More Than A Virus, Common Malware to Watch Out For…
The term “virus” is often used to describe many different types of infection a computer might have. Virus, when used as a blanket term, can describe any number of potential computer programs. What these programs have in common are they are typically designed to cause damage, steal data, or spread across the network.
Malware describes software designed to act maliciously on a personal computer. The name ‘malware’ is a shorthand for ‘malicious software’ and describes exactly what it is. A computer virus is a single type of malware that can cause harm to your PC, but it is only one of many.
Short for advertising-supported software, adware is a type of malware that delivers advertisements to your computer. These advertisements are often intrusive, irritating, and often designed to trick you into clicking something you don’t want. A common example of malware is pop-up ads that appear on many websites and mobile applications.
Adware often comes bundled with “free” versions of software that uses these intrusive advertising to make up costs. Commonly it is installed without the user’s knowledge and made excessively difficult to remove.
Spyware is designed to spy on the user’s activity without their knowledge or consent. Often installed in the background, spyware can collect keyboard input, harvest data from the computer, monitor web activity and more.
Spyware typically requires installation to the computer. This is commonly done by tricking users into installing spyware themselves instead of the software or application that they thought they were getting. Victims of spyware are often be completely unaware of its presence until the data stolen is acted on in the form of fraudulent bank transactions or stolen online accounts.
In technical terms a computer virus is a form of malware that is installed inadvertently, causing damage to the user. A typical virus may install a keylogger to capture passwords, logins, and bank information from the keyboard. It might steal data, interrupt programs, and cause the computer to crash.
Modern virus programs commonly use your computers processing power and internet bandwidth to perform tasks remotely for hackers. The first sign of this can be when the computer sounds like it is doing a lot of work when no programs should be running. A computer virus is often spread through installing unknown software or downloading attachments that contain more than they seem.
A particularly malicious variety of malware, known as ransomware, prevents the user from accessing their own files until a ransom is paid. Files within the system are often encrypted with a password that won’t be revealed to the user until the full ransom is paid.
Instead of accessing the computer as normal, the user is presented with a screen which details the contact and payment information required to access their data again.
Ransomware is typically downloaded through malicious file attachments, email, or a vulnerability in the computer system.
Among the most common type of malware today is the computer worm. Worms spread across computer networks by exploiting vulnerabilities within the operating system. Often these programs cause harm to their host networks by consuming large amounts of network bandwidth, overloading computers, and using up all the available resources.
One of the key differences between worms and a regular virus is its ability to make copies of itself and spread independently. A virus must rely on human activity to run a program or open a malicious attachment; worms can simply spread over the network without human intervention.
The solid-state drive (SSD) has swiftly become the go-to upgrade to breathe new life into an aging computer, and for good reason too. An SSD swiftly brings an old laptop or desktop up to date with modern machines in just a single step.
The price of solid-state memory has fallen dramatically in recent years. As costs have dropped, the popularity of the technology has increased exponentially. At one time an SSD was a rare treat for serious PC enthusiasts, now it’s cheaper and more readily available than ever. No other single solution is as cost-effective, quick to swap, and impressively effective as swapping out an old hard drive in favor of the faster and more modern SSD.
Out with The Old
The hard disk drive (HDD) is a technology that dates back as far as the 1950s. They became the default solution all PCs would use for decades to come. Most old laptop and desktop machines still contain their original, worn hard drives they left the factory with.
The HDD was a mostly mechanical device. Inside a solid outer casing was a series of spinning disks arranged in a delicate stack known as a platter. Each disk could read and save data using a tiny needle moving across the disk’s surface.
The technology looked and worked much like a miniature record player. Like a record player, widely in use at the time that hard drives were developed, the hard drive had some serious drawbacks in their use.
The series of tiny disks and needles that made up the HDD were incredibly fragile. Vulnerable to dust or movement, computers commonly succumbed to hard drive failures that rendered the machine and its stored data unusable. Occasionally, simply moving a laptop while reading or writing data can damage a hard drive’s spinning disk.
In with The New
The primary reason to switch to a more modern SSD, on top of their impressive durability, is the incredible increase in speed. The SSD has no moving parts at all, working more like a digital camera memory card than a vinyl record player.
