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Top 10 things to do for mom's PC over Thanksgiving

You love your mom, right?  Remember all those times she took you to soccer practice?  And that time when she was the only one clapping in the audience during your 'recital'?  She's always been there for you, and this Thanksgiving weekend it is time to give a little love back.  Since we are not the sentimental type here at Download Squad (flowers and puppies just don't do it for us), we thought we'd offer up 10 tips to make mom's computing experience more enjoyable.  So, take a break from the annual long weekend of awkward conversations, bad football games, and watching TV reruns in anticipation of the big feast.  It's time to fix mom's PC!

  1. When was the last time your mom did a full backup of her computer files?  When was the last time you backed up your computer (sorry, had to ask)?  Do your mom a favor and make at least two backup copies of her most precious files.  Keep one backup for your records, and have your mom store another copy in a safe place.  You might want to take a look at NTI Shadow 2 (on sale for 99 cents until the end of the year) as a backup utility, if mom's computer lacks one.
  2. Like all moms, we bet yours has collected a bunch of photo files over the years.  We are also confident that they are not as well organized as she thinks they are.  Clean up her photographs by putting them in the My Pictures folder on her computer.  Then download Picasa from Google and show her how to use it.  Picasa, along with its online companion Hello, are your friends.  They will make sending pictures to your mom much easier, and will make viewing pictures more pleasurable too.
  3. Now that her pictures are all sorted out neatly, it's time to buy her a nice LCD screen to get rid of that boat-anchor CRT monitor on her desk.
  4. While we're thinking of hardware upgrades, why not get your mom some real speakers to replace those tiny, screeching ones that came with the computer?  Your mom deserves better sound quality when she listens to music, right?
  5. Install Firefox.  Your mom will love it.  Trust us on this one.
  6. If your mom would like to keep one place to store notes, copies of web pages, and other clippings, setup Evernote for her.  Given that Evernote lets you copy and categorize notes, web pages and clippings, this program will help her keep track of all kinds of stuff in one place.
  7. Update the anti-virus software on her machine, as well as the spyware detection software.  It has probably been a while since she had the latest, and greatest, virus definintions on her PC.  We know you keep your virus definitions up to date, right?  To keep spyware at bay, we prefer Adaware by Lavasoft.
  8. Introduce your mom to the world of VoIP by setting up Skype.  We're pretty confident that all moms would love to be able to chat with their children at any time.  Even more inviting to most moms is when they can chat for free.  Of course you will thank us for this tip once your mom buzzes you while you are in some important meeting at work.
  9. Run a system check utility on her machine to clean out the cobwebs that slow down system performance.  Systweak does a good job in cleaning up PCs.
  10. Get her a real email account.  Many moms (and dads for that matter) fall into the trap of using some default, arcane email address that was provided by their internet provider.  Make her email address a memorable one.  Be a sport, move your mom onto a vanity domain  name and have it forwarded to her favorite email address.  Domain names can be bought for less than $9/year and will give your mom a special email address that is easy to remember (okay, this is sort of senitmental).
See, now that wasn't so hard was it?  We know you've got big plans for the coming four days, but we're confident you can make your mom's computing experience more enjoyable by just devoting a few minutes between the feast, football games and the Friday 5 a.m. Wal-Mart run that you plan every year.  Happy Thanksgiving!


Tags: howtos