Microsoft Pushing Hardware Purchases

Many computers with older processors, like certain of the Intel Atom based processors and some AMD processors have been brought into our shop for service lately. It seems that the Microsoft Creator’s update has caused issue and needs to be uninstalled. The short version is that going forward, Microsoft will not support certain model processors with these large feature updates. Microsoft has said it will continue to provide Security updates, but owners of these older PC’s will not get the benefits of the new features.

We understand progress, but in this instance is seems it’s moving too fast. It would be great to have more information ahead of time from Microsoft!

Here’s an article you might find interesting:
https://www.engadget.com/2017/07/20/microsoft-no-more-windows-10-upgrades-for-some-atom-based-pcs

BUYING a LAPTOP – Things To Consider

This is the big time of the year to purchase laptops. The Back To School sales start at the end of
June as graduates will use their “graduation money” to get new laptops for college.

I’d like to share some thoughts with you on features to look for and features to avoid.

Recommended features

  • Intel i3/i5/i7 processors. (The best all-around is the i5. The i7 is nice if you need the extra power.)
  • Minimum of 8G of memory. The more the better.
  • 500GB Hard Disk Drive or 1TB. (Solid State Drives are great but are expensive. For the price of a 1 TB HDD you’d only be able to get a 256 GB SSD.)
  • Lenovo, HP, Dell, ASUS, MSI are all good brands in my opinion.

Avoid

  • AMD Processors in Laptops. (From my experience, they’re great for speed and price but they die off fast.)
  • Intel Celeron or Pentium Processors (These have only enough power for surfing the web.)
  • Fancy colored laptops since color adds cost but not functionality.
  • Unknown brands.

When you’re looking for a new laptop it’s nice to be able to try it out, and get an idea of the quality of the laptop. Make sure you are comfortable typing on it. Are you happy with the look and size of the screen? I personally like to use 14” to 16” laptops. You might visit a box store that has many different brands on display, just to browse the inventory as you are making your decision.

Laptops to be used for BUSINESS have different concerns. You might call us for recommendations before jumping in. One point is that you’ll likely need to purchase the “pro” version of the operating system which will increase the price. We can also source or recommend some business model brands that will be more rugged.

Lastly, I’d like to share with you what you might expect once you purchase your new laptop and turn it on for the first time.

You’ll be greeted by “a ton of” programs you don’t need, we call this “bloatware”, and many programs or icons or answers to pop-questions you are not sure about, not to mention the seemingly endless updates that will be pushed down by Microsoft to the operating system. The easiest way to deal with this, might be… “Not” to deal with it! Bring the laptop top us. We can remove the bloatware and get the system tuned up and running for you. We’ll also make sure all the drivers are up to date and the virus protection is up to date. We can also transfer data from your old PC to the new one. The worst thing is getting a new laptop then having to spend a day updating it and making sure it is running correctly and smoothly.
Stop by or Call us – We are able to help!

Protect your Home or Business Router from Outside Hackers!

In this day and age of cyber threats, you have to be proactive when it comes to network security. If you are not, anyone can gain access to your Home or Business Network. Currently, the big issue is with Linksys Home and Small Business Wi-Fi routers. This security issue affects 2 of the biggest lines of Linksys products: their “WRT” Series and also their “EA” Series. The current issue with these routers is that hackers have access to a back door and can then bypass authentication and execute code and change all network settings. In other words, they can take over the whole router. This would allow total control of your network and allow them access to any PC within the network.

There are a few ways to fix your network affected with these issues. Make sure your Default Admin login and password are changed. Disable Guest Wi-Fi networks and also to make sure to update the Firmware of your hardware.

If you’re unsure how to proceed we can help you configure your home or business network. It’ll give you the piece of mind that your network is not going to be accessed from the outside. We would also setup the network to have the best range for you in your house. This might help with dead spots and areas where the Wi-Fi will not reach. Feel free to give us a ring at our office at 412-429-3230
For more info regarding the issue with the Linksys devices please check here.
www.linksys.com/us/support-article?articleNum=246427

Windows 10 Creators Update – Be on the Lookout!

