Recent Computer Based Scams – Phone, Email or Pop-up Type

Recent Computer Based Scams – Phone, Email or Pop-up Type

There are all kinds of computer related scams. You might have received a call from someone falsely claiming to be from the “FBI”, “IRS”, Microsoft, Norton, UPS or othres. You’re told that the only way you can save yourself is to pay an imaginary fine, and then the caller will save you from the authorities, computer infections, etc. Sometimes they approach you from an email or pop-up on a website.
 
Often an email will attempt to convince you it’s FedEx, or Chase Bank – for example– but you don’t have a package scheduled or bank account with Chase Bank.
 
Or you go to a website and something pops up in your face and tells you it’s Microsoft and gives you a 1-800 Number to call,
 
How can this be done? Easily, if you’re silly enough to play along. You’re often then advised to download and install a remote access program and then you have lost control of your computer. You are then given the privilege of paying for this service, usually several hundred dollars. Guess what, now they have your credit card or debit card information, too!
 
How to Identify Computer Scams:
 
1. A company isn’t going to call you to initiate technical support. Think about it. Would Microsoft, or any other large company, care enough to spend resources reaching out to you to solve your computer issue? Unlikely. Try getting tech support when you need it, and you’ll quickly realize how silly it is to believe they’re going to track you down when you need help.

2. Think slowly and logically about emails. Any business email should be suspect.

3. Web or Email based tech support scams aren’t live. You’ll often hear a recorded message telling you to either call a number or get an email that is a pretend email and not from the person it claims.
 
A computer based scam that is initiated online might arrive as a pop-up or redirect you from a webpage to another website.
 
1. Is the URL is nonsense? Instead of a website like www.microsoft.com, you’ll see something like www.12742xmicrosofttechsupport.net.

2. You’ll often have trouble closing the webpage. The window will expand to take over your entire screen. You might lose access to your toolbar, too. The easy solution is to ctrl-alt-delete and click then on the “task manager” option. Simply close your browser from there.

3. You might hear an alarm or other obnoxious sound. This is to create a sense of urgency. Again, you might lose control of the active window. There might be a message informing you there is malware on your computer. Just turn down the volume, and use the ctrl-alt-delete trick.
 
All of these computer based scams ultimately aim to separate you from your money. Trust your instincts, stay calm, and ignore all of these scams. They can’t harm you unless you help them to do so.

The Myth of Computer Backups

Do you backup your computer? Is that what you’re really doing? Most likely, you’re only backing up your data. A complete system recovery requires keeping track of a lot of non-file data, too. This includes the boot sector, partition layout, and file and system metadata. And you want to know a secret?  It’s not really needed.

 

 

There are several methods for backing up your data:

 

  1. RAID. RAID stands for “redundant array of inexpensive disks”. Many computers can be configured to use a second hard drive that will mirror the primary hard drive. Whatever happens to one drive, happens to the other. You always have an instantaneous copy of all of your files. The disadvantage of this is that your backup is kept with your computer system. This is a serious issue in the case of theft, fire, flood, or other disaster.
  2. External hard drive. This is a simple solution that allows you to keep your backup files separate from your computer. This is a simple and inexpensive solution worth considering. It’s possible to use USB sticks to the same end. However, a hard has the potential to store much more data than a single USB stick.
  3. Cloud backup. It’s also possible to back up your computer to a server in a remote location. You’ll always have access to your data, no matter where you are in the world. However, there’s always the risk of someone hacking into your data. There’s also a monthly cost associated with using this type of service. Also, uploading all of your files to the cloud can take a lot of time and destroy your internet and computer performance.

 

These are the basic options available to the average computer user. Backing up to an external hard drive is the best option for most computer users. It’s a reliable, inexpensive, and portable way to backup your data.

How often do you need to backup your data? That’s up to you, but once a month is sufficient for most situations. Think about how often you’re adding, or altering files on your computer. Pick a backup schedule that makes sense for your situation.

 

The Advantages of a PC over a Mac

Many experts argue over which is better: PC or Mac. Of course, the final answer depends on your needs and the size of your bank account, but there’s no arguing that PC computers continue to have significant advantages over Apple-based computers.
 
The advantages of a PC:

     

  1. Greater Flexibility: Apple only produces a few models, and there aren’t a lot of options within those models. Even the smallest upgrades for an Apple are quite expensive. Want to add an Apple monitor to your Apple mini? The only option offered by the Apple Store is $999.
  • There are numerous manufacturers of PC RAM, hard drives, optical drives, monitors, CPUs, graphics cards, sound cards, etc. You can buy or build exactly what you want when choosing a PC. Apple’s limited number of models and options are a considerable disadvantage
  1. Cost / Value: Look at the cost of the lowest priced Apple computer offering. Then compare that to a comparably equipped PC. The Mac mini is $600 and doesn’t include a screen, keyboard, mouse, or CD/DVD drive. You can purchase far more computer by spending the same $600 on a PC.
  • If you require a new computer every few years, it’s much more expensive over time to replace a Mac than a PC.
  1. Software: The most popular software for the Mac is actually Microsoft Office, but the Mac version is always behind the PC version. There is a lot of software available for Apple computers, but there is much more available for PCs and usually at lower prices.
  2. PCs are much better for hardcore gaming: It’s much easier to either purchase or build a PC to match the requirements of higher-end gaming. Attempting to do the same with a Mac is nearly impossible and outrageously expensive. If anyone in your home calls him or herself a ‘gamer’, the PC is the only reasonable choice.
  3. PCs are much easier to upgrade and repair. PC parts can be found all over the Internet and at many electronics stores. It’s quite easy for a knowledgeable person to replace any of the parts within a PC.

