Earth Day 2019

APRIL 12-22

FREE EVENT: Computer & Electronics Recycling

Schedule a time and either be home OR leave the items in a conspicuous place outside labeled “RECYCLING” and we will stop by to pickup your items!  For FREE.  For REAL.


Items accepted: Computers, monitors, cords, phones, printers, mice, keyboards, scanners, fax machines, tablets, ALL types of home batteries, and mercury-containing light-bulbs.
Items not accepted: TVs and other large electronics.

YES, we can remove your hard-drive as well, and leave it with you or destroy it.

Date:April 12, 2019—April 22, 2019
Event:Recycle Your Old Computer & Parts (click for details)
Sponsor: My Computer Solutionz
(336) 338-8932
Public:Public
Registration:Click here to register.

Buying a new computer?

Choosing the right Gigs, Rams and Specs (Nov, 2018)

Are you ready for a new computer?  Here’s my latest recommendation on what to look for.  Find what you like the feel of and then shop for the best price!  Below are some more recommendations.

First, consider what you’ll use the computer for and make sure those functions work well.  For a laptop, considerations should be made about weight, size and quality of screen, battery life, feel of keyboard, and overall feeling of durability.  We never expect to drop our laptop, but we typically do so over the course of its use.  We also spill milk and soda and coffee!  Who knew that not all motherboards have a plastic covering to protect it from spills??!

Apple vs. PC?  This is personal preference.  I am an Apple fan.  I own a Mac and iPhone.  I also own 3 PCs.  But Macs are about $500-$600 more in cost ($1200+). Unless you have a specific reason you are wanting a Mac (which I could give you several), the best bang-for-your-buck (short and long term) is a quality PC!

The stereotype is that mac users are more “hip” and tend to be younger, where PC users are more sophisticated and older.

For Desktops or Laptops, I recommend Lenovo and Dell highly, Acer moderately, but never recommend HP.  The former are more durable and the parts are made to last longer.  You can likely find a sale at Best Buy or Office Depot for around $500 for the (minimum suggested) specs I recommend below.

When you are shopping, sales people can give you information (but are not incredibly helpful for much more) on the following specs, which I list as a minimum requirement for 2018:

So-DIMM RAM

So-DIMM RAM: Removable and upgradable memory (for speed).  Not to be confused with the CPU, which is fixed and not easily upgradable.

RAM (memory) of at least 8GB.  You’d be smart to have 12GB of RAM but 8GB is sufficient.  Be careful about paying to have them upgrade a machine.  They usually charge double what memory costs.

CPU with Intel i5 processor or faster.  i7 and i9 are faster if you need to do more multi- or heavy tasks.  The i3 series is okay, but it’s probably not worth the savings in downgrading to.  The CPU (or central processing unit) is the part of the computer that you are investing in.  The CPU isn’t upgradable, so you get what you get.  A note about AMD: These processors are usually better suited for gamers, except the latest release of the Ryzen series.

Solid State Hard Drive (SSD).  These are hard drives much like what’s in your smartphone, with no moving parts, which stores your data.  SSD’s will last longer and are a lot faster.  This comes with a cost.  Compared to traditional hard drives (HDDs), they have less space for the money.  In comparison, a new 128GB (gigabyte) SSD (Solid State hard drive) compared to traditional HDD (Hard Drive) could be $100 more and it would have 1/4 of the storage space.  As long as you don’t expect to store lots of video or pictures, a smaller SSD of 256GB would be fine for normal operations.

If you have questions on any of this or want to add your two cents, let me know!  E-mail me at mark@mycomputersolutionz.com

Securing Your Website With a Free SSL

Are they really worth the hassle?

Greetings from the Help Desk!

You have a website but still haven’t purchased an SSL? That’s the thing that makes your website start with “https“ and encrypts your guests’ data.

No one wants to spend more money on their website, yet still wanting more visitors. So here’s some helpful information about FREE SSL’s for you. Or is it?

