Does this sound familiar? You’ve been using your desktop and started to feel heat radiating off the machine. Or maybe you were streaming your favorite show and were faced with a blue screen. These are both signs of an overheating computer.
Here are 7 tips for keeping your computer cool:
Don’t Block Airflow
The main key to keeping a computer tower cool is airflow. Set up your machine in a space where air can flow freely in and out of the tower. Don’t hide it under an enclosed desk, instead use a desk with an open back. Also avoid stacking boxes and other items around the machine as well.
Keep it Clean
Dust increases friction which increases heat from the components of your computer. Focus specifically on keeping dust off your fans because this is where real damage can happen. Open up your case and look for three fans, one on top of the CPU, one inside the power supply and possibly one on the case. Use canned air to remove dust instead of a vacuum which can pull parts out of alignment.
Find a New Location
If you have your computer setup by a window that gets a lot of sunlight, you’ll likely find yourself fighting a losing battle against heat. The solution here is to relocate your computer to somewhere free of hot sunlight. If that’s not an option install blackout curtains to keep your machine cool and safe.
Upgrade Your Fans
If you’re really struggling with heat issues it may be time to give your fans an update. The CPU fan is the most sensitive part of your computer, so if something is off it is likely the culprit. If it’s not running at full speed your computer will be prone to overheating. Install a new, potentially larger fan to keep everything nice and cool. If you don’t feel confident to install a new fan on your own, we would be happy to help.
Overclocking is a reconfiguring of your computer to push it harder and faster than the manufacturer designed it to go. If you don’t know what this means then you’re likely not doing it. Overclocking runs your computer too hard and can contribute to overheating. If you don’t have any additional cooling features on your CPU overclocking will drive your PC into the ground.
Keep the Case On
Many people tell you to keep the case off your CPU to allow for more airflow. While this sounds logical it is actually bad advice. The issue here is dust and dirt. With the case open all the working parts are exposed to increased amounts of dirt and dust which can be detrimental to your machine. The increase in dirt and dust collection can have negative temperature effects in the future.
Use Water Cooling
If you’re a PC gamer or someone who overclocks their computer regularly then you need a water cooling system. This type of cooling runs water through your computer to absorb heat. A pump keeps the water moving, pumping cold water in and warm water out. Don’t worry, it may sound scary but this is a safe solution for your computer as all the water is contained in a transfer system.
If you implement some of these tips and still find your computer overheating, give us a call. We’re here to help you troubleshoot the problem. If the problem falls outside of your skillset, our trained technicians are happy to take over for you.
Maybe you just picked up your first computer. Or maybe you’ve just switched from a Mac to a PC. Regardless, it can be nerve racking to open up a new computer and find your way around. The best way to feel comfortable is to follow a key few pointers from our team of experts.
Here are 10 tips for new PC users:
Regardless of how computer savvy you are, you won’t feel comfortable on a new machine right away and that’s okay. Take some time to explore and learn the system. It’s easy to get frustrated, but try to think of it as a fun adventure instead of a stressful problem to solve.
Adjust Trackpad Settings
If you picked up a PC laptop, the trackpad may feel a bit awkward. The good news is that you can customize the settings to make it work for you. Play with the cursor speed, scroll speed and double-click sensitivity until you feel comfortable with it. Go to Control Panel → Mouse applet and select Device Settings. There you will able to adjust at will.
Create a Microsoft Account
A Microsoft account opens you up to some nice features. This is a required step when first setting up your machine, but a worthwhile one. A Microsoft account gives you access to Skype, OneDrive, the Windows Store and more! Be sure to save your Microsoft account password somewhere safe.
Take it Slow
When you have a new computer it can be tempting to install everything you could ever want all at once. But we recommend to take it slow. Install the necessities, get comfortable with them and then move towards more frivolous apps and software.
