Why You Should Never DIY Your Data Recovery

Databases are likely to get corrupted. When data gets corrupted or deleted, most people opt for DIY data recovery. However, DIY data recovery might not necessarily be successful. It comes with several advantages as well as disadvantages. Here are some reasons why you should not opt for DIY data recovery in case of a data loss.

Why You Should Never DIY Your Data Recovery

Not Suitable for Novices

Data recovery is a complex process. Review your computer knowledge before you decide to perform a DIY data recovery. Novices who do not have an idea of what they are doing should not attempt a DIY data recovery. It could end up causing more harm than good.

Risks Permanent Data loss

You might have stored a good number of vital information on your drive. Thus, attempting DIY data recovery, especially if you don’t have the correct knowledge, could end up bringing more damage. Also, you could end up affecting the data stored in the system if you do not have the necessary expertise to handle the data recovery tools.

Inefficient in Cases of Physical Damage

It is not possible to restore data from a drive that is fully damaged even if you use the DIY data recovery software. Instead of recovering the lost or corrupted data, you could end up severely damaging your hard drive. Therefore, you should always seek the aid of a data recovery expert.

No Guarantee for Success

Research has proven that data recovery software does not fully assure you that data will be recovered fully. So, if you are not sure of the data recovery process, do not go for a DIY recovery with the help of recovery software.

A data recovery expert knows the correct data recovery procedure from start to finish. Contact us at PC Geeks, and we will help provide you with the experts to ensure your data is retrieved successfully.

Dealing with Blue Screens

Typically, blue screens, sometimes called the blue screen of death, caused by an error in the Windows operating system that when occurs, a blue screen will be generated on the monitor connected to the computer, typically with some information about the cause of the problem. The cause of the nuisance varies but can be isolated with some patience and instruction from well-informed computer users — it’s recommended to be cautious in order to avoid augmenting the problem.  When the error occurs, it generates a core dump file containing the contents of the computer’s RAM memory at the time of the error, as well as some hints about any software involved.

Dealing with Blue Screens

However, whether to use this file as part of the troubleshooting process will depend on certain factors. Computers have a chain-like function which when one component malfunctions, another will. For example, if the power supply is not functioning properly, it could cause problems in various parts of the computer even though the core dump file says a specific software was involved — the power supply might not have been meeting the needs of RAM memory at the time a certain software was in use, causing a critical error. Furthermore, sometimes the problem might be higher up in the chain such as faulty RAM memory modules — even if the power supply is working correctly, faulty hardware could trigger errors somewhere else down the chain. Overheating, buggy apps or programs, and various other problems can be the cause of blue screens as well.

However, if ruling out faulty hardware is done and the core-dump file is accessible, it might help to shed light on the issue.  Assuming the hard drive is in working order, the computer will write the core-dump file to the hard drive at the time of the error, which can be retrieved in a number of ways. Sometimes, removing the hard drive from the faulty computer and connecting it to a working computer will enable the file to be retrieved — via the working computer. If successful, software called blue-screen readers can be downloaded for free which can decode the file and display helpful information.

Please, contact us for a consultation.

Data Recovery for a Crashed Hard Drive: What to Know

In the best of circumstances, a hard drive failure is a minor inconvenience. When the drive holds the only copy of personal photos, crucial business documents, or other important data, a sudden crash can have catastrophic consequences.

The good news is that qualified data recovery experts can retrieve files from a crashed hard drive in most situations — provided that computer users take appropriate actions immediately after the failure.

Data Recovery for a Crashed Hard Drive: What to Know

Why Hard Drives Crash

Hard drives have a number of sensitive mechanical and electronic components that can sustain damage from physical shocks, electrical issues, and gradual wear. Given enough time, these components stop functioning, causing a “crash” that prevents the computer user from accessing data. Some common symptoms that indicate a physical hard drive failure include:

  • A clicking or whirring sound
  • Corrupt, unreadable, or disappearing files
  • Extremely slow computer performance
  • Failure to boot the computer’s operating system

Hard drives have an average lifespan of 3-5 years, according to a study from online backup company Backblaze. That study analyzed server hard drives, and many consumer drives operate for much longer without major issues.

