A problem myth or two


Viruses exist and can cause incredible problems. Even if 90% are hoaxes the remaining 10% are legitimate disasters.

Many things can go wrong with your computer and connecting system, and only some of these possibilities are viruses. I’ve had people claim a virus destroyed their internet connection when, in fact, the web browser had just been updated. Their out-of-date computer system couldn’t interface with a recently updated web system, so the connection died. Sometimes it also works the other way around; a computer is updated and no longer runs the free Protools demo, or something else is no longer compatible or recognized. Restoration to the previous working system is one fairly reliable way to regain that lost function, but you might well find that you can’t use some new functions, or web browsing is compromised because a web browser still expects you to be running a current system. Personally I get past this by running an up-to-date computer for the web and using a few older computers for special functions like music editing. The older computers aren’t worth anything so the only cost is in the space they take up. The old computer system is never connected to the net, so any virus risk is minimal.

We are in the habit of constantly updating the software on our computers, but there is a limit. After years of changes, of installing, deleting, upgrading and replacing programmes, you will find that problems creep in. At the very least you will need to reinstall everything you have on their, including the operating system, and the upgrades. This always makes me a little nervous as I feel I will lose something valuable in the process. After a few years it might be better to replace the whole computer, and use the previous model for some other purpose.


Not so much a myth as an obsolete idea. Decades ago all computer monitors were monochrome, and any text or graphics left displayed long term resulted in a ghostly image burnt onto the monitor display. Our local library had this problem with the default catalogue menu of its computers; there was a menu image even when the power was off! The solution was to have a moving image (the screensaver) that didn’t overexpose some parts of the screen at the expense of others. Modern screens are less prone to these problems, and being colour also helps reduce the issue. At worse the computer systems habit of dimming the display should remove any issues, though I think this was really to save on power consumption.


Not a myth, but worth commenting on. In the days of magnetic storage magnets in speakers or other devices were notorious for wiping floppy disks. They also cause problems with displays on monitors. To be accurate, it was changing magnetic fields that caused problems with floppy disk, but if you put a VHS tape near a magnet it will ruin the picture. Wave a floppy disk near a magnet and you risk data loss. These days magnets are not an issue if you keep them away from CRT screens. Modern memory isn’t really prone to magnetic problems. Data loss might be caused by many things, including viruses, but magnetic fields are not really a problem at the present time.


Not a truth, but an exaggeration. There are fewer Mac out there so the viruses don’t target them as much. Yet I have seen macs that suffered viruses, on the odd occasion. I don’t know why virus developers make viruses so I don’t pretend to know why they do occasionally target the macs.


A relation to the virus, Spyware certainly is a huge issue to watch out for. At the same time spyware aims to be nonintrusive. You might well have spyware without knowing it. This is one thing you should check for even if you don’t have symptom.
Other devices do suffer entropy, the chaotic decay over time, but a computer’s problems are the software. With a computer’s physical components the thing either works or it doesn’t. A fully functional computer with fully functional software will work as well as the day it was first bought, the age won’t make a difference.

We need to be careful in what we claim here. In the 1980’s viruses were considered a myth. A few years later viruses were recognized as real but the thought of sending them by email was laughed at. Of course, the email attachment can’t harm you unless you open it? I can’t even be confident of that anymore. We recently laughed at viruses causing physical damage, but if medical equipment is infected it can affect pacemakers or diabetic medication. Viruses can literally kill an individual, and probably make it look natural in the process.