 Only the RAM can be changed easily on a Mac. Your computer repairperson will charge much more to repair a Mac. Nearly every replaceable component in a Mac is either glued or locked-down in some fashion.

    1. PCs are much better for a server environment. They are much easier to set up and maintain. Apple computers are much more challenging to set up for this type of use.

 

For many people, a PC is simply a better choice. The greater number of options, the nearly infinite possibilities for upgrades, and significantly lower cost are hard to beat. There is more software available for PCs and usually at a lower cost, etc, etc. etc. etc. etc.

The Antivirus Software Scandal

There was a time that most computer users were terrified of malware. The only logical response was to install antivirus software on your computer as soon as possible. And there was a good reason; it’s hard to find someone that didn’t suffer from a malware attack at some point. But do you really need antivirus software?

 

Read on and decide for yourself.

 

  1. Windows includes free, high quality antivirus software called Windows Defender. You’ve already paid for Windows, whether you realize it or not. If you’re using Windows 10, there isn’t a good reason to spend your money on additional antivirus protection.
  • Historically, Windows antivirus programs were underwhelming, but testing shows the newest version of Windows deals with viruses and other malware just as well as the third-party vendors software.
  1. Antivirus software slows your computer. Antivirus software updates itself frequently. This can bring your computer speed down to a crawl. An antivirus program is always running and hogs system resources.
  2. By default, antivirus programs are always out of date. Antivirus software is developed to deal with existing viruses. When a new virus is released, you’re not protected until the company that developed your antivirus software puts in the time, energy, and money to address it. During that time, your antivirus program is worthless.
  3. The companies that make antivirus software aren’t always trustworthy. There have been several scandals involving antivirus software developers. One popular antivirus company is in hot water for selling user web browsing information to third parties. Another manufacturer of antivirus software has been accused of spying for the Russian government.
  • Antivirus programs have a lot of control over your computer system. They see everything. Do you have complete trust that your information is being kept safe?Everyone must take responsibility for their computer security, but many experts believe that a third-party antivirus program is unnecessary today. It destroys computer performance, and it’s an unnecessary expense.

 

Do you need antivirus software? No. Be responsible in your internet and email use and continue to improve your digital navigation skills. That means be careful with email attachments, and be careful about downloading any executable files. You don’t have to spend extra money to keep your computer safe – you need to become a better computer user.

Computer Performance Essentials – Why is Your Computer Slow? Part 3: Network

You might not think of your home computer as being part of a network, but it is. Your internet speed, router, network complexity, phone, TV, extenders, additional computers, and other devices can all impact the speed of your computer while using the internet. Let’s see if your network is degrading the speed of your computer.

 

Your computer network can limit the speed of your computer:

 

  1. Signal Strength: Up to a certain point, a stronger WiFi signal results in faster upload and download speeds. So, the strength of your WiFi signal can impact your computer’s speed while using the internet.
  2. Download Speed: Even if your WiFi signal is at full strength, your internet connection might be slow. This is one of the easiest issues to check. There are several websites that can do a speed test on your internet connection and provide you with the results. One example is https://www.speedcheck.org/
  3. Extenders: A WiFi extender can be handy for extending the range of your WiFi signal, but extenders can drastically reduce the speed of your internet connection. Some can cut the effective internet speed by as much as 50%. It depends on the design of the extender, but all extenders result in some speed loss.
  4. Number of computers on the same system: Your internet connection, no matter how fast, has a limit on how much information can pass back and forth. With enough computers using the same network, there can be a significant loss of internet speed.
  5. Complexity: How complex is your system? Phones, TVs, virtual assistants, home automation devices, WiFi thermostats, wireless security cameras, and any other device that uses your WiFi connection can reduce the speed of your computer while using the internet.

 

  • Phones: Many home and business phone systems use the computer router to make and receive calls. This can also reduce speed.
  • Television: With more streaming options available today, many people are using their internet connection to watch TV instead of using satellite or cable TV. This can also slow down your internet access.

 

If you’re using the internet, your computer is part of a computer network. Every device on that network has the potential to make your computer slower. The strength of your internet connection, the use of extenders, and the download speed of your internet connection can also be factors.

Most casual users fail to take their computer network into account when diagnosing poor computer performance. However, as the internet becomes more relevant, the quality and size of your computer network becomes more relevant.

 

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