An SSD simply makes the process of retrieving and saving data to storage many times faster. Eliminating the mechanical component, removing the need to move a physical disk, and not needing to physically pick up the data means a much faster and smoother operation.
Computer startup, where the operating system loads all its data from storage, can take as little as one-quarter of the time of a comparable HDD. Additionally, loading regular applications and data from an SSD takes a fraction of time of an HDD.
An SSD completely breathes new life into an old machine. Computers with an SSD replacement for the hard drive feel like using an entirely new machine for a fraction of the cost.
Replacing the main mechanical component additionally eliminates wear and tear working to break down your machine. While an HDD slows over time, degrades, and can eventually suffer mechanical failure; an SSD remains as durable as the day it was purchased.
Ideal Laptop Upgrade
In a laptop setting, the SSD makes complete sense. They require less power than older hard drives, making the most of your battery charge.
In addition, not needing a large disk platter, mechanical parts, or protective outer case means they are about half the weight of a mechanical drive. Making an old machine lightweight brings it another step closer to a modern machine.
They run almost silently too. The familiar click-clack of the hard drive inside a laptop is a thing of the past. Many users comment on the noise their laptop used to make starting up and loading programs. Noisy laptops are a tech throwback we’re happy to leave behind.
For many who feel like their old laptop or desktop is showing its age, the prohibitive cost of purchasing a whole new machine keeps them invested in their old one. A simple, fast SSD upgrade can make your old machine new again at a much smaller price. If swapping long startups, and slow load times sounds right for you, consider upgrading to an SSD. You won’t look back.
Are registry cleaners a good idea? You have likely been alerted by popups while browsing the web. These, often flashing, advertisements claim your computer has more than a thousand errors requiring urgent attention to fix. Perhaps helpfully, these popups offer a solution to cure your computer with a click of the mouse. Buttons marked “fix now” appear to offer a simple fix to all your computer troubles.
These advertisements are often described as Registry Cleaners, or by a few other names that attempt to convince the user they will somehow clean or improve their home PC. Within the IT industry they are known as “scareware”. They are software designed to convince you that your computer has problems it might not have.
Are they trustworthy?
Almost all popups and advertisements that use banners saying “Fix now for free” are not trustworthy at all. They are little more than a scam attempting to take your credit card details, PC data or both. At best these programs might claim to scan your computer and show a convincing list of plausible sounding computer problems. Using this, they will ask for payment to “fix” these problems to get your PC back in shape again.
At worst these advertisements can be downright malicious. Some may attempt to use fake warnings and scare tactics to trick customers into installing spyware on their own computers. When installed, spyware will attempt to steal information in the background. Attackers may use this technique to steal usernames, passwords, emails, and credit card details. Sometimes the first sign a user has that something is wrong is when a virus scan detects software doing something it shouldn’t be.
Do I need to clean the registry?
The Windows system and various applications installed on your PC do leave files stored on your computer. These files can stay behind or go out of date even after the application that initially made them has been removed. These files can use up a little space on the hard drive and generally cause minor clutter within the system.
Despite the large amount of “scareware” and fraudulent computer cleanup scans out there, legitimate applications designed to clean your system do exist. This can be something we cover and is often done as a single small part of a complete computer tune up. Keeping up with out of date files and freeing up unused space is worthwhile and can be considered “good housekeeping”. The vast speed boosts many online advertisements claim to unlock by simply moving files around are almost always false.
The home computer, however, is commonly upgraded and can be boosted by more conventional means. If the speed of your PC is no longer up to the task, there are ways in which we can unlock far greater gains than simple housekeeping chores.
Relatively low-cost hardware components such as memory can often be added to boost the speed of even an older PC and unlock a new lease of life. Upgrading the computers RAM can double the working memory available to the operating system. With extra memory, many programs can keep more information available to work with. This upgrade reduces loading times and increases the computers ability to run more programs at once.
Another common speed boosting upgrade involves how we store and load data from the computer. Switching from an older style mechanical hard drive to a modern Solid State Disk (SSD) can bring down the startup and loading time of any PC.
Loading data from the hard drive is very often the slowest part of a computer, the bottleneck in an otherwise very fast system. Because an SSD does not use any mechanical components the time to access the disk is nearly instant when compared to older, mechanical hard disks.
