Category Archives: Computer Repair
Always Back Up Your Data In Case Something Happens
The time to consider if your data is securely backed up is now. Eventually, all hard drives fail, and when this happens, any data will no longer be there. Your personal photos, music, and work documents – GONE.
However, your hard drive loss would be a simple inconvenience when you restore your data to another machine if the data was backed up. A good data drive is all that is needed for backing up. Check out what to look for to make sure you purchase the right one.
External Hard Drives
The majority of computer users prefer the use of external hard drives for their backup solutions.
When looking for a drive to run regular backups, such as daily or weekly, you want a drive that is a little larger than the size of your PC’s internal drive. This will allow each file to store more than one copy, saving you in case some become corrupted.
Speed is not extremely important in backup data drives. The initial backup would be to create a copy of each file on your internal drive. Each backup following would be to save any files that have changed since last time. What this means, any time there is data being backed up, it is very small.
One of the most crucial factors when selecting your backup data drive is reliability. Surveys show a majority of drives that undergo heavy use last at least four years. However, it is challenging to determine reliability. Prior to purchasing a backup data drive, read reviews and learn about different brands.
There are some helpful optional features in many backup data drives. These may include software that can manage, or even encrypt data on your backups. There are built-in backup tools in operating systems, such as Time Machine for Mac and on Windows there is File History.
Backup Using Cloud Storage
Some users decide against an external hard drive or choose to have a second backup method by using the Cloud. To have enough room on the cloud to store an entire hard drive, you will need to pay a monthly storage fee. In addition, due to the amount of data being transferred to the cloud, you will want an internet connection with fast upload speeds.
Bear in mind, due to changing of technology and wearing down of hardware, choose a backup data drive that fits your needs of today but does not be surprised by the technology of tomorrow. There are also a lot of backup services you can use.
Know if it is Time to Replace Your Mac
Everyone already knows hardware from Apple lasts a long time. However, as with everything, there comes a time when your Mac will no longer be useful and become obsolete.
The majority of the time when a computer needs replacing, it is obvious. If unsure when you may be in need of a replacement for your Mac, here are some signs:
As time goes on applications are getting more demanding and bigger. Eventually, the Mac you currently own will no longer have the capable to keep up with demands. To help with performance in short-term, you can use an earlier software version. Unfortunately, if you want new functionality and features this option becomes unreasonable.
The Latest OS X Will Not Run On Your Mac
Apple provides their users with the latest version of OS X for free to be sure we are all using it. However, when Mac’s are unable to run their latest version, a new purchase soon becomes necessary.
Each fall a new version of OS X is released by Apple, with the current version being OS X 10.11 EL Capitan, and is compatible with the majority of Mac’s since 2007.
If your Mac is unable to run El Capitan, Apple likely has downgraded it to obsolete or vintage status. For these products, repairing them will not come cheaply. Points of non-Apple service may be able to work on vintage products, however.
For products with a status of obsolete, parts can no longer be ordered by service providers.
Components Are Too Expensive; Do Not Work
Mac parts are expensive, and thankfully they generally last for long periods of time. You must decide if a new part is worth the cost or a better solution would be to purchase a new Mac when a part needs to be replaced.
If the issue is when your battery dies, you are able to continue using the Mac by plugging it in. Keep in mind, faulty batteries are typically signs of other system components on the verge of breaking. Apple’s battery replacement program can be rather expensive.
It is almost impossible for end users to replace parts on Mac’s, including their batteries which are glued to their logic board. Apple has steadily increased prices for these components, on top of their labor costs.
When faced with a choice of whether to purchase a new Mac or pay a bill for a new laptop display or logic board, where would you rather put this kind of money?
Enjoying Your Mac for the Long Haul
Luckily, Macs do not need replacing that often, they are generally very high-quality machines. If you need to buy one, however, this experience can be an enjoyable one.
Troubleshoot Common RAM Issues
Throughout the last several years RAM amount available has increased on personal computers. Memory usage increases due to many factors, and laptops are commonly shipped with 8 GB RAM.
