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Recovering Lost Data

Data loss happens to everybody. It doesn’t matter how well you back up your files or how thorough you think your failsafes are; you will eventually suffer data loss. The important thing then is to have a plan for how you will deal with this data loss once it inevitably occurs. These tips should help give you a decent head start to either get your data back or minimize the severity of the loss.

Recovering Lost Data

#1: System Restore Points

This is a basic feature but it is one that a great many computer users seem to overlook. If you have a system restore point from before the loss took place then there is a chance you can simply roll your system back to that restore point and save your data that way. While this may not save all of your data, it should help with minimizing the loss.

#2: Recovery Software

If your data has already been lost and you want to try and get it back, there are a number of different programs you can get which can potentially retrieve some lost files on your hard drive. Of course, this depends on how the files were lost but it is an option worth considering if the data was lost to software issues or hard drive failure rather than more natural calamities like lightning overloading your drive.

#3: Restore from a Backup

If you happen to have a backup of the lost data then getting your data back will be extremely easy as you can just port the lost files over from your backup. This is doubly true if you back up your files to the cloud because cloud backups can be a good deal more reliable than local ones since the company that owns the backup server is most likely going to have backups and redundancies of their own which will make restoring files from this kind of backup much easier.

For more help recovering your lost data or preparing yourself so that your next data loss incident is not quite so severe contact us today!

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One of the biggest reasons people take their computers to repair specialists is because of internet connectivity issues. There are troubleshooting steps that can be taken whether the problem is lost connectivity, slow connectivity, or intermittent connectivity. Cellular internet connectivity refers to “data” download plans available via cellular phone services — the starting point of troubleshooting this type of connection should be done in the right place. Take note that it’s advised to obtain professional consultation in these matters, where data preservation and business continuity is critical.

Troubleshooting Cellular Internet Connectivity

If experiencing lost, slow, or intermittent connectivity on a cellular device, first check the strength of the cell phone network signal. Cellular phone service providers indicate signal strength via a display of 6 bars — a signal showing 3 or more bars means acceptable signal strength — less than 3 bars indicates a weak signal although this can be due to various reasons and vendor recommendations should be checked. A battery that is about to die can cause signal strength issues — make sure the battery is well-charged to rule out possible power problems with the device. Furthermore, make sure the internet data service is turned on if experiencing a connectivity issue.

Having ruled out the said causes, the next logical place to check is the device’s software. If a device is indicating that there is low memory or storage space, transfer some files off the device — programs can generally run better when there is more free space available. If storage space is not an issue, restarting or rebooting the device often resolves connectivity problems. Clearing an app’s cache or reinstalling the software in question can also help. If all else fails, backup all files and data and restore the phone to its manufacturer’s settings!

We specialize in a broad array of networking, internet, and general computer technologies. Please contact us for a consultation. Failing to correctly diagnose internet problems can result in business continuity issues.

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Laptop Memory Upgrades: A Brief Guide

Looking for a quick and affordable way to improve the performance of your laptop? One easy way to do this is to upgrade the Random Access Memory (or RAM) in your laptop, which could significantly improve your performance in many cases and give you a lot more leeway when it comes to multitasking. Most laptops today have 8GB of either DDR3 or DDR4 RAM installed by default. 8GB is perfectly fine, and is more than enough for most users, but if you plan on multitasking a lot or performing more demanding tasks (or, in some cases, even simply using multiple Google Chrome tabs!) then an upgrade will likely improve performance.

Laptop Memory Upgrades: A Brief Guide

Less than 8GB of RAM is generally inadvisable, and anything more than 16GB is overkill for most users. As a result, you would probably want to keep your RAM from 8GB to 16GB. In terms of RAM, quantity has a stronger impact than frequency- higher frequency memory can improve performance in some cases but this depends heavily upon workload and the application in question. In general, however, frequency and latency have very little impact on performance, so it’s better to spend less money to get more RAM than to spend more money for less RAM that is faster. For compatibility’s sake, it’s recommended to make sure that the RAM you are using has the same latency and frequency.

Something specific to consider is the type of memory supported by your laptop.  If you are unsure of this, it is always a good idea to check the laptop’s included documentation or to check online for your laptop specifications on the manufacturer’s website. Most Windows laptops use the SODIMM form factor, which is the acronym for Small Outline Dual In-Line Memory Module. SODIMM is a smaller version of the technology used in the full-size DIMM sticks used in desktop machines.

Since form factor is relatively simple, the main thing you need to consider when shopping for laptop RAM is the type of RAM used in your laptop. This is usually either DDR3 or DDR4 RAM. The two are not interchangeable, and you must get the type of RAM that is used by your laptop. DDR4 is the newer standard, but both can be affordable, fast, and easy to obtain.

