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technology q&a

| Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Question: My PC is beyond slow. Is there a trick to speeding it up or should I get a new one?

Answer: If you're still running Windows XP, it's time to get a new computer. Otherwise, you can try speeding up the one you have. Use a program like Autoruns to weed out unneeded startup programs. This will help your system boot faster and run a bit smoother. See if your hard drive is full and what is filling it up with a program like WinDirStat. You can move large files to an external drive or delete them. If you're running with two or four gigs of RAM, considering adding more as well.

Add Internet to TV for $35

Q: What do you think of Google's Chromecast?

A: At $35 or less online, I think it's an easy, inexpensive way to add streaming Internet video to an older TV. That assumes the TV has a free HDMI port, of course. Still, if you're buying a new TV, most have an Internet connection and apps for popular streaming video services built in. In that case, you don't really need a third-party gadget like Chromecast. Don't forget that Chromecast isn't the only streaming gadget on the market.

Avoid tricksy hack attacks

Q: I heard that Yahoo was hacked and served malicious ads to visitors. How do you protect against something like that?

A: The Yahoo hack, which ran from Dec. 31, 2013, to Jan. 3, 2014, is a perfect example of a watering-hole attack. Hackers slip malicious code into a legitimate site and sit back while visitors are infected automatically. The best defense is running an up-to-date browser and keeping your operating system and security programs updated. This will close most of the holes hackers exploit.

Buying a TV for Super Bowl

Q: I'm thinking about buying larger TV for the Super Bowl. Is this a good time?

A: You bet. Retailers generally knock prices way down just before the Super Bowl. Just be sure to check a TV's normal retail price online before buying. You want to make sure you're really getting a good deal.

Keep snoopers off your Mac

Q: My roommate keeps getting on my Mac without my permission. How can I stop her?

A: It sounds like you have a larger problem in your future, but it's a cinch to lock down your Mac. Go to System Preferences>>Security & Privacy. On the General tab, check the “Require password” option and set it to “immediately.” Now whenever your Mac sleeps or the screensaver kicks on, it will require your password to get back in. While you're there, you want to check the “Disable automatic login” option. This means when you restart your Mac, it asks for your password before it loads up your account.

Email Kim Komando at techcomments@usatoday.com.

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