As often as we hear computer companies boast about the quality and efficiency of their products, it’s almost difficult to imagine anything going wrong. Sure, we see the warning signs and we know we should rationally be taking extra precautionary measures to ensure that nothing does go wrong – but more often than not, we simply push that thought to the side in favor of something more “important”.
The fact of the matter is that any day now you could lose all of the information stored on any of your computers or devices. Be it a liquid mishap, an internal shortage, or something completely unaccounted for, it can and does happen. Unfortunately that’s not always convincing enough in the argument of why you should backup your data though, so why else should you take the extra steps?
1. Accidents Happen
Believe it or not, as much as we try to prevent them, accidents do happen, and they happen more often than we think they do. Maybe you forgot to save that paper before exiting, or maybe a program simply stopped working in general. Either way, backed up data is guaranteed to keep that data in safe from the occasional accident.
Say you left your laptop in the library, or perhaps you fell asleep on the bus and your backpack was ransacked, while it’s not always easy to track that lost device, you can at the very least access your backed-up data if you’ve happened to save it on some sort of cloud storage. From there it only takes a few clicks to restore all of that data onto a new device, if you choose to invest in another one.
3. Hardware Failure
Some malfunctions are completely out of your hands, they happen deep within the hardware itself and within an instant, all precautions you’ve taken aside, everything you had on your computer is lost completely. Unless of course, you had it backed up to begin with. Then it’s just a matter of getting a repair, or a new device.
4. Viruses, Malware, and Hackers
Some problems you might face aren’t even technical errors, but malicious attack from hackers that aim to corrupt your data, steal it, or hold it for ransom. It’s easy to see why having safeguarded data is a good idea in that case.
5. Save Money on Potentially Expensive Data Recovery
Regardless of what happens, if your data really means that much to you and you’ve somehow lost access to it, you can still take it into a computer repair shop and get the data recovered right off of the hard drive, but be warned that it can be a little expensive. With prices reaching upwards of hundreds of dollars, it’s not difficult to see the appeal in backing up your data.
When it comes to data backups, it’s always better to have it and not need it than it is to need it and not have it.
This is just a short list of why you should be backing your data up regularly. If you need advice on how to backup, or even need some lost data recovered, your friends at Tech Force are always happy to help.
Here at Tech Force, we have to solve a lot of computer problems. While some complications are more puzzling than others, here’s a short list of the most common issues that are brought into our shop.
One of the most common problems we come across is the “hardware mishap.” Typically this includes spills or drops, laptop screens being broken, motherboards fried, and others of the like. Hardware mishaps are pretty common and can be expensive at times.
Another problem we see a lot of is the “slow computer.” Older devices have a tendency to fall victim to this particular annoyance because as they age they can build up dust and grime on the hardware, and the software itself can become clogged with useless files that do nothing but take up vital storage and leave a device in a miserably sluggish state. In a fast paced world, the last thing people want is a computer that runs at a snail’s pace.
Viruses are the bane of a computer user’s existence. Not only do they knock a computer from NASCAR level speeds down to leisurely strolls in the park, they can also do some serious damage. From the mostly harmless popups that occasionally assault the user, to the dangerously malicious ransomware that could cost you thousands, viruses are unfortunately still a frequent occurrence.
Data loss is an extremely overlooked issue that people don’t usually think about until it happens to them personally. It could be due to a myriad of causes; theft, hardware mishap, software failure, and so much more. It’s the reason we highly recommend using a cloud to backup all of that highly important data you might have on your devices. It saves you a lot of time and money in the long run. Fortunately, even if you forget to back-up your data, there are experts who specialize in data recovery.
If you have never traveled through an Airport with a laptop, it can be a bit of a pain. Tech Force has prepared some basic guidelines to make the process as smooth and painless as possible. With a little planning your vacation will go off without a hitch.
Always take your laptop as a carry-on. Baggage handlers are basically trained to move the baggage as fast as they can from cart to plane and back the other way, this means toss, shoving, throwing and yes, even dropping your luggage. Play it safe and keep this sensitive machine where you can keep it safe.
