Tips And Tricks

 The Importance Of Different Passwords.  4/29/2015

Staying safe is a top priority for all of us. Almost everything we do online requires a password. The majority of folks will take the easy way out and use one password for all of their websites and programs. This is a great time saver and makes it easy and quick to get your work done but it is not the safest way to go. In addition, many folks will use easy passwords that are easy to remember. Either one of the above practices can create an Identity Theft scenario.

For safety and security, be sure to have a different password for each site you visit. In addition, use passwords that nobody can guess. Do not use pet names or birthdays. Always mix your characters with capitals and lower case. You can even add a % sign or * for added security. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, be sure to set up both a password book and use a password manager such as KeePass on your computer. Password managers can safely store your passwords in encrypted form so prying eyes cannot have access to them. With some common sense and planning, you can have peace of mind while surfing the web.

Importance of Backing Up 5/1/2015

It has happened to all of us. You have a computer crash and suddenly you realize that some or all of your important files are gone and you have no backups to retrieve them from. You could try system restore, but this method is haphazard at best. In addition, system restore might be great for getting your computer back up and running but it usually does nothing for your personal files. Most text, image and PDF files are not backed up in a system restore operation. You need to back these files up yourself.

The scenario above occurs way too often and it is totally avoidable. All you have to do is backup your files manually on an external hardrive or thumb drive every few days and you will never loose your information. If you want to maintain and have a bootable version of your operating system, you can do an image clone of your entire computer. This will allow you to have a bootable clone in case your computer crashes.

No matter how you actually do it, be sure to back your system today. It can prevent lots of heartache tomorrow.


Thinking Of Buying A New PC? Wait Till July! 5/2/2015

Windows XP was by far the most popular and longest running operating system in the history of Microsoft. It was also the most loved. Next came the disaster known as Vista but was quickly replaced by Windows 7 which remains to be the most popular OS as of today. Windows 8 is actually the newest operating system from Microsoft but it is also one of the most hated. There is an abundance of confusion of what operating system you should buy when considering a new computer. I am here to help clarify that issue.

It is a known fact that many folks are still using Windows XP as their operating system. The dreaded security alarms that were sounded by experts really never happened and many still safely use it. The majority of PC users have upgraded, however, to either Windows 7 or Windows 8. If you have not yet upgraded or you want to upgrade from Windows 7 and your computer still runs decent, you might want to wait till July. July is when Microsoft releases Windows 10. According to all the preliminary reports the wait will be worth your while. Windows 1o will combine many of the Windows features we know and love along with many new features that will make this operating system something to get excited about.

If you are thinking of buying a new PC, hold off until the official release of Windows 10 just a couple of months away!

Should I Buy A Pc Or A Mac  5/4/2015

In past years, Apple boasted on how their computers were virus free. In fact, they claimed you did not even have to run an anti-virus program. This was partly true but not for the reasons you would think. The main reason Mac computers were virus free in past years was because not many people were using them. As their use increased, so did the interest of hackers. Now, you are almost as likely to get a Mac virus as you are a PC virus. The days of not running a virus scanner on a Mac are over.

When shopping for a computer I still recommend getting a PC in most cases. Many programs will still not run on a Mac system. In addition if you have used a PC all your life, Getting used to a Mac is sometimes not a pleasant experience. With the promise of Windows 10 fixing most of the bugs from Windows 8, this new operating system should be a pleasure to use. It should add renewed interest in owning a PC.

In summary, I still recommend a PC for most people when buying a new computer. Tablets are great for traveling and surfing the web when away from your home or office but they cannot replace a full service computer. If you are a graphics designer, you might want to consider a Mac since they work great for folks who use heavy graphic design software for their business.


Is Anti-Virus Necessary On A Mobile Phone? 5/7/2015
Most of us use our mobile phone for more then just making a call or sending a text on a daily basis. We now use our phones for Facebook, surfing the web, making online bank transactions and even watching our house with IP cameras. So the big question to ask is if this type of activity can put me at risk for Malware? The answer is yes, but it does not happen nor is it as common as getting infected on a computer. In fact, if you do only the basics on your phone it is likely that you will never see an infection pop up on your system.

The fact is, most Malware on a phone comes from apps. There are some folks who rarely spend time on Google Play or the Apple Store and then there are those that like to load everything under the sun into their devices. These are the folks that are going to be at the highest risk of a Malware infection.

