Many of us have one solution to try when something goes wrong with our computers: turn it off and back on again. When that doesn’t work, we panic: “How am I supposed to do anything?” People often turn to a friend or family member for help in the moment. But computer repair is better left to experts.
Calling tech support (if that’s an option) can be time-consuming and frustrating. So, people turn to the nearest teenager or that cousin with all the latest technological gadgets. Think of it this way, though: Driving a car doesn’t mean you can fix one. Having a lot of cars doesn’t show the owner knows what to do when one of those vehicles breaks down.
Consider the investment you’ve made in your computer. Now, ask yourself: when was the last time I backed up? Please, say recently! If not, think about the value of the content you might lose if the computer is not handled with care.
When a computer expert sets out to investigate the problem, they do so with utmost caution. Before doing anything, they’ll know to make a clone of your hard drive. Then, in identifying and solving the problem, they know what is safe to try. They also know what actions to avoid.
The Price of Amateur Fixes
Your family/friend tech support might turn to the internet for help. Sure, Google and YouTube will provide some answers, but context matters. Will your oh-so-helpful friend know which answers are relevant to your situation? Trying different things can be dangerous if the approach isn’t suited to the problem.
Ask any computer repair expert. They’ll have stories to tell about computers “fixed” by amateurs who made the problem worse. They may even have lost data along the way.
Just as you wouldn’t turn to the Web to diagnose cancer, don’t trust just anyone with the health of your computer. Computer repair may look simple, but expert decision-making determines the best solution.
As with most jobs, computer experts draw upon specialized training and hands-on experience. They’re also up on the latest threats, technologies, and solutions. This helps them to diagnose the problem more quickly. They can go in and fix the problem right away, because they’ve seen it before read about the problem. Or perhaps they have colleagues who have done something like this before, or they’ve researched the technology to identify different options. Can your Aunt Sue or friend Frank say the same thing?
Think also of your typical answer when someone asks you for help. You’re human. You want to help, even if you don’t actually know that much about the problem. So, when you ask a family member, they’re likely to say, “sure.” Even when they should be saying, “I don’t know how to fix that.”
When friends admit the repair is beyond them, you’ve already wasted time letting them take a crack at it. Worse, they may actually break your computer or lose important files. You have to go to the experts now for that new part or in the hope of retrieving the data. Meanwhile, you’re not feeling so friendly towards the person who created the new problem, are you? They may also feel annoyed that you didn’t pay them for their services.
Don’t jeopardize your relationships, and avoid doing more damage to your computer. Bypass the friend/family tech support solution and turn to the professionals first.
Fixing a computer isn’t always simple. Get expert help to preserve as much data as you can, and avoid expensive replacements as long as possible.
Have computer problems? We can help. We do computer repairs for a living! And our experts are friendly, too.
Maintain your computer without lifting a finger with Twin Cities PC Repair’s Residential Managed Services! For a device that’s supposed to make life easier, computers sure do involve a lot of work! There’s so much to keep track of that it’s no wonder most people push ahead and forget the routine maintenance until something breaks. Of course, the problem with being reactive is the damage is already done. Photos and files get lost forever in a crash, and information gets stolen in a hack…by then it’s far too late. It’s a bit like closing the gate after the horses have already fled. This is where proactive people come out on top. Thousands upon thousands of homes around the world are using managed services to put computer problems firmly behind them. It’s a done-for-you maintenance program we offer, and here’s why it’s the best choice.
You’re always up to date. It seems like every second day there’s some new and urgent update waiting to be installed. Whether they’re patching security flaws or adding new features, they seem endless. Sometimes, it goes beyond inconvenient, it gets overwhelming! Even if they do install automatically, they tend to do it at the worst possible moment, leaving you to wait up to 30 minutes when all you wanted to do was quickly check your email. Using our special managed services software, we can make sure your computer’s updates are all finished and done – before you sit down to use it. As part of our service, we also make sure all updates are compatible not just with your hardware, but also with your other software. After all, updates are supposed to make your experience more secure and more enjoyable! Let Twin Cities PC Repair maintain your computer’s Windows and third-party updates & patches.
