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Computer Slowing Down? It Isn’t Just You

May 22, 2018 Blog

Sluggish Computer: Virus and Malware Removal

Are you making an honest effort to keep your computer virus and malware free and yet you still feel like your computer is getting slower and slower as more time passes? Well, it isn’t just your imagination; your computer really is getting slower as time passes. You may even have downloaded one of the many free antivirus or anti-malware programs found online and are doing all you can to avoid clicking on suspicious links, not opening emails from people that you don’t recognize and other harmful things that could potentially hurt your computer.

Computer Slowing Down? It Isn't Just You

While there are some respectable and incredibly useful free antivirus programs available and other good programs that require a monthly or annual fee, these programs are not infallible. Even if you don’t see any obvious signs of viruses or malware being present on your computer, they could still be there. Your computer’s sluggishness could quite possibly be the result of viruses or malware being present on your computer. If you find that your computer has become so slow that waiting for something so basic as opening a word document seems to take an extensive amount of time to occur, then your computer almost certainly has a virus or malware problem and it needs to be diagnosed and the problem addressed.

We can perform certain diagnostics and check your computer for any viruses or malware that may be the cause of your computer’s lack of speed. While we’re at it, we can also clean up any unused files that may be reducing performance merely by being present on your machine. A regular tune-up to improve your computer’s performance is easily less expensive than replacing a computer whenever its performance starts to significantly decrease.

If you are tired of having to deal with slow response times for basic activities, contact us today and we can get your computer running at top speed again.

Bluescreen Issues

May 8, 2018 Blog

Dealing with the Bluescreen of Death

For computer users, there is little more terrifying than seeing the blue screen of death. It is the true epitome of terror and the ultimate devastation for any computer user. It represents the loss of all of your data on that computer.

Fortunately, all is not necessarily lost. Before you decide that your computer is now only an expensive paperweight now, it is worth your time to consider trying to get it repaired. A BSoD can sometimes be merely a way to safeguard your machine and its data until the problem that caused it is gone and it will shut itself down until this is the case.

Bluescreen Issues

Fix it yourself

Depending on how serious the issue is, it is entirely possible to fix a BSoD yourself provided you follow certain steps. The recommended steps for attempting to fix a BSoD are:

  1. Review the actions you have recently taken on your computer: If you recently installed a new piece of hardware or software, update or install a device driver or install a major update to your OS then it is likely that is the cause of the BSoD. Revert the change and test for the error again.
  2. Check how much free space your hard drive has: It’s possible that the BSoD may be occurring because you don’t have enough storage space on your primary partition where the OS is stored. If this is the case, remove any unnecessary files and retest for the Blue Screen.
  3. Return your hardware to its default settings: Unless you have a very good reason to do so, the resources that your hardware is configured to use should be set to default. Non-default settings can cause a Blue Screen of Death.
  4. Return BIOS settings to their default levels: An incorrectly configured BIOS can cause a number of issues, including a Blue Screen of Death.
  5. Perform a diagnostic test on hardware you are able to test: It is extremely likely that the cause of a Blue Screen of Death is that a piece of your computer’s hardware is failing or has failed

Have a professional repair your computer

Not all Bluescreens can be fixed by user repairs and some of them are serious enough to prevent access to your computer’s system. In this case, the optimal choice is to speak to a professional and arrange for it to be repaired. You might need only a few basic repairs to get your computer up and running again. This approach can save you a lot of money. It’s always less expensive and more convenient to pay for a repair than to have to buy a brand new computer.

Has your computer stopped working? Contact us today to find out what to do about this quandary.

Data recovery: Ways To Get Back Lost Data

April 24, 2018 Blog

Data Lost, Data Found: How to recover your data

When it comes to computers and technology, there is little more terrifying than data loss. It is, sadly, inevitable. Everyone who stores data on any electronic device will eventually lose data. The lucky ones are those who remember to back up their data and can simply get their files from its backup location and continue as if nothing ever happened. Sadly, this will not always be the case. Most people will eventually find themselves in a situation where they lose data. There are a few ways to deal with this data loss, both to try and retrieve the data and to mitigate the issue.

Data recovery: Ways to get back lost data

Solution #1: Data Recovery Software

Depending on how the data was lost, it is entirely possible to use commercially available software to retrieve it. This usually involves the recovery software being installed prior to data loss as installing it afterward can potentially result in the data in need of recovery being overwritten by the installation of the recovery software. However, with some time, patience and a bit of luck it is entirely possible to recover lost data, if not for free then for only a fraction of what a professional data recovery service would charge.