As you probably know, there has been a change in how websites are displayed. Anyone without an encrypted https and padlock in their web address gets flagged by most browsers as either “insecure” or with an exclamation mark. Not good for business! Also not good for Google ranking either!

Enter: the FREE SSL.  Is it really worth the hassle?

Free certificates actually aren’t new. Plenty of companies have been offering them for a while. It’s just now that these seem more attractive since the online world is moving to a more secure environment. They are, interestingly, just as safe as paid ones. So why would you pay for one every year when you can get a free one, you ask? Good question! There are a couple of good reasons. 

Paid Certificates:

  • Offer a warranty, or protection, in case data is captured and unencrypted by a middle man during transfer. Some protect your site up to $1.5 Million, such as Symantec’s Netsure Protection Plan. If you’re selling a lot of items or passing a lot of sensitive information through the internet, then this may be important.
  • Offer help to install and troubleshoot issues. With free certificates, you’re pretty much on your own if you “trip over the cord and accidentally unplug the Christmas Tree” you may have to have the certificate re-keyed and your website might go off-line.
  • Another reason is so your website can have that green bar (trust issue) with your company name, like you see in many big reputable companies. Check out Twitter.com as an example.
  • The biggest upside to a paid SSL, however, is the length the key will work for until it needs to be renewed. Most paid certificates offer 1 – 2 year options. But with a free certificate, you’ll only likely get 3 months at a time. After that time, the certificate will become invalid. When this happens, your site will basically shut down. There’s a big page that pops up saying that it’s dangerous to enter your site and warns users before proceeding! Really, it looks bad. So then you have to call your certificate issuer and ask it to be renewed. This process can involve several steps for the issuer that may take up to a few days to get taken care of.

If you can afford your site going offline for a couple of days and you’re willing to call the issuer, then this option might be a good one for you.

Having said that, however, I called my host provider (Blue Host) last week and they told me I would NOT need to call every 3 months to have a free certificate renewed. So, perhaps there’s more hope for using this FREE option in the long haul.

It seems like this type of technology should be automatic these days. But in the meantime, I’ll save the time figuring it out and purchase mine.
See more about free certificates at https://ssl.comodo.com/free-ssl-certificate.php
I get no compensation from Comodo, Blue Host and Twitter by mentioning them here. The Comodo, Blue Host, and Twitter names are copy-written and owned by their respective companies.

Latest Spam Tactics

What the bad guys are doing with your leaked information

This particular e-mail I received invoked anger.

What I got looked like other spam messages, but this one was a little different.  It started with the normal junk about my e-mail address being hacked, blah, blah.  It looked like a mass e-mail.  They alleged that they sent the message FROM my e-mail account (which I noticed they didn’t). But then they revealed one of my personal passwords!  Wait, WHAT!?

They said they know the password to log into my e-mail account and then provided “proof” that they actually did.  I was not happy.  How could this be?  How do they know my password?

So after a little digging, here’s what is happening.

This might be the latest tactic to scare people, similar to other scare-ware pop-ups.  The whole point is to get us scared, and then motivated to taking action.  Usually to the detriment of our bank account (ie. they hope we pay them money).

When they reveal your password, they have likely gotten it from a hacked company that you do business with.  Almost every few months we hear about the latest security breach.  Last month, for instance, Facebook announced they’ve been hit again.  They originally said 50 million users were affected, but last week admitted to “only” 30 million users.  They said last week that we don’t need to change our passwords.  Phew.

What companies have been hacked that you do business with?

So there’s a website that keeps track of hacked accounts.  You can search by your e-mail address and see if you are one of those affected.

In my case, Bitly, a company that provides our shortened web address (type mcs.bz in your browser address bar to see what happens.) was hacked.  They stole email addresses, passwords and more.

Some clarification: Like many of you, I use the same password for multiple accounts.  The password they revealed to me wasn’t exactly the password used to check the e-mail address they claimed.  It was a lowercase “J.”  But, in any sense, the password DID MATCH EXACTLY what I had used for Bitly. Now it made sense.  So it was Bitly’s password that needed to actually be changed and not my e-mail.