Even so, every hard drive eventually fails and needs to be replaced. There’s no way to completely prevent hard drive crashes, but subjecting the drive to poor operating conditions (for instance, excessive heat or an inconsistent electrical supply) could raise the chances of a premature failure.

Steps to Take After a Hard Drive Failure

Operating a failed hard drive can cause permanent data loss. A hard drive reads and writes data with an assembly of magnetic heads that float just above the surface of a set of platters. When a failure occurs, the heads can come into contact with the platters, damaging the thin layer of magnetic material that stores data.

If your drive isn’t operating normally, keep it powered off until you’re able to get a professional diagnosis. Running the drive for even a few seconds can greatly reduce the chances of a full recovery. Unless you have significant experience with computer repair, you shouldn’t remove the HDD from your computer.  Leave it in place and contact a professional.

Finding a Qualified Data Recovery Expert

Data recovery requires substantial expertise, as technicians may need to replace damaged components or rewrite firmware to restore the device to a functional state. A qualified technician will be able to temporarily repair the drive, copy the important files, and return the data to the user, but a failed attempt could make the damage worse. Most computer repair shops don’t have the necessary tools to offer professional data recovery services.

PC Geeks provides safe onsite service for many data loss issues, and we partner with a dedicated firm to offer clean room data recovery for your crashed hard drive, solid-state drives, and other storage devices. When data is critically important, we offer an alternative to permanent data loss. Contact us today to discuss your options or to schedule an evaluation.

 

The Benefits of Hiring Computer Repair Professionals

A computer is an essential component in the 21st century. Whether you use it for social media updates or work purposes, the truth is computers have taken over our lives. When we encounter problems with our computers, life usually comes to a standstill. It is human nature to try to fix things. However, with machines, it is vital to engage a professional for computer repair. Today we look at some benefits that come with hiring computer repair professionals.

The Benefits of Hiring Professionals for Computer Repair

Data Loss Prevention

There is nothing as important as the data on your computer. You may try to fix the problem on your computer and, unfortunately, end up losing all your data. An expert will ensure that all your data remains untempered with during repair. If there is a problem with your computer’s hard drive, the experts will try to repair it and retrieve the data on the drive.

Cost-Effective

Often people try to find DIY solutions to fix their computers because they think the experts will charge excessive amounts. That is not so. The professionals usually charge to the part that needs repair or replacement. Moreover, trying to fix a computer issue may lead to more harm than good translating to additional costs.

Time-Saving

Hiring a computer professional can save you lots of valuable time. If you try to fix an underlying problem, you will have to do some serious research from books and online. A skilled professional, on the other hand, may identify the problem in a twinkle of an eye and fix it right away.

Upgrades

A professional will ensure that the hardware is upgraded and stored correctly to allow your computer system to function correctly.

You can never be a Jack of all trades, especially with computers. Contact us today if you need a professional for computer repair and maintenance services.

Data Recovery Guidelines

Most computer users tend to think of data recovery as a last-minute approach to retrieving documents, pictures, music, and files in general — when the files become inaccessible due to malfunctioning devices the files are installed on, i.e. phones, laptops, desktops, tablets, etc.  Many times, however, data is not recoverable, or economically so, after a computer has malfunctioned. Preemptive approaches to data recovery are recommended although utilizing these techniques lacking a smart approach can render data permanently lost. Unless a computer is merely being used for casual internet surfing, solid data back-up (copying) precautions should be taken — under the wing of experienced professionals — so when the time has come to restore inaccessible data it’s a feasible task.

