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By Carl Weinschenk

Al Gore has a standing joke about the 2000 election. When asked about the outcome, he says something along the lines of "You win some, you lose some…and there's that rarely mentioned third category."

The point is that there is a gray area between the black and white of winning and losing. What does that have to do with office PCs? Plenty.

A PC can be stuck in a gray area of not operating correctly and not being broken. Machines can be working but badly compromised. The problems are spyware, adware and other computer vermin. The problem is that these programs usually aren’t enough to make the machine cease up altogether.

There are two essential ways to keep PCs working well. One is preventative. This takes several forms. It includes running antivirus and anti spyware programs, using firewalls and training employees not to engage in high risk activities such as file sharing.

The other step is to get the machine checked out on a regular basis. This can be done by keeping a local PC repair person on retainer. Have him or her visit every few months. The added bonus is that a relationship will be in place for any crisis in which the office network crashes.

Another idea is to invite repair services into your computer. There are companies now that can use a broadband connection to access the machine. Techs, once "inside" the PC, can tune the machine up and find and rectify problems—many of which a non-PC person would not be aware. The point is that preventive maintenance can both avoid a sudden meltdown later and, less dramatically, increase the speed at which the machines are operating.

The bottom line is that people tend to leave things alone if they are working. But not taking the extra step of optimizing machines can lead to lost frustration and productivity.

Carl Weinschenk is the Editorial Director of SmartBiz.
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