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.

 

Computer Performance Essentials – Why is Your Computer Slow? Part 2: Software

It’s not just hardware that can make a computer slow; software can also bring a computer to its knees. While hardware issues are very straightforward, software issues can be more troublesome to identify and rectify. However, if you want to maximize the speed of your computer system, it’s important to take a hard look at any possible software-related issues.

 

Is software making your computer slower?

 

  1. Bloatware: Have you ever purchased a new computer or smartphone, only to realize there are a bunch of included programs or apps that you have no use for? Those are perfect examples of bloatware. Often, the manufacturer of those programs or apps pays a fee to the computer or phone manufacturer to have that software included with your device.
  • New computers also include additional programs that the manufacturers believe offer important functionality.
  • Trialware is another type of bloatware included with many new computers. You know those deals where you get three months free and then the payments start.
  • Adware is still another type of bloatware. Everyone has suffered from adware at one type or another. This type of software often results in popup ads or directs you to websites with ads.
  • All types of bloatware can slow down your computer, some dramatically so. Unfortunately, bloatware can often be challenging to remove from your computer system.
  1. Spyware: Spyware is software that monitors your activity and relays that information to another party. The transmitted information can be personal information, such as bank account information, or web browsing activity. The data is frequently sold to marketing and data firms, advertisers, or to those with more criminal intentions.
  • Spyware isn’t just an invasion of your privacy, it can also slow down your computer. Spyware can also be difficult to remove.
  1. Software conflicts: Software conflicts occur when two programs can’t run efficiently at the same time. This is commonly the result of both programs competing for the same resources. It could be that both programs require an excessive amount of memory, for example.
  2. Antivirus software: Antivirus software can be one of the biggest obstacles to computer speed. It takes a tremendous amount of computer resources to constantly scan for viruses. The updates required to keep virus software up to date can also be a burden to speed.
  • There’s a good chance that your operating system includes anti-malware features. A third-party antivirus program is often unnecessary.
  1. Garbage software: Most computers have a lot of software that serves little purpose. Not only does this software take up valuable hard drive space, it often runs in the background and requires RAM and and processing power to maintain. All of this results in a slower computer.
  • Any unused software should be removed. Any programs that needlessly launch at startup should be disabled.
  •  

Unless you’re known as the computer guru of your social circle, these can be difficult issues to resolve on your own. This is especially true when managing any bloatware, spyware, or software conflicts. The most important takeaway is that the software on your computer can negatively affect your computer’s speed.

 

In part 3, we’ll look at how your network can affect your computer’s speed.

 

Computer Topics Article: Computer Performance Essentials – Why is Your Computer Slow? Part 1: Hardware

If your computer has become slower over time, there are several possible reasons. In this three-part series, you’ll learn the primary reasons a computer isn’t reaching its full speed potential. First, we’ll examine the hardware-related reasons that might be preventing your computer from keeping up with your workload.

 

There are several hardware upgrades that can positively impact your computer’s speed:

 

  1. Processor: If your computer is older, this is one of the likely reasons your computer isn’t satisfying your need for speed. The speed of the latest CPUs increases by a considerable margin each year. An older computer obviously has an older, and slower, central processing unit.
  • Keep in mind, that a motherboard will only accept a particular “family” of central processing units. A processor upgrade might require the installation of a new motherboard in some cases.
  1. Random Access Memory (RAM): While RAM does indeed have a speed rating associated with it, it’s the amount of RAM in your computer that is more important. Many computers have open memory slots that can be utilized to add additional memory. There is also the possibility of replacing memory modules with modules of greater capacity.
  2. Hard Drive Speed. Not all hard drives are created equal. There are two basic designs utilized for modern hard drives: Hard disk drives (HDD) and solid state drives (SSD).
  • Hard disk drives are mechanical and use one or more rotating disks to store information. HDDs operate at either 5,400 or 7,200 RPM, depending on the model. A slower speed drive has the potential to slow down your computer. There are a few models capable of 10,000 RPM, but these are quite rare and expensive.
  • Solid state drives don’t have moving parts and are more reliable than hard disk drives. An SSD uses flash technology similar to the common USB stick. Solid state drives are more expensive than hard disk drives, but are considerably faster. The typical SSD is more than 10-times faster than the average 7,200 RPM HDD when it comes to reading and writing data.
  • To save on cost, putting the operating system on a smaller SSD drive and storing the other programs and data on a conventional HDD is an great option.
  • A hard drive that is near capacity can also hinder a computer’s speed. Your computer needs a fair amount of free hard drive space to operate at peak efficiency.

These are the primary hardware culprits to evaluate if your computer seems to be lagging in performance. Take a look at your processor, the amount of RAM, and the type of hard drive(s) in your computer.

 

Next, we’ll consider the impact software can have on the speed of a computer system.

 

Do I Need A Professional New Computer Set-Up?



For some people a new computer can almost be as exciting as a new car. In many cases, a new car is more ready to be used ‘out of the box’ than a new computer! New computers have a host of challenges, depending on your needs. A professional computer setup is a great idea for many users. A few of the services that can be included in a new computer setup:

Data Migration: Most of us would love to get all the data, files, software, and photos from our old computer onto the new computer. Without the proper tools and experience, this can be a challenge. It is quite easy for items to fall through the cracks. It is also easy to inadvertently delete data before the migration process is completed.

