Posts tagged computer maintenance

Close up on businesswoman backing up her computer, which is a good computer security habit.

Computer Security Habits You Should Adopt

Close up on businesswoman backing up her computer, which is a good computer security habit.

Protect your computer security at all times.

Computers are an essential part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s the cell phone you carry in your pocket or the desktop sitting in your room. They help us work and do our day-to-day task. Without them, our world becomes far less convenient. What is more important than the machine itself is your computer security habits. Protecting your computer from any type of malfunction or malicious attack is important to protect your private data. Let Geek Aid walk you through a couple of ways to ensure you aren’t left vulnerable.

Always Update Your Computer Security

Anytime you boot up your computer, the first thing you should do is check for updates. A new update to your operating system isn’t just an annoying notification that pops up. An update is a vital part of keeping your computer safe. New viruses are born every day, and some hackers even create ones to attack specific operating system. A new update is your computer company’s way to fighting off these infections. The longer you wait to update your system, the more vulnerable you are to an attack.

Change Your Password Game

Over and over we need to remind people to change their passwords. Many use the same password they have been using for several years for every account. This is a bad computer security habit. If your password becomes predictable, you are giving hackers the opportunity to access your devices, personal accounts, and more. Generate random passwords or strong ones that use a combination of letter, numbers, and symbols.

Create Computer Backups

When in doubt, regard Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. As your computer grows older, it’s is more likely to experience random glitches and crashes. You shouldn’t worry too much though as you can prepare for these kinds of unexpected events. Make sure that you regularly create backups. Do it every 2 weeks or every month to make sure the latest information and files are safe and secure. If you need help, there are some useful tips online on how to back up your system.

Email Carefully and Navigate the Web Safely

Going on the internet helps us gather information, stay on top of the news, and do so many other tasks at lightning speed. However, the internet isn’t always safe. Browsing on the web or opening up an unknown email is how a lot of people contract viruses. You have to be more careful. Do not open or download attachments or files from people or sources you don’t trust. Also, shareware and free downloads are often packed with malevolent software.

Investing in Antivirus Software

An extra antivirus software on your machine won’t hurt. In fact, these types of software are your number one barrier against hackers trying to steal or mess with your private data. They can set up firewalls and detect viruses attempting to penetrate your computer’s defense. Do some research and spend some money on a good antivirus software.

Have a broken, glitchy, or vulnerable computer? Then call Geek Aid at 877-GEEK-AID. We specialize in home and office IT, as well as computer setup and virus removal. Find out what we can do for you.

A businesswoman is stress because she is dealing with common computer problems.

The Difference Between Viruses and Common Computer Problems

A businesswoman is stress because she is dealing with common computer problems.

What common computer problems do you often encounter?

At one point or another, all of us have problems with our computer. The wonderful machine that allows us to do work, browse the interwebs and do a myriad of other things sometimes malfunctions beyond our understanding. At that point, we are calling the computer manufacture only for them to ask us if we tried turning it on and off.

Some of the issues we encounter can be serious threats. Other times, they are simply common computer problems. As a user, you should know how to identify between the two and what to do when you encounter them.

Keeping Your Computer Security Up-to-Date

Viruses and spyware are often a user’s number one concern – as it should be. Online threats are more prevalent today than they have ever been. Your computer’s behavior is a telling sign. Look out for anything peculiar that doesn’t normally happen with your machine. More than likely, your computer is being affected by some kind of malware that you accidently downloaded.

Antivirus software is your best defense against malicious programs. These programs generally work to protect your computer from the latest threats. However, viruses and spyware evolve to work around your computer’s protection software. You have to keep your antivirus software updated. Once you have updated your computer’s security software, run a comprehensive scan. It will weed out any threats to your privacy.

Dealing With Common Computer Problems

If you are experiencing issues with your computer, it will usually tell you. Error messages with alert you of an action that cannot be completed or if you are doing something that conflicts with another program. Sometimes, a computer will only give you the error code, leaving you stumped and confused. A simple Google search will provide you with the answer to the problem. Follow the instruction given to you and everything should be in working order.

