Tips

Business Owners: Prevent a Colossal Mistake With These Simple Actions

The recent Equifax security breach has been making headlines due to the scope and potential consequences of leaked data of 145.5 million affected people. Yet, your company can learn a lesson from this recent catastrophe. One of the early finds regarding the Equifax situation was that it was caused, in large part, by someone in the company failing to patch a bug in software that sat there, waiting to be exploited, for two months. If you run a business with sensitive consumer data, you should learn a lesson from this incident.

Person using laptopYou, as a business owner, may not be dealing with 145 million customer accounts, but you, like us, rely upon keeping your customers’ information secure and private. This is why you need the peace of mind of regular maintenance.

Keep Your Systems Updated:

Equifax admitted its lack of security updates left a wide open hole for information to be stolen. “Upon discovering  a vulnerability in the Apache Struts web application framework as the initial attack vector, Equifax patched the affected web application before bringing it back online,” read a statement. However, the vulnerability was discovered in March, and Equifax’ systems were breached in May.

For a small business, be sure to keep your operating system up to date. If you’re running Windows, be sure to keep the version up to date as well. Microsoft has ended support for Windows Vista and earlier, with only limited support for Windows 7, which is incompatible with some modern chips and software. If you are able to, moving to Windows 10 will keep things completely up to date and at the same pace across all of your machines.

If you run a Mac, you too should keep your systems updated as, despite clichés, Macs are not insulated from vulnerabilities.

Keep Strong Security:

In addition to keeping things up to date, it’s important to keep running strong security applications. We help our customers navigate through the options out there. Some sound too good to be true, and often are. Still, some, like CCleaner, that we do continue to recommend, have also been subject to exploits just this year. It makes the case that having strong security and protections on multiple levels is important.

Keep Regular Backups:

Should your system or protections come under threat, it is vital to keep regular backups of your valuable data. We can help you set up backups and choose which backup options fit your needs and budget. There are varieties within types of backup options and differences between PC and Mac. Let us help you out whether you choose an external drive, the cloud, or a combination of options.

Keep Your Computers Running Smoothly:

Finally, do not underestimate the need to keep your computers tuned up and running smoothly. Most computers in regular use will begin to see normal wear and tear long before problems arise that we can notice. Having scheduled computer maintenance for your business can keep things running smoothly and last longer, saving you time and money.

For a free phone consultation with no obligation to contract service, call us! 212-682-6878 or 718-459-9477

Tips

Drive Crash? Do You Have a Backup? Tips on Backing Up Your Data

Prevent data loss with regular backups.

Nothing makes us sadder than when drives crash and people lose their important data. Data recovery is often possible, but it can take time and expertise, and be quite expensive. The good thing is that data loss can be prevented.

Don’t let data loss happen to you!  We can help you with both data recovery and creating backups. Here are some tips for you – our Six Dos and Don’ts of backing up your data:


Do: Make sure to create backups regularly. An outdated backup is better than losing all of your data, but by keeping a regular backup schedule, you will go a long way toward always having your data when you need it. Set a reminder on your calendar to keep things updated if they are not automatically scheduled.

Don’t: Although backing up data is possible to do on another section of your computer, we advise that when performing backups, you do them off of the system you are backing up. If the hard drive or the system should crash or fail, there goes your data. Having the backups on an external drive or in the cloud can save you time and money, as well as your data.

Do: Always make sure you have effective virus and malware protection installed.
It’s possible for a backup to back up malware in some circumstances. We have had customers reinfect their system through a backup saved on their computer that had also saved the virus that had made their systems unresponsive in the first place. Malware can also infect external and image backups, but this is less common. However, we can help you make safe backups and show you how to protect your data, as well as update your backup files.

Don’t: If you need your computer’s programs and settings backed up, don’t count on a data backup. Generally, backups are only going to save your data, but cannot save your computer’s programs and settings. For this, we can help you make an image backup of your hard drive. This snapshot of your drive can be used to restore programs and settings. Don’t forget to update your backups of any type, however.