Beginning April 11th Microsoft will begin rolling out the “Windows 10 Creators Update” to all PC’s with Windows 10 installed.

This update has some new amazing features, but as with any major update the installation process can be less than ideal. There can be issues of the update “not liking” your PC, or for one reason or another your computer locking up in the process. I am sure we will be seeing and hearing some horror stories after the release.

How can you increase your chance of having a smooth transition? Before installing these big updates it is always good to make sure your system is free of viruses, malware and bloatware, be sure that all secondary software is up to date, and that your system and important data are backed up. Hopefully, the transition will go smoothly, and if it doesn’t you’ll have a backup copy to revert to.

The Update will come in waves like the last big Windows 10 update in 2016.
The Windows 10 Creators Update has something for everyone, but most of the features are for Artist and Video gamers. I have broken down a list of some of the features we know are being released. There will be tons more.

Here are some of updates that will be in Windows 10 Creator Update.

  • 3D Design for VR and 3D Printers
  • VR Headsets for Augmented Reality
  • Night Light setting (Sets display to warmer colors to help eyes)
  • Game mode & Game Settings
  • Game broadcasting for Windows 10 and Xbox One
  • Microsoft Edge Improvements
  • New Cortana Features
  • More Control over Windows Update
  • Changes to Privacy Settings
  • Storage Sense (Automatically frees up disk space, Deletes Temp, Etc.)
  • Windows Defender Interface. (Complete upgrade)

There is much more that is included with the Windows 10 Creators Update. We have included a link below which will go into much more detail: www.howtogeek.com

Ideally keep your computer “tuned-up”, virus, bloatware and malware free, and be sure you have a current backup of your data. We can help ensure your PC is optimized and increase the likelihood of a smooth transition through the Windows 10 Creators Update. Give us a call 412-429-3230!

A Spring Cleanup Like No Other !

2017 Spring is around the corner and the “Spring Cleaning” we do around the house should also apply to our Computers!

A Spring Tune Up on your PC will help “bring it back to life” so it operates more efficiently. Our process is different than the other guys; we don’t just run one scan and send it back to you. We have multiple processes to ensure the system is free of infections, malware, redundant files and programs. We make sure software updates are current for your Windows operating system as well as other programs that you run. We dust out the fans, visually inspect the components, and clean up temp files.

In the end, your system will be running as quickly as possible. We’ll have put the “spring back in its step”!

Here is a list of items we address:

  • Scan for and Remove any Viruses / Malware
  • Remove Malicious Browser Add-Ons & Extensions
  • Hard Drive Test
  • Blow Dust Out of Machine
  • Visually Check Internal Components for Problems
  • Delete all Temp Files
  • Delete Cookies
  • Cleanup Registry Problems
  • Cleanup Issues in User Directories
  • Cleanup Unnecessary Startup Entries
  • Remove Malicious Browser Add-Ons & Extensions
  • Remove Unnecessary Toolbars
  • Remove Unnecessary / Outdated Programs
  • Defrag Hard Drive if Needed
  • Updates (Adobe, Java, etc.)
  • Windows Updates
  • Security Software Updates

Much more but we are not going to give away all of our Secrets!

Give us a call, or stop in!

HACKERS getting more Sophisticated with MAC’s

Until recently it was rare to see a MAC system infected with Malware or Viruses – today it’s not so rare.
With a greater percentage of consumers using MAC OS products like iPads and iPhones hackers have turned their focus to the ready market.

There are a few ways to avoid hackers scams. The first and most important is to make sure you are downloading your software exclusively from the Apple Store, and then of course, always be careful what you click on, and which sites you are browsing.
If you suspect your device is infected, you’ll want to waste no time changing passwords on your accounts and verifying that they have not been hijacked.