Safe Speed Boosts
These upgrades offer boosts in speed to rival a modern system at only a fraction of the cost originally paid for the computer. Upgrading the RAM, swapping to an SSD, or doing both will provide an instant, dramatic, and safe improvement to the speed of your PC.
Why Using a Registry Cleaner Won’t Speed Up Your PC or Fix Crashes (Read more…)
How to Tell if You’ve Gotten Hacked… Being hacked is the single biggest fear of most computer users. Many believe the first sign of strange behavior or errors on their PC is a sign hackers have taken control. But are hackers really inside your machine, stealing your information? Or should we be on the lookout for more subtle signs? What does being hacked really look like?
There is an important distinction to make between being hacked by a person and being infected with a virus or malware. Virus software and malware are automated processes designed to damage your system, steal your data, or both. There are of course ways that we can defeat these processes, but what if we are instead hacked by an individual?
Logins not working
One of the first steps a hacker might take would be to change the computers passwords. By doing so, not only do they ensure future access to the account, they prevent you from accessing the system to stop them. For the hacker, this is a crucial step that keeps them in control. With this in mind, we always want to make sure to keep on top of our own login details and how often we change them.
Security Emails or SMS’s from online services
Many services track which device and location you logged into your account from last. If your account is accessed from a new device or a different country it might trigger an automated email or SMS to ask if this new login is your own.
If you have logged in using a new computer, tablet, or phone; an email that asks “hey, is this you?” need not be cause for alarm. If you haven’t, it may be time to investigate further. This service is an important part of information security. It may be a key first step to identify someone else gaining access to your account.
Bank accounts missing money or strange transactions
Most commonly today, hackers commit crimes to steal money. The end goal for hackers is typically to profit from their crimes by taking money from people online.
It always pays to keep a regular eye on your financial transactions to make sure you know what money is coming and going from your account.
You may see a large sum missing where hackers have attempted to take as much as they can in a single transaction.
Alternatively small, hard to notice transactions may appear. These often account for small purchases where attackers have tested the details they have to make sure they work.
Sudden loss of cellular connectivity
Network interruption is a symptom that few people expect but occurs commonly when hackers attack. Many banks and online services use a security feature known as Two-factor authentication. To do this they send a short code to your phone or app when you log in. Two-factor authentication is ideal in most cases and a great boost to security.
Hackers can try to work around this by calling your mobile service provider to report your phone as lost or stolen. During this call, they will request your phone number be transferred to a new sim card that they control. When your bank sends its regular two-factor authentication code to the number registered, it goes instead to the hacker who may be able to log in. From your perspective phone service will simply stop working.
Keeping vigilant and maintaining security
These are only some of the modern techniques that hackers can try to use to gain access to your accounts. It pays to be extra vigilant and pay close attention to the signs and signals that indicate you may have been hacked.
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Should You Repair, Upgrade, or Replace Your Computer? Like many valuable things we buy, new computers suffer from wear and tear over time. Our computers are particularly vulnerable as we have placed more and more demands on them every year. New machines have gotten faster, quieter, more reliable, and more capable over time. At the same time our own computers have begun to slow and sometimes even stop performing altogether.
There are many ways to address the problem of a PC which isn’t quite performing up to the task anymore. Whether frustratingly slow or no longer working; we are happy to take a look. When you bring your computer to us we will diagnose the condition and find a solution that works for you. Often times the simplest solution works best. A complex problem sometimes only needs a simple repair to get your home computer up and running like new again. Whether a small replacement part, loose wire, or bad connection; we will find and fix the problem to give your familiar, home machine a new lease of life.
Many computers come to us running slowly, taking a long time to start up, or freezing when trying to load files and programs. Often owners have reached breaking point and become convinced the machine is fit for only the scrap heap. In many cases, the problem can be pinpointed to a bottleneck in the system. A single, seemingly trivial, part can be holding up the entire system. Amazingly, upgrading just that one component can make the whole machine run like new again.
Adding memory can provide extra space for programs to run faster. Adding an updated, faster hard drive can allow files to be retrieved without delay. In both cases, a low-cost single component can provide a cost-effective solution that makes an old machine like new again.