Solution #2: Data Recovery services

Certain companies offer a service known as data recovery where you pay a professional to examine the drive and retrieve your data. Of course, you will have to pay a premium for recovering data and the price will vary depending on how difficult it is to recover as well as if the service provider has to send the hard drive off to an external site and who is doing the data recovery as prices do tend to vary from place to place.

Of course, while this is unlikely, it is entirely possible that a Data Recovery service might fail to recover your data. This is something to beware because some companies will charge you up front for recovering data which can be an issue if you pay $400, for example, and the company fails to retrieve your data. This kind of issue can be avoided, though. Just make sure to only involve trustworthy companies or individuals in repairing your data.

While it will not be always possible to recover lost data, these services offer the best hope of data recovery. With time, some patience and a bit of luck your data may be saved.

If you have lost data and need help getting it back then contact us today. We can help save your data!

A Simple Diagnostic Trick For Switch Problems

April 13, 2018 Blog

Computer switches are important because they operate the power supply and allow you to use the system. When they fail or appear to fail, quite a few problems can be the culprit. Here’s a simple diagnostic trick that anyone can perform on their failing switches.

A Simple Diagnostic Trick For Switch Problems

Checking The Initial Switch System

Think of your switch as a tool that completes the electrical contact circuit in your computer. If it fails to perform this task, the computer won’t turn on. To diagnose a problem with the switch, carefully open the front of the computer and locate the two prongs that make contact with the switch. Touch these with a screwdriver to complete the circuit.

If the problem with your computer’s power supply is the switch, your system should immediately turn on and continue to run. However, if the system does not turn on, you have a more serious problem. These problems include issues with the power supply and problems with the motherboard.

Diagnosing More Complex Problems

When it comes to diagnosing power supply and motherboard problems, it is better to leave them to a professional. Why? It will require pulling apart your computer’s power supply, reconnecting electrical wires, and potential making serious mistakes. The same is true of working with the motherboard. Making a mistake here will potentially ruin your computer.

If you think your computer is suffering from this problem or if you need help diagnosing the problem, please contact us today. We can quickly figure out what is bothering your computer and will work to fix it in a way that provides it with hours of power for years to come.

Got a Bluescreen? Here’s How to Fix It

March 29, 2018 Blog

Windows PC users throughout the ages have faced the dreaded “Bluescreen of Death” commonly referred to as the BSOD.  Just like “Murphy’s Law” the reviled BSOD has a bad habit of occurring at the worst possible time, almost as if it knew you were working on that critical Word document or PowerPoint for tomorrow’s meeting… Anyone who has used a PC for any length of time has faced this blue-faced tragedy and it has many causes but there are ways to fix it.

Got a Bluescreen? Here's How to Fix It

What can one do to fight this digital specter of the Windows age?

Like a detective, sometimes you have to pay attention to the clues. What were you doing when it happened? Has it happened more than once? Where you using the same program when it happened?  Have you recently installed a new program or perhaps a new piece of hardware?  Just like anything in this world that BSOD came about because something changed in a bad way.  Something that Windows or the faulting application had no idea how to handle and hence you get a bluescreen that says “uh-oh.”

It’s all about software…

Even if you installed a new piece of hardware it still comes down to software or in this case a small piece of software known as a “driver.”  Drivers are what allow Windows to talk to hardware in your system and since software is made by imperfect human beings it often has “bugs” in it.  For example, let’s say you were scanning a document and the bluescreen happened.  You might want to look for an updated driver for that scanner.  Scanning for viruses when it happened?  Could be that last antivirus software update or maybe even a virus that doesn’t want to be found. Did you add new memory to that computer?  Perhaps it’s not performing well or just isn’t compatible.  Trace your steps and you can figure out the mystery.

We hope you found this helpful and if so there’s plenty of other topics we can help demystify or solve for you.  Just feel free to contact us.