Installing RAM upgrades for laptops is extremely simple- all you need is a static-free environment, a screwdriver, the replacement RAM, and optionally an ESD wrist strap. Make sure the laptop is powered off, unplugged, and remove the battery if it is removable. Next, make sure you ground yourself on an unpainted metal surface- this can be something like the edge of a desk or a nearby lamp, or even an unpainted metal surface within the laptop. Flip the laptop over and locate the removable plate that protects the RAM and remove this plate. Inside, you should see at least one SODIMM chip- if you need to remove one, pull the side clips away from the module to release it, which should pop up. Remove this module and insert the new module(s) by inserting them in the same way, holding the module by the sides and lining the notch in the module up with the “tooth” in the laptop’s SODIMM slot. Next, apply pressure evenly on both sides of the module and press it down firmly, and the module should lock in place. Put everything back together and you should be good to go!

Computer troubles and upgrades can be stressful and selecting parts can be a confusing process, but we are here to help! If you want to avoid the hassle and get help with part selection and installation from our professional technicians, contact us at one of our locations!

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How to Fix A Bluescreen On Your PC

If you have been a computer user for any significant length of time then it’s fairly likely that you have experienced the dreaded bluescreen of death. This problem is amongst the most annoying issues found on the computer and the steps to fixing or overcoming it aren’t always obvious as they can be happening for any number of different reasons which can all potentially have different solutions.

How to Fix A Bluescreen On Your PC

These solutions can range from something as simple as installing system updates to being so extreme that they require a factory reset of your system. However, most of the causes for a bluescreen fall somewhere in-between these two extremes. That may sound bad but if you attempt these solutions then you will likely succeed in overcoming your bluescreen problem.

#1: Install Updates

While this is unlikely to solve a bluescreen, installing updates to your computer can result in the bluescreen being fixed as they are sometimes caused by problems with your OS. However, this is rare and you should not expect a simple installation of updates to fix your problem.

#2: Install the latest Drivers

A blue screen can be caused by hardware and software incompatibilities so one of the possible solutions for a bluescreen is to make sure you have the most recent versions of your device drivers installed in case an incompatibility issue with drivers is causing your bluescreen problem.

#5: Roll Back to a prior Restore Point

The final possible solution requires that you have access to restore points. A blue screen issue could potentially have been introduced between restore points so if you roll your system back far enough then it should remove the problem. But this does require that you have made a point to use the system restore point feature. If you have decided to not create restore points then the only alternative to this is to literally reset your computer to its factory settings.

For more ways to resolve your bluescreen problem, contact PC Geeks today for more tips and suggestions on potential solutions.

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Random Access Memory (or RAM for short) is one of the most important parts of your computer. RAM is the extremely fast memory that is used by your computer to temporarily store data, but how can you tell if you need more of it? Most operating systems today require a minimum of around 2 gigabytes (or GB for short), but unless you perform very light tasks you will often need at least 6GB or even more, with most computers on the market today using around 8GB. With RAM, the more memory you have, the better!

Troubleshooting: How To Tell if You Need More RAM

First, you should know how much RAM your machine currently has installed. There are a few ways you can do this, but in Windows the easiest way is by right clicking My Computer and selecting Properties. Here, you can see (in gigabytes) the amount of RAM you currently have installed. You can also find more information on your memory specifications by accessing the Task Manager from the CTRL+ALT+DEL menu and checking the Performance tab. From the Performance tab, click the graph box for “Memory,” and you can view a number of details about the specifications of your currently installed RAM, including the frequency, type (generally DDR3 or DDR4), and form factor of your RAM (DIMM for desktops or SODIMM for laptops).

There are some easy ways to tell during use whether or not you need to upgrade your memory. The most common symptoms are if your computer performance is very slow or unstable, particularly when attempting to access files or programs. Sometimes, when you do not have enough memory, programs become inconsistent and may crash, and videos or video games may “stutter” and play sluggishly. Programs, directories, and internet browsers can take a very long time to load if you are low on memory, especially if you already have multiple programs or browsing windows open to begin with. Furthermore, some internet browsers like Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge can be very memory intensive, sometimes even using 4GB alone or more with numerous tabs open!

To help determine for certain that the issue is RAM and not another hardware or software problem that needs to be addressed, you can check the Task Manager to view some important statistics. In the Task Manager, you can view the programs and processes currently running on your computer. The Task Manager will show you how much each program is using the various resources, with the percentage of how much of each resource is utilized at the top. These resources include CPU usage, network bandwidth, disk usage, GPU usage, and memory. If the total percentage of memory currently used is 80% or higher, it is probably time to upgrade your memory!

Do you need more help troubleshooting your computer problems, or recommendations for upgrades? Do you want your upgrades professionally installed by our qualified technicians? Contact us today at one of our locations!

