Archive for the ‘Advice’ Category

Windows Vista No Longer Supported

Tuesday, April 11th, 2017

So you have Windows Vista. Well today is the end of support for Windows Vista.  Browsers such as Google Chrome have already stopped updating their browsers for Vista operating systems, and now Microsoft will no longer release any patches for their system. This means that if there are (and we know there are) any bugs in the system, they will not be fixed. I don’t think this will be nearly the problem it was when they stopped their support of Windows XP as Windows Vista was never a very liked operating system anyway.

Basically, what this means, is your computer should still continue to work – but you will now be at more of a risk of getting malware or viruses on your computer. Since any bugs or holes found in the software of the operating system will no longer be fixed, soon as that exploit is found, the hackers will be able to use it to get control of computers running Vista. We would strongly suggest no longer using these machines for ordering things online nor looking at your financial accounts either.

If you have Windows Vista and are interested in upgrading or purchasing a new computer, let us know and we can help and guide you in the best direction. We do offer computers for sale as well, but we do have to order them. Depending on the specs of the computer on weather the upgrade would be worth doing for your current computer. The new computers are so much faster than the computers from years ago, that it is almost always worth purchasing a newer computer instead of upgrading – but again, this is a computer by computer decision – along with how you use the computer.

Zeus Virus Popup

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

So the time has come again to talk about these popup’s that tell you that you have a virus and you must call this number. Well, as we have said and always tell people, this is a scam. They want you to call the phone number or they will disable your computer. This is just not true. In most cases, if you can end the task using CTRL + ALT + DEL (in this case the browser “Google Chrome”, “Firefox”, “Internet Explorer”, “Edge”, “Safari” or possibly another one), then this issue will go away. Just make sure when you open the browser back up, do not restore the previous session. If you are able to close it out using the CTRL + ALT + DEL task manager, it is easier on your computer. If you are not able to figure that out, or it does not work – we have suggested to just hold the power button in as well until the computer shuts off. When you turn the computer back on, it should be good to go again.

At this point, as long as it is gone when you open the browser back up, you should be good to go. If the popup comes up again right away, the it might be a good idea to get the computer cleaned up.

When this popup comes up, you cannot do anything on the internet as it forces you to click OK, and then it comes right back again – which is why we need to end that task.

I have now received this virus scam and was able to record it.

How To Choose an ISP

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

What ISP should I choose?

The first question you might ask is “what is an ISP?”  An ISP is an Internet Service Provider. They are who you use to get Internet in your home or business. Some of the possible ISPs on the Iron Range are Mediacom, Century Link, Frontier, Lake Connections, Dish, AT&T, Verizon and more.

There are a few types of Internet connections to choose from, here are some of them.

Dial Up

This connection will connect you to the internet from the telephone line. It will be extremely slow to load pages and download files. This connection is available almost everywhere though. Using dial-up, you won’t be able to talk on your phone while on the internet.

DSL – Digital Subscriber Line

DSL is also serviced by your phone company, but is not available everywhere. This connection is usually fairly solid in towns/cities, but when you get out in the country it is not as reliable. The speed you receive will vary depending on how far you are from the relay station. You may have a completely different speed than a neighbor down the street who is paying the same amount due to distances and conditions of the wires.

Cable Internet

Cable internet is provided by your cable company. This connection is usually a fairly reliable connection in towns/cities that offer it. Again, this is usually only in your towns/cities, not so much in rural areas. There are caps or limits on some of the cable companies and if you go over, your bill will either go up for the overages or your speeds may go down to a crawl, or even stop. You definitely need to watch for any caps or limits that there may be on monthly bandwidth.

Satellite Internet

Satellite Internet is provided by companies such as Dish & DirecTV and others. The best thing about their services are you can get them nearly anywhere – as long as there is a clear shot to a certain point in the sky which might vary depending on where you live. The biggest issues with this service are they are not as fast as most DSL, Cable or Fiber connections, but still have decent speeds. Also, if you are a gamer, then there is latency which will cause issues on your multi-player games such as racing or shooting type games.  An example you might be heading to a corner and then all the sudden you are in a different place crashed in the wall.

