Patrick Marshall answers your personal-technology questions each week.
Q: You occasionally propose that we make changes/corrections to our computer system. e.g. how to check for malware? How to check drivers on my computer? Etc. Etc. Etc. As a unsophisticated computer user, who can I trust to help me make alterations to my computer and system.? I appreciate that you probably cannot name names (i.e. which stores to trust) but is there a way you can make a general statement about whom to connect with. Is it private individuals or are there some large stores (e.g. Best Buy? Office Depot?) where one can have confidence?
— Marne Parry
A: I understand your concern. Looking for a good computer techie is like looking for a good mechanic. For non-warranty covered issues, my first suggestion is to pull on the sleeve of a computer-savvy friend or relative. The difficulty, of course, is knowing just how savvy your friend or relative is. And the big benefit, of course, is that most of the time those folks don’t charge you.
Next comes word-of-mouth. Check with a local user group to see if there is a local shop that members have used and like.
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Finally, if you don’t have help from friends, relatives or user groups and you’re looking at going to a neighborhood repair shop or a chain like the Geek Squad, I recommend doing an internet search of the company to see if there are any major complaints. Also, check with the Better Business Bureau. I haven’t found the bureau to be particularly good at flagging less-than-trustworthy businesses, but if they do show bad ratings, pay attention.
Q: I asked several knowing people, who weren’t sure if one could replace the old bulky monitors on an old Windows machine with a flat-screen monitor.
I have an old computer with the heavy fat monitor that has an older version of Windows on it, but I’d like to keep it to save the games that I like. The question is, can I trade out the old monitor and replace it with a flat-screen and be fully functional?
— Lib Patricelli
A: The simple answer is yes, you can in principle use a high-res flat-screen monitor with an old Windows machine. That doesn’t mean, however, that you’ll necessarily get high-res performance. The primary issue is your graphics adapter. First, you need to make sure your graphics adapter and the monitor have the same ports: VGA, DVI, HDMI. If performance is…