The most current issues with Malware on the MAC OS are documented in this link: www.macrumors.com/2017/02/14/xagent-malware-targets-macs/

If you think your Mac is infected or has issues, please do feel free to give us a call for a service quote.

The “Internet of Things”

Today we live in a world where Home Technology is connected to the Internet, this includes Thermostats, Webcams, Smart TVs and many other devices. These devices are part of the Internet of Things also called ioT devices. These devices do cause an issue with personal security at the home level. Users get devices and are excited to get them plugged in and running and never change the default user name and password. This is the first and biggest way to stop and prevent your devices from getting hijacked. Here is some great info on one of the largest botnet attacks from 2016 using mostly ioT Devices. In this article you will see ways you can improve and secure your ioT devices.
http://www.welivesecurity.com/2016/10/24/10-things-know-october-21-iot-ddos-attacks/

Bob’s Corner: 5 privacy settings to change in Windows 10

Below is an interesting article from CNET that I came across.  It identifies settings in WIN10 that help keep your information private – from not letting Cortana “get to know you,” to turning off your advertising ID.

Taking back the operating system, one privacy setting at a time…

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal mugshot  by  October 13, 201612:10 PM PDT

Windows 10 is running on over 400 million devices, but it still has all sorts of privacy issues — including mandatory diagnostic and usage data reporting to Microsoft, and a troubling amount of ads sprinkled throughout the platform.

Not all of Windows 10’s problems can be fixed, but there are some things you can do to reclaim your privacy. Here are five privacy-related settings you can change for a less invasive and more secure Windows 10 experience.

Stop Cortana from getting to know you

In order for Cortana to be the best virtual personal assistant ever, she’ll ask you early on if she can “get to know you” through the way you interact with your device — namely, your speech, handwriting and typing patterns. The “getting to know you” feature also allows Windows 10 to collect other information about you, including your calendar, contacts, location and browsing history, according to Microsoft’s privacy statement.

You can stop Cortana from “getting to know you.” If you do this, you will not be able to use voice dictation to speak to Cortana, and all personal information that Cortana has collected will be cleared.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To turn this off, open the Settings menu and go to Speech, inking, & typing. Under Getting to know you, click Stop getting to know me. This will turn off dictation and will clear any collected information from your device. You can also clear your collected information from Cortana’s settings menu, underChange what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.

Turn off your location

If you’re using a mobile device, such as a tablet or a laptop, there are plenty of times when allowing Windows 10 and third-party apps to access your location is convenient. But that doesn’t mean that you should leave your location switched on at all times. When your location is switched on, Windows 10 stores your device’s location history for up to 24 hours and allows apps with location permission to access that data.

If you turn your location off, apps that use your location (such as the Maps app) will not be able to find you. However, you can manually set a default location that apps can use as a stand-in.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To turn off your location, open the Settings menu and go to Location . You can either turn off location for all users (under Location for this device is on > Change ), or you can turn off location services for your account (under Location service). In this menu, you can also clear your Location history , and allow certain apps to see (or not see) your exact location. Apps in the location list will have a note if they use location history data.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

 

To quickly toggle your location services on and off, open the Action center; the Location switch will be in the quick settings (possibly below the break).

Stop syncing

There’s a lot of syncing going on in Windows 10. If you sign in with a Microsoft account, your settings — including passwords — may be synced across other devices you sign into with the same account. Your notifications may also be synced across devices.

If you turn off syncing, your settings and passwords will not be synced across other devices when you sign in with your Microsoft account (so you’ll need to do things like enter passwords in manually).

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To turn off settings syncing, open the Settings menu and go to Accounts > Sync your settings. You can either turn off all setting syncing at once, or you can toggle individual sync settings off.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

To turn off notification syncing, open Cortana and go to Settings > Send notifications between devices. You can turn this off to turn off all notifications syncing, and you can also click Edit sync settings to manage your different signed-in devices.

Lock down your lock screen

The lock screen is the first thing anyone sees when they open up your device, and this screen can have a lot of information that you might not want strangers to access.