In some cases, computers succumb to more major faults. A critical part, difficult to replace, may stop working altogether. A failure of the motherboard for example, the backbone that all other components connect to can be expensive, if not impossible, to fix. Typically, with the fast-paced and ever-changing nature of computing, a motherboard will only house computer parts that were manufactured around a similar time.
A motherboard is almost certain to be incompatible with components built just a couple of years before or after its own design for example. Occasionally even a motherboard failure can be resolved too. In these cases we strive, whenever possible, to find a replacement board of the same generation that will work alongside existing components. The result is a cost-effective solution that keeps cost down by saving replacement parts.
In cases where a like-for-like replacement motherboard is not available, many parts of the computer may have to be replaced at the same time. Often replacement costs in these cases can get close to, or even exceed the cost of buying a new machine.
We would always give advice where it makes sense financially and practically to consider replacing an old machine. Often, in this respect, a home PC can be considered a little like a car. Sometimes a simple, non-expensive, easy to replace component such as the window wiper can fail. While a crucial part to be used for driving; it would be silly to suggest replacing the vehicle once it has worn out.
A window wiper may be low-cost and simple to replace, but if the engine were to wear down or break the solution may not be quite as simple. Attempting to make a 30-year-old car as fast, safe, and reliable as a brand new model generally doesn’t make any financial or practical sense. Sometimes the best course of action to save money and avoid breakdowns is a more up to date vehicle.
In computing, many of the same rules hold true. The best solution in each case is always tailored personally to fit you and your own computer.
Bring your machine in to us or give us a call us at (651) 456-8655 to discuss your computer issues or visit our Contact page HERE. We’ll keep you informed about your machine and advise on the best course of action to get you up and running as quickly as possible.
Private browsing important to you? Maintaining your privacy while using the internet has become more challenging over the years. The recent Facebook privacy scandal made that abundantly clear, with users shocked at how much information had been recorded about them. While it’s almost impossible to enjoy the internet and leave zero digital footprints, there are things you can do to hide your online activities – some more effective than others.
1. Get a virtual private network (VPN) VPNs aren’t just for business and downloaders now, they’ve gone mainstream. Once set up, it creates an encrypted connection from your computer to the VPN providers computer. The other computer could be in another city or another country. When you visit a website, it can only see the VPN computer – not yours. You essentially run around the internet pretending to be another computer, in another location. Since your connection is encrypted, even your ISP can’t see what you’re doing online, making your usage anonymous.
The downsides: Because your internet usage has to route through another computer first, your browsing and download speed could be affected. They can be tricky to set up and not all VPNs offer the same privacy levels (the better ones tend to be more expensive). Some websites may even block visits from people using VPNs, so you may end up switching it on/off as required.
The downsides: It can’t pre-fill saved passwords and it won’t help you type in the website name even if you’ve been there before.
3. Think about who’s watching While you might be naturally careful when using a public computer have you thought about who’s watching what you do on your work computer? Some workplaces have employee monitoring software that tracks all sorts of data, including taking screenshots of your desktop. It helps them create rules about computer usage but it may also provide them with evidence you’ve been breaking those rules. Stepping out to the internet cafe can be even more risky, as people can install keyloggers that record every keystroke, including your credit card numbers and logins. You’ll never know your activities are being recorded, even if you use private browsing.
The downsides: None. Awareness of the risks and the possibility of being watched ensures you’re more likely to use the internet safely.
While private browsing can help keep your internet usage under wraps, it’s not a magic bullet to cover all possibilities. Many people believe they’re invisible AND invulnerable while private browsing, a mistake they end up paying for. You’ll still need solid anti-virus and password habits to protect against threat, and to be a smart internet user who avoids suspect websites. Consider the options above as privacy-enhancing measures, not one-stop solutions.
Looking for a VPN? Our recommendation is Nord VPN. For more information, visit: https://nordvpn.com/
Need help with your online privacy? Give us a call at (651) 456-8655 or visit our CONTACT page.
Planning to travel soon? For most people, this also means making sure your tech is packed and ready for the adventure. Smartphones, eBook readers, tablets, laptops and smart watches are now so light and portable that you’d never think of leaving them behind, plus they can add a ton of value your experience.
Here are a few tips to consider before you hit the road.