Do: Consider all of your options when you need to back up your data. Whether you want to back up just files to a standard external drive, start backing up data to the cloud and have it accessible from any internet connection, or try a mix of services, we’re happy to discuss options and help you make the right decision for your needs, budget, and preferences.

Don’t: Don’t forget to back up! Whether it’s done manually, automatically, or on a schedule, regularly backing up your data will go a long way toward giving some peace of mind. Let us help you get things started.
Tips

What to Do & What to Expect From Liquid Spills on Your Computer

water damage computer repair
Liquid spills – we fix the damage! What to do if you spill water on your computer? Coffee spill on keyboard? Let us help.

These days, our computers are our constant companions, and we find ourselves on our machines while going about many activities. Though it’s advisable to keep all liquids away from computers, the truth is that life these days often has us working on something with our coffee right next to us or a water bottle nearby. Many a modern office or co-working space features open places, laptops, charging outlets all around and the perks of free beverages. All of these pose a danger to the inner workings of your computer.

First, here are some tips for you if you spill anything on your computer.
1. Turn off the power immediately. Unplug it.
2. Turn the computer over and allow it to air dry, up to a few days.
3. Try to turn it on and see if it is working.

Liquid spills are a common reason for computer repair these days. We repair liquid spill damage for PC or Mac.  We have noticed the number of spills on MacBooks in particular growing in recent years. We specialize in Apple computer repair at less than the cost of Apple. In the last week alone, we completed several of these repairs. Some were ready for customer pickup within 24 hours.

If you are in need of repair, call us! We will give you a free phone consultation and assess your situation. Give us the model and year of your computer and we can price out parts and the cost of a repair. If your spill is minor, it’s possible to get away with just a logic board/motherboard replacement, but if it’s a bit more extensive, we would need to also replace your keyboard. All costs will be given to you upfront before we begin repairs. Of course, you can always drop off your computer at one of our two convenient locations where we will have our certified techs diagnose the extent of the damage and what is needed.

Heartbleed
Tips

A Heartbleed Survivor’s Guide

At this point we’ve all been hearing too much about this new Heartbleed Open SSL’s encryption flaw.

To be honest, the more I heard about it, the harder it became to understand what it means and most of all, how do I protect myself???

First of all lets set it straight. “Heartbleed is an encryption flaw which affects Open SSL’s 1.0.1 and the 1.0.2-beta release, 1.01 which is used widely across the web and in a number of popular web services. The flaw can theoretically be used to view apparently-secure communication across HTTPS, usually denoted by a small closed padlock in a browser’s address bar.

The data potentially at risk includes everything from passwords and encryption keys to financial details and personal identifiable information — allowing a hacker to dip in, swipe data, and leave no trace of their existence.”

After a few days of the world going crazy over Heartbleed, we get to a point where, if your favorite websites, bank, online merchant, etc., haven’t yet fixed the problem. Then you should kiss them goodbye and walk away.

On the other hand, even if they did fix it and made an effort to keep your personal information protected, there’re definitely some steps on your end that you shouldn’t avoid.

  • Change all your passwords! I know it does sound like a hassle, and it probably is, given the amount of online shopping we are used to do these days.
    Even if the websites are already fixed, go ahead and change your passwords anyways! I say this because these sites were vulnerable at some point. That means your private information was already compromised.
  • If your favorite sites or services support two-factor authentication, use it. Everybody understands it’s usually a lot more trouble to set up than a simple password. But if this had taught us a lesson, is that extra security measures are worth it!
  • You should also clear all your Web browsers’ cache, cookies, and history. That’s never a bad idea anyway. You don’t want old memorized passwords walking into trouble at an untrustworthy site.
  • And last but not least. Check your bank and credit-card statements very carefully. If you’ve been compromised, chances are all too good that you’ll find out by finding suspicious charges on your credit cards.

After you’ve done all this, you should be no longer vulnerable to Heartbleed’s nightmare. But beware; no solution is easy when it comes to this one. So if you start getting emails or calls offering to fix the problem, don’t buy it! It will probably be a scam…

If you need help, we’ll be happy to assist you. Otherwise, Good Luck!

Tips

Beware Windows XP Users! **Important Information**

What do I do with my old Windows XP?

