Education

How to Protect Your Computer During a Thunderstorm

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Education

Each year computer technicians are flooded with repair requests from customers whose systems have been damaged from thunderstorms, some of which will be irreparable. Damage during a thunderstorm can be prevented by anyone willing to take a few preventive steps.

Surge Protectors:
Surge Protectors contain a fuse or a breaker that is designed to blow or tripRead Morewhen coming into contact with an electric surge. With these devices you literally get what you pay for in protection-some surge protectors come with a guarantee to replace any items that are damaged by surges while plugged into the device. Invest in the best one you can afford.

UPS (Universal Power Supply):
A Universal Power Supply is a step up from a surge protector in terms of protection. UPS devices not only protect your computer from surges but also work to prevent unexpected shutdowns due to power dips and outages. For instance, if your computer were writing information to its’ hard drive when the power was suddenly shut off that information will not get saved-and your hard drive could be damaged by being interrupted during such a sensitive process. A case of data corruption may prevent Windows from being able to load, forcing you to reinstall your operating system and possibly lose precious files as well. Worse-case scenario can result in a failed hard drive as the sensitive drive electronics are interrupted during the write process. A universal power supply will not only protect your computer from power surges during a thunderstorm but will also enable you to gracefully save all of your open files and shut down your computer properly during a power outage, protecting your system from damage.

Knots in the Power Cord:
Some people have learned the hard way the damage that could be wreaked from thunderstorms. Here is one old tech trick. Tie five overhand knots in your power cords, spacing them an inch or so apart. Do the same thing for phone cords as well. The jolt of electricity will burn itself out traveling back over itself, frying the electric and phone cords but sparing your computer. I wouldn’t swear by this method but have heard of some people who have had a couple of scorched phone cords after thunderstorms but did not lost a single modem or computer. I honestly do not know the technicalities of how this one works; only that it is one tech trick that is could be rather effective.

Disconnecting your Computer:
The best way to protect your computer during a thunderstorm is to disconnect it entirely from the electrical system in your house. Unplug your computer from the wall outlet and make sure that any device that is attached to the computer is disconnected from the power as well. Disconnect your phone line/DSL/cable/satellite connection from your modem and power that device off as well. By literally severing the connection between power sources and computer you are removing the pathways for a surge and are insulating your system from any possibility of damage. Continue reading

HOW TO GET BETTER TECH SUPPORT

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Education

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Despite my “Nerd Dude” credentials, I’ve had to call technical support many times in my life, and I can’t say that it’s always been a pleasant experience. Over the years, I’ve discovered a few things that can make the experience less painful. The next time you need to make that call, here are some ways to assure it’ll go more smoothly.

Computers, routers, printers and, frankly, most electronic devices, can get buggy after long periods of use without a break. It never hurts to do a full system shut down and restart to see if that fixes the problem before you call tech support. Whenever I have trouble with my Internet connection, I make a point to cycle the modem and the router off and back on again before I call my ISP, and inevitably it’s one of the first things that the technician asks me to do. Might as well save us both some time.

While you’re at it, run through your repertoire of basic troubleshooting before you pick up the phone. If your computer is “acting strangely,” sometimes the simple answer is a virus or malware. Update your antivirus protection software and run a malware scan. Continue reading

NEW PC MUST-DO CHECKLIST

This entry is part 11 of 13 in the series Education

How-to-Format-a-Hard-Drive-on-Mac

Whether your reliable old PC was finally beaten down by the kids this summer, or you are springing for a new laptop for your back-to-schooler, ‘tis the season of new computers. Before you plug and play that new PC, take these steps to ensure your computer runs optimally from the beginning and to protect your investment for years to come.

Step 1: Get rid of the junk programs. Anyone who has booted up a new, off-the-shelf Windows PC can attest to the deluge of junk programs that come pre-installed to the average Dell or HP machine. Widely known as “bloatware,” these are programs that you’ll probably never use. They’re installed mainly because the computer’s manufacturer was paid to install them on your machine. They take up space, slow your system’s boot-up time and compromise performance. Not only that, but they’re really annoying – they pop up all the time, take up your bandwidth downloading updates, and are rarely useful.

