Spring Cleanup to Speed-up!

6 Things To Do To Clean and Speed-up Your Computer

With Springtime comes cleaning dust and dirt!  It’s about cleaning off from the weeks of being shut in.  Ever wonder where to clean up your computer?  Follow this guide and you’ll be well on your way, prepared for summer!

Do you go months (or years) without ever cleaning or upgrading your computer?  I sometimes do too.  A quick story.  
 
Last month my wife and I painted walls in our living room that we vowed to do after moving in. 9 years ago!  So when we got around to painting, we realized how we should have done this sooner.  It transformed our room!  Why did we put off such a good thing!?

Your PC is the same way. When you clean it up and do the upgrades, performance and speed will follow!  But before you just think this means deleting old files, keep reading.

Here are 6 ways that you can cleanup this Spring:

  1. Make sure your virus scan is running and up-to-date.  As I’ve said before, it’s not as important which scanner you use, but that it’s kept up-to-date and being used.  Run a “full scan” and then open the settings and make sure it’s scheduled to run on its own.  Also, go to the settings of your computer, make sure your Firewall is ON too.  Sidenote, however: Avast is rated in the top for FREE virus scanners.  (No, I don’t get paid to promote them.) The downside to a free service is that it may not run a malware scanner automatically.  Which brings us to point 2.
  2. Run a FREE Malware scanner, such as Malwarebytes. Malware is not considered a virus, but it can act as if it is.  These files picked up by the internet and emails can just bog your computer down.  Some paid virus scanners will also have a malware scanner with it (the perk of a paid program).
  3. In your web browsers, delete all unknown and unused Add-Ons and Accelerators.  In Chrome (and others), you’ll find these under settings.  Add-ons provide different functions for your web browsing experience. But they slow you down.  So if you don’t use them (or recognize them), delete them.  If you don’t recognize them, they may be particularly burdensome since they are working on something you may not be aware of (spying, for example).
  4. Check for programs you may have accidentally downloaded and delete them.  Type “Remove Programs” in the search bar and clean “Add or Remove Programs.”  Sort the programs by install date to see which were installed last.  If you see a program you don’t recognize, make sure it isn’t a Windows program (I sometimes Google the program name to see).  Games that get downloaded for free are notorious for slowing down your work.  Shoot me an email and I can also let you know if they are needed.
  5. Make sure Windows Updates are on and have been installed.  Type “Windows Updates” in the search bar (Win 8, 10) and check for Windows Updates.  Select any optional ones and, yes, install those too.  It will take time to download and then install.  Restart your system to apply the updates.  While you are updating, go ahead and allow that Javascript to update, too.
  6. Clean out the dust!  Dust can make your system run hotter than necessary.  Laptops are harder to clean due to space constraints, but a desktop has some simple screws to remove and usually captures the most dust anyways.  You can blow compressed air (or vacuum out) all the dust bunnies.  This will keep things running cooler and faster!

As always, if you need more help with your cleanup, please give My Computer Solutionz a call and we’ll help,  There’s no charge for a simple call or emailing your questions. We still give free quotes and recommendations.  We’re reasonable people and here to help.  Happy spring clean-up!

 

Check Out Our Annual Recycle Event!

Do you have old computers or parts that need recycling? 

April 12-22

We come and pickup your stuff, for free!

Click here for a pickup

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