The answer to the question will depend on your level of smart phone activity. If you are a casual user and simply talk, text and visit Facebook, anti-Malware protection on your phone is probably not necessary. If you are the type that likes to experiment with many of the millions of apps that are out there, I would definitely suggest adding an anti-virus app into your phone. I have personally used both Avast and AVG free for my devices and both seem to work quite well with only a minimal amount of slowdown on the device. When you search your Play store or Apple store for the product, be certain it is the real deal and not an imposter. A careful look at the description will clearly let you know.


Defending Yourself From Ransomware 5/9/2015
One of the most dreaded virus infections you can possibly get is Ransomware such as CryptoLocker or one of its variants. We have seen one too many times when one of our clients lost all of their documents and pictures. This type of infection encrypts all your important files and they are not recoverable. The infection, however, is almost always preventable. Never follow the instructions and make the requested payment to get your files back as you are just helping to fund the criminals.

CryptoLocker almost always comes through via spam e-mail. The e-mail will usually have something to do with tracking a package you might of just shipped or are waiting to receive. Never click on link within this type of e-mail. It is always spam. On occasion, you can get this virus from infected websites especially porn sites. Always keep your surfing restricted to mainstream sites that you know. If you refrain from opening attachments and stay on known good websites, you should be able to stay away from this dreaded infection. In addition, be sure you have all your documents and pictures backed up just in case.


Preventing The New Rombertik Malware
There’s a new Malware in town and it is as nasty as nasty can get. This new Malware can make a PC almost completely unusable. Like the Crypto virus strains, this virus is very hard to detect by your anti-virus or Malware programs.

You can get this infection in much the same way as you can the CryptoLocker virus through spam e-mails. Usually these e-mails will have something to do with a package being tracked by UPS but they can come in other variations as well. Opening the e-mail and then opening the attachment will release the payload. Once released, this Malware will scan your system for sensitive information and attempt to send it to the hijackers server.

What makes this virus different that it programmed in such a way that if it senses a security program detected it, it erases all the important data on your drive including the boot partition. If you do not have a current backup, your data is most likely toast.

The best way to avoid this virus is to prevent it. Do not open any attachments unless you are 100% sure it was supposed to be sent to you. Even if you know who sent the attachment, do not open it if you are not 100% sure it was sent to you. This is the only way to prevent this Malware from entering your system. The Malware will not be stopped or caught by your anti-virus program and if it is, your data will be gone. Be safe, not sorry!


How To Stop Adding Toolbars When Updating Java
A tool bar here and a toolbar there is the way the song should go. Almost all free downloads, even Java and Flash, will offer third party programs or toolbars when you update their software. It is the payment from those venders that keeps the software free. It is a known fact that many a user will wind up with toolbars that were never downloaded and the user often never actually knows where they came from. Fortunately there is a solution, at least when it comes to Java.

Whenever you get a prompt to update Java, it will usually include a third party software option such as a tool bar or program during the installation. If you do not uncheck the option you will get more then just the update. To disable this behavior a trip to the advanced options in Java will do the trick. Here is how. First, navigate to your control panel on your Windows machine. Once there you will see an icon labeled Java. Clicking on this icon will open the Java interface. Once the Java Control Panel is open, navigate to and click the Advanced Tab. Once you have the advanced options open, go to the very bottom and check where it says “Suppress sponsor offers when installing or updating Java”. Click the Apply button and then click OK to close the Java Control Panel. That should do it. You should now be able to download Java updates without the fear of getting unwanted toolbars!


Steps To Recover A Lost E mail Account
It happens a lot more frequently then we would like to think. I am talking about hacked e-mail accounts. You may wake up one morning and find all of your friends are contacting you and saying that they are receiving all kinds of spam from your e-mail address. Your first thought is how can that be possible? So you decide to check your account out for yourself. You may find one of two scenarios. When you log into your account, you might see that everything looks normal and no unusual e-mails have been sent from your account. If this is the case, there is nothing you can do and the spam is being generated from a hacker to look like it was coming from you.

In the second scenario, you might try to log into your account and you find your password no longer works. Your account has likely been hacked in this case. If you did not set up a recovery option, you might be out of luck. Here are some tips on what to do before your e-mail gets hacked

The most frequently hacked accounts are those from Microsoft. To do this on, first log in to your account. Next click the button in the upper right that looks like a gear and then click on Options. Next go to account details and then click on the Security and Privacy tab. Now go to More Security Settings. Find the link for Recovery Code and hit Replace. Write down the code or print out the page and keep the code in safe place for future use. It will likely be your only ticket to recover your account if it gets hacked.


