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Business news solutions items — Feb. 9

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COMPUTERS

Viruses and firewalls

Q: When I turn on my 2004 Windows XP computer, it warns me that the firewall is not turned on. But for reasons that aren’t clear, I haven’t been able to activate the firewall. Meanwhile, my security software is detecting a lot of viruses on my PC. What can I do?

A: There are three answers.

One: You can turn on your Windows XP firewall by going to Control Panel and double-clicking “Network and Internet Connections,” then clicking “Set up or change your home or small office network.” Follow the steps outlined by Microsoft’s “Network Setup Wizard.” Two: If that doesn’t work, you can download a free firewall for Windows XP at http://tinyurl.com/mcodzvk (Comodo Firewall) or http://tinyurl.com/msvxe3a (Ashampoo FireWall Free). Three: Buy a new Windows 7 computer (still made by HP, Asus, Dell and others). Avoid the confusing Windows 8. Microsoft is discontinuing security updates for Windows XP in April.

— Steve Alexander, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Backing up software

In a world of backup software, Carbonite stands out. It’s inexpensive — plans start at $59 per year — and it’s effective and dependable. Carbonite can be programmed to back up all or some data on a hard drive. And, if you pony up another $40 per year, it can back up data and programs onto an external hard drive, which also can be used as a boot disk. Carbonite works quietly in the background, placing a green dot on data that it has backed up. If you accidentally erase a document or data file, Carbonite, which backs up to the cloud, will get it back. But what if you have a dozen employees, each one creating essential files?

Carbonite has the answer with its Pro Plan. Unlike its personal program, which offers unlimited backup to the cloud for one PC, it charges $269 per year for 250 gigabytes from an unlimited number of PCs. For more information and a free trial, go online to www.carbonite.com

— Harold Glicken, McClatchy-Tribune News

AUTO REPAIR

Oil use in Toyota Camry

Q: I own a 2008 2.4-liter, four-cylinder Toyota Camry with 98,000 miles that I service every 5,000 miles. For the past 15,000 miles, I have had to add 2 to 2½ quarts of engine oil between changes. The service writer at the Toyota dealership tells me that 1 to 1½ quarts every 5,000 miles is normal for these aluminum engines. I have not noticed a decrease in engine power or any smoke from the tailpipe. I bought this car new expecting to get 200,000 miles out of it. I think this is a lot of oil for a car to burn.

A: One quart per 2,000 miles is completely within Toyota’s “normal” oil consumption guidelines of one quart per 1,200 miles. Your concern is due to the change in oil consumption. Has oil use continued to increase? Or is it stable at this rate? Unless or until the consumption rate increases to excess, I would not be particularly concerned. Unless oil use is being caused by a clogged PCV system or “sticky” piston rings, there’s no easy “fix.” You could try de-carbonizing the rings/grooves to free any sticking rings that could increase the amount of oil reaching the combustion chambers. Remove the spark plugs after shutting down the hot engine and pour an ounce or so of SeaFoam directly into each cylinder. After an hour or overnight, temporarily disable the ignition and fuel injection and crank the engine to expel any liquid in the cylinders. Reinstall the plugs, re-enable the ignition and injection, then start and drive the vehicle for at least 20 minutes.

— Paul Brand, Minneapolis Star Tribune


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