Nowadays, 38 % of all computers use Windows XP. That includes the U.S. military, NASA, 40 to 50% of all businesses in the US and 95% of all ATMs.
Maybe we should start thinking of a solution, since this represents a big problem for most computer users in this country.

Microsoft is ending all tech support for this operating system after April 2014. This doesn’t mean that your computer will cease to function after this deadline, but in the event of a problem or any bugs appearing after April, you’re on your own. This will make a strong case for migrating to a different operating system.

At a first glance, you might think that Windows 7 or Windows 8 are the obvious choices for replacing your old Windows XP operating system. After all, it’s the same manufacturer, and you’ll carry forward the system’s compatibility. But there are other options that might be more suitable for your needs and you should consider them all.


Newer Windows versions

If you’re committed to staying in the Windows world because of software requirements or just sticking with what you know, Windows 7 looks and behaves like Windows XP and it’s also cheaper. Depending on your level of tech expertise, sticking with Windows will reduce the compatibility and re-skilling burden. You certainly won’t be left behind moving to Windows 7, but take into account that this one is already a four-year-old technology.
If your hardware’s also that old, you can’t take advantage of the latest tech that computing can offer; and Windows 8 is more closely stitched to the hardware it runs on when it comes to security and performance.
On the other hand, Windows 8 is good, but it’s not for everyone.
Enterprises are more stable today and will find more interoperability on Windows 7.

 

Other options

If compatibility is not an issue for you, and you want to get out there and see what the world has to offer you, there are a series of options you might want to consider.
Linux is a free Operating System that will probably save you a few dollars and make your day a little better, but its lack of available software and official tech support will quickly send that new found happiness down the drain.
Also, it won’t help compatibility with other computers that run on Windows.

You can also try the newer and friendlier Android, but you’ll encounter the same compatibility issues, and a slightly better, and bigger, choice of software available.

If you end up crossing the street to one of Microsoft’s fiercest competitors, Apple, and switch to OS X Mavericks; you will find that this is an extremely easy to use operating system.
Friendly customer support, instinctive interface, and with a rather small learning curve. Compatibility between Windows and Mac OS is not a big issue anymore, and the software available is almost the same for both. The problem here is that you would have to buy one of those notoriously more expensive Macs.

 

If you still don’t know what to do, and need further information on this subject, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can always do the job!

Remember, you should UPGRADE your OPERATING SYSTEM BEFORE APRIL 2014!!!

 

 

Tips

How to improve your WiFi speed.

Nowadays, walking around the house with your tablet, or using your laptop in bed, is considered sort of a given. But this can quickly become annoying when your internet stops working the way it’s supposed to.

Then, what do you do when your internet appears to be slow?

The first thing you have to do, is check the speed.

To begin with, you should try to find out precisely how fast your connection is. You can do this at a website called speedtest.net.

In order to do this right, you have to restart your computer. There might be number of factors affecting your internet or your computer performance, for instance, too many windows open, or any other task that’s taking resources from your computer and your internet.

After you’ve restarted your computer, plug it straight the modem with a Ethernet cable. This will show you how fast your internet goes without any interference, straight from the source. Write these numbers down and check you’re getting what your provider is charging you for.

Then, plug back your router and run the test again, through your wireless network. Compare both results. If there’s no big difference, then your WiFi is fine and you should talk to your internet provider. Either, you need to upgrade to a better plan, or you let them know you’re not getting what you’re paying for.

Now, if your WiFi makes your internet significantly slower, you have an issue on your hands. But there’s a few things you can do.

Go and check your router.

Your problem might be here. One of the last standards in routers technology is the 802.11n wireless networking standard. What’s important here is the “n” at the end. If you pay attention to your router, you’re going to see that it’s labeled 802.11 and b, g, or n. It’s fine if your router belongs to this last group, but if you see a “b” or a “g” after this numbers, maybe it’s about time you get a new one. If this is the case, and you do buy a new router, you’ll be able to see your internet speed climb up pretty drastically.

But even if you already own an “n” router, there’s something you can do to improve its response. Updating the firmware might increase your internet’s overall performance. Every router is different, so in order to update the firmware correctly, you should check the manual or the company’s website for instructions.

