November 21st, 2013
A laptop can be an expensive investment. On average, consumers expect to get at least three years out of their laptop before it either breaks down or becomes outdated. With that in mind, Adam Dachis of Lifehacker, published some factors and stats to consider before you make your next laptop purchase.
- How likely is it to break?
The last thing you want when you buy a laptop is for it to breakdown within a few months. A 2012 study addressed this concern to find what brands manufacture the most trustworthy laptops. Over the three year span the study covered, Asus computers broke the least, but that was still more than 15-percent of their laptops. Toshiba also performed well, while HP and Gateway computers were found at the bottom of the list. In fact, one out of every four HP laptops failed in less than three years.
A good experience with a laptop isn’t entirely centered on the performance of the machine itself. The time will likely come when you need some tech support, so you should consider what company provides the best service. Consumer Reports credits Apple with far and away the best tech support. Combined with reliability, that makes Apple products the best bet, followed by Asus. Acer/Gateway scored the worst in tech support, while scores for Sony were unavailable.
Sheer numbers don’t tell the whole story. While the statistics seem to suggest that Gateway and HP offer inferior products, they could still produce individual models that outperform industry leaders Apple and Asus. Be sure to check user reviews and pay attention to more than just the number of stars. If you have specific questions or concerns about a laptop, or need it to perform certain functions, look through reviews to find other users similar to you. Remember that most manufacturers make different laptops for different budgets. Just because one brand’s budget laptops are notoriously untrustworthy doesn’t mean their top of the line model isn’t worth the money.
By putting in some time to do the proper research before you buy, you can save yourself money and frustration later. Eventually, every computer encounters problems, however. When that happens, bring your device to Geek Rescue, or call us at 918-369-4335.
November 19th, 2013
Recently, we talked about how to get the most out of OS X Mavericks, the newest operating system for Mac. There are plenty of tips for PC users too. Whitson Gordon, of Lifehacker, published a list of tips for Windows Explorer to help you organize and navigate your files and folders more efficiently.
- Change the way files are sorted
If you’ve spent much time using Windows Explorer you’ve probably noticed that there are a few different options for how to sort files and folders. If you know where to look, you can customize each folder to display exactly how you want it. While in a folder, click the ‘View’ tab and you’ll be rewarded with plenty of options. To set one as the default, rather than just a one-time change, go to ‘Options’ and ‘Change folder and search options’ from the ‘View’ tab. Then, from the open menu, select the ‘View’ tab and choose ‘Apply to folders’. This will make it a universal change for each folder in Explorer.
To select multiple files at once, you can always hold ‘Control’ while clicking them. But, all of your selections will be lost once you click without first pressing ‘Control’. That can get frustrating. Instead, use a little known Explorer feature. Go to the ‘View’ tab and select the ‘Item Checkboxes’ box. Now, hovering over a file will reveal a small box to the left of the file name that can be checked to select.
There are a few shortcuts you can take in Explorer if you know the right combination of keys to press. This saves time and eliminates the need to go hunting through menu options. Here are some of the most useful.
‘Windows’ key and ‘E’ launches Explorer.
‘Alt’ and ‘D’ or ‘Control’ and ‘L’ select the address bar.
‘Alt’ and ‘P’ shows or hides the preview pane.
‘Alt’ and ‘Enter’ shows the properties of the currently selected file.
- Change the starting point
Explorer comes with a default starting point you’ll see every time you open it. Depending on the version of Windows you’re using, this could be the Libraries folder, This PC folder or My Computer. If you’re constantly having to go through multiple folders to get what you want, you should consider changing Explorer’s starting point. If you’re not using Windows 8.1, you can just go to Explorer’s properties menu and change the ‘Target’ bar to the address of the folder you want to start on. In Windows 8.1, it involves creating a new, custom Explorer short-cut and a short snippet of code.
Windows Explorer is a powerful tool that allows you to quickly access any file on your PC. With these tips, it becomes easier and more efficient to use.
At Geek Rescue, we know computers. If you’re having problems with yours bring it to us, or call us at 918-369-4335. We get rid of malware or viruses, repair hardware and more.