Security check points
Make sure your laptop is turned off before you approach the checkpoint. Some laptops take forever to wake up from “sleep mode” should you be asked to turn your device on for the personal at the checkpoint, not having to go through the “power off-power on” song and dance will make it easier for all involved.
Also be sure sure to place your shoes in the first bin, coat and toiletries in the next, then suitcase and bags, and your laptop the last. This will make it easier for you to gather your items quickly when reaching the other side.
On the plane
Never place your laptop in the overhead bin. Unless you are over 6 feet tall you won’t be able to see the compartment clearly, and neither will anyone else. They will toss, throw (picking up on an airport theme here?), shove and drop anything in the way of getting their bag to fit in that tiny compartment. Laptops are best stored under the seat in front of you.
Just a reminder: Bulkhead seating does not have seat storage in front of it, but there is side storage for carrying on items. Ask an attendant for a secure space here if you are not planning on using your laptop while sitting in a bulkhead seat. If you are planning on using your laptop in flight it is best to ask for a “non-bulkhead” seat.
These simple tips will help you and your laptop have a safe and happy trip. But if something should happen to your laptop while you are traveling to far off reaches, we here at Tech Force back in Mt. Pleasant, are always here to help you get your laptop back on track.
Let’s face it, most of us keep our lives, the lives of our children and some of our friends on our laptops. Losing this information can be catastrophic, especially when traveling. Last week we began covering the basics of how to keep your laptop safe. This week we will continue that discussion, and talk about some things that you can do to keep your laptop safe during your travels.
Make your sure Anti-Virus and Operating System are up to date.
This is something you should always do, even when not traveling. It not only keeps your data safe but keeps your usages smoothly running.
Back-up your data
Before you walk out the door in that new swimsuit and cabana sunglasses to board your plane, back it up. The most important thing about your laptop is the data it holds. Make sure that data never gets lost no matter what by safely uploading it to a cloud server or external hard drive that will stay at home.
Don’t rule out a Safety Lock
It seems a little outrageous but if traveling to big City airports and bus stations it might be a good idea to get a security lock for your travel bag. It may not completely prevent the determined thief from taking your laptop. But it will cause the casual thief to think twice. There are several different types of these. Take a “Google” browse and see which one would work best for you.
If you’re like a lot of people and keep your whole life on your laptop, it would definitely be a good idea to purchase insurance for it. Some business and even home owner’s insurance policies insure travel loss. Check with your insurance agent to see if you’re covered.
Make use of the Do Not Disturb sign
Carrying your laptop with you everywhere you go while traveling isn’t always practical. From time to time you’re probably going to need to leave your laptop in your hotel room. If you do so, be sure to hang the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door before you leave. This will keep the housekeeping out of your room when you are not there. Besides, you can always get more towels while you’re lounging at the pool.
If you have any questions about keeping your computer safe while traveling, give the friendly folks at Tech Force in Mt Pleasant a call. We’re always happy to help!
These days we take our laptops everywhere with us, to the coffee shop, to the library, on vacation. In our blog about safe wifi we covered how you can keep your data secure. What about moving it from place to place or worse getting it conventionally through Airport security! If you have ever traveled through one of these checkpoints with a you know what a pain it can be.
This week we will review how to keep your laptop safe from breakage and thieves and cool during your summer traveling. Let’s start with some basics:
1) Keeping your laptop cool
Turn it off when not using it! It only takes a couple of seconds, but it can save you money and heartache in the long run. We have already gone of the fundamentals of keeping your laptop cool when you are using it at home or even the coffee shop, but sometimes when you are traveling by bus, train or air it is easy to just shut it and shove it in the case when your boarding pass is called. This is a bad idea folks, laptops run hot, so imagine the heat that can generate by all those components when crammed into a laptop bag. Turning your computer off can save those precious components from overheating and ruining that wonderful novel you are working on this summer.
2) The bag you carry
When you are simply traveling from home to the office or a friend’s house using a simple laptop bag can be ideal. However, when you are traveling to far away ports via commercial channels things can get ugly. The bag is bustled, jostled, and at time has other things thrown on top of it. You want a sturdy laptop bag, one with padding, pockets and as plain as it can get.
