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Managed I.T. Services

Oct 4, 2017   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Managed services is the practice of outsourcing on a proactive basis management responsibilities and functions and a strategic method for improving operations and cutting expenses. It is offered as an alternative to traditional break/fix or on-demand outsourcing model where the service provider performs on-demand services and bills the customer only for the work done.

There are a number of reasons why a SMB would consider Managed Services. As noted it is an effective way to cut expenses and outsource I.T. in and address technical needs in a proactive and predictable manor. This model is suitable for all businesses sizes and and should be explored by any business owner or manager. Hiring a professional to oversee your network security, data backup and overall computer functionality and updating is extremely important and the cost is surprisingly sensible.

Used Computers available for delivery in Wallingford, CT, Meriden, CT and surrounding towns.

Oct 5, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Buying a new computer can sometimes be a hassle and even an expensive transaction. Consider buying a certified refurbished computer from Mr Computer. All computers come with a standard 90 warranty against any hardware defects with no limitation. We buy and sell high quality refurbished technology equipment. Any computer with Windows 7 or newer still has value and we pay clients top dollar. Before tossing that old desktop or laptop give us a shout and get an immediate price offering. Inventory of used computers changes daily, call for live update.
Used Imac

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October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month

Sep 30, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

October is the season of Halloween and Fall Foliage but did you know it’s also National Cyber Security Awareness month too? Throughout the month of October Mr Computer will be reminding users to stay alert when surfing online. We will educate you on ways to minimize your exposure to online threats while surfing and help you Understand, identify and avoid malicious programs such as computer Viruses, Malware, Spyware, Adware, Botnets and other known threats.

Viruses: Are harmful computer programs that can be transmitted in a number of ways. Although they differ in many ways, all are designed to spread themselves from one computer to another through the Internet and cause havoc. Most commonly they are designed to give the criminals who create them some sort of access to those infected computers. Computer viruses currently cause billions of dollars worth of economic damage each year by causing business downtime, lost or corrupt files, system failures and crashes and increased maintenance costs.

Spyware: “spyware” and “adware” apply to several different technologies. The two most important things to know about them is:

  • They can download themselves onto your computer without your permission (typically when you visit an unsafe website or via an attachment)
  • They can make your computer do things you don’t want it to do. That might be as simple as opening an advertisement you didn’t want to see. In the worst cases, spyware can track your online movements, steal your passwords and compromise your accounts.

Botnets: Botnets are networks of computers infected by malware (computer virus, key loggers and other malicious software) and controlled remotely by criminals, usually for financial gain or to launch attacks on website or networks.

If your computer is infected with botnet malware, it communicates and receives instructions about what it’s supposed to do from “command and control” computers located anywhere around the globe. What your computer does depends on what the cybercriminals are trying to accomplish.

Many botnets are designed to harvest data, such as passwords, social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and other personal information.  The data is then used for nefarious purposes, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, spamming (sending junk email), website attacks, and malware distribution.

Being vigilant about what you open is paramount. “When in doubt throw it out”  For instance let’s say a relative forwards via email to you a funny joke that they found online. They have opened the attachment in an email that a friend had sent to them and then forwarded it to you. Because it was forwarded from a family member to you it must be safe. However the family member that forwarded it to you didn’t realize that the attachment also included malware and internet tracking software. This is a case of the sender not not knowing that they are sending malware infected emails. We see this often and  offer the this advice to users. Hit the delete key and get rid of any email that contains an attachment of unknown origin. You may miss out on a joke or two but you will have a clean machine and minimize threats just by being vigilant about things.

In addition to being vigilant you must keep your operating system updated with all Microsoft Security Patches as well as purchase and maintain an Internet Security Software Suite like Norton, or something similar. Be sure that your firewall is turned on and working correctly. Free programs like Malwarebytes and Superantispyware are also nice supplements to your overall internet security package but we do recommend using the paid versions if you plan to keep them installed on your system.

 

 

Windows 10 and your privacy

Aug 3, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog, Microsoft Windows  //  No Comments

The rollout of a new Microsoft OS is always exciting, especially to those of us in the technology sector. On average techies spend a minimum of 8-10 of every day engrossed in technical jargon. Whether we are troubleshooting slow computers, tracking down data security threats, backing up data to the cloud or helping folks and businesses select the most suitable technology for their unique needs we techies have our hands in it all day long everyday.