Speed Up Your System with Ready Boost
Ready Boost is a fairly unknown and hidden option that in included in both Windows Vista and Windows 7. Many Windows users do not even know that it exists. Essentially Ready Boost will turn any USB Thumb Drive or Memory Card into a storage device that will cache your recent information and allow for faster access to the information if you open it again. Basically, your USB drive acts as an extension of your RAM and paging file. It will cache information that ordinarily may not be stored on either the ram or paging file.

There is a 32GB limit for each Ready Boost device that is used on your system. Since the USB drive is slower then your hardrive, Ready Boost will smartly decide on whether to pull the information directly from the hardrive or from the USB drive for maximum performance. If you have an exceptionally fast system, your computer will not allow you to turn the option on.

To use Ready Boost plug in a USB flash drive or a memory card into your computer. When Auto play opens choose the Speed Up My System option. In the properties box navigate to the Ready Boost tab. Choose the Dedicate the device to Ready Boost option and check the box. Next, click on the apply button and then the OK button. If Auto Play is disabled on your machine, open My Computer and navigate to the USB Ready Boost drive. Right Click and choose Properties in the context menu then follow the above steps.

If you are using a Solid State Drive, Ready Boost will be disabled because of the speed a solid-state drive uses to access your information. In a case such as this, Ready Boost would actually slow down your system since solid-state drives are exceptionally fast and more efficient then their mechanical counterparts.


Cleaning Your Computer for Peak Performance!
Most of us try to keep our operating systems running at peak performance by cleaning out the temp files, removing Malware and uninstalling unused programs. This is great but how many of you clean the inside of your computer. By inside I mean physically inside the case. If you have never taken off the side panel of your desktop you need to keep reading.

Here are some general tips on keeping your computer running smoother and cooler by cleaning the inside of the case. Because all cases are different, you might have to check your computer manual for steps on removing the side panel. For most of you, the first step is to get a non-magnetic screwdriver. It is best to have both a flat and a Phillips screwdriver handy, as you might need either or both. I also suggest a fresh can of canned air. If you have a soft dusting brush attachment, you might want to have your vacuum on hand as well.

First, you are going to remove the side panel that will expose the motherboard of the computer. This is usually on the left side if you are looking at the front of the computer case. Most side panels will slide off by pushing them towards the back of the computer. Most will have a small screw (or two) located in the back of the computer where the lip of the side panel meets the case. Be sure the system is off and unplugged then remove the screws. Some cases will have a latch that has to be released. Once the case side is removed, set it aside carefully.

Look inside the case and find the main fan that cools the processor. Carefully use the canned air to clean the dust that has accumulated on the cooling fins. Next, check for dirt on any of the case fans and remove as well. Check the rest of the case and blow out any dust you see on the board or cards within the case. If there is dirt sitting on the bottom of the case, you can carefully vacuum that out with the soft dusting brush and the vacuum. Be careful not to disturb any wires or components. That’s it you’re done! Simply replace the side of the case, tighten the screws and fire up your system.

This should be done at least twice a year, more often if you have pets. If your system can freely breathe, it will run cooler and most likely faster.


Save Time and Money With Remote Computer Repair
It seems like just yesterday that whenever anybody had a computer it would easily become a major tragedy. First you had to disconnect your computer from all the peripheral components, unplug the monitor, mouse and keyboard and unplug the tower from the power outlet.

Then you had to lug the heavy hardware out to your car for a trip to the nearest computer repair shop. Then after you dropped it off, it would be about a week later that you receive the phone call that your computer is ready. You pick up your system and bring it home and then you realize that it was never actually fixed correctly. So you do it all again and wait another week until you get it back. Whew, what an ordeal.

Today, things can be a lot simpler. With the onset of online computer repair, getting your system fixed is just a few mouse clicks away! Although many folks now realize the benefits of this service, there are still some unbelievers who think it is a security risk. This article is to put your mind at ease.

Remember that when you take your computer to a physical location, the computer is out of your sight for days. There is lots of opportunity for prying eyes to look at your data. When you use a remote computer repair service, you can view the computer at all times and see exactly what the tech is doing. In addition, most repairs can take an hour or so to complete instead of a week. Some complicated repairs might take 2 hours. The whole time you are in the comfort of your home either watching the repair or going about your daily tasks. You are saving time, money and natural resources since you are using no gas to drive to a physical shop.

So the next time you need a repair on your computer, call a trusted company like us and let the magic begin!


Tips On Making Store Purchases Without A Credit Card or Cash!
With all the talk about people’s credit cards getting stolen and numbers being hacked at many major businesses, it is a wonder anybody even buys goods using a credit card or debit card. In another scenario, you leave the house and drive 10 miles to the nearest Home Depot and you are in line ready to check out and you realize you forgot your wallet. Going back home to get your credit card will waste valuable time and it is just not practical. You might have forgot your wallet but I bet you NEVER forget your phone. Why not use your phone to pay at the checkout?

