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You’ve probably heard about how common ransomware seems to be now. You may have heard about businesses being locked out of their systems until they paid a fee to get back in. Or, if you were especially unlucky, you may have even been the victim of ransomware yourself. You can avoid this kind of thing so long as you are proactive in stopping it in the future. These tips should help you avoid being caught by ransomware going forward as long as you combine them with a bit of basic common sense.

Tips for Avoiding Ransomware on Your Computer

Don’t click on suspicious-looking links

If a link you find looks suspicious or you think something is off with it then don’t click it. Don’t just push your luck and assume that you’re just being too paranoid. It’s usually the opposite and clicking on a link that seems suspicious will usually result in your computer getting infected. You should make sure to only download software from sources you recognize and always do a custom installation so you can remove anything you don’t recognize and avoid any potential issues.

Upgrade your software

Make sure that your software is regularly being updated. OS and software updates frequently contain security fixes and not upgrading can leave you just as vulnerable as clicking onto so make sure that you are upgrading your software when the option is available and not just putting it off again and again until your computer gets ransomware and you have to pay $7,000 to access your machine again.

Back up your data

This is something that you should be doing already but it’s especially important here. Make sure that you back up your data whenever you can. You won’t always be able to avoid losing data but you can give yourself the option to return to a pre-ransomware state system by rolling back as long as you are frequently backing up your system.

Install Antivirus Software

Antivirus software is not just for stopping viruses: it can be used to stop lots of other things including malware and ransomware. A program with a strong firewall that can prevent your system from being infiltrated is a must as is regularly scanning your system for suspicious files.

Be a little paranoid online

Whenever you’re browsing online, it’s in your best interests to be a little bit paranoid. Doing so may save you from weeks of hassle in trying to remove hostile and unwanted software from your computer. One basic tip that is a must to follow when using any public network is to always run the network through a VPN to ensure that nobody is monitoring your data traffic and there isn’t going to be someone using the network to send ransomware onto your machine through the network in question.

To get extra help and more in-depth tips and tricks for preventing ransomware from getting on your computer in the first place, contact us today!

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The Dead Motherboard – Last Resort

Your favorite motherboard is on the fritz; what are you to do? You’ve tried everything you can think of to no avail, which is causing you to fret! You’ll want to check out this neat last resort trick that might resolve your problem. You see, the solder that holds the chips onto the motherboard will sometimes degrade and cause the whole system to fail. A well-known practice to bring a motherboard back from the dead would be to reflow it using heat. You heard that right; you need to bake that piece of hardware in the oven like it were a roast for dinner! It sounds insane, I know, but the generated heat from a stove can get hot enough to cause the solder on the motherboard to meld back together. There are some precautions that you should take for your safety and all other people around you.

The Dead Motherboard - Last Resort

Now, this the is the last resort option and is not guaranteed to fix your motherboard at all. If you’re going to toss out the dead hardware, why not try reflowing anyways just to experiment with it? Who knows, maybe you’ll get lucky and you’ll be able to bring it back to life for a few extra months before you have to do it again! Impress yourself and everyone around you. Reflowing the motherboard is a prevalent practice for laptops and video game consoles. The reason for this is because all of the parts are usually integrated on the motherboard itself. This essentially means if one thing screws up that it creates an issue for the whole system. Not to mention, trying to use a heat gun in certain situations may or may not be easy, which is why most people toss that motherboard on a cookie sheet and pop it into the oven!

If you want more information about motherboards or how to reflow them, please contact us, and we will answer any questions you might have.

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Laptop Screen Replacement

So, your laptop took a fall but seems fine until you turn it on at which point you notice a black and white spider web running across the screen. Now you are unable to see a thing and your screen is basically useless and your productivity on that laptop has just evaporated.

Laptop Screen Replacement

If it’s within your budget, your natural impulse is probably to run out to the nearest computer repair store and buy a brand new computer so that you can get on with your computing life in as short a time as possible. Not so fast; there is often a better solution than simply paying money to get a new machine because of something as simple as a cracked screen.

Leaving aside the fact that the purchase of a new computer is simply outside of the budgetary constraints of some people, it’s often just not worth your time to have to move all of your files and reinstall every single application you regularly use in order to address the issue of a cracked screen.

The best thing to do here is to simply have your old screen repaired. This will save you quite a bit of money as it is nowhere near as expensive as having to fork over the cash for a brand new laptop and you can probably be up and running in a fraction of the time as well.