Back it Up
All computer users should be using a backup system. On a PC you can take advantage of OneDrive to keep your files backed up. If you don’t want files backed up to the cloud you’ll need to invest in a hearty hard drive. Keep it handy and backup your computer about once a week. If you need help getting this process setup, let us know!
Install Virus Protection
If you’re switching to a PC from a Mac this may be new to you, but you need to protect your computer from viruses. Install a qualified antivirus software to keep bugs away from your personal data. We recommend Avast.
Scan for Spyware
PCs are also susceptible to spyware. Installing a qualified spyware scanner helps keep your personal information protected from bots. It will also help keep internet browsing free from pop-up adds. We recommend Malwarebytes Anti-Malware.
Be Prepared for Updates
One tricky thing about Windows is that you can’t delay your operating system updates, Windows will run them automatically. This can be frustrating to new PC users, but it’s highly beneficial. New updates keep your computer running well and more secure from viruses. Be prepared to occasionally be twiddling your thumbs waiting for updates to install.
Keep it Clean
We’ve already touched on keeping the “inside” of your computer clean with antivirus and antispyware programs, but it’s important to keep the outside clean too. For starters this means keeping food and drink at a distance. For in depth instructions about cleaning the outside of your computer, check out this article.
One way to make your PC experience great is by embracing the use of keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts will help you navigate your machine and so much more. It can feel overwhelming at first but soon you’ll wonder how you ever lived without keyboard shortcuts. Here’s a pretty exhaustive list of PC keyboard shortcuts.
Have fun with your new computer. If you have any concerns getting your new machine setup or getting any software installed, come on in. We’d love to help.
If you’re like most computer users you spend a majority of your time in your internet browser. As a Mac owner your device came with Safari installed, but is it really the best browser for you? Is there a browser out there that performs better?
Here are the top 3 browsers for mac users:
As a default browser on all Apple devices this browser often gets overlooked. In the past few years, Apple has stopped providing updates to the browser for Windows so in the PC world it’s been totally forgotten. However, that doesn’t exclude it from the running when it comes to Macs.
When you put Safari up against other browsers on a Mac, Safari will win for speed time and again. If speed is your goal then look no further than your pre installed option. Safari also offers unique features such as Reading List, where you can save links to read later, Shared Links, to monitor social media updates and Pinned Tabs, so you can keep important sites easily accessible.
We bet you thought this one would be listed first, right? Google Chrome is a powerhouse when it comes to functionality, but on a Mac it doesn’t compete with Safari for speed -- not to mention the amount of RAM and battery life it uses. Despite these few cons, Chrome is still a recommended browser, especially for Google product users (i.e. Gmail, GSuite, Google Docs).
While Safari has a few built in tools, Chrome beats them every time with its library of extensions. You can find an extension to do almost anything, from signing PDFs to creating collages and cards. For those who like things customized, Chrome is the winner. The Chrome browser can be made as robust or as simple as you would like.
If Chrome’s RAM and power draw have you down, look into Opera. This browser gives you the flexibility of Chrome with the speed and efficiency of Safari. Opera uses more resources than Safari, but fewer than Chrome. You can also use almost all the extensions you love on Chrome on Opera with the Download Chrome Extension tool.
Opera also has a unique bookmark display. Instead of a list Opera uses an easy to browse visual grid in its place. Additionally, you’ll gain flexibility with tabs. This browser allows you to clone, pin and group tabs into a speed dial menu so you can save time and keep your necessary sites nearby.
There isn’t really a wrong answer when it comes to these three browsers, it just comes down to what works for you. If you need help picking or installing a browser, come into the store today. We’d love to help.
The computer world is full of options. When you start looking at the details of RAM, processors, graphics card, displays and hard drives it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The good news is there are some easy ways to decide what you need and what you can leave behind to meet your needs. Let’s talk details and work to find you the best PC for you.