I arrived on the tech scene in the mid 90’s when windows 3.x was in full swing and Windows 95 out and about. My college certification exams were filled with DOS command questions, manual IRQ assignment and ohms, volts and measuring current across a circuit. Technology has matured a great deal since then and along the way I have taken many updated certification exams. With every new OS that has been published we have been presented with a more robust platform, an improved user experience and added layers of security. To the point of added security there is also one more thing that needs to be mentioned and that is privacy. In order for your system to be more secure your privacy needs to be minimized so that Microsoft can help protect you and also its product.

Actually, here’s one excerpt from Microsoft’s privacy statement:

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary to: 1.comply with applicable law or respond to valid legal process, including from law enforcement or other government agencies; 2.protect our customers, for example to prevent spam or attempts to defraud users of the services, or to help prevent the loss of life or serious injury of anyone; 3.operate and maintain the security of our services, including to prevent or stop an attack on our computer systems or networks; or 4.protect the rights or property of Microsoft, including enforcing the terms governing the use of the services – however, if we receive information indicating that someone is using our services to traffic in stolen intellectual or physical property of Microsoft, we will not inspect a customer’s private content ourselves, but we may refer the matter to law enforcement.

If that sentence sent shivers down your spine, don’t worry. As invasive as it is, Microsoft does allow Windows 10 users to opt out of all of the features that might be considered invasions of privacy. Of course, users are opted in by default, which is more than a little disconcerting, but let’s focus on the solution. Rockpapershot has broken it down for us below.

1. Go to Settings – Privacy and go through the 13 different screens there and turn anything which concerns you to off. The biggest, most universal settings are under ‘General’, while the other screens let you choose which apps can and can’t access your calendar, messages, camera, mic, etcetera. There may well be stuff you want to leave on – for instance, I do actually want Windows’ Calendar app to access my calendar data (obv), I just don’t want it to sell that data on because I don’t want to be bombarded with flower ads when it’s my mum’s birthday.

2. Depending on whether you’ve been finding it useful or not, you may want to go to Cortana’s settings and turn off everything there. It’s just working as a basic file search for me now, as I didn’t want its ‘suggestions’, I didn’t want it to lock me into Bing and I didn’t want a tiny part of my processor to be forever dedicated to listening out for voice commands I will never use.

3. This is the crucial one, and so fundamental to Windows 10’s tracking that Microsoft have stuck the setting on an external website, which they say is so that it’s on one easy dashboard, but I find it hard not to wonder if it’s in the hope that we don’t easily stumble across it while browsing Windows 10’s own Privacy menus. Said website is colourful and cheerful and can play a video at you talking about how wonderful targeted advertising is. Ignore the bumf and instead go directly here and set both options to Off. It’s the innocuous-sounding “Personalised ads wherever I use my Microsoft account” which is the likely root of all this, because having that on means Windows 10 itself becomes a hub for targeted ads. You’ll probably have set up Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, because it heavily encourages you to do so with talk of synchronised files and settings and a OneDrive cloud account during installation, but this means the OS is signed into that account all the time. As a result, Windows 10 itself has it spyglasses on, not just apps or pages that you’re signed into with your MS account.

I notice that every time I go back to that page, the “Personalised ads in this browser” setting has silently turned itself back on again. This is concerning, but I’m not yet sure if it’s a bug or if it’s exploiting sessions as an excuse to reset regularly. Judicious ad and cookie control with your plugins and browser options of choice can change this, however. Again, do remember that many websites are dependent on advertising revenue to survive, but opting out of targeted advertising – and having that opt out be respected – is another matter entirely.

4. You may also wish to remove your Microsoft account from Windows 10 and use a local account instead. This will double-down on restricting what’s harvested, though you’ll lose out on features such as settings synchronisation across all your PCs and will suffer more nagging from stuff like the Windows Store and OneDrive. Probably not a big deal for many people, I suspect. Go to Settings – Accounts – Your Account within Windows 10 (or just type ‘Accounts’ into haha Cortana) to get to the relevant options.

If you have multiple PCs already running Windows 10 you’ll need to do all of this on each of them, although your Microsoft account opt-out should be universal.

None of these options mean you’ll see fewer ads, but they do mean that not quite so much information about you will be gathered and sold, and also that the ads you do see won’t be ‘relevant’ to what algorithms have decided your interests are. It is worth noting that some folk find the latter to be preferable to entirely irrelevant ads, and in some cases even useful – but certainly not everyone. Hopefully you can use the information here to make an informed choice about what happens. Again, in many respects it’s not wildly different from what already happens on your smartphone or your browser, but it’s important that you should know about it, and that Windows now has something of an ulterior motive.