The cleanest way to get rid of the junk is to wipe your hard drive and install a fresh version of Windows. It’s the pathway that most tech professionals choose. The hard part for most people, however, is that your new PC probably didn’t come with a Windows disk or even a recovery CD. Most of the functionality of your video card, USB ports and touchpad come from drivers that may or may not be included with Windows. If these functions aren’t immediately restored, you can be stuck spending hours tracking down the drivers you need.

Another option is to use a program called PC Decrapifier. Simply download the program and it will automatically sweep your system, identifying likely bloatware and offering you the option to confirm its removal. Continue reading

Are Bad Capacitors Killing Your Computer?

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Education

Are Bad Capacitors Killing Your Computer?

Every time I work on a computer I clean the dust and visually inspect the innards. One of the things I look at inside the computer is the capacitors on the main board. There is a known common problem that is causing some capacitors to leak and fail.

The Problem
The first flawed capacitors were seen in 1999, but most of the affected capacitors were made in the early to mid 2000s, and while news of their failures (usually after a few years of use) has forced most manufacturers to fix the defects, some bad capacitors were still being sold or integrated into designs as of early 2007.

The Cause
An incorrect electrolyte formula within a faulty capacitor causes the production of hydrogen gas, leading to bulging or deformation of the capacitor’s case, and eventual venting of the electrolyte. In rare cases, faulty capacitors have even been reported to pop or explode forcefully. Although modern manufacturing techniques normally ensure they vent safely rather than explode, manufacturers have been known to omit the key safety features that allow this.

What to Look For Visually
– Bulging of the vent on the top of the capacitor. (The ‘vent’ is the impression stamped in the top of the can. The impression forms the seams of the vent. It is designed so that if the capacitor becomes pressurized it will split at the vent’s seams relieving the pressure rather than making it explode.)
Sitting crooked on the circuit board as the bottom rubber plug is pushed out.
– Electrolyte (a crusty brown substance) leaked onto the motherboard from the base of the capacitor.
– Venting from the top of the capacitor, visible as rust-like brown deposits, or a visible hole in the vent.

Failed and Bulging Capacitors

Computer Symptoms
1 Not turning on all the time; beeping noises; having to hit reset or try turning the computer on again.
2 Instabilities (hangs, BSODs, kernel panics, etc.), especially when symptoms get progressively more frequent over time.
3 Memory errors, especially ones that get more frequent with time.
4 Spontaneous reboots, or freeze wile booting.
5 Never starting the POST; fans spin but the system appears dead

Open public Wi-Fi is not safe

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Education

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Open public wi-fi is not safe, thousands of amateur hackers are watching, made easy by a new hack tool called Firesheep…

Firesheep:
This tool takes almost everything you need to be a Wi-Fi hacker and makes it look like an everyday program that anybody can use. And, as it transpires, a lot of people are using it.

How it works is an individual running Firesheep can use it to scan all the information being exchanged on the public Wi-Fi. What happens next is a list pops up detailing all the accounts being used and accessible. At that point the Firesheep user can link in and do whatever the user can.

Many accounts associated with websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google, various e-mail providers and several other types of services have been determined to be vulnerable through the use of Firesheep.

Gregg Keizer reports on Computerworld.com that “Although it’s common for sites to encrypt user log-ons with HTTPS or SSL, few encrypt the actual traffic.” This allows the session or stored cookie to be broadcast over the Wi-Fi, and cookies can contain a lot of information about a user. Once a hijacker obtains the information contained in a cookie, the captor can do almost, if not everything, the user can do. Continue reading

Time Saving Keyboard Shortcut Tricks

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Education

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Here are some time saving keyboard shortcut tricks for Windows…   Enjoy!!!

