An external hard disk drive is connected to your computer through a USB or FireWire connection. Most drives have high storage capacities and can be used to backup or even run a computer. These drives can be very helpful, but they don’t come without a downside.
Here are the pros and cons of using an external hard disk drive:
One most common uses for an external hard disk drive is extra or backup storage. This is handy if you are working with large files to keep space free on your PC or Mac. You can also use an external hard disk drive to backup your computer to protect your data in the event of a hard drive crash.
You can choose to use cloud storage options for the their perceived accessibility, but you may find yourself frustrated in the event of a power outage. The cloud is widely accessible as long as you can connect to the internet. However, an external hard disk drive is accessible when you have it with you, no internet connection required.
Consider setting your computer to run an external drive as a boot drive to increase speed and performance. This is specifically true of Macs which often run slower internal drives.
External hard disk drives don’t come password protected. If you misplace your drive, anyone can plug it in and access your data. An external drive limits your level of security. Keep your drive somewhere safe to avoid data theft.
Drops and static electricity are real concerns for an external hard disk drive. External drives have less protection than your PC and can break easily if handled poorly. Use a protective case designed for drives to help protect from damage.
Newer computers, specifically laptops, have few USB ports built in. You may find yourself having to unplug other devices to plug in your external hard disk drive. Additionally, cords can be easy to lose which render your drive useless.
If you need help backing up your computer or are wanting to run it on an external hard drive, give us a call today! We’d be happy to help.
Cars and computers have one thing in common—when something goes wrong it can easily ruin your day. If you’re not a tech wizard a computer snafu can throw you into a tailspin. In reality, many PC problems can be easily troubleshooted and your day can return to it’s previously scheduled program.
Here are 5 common PC problems that you can easily troubleshoot:
Not turning on
Nothing is more frustrating than getting to the office or sitting down to watch some Netflix and discovering that your computer won’t turn on. Unfortunately, this is more common than you would expect, but it doesn’t mean your computer is lost and gone forever.
Before you throw in towel, there are a few things you can try:
● Ensure your computer is plugged in
● Try a different outlet
● Check your memory and video cards
If everything seem to be in good work order, you may have a minor hardware issue that needs professional repair.
Blue screen of death (BSOD)
You know that terrifying moment when your computer goes from trying to start up to the terrifying BSOD. It can almost stop your heart. But it’s not a guaranteed death wish for your computer.
If you have your information backed up, one of the easiest potential solution to the BSOD is to restore your computer system to its factory settings. If that’s not an option, scan for malware and update your drivers.
If you encounter the BSOD when you are trying to turn your computer on, try starting up in safe mode.
● Hold Shift and F8 upon startup
● Select See Advanced Repair Options
● Select Troubleshoot then click Advanced Options
● Click on Windows Startup Settings and select Restart
If the problem persist, give us a call.
Page not found error
This is usually not a computer problem but rather an internet problem. Often when you get this error, the solution is as simple as checking the spelling of the url you typed in. There also could have been a glitch in your internet service, so try hitting refresh to see if you can get the site to load.
If neither of those work try using a search engine to find the URL. It’s possible you just have bad information and were given the wrong website address. If you still can’t find the page then it’s likely the host has taken the page down.
DLL file missing error
A DLL file is a Dynamic Link Library. It’s a file that contains instructions that other programs read to do specific tasks. Running into a missing DLL file can be incredibly frustrating. If this error pops up, first try restarting your computer. The problem could be temporary and resolve itself.
If you’ve been cleaning up files recently, there’s a chance the missing file lives in your Recycle Bin. Browse your Recycle Bin for DLL files and restore them.
If the problem persists, try to reinstall the program. This should restore all necessary DLL files and get thing back up and running.
This could be due to hardware issues, but there are a few software issues that could be causing restarts. For instance, a new Windows update could cause your computer to automatically shutdown and restart for installation. Check to see if that could be the problem. If it appears to be cause by something else, it’s time to run a scan for viruses and malware.
If you don’t find any viruses and your computer is fully updated, it’s time to bring your computer in for a professional opinion as you may have a hardware issue on your hands.
If you run into any of these problems and you aren’t able to successfully troubleshoot, give us a call for some help! Or if the problem is urgent, bring your computer in -- we don’t ever require an appointment.
Apple’s newest operating system, macOS Sierra and the newest update OS High Sierra come with some new tools to save time and have a bit of fun.
Here are some of our favorite Mac tools:
Not a time saver by any means, but definitely a fun trick. You can use the Photos application to create fun GIFs from a live photo. Open your live photo in edit mode. From the drop down menu select Loop. Then export the photo as a GIF and you’ll be a favorite among your friends.
Do you find yourself constantly scrolling through your notes looking for the important one? Well now you can pin those important note to the top and save yourself sometime. Simply right click on the note you want at the top and choose Pin Note. While you’re there you can also password protect sensitive notes.
Siri has been available on Macs for a while now, but you might not be using her to the best of her ability. If you need to change some of your system preferences use Siri instead of searching around. For instance, you can say “increase brightness” after activating Siri to brighten your screen hands free.
Copy and Paste Across Devices
Since the release of OS Sierra, you can now use a Universal Clipboard so you can copy and paste across your devices. As long as you’re logged in using the same Apple ID on both devices, this feature will work automatically. Try hitting Control + C on your Mac and then holding down and selecting Paste on your iPhone. No more sending emails or texts to yourself.
Printing a contract, signing and then scanning it to email back is a major pain. With a Mac trackpad you can sign PDFs right in Preview. Just open the PDF and click the toolbox icon at the top right of the the toolbar. Select the signature icon and then in the window select Create Signature and ensure the trackpad option is selected. From there select the signature line and sign away.
Record Your Screen
Have you ever tried to explain how to use a program to someone and found yourself confused? Instead of typing out lists use QuickTime to record your screen. Open your QuickTime Player and from the File menu select New Movie Recording. It will try to use your built in cam but click the small arrow next to the record button to select your screen to record instead.
Save Your Battery
Instead of frantically searching for your charging cord try to run your computer more efficiently. Click on the battery icon in the top toolbar and you’ll see a menu appear. This shows you the apps that are using a significant amount of power and also allows you to adjust energy preferences. You may not be able to close all the power-draining apps, but maybe you can save yourself a bit of battery life.
If you ever need help running your Mac, give us a call. We’re available to troubleshoot over the phone or in person.
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.