Fiber Optics

This is one of the newer services that offer very fast and reliable speeds. One nice thing, is unlike other types of internet, your neighbors will not affect your speed. Many fiber companies offer speeds up to around 500Mbps. The con for this is it is currently very limited on its locations across the country.

Conclusion

Before you decide which ISP you are going to use, decide what you are going to be using the service for and make sure they offer enough bandwidth for what you are planning.  If you are going to watch Netflix movies all the time, then make sure to ask them if you will have enough bandwidth to do this.

Hopefully this helps you decide on which internet type you should sign up with. It depends on where you live, what you are planning on doing with the internet and the price points you have. If you are a gamer (racing, shooting or other multiplayer type games that have a lot of graphics) you will want Fiber, DSL or Cable. If you are just checking emails, most any connection will work. The only connection I won’t suggest will be dial-up, because if you choose that it can take minutes for a page to load in some cases.

Importance of data backups

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

WormYou might ask yourself why it is important to have a backup of all of your data. Or, you might even ask yourself what is data, do I have any? Well, almost everyone has some sort of data on their computer, whether it be in the form of pictures, music, or documents (such as word, excel or pdf files). Let’s say you have a child, and they are 10 years old and you have all of your pictures stored on the computer. Do you have them saved anywhere else, if not what would you do if your hard drive failed, you got a virus such as the cryptowall virus – which encrypts all the documents, pictures, etc on your computer, the computer was stolen or a number of other possible ways that the data could be lost or destroyed.

It is always a good idea to have a backup of your data, whether it is for home or commercial use. We suggest you have a couple of copies of data, the one on the computer and maybe another copy on-site. But it is also a good idea to keep a copy of your data off-site as well, this way if there was a fire, tornado or some other major devastation that destroyed your home or office you would still have a copy of the data.  If you are doing backups regularly onsite, then you are on a good step, but do you unplug your external drive or flash drive when not backing up your data? If not, if you got the cryptowall virus, chances are your backups on the external drive are also going to be encrypted.

We had 2 clients (both businesses) a while back who got this virus. They lost all of their data files in both cases. One of the businesses had our backups, so we were able to get them their data back in a day or 2. The other one had a backup, but the drive was plugged in and the backup was also destroyed by the virus. About 6 months later, there was finally a way to decrypt the encrypted files so we were able to recover the other files (this is not always the case) for them. Thing is, by this time they had to recreate many of their files in the meantime. This was a huge setback and very time consuming lesson. This other company has since started using our backup service that we offer.

Did you know that around 70% of businesses that have data loss go out of business a short time after? This is why, at least for a business, it is extremely important to have data backups.

We offer off-site data backups to customers. The nice thing about this software is it automatically runs each night (as long as there is an internet connection and the computer is on) and backs up the data on its own. This way you don’t have to wait around while your data is copying across, after hours or before work. Using our service, the data is stored encrypted in the cloud and is HIPAA compliant.

So, what are some basic benefits of data backups?

  • Comfort – knowing if something happens to your computer or server, there is a backup that can be restored
  • Convenience – Ability to have the backups run at night, and not have to worry about copying data across to a flash drive and then having to find out where to store the flash drive.
  • Recovery – Knowing that your files are backed up, so if something happened they can be recovered in a relatively short time (depending on how much data you have)
  • Revisions – You can have a couple of revisions saved, so if you made a mistake in a document and realize it the next day, you could go back 2 version to get the mistake taken care of without having to try to remember exactly what it was
  • If backed up, your pictures will also be safe

If you are interested in off-site data backups, give us a call at 218-744-1210.

Talking Pop-ups In Your Browser

Tuesday, December 13th, 2016

Hello, Readers!