Find the best computer for you with these tips:
Select a System Type
The basic systems on the market today are a netbook, tablet, laptop or desktop. Most people will fall into the laptop range as they offer the most flexibility without sacrificing too much RAM or hard drive space. A netbook is a good option if all you need is web browsing, but you’ll be sacrificing hard drive space and will need to store everything in the cloud. A desktop will provide the most power, but you lose the flexibility of a laptop. Everyone has their own preferences and you have to pick what’s right for you.
Decide on RAM
There is no universal answer the how much RAM you need as it depends on your intended use. For most average users you likely won’t need more than 4GB of RAM for general word processing and internet browsing. If you want to play it safe grab a PC with 8GB or higher. Your budget will constrict this decision. If you’re looking for a gaming PC or a video editing computer, you want 16 GB or more of RAM, or a PC with adjustable RAM.
Pick a Processor
In simple terms the processor is the brain of the machine. If you want have a fast computer that stays fast, then you want the strongest processor available. There are two main components of a processor: the number of cores and the speed in Gigahertz (GHz). The bigger the numbers, the faster the computer. For example, a single core 2GHz processor won’t be as fast as a double core 4 GHz processor. Make a decision about how big of a processor to get based on how you intend to use the computer.
Buying a new computer can be confusing for even the most knowledgeable of people. With so many options on the market it’s easy to feel the pressure to go big or go home, but that’s not always the case. There are a wide range of computers on the market that are all good for different uses, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit.
If you’re in the market for a new PC give us a call today and we’ll walk you through the specs we recommend for your needs. If you’re struggling with an old computer, bring it by the shop to see if we can give it new life.
MacOS High Sierra and it’s supplemental bug fixes are out and ready for use. If you haven’t updated your Apple computer yet then now may be the time. Before downloading the update there are a couple steps to complete first.
Backup Your Computer
Backing up your computer sounds time consuming, but Apple makes the process simple. A backup is always recommended when doing major updates on your computer. It’s better to be safe than sorry. With a Mac, you can either use Apple’s Time Capsule which can wirelessly backup your computer through the pre-downloaded software Time Machine or use a Mac compatible external hard drive. When using an external hard drive you have the option to either just save a copy of crucial documents onto the hard drive or use it as a “Time Machine” that will create a complete backup of everything on your computer.
Some older Mac computers are unable to update to macOS High Sierra due to hardware limitations. Your Mac needs at least 2GB of RAM to run High Sierra, but this shouldn’t be a problem because all supported Mac models have at least 4GB of RAM. You will need to verify the compatibility of your software with High Sierra, for instance Microsoft Office 2011 will no longer be supported. Here are the computers that are compatible with the new update:
Free Up Space
Updates require a lot of space to perform. Apple reports the update to High Sierra requires 14.3 GB of available space to install. In the end the update will use 4.8 GB of memory. One of the easiest ways to get this space on your computer is to delete old photos and files by transferring them an external storage solution. If you aren’t too strapped on space, however, you can try easier methods such as clearing your browsing cache, cleaning out junk files or using a program such as CCleaner to do the grunt work for you.
Download and Install
Now that you’ve prepared your computer, it’s time to install the software update. Updating is easier than ever and you can find macOS High Sierra in the Mac App Store. The steps to downloading and installing the update are simple .
Updating your computer can feel overwhelming. A lot can go wrong and you end up with a new platform to learn. If you have trouble installing macOS High Sierra or don’t want to do it on your own, come in to see us and we can help you out. If you’ve already made the switch and need to learn about the new features, give us a call!
Laptops are incredibly versatile and mobile. They make for great work and school computers but the problem is there are just so many different choices. With a crowded market of laptop computers, how can you decide which one is best for you? First you need to understand your options so you can make an informed decision.
Here are 5 options to consider when selecting a new laptop:
The most important thing to consider first is price. Setting your budget will be a large part of determining other options for your laptop. A small budget will quickly narrow down your laptop options whereas a large budget will leave most doors open. If you are on a budget try looking at refurbished computers or older models.