 

 

 

Computer Repair Shop Tips

Jul 30, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog, Laptop Repair Shop  //  No Comments
Problem 1:
Computer has complete loss of power.When you plug the AC adapter into the laptop there are no lights turning on at all and power button doesn’t work.

Possible problem
– The AC adapter failed and the battery has no charge left.
– DC jack failed and the motherboard doesn’t receive any power from the adapter.
– Motherboard failed. The motherboard has to be replaced, most times this is cost prohibitive

Problem 2:
Blank LCD screen

The laptop turns on, power LED lights up, cooling fan works but nothing appears on the screen.

Possible problem
– This can be memory failure. It’s possible one of the memory modules failed.
– Hard drive, motherboard,video card/controller or defective monitor.

Problem 3:
Laptop turns on and off repeatedly.

The laptop turns on without showing any image on the screen, auto reboot loop occurring.

Possible problem
– Motherboard failure, failing driver, possible memory issue or even overheating condition may be present.

Problem 4:
Laptop making noises while running.

The laptop turns on and everything works fine except it makes some constant weird grinding or rattling noise.

Possible problem
– In most cases this noise is coming from the cooling fan or hard drive. Take a closer look at the cooling fan.

– If the fan doesn’t spin but the the laptop makes noise it’s likely the hard drive making noise.

– You can also remove the hard drive and boot the laptop. If the laptop still makes noise most likely it’s a bad fan.

Problem 5:
Laptop shuts down or freezes.

The laptop runs properly but after a while it freezes or shuts down without any warning. Bottom is very hot.

Possible problem
– Most likely this is heat related issue. It happens because the fan heat sink is clogged with dust and the processor not cooling down properly.  Also a bad fan.

This is a general explanation to what we see on a daily basis at the shop in Wallingford. Feel free to email

nick@mrcomputerllc.net with questions or call the office @ 203-269-1739 anytime.

Happy Memorial Day from Mr Computer in Wallingford, CT

May 25, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Mr Computer of Wallingford , CT would like to take this day to thank all of our brave men and women who have served our country and to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice. America is the greatest country on the planet and it would not be possible without our brave men and women who have personally given all of us that right.

Today I am reflecting on just how fortunate we are to live in the land of the free and remembering all of our brave soldiers who have made that possible. God Bless the  men and women of our Armed Forces and their families.

Thank you to my brother David for his years of service as a Navy SEABEE. The United States Naval Construction Force “CB” or “Construction Battalion” has been building bases, air strips and roadways since World War II

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Understanding Your Computer Network and Keeping It Secure

May 25, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Understanding Your Computer Network Environment

Let’s start by finding out more about the networking devices you use to connect to the Internet. Here are some key facts that you should know:

What is the make, model, and version of the modem or router provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? If you live in Wallingford, CT you would have Comcast or the now Frontier, but if you live in Meriden, CT you would likely have COX.They are different companies and their networking devices are also different.

Knowing the make, model, and version of your modem or router will not only help you understand the device’s features and limitations, but will also help you properly secure it. Check the outside of the device or read the manual to find this information.

What are the IP address and login credentials for your modem or router?

Most modems and routers will have the default login information and IP address printed on the body. The modem or modem-router combination that your ISP provides is what we typically call the gateway device. A gateway is networking device which handles communication from your network to the outside world. Settings on this device will dictate how the rest of your network behaves.

How is your network connected to the Internet?

A basic understanding of which devices connect to what can be very helpful. A simple map structure of your network can come in handy when locating and troubleshooting a network problem. Consider examining the gateway device, computer and wiring. Draw a simple map to help identify the network topology.

Finally, remember to note the various types of devices on your network.

A modem is not exactly the same as a combination modem-router, and each will handle your network traffic in a unique way. There are many online resources that can help you understand your network devices.

Tips to Secure Your Network Environment

Now that you have a better understanding of your home network, here are a few simple steps you can take to minimize unauthorized access.

Change the login credentials on your gateway device and router.

Most modems and routers have default login credentials that make initial configuration easy. After the initial setup, change the username (if possible) and password to prevent unauthorized access to your modem or router. There are many online resources that provide a list of default login credentials for modems and routers, which can be used to easily compromise your network.

Keep your operating system and router updated.

Most vulnerabilities are exploited due to outdated software and/or firmware. Running the latest operating system and router firmware helps protect your network against intrusion.

