Keeping Windows/Programs Healthy

This article has less to do with ABS than it does with things everyone should do to keep Windows, and computers in general, purring like a kitten. This is not as long as it could be, so please take the time to read it. It may save you a lot of grief.

Hardware vs. Software issues 
You already know what your hardware is. It's your computer. Not Windows, but the physical thing you can hold whether it's a laptop, tablet, or a desktop computer. It's the hardware.

I make this point because most people don't think an Operating System, like Windows, is software. It is. It's the software system that governs how programs behave. So, when you run a program, it is actually an extension of the Operating System. That means, if Windows is not running properly, there is a very good chance that the program won't either. 

Nurturing the system
So if a program is not behaving normally, how can you tell if it's the program or Windows or the hardware?  First, understand that programs don't rewrite themselves (well, some specialized ones do but not ABS). So, if a normally solid program suddenly starts acting weird, the program is not likely to be the cause. It is more likely to be Windows, or the hardware, so the next time a program (any program) acts up, try the following..

Windows: Restart Windows. With later versions, that means right click the start button,  click  Shut Down or Sign Out, select Restart. If the problem is with Windows, that should fix it.
Hardware: Baring a complete failure, hardware can usually fixed by a power-down-reboot. That means closing Windows. Once closed, pull the power cord and leave it unplugged for at least a full minute (use a clock, I'm serious). By pulling the power cord, any problems in the computer's RAM (the computer's memory) will be erased. Once the computer restarts, the only stuff that gets into RAM is the stuff that is supposed to be there.

Nine times out of ten the program will go back to normal if you do the above. However, if it doesn't, that still doesn't mean the program has gone bad. If it is a networked program, like ABS Agency Builder, it may be a network or a server issue.

Networks: Server vs Workstation
Okay, I'm going to keep this super simple. I'm not going to spend time telling you how to fix a broken network, so put your toolbox away. What I am going to do is give you a way to identify the source of a problem. The possible cures come later.  
Simple Rule
If a problem only occurs on one workstation, that's where to look.  However, if a problem occurs on many or all workstations, look at what they all have in common. That would be the server, or your network router, switch, or hub.

Exception to the rule:
If the problem occurs on all workstations, but only occurs in the same program, and under the same conditions, it may be a bug in the program, or a problem with the data the program is using.

So, if the Simple Rule points to a Server or Network problem, the same fix as above is called for only with the server instead of the workstation. Unfortunately, workers in a busy office don't appreciate having the network or server powered down in the middle of the day. Even so, if the problem is severe it may need to be done. Just inform all the network users so they can prepare for the shut-down by exiting networked programs, such as ABS Agency Builder. While you are at it, power down the network router, switch or hub. If the server is down, it a perfect time to do the network too.

Preventative Measures

•  Restart Windows at least once every day. Shutting down at night is a good way to accomplish this. If you forget to shut down at night, restart Windows when you start the day. This suggestion is for workstations, not servers.
•  Do a power-down-reboot at least once a month. This applies to workstations and servers.
•  Physically examine all computers once a month. Vacuum any dust buildup on air intakes. Make sure cooling fans are operating. Heat will kill a computer in a very short time.
•  Pay attention when applications seem to be running slower than normal. That could be a sign of:

⋅  a hard drive or other component is about to fail.
⋅  a computer that is overheating. Purposly slowing down generates less heat.
⋅  other things that cause network traffic to be disturbed.