls are usually already set up to allow common programs internet access, but in some cases your firewall might ask permission for a program if it's doing something new or unusual.

As long as you have a firewall and anti-virus software on your computer, your internet activity will be as safe and secure as possible.

3. Creating safer passwords

Strong passwords: You may have noticed some websites give a rating to your password as you create an account. This is often referred to as password strength and is an indication of how difficult it is to guess.

Mixed-case passwords: Adding upper and lower case characters to your password makes it much stronger. For example, "muNgbEAns" is much safer than "Mungbeans".

Special characters: Special characters can include symbols such as ", * $ { ; ' or #. Adding these can make your password harder to guess, but some websites don’t allow them.

Random words: As pointed out in the comic-strip by XKCD, using four random, unrelated, words is at least as secure as using numbers and special characters – and has the bonus of being more memorable! We’d still recommend you include at least one capital letter and one number though.

Top tips

Don't give your password to strangers

If you're using a computer in a public place, always make sure you have logged out of your account before you leave the machine.

Use a different password for each website

If someone guesses a password for one site, they may try it on others. Different passwords stop them getting access.


4. Getting the right drivers for your system

When looking for drivers, it can be confusing to work out exactly which one you need to download. For example, many graphics cards or sound cards have a large number of different models with similar names.

Some manufacturer’s websites will have an option to auto-detect the hardware you have installed. This will allow them to take you straight to the right drivers without any hassle.

However, if this isn’t an option or it isn’t working for you, it’s quick and easy to find out what your graphic and sound card models are.

Viewing your system diagnostics

Although this may sound complicated, it’s actually a very quick and easy process to see your system diagnostics and find the information you need.

  • Hold down the Windows key and press R
  • In the text box that appears, type dxdiag
  • Press return

After a few moments, the DXDIAGNOSTICS window will open.

  • Click on Display or Sound

The top entry of the Device section of the window will show you the name of your graphics card or sound card. Now you can find the exact driver you need.