Here are three things you need to do to lock down your lock and log-in screens:

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Make sure your notifications aren’t appearing on the lock screen. Open the Settings menu and go toSystem > Notifications & actions and turn off Show notifications on the lock screen. The downside to turning this feature off is that you won’t be able to see any notifications until you unlock your device.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Turn off Cortana on the lock screen by opening Cortana and going to Settings > Use Cortana even when my device is locked. The downside to turning this feature off is that you won’t be able to use Cortana while your device is locked.

You can also limit her scope on the lock screen (instead of turning her off completely) by unchecking the box next to Let Cortana access my calendar, email, messages and Power BI when my device is locked. This way, you’ll still be able to ask Cortana to answer questions that don’t reveal any personal information while your device is locked.

Sarah Jacobsson Purewal/CNET

Hide your email address on the log-in screen by opening the Settings menu and going to Accounts > Sign-in options > Privacy. Turn off the toggle under Show account details (e.g. email address) on sign-in screen. There’s pretty much no downside to turning this feature off, unless you really like seeing your email address.

Turn off your advertising ID

Each Microsoft account has a unique advertising ID that lets Microsoft collect information about you and deliver a personalized ad experience across platforms. If you sign into Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, those personalized ads will follow you onto your computer — you’ll see them in apps and possibly in the operating system itself (e.g., in the Start menu).

To turn these ads off in Windows 10, open the Settings menu and go to Privacy > General > Let apps use my advertising ID for experiences across apps (turning this off will reset your ID) and turn this off. You’ll still see ads, but they won’t be personalized to your tastes and preferences.

Turning this feature off will prevent personalized ads from popping up in your Windows 10 experience, but won’t necessarily keep you from seeing personalized ads when you’re using your Microsoft account on other platforms. To get rid of ads on other platforms, such as in browsers, head to Microsoft’s advertising opt-out page.

www.cnet.com

Bob’s Corner: A Custom Built PC – Why it’s Better!

You hear about all the deals you can get at the box stores like Best Buy, Sam’s Club, and etc.

Are those deals the best fit for your computing needs? Maybe not!!

When your purchase a computer from one of the box stores it will have a lot of software preinstalled for which software vendors have paid a premium to be included and advertise to you. The operating system may not be compatible with your needs, and especially not so if you use the PC for business purposes.   When you unbox the PC, you’ll have to wait and process the many operating system, anti-virus and driver updates that have been released since the manufacturer put it into that box.

The hardware components are chosen to meet a price point rather than for their quality. Many of the brands have proprietary parts that are not conveniently or economically replaced.  If you run into problems down the road, you’ll be stuck on the phone with a support department from who knows where.  For hardware repairs, you’ll be packing and shipping that PC and waiting weeks for its return.  Alternatively you’ll be dropping it off at the service desk at that box store where technicians are trained to wipe your data and reload the operating system rather than taking care to save your data and settings.

 

When you purchase an ACT System Custom Built PC you can be assured it will meet all of your current needs and be expandable into the future. We will customize the system to the processing speed, size of hard drive, network connection, and video card (for video, gaming, or to support multiple monitors).  We’ll help you choose the most appropriate operating system for the programs you wish to run, and help you choose the best anti-virus program (many are free).   When you get home and turn your computer on, you’ll not be distracted by advertising bloatware.  Your PC will be ready to use with all system updates as current as possible, and you’ll be able to get down to serious computing.

One of the best things about purchasing from Answer Computer is that you get personal service and you know exactly who you are dealing with. In the future, if you have a problem you don’t have to be on the phone for hours to trouble shoot your problem.  You call us and we work to solve your issue as quickly as possible.  In the event that hardware needs to be replaced we carry parts right here at our local shop.  We make every effort to save your data and settings, and we can get you up and running quickly.

 

If you’re looking for a new system whether you are a business, home user, or a gamer, we’re here to help you design a system that respects your budget and meets your needs now and into the future.

Stop in or give us a call at 412-429-3230.