November 13th, 2013
Apple’s OS X Mavericks features ‘Finder’, which is your primary tool for navigating the operating system. It’s not particularly jaw-dropping, or even exciting, but, as Thorin Klosowski of LifeHacker writes, it does offer a number of ways for you to be more productive and make OS X easier to use. Here are some of the most useful tips and tricks to get the most out of Finder.
A new feature in OS X is the use of tags. Any item you save, or is already saved, can have a tag added to it to help you stay organized. To manage all your tags, however, you’ll need Finder. Click on the ‘Finder’ tab at the top of the screen, then select ‘Preferences’ and ‘Tags’ from the menu. You’ll be able to delete tags, edit them, create favorites and organize them to your liking.
Finder is useful for so many jobs, you may need multiple tabs open at once. To do this, press Command+T and a new Finder tab will open. To navigate between tabs quickly, press Control+Shift and either the left or right arrow key.
By default, Finder shows your files in columns listed in alphabetical order by name, with date modified, size and kind also appearing. To add options and change the way files are sorted, go to the Finder menu, select ‘View’ and ‘Show View Options’ while you’re in a folder. Or, to change the arrangement altogether, go to ‘View’ then ‘Arrange by’.
The Finder Toolbar is highly customizable and it probably initially includes items you don’t need. To remove unused items, go to the Finder menu, select ‘View’ and ‘Customize Toolbar’. You can rearrange or remove items completely. To add items, including files, folders and apps, select the item, then Command+Click drag it to the toolbar.
These tips help you customize your Mac to make it easier to use. If you encounter problems like broken hardware, decreased performance or malware, bring your machine to Geek Rescue or call us at 918-369-4335.
October 1st, 2013
Facebook officially launched Graph Search to all users, which makes it possible to search for, well, anything that’s ever been posted on Facebook. Every comment, status update, check-in, photo and more can be turned up by a simple search. For those who have had a Facebook account for nearly a decade, you might not want people to easily be able to see what your 20 year old self was saying.
Ashley Feinberg, of Lifehacker, posted a privacy guide that let’s you lock down your old posts so they’re not available to just anyone. This way, you won’t have to go through and individually select privacy for each and every status update and comment you’ve made on Facebook.
- Click the ‘Privacy Shortcuts’ icon, which looks like a padlock in front of three lines and is located in the top right corner of any Facebook page.
- Click the ‘See More Options’ link at the bottom of the drop down menu.
- Now click ‘Limit Past Posts’, which is found on the far right about half way down.
- You’ll encounter a warning from Facebook that anyone who isn’t your friend won’t be able to see your old posts. Click ‘Limit Old Posts’.
- Facebook will again ask you if you’re sure. Click ‘Confirm’.
Just like that you’ve made it impossible for strangers to unearth your old Facebook posts. There’s still the problem of friends coming across something embarrassing you may have posted in your younger days. If you’re worried about that possibility, find the specific post by searching for it yourself, or going to the year on your timeline it occurs, if you remember of course. Then you can adjust the privacy settings for that specific post and make it visible to only you.
Privacy on any social media platform is important because cyber criminals are able to use personal information against you. What you share on Facebook helps them hack into other online accounts, or target you in a spear phishing scam.
Be careful about what you are sharing online. For help improving the security on your computer, or mobile device, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.
September 19th, 2013
Everyone is interested in the silver bullet that will magically make them completely secure and afe from any cyber threat. It doesn’t exist, but as Thorin Klosowski points out at Lifehacker, there are a number of ways to become more secure within minutes.
By far the simplest and quickest way to improve security is to enable 2 factor authentication on your online accounts. With this more secure type of log-in, you’ll be prompted for your password, but you won’t be given access to your account until you’re given a second authentication method. In many cases, you’ll be texted or called with a code to enter to prove that you are who you say you are. Once you’ve gone through this process, a hacker would need to using your computer, or have your smartphone to gain access to your account.
A password manager can be added to practically any browser and will automatically log you into accounts that have been added to it. This actually sounds less secure, but the password manager locks away all your passwords and encrypts them so they’re safe. You’ll only need to remember one master password to use the password manager. Many managers will even generate a strong, random password for each site you wish to use with it, so the only way to log in to those accounts is by having access to the password manager.