Data Recovery Guidelines

Among common methods of creating copies of data, including for those with strict budgets, are manual and automatic. Within each of these categories, one could opt for offline and online (internet) options.  An example of manual offline data back-up is merely copying the desired files to a flash/thumb drive — or other devices that can be connected to the computer — at regularly scheduled intervals or when a change is made such as an added file or file edit. An example of a manual online data back-up is, when subscribed to an internet storage service, manual executions are done to copy data to that service on the internet.

An automatic offline example is configuring a program to automatically back-up to a device attached to a computer, such as a thumb/flash drive or USB hard drive. Likewise, an automatic online back-up is done when subscribed to an internet back-up service, and files are automatically copied off a computer to the internet at regularly scheduled intervals. When opting for automatic back-up, a certain folder or directories can be included in the criteria of data needing to be backed up.

Please contact us at PC Geeks for a consultation.

Fixing Computer Performance

Particularly with desktop and laptop computers, there can be a number of different culprits your computer performance to be behave sluggishly.  Steps can be taken to isolate the problem, although in most cases it’s generally recommended allowing professionals to fix the issue due to the risk of making the problem worse or outright wrecking the device needing to be fixed. Among common culprits causing computer slowness after acquiring a working computer are malicious software, excessive boot-time programs (or apps), and a full hard drive.

Fixing Computer Performance

Computer operating systems distributed by Apple or Microsoft, or those that can be downloaded for free such as Linux require a certain amount of free space on a computer’s hard disk drive in order to function optimally.  Microsoft Windows, for example, will cache files on the free section of the hard disk drive when performing reading or writing operations. If the space is not free then the desired output of the computer can be delayed.  Different operating systems require different amounts of free space on hard drives — consult manufacturer documentation.  Removing unneeded files from the hard drive will take care of the problem — typically, copying them to external drives is done before deleting them off the computer.

Downloading and installing computer programs or apps, especially rare or free ones, carries the risk of infecting the computer with malicious software. Typically, free programs are laced with malicious software which is any type of program designed to perform an illegal activity on the computer it’s installed on, but often, the software will cause sluggishness on the computer.  Various guides can be found on the internet for assisting in the usage of antivirus software for scanning and removal.

When installing any given program or app, it will often configure itself to run every time the computer is turned on. If enough programs are installed and configured this way they will use up much of the system’s hardware resources, especially RAM memory. Operating systems have ways to disable programs from being run at start-time. Using the features will free RAM memory and allow the computer to run more smoothly.

Please contact us for a consultation.

Taking Care of Your New Laptop

If you’ve got a new laptop for work, play, or study, it’s important to take a few small steps to take care of it so you can keep your new investment working.

Taking Care of Your New Laptop

Don’t Block Vents

Your laptop generates a lot of heat in its CPU. This heat needs to be vented in order to prevent damage to components on the motherboard. The computer will throttle the CPU if it detects overheating in an attempt to prevent this.

The easiest way to avoid this is to use your laptop on a flat stable surface like a desk or table. Soft surfaces like beds or couches can block the vents.

It’s also a good idea to blow out any dust in the vents from time to time with a can of compressed air, especially if you notice your computer feeling hot to the touch or performance seems slower than usual.

Run Software Updates

Your new computer needs to keep the operating system software and applications updated to keep running smoothly. They’re usually set up to run automatically. Just let them update.

Run Antivirus

Your computer likely came with an antivirus program. If it didn’t there are several options on the market, even for free. This will keep your computer safe from malware.

Avoid Drink Spills

If liquids get into your laptop’s electronics, they can damage the components on the motherboard. That’s why you should try to keep drinks away from your new computer as much as possible. Containers with lids like commuter mugs or water bottles will help prevent spills.

Battery Usage

One of the best features of your laptop is the fact that you can take your work or play anywhere. The annoying part is that battery life can vary. If you find your battery running down quickly, try turning down the screen brightness to a level that’s still comfortable depending on the lighting.

You might also save demanding applications like video streaming or gaming for when you’re plugged into a power outlet. And when you are plugged in, you should use a surge protector to prevent damage from power spikes.

