Posts Tagged ‘lake norman’

PC Preventive Maintenance: “Prevention is better than cure.”

Friday, January 15th, 2016

Many of us make resolutions to take better care of ourselves this time of year – we resolve to eat better, to exercise more, and to stress less. We may resolve to take better care of our homes – replacing the gutters or the roof, making much needed repairs to the exterior, or painting that room that’s been needing it for several years. Prevention, whether to protect ourselves, our homes, or our cars, is essential and worth, as Benjamin Franklin said, “a pound of cure”. So how about your computer? Are you completing scheduled preventive maintenance to protect your investment – or, more importantly, your data? Basic preventive maintenance for your computer should include completing data and system backups, external cleaning, antivirus definition updates, operating system and software updates, and cleaning out and defragmenting your hard disk drive. Over the next few months, we’ll use this newsletter to discuss each of these components of your computer’s preventive maintenance. Let’s start with backups.
Creating and maintaining a current set of backups is the first and most critical part of your computer’s preventive maintenance. Without backups, data recovery can be very expensive and, unfortunately, in some cases impossible. The primary storage component for your operating system, programs, and files is your computer’s hard disk drive or solid state drive (which is becoming more common). Hard disk drives provide magnetic storage of your data and are relatively robust. Most hard disk drives have life spans of seven years or better but all those moving parts, from stepper motors to read/write heads, can fail at any time leaving your data locked in a proverbial steel tomb. Additionally, there are malicious programs, often delivered through email attachments, which can encrypt your pictures, documents, and files, leaving them completely inaccessible. Solid state drives, propelled by the technological advancements, are small light-weight devices with no moving parts. Like a flash drive (or thumb drive), solid state drives rely on transistors situated on a thin oxide layer to store your data. Voltages exceeding the thresholds of these oxide layers, including static electricity, can cause catastrophic damage to the layers destroying the flash memory devices. Unlike hard disk drives which often emit growls and death rasps before their failure, solid state drives tend to just stop working.
Backups can be completed to local external drives, cloud-based storage facilities, or both. Windows operating systems offer a File History utility that allows you to schedule backups to a local external drive and recover or restore files at any time. Most external backup drives also come with their own software that can be used to create and schedule backups. Lastly, several companies offer cloud-based backups that store your data files off-site in a storage facility for a monthly subscription fee.
Next Month, we’ll discuss the second component of preventive maintenance, external cleaning.

Tech Support Scams Continue Into the New Year!

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Tech Support Scams have been by far one of the fastest growing malicious attacks to hit computer users in 2015 and they don’t appear to be slowing in 2016. These criminals manufacture authentic looking popups via advertising schemes to scare users into calling an overseas technical support site where the innocent user is scared into paying hundreds of dollars to get “phantom” infections removed from their computers. Beware of these scammers! Read more at https://blog.malwarebytes.org/fraud-scam/2015/12/safebrowsing-scam-from-amazon-to-rackspace/

A Month After Microsoft’s Windows 10 Release

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

It’s been a month since Microsoft released Windows 10 and we, your PC Magicians at CET, have been pleasantly surprised. Yes, there have been some hiccups but that’s kind of expected with a major operating system release, just ask Apple and all those Mac users to reflect on last year’s Yosemite release.
As expected, when impatience users attempt their own upgrades, there can be “heck to pay”. Remember that the upgrade will probably take significantly more time than the time it takes to watch a half hour episode of “The Big Bang Theory”. Also be aware that during the upgrade, your system may restart several times and could display a black screen with no indication of the system running for fifteen minutes or so – do not shutdown the system during this period. In fact, if you get anxious in any way, you shouldn’t watch the upgrade proceed at all – walk away and go watch “The Matrix” or something.
Another issue that we have seen at CET is that video drivers, particularly on HP systems running Intel HD graphics, can become corrupted during the upgrade. If you’re having issues after the upgrade, check with your manufacturer to get updated drivers.
Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, of course. We have also seen issues with folders being marked as Read-Only following the upgrade but simply changing the folder attributes will resolve this issue.
One of the nice things we’ve found is that – if you’re unhappy with your Windows 10 upgrade – you have the option to go back to your Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or 8.1) operating system. We have tried this on several systems and it works well – but should be done within the magical 30-day window.
We’ll keep an eye on Windows 10 as the system updates progress and keep you updated on the positives and negatives as we see them.