Email encryption has some headaches associated with it. Most notably, encrypted emails require a key to read, so whoever you’re sending a message to will need the key. But sending them the key over email defeats the purpose of encryption. You probably don’t need to encrypt every email you send, but messages containing information like bank accounts, social security numbers or even contact information are good candidates for encryption. Just be sure to send the encryption key through text, or in person.
Backing up your files is always a good idea, but, just like email, it’s important to encrypt files containing potentially valuable data. There are a number of services that offer encrypted back ups, but one obstacle is that usually these encrypted files won’t be available to you on another machine. That means you won’t be able to access them from your smartphone or at work.
These steps will improve your online security, but nothing is unhackable. The idea is to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to access your data and accounts. Geek Rescue specializes in improving your cyber security to keep your information safe and your devices free from malware. Give us a call at 918-369-4335 to find out how to strengthen your security.
September 3rd, 2013
If you’ve had your iPhone or iPad for over a year, chances are it’s running a little slower than it should. If so, you have two options. You can buy the newest model from Apple, or you can get the most out of your old model with a few tricks.
Whitson Gordon, of Lifehacker, suggests using some tricks to speed up your old Apple device before giving in and buying a new one.
Your favorite app might prompt you to update to the latest version, but don’t be too hasty. That latest version may have more features and demand more resources than your old device can handle. That could make your favorite app nearly unusable on your phone or tablet. If you are a couple of generations behind, apps and even the iOS updates will begin to leave your device behind. If it works well now, consider sitting the updates out.
The apps that Apple included on your device usually work best. So, while you may prefer a different internet browser, that third-party app won’t run as fast as the included Safari. This isn’t a big deal for newer devices, but if you want to milk as much speed out of an old device as you can, it helps to use the native apps.
The more storage space being used on your device, the slower it will get. You’ll even be at risk of crashes. So, clean up that storage space by deleting anything you don’t need or use. Apps you rarely use are usually the first to go. This may also mean you need to trim down your music library and find another place to store pictures and videos. It’s also a good idea to delete old text messages.
You may have decided to jailbreak your device to be able to customize it better or to gain new features, but that may also cause it to slow down over time. If you have an older device that’s gotten too sluggish, consider unjailbreaking and uninstalling all of those custom features. This may get your device back to working order.
At Geek Rescue, we fix broken devices and help to keep them running well for longer. If your device is broken, or just not working as well as it should, bring it in for a tune-up. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.
August 22nd, 2013
You’ve no doubt heard the term “retina display” but do you really understand what that means and why it’s desirable?
Retina is an Apple trademark and used for displays on the iPhone and iPad. Apple uses it to convey to consumers that anything that’s not Retina isn’t good enough.
Whitson Gordon explored this for Lifehacker. Retina is really a term that just sounds better than saying your display is good enough.
When Apple tells you your display is Retina, they’re telling you that the resolution is high enough for your screen size that you won’t be able to see individual pixels. The pixel density, or PPI, which stands for pixels per inch, doesn’t need to be as high on a small iPhone screen as it would be for an iPad or television. So, all Retina displays are not created equal.
When you’re buying an Apple device that has Retina display, however, you can be sure that you’re getting the best display needed for that device. Anything higher would be hardly noticeable and be a drain on performance.
Regardless of whether you have an Apple device or not, you can test your display to find out if it’s up to the Retina, or good enough not to see pixels, standard. Use this handy calculator to find out what the PPI is and measure it against the size of your device.
If you encounter problems with your display or any other aspect of your smartphone, tablet, mp3 player or computer, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. If it boots up or turns on, we’ve got you covered.
August 21st, 2013
The term antivirus gets used a lot, but what does it actually refer to? Do you know what you’re protected against when you install antivirus software?
Unfortunately, antivirus has become a general term for security software. Some protect you against different threats than others.
Alan Henry wrote about the specifics of antivirus and anti-malware protection in his article for Lifehacker.
The term virus specifically doesn’t cover other threats like worms, spyware or adware. Your anitvirus software, however, likely covers some of these other threats.
A virus falls under the category of malware, but that doesn’t mean anti-malware protection keeps you fully secure. Your anti-malware program may not prevent hacks and the loss of data.