Who else is using your WiFi?

Bandwidth is not that hard to fill up. Online gaming, video and, specially, file sharing, can take up all your resources pretty quickly diminish the speed and condition of your connection.

There’s something else you can do.

If your house is big enough to keep your router too far from your computer, or the walls are too thick, then you might have a week signal.

In this case, you can get a wireless extender. It takes your router’s signal and sends it again to the parts of the house that the router can’t reach, using the same frequency.

This is not a great solution because, since it has to obtain the signal and then resend it, you make your WiFi, at least, twice as slow as it was. So, before buying one of this devices, try placing the router in a better location, and situate it as high as possible, away from your fridge and any thick (and/or) metallic furniture.

If you keep having problems or any doubts, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Tips

The best way to protect your files and folders

It’s important to keep your sensitive data safe. Nowadays, you can password protect any document or folder that you deem relevant by following a few simple steps.

But first, let me give you a little tip. Before password protecting any document you may wish to create a backup of the non-password protected folder and files in case you forget the password in the future.

If you are using Windows XP professional edition on a computer that has different accounts, this are the steps you have to follow:

  1. Select the folder you wish to encrypt.
  2. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  3. Click the Advanced button.
  4. Check “Encrypt contents to secure data” option.
  5. Click Apply and then Ok.

 

After you are done, the encrypted data should be grayed out. If you are using Windows XP home edition, this should also be a fairly easy process. Here are the steps:

 

  1. Select the folder you wish to encrypt.
  2. Right-click the folder and click Properties.
  3. Click the Sharing tab.
  4. Check the box Make this folder private
  5. Click Apply and then Ok.

 

Like in the previous example, the encrypted folder should be grayed out. There are a couple requirements that you need to follow, in order to be able to encrypt and safe guard those files and folders.

 

  1. The hard drive must be formatted in NTFS and not FAT32 File System.
  2. The folder you’re attempting to encrypt must be in your own personal folder. For example, if your name is bob, you must be encrypting a folder that is or that is contained within the below folder: C:Documents and SettingsBob

Files and folders not frequently used

 

Now, if you need to password protect files or folders that you do not frequently use, one of the simplest ways is to compress the folder and files with a compression utility and password protect the compressed file. However, each time you wish to work or modify the files you will need to uncompress the files using the password.

Windows ME and Windows XP users – Microsoft Windows ME and Windows XP come with their own compression utility. This utility can also be used to compress and password protect files.

You should know that when a file is compressed, users can still view a listing of the files in the compressed file. If you wish for both your file names and the contents to be hidden, move all the files into a single folder and password protect that folder.

 

File and folders frequently used or accessed

 

If you need to password protect or encrypt data you frequently use, you will need to install a third-party program that will enable you to protect your files and folders. Below are some free and commercial solutions.

  • AxCrypt – An excellent free encryption utility that enables users to encrypt all files within a folder and not allow those files to be viewed unless a passphrase (password) is known.
  • WinCry – A freeware utility that enables your files to be encrypted, secure deletion, as well as other helpful methods of protecting your files.
  • Folder Guard – A commercial version of a password protection software that enables you to password protect files, folders, and other Windows resources.

Anyway, there are a few other things you should know too. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a 100% protected file. There are numerous tools, utilities, and instructions for how to break a lot of the encryption and passwords on files. However, the protection methods listed above will protect your files from the majority of users who may encounter them. If you’re working with really sensitive data we suggest a commercial product for protecting your files and data. Also, even though a file or folder may be password protected it still can be deleted (unless the program supports the ability to protect files from being deleted). Always remember to backup all your files, even those protected by passwords. And last, but not least, if you forget the password, unless you’re willing to spend the time attempting to break it or pay someone else to break the password, all your file data will be lost. Unless you’ve made a backup of the non-password protected data. If you need any further help to protect your files, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can help you!

 

Tips

Hackers! Stay away from my computer!

Most people believe that the majority that computer invasions and problems are caused by hackers, but that’s not the case. Truth is; it is more common for a computer to be hijacked than hacked. Well, I’ll tell you how to spot a hacked or hijacked computer, and what you can do to prevent both from happening.