  • CTRL+C (Copy)
  • CTRL+X (Cut)
  • CTRL+V (Paste)
  • CTRL+Z (Undo)
  • DELETE (Delete)
  • SHIFT+DELETE (Delete the selected item permanently without placing the item in the Recycle Bin)
  • CTRL while dragging an item (Copy the selected item)
  • CTRL+SHIFT while dragging an item (Create a shortcut to the selected item)
  • F2 key (Rename the selected item)
  • CTRL+RIGHT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next word)
  • CTRL+LEFT ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous word)
  • CTRL+DOWN ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the next paragraph)
  • CTRL+UP ARROW (Move the insertion point to the beginning of the previous paragraph)
  • CTRL+SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Highlight a block of text)
  • SHIFT with any of the arrow keys (Select more than one item in a window or on the desktop, or select text in a document)
  • CTRL+A (Select all)
  • F3 key (Search for a file or a folder)
  • ALT+ENTER (View the properties for the selected item)
  • ALT+F4 (Close the active item, or quit the active program)
  • ALT+ENTER (Display the properties of the selected object)
  • ALT+SPACEBAR (Open the shortcut menu for the active window)
  • CTRL+F4 (Close the active document in programs that enable you to have multiple documents open simultaneously)
  • ALT+TAB (Switch between the open items)
  • ALT+ESC (Cycle through items in the order that they had been opened)
  • F6 key (Cycle through the screen elements in a window or on the desktop)
  • F4 key (Display the Address bar list in My Computer or Windows Explorer)
  • SHIFT+F10 (Display the shortcut menu for the selected item)
  • ALT+SPACEBAR (Display the System menu for the active window)
  • CTRL+ESC (Display the Start menu)
  • ALT+Underlined letter in a menu name (Display the corresponding menu)
  • Underlined letter in a command name on an open menu (Perform the corresponding command)
  • F10 key (Activate the menu bar in the active program)
  • RIGHT ARROW (Open the next menu to the right, or open a submenu)
  • LEFT ARROW (Open the next menu to the left, or close a submenu)
  • F5 key (Update the active window)
  • BACKSPACE (View the folder one level up in My Computer or Windows Explorer)
  • ESC (Cancel the current task)
  • SHIFT when you insert a CD-ROM into the CD-ROM drive (Prevent the CD-ROM from automatically playing)
  • CTRL+SHIFT+ESC (Open Task Manager)
  • F6 key another use (Activate the address bar in Internet Explorer)

 

 

4 Budget Busting IT Support Mistakes When Moving your Office

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Education

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Tis the season to move offices, it seems.  We get a great deal of calls in the heat of summer and around the holidays from companies relocating to different office space, and requiring assistance with their IT equipment.  It could be that with vacations, business is slower and summer is a good time to make the least amount of impact to employee’s lives.

Whatever the case, in addition to our Office Technology Move Guide, and our Office IT Support Move Services Overview, Here is another blog that will be helpful: “How to Avoid the Top 4 Budget Busting, Stress-Inducing Mistakes When Moving Your Office:

Mistake #1 — Not Using A Checklist

This may seem like a no-brainer to those who manage projects, but project management may not be a forte of someone placed in charge of your move (like an office admin). Even those who use a list typically fail to make the list detailed enough.

Mistake #2 — Trying To Save Money By Moving Your Own Computer Network

Don’t ask your staff to disconnect, move and reconnect computers, phones and other devices just to save a few bucks. You’ll frustrate them and end up with phones ringing at the wrong extension, lost cables, and workstations that get dropped rendering them useless. You don’t want to let the movers do this job either; they may be great at moving furniture, but a network is a lot more sophisticated and sensitive. Be smart and hire an IT pro to pack and move your network. Continue reading

Will your next computer be a laptop or a PC?

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Education

delllaptops

 

But before you even get to the buying part, you have to decide what you want. Laptop? Good for portability. Desktop? More performance. Tablet? Good portability, but no desktop applications and less space. It can be so hard deciding what you want. But, we have a few tips for you when deciding what to get.

 

Why buy a Desktop?
More performance.
Share with the whole family.
Make a comfortable home office setting.
More possibilities like dual monitors, photo editing, graphic design, and gaming.

Why buy a Laptop?
Good for portability.
Take with you on when you travel.
Use anywhere in the house.
They are as powerful as the average PC now.
You can take all of your work to and from the office with ease.

Why buy a Tablet?
Low cost.
Small and ultra portable.
Take with you on when you travel.
Use anywhere in the house.
Good portability, but no desktop applications and less space.