Easy Solutions to Common Computer Repair Problems

March 15, 2018 Blog

It happens to everyone. No matter how shiny, new, and fast that computer was when you brought it home from the store, problems are bound to arise sooner or later. Thankfully, not every computer repair problem is severe enough to warrant tossing it in the trash. Some problems can take mere moments to overcome as long as you know what to do. Here are some examples of common problems with equally common solutions:

Easy Solutions to Common Computer Repair Problems

Computer doesn’t turn on/Black Screen

If your computer shows nothing but a black screen when you turn it on, or it doesn’t turn on at all, don’t panic. Check the power cables connected to both your computer and your monitor, and make sure they are plugged in and snug, both at the wall socket and at the devices themselves. Being just a tad loose can be enough to prevent them from powering on. Once you’re sure the power cables are fine, check the video cable that connects the computer to the monitor. Your display may be black simply because it’s disconnected, so make sure that connection is solid.

Keyboard and Mouse Problems

Keyboard and mouse problems can be similar to the problems that cause power or black screen problems: loose cables. Be sure the keyboard and mouse are plugged into their ports properly. If they are and your keyboard or mouse still aren’t working, try unplugging them and plugging them back in again. This may cause the computer to detect them and start working again. If you have a wireless keyboard or mouse, be sure to check the batteries as well. They might not be charged.

Computer repair isn’t always complicated or serious, but some computer problems can seem insurmountable. If your issues need an expert’s touch, please contact us to schedule a repair consultation today.

How You Can Troubleshoot Speaker Problems

March 5, 2018 Blog

Speakers are an essential part of many people’s computers because they allow them to watch movies, play games, and enjoy music. Unfortunately, it is possible for these speakers to malfunction or struggle to operate properly. Thankfully, you can troubleshoot these concerns and figure out what is causing your problems.

How You Can Troubleshoot Speaker Problems

Check The Power Source

The most common problem with speakers is an issue with the power supply. This can happen to one or both speakers. When it does happen, it will make it difficult for your speakers to run properly. Make sure to check the power source for frays or breaks.

Pan The Stereo Sound

When your power source doesn’t appear to be the problem, try panning the sound from speaker to speaker. This test will let you gauge if there is a problem with an individual speaker. These problems typically include frayed cords and burned out speaker components that must be replaced.

Test Your Sound Card

If you have tested the power source of your speakers and found no problems with the stereo pan, test the sound card. There is a good chance it may have malfunctioned. This test requires a manual hardware and software test. It will gauge if your sound card is broken and attempt to diagnose the problem for you.

If you have speaker problems that are preventing you from enjoying music or videos, don’t hesitate to contact us today for help. We can get your speakers up and running in no time. Our computer specialists have experience with repairing speakers and can help you figure out what is plaguing your speakers and how to fix it.

3 Tips for Malware Prevention

February 14, 2018 Blog

This is a world where virtually anything can be accomplished online (or with a computer in general), and when it comes to viruses, there are plenty to go around. Viruses fit under the ever-expanding umbrella of malware, otherwise referred to as malicious software, is loosely defined as any potentially unwanted or unsavory software. There’s a plethora of software which is considered malware, yet much of it isn’t described as harmful. It could be as simple as a reoccurring pop-up ad, which can be caused by adware. It should be noted that there are also many other forms of malware which can quickly wreak havoc on computer systems.

3 Tips for Malware Prevention

Computer systems, (at home or at work) are the front line in cyber warfare against the majority. Those on the home front are especially vulnerable. Because malware consists of such a broad range of software, it’s incredibly easy to call an item malware. So, here are a few tips for identifying and removing malware along with a couple of programs that can help and are free-to-use.

Don’t mess with your emails

Especially in the wake of the Equifax scandal, everyone should be at Defcon-1 in regards to efforts in upholding cybersecurity. Never open emails of suspicious-looking subject matter nor questionable origin, ever! Here lies a possible outcome. Emails may be spoofed to the degree of identicality to that of an email you would receive under ordinary circumstances, say, from a colleague. Some may contain ill-disposed code which may download malware from the internet without the user’s knowledge. This is known as a drive-by-download attack. Or if you are using an unpatched browser, this could trigger a buffer overflow flaw and thus allow for remote code execution on exploited by an attacker. Alternatively, malignant mail can and are more often part of a social engineering campaign. Social engineering is essentially what a con-artist practices, the art of the scam. Assuming that there is such a computer which is deemed unhackable, people are and always have been, the weakest link. This is why learning the safeguards of technology is paramount.

Be careful with unfamiliar sites

Remember clicking on the part of the webpage that seemed like it was empty, only to find another window pop up? Of course, that’s called clickjacking. Usually, it just brings up ads, but this could easily take a turn for the worst. Clickjacking is an enormous annoyance, but it clearly presents a potential safety risk. For instance, what if one of those clicks opened the window to a drive-by ransomware download. Bad news, right?