If your computer is running slow, check your local disk space. You could have too much saved on your hard drive. Look through your files and erase anything you don’t need. You could also have too many programs running in the background. Go into your settings and open the privacy section. Next, you’ll find a section labeled “Background Apps.” You can turn on and off apps as you see fit.

Preventing Future Incidents

Your computer is an important tool. That’s why you need to be more careful online. When you are browsing the internet, stay away from shady and untrustworthy sites. Also, beware for freeware apps that promise you a service that you would normally have to pay for.

Also, remember that computers can be dumb. Certain parts of your operating system may break or are plagued by a bug. That is why companies release weekly updates. They eradicate common issues that interfere with your computer.

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what is happening with your computer and if they are just common computer problems. If there are any issues that are beyond your control, then call us at Geek Aid. We are here to solve all of your computer repair issues.

A 3d illustration of a computer and desktop in need of tech support.

Solving Common Tech Support Problems

A 3d illustration of a computer and desktop in need of tech support.

Simple steps to avoid tech support.

We all get that feeling. That nervous pit in our stomach. It’s the feeling that comes right before you dial the phone number to tech support. It might be the simplest issue that makes you feel stupid for not knowing how to fix it.

Before Calling Tech Support, You Should …

None of us want to go through the embarrassment of calling tech support. Let’s face it, phone conversations with strangers can be awkward. So, before you pull out your phone, here are a couple of ways to solve the simplest computer issues:

  • Restart Your Machine – It’s a very simple step, yet so many people ignore it. It should be the first thing you do, no matter what issue you have. A good reboot can realign your computer system to the way it should be.
  • Check Your Updates – Your computer should always be running the latest operating system (OS). If you are on a PC, check Windows Update. For a Mac, click software update in the settings. Remember, updates happen because hackers exploit an old OS.
  • Check Your Hard Drive – A full hard drive will slow your computer a significant amount. See where you can clear up some space. This may make your computer run a bit more smoothly.
  • Disable Startup Items – Have you ever had a billion things pop up every time you turn on your computer? Yeah, well those are startup items. Programs set to open when your computer receives power. Just press Windows-R, type msconfiq into the search bar that pops up, and enter. This will present you with a list of startup items. You can disable as many programs from opening up, just avoid anything labeled Microsoft corporation.
  • Speed Test and Network Hardware – Speed test can tell you how fast your download and upload speeds are. A really good one is speedtest.net. Compare your results to what your provider promises you. If you are experiencing connection issues, then restart your router and modem.

Simple, easy, done. These are just some simple solutions to simple problems. Check back next week to find out more.

Introducing Sway, from Microsoft

Microsoft has a new app. It is called Sway, and it is designed for telling stories. Basically, Sway will act as an alternative to the already popular PowerPoint when it comes to developing a presentation. If you have Windows 10, you can get the Sway app now. It is also available for download by Office 365 users. A Windows Phone app is in the works. How will Sway differ from its predecessor?

Because they are backed up to the cloud, Sway presentations are easy to embed in a website or share with other users. Instead of presentation pages, you use cards. It is easy to rearrange the storyboard and edit cards. To keep things simple, much of Sway is automated. While this may feel limiting to some, it will keep others from spending endless amounts of time working on a presentation that needs to be done by tomorrow.

This is one major difference between Sway and PowerPoint. You can’t actually create anything in Sway. You create your content elsewhere and then upload it to your story. Again, the point of this is to streamline the process. You can connect Sway to accounts in Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr to draw content.

You can also import your existing documents such as a PDF, a Word doc, or a PowerPoint presentation (which automatically converts it to Sway). You also get to choose which direction is more convenient for scrolling between horizontal and vertical.

The fact is that this new app does not replace PowerPoint in any way. It is, however, a simple way to throw together a quick presentation with preexisting materials that can be embedded into a website or easily shared via the cloud.

In the meantime, despite being designed to streamline the process of presentation making, Sway is not simple to use right out of the gate. There is a learning curve, and it won’t begin saving you time until you have had the chance to play around with it a little or watch some instructional videos.