1 – New programs installed
Sometimes you may see new programs or files to the computer. If you are the only user on the computer and new programs are installed, this could be an indication of a hacked computer. However, there are also several legitimate reasons why a new program may appear on the computer, such as operating system updates, plugins and free programs that usually encourage you to try their toolbar.

In any case, there’s always the chance that a hacker may have broken into your computer. Backdoors and Trojans are by far the most common programs to be installed on the computer after it has been hacked. These programs allow the hacker to gain access to the computer. Spyware, rogue antivirus programs, and malware can be an indication of a hacker. However, are more commonly a sign that your computer has been hijacked while on the Internet.

2 – Online passwords
Sometimes, after an online account is hacked, the attacker changes the password to your account. Try using the “forgot password”  feature to reset it. If your e-mail address has changed or this feature does not work, contact the company who is providing the service, they are the only ones who can reset your account.

3 – Spam e-mail being sent
When an e-mail account is hacked or taken over, the attacker almost always uses that account to spread spam and viruses. If your friends, family, or coworkers are receiving e-mail from you advertising something like Viagra, this means that your e-mail is compromised. You can fix this just by logging into your e-mail and changing your password.

Tip: E-mail addresses can also be spoofed without hacking the e-mail account. After changing the e-mail password, if your friends continue to get e-mails you have not sent, it is likely someone is spoofing your e-mail address.

5 – Increased network activity
For any attacker to take control of a computer, they must remotely connect to that computer. When someone is remotely connected to your computer, your Internet connection will be slower. Also, after the computer is hacked, it’s common that it starts to attack other computers.

Installing a bandwidth monitor program on your computer can help determine what programs are using bandwidth and how. Windows users can also use the netstat command to determine remote established network connections and open ports.

Please keep in mind that there are also dozens of other legitimate reasons why your Internet connection may also be slow, so don’t panic over a slow internet day

6 – Unknown programs wanting access
Computer security programs and firewalls help restrict access to programs on a network or Internet. If the computer asks for access to programs you do not know, rogue programs may be installed, or it may have been hacked. If you do not know why a program needs access to the Internet, we recommend blocking access to that program. If you later discover these blocks cause problems, it can be removed later.

Tip: A firewall prompting you for access may also just be someone trying to probe your network, looking for open or available ports in your network. Undesirable as is it, it may not be a hacker.

7 – Security programs uninstalled
If the computer’s antivirus, anti-malware, or firewall has been uninstalled or disabled, it can also be an indication of a hacked computer. A hacker may disable these programs to help hide any warnings that would appear while they are on the computer.

8 – Computer doing things by itself
When someone is remotely connected to a computer they can remotely control any device. For example, a mouse cursor could be moved or something could be typed. If you see the computer doing something as if someone else was in control, this can be an indication of a hacked computer.

9 – Internet browser home page changed or new toolbar
Internet browser changes such as your home page changing to a different web page, a new toolbar being added, your search engine changing, web pages getting redirected. These are all signs of a browser getting hijacked and not a computer hacker.

You now have the tools to spot a hacker that’s trying to get into your computer. Sometimes we can avoid them, but when you can’t, we come to the rescue. Call us Now!

Tips

Top 10 Time Saving Tips

The New York Times number one tech columnist, David Pogue gave quite an interesting TED talk to simplify our interaction with technology. Here are the top 10 time saving tech tips he shared with us:

 

1- Don’t scroll with your mouse. Use the space bar on any browser. Every time you hit it, your browser scrolls down one page. If you hold the shift key while you press the space bar, it will scroll up.

 

2- When you’re filling out forms on the web, you can hit the tab key to jump from box to box. Now, when you get to the popup menu where you put your state, you don’t have to actually open that menu. Just hit type the first letter of your state over and over until it gets to the one you need. This also works for months of the year and everything you have in those popup menus.

 

3- If the text on the website you’re reading is too small, there’s a very quick solution. Just hold the crtl key while you press the plus ­­­­sign and it will make the text bigger. To get the opposite effect, just hold ctrl key and press the minus sign.