Registration: To have a warrantee in place, the computer must be registered properly. This is also true for hardware and software. Many users skip this process. Don’t!

Lessons: Most computer users are utilizing less than 5% of capabilities of their computer system and operating system. A few lessons cannot only help to unlock the remaining 95%; they will also improve productivity, saving both time and money.

Create User Accounts: Have you ever wanted to setup your computer for multiple users and still keep your own files and activities private? It is not time consuming, but there are many options to consider regarding privileges.

Remove bloatware: Most computers have unwanted programs pre-installed. Not only are these programs annoying, they can also drain valuable system resources.

Set default web browser, search engine, homepage: Without choosing your default programs, you are forever stuck with the pre-installed defaults. Get everything set up to your personal preferences.

Create back up system: With a simple USB drive and the appropriate strategy, you can avoid that sinking feeling that happens when your computer fails to boot. Avoid catastrophic data loss.

Install and update Anti-Malware Software: Malware is a major concern for all users. Let the experts get this critical software installed properly.

Set up email accounts: Some users are experts at using email but do not have the slightest idea about how to get everything set up.

Demonstrate and answer questions: You are bound to experience some confusion and have a few questions. We can demonstrate how to use the features of your new machine and answer any questions you might have.

Install hardware devices: It is not always easy to get multiple monitors or a wireless printer to behave. Driver issues are not uncommon and can be challenging to solve. Video cards, sound cards RAM upgrades, and external drives can also be added.

There is more to computer setup than simply plugging it into the wall. A little time and effort on the front end can result in more stable and enjoyable system and get you off to a great start with your new machine.



How To Fix WIFI Problems In Your Home

Wi-Fi uses short-range radio waves to provide a convenient way to access the internet in your home. While the technology can seem magical to many of us, it’s not. It has a limited range, experiences interference, and dead zones are the result. The easiest way to locate them is to take a walk around your home with a wireless device and look at the quality of the connection.A dead zone is any area of your home that should be covered by your Wi-Fi signal, but isn’t.

What causes dead zones?

1. Your house is too big (I feel so sorry for you). A large home can be challenging to cover adequately with a conventional wireless router. If the router is in one corner of the house, the opposite corner may not have adequate coverage.

2. Your home’s construction may be interfering. Older construction with plaster and chicken wire walls can block Wi-Fi signals. Metal filing cabinets, refrigerators, and  other obstructions can block wireless signals.

3. Other electronic devices can interfere with signals. Old cordless phones can create interference, microwave ovens can cause issues, etc. Other culprits include baby monitors, wireless audio systems, and security systems.

4. Your might have a problem outside the house. If you live in a densely populated area, the wireless signals put out by your neighbors may cause interference or your ISP might have a problem outside the house that needs to be addressed (and they might not acknowledge it).

5. Your router might be in intermittent failure. If your router is old it might be operating at a decreased capacity.

How to solve the problem of dead zones

1. Move your router. At least get it up higher. Or find a convenient central location. You’ll be much less likely to suffer from wireless networking deadzones if your router isn’t at one end of the house or in the basement. Be creative and find a location that works for complete coverage. Also, you might need a newer, better router.

2. Remove obstructions. Do you have any electronic or large metal devices near your router? Consider moving the obstruction and measuring the results.

3. Purchase a wireless repeater. A wireless repeater or extender receives the wireless signal from your router or wireless device and rebroadcasts it. I have found these fairly effective especially if setup, located and used correctly.

4. Use a cable. Though it may be unsightly without a lot of work, you can connect your computer to the router with an Ethernet cable. Anytime you are “corded” rather than “cordless’ you’re likely to have a better connection.

Dead zones are a common occurrence, particularly in larger homes, but reading this article and following the simple instructions or having a qualified Computer Service Firm do it can fix a pesky problem once and forever.

What is the Difference Between a Refurbished and Used Computer?

The Differences Between Refurbished and Used Computers

There are many times when a new computer is either overkill or simply too expensive. Perhaps your needs or your budget are limited. If you’re interested in using a computer to surf the web, use a word processor or spreadsheet, and stay on top of your email and Facebook accounts, a new computer might be more than you need. A used or refurbished computer is a viable option.

It can be a little nerve-wracking to purchase a computer from a stranger on Craigslist. That’s what makes refurbished computers so attractive.

While there are no official definitions to separate ‘used’ and ‘refurbished’ computers, there are some generally accepted guidelines. A used computer is considered to be a computer sold ‘as-is’ by a private party. There is typically no warranty included. In most cases, no work has been done to the computer to bring it back to factory standards. You have little recourse if the computer develops an issue.

A refurbished computer is analogous to purchasing a certified used car from a dealer. The computer should be  put through a rigorous testing process, parts should be replaced as necessary, and a warranty included. A refurbished computer will be approaching the quality of a new computer at a lower price. It can be the best of both worlds.

The hard drive should be wiped clean, and the operating system is re-installed so there is ZERO user history. Refurbished desktop computers also often get a new mouse and keyboard (if not they should).  Any problems are  discovered and corrected.

This is very different than purchasing directly from the previous owner. A computer purchased on Ebay or Craigslist from an individual looking to sell might contain a history that you don’t want to be associated with.  Sometimes, people will hold onto a computer until a significant problem occurs and computer problems can be quite challenging to rectify. Spending money to purchase someone else’s problem might not be a good strategy. And, getting a refund may be difficult. Used computers can be a gamble.

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