Conclusion

If you follow these tips, you find you can keep your new laptop in good working order for its useful life. If you have any questions or problems, please feel free to get in touch to see how we can help.

Getting the Most out of Your Laptop Battery

If you’re wondering why your laptop battery doesn’t seem to last as long as was advertised, don’t complain to the manufacturer just yet. It could be some of your habits that could be draining the battery. Here are some troubleshooting tips if you seem to be always looking for a power outlet to recharge your laptop.

Getting the Most out of Your Laptop Battery

Screen Brightness

One of the biggest drain on many laptops is the backlight on the screen. If you have the screen brightness turned all the way up, that’s going to deplete the battery than it would with a dimmer brightness setting.

Fortunately this is easy to adjust. Some laptops have an ambient light sensor that adjusts the screen brightness to a level appropriate for your lighting conditions. If your model doesn’t have the feature, simply turn down the screen brightness to a level you find comfortable.

Internet and Media Activity

Another source of battery usage if what you actually do with your laptop when it’s unplugged. Streaming media, gaming, and internet usage will all use up the battery life on your machine.

The obvious thing to do would be to save battery-intensive applications for use when you’re plugged into a power outlet.

Your Mileage May Vary

Laptop manufacturers will advertise battery life under ideal conditions, such as not using demanding applications. So like in car commercials, that “your actual mileage may vary.”

Discharging your laptop fully and then recharging it will shorten the battery life. While modern lithium-ion batteries don’t have a “memory”, they can only handle about 300-500 charge cycles before performance starts to degrade.

This means that if you’re fully discharging your battery every day, it will only last up to a few years. You should plug your laptop in when the battery gets to around 20% capacity.

Conclusion

If you take these tips in mind, you can get the maximum performance out of your laptop battery. If you need service with your battery or any other component in your laptop, please feel free to contact us.

What’s in a PC?

If you’re stuck at home now is the perfect time to build your own custom gaming PC, but where do you start? When I first started building PCs I remember having no idea to where to begin. I researched parts for hours, identifying all the pieces I’d need to build my new machine. I ordered expensive graphics and sound cards, what was, at the time, a lot of memory, and so on. I installed all of my components, Windows, and a game I had been dying to play. I sat nervously while I loaded the game, and as it ran for the first time on maximum graphics, I felt a sense of accomplishment that I’ve never forgotten.

Since then I’ve built dozens of PCs, mostly from kits, and each time I get that sense of satisfaction, of having put something together that works. Having done it many times now I realize how simple it really is, once you boil it down to the essentials.

What's in a PC?

Motherboard

A motherboard (or mobo for short) is what everything else in your computer plugs into. The CPU (central processing unit) is housed in your motherboard. The graphics and sound cards will fit into (probably PCI Express, a.k.a. PCIe) slots located on your motherboard. RAM will plug into your motherboard. Your hard drive will be connected to your motherboard.

Motherboards have a number of specs you need to be aware of:

  1. What chips does it support? Typically, a motherboard will support a limited number of chips, as they are not one-size-fits-all.
  2. What slots does it support? For a gaming PC you’re looking for at least two, if not four, PCIe slots
  3. How much memory does it support, and at what speeds? The more memory, and the faster the memory, the more fluid your gaming experience will be.

Modern gaming motherboards typically come with LAN (wired and wireless internet) capabilities built-in, so you won’t have to worry about that. If your motherboard doesn’t come with a networking solution you’ll have to buy a network card. Likewise, you may have not on-board audio, or you may have it and choose to buy a more advanced sound card. Other considerations include the number of USB ports.

Power Supply

Buying and installing a power supply is a straightforward endeavor, just make sure it has enough power with all of your new, fancy components installed!

CPU

The CPU (central processing unit) is the brain of your PC. CPUs have a number of cores (the number of things that can be simultaneously processed, more or less) and a clock speed (the number of cycles per second the CPU can handle out of the box). Surprisingly, more cores does not necessarily mean a better gaming machine, because games don’t tend to use all the cores. However, clock speed is very important: choosing an appropriately high clock speed will mean speedy gaming.