1. Backup to the cloud
While you’re jet setting around, relaxing on a beach or hiking your way to freedom, your tech is always going to be exposed to a level of risk. This might range from accidentally leaving your laptop at a cafe to having it stolen from your bag, but either way the problem is the same – your data is now gone. If you’ve backed up your devices to the cloud (eg Evernote, Microsoft OneNote or Google Drive) you’ll be able to access your files easily and securely from anywhere.
Hot tip: Scan or save important documents like itineraries and passports to the cloud.
2. Pack the right cables
Begging random strangers for a loan of their cable isn’t much fun, so remember to bring the exact cables and chargers you’ll need. Most smartphones and tablets use universal plugs like Micro USB, USB C or Apple Lightning, so you can get away with only packing one cable. Many locations now offer powered USB ports but be sure to also pack the right charger as well, it’s a convenience you’ll appreciate. If you’re traveling overseas and the socket is different, remember to pack a plug converter, and depending on your destination, you might even find the voltage is different. It’s a good idea to check whether you also need a voltage converter before you try and charge.
3. Download offline data
It’s no secret that global roaming can give nasty bill shocks. The easy access data you normally use over Wi-Fi or get included in your cell plan has us all accustomed to being connected. While traveling, you might find yourself in a location where data costs a fortune or it’s not available at all. Download any files you might need, including important documents like itineraries and bookings, so that you can access them even without a connection.
4. Update and scan
Just like you’d make sure you’ve got the right vaccinations and travel gear, make sure your tech is ready to travel too. Set aside a few minutes to run updates for your operating systems and apps, as well as your anti-virus. Go one step further and run a manual anti-virus scan too. The last thing you want to deal with one your trip is a cyber attack! While you’re doing your pro-active thing, turn on password protection for all devices so that only you can unlock them.
Hot tip: Use a complex password that is hard for thieves to guess.
5. Mark your territory
Almost exactly the way it sounds, let everyone know this tech belongs to you. Write your cell number on portable devices in case you get separated so whoever finds it can give you a quick call and save the day. Don’t want to use permanent marker on your shiny tech? Grab some sticky labels you can peel off when you get home.
You can also get little Bluetooth tracking tags to stick to your gear, so that if you ever lose something you can chase it down. Similarly, you might like to consider enabling the ‘find my feature on Apple devices. Having this feature switched on also means you can disable your device remotely, an excellent security option if it’s been stolen.
Most homes are trying to reduce power costs by turning off lights and appliances, but do the same rules apply to computers? After all, it requires more than flicking a switch on your way out the door. Some people believe you should shut down after every use to save wear and tear, others believe you should never shut down your computer – ever. Others simply want to make sure the pages and apps they left open are still there waiting for them. So, who’s right and what are they really doing?
Back when computers were clunky behemoths that took a long time to start, you’d go nuts at the person who shut it down when it was your turn. If you have an older computer, maybe you still do. Modern computers actually have two options for their downtime: Shut down or sleep.
When it shuts down, the system goes through and closes any open programs (often prompting you to save first), then gradually cuts power to all components. It’s a methodical process that seems quite fast to us but is actually made of 100+ intentionally ordered steps. If there’s a sudden blackout or you hold the power button until it turns off, it means the steps aren’t followed and damage is possible. The second option is to put your computer to sleep. This can be triggered by an automated timeout or a user click. Your system uses a special type of memory called RAM to hold all your running programs exactly as you left them but use minimal power. The hard drive stops spinning, the graphics card lets the screen go black, and even the system fan slows to become almost silent. When you wake it by moving the mouse or pressing a key, it ‘wakes’ again almost instantly.
Reasons to Shut Down
A switched off computer isn’t drawing power which is a tick for the environment. But shutting down is about more than saving power. It can sometimes give improved stability over a machine that’s been running for days/weeks. This is because every time you shut down, you give your computer a chance to clear out all temporary junk files it’s been carrying in memory. It also triggers various health checks on startup that may otherwise be missed, important routines like checking for updates or scanning for viruses. It’s certainly more convenient to spend an extra minute booting up than lose everything to a cyber-attack. For older computers or those under heavy strain like gaming or video editing, shutting down also provides a necessary chance for the components to cool down.
