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Last Updated: Friday, 15 April, 2005, 14:55 GMT 15:55 UK
Click Tips
Rob Freeman
By Rob Freeman
Click tip-ster

Rob Freeman, Click Online's very own Mr Fixit, troubleshoots your PC problems.

A few weeks ago I said the best place to go to get copies of the driver files for all the parts of your computer was the manufacturer's website.

There is also another place, which is particularly handy if your computer is a DIY job from a bunch of different companies, one or more of which may not be around any more to have a website.

James Kelley, from the Netherlands, recommends:

Try Majorgeeks.com. You will find some really brilliant driver backup software. I have used them many times and I think you will be impressed. It is also really easy to use.

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Thanks for your e-mail James. I love the site and will try to get Kate to give it a more thorough review in a future programme.

But I hope she won't mind if I tell you that the back up software looks very comprehensive.

James has looked at WinDriver Expert and Driver Genius Professional, both shareware, so you are expected to contribute to the author.

Martin Stinchcombe, from Nottinghamshire in the UK, contacted us to say:

My wife has heard that leaving devices on stand-by, like a TV or PC, uses as much electricity as leaving them fully switched on. Is this true? We have a new computer and broadband which we are recommended to leave permanently connected so that updates can be automatically downloaded.

A device on standby does not consume as much power as it would if it were fully switched on, but it is gently eating up those electrons and it is costing you money.

The most common culprits for using standby power are TVs and video displays, like the one on your computer, video recorders and DVD players, the computer itself, your computer speakers, printers - basically, anything which you plug in and leave on.

Of course there are some things you cannot do much about, like your fridge, or the alarm clock next to your bed.

Standby power use actually looks like it is increasing around the world, and some studies estimate between 10% and 15% of a nation's electricity supply is wasted like this.

Think of the tons of greenhouse gases being pumped out by power stations just to keep that little red standby light going on your TV!

If you want to know a bit more, there is a great website from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California:

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Martin has also been told to keep his computer powered up and connected all the time to get software updates.

After all, that is one of the great things about broadband isn't it? You are not paying by the minute, and they even call it "always-on" internet.

Do not believe it for a second! Leaving your computer always connected to the internet is one of the most dangerous things you can do.

The longer you are connected, the more time someone up to mischief has to crack open your computer. That goes for narrowband users as well.

Yes, software updates for Windows are important, but if you have got a broadband connection then you are going to get those pretty quickly, and if you have Service Pack 2 for Windows XP then the updates will be downloaded in the background without you having to worry, just like anti-virus updates.

Richard Krugersdorp, from Gauteng in South Africa, contacted us saying:

I've just read about a car crash which knocked over an electricity pole and fried all electrical appliances that were plugged into the mains within a five mile radius. I now unplug the computer and monitor after turning it off, but can plugging and unplugging the computer from the mains damage my computer in any way?

This sort of thing can also happen to a modem if a severe storm or lightning hits your local telephone lines, and if you are unlucky it will take your computer out too.

Long-suffering Chris Long, one of the most technically unlucky people I know, had a lightning strike a few months ago.

Fearing a storm, he had taken the precaution of unplugging from the mains, but the lightning hit the phone poles in the street.

It took out all his phones, and his modem, which was a USB modem, so it also destroyed his printer, which was connected to the USB hub, and finally it came up the main USB cable and fried his computer as well.

This kind of thing is rare though, but as long as you are pulling cleanly on the plug and not tugging on the electrical cable, there is no harm in unplugging your computer, but make sure you have shut the machine down properly first.

And in a storm, think about disconnecting your modem as well.

To recap: if you are not using the internet, disconnect it. If you have broadband, then reconnecting only takes a couple of seconds anyway.

If you are not using your computer, turn it off. And the screen.

If you have any questions or queries, please visit "Contact us" (link on the top right-hand side of this page) to get in touch.

Click Online is broadcast on BBC News 24: Saturday at 2030, Sunday at 0430 and 1630, and on Monday at 0030. A short version is also shown on BBC Two: Saturday at 0645 and BBC One: Sunday at 0730 . Also BBC World.


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