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In just a little less than nine months, Windows 7 will finally reach end-of-life status. The sad reality is that the OS will no longer be supported unless users are willing to cough up some cash to upgrade to Windows 10. As a result, if you’re running the OS, chances are good that new hardware will not have the support it needs.

Windows 7 Will Soon Include Microsoft's 'Nag' Screens

A (Not So) Gentle Reminder

For those old enough to remember, when Windows XP was nearing its final run, Microsoft implemented a popup screen that would let the user know they needed to upgrade their OS. This ‘nag’ screen would provide users with the opportunity to upgrade or learn more about what to expect when the operating system reaches end-of-life.

Unsurprisingly, Microsoft plans on implementing these little bundles of joy to encourage users to upgrade to Windows 10 starting in April. When users start to see these prompts, Microsoft at least gives them the option to silence them. Users will see a “do not notify me again” setting. Of course, with nearly a third of all Windows PCs still running Windows 7, it’s not likely that every user will upgrade before Microsoft stops supporting it.

Additional Impact

While those using a single PC version can expect to see ‘nag’ screens, what isn’t known is whether commercial businesses will see them. It’s hard to imagine a scenario in which Microsoft doesn’t give admins the ability to turn the notifications off for end users, but the software giant has yet to define how this situation will be handled.

Additionally, Office 2010 will no longer receive support at the end of 2019. As both Windows 7 and Office 10 reach their respective ends-of-life, it might make sense for you to start migrating to newer versions. If so, take a moment to reach out to PC Geeks, who can help you along the way.

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Processor Upgrades: A Short Guide

Has your computer been performing poorly lately? Is it slow and unmanageable, to the point where it is sometimes practically unusable? Or, perhaps, is it too slow to run some of the programs you would like to use, like editing software and video games? If so, it might be time for a new Central Processing Unit- “CPU” or “processor” for short. A common allusion is that the CPU is the “brain” of the computer, because it is where the main calculations are performed. The motherboard is the central part of the computer and is designed to be compatible with a specific CPU brand and type through the use of a compatible “socket.”

Processor Upgrades: A Short Guide

There are three major aspects that you should consider before you can upgrade your computer’s processor. The first aspect is what CPU type is supported by your motherboard, the second is what you will be using the computer for, and the third is what your budget for the upgrade will be. What type of CPU you can select depends upon these three major factors!     Firstly, you must consider what your computer supports: this depends on the socket type of your motherboard, which is the specific type of interface between the processor and the rest of the computer. The two major PC CPU manufacturers are Intel and AMD, and these manufacturers use separate standards for CPU sockets. For example, if you are planning on getting an AMD Ryzen 5 2600X CPU, you would require a motherboard compatible with the Ryzen CPUs, which would mean one using the AM4 socket. On the other hand, if you were planning on using an Intel i7-8700, you would need a motherboard using the LGA1151 socket.

Second, you need to consider what the machine you are upgrading or building will be used for. For example, if the machine is going to be used for something relatively light, such as internet browsing, you could get by with a lower end, more inexpensive CPU, like an Intel i3 or an AMD Ryzen 3. However, if you are planning on using the computer for more demanding tasks like gaming or photo and video editing, you will need a more powerful, higher end CPU, such as an Intel i5 or higher or an AMD Ryzen 5 or higher.

Finally, you will need to consider what your budget is for the parts you need to replace. Lower end CPUs like the Intel i3 or AMD Ryzen 3 are typically around $150 or below, while higher end CPUs like the Intel i5 and i7 series or AMD Ryzen 5 and 7 series are usually upwards of $180. It is also important to note that these prices do not account for fluctuations in costs or the cost of a motherboard. Generally the CPU will be more expensive than the motherboard, but it is still a good idea to get the best motherboard option you can afford, as better motherboards are more effective, more reliable, and include more features. Furthermore, a CPU replacement and upgrade is relatively simple, but having to replace or upgrade a motherboard is more complicated and can require significantly more work!

Need Help?

Selecting upgrades for your computer can often be confusing and stressful, but we are here to help! Do you want advice on selecting a processor, or do you want your new upgrades installed professionally by our qualified technicians? Contact us at one of our locations!

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Laptops are convenient gadgets. You can take them anywhere for work or personal use. However, even your most reliable laptop experiences problems occasionally, and laptop repair might be necessary. You don’t want to ignore the problems or attempt to fix them yourself if you’re not skilled at doing so. This leads to permanent damage to your laptop. Instead, you should bring your laptop to a trained professional. Here is how you can detect issues with your laptop.

How to Detect Problems With Your Laptop

Constant Error Messages 

If your laptop receives a lot of error messages, then something is wrong. The causes of these errors could be a virus or a hardware issue. You might notice that certain error messages have different titles or names, and it confuses you. If you struggle with figuring out what the error messages mean even after researching the problems, bring the laptop to a trained repair specialist.