Reasons to Sleep
Speed is the big selling point here. You can literally sit down and start working where you left off without the delays of bootup, finding your program, opening your saved files, scrolling down… it’s all right there and ready. You can even tell it how long to wait before putting itself into sleep mode, just in case you get called away and forget. Windows updates still run in the background, so that’s okay, but it’s important to note that your computer might get stuck waiting for a reboot that never comes. Those pending updates may stack up, ineffective until it either forces a reboot or becomes unstable enough that you give in to a restart.
The best method is….
Since the whole point of having a computer is that it’s ready to work when you are, we recommend shutting down at night when it’s definitely not in use but using sleep mode during the day. Updates will get all the rebooting they need, memory is refreshed for the new day, and you’ll get the best of both worlds – speed and stability.
We can help your computer boot faster, give us a call at (651) 456-8655 or visit our Contact Us page HERE.
There’s been a massive digitization of the population, which despite keeping everyone entertained and connected, comes with one gaping flaw – a hard drive crash could wipe out your data in an instant. Nobody’s immune, even grandparents routinely rock the latest smartphones and post on Facebook. Nearly all schoolwork is done on computers or tablets, ebook sales far outstrip their paper cousins, and photo printing is a rarity. Unless there’s a physical requirement like putting a photo into a frame, all our data is staying digital. People’s entire lives, their memories, and work are on personal hard drives, yet a large majority of households have no backups.
If you’ve ever lost your data or had your computer stolen, you know the panic and rage that follows…turning the house upside down, hoping desperately to find that USB stick that maybe your data was copied to, once upon a time…before collapsing onto the couch as it sinks in: there’s nothing left.
While hopefully your hard drive is still in good shape, surprise failures do happen. The mechanics don’t last forever, and even brand-new drives can be blitzed by a power surge. Theft is always a risk, as is user error like deleting files accidentally, or even getting hit by a nasty virus that destroys or holds your files for ransom. That last one is tricky. Most households are using apps like Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive as their backup, thinking if their hard drive crashes or gets stolen, they’ll just download the files from there. Unfortunately, those very handy apps are no help if you’ve been hit with ransomware. Almost instantly as the malware encrypts your local files until you pay up, those sync apps upload the infected versions – for your convenience. Older, safe versions of the files no longer exist, because these apps are designed to give a constant mirror of your drive, not a backup.
Stop for a moment and think about what you’d lose right now if your hard drive failed. What’s on there? Household management files like tax info, warranties you’ve scanned in, photos of your children or grandchildren, videos of first steps and school plays, maybe even your wedding video? While some losses are merely inconvenient, like recreating your budget or rebuilding your recipe collection, other losses are heartbreaking. It’s not a feeling we’d wish on anyone!
What You Can Do
Backing up at home used to be something only tech geeks did, but like everything cool, it’s gone mainstream. We recommend a 3-2-1 approach: 3 copies of your data, with 2 local at your home and 1 offsite.
Typically, this means keeping your regular hard drive where your data is now, one copy of precious files on a backup USB drive, and one that automatically uploads to the secure cloud as you add new files. That way, the USB drive protects your data if your computer dies, and the cloud copy protects you if something happens to the computer and your USB drive, like fire, flood or theft. It’s a good idea to make sure you unplug that backup USB drive afterwards and pop it into a drawer, as connected devices can easily become infected during an attack or stolen during a break-in.
Two of these methods require you to actually pay attention, which is where many households struggle. It’s a rare home where someone takes the time to sit down each week and carefully run a backup. Not that it’s tricky, but unless you’re one of those cool geeks it’s pretty boring and not a high priority after a long day! That’s why we recommend a cloud backup solution or letting us take care of it remotely.
You’ll be able to retrieve files at will, without having to roll back your entire drive, and know your solution has caught even the smallest file change without you needing to flag or mark it in any way. Even better, because it’s in the cloud, you can access your secure backup from anywhere. Left a work file at home? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup. On vacation and need to check a detail or show off a photo? No problem, it’s in your cloud backup. We’re able to get you set up with the perfect backup solution that meets your needs, both now and in case of emergency.
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 too. We can check your computer, both hardware and software, to make sure it’s running right and working its best for you. Give us a call at (651) 456-8655 or visit our contact page HERE.