Having a bag with pockets is brilliant for organizing and keeping all your laptop accessories together. Preventing from being carelessly jostled together in one area and scratching that gorgeous laptop case. Keep your bag “humble” by not having any logos, pictures or sayings on the bag. This keeps it from being eye catching to those that covet your laptop for its resale value.
3) Make sure to unplug all external devices
Before you hurriedly toss your laptop in its bag take a moment to unplug and detach. Those slender cords used for laptop accessories are fragile things, and blue-tooth adapters are easily squished. Making sure you unplug them will keep them safe from ripping, cracking or fraying. It also gives you more of a reason to buy a bag with all sorts of nifty pockets.
4 – Computer LoJack
If you are traveling a lot this summer laptop Lojack services can help you keep tabs and almost always find a stolen laptop. If you have private information on your laptop and the computer is stolen, this software will allow you to access it and delete those files before they are viewed. Lojack software will also allow your claim to law enforcement to go smoother. Nothing worse than having our portable life support system stolen and being told there is nothing that can be done.
5 – Write it down or take a picture
Somewhere on your laptop should be a service sticker. On the sticker is information that can help you identify and claim a stolen laptop. It seems that every laptop has this tag in a different spot. If you are having trouble locating this on your laptop feel free to give us a ring here at No Ware Computer Repair and we would be happy to help you. Before you leave on your trip either to the coffeehouse or to Tahiti, it is a great idea to record this information, either by writing it down in a notebook you will carry in a place away from the laptop bag, or take a picture of it with your phone.
And of course, if you have any questions Tech Force in Mt Pleasant is always here to help!
“It is time to change your password”
What is it about these words that cause you to draw a blank every time? The brain almost shuts down, since your current password seems to be the only “good” password that you can think of. You need something hard to hack or crack, yet easy for you to remember, but you’ve already used “Love”, “Password1234”, your child’s name, your pet’s name, you neighbor’s pets name; this list goes on and on as to what you cannot and should not use. Fortunately, with a little creativity, you can face this “emergency” like a pro.
It’s simple, most of us have a favorite quote that we like, perhaps a motivational is hanging on the wall by your desk. This can be your password, always. Here’s a perfect example:
One of my favorite quotes is “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” By Henry David Thoreau.
We can change that to 4direction2Dreams!: four words then “direction,” 2 words “Dreams” with a capital D and an exclamation point because you are happy to have remembered.
Or we could try Go7.live4imagined: “Go”, seven words, a period, “live” four words, “imagined.”
Even Go7.6HDavidT would work beautifully.
You don’t have to just use quotes. Almost any sentence can be used for this formula; like a favorite song lyric, or the title of your favorite book. Nothing too fancy, but it meets all requirements. The reminder is on your wall, or something you tell yourself all the time. All you need to remember is the quote and which words you used. Easy peasy!
If you’re having trouble coming up with a secure password, or want to learn more about keeping your computer as secure as possible, give the folks at Tech Force in Mt. Plesant a call.
Make no mistake, there’s a lot of malicious stuff out there that can really mess up your computer. Fortunately, if you follow these simple tips, you can keep your computer safe from even the worst that the internet has to offer.
1. One of the easiest, and most important things you can do to protect your computer is make sure all your software is up-to-date. Be sure that your Operating System is updated, and also check for updates to the programs on your computer. Many of the software updates that are released are actually important security patches that will help to protect your computer.
2. While you’re updating all that software, it’s probably a good idea to remove vulnerable and outdated programs like Quicktime and Adobe Shockwave from your computer. These programs have long been known to be serious security risks that your computer is better off without. While you’re at it, you might as well uninstall Adobe’s Flash Player too.
3. Make sure that you have an antivirus installed. Not one of those crummy and practically useless “free” antiviruses either. Remember, when it comes to antivirus, you get exactly what you pay for. We really like Emsisoft Anti-Malware, and so do our clients.
4. Don’t use Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge as your web browser. The default Windows browsers are well known for being the main targets of malicious software, and are easily exploited due to their weak security. A more secure and robust web browser, such as Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox will definitely help keep your computer clean.