Weird Sounds 

If your laptop gives off weird noises while you use it, this could be a sign of trouble. When these sounds appear more frequent, it’s time to take notice. You should save all of your files to a cloud service or external hard drive in the event your computer crashes after you start hearing these sounds. Hardware failure is one of the main culprits of the weird noises so it’s a good idea to do a systems diagnostic test of your laptop. If nothing changed after this, you want to visit a technician.

Blue Screen 

When you see the blue screen on your laptop, this means trouble. Aging hardware or overheating could be the causes of blue screens. If your laptop is unusually hot when in use or if the laptop’s fans give off loud sounds, then overheating has occurred. Blue screens also happen due to malware or other viruses. Conduct a thorough scan of your laptop to see if this is the case. If you took these steps but you still see a blue screen, take it to a professional.

Missing Files 

This is another sign that something could be wrong with your laptop. Malware is one cause of this, but it could also be due to corrupted files. You risk corruption of your files if you shut down your laptop from the power button instead of the “shut down” feature on your computer’s menu. Poorly-functioning sectors within a hard disk could also cause file corruption.

In conclusion, there are times when your laptop experiences problems. This is part of the normal wear and tear of gadgets in general. But with troubleshooting and help from a technician, your laptop will act right again.

If your laptop is in need of repairs, contact us.  We have friendly and experienced staff waiting to help your laptop operate better.

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Modern day computers are really the sum of their parts.  As a result, sometimes deciding which component to upgrade first requires some deeper questions to be answered to make the right decision.  These questions really revolve around how you use your computer. The BIG question: Upgrade the Processor or RAM?

The BIG question: Upgrade the Processor or RAM?

Let’s consider this scenario. You run several programs at once and notice slowdowns in using programs or when switching between applications.  There’s a very good chance you are running low on RAM memory.  Of course your best tool to confirm this would be the task manager built into windows.  Windows 10 has enhanced this tool greatly to show you how much memory is in use by every application.  When Windows runs low on RAM memory it “swaps” information to storage to keep memory available for your programs.  Hard disks are immensely slower than RAM and hence performance takes a hit.  Modern day Solid State drives are much faster and so that swapping is less of a performance issue, but still noticeable if it happens.

In the next scenario, you are using processor intensive applications like CAD, video rendering, video conversion, and you notice it takes a long time to complete or the system feels very sluggish and non-responsive.  By now, you’ve checked the task manager and noticed you still have plenty of RAM available.

Another clue could by the number of “cores” in your current processor.  Core i3 processors for example typically only have 2 physical processing cores.  Core i5 processors typically have 4 cores.  The more cores you have, the more operations the computer can perform at the same time.  Also some programs will use multiple cores to get tasks done faster.  This is why more cores can “sometimes” mean better performance as well.

In conclusion we come back to the first point, your computer’s performance really is the sum of its parts.  You can have an incredibly fast processor but if your system is starved of RAM you will see performance issues.  So, take some time and do a little detective work to see what exactly is the bottleneck on your computer.  Want to know more about topics like this?  Feel free to contact us.

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You don’t have to send your laptop to an expensive repair shop if a part breaks. If you have the proper tools and knowledge, you can do many of your own repairs or upgrades to your laptop, saving both time and money. Before you grab a screwdriver and start taking your computer apart, learn about some practices to follow. After all, there is a reason IT repair technicians need to have professional certifications.

Replacing Laptop Parts: Best Practices for DIY Repair

Ground Yourself

If you’ve ever walked across a carpet and touched a metal doorknob, you know what static electricity can do. That relatively small shock you get can travel into the computer when you take it apart, and the internal components have much more sensitivity. If you aren’t careful, your repair attempt could destroy critical parts. Before you touch anything inside the laptop, put your hand briefly on a metal object to dissipate any built-up static. When you handle any peripheral cards, hold them by the edges; the oils on your skin can damage circuits. An anti-static wrist bracelet can keep you grounded while you work. Always unplug the laptop from AC power and remove its battery.

Document Everything

Depending on what repairs you do, you’ll have to remove screws and components to get to what you’re trying to fix. Laptops are more compact than desktops and lack the space, so you have to be extra careful. Remember where each screw goes, in what order you disassembled the computer, and take pictures if necessary. Keep different sizes of screws separate and label them.

Use Minimal Force

If a part doesn’t easily and immediately click into place, do not try to force it. This is another reason why you need to label and document everything; it can be easy to place the wrong card back into a slot. Look for retaining clips beside the card slot before attempting to remove a card. If these clips break, the card may not stay where it needs to be. Putting too much pressure on a card can bend or break the electrical contacts.

Seek Professional Advice

Although it is possible to deal with laptop repairs on your own, some may require special tools that you don’t have. If you need to get an in-depth repair or simply have questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.