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Legal Decisions May Lead to Better Computer Repair Options

As a local computer repair business, we rely on earning our customers’ trust and word of mouth through delivering high quality work. However, as an independent service company repairing both Apple computers and PCs across all brands, we do business in a market that has seen pushback from companies intended to preserve their services and accessories as the only way to fix your devices. However, 11 states, including New York, have bills known as “Right to Repair” (New York’s official bill is called the Fair Repair Act) which, if passed, allow for independent businesses (like us) to repair devices and obtain parts and official documentation more easily.

Requires manufacturers of digital electronic parts to offer for sale diagnostic and repair information in the same manner as such manufacturer provides such diagnostic and repair information to such manufacturer’s repair channel

In other words, this legislation is aimed at expanding consumer choice and letting independent businesses offer a fuller range of options for customers.

A decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on May 30th also gives hope for changes. In the decision, passed 7-1, the printer company Lexmark lost its case against a small printer ink business, Impression, that was selling refilled ink cartridges at lower cost. The Court decided that once a consumer purchases a device, that consumer doesn’t have to be beholden to one single manufacturer for official supplies or repair. It is of note that Lexmark is one of the companies—including Apple, Verizon, and Toyota—actively lobbying against Right to Repair in New York. It remains to be seen just what effect the Court decision has on consumer options, but as a repair business responsible for fixing many computers over our 35 year history, we welcome more options through which to continue delivering high quality service and options.

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Beware: This OSX Malware Will Steal Your Private Information

(Image: MalwareBytes)

There’s a new malware attack seriously infecting computers and stealing data, but the most surprising part of it might be that the targets are Mac computers running OSX. While Apple has taken measures to prevent attacks from the malware, known as OSX.Dok, some users may have already allowed it to live on their machines. OSX.Dok will continuously infect the computer it is installed on every time the computer reboots.

OSX.Dok is unique in that it has been called “the first major scale malware to target OS X users via a coordinated email phishing campaign” by Check Point . It’s true that malware and phishing attacks like this are usually more apt to snare PC users, but this one is one you should pay attention to. Do not click or download any strange attachment or files, and be on the lookout for a .zip file called Dokument.zip.

If you’re infected, you may find fullscreen, but fake messages being displayed that there are OSX updates to be installed, and it requests your password. Do not enter any information if you see one of these screens appear.

Doing so would give the malware administrative privileges, install it on your system, and then be able to steal your data. It could also potentially steal any saved passwords, financial information, or any other sensitive or personal information on your computer.

Mac OS may often be safer from phishing and malware attacks, but this shows that it is definitely not impossible to infect one. Although this attack seems to primarily target European users, with global reach, email could have sent this anywhere.

Apple’s response has been to revoke the privileges of a certificate that has been potentially hijacked to serve as an agent facilitating this malware, so it will likely now be rejected if you aren’t careful and it finds its way to your inbox. If you are infected, contact a trusted computer repair professional, who will be able to remove this malicious software and restore your computer to working order quickly.

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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.
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Frying is for Eggs, Not Computers – Overheating, Prevention, and You

A customer’s fried video card with some of the dust still remaining.

We’ve had a few customers come to us with similar situations recently. Their computers were showing signs of slowdown, sometimes sluggishness, and occasionally, their systems were in a bit more trouble than that– computers that wouldn’t turn on or were experiencing sudden shutdowns.
We opened up one case and found a ton of dust inside (see photos with this post – and this was after initial dusting). The dust combined with a lack of air circulation to go and fry the video card. Too much heat inside your computer is going to lead to problems eventually. There is a limited amount of space in the case, so making sure the fans have room to circulate the air and cool your system is important. So, too, is regular cleaning and maintenance. Dusting your computer helps it run better in the long run. Investing in a couple of cans of compressed air to dust out the fans now and then is the least you can do.

In another case, a customer who used his laptop for gaming came to us with slow computer problems. The games he enjoyed playing were rather resource intensive, and many laptops not specified for gaming purposes might chug when trying to play them. Gaming on laptops is possible, but again, heating can be a real danger when it comes to running programs that demand a lot from your system. After cleaning out this customer’s computer and performance testing everything with games and programs running, temperatures were mostly within a workable range. We suggested that the customer buy a cooling pad for laptops. Not only do cooling pads help reduce temperatures, they tend to elevate a laptop a little bit, which makes it easier for air to circulate out of the vents and below the computer. By not resting the laptop on a desk or table itself, the air can get out and disperse, letting the additional fans help prevent issues. What’s more, they begin at under $20, so it can be an affordable way to keep your hardware healthy if you use your laptop for gaming or other intensive work, like video editing.

Keeping an eye on the temperature during all your most common activities on your computer will help too, because it will give you an idea of what is normal for each demand you place on your system and alert you if excessive heat starts to become a pattern. This can help you notice heating occur before it causes any obvious problems. If you can investigate the cause and find out how to stop overheating early enough, it might spare your system repairs later.

Of course, you can invest in regular computer maintenance from a shop you trust to keep things running smoothly. We are happy to provide maintenance services for all computer models. Call us for a free, no obligation phone consultation.

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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.

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Windows 7 Support coming to an end? You’ve been warned!

Are you a Windows 7 user? Do you still use old software like Office 2010?
Then we’ve got some important news for you!

Mainstream support deadlines for these products, along with some other ones from Microsoft, are approaching. But, what does this mean?

Mainstream support is the typically five-year period when Microsoft provides free patches and fixes for its products. When a product exits the mainstream support phase, Microsoft continues to provide a period (also often five years) of extended support. This means users get free security fixes but other types of updates are paid and require specific licensing deals.

In other words, free support is ending on January 13, 2015 for a number of major Microsoft products, including all versions of Windows7.
Extended support for Windows 7 lasts until January 14, 2020, so you will still be receiving free security updates, but not features updates.