Depending on how technically competent you are, it is entirely possible to replace the screen yourself provided you can get your hands on the right screen however, this may extend the length of time fixing your laptop takes so it is probably in your best interests to simply have a repair store do it for you as they will already have the parts on hand and can do it for you in a fraction of the time it would take anyone to install a new screen themselves and there is not the risk that you will accidentally void the warranty in the process.

If you have a broken laptop screen or have a friend or family member who does, please contact us today so we can get you up and running again.

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Memory Upgrades: What’s Right For You?

Has your computer performance been slow lately? If so, it may be time for an upgrade. The easiest part to upgrade that could boost your performance significantly is your RAM, or Random Access Memory. This acts as the temporary storage for applications that are currently running on your machine. Unlike your storage space, RAM is cleared when the computer loses power.

Memory Upgrades: What's Right For You?

What are the different types of RAM?

There are numerous types of RAM in use with consumer computers today that come in numerous form factors. For example, desktops typically use DIMM RAM, while laptops use a different, smaller form factor called SODIMM. These are merely changes in size, however- the real difference in speed comes from the version of RAM a machine uses. Consumer desktop RAM types include DDR, DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4- with DDR being the oldest and DDR4 being fairly new. Most machines today use DDR2 or DDR3, and DDR4 is typically used in high-end enthusiast computers. DDR is outdated and rarely used. The newer the memory type is, the faster and more power efficient it is. The type of RAM you use is limited by your processor and motherboard, however- for example, if a board is using DDR2 memory, you cannot use DDR3.

How do I know what type of RAM my computer needs?

Generally, this can be done in a number of ways. For example, on a Windows 10 machine, you could open the Task Manager (either by pressing Win+R and typing ‘taskmgr’ and running that or by using the CTRL+ALT+DEL Security Menu and running it from there) and navigate to the Performance tab. From there, click “Memory” and you should see both the type of RAM you are using as well as the capacity in the upper right-hand corner, while the form factor is in the lower right-hand corner underneath the speed and slots used. However, if for some reason that does not work, most RAM sticks have it indicated on a sticker on one of the sides. Make sure you use an anti-static wrist strap, however, to avoid damaging your parts with static electricity if you do this! One other alternative would be to identify the type of motherboard you are using and search online for the manual or specifications- that would help you find out what you need as well.

How do I replace or upgrade RAM?

If you want to upgrade your memory or replace the parts yourself, you could follow the above instructions to find what type of memory you are using and purchase the parts, either from a store locally or an online store. First things first, you should always make sure the computer is shut down and unplugged, and ensure you have either grounded yourself or used an anti-static wrist strap. Next, open the side panel. From there, if you are removing the RAM, you will want to release the clips on both sides of the RAM sticks you wish to remove and pull them from the machine. To insert a RAM stick, you must first press down those clips as if you were removing a memory stick and then line up the new memory’s notch with the raised “tooth” in the slot and press it down firmly and evenly across both sides. After that, replace the side panel and you should be good to go!

Of course, if you wanted to avoid the hassle and would rather have your new upgrades professionally installed by our qualified technicians, you could always contact us at one of our locations.

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Fixing Your Computer’s Power Switch

After constant use to turn your computer on and off over the years of owning your particular machine, your power button (and possible your reset button too) is likely to get worn out and stop working or require ever-increasing levels of force to be employed against it for the button to work. When this happens, you may be tempted to take your computer to a repair shop and get the button or buttons fixed for a small fee. While this is an option, you can potentially fix it yourself and it isn’t even that hard to do. So, before you load up your computer and drive to the nearest repair shop, you should consider trying the following steps to fix it yourself.

Fixing Your Computer's Power Switch

The first thing to do is to shut down the computer. You do not want to be attempting any sort of repair process with the computer still running, after all. Once it has been shut down, you should disconnect all cables from the computer. Gently remove the power cable and then disconnect the monitor’s display cable, the mouse, and keyboard and any other peripheral connectors also hooked up to your PC.

Once this is done, press the power button and hold it in that pressed down position for around five seconds in order to drain any power that still remains in your computer before releasing the button.