Have a network use policy for your home.

It is easy to overlook this point, but it is critical to have a set of protocols that everyone should follow. For example, one of our rules at home is don’t click on suspicious links.

Create separate guest networks for visitors.

Typically, if you have a Wi-Fi network and users connect to the same access point, those users are a part of and have access to your network. Isolating guest users helps prevent access to your local network resources. Many home routers have this feature, but it has to be enabled. Consult your router’s manual on how to configure a separate guest network.

Disable your router’s remote login feature.

Many routers allow you to remotely log in to your home machine and network, but this makes your network vulnerable to attacks. Disabling the remote login feature will prevent others who are not directly connected to your router from accessing it.

Stay up-to-date on technology news about your network devices.

Keeping up with the latest news about online threats that target devices on your network, sometimes can help you take necessary actions to either prevent your system from being compromised or find solutions for an already affected system. There are many websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to each of the devices you use to get online. If you prefer short updates, you can sign up for news updates or follow like-minded individuals or groups on their social media sites. Lastly, be aware of changes in your network environment. If you notice that your connection speed has slowed down significantly, or if your machine is running slower than usual, these are signs that something is going on and needs to be checked.

I have spent the last 17 years gainfully employed in the technology sector, most of those years working for fortune 500 companies managing complex networks. By no means is this a definitive guide on computer networking. However, having a grasp of how your network is set up and applying basic security measures will not only help you troubleshoot your home network problems, but they will also minimize malicious attackers from gaining access to your network.

Understanding Zero-Day Vulnerability

Jan 16, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog, Internet Security  //  No Comments

What is a Zero-Day Vulnerability?

A zero day vulnerability refers to a hole in software that is unknown to the vendor. This security hole is then exploited by hackers before the vendor becomes aware and hurries to fix it—this exploit is called a zero day attack. Uses of zero day attacks can include infiltrating malware, spyware or allowing unwanted access to user information. The term “zero day” refers to the unknown nature of the hole to those outside of the hackers, specifically, the developers. Once the vulnerability becomes known, a race begins for the developer, who must protect users.

In order for the vendor to rectify the vulnerability, the software company must release a patch. Often patches are released on a regular basis, one example being Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday. On the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft releases security fixes that resolve identified holes. If however a critical vulnerability is discovered, a patch may be released outside of schedule.

Browsers are similarly vulnerable and it’s a good idea to keep your browser updated for added security as well as features. To check if any updates are available for your browser of choice, open the browser and click either “Help” or the browser name, depending on which browser you’re using. A quick online search will provide step-by-step instructions. Alternately, you could set up automatic updates, again, depending on browser. Here is an example of Google Chrome.

Update Google Chrome

To make sure that you’re protected by the latest security updates, Google Chrome can automatically update if it detects that a new version of the browser is available.

Keeping Chrome updated
Learn about what happens when Chrome updates to a new version.

Check for an update manually and see the current browser version

Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu on the browser toolbar and select About Google Chrome. The current version number is the series of numbers beneath the “Google Chrome” heading. Chrome will check for updates when you’re on this page. Click Relaunch to apply any available update.

When are updates available

Normally updates happen in the background when you close and reopen your browser. However, if you haven’t closed your browser in a while you might see the Chrome menu on the browser change colors to green Update Chrome, orange Sync error, or red . If you see green that means an update has been available for 2 days, orange – 4 days, and red – 7 or more days. To apply an available update, just follow the steps below.

  1. Click the Chrome menu on the browser toolbar.
  2. Select Update Google Chrome.
  3. In the confirmation dialog that appears, click Restart. The browser saves your opened tabs and windows and reopens them automatically when it restarts. If you’d prefer not to restart right away, click Not now. The next time you restart your browser, the update will automatically be applied.

Windows 8 users: Make sure to close all Chrome windows and tabs on the desktop and Windows 8 app, then relaunch Chrome to apply the update.

Zero day vulnerabilities can be serious security risks. When searching for an appropriate antivirus solution, look for security software that protects against both known and unknown threats.

Get your computer system off to a great start this year and out of the computer repair shop.

Jan 2, 2015   //   by nick   //   Blog, Microsoft Windows  //  No Comments

 

Back up and data protection:

Start any serious system maintenance with a full system backup. An up-to-date backup is good insurance against catastrophic events that might bring down a PC: such as power spikes, hard-drive crashes, malware infestations and the like. All current versions of Windows provide the means to make reliable backups, though each new generation of the OS has added enhancements to its archiving capabilities.