5. Install an ad blocking extension or add on in your browser. Not only will you see far fewer ads, you’ll also avoid a lot of those fake tech support pop-ups that are becoming more and more common. We recommend using Ublock Origin.
6. Try to avoid “questionable” websites – adult content, gambling, hacking, etc. Those websites can be risky to browse, as they can often be infected with malicious code that can compromise the security of your computer.
7. Don’t fall for those fake support pop-up scams or telephone calls. These scams have been going on for a while now. Microsoft is not monitoring your computer for viruses. Their employees will never call you. Never give anyone that you don’t know and trust remote access to your computer.
8. Don’t click on links sent to you in an e-mail, at least not until you do a little investigation. Simply hover your mouse pointer over the link and see if the address shown in the bottom bar of your browser is that of a reputable website, and is directs to where the email claims it should. If anything doesn’t look right, it could be a malicious link, and you’re better off not clicking on it.
9. Speaking of email, be extra careful about downloading any attachments sent to you in email messages. Never download anything from anyone that you don’t know. Even if you do know the sender, don’t download any attachments that you aren’t expecting to receive. Those attachments could contain a computer virus.
Following these 9 easy tips will definitely help you keep your computer free of viruses and other malware.
If you have any questions, or need help setting up an antivirus, or anything else that we talked about in this article, give Tech Force a call. We’re always happy to help!
Is there anything worse than purchasing a brand new shiny computer only to have it take way too long to start up? What could be causing this? Bloatware – It really is a thing, and it’s almost as bad as getting a virus.
Bloatware is software pre-installed by the computer’s manufacturer. Anything from games to “state-of-the-art” graphic or even publishing software, and are usually trial programs. Often times the bloatware can be nothing more than advertisement software – creating annoying pop-ups on your desktop to try and entice you into buying unknown or useless applications. The bloatware can also cause random pop-ups to appear asking you to activate or purchase this unwanted and unneeded software. Usually these programs are started as soon as you start your computer by default, and run in the background without you really understanding where they are coming from. Until you uninstall them they will eat up your memory and take up space on your hard drive, and on your laptop, they can consume your battery life.
Removing the bloatware is easy, just follow these simple steps:
First, find and open the “Control Panel”
Next, look for the heading “Programs”, and click “Uninstall a Program”. This will take you to the “Programs and Features” setting.
Here is where it gets tricky – The best way to know what you can safely uninstall is to go to the website Should I remove It. This will let you search for those programs that you’re not too sure about, and tell you if it’s safe to remove them or not.
We told you it was pretty easy.
This is just the beginning of making your computer personalized to you, and how you use it, but it will at least get rid of that annoying bloatware.
If you have any problems, questions about bloatware, or need help getting rid of this annoying stuff, please feel free to give Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant a call. We’re always happy to help!
Businesses around the world are being struck with a cyber-attack that sends victims a fake invoice that looks real enough to fool to most employees. It’s an old scam that used to see bills faxed or mailed in, but it’s made its way into the digital world and instances are on the rise.
Chances are you’ve already seen some of the less effective attempts, like an email advising your domain is expiring, except it’s not from your host and your domain is nowhere near expiration. These new attacks are more advanced, in that they look completely legitimate and are often from contractors/suppliers you actually use. Logos are correct, spelling and grammar are spot on, and they might even refer to actual work or invoice numbers. The sender name may also be the normal contact you’d associate with that business, or even a co-worker, as cyber-criminals are able to effectively ‘spoof’ real accounts and real people. While it’s worrying that they know enough about your business to wear that disguise so well, a successful attack relies on you not knowing what to look for, or even that fakes are a possibility. With that in mind, here are two types of invoice attacks you might receive:
The Payment Redirect
This style of fake invoice either explicitly states payment should be made to a certain account, perhaps with a friendly note about the new details, or includes a payment link direct to the new account. Your accounts payable person believes they’re doing the right thing by resolving the invoice and unwittingly sends company money offshore. The problem usually isn’t discovered until the real invoice from the real supplier comes in or the transaction is flagged in an audit. Due to the nature of international cyber-crime, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to recover the funds even if you catch it quickly.