Operating system and price are two of the first decisions you need to make. If you decide you want to run with a Mac then you will narrow your choices down to about 3, but if you want to run windows you have a wide selection to choose from. Before you hit the market do you research on operating systems for laptops to find what will work best for you and fit in your budget. Operating systems have become quite similar and it’s often best to stick with what you know.
Laptops range from light and portable with a 10” screen to heavier with up to a 20” screen. Generally speaking smaller laptops will have less power and be more budget friendly, but the gap between portability and power is shrinking. A bigger screen will give you more room for spreadsheets and streaming, while a smaller screen is easier to throw into a messenger bag and head out the door. Ask yourself how important portability is to you.
If you plan to be working on the go you don’t want to spend half your time searching for an outlet. Generally you want at least 7 hours of endurance for portable work, such as working from your couch or on the go. Over 8 hours is ideal. Don’t take the manufacturers word on battery life and seek out third party reviews to give you an objective opinion of the battery life.
The central processing unit, or CPU or simply processor, is the brains of your laptop and controls the calculations streaming through the circuitry. Intel and AMD are the most common processors. The size and capability of a processor is measured in gigahertz (GHz). The more GHz, the faster your laptop will think. Multiple cores means your computer will be able to do more thinking at one time.
Buying a new laptop can be fun and exciting but also very stressful. If you need help finding the right machine for you give us a call. If you have a new machine and you need help setting it up, then stop on by, we would love to help.
We’ve talked a lot about digital security, but cybercriminals can be sneaky and have been accessing public phone directories to reach out to Microsoft users to try to scam information from them. They are smart and may have additional information about you and will often guess which operating system you are using. It may seem convincing, but don’t be too quick to trust.
Recent months have shown an uptick in scam phone calls pretending to be from Microsoft. These scammers can convince you to give them access to your computer, sell you software and take your information. It’s important to know what to look for to keep yourself protected.
Here are 3 ways to protect yourself from a scam phone call:
Know what to look for
Scammers are relatively predictable. This works in your favor because you’ll be able to learn their tricks. If you know what they are likely to say then you’ll be more protected from being convinced to give them any information.
Scammers often claim to be from:
As soon as you know a caller is claiming to be with anything related to Microsoft, gather information so you are able to report the caller and work to end the call quickly.
Here are some of the things Microsoft will ask for when you report a scammer:
Do your best to gather as much as possible, but be sure and report whatever you are able to gather.
Never make a purchase from an inbound call
Many scammers try to use scare tactics to win you over to their side. They commonly call pretending to be from Microsoft and inform you a virus on your computer. After they convince you of the danger your computer (and information) is in they will try to sell you on their product or service. There are many different scams but they are often trying to sell you on an extended warranty, virus removal or any number of helpful sounding products.
As a good rule of thumb, if someone is calling you offering you a service for your computer, say no. You can reach out to a professional to have them assess your computer for any viruses or other problems.
Microsoft doesn’t make calls
At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember is that Microsoft doesn’t make calls. They sell computers and it’s up to you to manage your device. They won’t be calling to tell you your computer is running slow or that you have a virus.
The scammers are trying to win your trust by using a well known name and offering to help solve your computer problems. If you get a call, collect information so you can report them and hang up. Do not provide the callers with any personal information, make any purchases from them or let them connect to your computer. Treat any unsolicited call with extreme skepticism.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam call...
There are steps you can take if you believe you have downloaded malware from a tech support scam. Here is how you can protect yourself even after you have been the victim of a scam call:
If you’re concerned about the security of your computer after interacting with a spam caller, bring your computer in today. We can scan for viruses and malware and help you protect your information.
Apple Safari is a powerful and secure browser that comes standard on all Apple products. With Internet speeds continually increasing, it’s easy to get frustrated when your browser starts running slow. While Safari is a powerful browser, it isn’t the fastest and can get bogged down easily. When this happens it’s important to keep a few tricks up your sleeve to get your speed back.