The capabilities of your system are limited by how much RAM is being used. What should you do when experiencing low RAM or a memory leak?
Random Access Memory or RAM, is a type of storage, which is different than a hard-drive. This storage is not maintained when systems are powered down. You likely have 2-8 GB RAM, depending on the age of your system.
What Uses RAM
Some RAM is used for every application opened on a device, some using more than others. The performance of a system is limited by how much RAM is available and how much is in use.
Checking What Is Using RAM
Task manager is one of the several programs allowing your to check what you RAM is being used on. Right-click on Taskbar and select Task Manager. Click on Processes. Here you will see each process using RAM, with the cumulative system usage shown at the bottom of the panel. Clicking on the Performance tab shows a system overview, where you can see CPU Usage and Memory.
If not happy with Task Manager, access Resource Manager in the Performance Tab. Look under the Memory tab for a look at active memory processes.
Commonly Seen RAM Issues
RAM can be fast and efficient, most times, but there are some issues that are commonly seen that have easy fixes.
System is Slow When Several Programs Opened
The reason could be resource heavy applications using all available RAM. If you see this issue often, it is recommended to purchase and install more RAM.
Plenty of RAM But System Is Slow
This can have different meanings on different systems or software being used.
An example would be in 2014, Mozilla Firefox browser had a memory leak issue. A memory leak is when RAM memory allocations are managed incorrectly by an application, causing unneeded memory to be retained by the application, store objects that are no longer able to be reached in the memory. Either way, system memory can be drained completely by the application. If you believe a memory leak is using all your RAM, give this a try. Open Task Manager > Performance tab. Keep open Task Manager, and open most commonly used applications one at a time, monitoring it for about 1-2 hours. If you notice the blue line in Physical Memory Usage Graph rising continually when you are not using the system, there may be a memory leak.
This covers only a few memory issues and explains what a memory leak is. If you still have issues or are unsure what to do, bring your computer to a professional.
With the growing number of online gaming platforms, smart home devices, and streaming video services, keeping a strong internet connection up at home which more important now than it has been in the past. If you are playing World of Warcraft and experience lag, or downloading music is taking forever, the issue is likely not on your Internet Service Providers (ISP) side, but on yours instead.
1. Are you able to ping it?
To see if it is possible to connect to the outside, perform a Ping test. There are many free utilities available, but an easy way to do it when using Windows is by opening command prompt and enter “Ping” then enter the sites IP address you want to ping. If IP address is unknown, enter full address. For example, to ping Bing, enter Ping bing.com. This measures the speed of your connection, if successful you receive times results. If it fails continually, try pinging numerous sites. There many an issue with your router or modem, or possibly your ISP if you still get no results.
2. Channel Change
One of fourteen frequencies, or channels a router can use to send and receive data over 2.4GHz band. Many of these channels are overlapping, but one, six, and eleven do not and are the ones used most frequently. There may be channel interference if experiencing spotty connection. Using the router-management console, change your Wi-Fi channel.
3. Is your firmware current?
Look in your router-management console for a firmware update tool in System section. Be sure all directions are followed carefully, and firmware version installing is correct one. Never download from a third-party site.
4. Begin Fresh
When a reboot of your router does not work, try a reset to factory defaults performing a fresh install. Majority of routers this is simply done by pressing and holding down a small reset button located on the rear panel. This button must be held for several seconds until you see the LED lights flashing. After reset, use the disc that came with the router or a web-based setup utility for your router to be reinstalled.
5. Are there issues with your PC?
Check your PC for possible viruses, malware, and spyware. These programs can be downloaded easily onto your PC without you ever knowing. These can play a significant role on your system performance. There are many free and subscription utilities available that can be used for detection and eradication of these types of programs. These utilities can even prevent them from being downloaded in the first place.
Check out these other top problems that come with using IE, and how you might be able to fix them.
These are just a handful of issues which could be having an impact on your internet connection. Contact your ISP if not resolved.