 

4- Texting takes you longer than you’d like? This tip will definitely help you! Just hit space twice after you are done typing the sentence and forget about period and capital letters. The phone will do it for you!

 

5- Want to re dial your last call? Just hit the call button to get the number of your last call into the dial box, and then hit call again to make the call.

 

6- How tired are you of getting instructions on how to leave a message on your friend’s phone? There’s a way of bypassing those instructions and go straight to the beep. Every carrier has a different key, but you can learn them and save yourself from being annoyed one more time.

For Verizon, you just have to press *. For Sprint, press 1. For AT&T and T-mobile press the universal # key.

 

7- You can throw away your oxford dictionary now. Google can be your new dictionary! Just type “define”, followed by the word you are looking for and Google will show you the definition. You don’t even have to click on anything. It will just show you the definition as you type. You can also type in any airline flight and it will show you the status and other useful data as gate, ETA and such.  And finally, you can also use it as a unit and currency converter.

 

8- On every word processor, there’s no need to drag the mouse over a word with the right button clicked and slide over it. You only have to click over the desired word to highlight it. After that, you don’t even have to delete it. You can just type over it!

 

9- Do you know what shutter lag is? You sure know it’s annoying, but do you know how to get rid of it? Shutter lag is the time your camera uses to calculate focus and exposure before it actually takes the picture. You can forget about it by half pressing the shutter a few seconds before taking the shot. That way, the camera will pre-focus and you can kiss shutter lag goodbye!

 

10- A useful tip for your presentations. In order to momentarily stop your presentation and black out the screen, you only have to press the “b” key. Hit it again and the screen will go back to where it was. Hit the “w” key instead, and you’ll white out the screen. This works on Keynote, PowerPoint and every presentation program.

 

If you need more tips to help you skate through your usual tech related problems, contact PcMac Express Today!

 

Tips

Should you store your Data on the Cloud or keep it Old School?

Last year when apple released iOS 5, they brought a new feature to the table called iCloud which features work across the board with your Mac and PC as well.  iCloud lets you access your music, photos and documents from any of your devices (be it an iPhone, iPad or computer) without a complicated synchronizing process.
Once you sign up, you’re given 5GB of free iCloud storage, but you can upgrade it up to 50GB by paying the stipulated fee, of course. This is a somehow expensive service, and that will inevitably add up over the years of use.
Anyhow, Apple has made some exceptions to this 5 GB cap. They have agreed not to count music, apps or books that have been purchased from Apple. Although this is all well and good, most people do not, in fact, purchase all of their music and books from the Apple store, but from a variety of other sources. This, ultimately, pushes a user into a sticky situation because they are forced to pay Apple one way or another.

Nowadays it’s critically important to have a backup of your most important documents. And the amount of devices and options to store these documents have multiplied, making this process easier but also more important than ever.
Storing your backup documents in the cloud will also minimize the storage space used in all of your devices, including your computer.  As easy as this process might be, it requires a fair amount attention from your part. Contacts, calendars, mail, reminders, documents and other data is handled separately and has to be specifically backed up, instead of going through a general backup process.  Organizing your data in order to access it later is also vital to the procedure.

 Any backup strategy starts with the concept of getting the data back. Having everything organized in folders is not a bad idea. There’s a lot of different ways you could organize those folders, always keeping in mind that the best system to organize your data is the one that allows you to find the files you need in the least amount of time. Even your email can be organized in folders.

There’s also a very important issue to address here. Privacy is a key factor when you decide if and which cloud backup provider to use. Microsoft’s Sky-drive doesn’t have the option of encrypted storage, while Apple’s iCloud does. But even when the data is encrypted, the one holding the key it’s usually the cloud service provider. And a curious employee or a concerned government can easily get access to your precious private data. In any case, you face the question of how do they protect your personal information, and whether or not you should just go old school and save your private data in an external hard drive.  But that decision only belongs to you.

Backing up your information is easy as crucial, but you may have some doubts on how and what data should be safely backed up. We can help you on every step of the way, taking the time do it properly. Contact us and keep your data safe!