Here are 5 ways to help boost the speed of Safari:
Clear Your History and Cache
The data Safari stores takes up a great deal of memory and often contributes to slowing things down. Luckily, clearing your history and cache is an easy project that can make a big difference. Here’s how to clear out this data:
Extensions can help improve your browsing experience by saving your passwords, checking your grammar or translating words. Unfortunately they can often be buggy because they are third-party add-ons and aren’t always regularly updated. You need to remove the buggy extension, but first you need to find out which one is causing trouble. Here’s how:
The autofill feature of a browser makes navigating the internet much faster, until it starts to slow down your browser. Safari autofill can store your address, credit card info and much more, but if you don’t keep it cleaned out it can start to bog down your browsing experience. Here’s how to clean out your autofill data:
While outdated, some websites still require Flash and java to play video or animated content. These plugins may be the cause of Safari’s slow speed. If you frequent websites that require Flash and Java and aren’t able to remove these plugins, check to see if they need updating.
Visit the Adobe’s website to find the latest version of Flash. This page will identify the version you are running and tell you if you need to update it.
For Java, visit Oracle’s website. Here you will be able to confirm the version of Java you are running and receive instructions if it’s time to update.
Sometimes despite your best cleaning efforts, Safari still isn’t running at the speed you need. If this is the case, it may be time to give Safari a full reset and get a fresh start. This will remove all of your customizations, so hopefully it doesn’t come to this. If you feel this is what your browser needs, here’s how to do it:
If you are still experiencing speed issues with Safari there may be other problems. Give us a call or bring your computer by today to get a diagnosis.
Welcome to the world of the Mac. Whether you were a PC expert or intermediate user, making the switch to a Mac can make you feel like a complete computer newbie. You may not recognize some of the keys, the windows don’t always fit the screen size and the mouse or trackpad only has one button. While it can feel overwhelming in the beginning, with a bit of playing around and a few tips you can be a Mac pro in no time.
Here are 7 tips all new Mac users need to know:
While PCs generally have a straight forward right or “secondary” click on the mice and trackpads, Macs are a bit different. You are able to customize your secondary click option on your trackpad. Visit System Preferences → Trackpad and set the secondary click settings to whatever makes sense for you. It may feel weird at first but play around with the different settings to see what secondary click works best. You can also buy a third party mouse to connect to your desktop or laptop with a traditional right click to keep things simple.
The Finder feature on your Mac is kind of like home base. On a PC you probably used similar windows to view and search for files. The Mac Finder is the same idea, but better. If you need to hunt something down, be it a file or an application, start here. Click on the Finder icon to open a window. Once it is open, you can search your whole computer for a file or go to the applications folder to open an application. You will become very familiar with this feature of your new computer and learn to love it.
Say goodbye to the Control Panel you are familiar with and hello to System Preferences. Navigate to System Preferences either through the Applications Folder in your Finder or the Apple at the left top of your display. System preferences gives you control over things like your displays, mouse and keyboard. You can even search in the top right corner of the System Preferences window for what you’re looking for to save time. System Preferences is also where you can customize your computer by changing settings. Take a few minutes to get to know your computer and set everything to your liking.
Command Key (⌘)
Macs are full of keyboard shortcuts to help you navigate faster. Most of these start with the command key (⌘). Instead of a PC’s control + V to copy text, you will use command + V. Basically anything you are used to using the control key for you will most likely be using the command key instead. Since this key is in a different place on the keyboard and there’s still a control key, it may take a few days for your fingers to get used to it, but as with most things after much repetition it will become second nature to reach for the command key. Here’s an exhaustive list of the keyboard shortcuts for your Mac.
