PUPs – Cute name, disastrous results

You may never have heard of PUPs in relation to computers. PUP stands for Potentially Unwanted Program, and is considered a form of malware. While they are not quite the same thing as standard viruses, they’re still not a good thing and as always, once one baddie gets in the door, they often weaken it for more “friends” later. This is not a good thing. PUPs are those programs that scoot in almost completely unannounced through downloads, usually as software bundles. Once installed, they will usually start harassing users pretty aggressively about one thing or another: your memory is low, you have outdated drivers that need to be fixed immediately, your system is insecure, etc. etc. (and as you might have guessed, these are all false and they want money to “fix” said problems). They may also start hijacking your browser to give you funny search engines, ads galore, and redirect you to websites you didn’t ask for. Sadly, even Macs are no longer immune from this problem. PUPs can be hard to catch before the fact, and even harder to remove after the fact, so I have a couple of recommendations to keep these things off your system. My number one recommendation is to use Chrome with Adblock exclusively (here’s why I recommend Chrome over other browsers!). This particular combination will fend off a lot of unwanted drive-by installs. After that, I recommend fine-tuning your antivirus to actively look for PUPs in its sensitivity settings. Finally, I highly recommend installing a little program called Unchecky. This small program runs in the background, making sure that nothing tries to slip in when you’re installing something downloaded from the internet. It does a great job, and it’s free! If you think you might already have some of these pests on your system, give us a call and we can get everything all cleaned up for you.

Simple Wifi Tips

Did you know moving your router even a few inches can make a big difference in your signal? If you’ve noticed a particular device on your network is always getting a bad signal, you might try moving your router a little – sometimes this is all it takes to change the signal to broadcast in a slightly different pattern around your house. Other things you can do are making sure it’s not buried under other devices (which can shorten their lives due to heat), sitting next to a phone or microwave, or on the floor. (You’ll generally get better reception if the router is on a desk instead of the floor). Putting the router on a metal desk or up against a metal wall can cause problems as well. Signals can easily travel through a wood desk, but metal can cause obstruction, as can heavy, thick walls. Also, we recommend moving the antennas, if it has any, to the straight up position. If none of this helps there may be other factors at play, like your neighbor’s wifi signals. We can have a look and see what kind of culprits might be messing with your wifi, and get you back up to speed!

Recovery Discs – Your Safety Net

It’s 10pm and your hard drive is making horrible noises…do you know where your recovery discs are? Recovery discs are your computer’s spare tire and jumper cables. If you have a hard drive die or get a bad virus infection, they are the primary tool needed to get your system back up and running. “But…didn’t those come with my computer?” you wonder. Probably not. Most computer manufacturers have chosen to leave the recovery discs up to the consumer to create, and instead ship with a “recovery Partition” on the hard drive.

The problem is… 1) people rarely get around to creating the recovery discs 2) that recovery partition won’t do you a lick of good if the whole hard drive is dying or infected. So the key is to have them ready before disaster strikes. How? Somewhere in your programs menu there should be an option to create recovery discs, though it may take some hunting to find it. Once you find it, you will be able to determine if you’ll need a pack of blank DVDs or what size USB drive you will need (given a choice, I prefer creating the latter!).

If you would like our help getting these made for peace of mind, give us a call. Having this safety net is one of the most important accessory to have with your computer, young or old.

My Password Is Weak – So What?

Have you ever wondered why it’s actually important to have good passwords? You might think it’s not really a big deal to have a weak password for your email account. After all – let’s just say for the sake of argument you don’t have anything important in there. But if that email is connected to your bank account or something like that (and it probably is) then things can get interesting with a bad password. If I can hack your email password, then I can go over to your bank’s website, say I’ve forgotten the password, and have a new one emailed to me. Now I’m in your bank account. It’s really that easy.

Even if you don’t care about that account with a weak password, it’s probably linked to something you DO care about. So that’s why it’s important to have good passwords across the board! If you need help creating a strong password Google provides some hints and tips in this article.

https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/32040?hl=en

If you have problems remembering all you different passwords for different accounts we recommend using a ‘Password Manager’ such as the highly recommended (and free!) Dashlane

Fed up with Windows 10 upgrade notification? Learn how to stop them!

If you are one of the many windows users who are perfectly happy with Windows 7 or 8.1 the continual Windows 10 upgrade notifications can become very frustrating over time. In fact Microsoft has of late become more aggressive in its approach, basically forcing the Windows 10 upgrade on users. You can read more about it here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-36367221

We have experienced this first hand, with several customers contacting us this last week alone complaining that their computers had upgraded to Windows 10 automatically. Although Windows 10 itself isnt a bad operating system, there is many reasons why users may want to avoid the upgrade. For some it is just sticking with what they are used to, for others they may run software that is incompatible with the latest version of Windows. Whatever the reason you can now avoid the upgrade (and the constant notifications) by running a small utility called Never10. Download and find out more from the link below..

https://www.grc.com/never10.htm