Google Wallet is an Android app that will do just that, allow you to pay with your phone. If you have a supported Android phone, you can download the app from your Google play store. Whenever you are checking out at a store and it has the sideways Wi-Fi symbol, you will be able to make your purchase by moving the phone near the stores terminal and tapping a few buttons on your phone. The purchase will be made from the balance you have in your wallet account. It is that easy. It is a great and safe way to pay since Google wallet offers fraud protection just like a credit card does.

If you have an Apple device that is newer, you can use a product called Apple Pay, which is similar to the Google product but is designed for I Phones. Either of these products are a great alternative to carrying credit cards or cash. All you need is your phone. More and more locations are upgrading to be able to use this fast growing technology. It would be wise to carry at least one credit card with you in case the location you are paying at does not accept Apple Pay or Google Wallet.


Hackers Breach IRS Website. 100,000 People are Affected.
We hear about it almost every day, someplace that you frequent is hacked and personal information is stolen. Your first thought is if you are one of those people. Identity theft is running rampant in our country with cases reported every day. Thieves are getting more sophisticated in their techniques as they find and utilize weaknesses in the security systems of retail and government agencies.

If you were affected in this latest breach of the IRS, you will be notified by the agency and they will offer to pay for credit monitoring services as a precaution. The service will allow you to track and report any unusual activity on your credit report.

It is not known if the thieves are located in the United States or over seas. It is actually a growing trend as identity thieves use your information to file a fraudulent tax return and then collect a refund. You might not know anything is wrong until you go to file your return and you realize that someone has beaten you to the task. If you do not have some type of identity protection, you could be in for a very expensive ordeal.

Today, your best defense is to carry some sort of identity theft protection. This will help in a case where a thief gets a hold of your social security number and starts opening credit cards, files tax forms and other assorted activities in your name without your knowledge. Before you realize anything is wrong, it might be too late. This is why we stress how important it is to have your computers professionally cleaned on a regular basis. A clean computer can help stop identity theft in it’s tracks.


 Tips On Getting Windows 10 For Free!
Windows 10 promises to be one of the most advanced operating systems that Microsoft has ever unleashed. It also promises to be the last version of Windows ever. This is due in part because of the way that the software can be updated. Newer versions will be able to be installed over the existing version via the update system. We all know too well how much of a pain it is to move all your data from one computer to another when you install a new operating system. It is a trying task at best.

In addition to Windows 10 being an advanced operating system, it also promises to bring back many of the great features we have grown to love about Windows. One of those features is the Start menu. Testers appear to be more excited about Windows 10 then we have seen them in quite some time.

With all these great features there is one more thing to get excited about. For many folks, the upgrade will be free. Microsoft is so anxious to get people off the other versions of Windows that are giving upgrades away for free. Sorry bur Windows XP and Vista users are not eligible for the free upgrade.

In order to qualify, you must have Windows 7 or higher installed on your computer. Consumers will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home versions. Small businesses will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. Windows 10 Enterprise will be available for mid size and large enterprises. Windows 10 will also be available for upgrade on mobile devices. The free upgrade will be delivered through the Windows update system. I would probably wait to do the upgrade when it becomes available to see how other folks made out to be sure there are no major bugs. Please have a good backup if you decide to take advantage of the free upgrade.

Windows 10 is projected to be released later in the summer.


New IPhone Bug Can Crash Your Phone with A Text Message
It is a known fact that hackers are always trying to find ways to make your life miserable. A new bug discovered in iPhones can freeze and shut down your phone by simply receiving a text message. For safety, we will not post the message that can cause the issue.

The message does not actually harm your phone nor does it gather or attempt to get any personal information. More likely, the bug is being used by people to play a joke on the receiver or possibly even as a way to get even from a disagreement or argument. Sometimes it is just simply a malicious act by somebody who has nothing else to do with his or her lives.

When the crafted text message is received, your phone will freeze and then shut off. After a few seconds, your phone will again restart. In most cases, everything will return to normal after the restart. In some cases, a text message has to be sent back to the sender in order to get your message functions to work again. Sending a message from a different device can do this if you are unable to message from your phone.

There is no way to stop this text from being received so if you get it, your phone will shut down and restart. Many will think that their phone is fried but this is not the case. No damage is actually done to your phone. Since there is nothing you can do to avoid the message, just be aware that if it happens, you do not need to make a trip to your local Apple store for a phone repair.

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