Close Windows and Applications
On a PC, the button to close out of a program is a red X at the top right corner. On a Mac, this button is just a red dot at the top left corner. This button closes just a window of the program and not the program as a whole, which can be a learning curve for many new Mac users. To close down the whole program you have to go to File → Close. To make navigating your programs easier, try using keyboard shortcuts instead. To close a window use command (⌘) + W. To close a whole program use command (⌘) + Q
The Dock of the Mac is another home base for you to easily access your applications. You can customize the location of the Dock in System Preferences. Many Mac users keep their docks hidden to maximize screen space. When you scroll to the section of the screen it is located in, it will appear. Easily add applications you use frequently to the Dock for quick access by right clicking on the icon while the program is running and selecting Options → Keep in Dock. Click, hold and drag application icons in the dock to rearrange.
Command (⌘) + Option + Esc
If your computer gets overwhelmed and freezes your instinct may be to go hit Control-Alt-Delete but this trick won’t work on a Mac. Instead use Command + Option + Esc to open the Force Quit Applications window. Here you can see the programs that aren’t responding and force quit them to try to resolve the problem.
You’re now well on your way to becoming a Mac expert. If you have any other questions, contact us today for help.
When we think of computer health it’s easy to think only of software updates and antivirus scans. But, your computer is not only the software it runs but the hardware it is built from. It’s important to take care of your computer inside and out to keep it running well.
About once a month, more if you live a dusty climate, you need to dust your the exterior of your computer. This is an easy chore and one you shouldn’t neglect. Keeping dust away from the outside of your computer will prevent it from getting inside your computer and damaging the hardware.
For a desktop, power the computer down. Use short bursts of canned air to remove dust from the inside of your case, keyboard and mouse. Use a microfiber cloth to wipe down your monitor, screen and the rest of your case
For a laptop, turn it off and unplug it. If you are able to, remove the battery. Use canned air or a computer cleaning putty to pull dust out from around the keys and in the ports. You need to be careful to not blow dust INSIDE the computer. Use a microfiber cloth to clean the case and the screen.
Keep Food and Drink Away
Food is full of crumbs and grease -- both things you do not want on your computer. Drinks are well, liquid, which can be fatal to your computer if it spills. Since you spend a lot of time at the computer we understand how hard it is to keep food and drink away, but it’s important to keeping your computer healthy and kicking for as long as possible. One slip and your computer is toast. If you do need to eat or drink near your computer, keep it off to side where a stray hand is unlikely to cause a spill and use a lot of napkins. If you do find yourself in the midst of a liquid emergency, here are a few tips to keep the damage to a minimum.
Use a Protective Case
This rule only applies to laptops, but it’s an important one. If you are toting your laptop with you from work to home or out to coffee shops it needs to be protected. Use a backpack with a laptop sleeve inside to keep it away from all the other items you are carrying, or use a padded laptop sleeve to cover it before putting it in your bag. The most ideal solution is to use a separate computer bag all together to prevent accidental damage from books, foods, liquids or cords.
So you’ve developed the habit of dusting the outside of your computer regularly, now it’s time to dive a bit deeper. About every six months, open up your desktop and clean out all the dust. No matter how clean you keep the outside, dust is going to sneak in and harm your computer’s performance. This can be more complicated and working with a professional team like us is often the smart way to go.
If you decide to do it yourself, unplug every cable, accessory and add on devices from your computer. Open the computer up and use a microfiber cloth to wipe down all exposed surfaces. Use canned air to tackle the motherboard, GPU and fan blades. Use alcohol wipes to clean off grime on any stubborn spots.
Do a Monthly Cleanse
No matter how well you care for the hardware of the computer the software still needs some regular love. Once a month you need to do a cleanse. Sort through your files and remove anything old or outdated. Move them to an external hard drive or the cloud for safe keeping if you don’t want to delete them. Run a scan on your antivirus and anti-malware programs to see if anything nasty is lurking on your computer. Then, run any legitimate OS or software updates and you’re good to go!
Taking care of your computer, outside and in, will help it live a long and productive life. If you need a professional to clean the inside of your computer, run updates or wipe viruses, we’re here for you, stop by today!