Here are some of the features to consider:
Desktop, Laptop, Netbook, or Tablet
Processor Cores and speed
RAM Memory
Hard Drive Size
Screen Size
Optical drive: (CD, CD RW, DVD RW, or Blu-Ray)
Video Capability (home/business or gaming)
Ethernet Speed
Wi-Fi
Operating System
Web Cam
HDMI Ports

Questions to ask before deciding on a computer:
Do you want a Desktop, Laptop, Netbook, or Tablet?
Do you need it for business or personal use?
Do you do gaming?
Do edit video?
Do you use music programs? (iTunes)
Do you watch tv on it? (Netflix, HuLu)
Do you edit graphics or photos? (photoshop)
How are you going to connect it to the internet(wi-fi, or ethernet)?
Do you need a new monitor, keyboard, or mouse?
Do you need any accessories like a web cam or wi-fi router?
Do you have a backup strategy to protect from file loss?
Do you also need a new printer?
How much does it cost?D.M. Web & Computer Support repairs computers, but he sells them too.   We  have  new and used laptops and desktops just ready to be taken home. (Call for information – 678.913.3156).

And remember, if you need help deciding, we can give you a hand with that. Or if you want something special that we don’t have, we can order that in just for you.

 

Continue reading

The Complete Newbie’s Guide to Computer Hardware Repair

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Education

Computer Technical Service. Isolated 3D Image

What do you do when you need a hardware repair made? Do you call a professional?  Should you have a contract set up with an outsourced option so they can perform the service for you? Or should you just do it yourself?

DoItYourself works out okay in some situations. For more complex repairs, though, you may need to contact the professionals.

Here are some simple things you can do if you encounter a problem:

  1. Restart your computer. This works especially well if you’re running Windows XP (which you shouldn’t be since it is no longer supported).  Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 have gotten so much more stable that you rarely have to do this. However, if you are having a problem, many times it can be cleared up by simply restarting your computer. Sounds deceptively simple, doesn’t it? It does, but it works.
  2. What if your computer won’t power up? Make sure the power cable is plugged into your computer and the power strip. Check the power strip to make sure it’s plugged into the wall. Make sure the power strip is turned on. If you have a switched outlet, ensure the switch is on. If that doesn’t work, try using a different power cable to see if that’s the problem. If you still haven’t identified the problem, try unplugging all other devices from your PC. Add them back one at a time to see if any of those devices are cause your computer to not boot up.
  3. Your desktop computer turns on, but the monitor stays blank. Have you plugged the monitor into an outlet or power strip? Did you turn that power strip on? If yes to both, try plugging the monitor into a different power strip or electrical outlet. Make sure the video cable (usually blue at the end) is plugged firmly into the PC and the monitor. Unplug both ends, and look at the pins to see if any are missing or broken. If you can, get a working monitor and plug it in. If it works, get rid of the old monitor.
  4. The computer and monitor work, but the computer still doesn’t boot. This may be a problem for the pros to handle. If you have any external devices or drives (like flash drives), remove them and restart your computer. If you hear a strange “clicking” sound coming from your PC, your hard drive has malfunctioned. Replace it if it’s under warranty, or buy a new one. Your computer may also beep or show error messages, which could indicate the true problem.

Continue reading

Computer Problems

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Education

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You use computers both at your workplace and home, most of the time it can run smooth, however, sooner or later as you use it you are bound to see some errors in it. You may be working and suddenly your screen comes up with some error message or in worst kind of conditions your PC can end up with a screeching halt. Interpreting the kind of computer issues, you have and the way to fix them can be a difficult task especially if you are not aware of the same. The following are some of the top five common computer remedies, which you can give for the respective problems. Let’s check them out:

1). The BSoD (Blue Screen of Death)

Many people often get scared seeing the blue screen especially when it appears with an array of white text simply out of sudden. The BSoD or Stop error can be a deadly kind of issue, which you may come across, but don’t worry, you simply need to reboot your PC properly. This error simply appears over the screen for a wide range of reasons including damaged software hardware failure, issues with drivers or even corrupting of DLL files. Its remedy would depend upon the kind of its original issue. Over the screen you end up getting codes, which can really help you in identifying and fixing the PC problems. Continue reading

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