How to Inspect a Router for Malware
There are advantages made by attackers on routers with manufacturers that lack in router security. These devices are open to attack due manufactures producing large amounts of them but never updating them.
How Attackers Make Their Way to Your Router
The DNS server setting on a router is what attackers most often strive to change. For example, you are directed to a phishing site from the malicious DNS server when trying to connect to your credit card site. Your address bar may still say your credit card site, but you will really be on a phishing site. All queries are not responded to by the malicious DNS server, most may have a time out. One sign of an infection can be slow DNS requests.
Advertisements may be injected, search results redirected, or attempted download installation could all be attempts by attackers. If you are seeing such stuff as pornographic advertisements on websites you know are legitimate, you most certainly have an infection, either in your router or computer.
This is just some exploits attackers can take advantage of routers.
How to Inspect Your Router
One sign showing your router has been compromised is a change in it DNS server. You need to check the DNS server setting by going to the router’s web-based interface.
First, access web-based setup page of your router. Inspect gateway address of your network’s connection or to find out how, you may check your router’s documentation.
Sign in using both your router’s username and password, if required. Check somewhere for “DNS” setting, many times located in internet connections or WAN settings screen. You are fine if the setting is “Automatic”, however, if on “Manual” with custom DNS servers keyed in instead, you may have a problem.
If you configured your router for the use of alternative DNS servers on your own, such as Google or OpenDNS, and you recognize the numbers you are fine. If there are number you do not recognize, malware might have changed the router to use DNS servers.
Help With Malicious DNS Server
If you have found malicious DNS server configuration with your router, you have the ability of disabling it and have your router use automatic DNS server from you internet service provider, or if you wish enter legitimate DNS server addresses.
If you have found malware on your router, you may find it save to do a wipe of the router settings and put it back to a factory-reset.
If you are a user of Windows it has happened to you. While you are busy on your computer Windows decides it is time to reboot, bugging you continuously with pop-ups all day. If while away from your computer a pop-up occurs that you miss, your computer will automatically be rebooted by Windows. All the programs you had open are now closed, as Windows rebooted your computer without receiving permission from you.
After Windows updates, rebooting is necessary for ensuring security updates taking effect. Windows users should not be pestered or our computers rebooted without permission.
Install Windows Updates Manually
A simple way of stopping automatic reboots, is change setting for your Windows updates. Open the control panel window for Windows Update and select “Download updates but let me choose whether to install them.”
With this method you will be informed of Windows updates by an icon in your system tray. When you are ready (not Windows) install them by clicking on the icon. After downloaded, you will receive a prompt to reboot.
Using this for your updates will stop forced restarts and stop the pestering for you to reboot.
Use a Registry Hack
A registry hack is another way to stop forced restarts. Using this hack allows Widows to update like normal, however, your computer will not reboot automatically while you are logged on.
Press Windows Key + R > enter regedit > OK
Navigate down to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU
If parts of this key do not exist yet, create them.
Click on the key AU on the pane on the left, on the right pane right click and select New, DWORD (32-bit) value and enter in NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers now press enter.
Double-click on the value just created and enter 1 into the box named Value data, now press OK.
If you do not want to reboot your computer but want these changes to take effect, you can do so by first opening Command Prompt. Now run this command to make these changes effective immediately gpupdate /force .
Group Policy to Disable Forced Restarts
This tweak can be done in an easier way if you have Enterprise, Ultimate, or Professional Windows. Majority of users will not have this option and will need to use the registry edit hack.
Press the Windows Key + R and the Run dialog will open. Enter in the box, gpedit.msc and select OK. In the pane to the left, navigate to: Computer Configuration\Administrator Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update. Next, in the pane to the right, click twice on the setting “No auto-restart with logged on users for scheduled automatic update installations”. Set this to Enabled and select OK.
Either run the gpupdate /force or reboot the computer to have these setting take effect.
Using any of these methods can be of help to rid yourself of the sometimes maddening forced restarts. Windows updates can be a pain from time to time, but if you know the right tricks and hacks to make the most of them; you’re able to become the ultimate computer user in the end.