Memory

Memory, a.k.a RAM (Random Access Memory) is a confusing subject. There’s so many different types of RAM available, and it can feel overwhelming to a novice. Luckily, memory manufacturers offer tools to help you discover if your RAM will be compatible with your motherboard, e.g. Crucial’s memory adviser or Kingston’s memory search.

There are really only two considerations when choosing memory:

  1. What speed of RAM do you need? High is better for gaming, but make sure it’s compatible with your motherboard.
  2. How much RAM do you need? Again, more is better, but only to a point, and make sure your motherboard can support both the number of sticks and the total amount.

Hard Drive

You’ll need a hard drive on which to install your operating system, not to mention a place to put all of your digital stuff! Considerations for a hard drive are similar to those of memory:

  1. What size hard drive do you need? I’d recommend at least 1TB.
  2. What type of hard drive do you want, spinning disk or solid state (SSD)? Once again make sure your motherboard supports your choice. Odds are your motherboard supports SATA (Serial ATA) devices, which also include CD/DVD/Blu-ray drives, should you want to install one or more.

Graphics Card

This is a fun section, and it’s where most people that are building a custom gaming PC spend the most time. There’s a ton of options, but ultimately it will come down to NVIDIA or AMD, and your mileage may vary no matter your choice.

And Everything Else

You’ve now got everything you need for your custom gaming PC, but you’ll probably want a few more things for comfort and fun.

The Case

Get a case that supports your mobo and your power supply and whatever (and however many) drives you’ve chosen. Cases are a fun part of building a PC, customize to your hearts desire!

Keyboard and Mouse

Don’t forget a good keyboard and mouse. A lot of gamers choose keyboards with mechanical switches as they support more simultaneous inputs, and they feel better.

A good mouse is important too, ensure you get one with a high enough polling rate (e.g., at least 500Hz).

Need Help?

There’s a lot that you can do when you build your own PC, if you’d like help selecting parts for your custom gaming PC, or if you’d like us to build it for you, reach out to us today!

A Newbie’s Guide to Budgeting for a Gaming PC

When it comes to budgeting for a gaming PC build, most newbies don’t do much work here. They tend to just figure out what they can afford, get the parts that look the coolest or whatever they find first and then just put it together. To a lot of new builders, finding the parts isn’t what they’re there for. No, that’s just the annoying bit that gets in the way of them doing the fun bit of assembling their new toy and playing games. And this is fine but by not taking the time to specifically set their budget or shop for particular parts, they are opening themselves up to some potential problems.

A Newbie's Guide to Budgeting for a Gaming PC

First, this sort of shopping approach can unintentionally bottleneck your system. If you aren’t picking your CPU and GPU based on relative performance and how much of the budget they consume then you will almost certainly end up with one of the primary pieces of hardware in your machine performing far better than the other which can lead to the performance of the superior part being degraded as it has to reduce the level it runs at in order to accommodate the weaker and slower hardware it works alongside.

There is also the risk of hardware having its support cut. If you buy a motherboard, for example, without researching it and then learn that the manufacturer will be cutting all support for the BIOS that motherboard runs despite a fatal flaw leading to bluescreens on systems using it then you are unlikely to be pleased. This kind of scenario is unlikely but far from impossible and is one reason why you want to do extensive research rather than just picking whatever parts work and running with it.

A general rule of thumb to avoid this sort of problem is that you want to spent 2x as much on your GPU as you do the CPU. This is a gaming PC, after all, and the GPU is what will be pushing all those fancy images to your monitor. It’s also a good idea to have at least double the amount of system RAM as your graphics card does VRAM. If you have a GPU with 8 gigs of VRAM then you need at least 16 gigs of system memory. Of course, these are more of guidelines than hard rules so feel free to alter them if you want. Still, this should give you a basic idea of how to budget for a gaming PC.

If you still feel like you need some help budgeting for your gaming PC build then contact us today!