Share This Page

Q&A: How can I tell if my computer is dying?

| Saturday, Nov. 2, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Question: I'm seeing a growing number of software glitches on my computer. Does that mean it's time for a new one?

Answer: It depends. If the glitches are coming from a single program, then it's probably just that program. Re-install it or find a replacement. If freezes, crashes and corrupt data are happening in several programs, it could be hardware-related. Use a program like CrystalDiskInfo to check for hard drive trouble. A program like SpeedFan can tell you if your computer is overheating, or if the voltages are way off. Both can indicate hardware failure is on the way.

Stop Google tracking

Q: A friend said that Google is keeping a complete history of my searches. Is that true?

A: Yes, that's true. To see your search history, start by going to Google Web history and sign in with a Google account. You can clear your history. Then click the gear icon and select Settings. Next to where it says “Web history is on” click the Turn Off button. If you want to stop targeted ads altogether, visit the Google Ads Settings page and select the opt-out setting. Essential tweak

Q: I upgraded to Windows 8.1, but it still works the same as 8. I was hoping it would work more like 7. Am I missing something?

A: Windows 8.1 did introduce some features you'll like, but they're not turned on by default. From the Start screen, go to the desktop. Right-click on the Taskbar at the bottom and select Properties. Go to the Navigation tab and check the “When I sign in or close all apps on the screen, go to the desktop instead of Start” option. Now the computer will boot to the Desktop. That will make it feel more like the Windows you know. I would also select “Show my desktop background on Start.” This syncs your Desktop and Start screen backgrounds.

Price check apps

Q: I use my smartphone for price comparisons while I'm shopping, but looking up items online takes forever. Is there an easier way?

A: You bet! Price check apps let you scan a barcode to bring up price information to compare major retailers or online shops. Try Pic2shop, Red Laser and PriceGrabber. Apps like Smoopa reward you for finding and sharing deals.

E-mail Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.