Improve Your Windows 10 Experience With These Tricks

The Windows 10 upgrade is already a huge step up from Windows 8, but you may enjoy it even more if you know about all of the useful features. Here are a few that we love and think you may be interested in.

Update Your Start Menu

Boy were we ever glad to get the Start Menu back! Now it is time to customize. Right-click on those tiles to unpin them from start, pin them to your taskbar instead, or resize them. You can actually adjust the size of the start menu too by hovering over the edge and dragging it like you would a window. You get even more features to customize by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize and then the Start tab.

Switch Between Virtual Desktops

Windows 10 allows you to create more than one virtual desktop. This allows you to have one for work, one for play, one for the kids, etc., without having to log out and back in as a different user. Just click the task view button on the toolbar when you want to change desktops or get rid of one.

Start Talking to Cortana

Open the Cortana app to turn on the “Hey Cortana” feature. Be sure to choose the option that allows your computer to learn your voice. Then you can just start your command with “Hey, Cortana!” instead of having to click in the box anytime you want to ask your assistant for something.

Are You Using Microsoft Edge?

Yes, we know you love Chrome and Firefox, but it is time to give the new Microsoft browser a shot, especially if you need to comment on an existing web page. Just click on the Web Note button, chose among the highlighter, pen, or eraser, and you can make notes directly on web pages to save and send.

Biometric ID

If your computer or tablet has the technology for it, a Windows 10 upgrade allows you to unlock your device with fingerprint detection or facial recognition. Just go to “Settings>Accounts>Sign In” to see what options are available to you.

 

Giant Leaps in Memory Technology

While you may sometimes blame your processor for the running speed of your computer, the fact is that most modern processors spend more time waiting for the computer memory chip to their job than anything else. Intel and Micron, however, may have created a revolution that will serve as a giant leap in memory storage technology.

As technology advances, speed of access to data has become the primary bottleneck. After all, the latest and greatest applications are only as fast as a database can spit out the necessary information. Processors, on the other, have grown in power by leaps and bounds. The result is the equivalent of processors that twiddle their thumbs waiting for their slower counterparts.

One of the toughest things for researchers when it comes to memory is that, to keep things affordable, sacrifices have often been performance related. DRAM was invented in 1966. That was the only memory available until 1989 when flash memory (NAND) was developed. NAND is way cheaper than DRAM but also slower.

The future, however, is XPoint. This new form of memory is exponentially faster than NAND (about 1,000 times the speed), and it is more stable. It is also denser which allows it to be contained in a smaller space. In fact, you can get 128GB of storage operating at lightning fast speeds on a single memory stick.

While the speed of XPoint still does not match that of DRAM, it is far more stable and infinitely cheaper to produce. Plus, being able to but 10 times the amount of storage in a single wafer is a must in the modern world of smaller and smaller technology.

The highly advanced technology of computer memory is already in production by Intel, and there are many applications for this far faster memory. Everything from AI to 8K gaming will be benefited by this advance in memory. Memory intensive data analysis such as genetic analysis and fraud detection will also find this tech useful. Plus, social media is requiring far fast transfer of data with social networks expanding across the globe.

Important Custom Setup of Windows 10

No doubt you were excited to receive your free upgrade to Windows 10, especially if you were languishing under the idiosyncrasies of Windows 8. But now that you have the new operating system, what should you do with it? Here are a few settings you should check and set to meet with your personal preferences.

“Hey, Cortana!”

Cortana starts out as one of the Start Menu apps, so unless you immediately deleted it, you can easily navigate to your Cortana settings. What is Cortana? Your personal assistant to help you remember things, provide you with weather updates, suggest local restaurants based on your personal preferences, and so much more. The default setting, believe it or not, is for Cortana to be off. So if you want to use this feature, you will have to enable it. Be sure to turn on the “Hey, Cortana” voice activation, and set it to recognize your voice. It only takes a minute.