It’s all confusing because of the vague language being employed. What you should know is what specifically your chosen security software protects you from. Do the research, ask questions and understand what the software does and, just as important, what it doesn’t do.
Regardless of the money spent and the research done, your security won’t be impregnable. You’ll still be susceptible to some threats. Installing two different security tools helps. One to scan your system continuously and keep out malicious threats. The other to scan from time to time to make sure nothing has gotten through that first line of defense.
Even with two measures in place, you might encounter a problem. That’s why your third security tool should be your own browsing habits. Don’t click on fishy looking links or spam email. Don’t download anything that doesn’t come from a verified, reliable source. Change passwords often and make them strong. These habits keep you away from potential problems and make your security software’s job easier.
Keeping your data secure and your PC clean is a difficult job. To ensure you are fully equipped to handle it, contact Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335. We have the security solutions you need and will advise you on safe surfing.
July 31st, 2013
We’ve become so spoiled by regularly fast internet speeds that any load time we encounter is almost unbearable. Occasionally, even your fast, usually reliable internet connection becomes a slow frustration. Lifehacker has suggestions on what to check if you find yourself not-so-patiently waiting for websites to load.
If it’s not a sudden change, but rather a continuous problem that your internet is maddeningly slow, you may be getting what you pay for. Check with your provider for how fast the internet on your plan is, then use a site like speedtest.net to see if you’re getting the speeds you were promised.
If your connection is slower than it should be, try the tried and true method of turning off hardware then restarting. You can reset your modem, router and computer to try to fix the problem. You may discover that your wireless signal is too weak if you’re on WiFi. It could be as easy as moving your router to a different spot in the house, but there are a number of possible fixes to boost your signal.
Your internet speed can be significantly slowed down by programs or plug-ins that use a large amount of bandwidth. For example, if you’re using a download manager to download multiple large files, your speed in your browser is going to suffer. There are also tools that block elements on web pages that can use up your bandwidth, but that won’t speed up your connection, only help you get the most out of it.
It’s possible that the DNS server, which your computer uses to look-up websites, is having problems. There are ways to find the fastest DNS available, but if your DNS isn’t actually encountering issues, you won’t see much improvement.
In some cases, a slow internet is just the reality you have to deal with. If there are no easy fixes available, you can choose to load versions of websites with fewer design elements so they’ll load faster.
There are plenty of ways to try to maximize your internet speed, but sometimes it’s just time to find a new provider. Be sure to do your homework before making the switch so you know you’re getting the best option for you in your area.
To learn about all of your options in fixing a slow internet connection, consult the experts at Geek Rescue. Whether there’s a problem with your computer, router, modem or another source, Geek Rescue finds it and fixes it quickly. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.
July 30th, 2013
USB flash drives are a great way to quickly store important data, which you can then transport and have with you at any time. They’re small, easy to use and generally have plenty of storage for whatever you’re using them for. You may encounter some problems, however.
Here’s a common scenario. You’re running late for a meeting, but before you leave, you have to move an important file onto your flash drive. You impatiently wait for the file to finish transferring and abruptly rip the flash drive out as you run for the door. What could possibly go wrong?
As Tessa Miller, of Lifehacker, notes “the most common reason flash drives get corrupted is impatience.” Removing the flash drive without warning, or telling your computer to ‘unmount’ it, increases your risk of corrupting the filesystem. But the progress bar said the file finished transferring, so why does this risk corruption?
It’s all about ‘write caching’, which is a way to improve system performance. When you transfer a file from your hard drive to the flash drive, it appears to be done right then, but in actuality, that request is cached and saved for later. This makes it possible for your system to move on without waiting for the transfer to be completed. So, without warning your computer that you’re removing the flash drive, you may be leaving some files in the cache, still waiting to be transferred. This causes corruption, and worse, you’ll be without the files you needed for your meeting.
To avoid corruption, unmount your flash drive from your computer so all read/writes are certain to be completed. If you should encounter any type of loss of data or file corruption, consult the pros at Geek Rescue. They are able to restore data in almost any circumstance. Geek Rescue also offers a variety of storage options for your business, in case you lose faith in that flash drive. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.