Exit programs safely

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. What is the reason for exiting out of all programs before shutting down the computer? What happens if I just shut it down?

A. Besides the possibility of the Windows Police issuing a citation for conduct unbecoming a computer user, properly exiting applications permits each program to shut down in a specifically designated manner, which is important. Failure to close programs prior to shutting down Windows may, under certain circumstances, result in the loss of data, which is usually followed by loss of consciousness, so it’s best to close programs first.

For example, some programs create many temporary files while in use. These files are often deleted during the course of the program’s shut-down process. Some programs that contain a Deleted Items or integrated Trash folder may also have an option to empty these folders upon closing.

When you shut down Windows properly using Start > Shut Down, any programs running in the background, such as your anti-virus protection, will be closed correctly as part of the overall shut-down process. If Windows isn’t shut down properly -- if you press the power switch or yank the power cord out of the wall in a fit of rage, the next time you start up your computer, the operating system will run through a series of additional tests to verify that everything is functioning properly. It will let you know if it is not.

Q. I primarily use Firefox and Chrome for my browsers. I was thinking about downloading Internet Explorer 9 until I noticed that it requires about three times the amount of space required by the others. Is there something so super special about IE 9 that is worth the extra space?

A. In a word, "No." Sure, there are some new bells and one or two whistles in IE 9, but if you're happy with the browsers you're using, stick with them. If, however, you're tormented that you might be missing out on something if you don't install IE 9, read Microsoft's “What's New in IE 9” article at http://tinyurl.com/379fyfc.

I use Firefox as my primary browser, supplemented by Chrome, but when all is said and done, a browser's primary function is to display Web pages. All browsers accomplish this objective, so it ultimately is a matter of personal preference which browser to use.

Software, in many instances today, has reached a plateau where it really does just about everything we, as average users, need or want it to do. IE 9, currently available as a Beta (test) version, has generally been greeted with the yawn heard 'round the world because many users are understandably suffering from VFS (Version Fatigue Syndrome). IE 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 -- enough already!

Mr. Modem's Sites of the Week

Geograph British Isles
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Housing Tracker
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How Stuff Works
Have you ever wondered if flour can explode, or how a car’s differential works, or what makes your refrigerator cold? Me neither, but this is a fun site that’s just chock full of information. Did you ever wonder what the derivation of “chock full” is? “Chock" relates to the word “choke” which derives from "choke full," or "full to the point of choking." (Feel free to use this trivial tidbit to amuse and annoy your friends.)

Mr. Modem publishes "Ask Mr. Modem!” each week, featuring PC tips, tricks, and plain-English answers to your questions by email. For more information, visit www.MrModem.com.