You’ve got super anti-virus. The best anti-virus is the one that’s up-to-date and running, yet you’d be surprised how many people switch it off or never let it update. While you might be in the habit of scanning files and browsing safely, others in your home might not have the same priorities. Having managed services ensures your anti-virus is always running and dealing with any viruses it finds. As soon as a new virus becomes known, we make sure your system is actively protected against it. We also monitor for cyber-attacks and can alert you before they become a problem. Twin Cities PC Repair utilizes an award-winning lightweight Antivirus software named Emsisoft to maintain your computer safely and securely without hogging system resources.
Your hardware stays healthy. While a reactive person is always suddenly stuck without a computer when hardware fails, proactive people with managed services have already had the problem fixed. Our special software monitors the health of your hardware, eg, your hard drive, looking for early warning signs of failure. If detected, we can let you know in advance. This means you’re able to get it repaired at your convenience, making sure no files are lost and no other hardware is damaged in a domino failure. Let Twin Cities PC Repair keep tabs on and maintain your hardware to ensure a clean bill of health!
You never miss a backup. The worst part of a crash or hack isn’t the financial cost, it’s losing your files forever. Many people have their entire collection of photos stored on their computer, plus important family files, most of which can never be replaced or recreated. Whether it’s a report just created, a recipe handed down for generations or a novel you’ve been working on for longer than you’d care to admit, managed services ensures your backup is working correctly. Backed up files are ready to go when you are, and losing files to corruption, failure or theft is a thing of the past. We’ll maintain your backup sets and make sure they are in safe keeping!
Support is a click or phone call away. Just got a new printer and it won’t play nice? Got a weird error popping up? Your laptop won’t talk to the WiFi? Our remote support team can help with whatever technology issue has been bugging you and wasting your time. No nonsense advice is just a click or phone call away, and our team can remotely connect to diagnose and fix many problems. This means you can likely skip the cord shuffle and carting your computer into the shop, and still get your most pressing computer issues fixed. If you sign up for our Residential Managed Services, you will have a convenient communication app right on your desktop which communicates directly to your technician.
You’re always optimized. Whether your computer is acting up or not, our monitoring service can keep in touch with your event logs, services and processes and look out for anything that needs correction. This means we’re effectively stopping problems before they get to you, making sure that when you sit down to use your computer, it’s doing exactly what you want.
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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We all love our Google, quickly finding everything we need on the Internet. It’s replaced dictionaries, encyclopedias, instruction manuals, newspapers and in many cases, even doctors. However, sometimes your search results aren’t the real thing and can be downright malicious. Here’s how to search safely:
Pay attention to the URL in Google
Below every result title there’s a URL in green. No matter what the title says, this URL is where your click will take you. Unfortunately, cyber-criminals will often list their site with a familiar and trusted title but link you to their scam/malware pages.
For example, the title could be your bank name (eg, Example Bank), which seems legitimate, but the URL could be www.baabpjhg.com which is obviously not your bank. Sometimes they’ll attempt to trick you by putting the real site into the link too, eg www.baabpjhg.com/examplebank.com which makes it even more likely to catch you when skimming through results quickly. When you visit the page, it might look exactly like your bank’s site and ask for your login details, which are then harvested for attack. While jibberish in the link is pretty easy to spot, sometimes they’ll take advantage of a small typo that you can easily miss. For example, www.exampebank.com (missing the letter L).
Notice Google search results vs paid ads
Google does a pretty good job at making sure the most relevant and legitimate sites are at the top of the list. However paid ads will usually appear above them. Most of the time, these paid ads are also legitimate (and you can quickly check the URL to verify), but occasionally cybercriminals are able to promote their malicious site to the top and catch thousands of victims before being removed.
Believe Google’s malicious site alerts
Sometimes Google knows when something is wrong with a site. It could be a legitimate site that was recently hacked, a security setting that’s malfunctioned, or the site was reported to them as compromised. When this happens, Google stops you clicking through with a message saying “this website may be harmful” or “this site may harm your computer”. Stop immediately, and trust that Google has detected something you don’t want in your house.
Turn on safe search
You can filter out explicit results by turning on Google Safe Search. While not strictly a cyber-security issue, it can still provide a safer Google experience. Safe Search is normally suggested as a way to protect browsing children, but it also helps adults who aren’t interested in having their search results cluttered with inappropriate links, many of which lead to high-risk sites. Switch Safe Search on/off by clicking Settings > Safe Search.