Who Wouldn’t Want Their Hard Drive to Last?
Every hard drive is bound to fail eventually, but not at rates that are identical. Six years is a hard drives average life span. There are times this is due to the manufacturer, other times the consumer because we do not care for them as we should. Here is some common reasons for failure and ways of preventing them.
This refers to traditional hard drives, not solid state drives.
1. Physical Damage
This is the most quickest and obvious way for a hard drive to fail. These have a lot of moving parts that even a slight bump while it is spinning can cause problems.
To help prevent this once a hard drive is installed do not remove it. If you need to remove it, do it fast and lightly.
While your computer is on, do shake the computer case. Keep your computer in a place where accidents will be minimized.
Hard drives in a laptop are stronger but you still need to exercise caution. Data corruption can happen from bumping it on the desk or wall while the drive is active active.
2. Excessive Amount of Heat
Hard drives are designed to work in a specific range of temperatures. If airflow is not maintained properly to the inside of the case, temperatures will rise above this range and problems will follow.
Having fans installed in a desktop computer can improve not only your hard drives lifespan but every components lifespan. Air that comes in needs to have a route for escaping that is easy. You do not want air lingering in the case.
To help keep laptops cool, purchase a laptop cooler.
You should get a program, such as SpeedFan to keep watch of what temperature your hard drive runs at.
3. Turning On-and Off Frequently
The action that is most demanding on a hard drive is booting it up and shutting it down. This can wear the hard drive down more than it already gets from normal use.
You do not want to turn your computer on and off several times a day, but you do not want it to stay on at all times either.
A general rule is if you are walking away for longer than one day, shut the computer down. If only walking away for a couple of hours, consider using hibernation or standby mode. If walking away for less than this, either leave it on or put in hibernation or sleep mode.
Even if you take excellent care of your hard drive, it can still end up failing. However, practicing these steps above can be helpful to keep your hard drives running longer. Make sure you know how to have the right amount of space, and how to use it to your advantage for even more hard drive tips and tricks.
Replace Those Old Drivers
You may have drivers that are outdated and require updating, but how would you know? Drivers are software that correspond with your computer’s hardware so it will work with the operating system. A sign that you might have a driver that needs updating is if you are experiencing system trouble, such as games crashing or printer does not work.
There are drivers available for your computers motherboard, audio, video card, and more. However, if everything in your system is working fine, you may be better off not updating at this time. If you do need to update, though, here are a few different methods for you to use.
Check Your Computers Drivers
Even though you have drivers that are installed in your system, you might not know what they exactly are or the version that is being used. To find this out, press Windows Key + R to open your run menu. After opened enter cmd, then OK. This opens the Command Prompt. Enter Driverquery and hit enter for a list of names and dates for drivers that are installed. However, keep in mind that the date is when the driver was published, not updated.
You may see drivers for different devices through Device Manager, as well. After opening, you will see a list of display adaptors, disk drives, processor, among more. By right-clicking the name of the device and selecting Properties and go to the driver tab. There will be a date of publishing for the driver and the version number.
You can search for an update here by selecting Update Driver… You have the choice of searching manually or automatically for the update. Windows checks the database online for any newer drivers when you select Search automatically for updated driver software. Although, there is no guarantee the newest one will be found it usually does. If there are any found, follow the wizard to install for installation.
Windows is set automatically to update drivers, by default. Do a system search to find device installation settings. Here you will find different preferences for your automatic driver updates. If you do not want Windows Update to provide automatic updates, choose No, let me choose what to do. If you have has problems with drivers that are new being unstable, you may prefer to never have drivers updated automatically. However, it is recommended by Microsoft to use automatic updates.
You can go to the manufacture of the device to update the outdated driver, also. Be sure you are at the correct website to ensure the driver is correct and safe.
If all is working like it should, it might be best to leave the drivers be. Remember, drivers should be downloaded only from sources that are reputable.