Some specialists have been speculating, though, that Microsoft will end up pushing out Windows 7’s support dates the way the company did for XP, given Windows 7’s popularity and pervasiveness, but so far, there’s been no word from Microsoft officials that this is the plan.

Support for Office 2010 with Service Pack 1 ends on October 14.
In this case, you have two options. You can migrate to the next available Service Pack (Service Pack 2, in this case), or to the next Office version, which in this case is Office 2013.

 

If you want to be loyal to Microsoft, you can also migrate from Windows 7 to Windows 8. You can buy a hard copy of the program, or you can do the update online. Windows 8.1 Upgrade Assistant will tell you if your PC can run Windows 8, and then will provide you with a compatibility report and optional steps for you to buy, download, and install Windows. If you want to check out the system requirements, you can, but you don’t have to. Upgrade Assistant will do all that for you, and the best thing is that you don’t need to buy the upgrade to run it.

Upgrading Office requires an extra step, because first you need to uninstall the previous version running on your computer. It’s a very simple process, but this new version of the suite doesn’t replace the old one while you install the new one, like previous versions did. You just need to go to the control panel, and perform the uninstall process from there.

 

In any case, if you have doubts or need help, don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you!

 

PcMac Express
info@pcmacexpress.com
(212)682-6878 / (718)459-9477

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Counter the effects of aging and get along with your PC.

Do you know that you can use Windows to personalize and customize your computer to make it easier to see, hear, and more comfortably use. As we rack up birthdays, sooner or later we all experience some loss of vision, hearing, or physical dexterity. Fortunately, personalization options in Windows make it easy to adjust your PC. Here are a few tips on how to counter the effects of aging to make your computer more comfortable to use.
Do you often find yourself fighting the urge to press your nose against the screen because you can’t see text and objects clearly? Have you considered changing your monitor display settings to increase the size of icons or text for documents and Web pages?
All you need to do is:

1. Open Screen Resolution by swiping in from the right edge of the screen, tapping Search (or if you’re using a mouse, pointing to the upper-right corner of the screen, moving the mouse pointer down, and then clicking Search)

2. Enter “Make text larger” in the search box, and then tap or click “Make text and other items larger or smaller”.

3. Drag the slider until the items in the preview image are the size you want them to be.

4. Finally, tap or click Apply.

Having trouble seeing things that are close up? Magnifier, one of the accessibility utilities in Microsoft Windows, opens a window that enlarges all or parts of the screen you choose, just like a magnifying glass. Magnifier enlarges different parts of the screen and is part of the Ease of Access Center. To open it quickly, click Start, and then type Magnifier.

There are three Magnifier modes:

• Full-screen mode. In full-screen mode, your entire screen is magnified. Depending on the size of your screen and the zoom level you choose, you might not be able to see the entire screen at the same time.

• Lens mode. In lens mode, the area around the mouse pointer is magnified. When you move the mouse pointer, the area of the screen that’s magnified moves along with it.

• Docked mode. In docked mode, only a portion of the screen is magnified, leaving the rest of your desktop unchanged. You can then control which area of the screen is magnified.

You can also change the screen resolution, which adjusts the clarity, size, and amount of things that fit on your computer monitor.
If you find yourself searching for mouse pointer more often than you search the Web, you can change the size, appearance, width, speed, color and blink rate of your cursor, or the appearance of your pointer.

Also, to maximize mouse comfort, try a Microsoft mouse that is designed for maximum comfort.

If you have more questions, don’t hesitate to contact us. We can help you!

Heartbleed
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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!

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Is Blackphone the New Security Wonder Phone?

Have you heard of the Blackphone? If you haven’t, they’ve probably done half of their job right!

This is the new Android based cell phone that is built and designed around protecting your privacy. Some tech analysts even called it the NSA-proof phone! But, what does it do? Why is that relevant? And more importantly, how much does it cost me?

Well, to start answering that last question, this new marvel of modern technology costs $630. That includes a 4.7 inches HD screen, 16 GB of storage, LTE capabilities and a 8 megapixels camera, with flash. It also includes a year subscription to its security/privacy service, which is frankly the main attraction here. After the first year, you’ll have to cough up $10 a month to maintain the encryption service, or go back to the world of surrendering your personal information unknowingly.

You may ask yourself, why do I want pay an extra $120 dollars a year when I can get privacy apps on my phone for free?

This is where the Blackphone makes the first small difference, because the truth is that if a privacy program or app is free, then it doesn’t really work. Paying for an encryption service will guarantee a level of protection that free apps and programs can’t offer.
It’s estimated that a mobile phone was lost in the U.S. every 3.5 seconds – and that nearly all who found lost devices tried to access the information on the phone.  That alone is a great reason to encrypt your personal information from the get go. We love to browse the web on the go, but did you know this activity opens up phones to serious security risks? The problem is that users cannot see the full URL or link, much less verify whether the link or URL is safe. That means that users could easily browse their way into a phishing-related attack. Last year alone, for example, the number of malicious software aimed at mobile devices has reportedly risen from about 14,000 to 40,000 or about 185%.

So, what does it do?  The Blackphone’s service includes a wide array of privacy features. These goes preventing designated apps from connecting to the internet at will and transmitting information without any warning, encrypted contacts, texts, emails and calls, firewall options and even a smart WiFi manager.

Finally, while Blackphone is the first security and privacy focused smart phone, you shouldn’t expect it to be the only one for long, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see bigger players making their way in.
On top of that, this is a new handset running a new operating system, which makes the scope for teething troubles and bugs high at this stage. So, if you have any doubt or concerns about your smartphone’s or your computer’s security features, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

 

 

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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!!!