With that done, you should remove the left side panel of the computer case. The means may vary from pc to pc but it usually involves gripping a handle on the exterior and pulling the panel loose after unscrewing it. After doing that, remove the bezel from the front of the computer before removing the cap covering the power button and then push on the rear of the button until it comes out.

Once this is done, take the spring from the power button assembly you’ve just taken out and place it on the new button’s stem and insert this new button into the front of the bezel and snap the power button’s cover back in place once you are done then reattach the left panel and front bezel. With everything reattached, you may now reconnect all the cables and the power button should be fixed.

This guide should allow you to easily fix a failing power button without much trouble but, if you still have questions or if you feel that you aren’t up to the challenge of fixing the power button yourself then please Contact Us for more information on the repair process and don’t worry. If you feel it’s too much of a challenge to do it yourself, you can always let us fix it for you.

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Different screen sizes can be a headache. If you have reading glasses or you’ve been staring at your screen since 8 o’clock this morning, that can be more literal than you’d like. Make sure your business devices are customized both for your easy use and for communal screen sharing. Here’s how to do it across multiple operating systems:

How and Why to Scale Your Screen Size

Why would you want to scale your screen instead of just zooming in?

Zooming in changes the viewability of your active program, and only in part. If you are in a browser, zooming in changes the webpage size. If you are in a program like Word or Excel, the document zooms in. But in both case, the menu and navigation options stay the same size. Your computer tools, like your Start menu and folders, also stay small and hard to read. Scaling makes everything larger. Even better, it does so while keeping everything proportional and well-formatted so things don’t grow off the side of the screen.

Scaling Windows computers:

Not everyone is a fan of Windows 10, but one of the improvements is in how easily you can access personalization settings. Right click on your desktop, mouse over Display Settings, and click. Scaling, resolution, and more are right there without any more clicking or scrolling. It also takes you straight to screen sharing, so you can scale your computer right before making a presentation and then scale it back to your preferred setting.

Changing the scale on a Mac:

A Mac (as opposed to other Apple devices) has pretty much the same pathway. If you navigate from System Preferences to Displays and the specific Display page, you can alter the scale.

Tablets and smartphones don’t offer quite the same options. Usually, they have an alternative function or different zooming features. While these can make everything larger, they don’t keep everything in scale and can occasionally make formatting a little inconvenient.

Making changes across multiple operating systems can be difficult, even when it’s just changing your preferred settings. It gets even trickier when it comes to system updates, security programs, and syncing. Go to PC Geeks for tips and equipment.

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So, let’s say you have just gotten yourself a brand new computer and want to start setting it up to be ideal for your workflow. Where exactly should you start and what do you need to do? There are a few steps you should go through to get your machine set up after you have unpackaged it. These can even include where to set it and what kind of work area to have.

From Start to Finish: A Complete Computer Setup

First of all, you want your computer to be in an area with good airflow that is well ventilated to prevent it from suffering from overheating during use.

Second, you need to locate and connect the monitor cable. Depending on what kind of cable you’ll be using, this can be easier or harder. The most common types of cables are HTML and DisplayPort cables which are fairly easy to recognize as they are curled up on one side, rather like a mouth. If you have difficulties identifying which port to use, consult the manual. You should find a diagram identifying which cable goes to which connection port inside your manual somewhere.

After connecting the monitor, you should find and connect the keyboard and mouse. While almost all modern keyboards and mouses use a USB port, there are still a few that use a unique connection so make sure to check that your computer is compatible if yours is one of these.

At this point, you should connect your PC’s various peripherals such as speakers or headphones and a printer (if you have one). Depending on your PC and specific peripherals, they may connect in several different ways but USB is the most common for printers or webcams though some will require either software installation or connect with both USB and audio ports.

With all of the peripherals hooked up, the only thing left to do is to connect the power. Find your computer and monitor’s power cables, hook them up and connect them to a surge protector before plugging the surge protector into a wall outlet.

And that is it. You are now finished with setting up your computer and it’s ready to be used, at least in the hardware sense. There may still be some software or drivers that need installing or updating but your PC can now be turned on and you can start using it at last.

If you have any further questions or need more information about computer setup then please contact us.

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Data problems can and will develop. There may be vulnerabilities in your cyber security that gives outside parties the opportunity to steal information. Older, archived files could start to degrade and become unreadable. Even not systematically tracking your data could lead to lost servers, deleted data, and decentralized filing systems. Part of keeping your data safe is minimizing these instances as much as possible. The other part is planning for them.