This security breach happened back in 2014.  But only now are we seeing what the bad guys are doing with the information.

Check to see what companies have been hacked here: https://haveibeenpwned.com

Can I upgrade my memory (RAM)?

The 3 components when buying RAM

If you haven’t added memory yet then most likely yes, you can!  Just to be fair, we are talking about RAM (also referred to as memory), or what will speed up your computer.  All computers have a maximum amount of memory (RAM) that they can run, but usually aren’t at capacity when you purchase your machine new.

Installing RAMRAM, or Random Access Memory, works with the CPU to process your data.  It doesn’t store data long-term.  In fact, once you turn off your computer, RAM dumps it’s memory.  Your hard drive (and a small part of the CPU) stores the data when you turn it off.  The speed of your computer is determined by these 2 components: RAM and CPU.  Since upgrading the CPU can be costly, increasing the amount of RAM is the best first option if there is still room to upgrade.

See how much RAM you have by Right-Clicking on My Computer (This PC for Win 10) and clicking Properties.  It should list the total RAM (usable in parentheses).  That’s all it will tell you, though.  8GB of RAM is kinda the minimum amount needed for basic computing.  Use your computer brand’s website (Dell.com, Toshiba.com, etc.) to research your computer model and find how many slots you have and a total amount and type of RAM it can hold.

 

An alternative to finding out how much RAM you have (and can have) is to use something like Crucial’s RAM checker found here: http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/systemscanner

 

1. Determine the amount of gigabytes (GB) you have and want

Check the specs for your specific computer and buy an equally distributed number of sticks for these slots.  Most laptops have 2 slots and most new desktops have 4 slots.  It’s best to have the same amount of memory per each pair of slots.  For ex. use 2 sticks of 4GB of memory for your laptop to make it have 8GB, or use 2 sticks of 8GB in paired slots to make 16GB.  On a desktop, use 4 sticks of 2GB (or 2 sticks of 4GB) for your desktop to have 8GB.  Just keep them paired.

 

2. DIMM or SO-DIMM?

So-DIMM RAM

So-DIMM RAM (for laptops)

There are two different types of RAM, so check in the specs to be sure to get the right kind.  The most notable are the laptop sticks, known as So-Dimm (small outline dual in-line memory module) or Notebook RAM, found usually in laptops (and some desktop MACS).  These are smaller modules.  Desktop RAM, or DIMM (dual in-line memory module) RAM is longer.

 

3. Check the SD-RAM version

Computers from the 1970s to 1990s used DDR RAM.  DDR SDRAM, also called DDR1 SDRAM, has been superseded by DDR2 SDRAMDDR3 SDRAM and DDR4 SDRAM. None of its successors are forward or backward compatible with DDR1 SDRAM, meaning DDR2, DDR3, and DDR4 memory modules will not work in DDR1-equipped motherboards, and vice versa.”

DIMM RAM

DIMM RAM (for desktops)

Most computers today use DDR3 (PC3) or DDR4 (PC4) RAM.  The number of pins will change with these types, as well as the speed of the RAM.  The number PC-1600 or PC-2100 is the clock speed in MHz and doesn’t matter for typical computing today.  Gamers, however, should check with their motherboard manufacturer to see which clock speed to use.

Read the details of the memory to make sure you are getting the right amount.  Below is a total of 16GB of RAM, packed in 2-8GB sticks.  It’s DDR3 laptop (So-Dimm) memory!  RAM exampleThe brand of RAM usually doesn’t matter much.  MACS, however, can sometimes be picky.  I always use Crucial brand RAM in Macs.  But again, check with your computer specs for other options.  Cheaper is usually just as good!

That’s about all there is to it.  Now get a small screw driver and open the back compartment of your laptop and swap out your memory!  Sounds a bit simplistic.  Well. if you need more help let us know by calling or opening a support ticket on our Help Desk.  Best wishes for faster processing!

This article was first seen on the Help Desk of MyComputerSolutionz.com. All Rights Reserved.

 


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