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I have been sent a message warning me of a virus I should look out for; what should I do?

It would be dangerous to be completely dismissive of such a message. Always be vigilent, as viruses are out there and they certainly can be very damaging to your machine and the data contained on it. However, the vast majority of the messages sent out are hoaxes. Indeed, the message you receive is in fact a kind of virus on its own, albeit a very low level one. There are many, many "chain e-mail" style messages out there, which encourage you to forward on the message to all your friends. This is basically a low level denial of service attack, designed to clog up mail systems and generally be annoying. If you receive such a message, before hitting the 'forward' button, check out http://www.Hoax-slayer.Com or mcafee antivirus, both of which have a comprehensive list of such messages, detailing the exact message text, so you can easily put your mind at rest and ensure you don't waste your time sending out unnecessary and inaccurate messages to your friends, family, colleagues or clients.

Prevention is always better than cure, so ensure your antivirus software is up-to-date and be wary of messages from sources you are not familiar with, particularly if they have an attachment. If you receive a message with an attachment that you are unsure about, don't open it. Either ignore it or contact the sender and confirm they are sending it intentionally. Spoof messages are very common, whereby a message appears to have been sent by someone, when in fact, they will know nothing of it

I have received an e-mail indicating a message I sent couldn't be delivered - I didn't send the message - why have I got the failure message?

This is known as "spoofing". Basically, your e-mail address is in the public domain and has been used by someone to send out messages, made to look as if sent by your e-mail address. Usually this is a spam message advertising a product, service or website and will contain a link, for which the actual sender will receive a payment for, whenever someone clicks on it. You have received the 'delivery failure notice' as the e-mail address the person sending the message sent to, is no longer valid and hence the mail server is attempting to return the message to the sender, which it thinks is you.

Sadly, there isn't a great deal you can do about this. Once your e-mail address is out in the public domain, it has a value and can be bought and sold by the unscrupulous for use in direct marketing and 'spamming'. Your best bet is probably to abandon the address and open a new one, if you are receiving a lot of spam messages and/or delivery failure notices. Often, you will receive a few over the course of a couple of days and then nothing for a while. It really comes down to personal preference whether you want to change address

My PC has become very slow - do I need to replace it?

Not necessarily.  Like most equipment, a PC needs a degree of maintenance to keep it in good working order.  Your machine is based around a large database, called the Registry.  The Registry stores information about your operating system (e.g. Windows) and other software you have installed and is referred to when you power on the machine or perform a function on the system.

Over time, the Registry grows in size, as the operating system and other software is updated and replaced.  Though some entries in the Registry become redundant, they aren't necessarily removed, so the amount of data that needs to be reviewed when you make a request gets bigger, which obviously takes more time to process - hence the slowdown.

Another possible cause of a sluggish system could be more sinister - you could have a Malware infection.  Malware is software which has made it's way on to your machine surreptitiously, with the intention of utilising your data to someone else's gain.  This isn't usually as bad as it sounds, as your security software will stop the nasty stuff.  However, this malware can be using up your system resources and the bandwidth of your internet connection, as it feeds information back to wherever it's been programed to.

Then there is the hardware factor.  Software changes and becomes more demanding.  Older systems inevitably start to struggle and your productivity can suffer.

So, what can you do?  None of the above causes can only be fixed by buying a completely new machine.  The Registry can be cleaned using appropriate software, such as CCleaner.  Malware can be removed with the Malwarebytes program.  What more, both these application can be downloaded and installed for personal use for free.  Of course, you need to be careful what you remove - particularly with CCleaner, as removing the wrong thing from the Registry can cause big problems on your machine.  If you are going to use it, ensure you use the backup option before agreeing to purge any items from your Registry.  That way you can reinstate it if things go awry.

You might also want to consider a reinstallation of your operating system.  This will automatically resolve any Registry issues, as a new database will be created as part of the process.  It also makes you consider what software you actually need, as many find they may have installed some software a long time ago, but don't actually use it any more.  Most modern PC's have a Recovery Partition containing the factory supplied version of your operating system.  Alternatively, you may have received a Disc with the installation files on, which you can use to restore the machine.

If you do need to upgrade the hardware, you might not need to replace the whole system.  Adding some additional memory can really work wonders.  If you have a Desktop PC, you may be able to upgrade the graphics card too, which can vastly improve performance for applications that utilise it.  Swapping the mechanical hard drive for a Solid State Drive (SSD) can also considerably enhance the speed of your machine.

If all the above sounds confusing, you won't be alone.  It's why Ridea Technology exists.  We can help you with executing any of the above solutions and indeed, if it does transpire your machine does need to be replaced, we can help with that too.  If you'd like some help, please don't hesitate to get in touch.