Avoid Surprise Reboots

Keeping your operating system up to date at all times is vital to security. That is why Windows 10 automatically updates whether you want it to or not (this is for your own good). The good news is that you can schedule restarts under the Advanced Windows Update options. Select Notify to schedule restarts to get an advance notification. After all, an unexpected reboot while you are working can be super inconvenient (although not as inconvenient as a security breach due to not updating at all).

Disable Wi-Fi Sense (unless you really want to use it)

Wi-Fi Sense automatically sends anyone in your contacts list an encrypted password to your network (and vice versa when you are in range of their network). The questions are: Do you want to trust every contact in Outlook, Skype, and Facebook with your network key? Do you trust their networks to be secure – enough so that you want to connect automatically? If you answered no to either of those questions, you will need to disable Wi-Fi Sense. It is found under Change Wi-Fi Settings>Manage Wi-Fi Settings.

Just because Windows is new, it doesn’t mean that you have to be happy with every default setting. If you did not perform a custom setup, these are a few places to start.

Move Over IE: Here Comes Spartan

Let’s face it, regardless of how they have done in other tech aspects, Microsoft has been coming up short to competitors in the web browser category for years. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and many other popular browsers have been used in place of Internet Explorer on most PCs, and nobody looks for a Microsoft browser to replace the one that comes on his or her Google or Apple devices. Project Spartan is how Microsoft aims to turn all that around. Look for the revamped Microsoft web browser to be packaged with Windows 10. Here are some features.

The first thing you will notice with Spartan is that Microsoft is getting out of the user’s way. IE, Internet Explorer, was always in your face and taking up precious screen space. Spartan is much more streamlined and actually looks similar to the latest version of Firefox with just the tabs at the top with a URL bar underneath and a small menu off to the right-hand side of the screen. It also loads much faster than its predecessor, which was one of the most frustrating things about IE.

Microsoft has not just pulled a page from their competitor’s playbook, however. There is a new feature in Project Spartan that is unique to the Microsoft web browser. There is a button that allows the user to make a “web note.” This means that the user can draw or write directly on the web page, save it, and send it to other users via email, social media, or other means. It is especially effective on a 2-in-1 device that allows you to draw directly on the screen with a stylus or your finger.

One decent feature from IE that went unnoticed (because no one used the browser) was the Reading view mode. This allows you to read the content of a website without the clutter (although it would be nicer for developers just to make the sites readable in the first place). This feature is staying in place for Spartan, and thus may finally get some recognition.

All in all, we always look forward to new computer technology, and it looks like Microsoft may finally be a player on the web browser scene.

Does Flash Need to Update or Are You Getting Hacked?

Computers update on a regular basis. When we see a pop-up that tells us that flash, or java, or our video player needs to update, we click okay without giving it a second thought. This is something that online scam artists are now taking advantage of. Before you agree to update anything on your computer, make sure you are not updating your way into a hack.

The first warning sign should be that the update comes in a pop-up box while you are loading a website. Generally getting hacked happens with less reputable sites. The site owner, however, may not even know that someone is using his or her website to download malware onto the computers of unsuspecting visitors. Do not trust pop-ups on sites that you visit. This actually goes for reputable sites as well. Facebook has been the victim of such a scam in the past, and tens of thousands of users downloaded the malware as a result.

What should you do if you have already clicked on such a pop-up and are now struggling with the malware. Some may have a simple fix, such as running a free malware remover. Others hide and multiply no matter how thoroughly you thought you erased them. In most cases it is a good idea to bring an infected machine to a professional. This will ensure that the malware is completely eradicated. You do not want to accidentally leave phishing software on your computer which could allow hackers to lift your passwords or credit card information as you go about your daily business online.

When it comes to clicking okay to anything on your computer, you should always be wary. If you do see a shady pop-up, close your browser immediately, and do not use the site you were at anymore unless it is unavoidable. Sites like Facebook will generally discover a hack in a short amount of time and remove it, making such sites relatively safe. Just be wary of any site that tries to get you to download something you did not specifically search for.

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