Keep Your Data Safe by Planning for the Worst

What should you do to prepare for a data loss?

Making a plan is the first step to keeping your business on track. Companies with data that is subject to HIPAA regulation are required to have business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Even if those stipulations don’t apply to your business, making specific, step-by-step procedures quickens your response time. Regardless of what plans you build or how you organize responsibilities, make sure that you:

Have a template prepared to alert impacted parties.

Most business-to-business contracts have language regarding response times for data losses. Depending on your business, you could also be legally required to alert customers and the public within twenty-four to seventy-two hours of discovering the problem. Make two to three templates ahead of time (with your lawyer or legal department’s help) so you can send it off within the window and don’t accidentally say something wrong in the pressure of the moment.

Have an accessible back-up.

Most businesses have one of two different backup systems. Either they have a short-term collection of data that holds all the progress made over the past day or week, or they have a server that holds manually archived back-ups of data from fixed points. It’s best to have both. Not only does that mean business can continue because you have redundancies, you have a collection of restore points. That’s useful for tracing back data corruptions or accidentally deleted information.

These are just two of the steps that should be in place for peace of mind. Go to PC Geeks to learn more about the data recovery policies and tools that can make your company stronger.

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Repair, Upgrade, or Replace?

It happens to every computer after a while. Something just isn’t right. It seems to be growing slower. It gets too many crashes. Is it time for a new machine?

A lot of times, the problem is something that’s easy and inexpensive to fix. Before you buy a new computer, you should think about these questions:

  • Do I want to spend that much money and disrupt my schedule right now?
  • Will it fix my problem?
  • Is there a less expensive way to fix it?

Repair, Upgrade, or Replace?

Alternatives to replacement

Some problems are easy to repair. A loose connector or an erratic power supply can account for unreliable computer behavior. If the computer sometimes doesn’t see devices that you plug in, or if it spontaneously reboots, that may be the reason. The fix costs much less than a new computer.

Software issues may be what’s slowing your computer down. If your browser has too many plugins, that could drag down its performance. Some out-of-date process might be running in the background, desperately trying to connect to a site that no longer exists.

Malicious software could be hiding on your machine, dragging down its performance as well as stealing your information. Scanning for malware or reinstalling your operating system may uncover and fix problems.

A hardware upgrade could provide the performance boost you need, for less money than a new machine. Adding memory can dramatically improve performance, especially if you switch between applications a lot. If you’ve nearly filled up your disk, a larger disk drive can speed up your machine.

Consider all the costs

When you move to a new machine, you have to migrate everything that you want to keep. Sometimes software won’t run on the newer hardware. You may need to re-enter a license key. If you can’t find it, you might need to buy the application again to use it. You may need to purchase an upgrade to let it run on the new machine.

The new computer may have a newer operating system version. That’s nice in a lot of ways, but it increases the chances of compatibility problems. At best, you’ll have to spend some time learning the ways it does things differently. It’s something we all do periodically, but the question is whether you want to do it right now.

Talk to us. We can help you to make an informed decision on whether repair, upgrading, or replacement is the best way to fix your computer issues.

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One of the most important assets that you have in your personal life or for work is your computer. Most people trust their computers to record and store a significant amount of valuable data on a daily basis. While data is typically stored and secured properly, there are situations in which your computer or laptop can be damaged and data can be lost. If you believe you have lost your data, it would be a good idea to have your computer or laptop assessed by a data recovery specialist as they could provide you with a range of valuable services.

Recover Lost Files With A Data Recovery Specialist

Recover Data

The primary service that a data recovery service can provide is to help you to recover your lost data. When your data is no longer available to you on your computer, it is typically not lost. Instead, there is usually a software or hardware issue that is making it challenging to recover. A data recovery specialist will be able to go through a number of different steps to recover this data for you and ensure it once again be accessible in a convenient manner.

Provide Repair

In the majority of situations, data appears lost because of an issue with either your hardware of software. The data recovery service will be able to properly identify what occurred to cause this issue and can then work to correct this problem. This can include making a repair to the hardware, replacing and upgrading software, or installing a new security system if it is believed that the data was lost due to a virus.

If you have lost some valuable data on your computer or laptop, you should contact us immediately so we can start working to recover your data as soon as possible.  We can also provide you with services to ensure your computer is working correctly so your data is never lost again.