The Malware Click
Rather than go for the immediate cash grab, this style of attack asks your employee to click a link to download the invoice. The email may even look like the ones normally generated by popular accounting tools like Quickbooks or Xero, making the click seem safe. Once your employee has clicked the link, malware is downloaded that can trigger ransomware or data breaches. While an up-to-date anti-virus should block the attack at that stage, it’s not always guaranteed, especially with new and undiscovered malware. If it does get through, the malware quickly embeds itself deep into your systems, often silently lurking until detected or activated.
How to Stay Safe
Awareness is key to ensuring these types of attacks have no impact on your business. As always, keep your anti-virus and spam filters up to date to minimize the risk of the emails getting through in the first place. Then, consider implementing a simple set of procedures regarding payments. These could include verifying account changes with a phone call (to the number you have on record, not the one in the email), double checking invoices against work orders, appointing a single administrator to restrict access to accounts, or even two-factor authorization for payments. Simple pre-emptive checks like hovering the mouse over any links before clicking and quickly making sure it looks right can also help. Like your own business, your contractors and suppliers are extra careful with their invoicing, so if anything looks off - even in the slightest - hold back on payment/clicking until it’s been reviewed. Fake invoices attacks may be increasing, but that doesn’t mean your business will become a statistic, especially now that you know what’s going on and how you can stop them.
We can help increase your security, talk to us today. Call us at 262-515-9499.
We know computers always break at the worst possible time, but what exactly prompts that failure? It’s easy to think it was something you did since you were using it at the time, but while your online gaming frenzy might cause a temporary crash, normal user actions are rarely the cause of a broken computer.
Accidents happen, but they don’t always mean you need to buy a new computer. As an electrical item, liquid spills are a big problem. This could be anywhere from a spill on the keyboard, going overboard with the screen cleaning spray or even a flood that reaches the computer. Laptop users need to be especially careful when choosing their work surface, as cafes and kitchen tables often have small puddles left behind. If you’re lucky and the liquid didn’t fry the circuits, ongoing corrosion is still likely, as is stickiness to gum up the internal parts. Similarly, a dropped computer isn’t going to be happy, nor is one that’s been knocked around. Even a light thump of frustration can cause loose cables, disconnections and internal damage.
Computer parts have an expected lifetime, especially moving parts like fans or mechanical hard drives. Some computers can run 24/7 for up to a decade, while others can be barely used but fail within warranty. When age is the issue there are usually early warning signs like extra noise or slowing down, but the actual ‘break’ generally happens when you go to turn the computer on, perhaps after a crash or overnight - either it makes a valiant effort before giving up, or nothing happens at all. Sometimes lasting age is the luck of the draw with how it was manufactured, and quality does play a big part in how long it can keep churning.
We like to think electricity is a constant stream that never varies, but computers are particularly sensitive to both surges (too much electricity) and brownouts (not enough electricity). You might notice the lights dimming or flickering during a brownout, or glowing just a tad too strong during a surge. These variations never last long, and they’re not something you can control unless it’s just your house (it’s worth checking with your neighbors), but they can easily break your computer. A surge protector can guard against mild increases in voltage, but brownouts and strong surges will still cause damage.
Overheating is a big contributor to premature computer death. Some computer parts run hot and need plenty of cooling to keep them working. You might not feel it from the outside, but internal components can rapidly build up heat that needs to go somewhere. When your airflow vents get blocked with dust or pet hair, the temperature continues to increase until components literally bake themselves to failure. At set temperatures, the computer will automatically switch off to try and cool down, however the more often this happens and the higher the temps, the more likely your computer is to die.
Hard Drive Failure
Your data is stored on a hard drive, and if you’ve got a mechanical hard drive (most people do), it works a bit like a record player with a spinning ‘platter’ and a needle that reads it. Small bumps, liquid, age, surges and overheating can all trigger hard drive failure. Along with making your computer unusable, hard drive failure means your data is also lost. While sudden breakage might leave you surprised, take note of any strange noises or repeated crashes and back up your data in advance.
Like a car, your computer needs to be serviced. We can check your computer both physically and its software to make its running right and will keep on working for you. Give us a call at 262-515-9499.
Tech Force Blog
We provide you with important, practical tips and insight for your technology and networks for both home and business.