 

Win7 backup options

 

Wear and Tear

Traditional hard drives are possibly the hardest-working components in PCs. Their spinning platters can rack up hundreds of millions of rotations per year, and their read/write heads chatter back and forth millions of times, moving chunks of files. It’s a testament to hard-drive technology that they work as well, as long, and as reliably as they do. but surely all drives eventually wear out.

Take a few minutes to check your drive’s physical health. Every version of Windows from XP on has chkdsk (as in “check disk”) for exactly that purpose. The basic version of chkdsk is a simple point-and-click operation. In Windows Explorer, right-click the drive that you want to check and select Properties. Click the Tools tab and then, under Error-checking, click the Check now button

Drive-check tool

 

The command line–based chkdsk is more powerful than the one-click version in Properties.

Chkdsk’s command-line options vary significantly from Windows to Windows, but chkdsk c: /f works in all versions for basic error correction of the C: drive. (Change the drive letter to check and correct other drives.)

To see the version-specific chkdsk commands available in your copy of Windows, open an administrator-level command window (right-click Command Prompt and select Run as administrator). Type chkdsk /?and press Enter. You’ll see a complete list of all available chkdsk options.

Chkdsk options

 

Microsoft Updates:
Run the microsoft update utility to ensure that your computer system is receiving all of the security patches and updates directly from Microsoft. All versions of Windows will have this utility present in the control panel.

Internet Security:

Antivirus: Verify that your system is free of worms, viruses, Trojans, and other malware by running a full scan with a standalone security tool such as Symantec software. Make sure that your antivirus software is current and updating correctly. 

Make sure your devices are behind a router and disable WPS:

Routers act as a shield and hide your computer from the internet. Plugging directly into your modem many times will not provide the needed protection that a router will provide.

Clean it out: Sometimes the air cans are good but I prefer my 3M Toner Vac to do PM cleanings on customer computers. It catches 99.9% of airborne particles instead of my lungs. If you plan to use an air can to clean out the computer the best advice I can give is to bring the computer or laptop outside to complete this task.

Computer Recycling in Wallingford, CT

Dec 17, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Computer Recycling  //  No Comments

The town of Wallingford has a fantastic computer and electronics recycling program. In addition to this program residents may also drop off old computers at Good Will located in the Staples shopping center in Wallingford. I would advise you to delete everything on your hard drive  before dropping it off to be recycled. There are several ways to destroy the data on your drive. When I worked at the bank we had a three stage process.

Stage 1: Low level format following software driven DOD standards

Stage 2: Insert drives into electronic de-magnifier

Stage 3: Take each drive and drill 8-10 holes in it

Keeping in mind that the bank that I worked for had around 10,000 computers and they were upgrading all the time which led to an enormous amount of computers and laptops being constantly decommissioned.  We were also required to follow industry compliance standards. For ordinary home users I would recommend either drilling holes in the drives ( be very careful when doing this and make sure drive is secured and you wear safety glasses before drilling) or using Acronis software. The software will cost around $30 at Staples, its very easy to use and is of great value when getting rid of those old computers and laptops

The town of Wallingford makes it quite simple to recycle those old laptops and computers

The town of Wallingford makes it quite simple to recycle those old laptops and computers

Wallingford Electronics Recycling Program
As of 7/5/12, Residents may drop off e-waste each day the Recycling Center is open
For: Wallingford Households ONLY
Where: Recycling Center, 157 John Street
When: Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays
Hours: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What is Accepted: computers; computer monitors; laptops, printers;
keyboards and mice; TVs; fax machines; VCR, DVD and CD players; iPods;
Walkmen; PDAs; stereos; modems; routers; cables and wiring; digital cameras;
and telephones.
Is there a Limit: Each household will be limited to seven (7) items per visit.
Is there a Charge: No, this program is FREE.
Other ways to recycle electronics:
Goodwill – each Goodwill store in the area participates in the
ReconnectPartnership recycling program with Dell. Computers and computer
equipment of any make and in any condition will be accepted at Goodwill
stores at no charge.
Best Buy – All stores will accept any make computer and TVs (up to 32 inches
for tube screens and up to 60 inches for flat panel screens) for recycling. Best
Buy now accepts these items free of charge.
Central CT Recycling and Transfer – located at 22 Burton Dr., Cheshire, will
accept electronics and TVs at no charge on Saturdays, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Call
203-272-4039 for more information.
Go to www.town.wallingford.ct.us for more information

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