If you use Google Chrome, you’ve probably seen the dangerous site warning at some point in time. If you get this error, heed their warning. Sometimes this warning can be a false positive, although it’s better to be safe than sorry. In general, look for sites that use Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure (HTTPS).

Be careful of what you download

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s true, always be careful what is downloaded to your machine. This isn’t just about programs; it applies to PDFs, shell scripts, images, videos, java, adobe plugins, and much more. Even though browsers like google chrome are okay with alerting the user about downloads, that’s not enough. Neither is Windows Defender! Norton Security and Malwarebytes both do a great job of handling cyber threats. SpyHunter also does a great job, but it (the unpaid version) is VERY manual. This is a turn-off to many users. The upside is that it detects all sorts of bugs and annoyances that you probably don’t want.

Extra safety tips

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) or a proxy
  • Use HTTPS-Everywhere
  • Use an open-source password manager
  • Use an AdBlocker
  • Encrypt your storage
  • Make periodic backups
  • Turn on your firewall
  • Turn on your anti-malware

If you desire professional assistance in malware avoidance, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Successfully Upgrade Your Computers Processor or Memory

February 2, 2018 Blog

The hardest part (arguably) of upgrading a computers internals, is finding which of the components are compatible with your system. However going to all that trouble can go to waste if you don’t follow a certain list of steps while installing them. There are only five steps required in order to upgrade your computer properly. All of these steps are to prevent the humbling, painful, and expensive experience involved in breaking one of the components.

Successfully Upgrade Your Computers Processor or Memory

First of all turn your computer COMPLETELY off. You should also unplug the power cord, and if you are using a desktop, any other cords or cables.

The second step will be to properly get rid of any static electricity. You can simply just touch a metal object that is properly grounded or you can touch the metal frame of your computer. If this doesn’t reassure you completely, then you can get an Anti-Static wrist band.

Thirdly after you have opened up your computer (without breaking anything hopefully), you should check the components you will be installing for any manufacturing defects or damage. Also be very gentle while handling any computer parts, especially processors as the pins on the bottom are easily bent or broken.

Now fourthly when you install the processor or memory never force it in there as computer components are very fragile. Be extremely careful when it comes to the processor, since as mentioned before the pins are almost ridiculously fragile. The pins should fit right into the sockets very smoothly. If something doesn’t fit perfectly, simply check the pins make sure they’re not bent or damaged, then check if the socket is open. If it still doesn’t fit even after a bit of trouble shooting, then you may have the wrong component for your system.

Fifthly, and finally make sure after completely re-assembling your computer, that you computer recognizes the hardware. This is mainly for RAM/memory and here’s a good guide on how to find that.

If all these steps seem like too much or you would rather someone with professional experience install your computer parts for you, contact us for a quick estimate.

4 Types of Ransomware Viruses

January 5, 2018 Blog

Ransomware has been in the news again recently. Thousands of computers worldwide have been hit by it, including those owned by hospitals and government offices. Many have been forced to pay the ransom to recover their files. In this article, you’ll read about the different kinds of ransomware that are out there.

4 Types of Ransomware Viruses

Screen Locker Ransomware

The first kind of ransomware would lock users out of their computers by displaying a message that prevented them from logging in. Usually, the message would claim to be from law enforcement, saying that the user visited illegal websites. Users would be forced to pay a “fine” if they wanted to be able to use their computer again.

Encrypting Ransomware

By 2013, ransomware viruses started actually encrypting a computer’s data to prevent users from accessing it. The virus would gain access to a computer via a malicious file or link. It would quietly encrypt the data over a few days. The hackers would then keep the key until the user pays a ransom. This is the type of ransomware that is mostly seen nowadays. It’s particularly dangerous because, without a backup, there usually is no way of restoring your data.

Mac Ransomware

Macintosh computers have usually been less vulnerable to ransomware viruses. However, they are not invincible. For example, a ransomware virus called KeRanger was distributed last year via an app for Macs called Transmission.

Tech Scam Viruses

While not technically ransomware viruses, these viruses are still annoying. They pop up and give you false warnings that your computer is infected. They then tell you to call a number to rid your devices from the supposed viruses. When you call them, the hackers will then connect to your computer and will only leave you alone if you pay a hefty fee.

For expert help with preventing and removing viruses, contact us today!