Today, I would like to talk about misleading internet pop-ups. You know the ones. The advertisement pops up, tells you that you have a virus, even talks to you (spooky)! You may panic and try to close the ad, but to no avail. It may even tell you to call the number you see on your screen (it is advised that you do not call that number). Well, there is light at the end of this tunnel!

delete_hard_drive_popupWe recommend that you power your computer off, but not in the normal way. Hold your power button down until the computer turns off (anywhere from 5 to 15 seconds). Afterwards, wait about 10 seconds, and turn the computer back on. Now, you should be able to use your computer normally. If that does not work, feel free to give us a call to determine if the issue is more serious.

This weeks Tech Tip: In most web browsers, if you accidentally close a tab, press Ctrl+Shift+T, and that browser tab will come back, and if you keep pressing that key combo the others will also come back as long as there is a history.

Thank you for reading, and stay tuned for more technology briefs and Tech Tips from Cold Snap Technology!

 

 

Windows Key Shortcuts

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Do you dislike having to move your hand to the mouse to do certain tasks such as saving your document? Here is a list of some of the most common keyboard shortcuts that we use on a daily basis.

Here is a list of some of the most common windows keyboard shortcuts. These shortcuts will work with most Microsoft applications.

CTRL A – Select all
CTRL B – Bold
CTRL C – Copy highlighted text
CTRL F – Find
CTRL H – Search and replace
CTRL I – Italic
CTRL O – Open file
CTRL P – Print
CTRL R – Hard Refresh (most browsers)
CTRL S – Save
CTRL U – Underline
CTRL V – Paste chipped text
CTRL X – Cut highlighted text
CTRL Z – Undo

CTRL + Shift + Arrow Key – Highlights full words left and right, or the lines above and below the current line [does include a little of current line depending on cursor location]
Shift + Arrow Key (left or right) – Highlights 1 letter at a time in the direction you chose. The up & down arrows depend on where the cursor is located
CTRL + Arrow Key (left or right) – Moves cursor to the next word in direction chosen

F1 – Help menu
F2 – Rename
F3 – Find next
F5 – Refresh

Windows R – Open run dialog

CTRL + Alt + Delete – Bring ups a way to get to the task manager if a program is not responding, you could lock your computer, switch users and more

If you are interested in shortcuts for specific programs, please leave us comments and we will see what we can do about writing an article about keyboard shortcuts for some programs. It will have to be a more common program for us to do this.

Windows 10 Upgrade

Wednesday, March 9th, 2016

If you are using Windows 7 or newer then you probably are seeing the popup for the Free Windows 10 Upgrade.  Anyone who wants to upgrade is welcome to upgrade as this will be a free upgrade for a few months.  We know there are a few customers out there who do not want this upgrade. However, Microsoft has decided that they are going to start pushing Windows 10 upgrades out through their automatic windows updates. This means that you might go to lunch one day, and when you get back your computer could be upgrading to windows 10.

In the last 36 hours, I know of at least 7 computers which have had this update pushed through automatically. Please be sure to always save your files before leaving your computer as the computer, when it decides to, will start the installation even if you have files open and then you risk losing any work you have done in those files.

The biggest suggestion out there to stop the upgrade is to turn off automatic windows updates. Will this work, I’m not sure as we have not tested that theory. If you don’t want it, then I would suggest doing that. The problem with that is then your computer will not be getting the security fixes it should be getting from those updates. There were also a couple of other hacks that were possibilities, but we had tried them in the registry and they did not work.

We don’t agree with Microsoft’s new tactic of automatically upgrading your operating system, but there is nothing we can do about it.  Personally, I really like Windows 10 and I’m glad I have it. There were a few things that were different, but it basically has the best features of Windows 7 & Windows 10 put together.

Here are the top 3 problems we have seen:

  1. Your printers no longer work after the update. For some reason the drivers don’t seem to always go across smoothly and usually this can be fixed by just re-installing your printer. If this does not work, make sure your printer is Windows 10 compatible as some of the older ones will not be compatible.  If there are not Windows 10 drivers available yet, the Windows 7 or 8 drivers normally still work.
  2. If you use SD Cards, transferring the pictures to your computer becomes a little more of hassle as there are a couple of extra steps you have to go through to get the pictures to your computer.
  3. The biggest issues we have seen are the login not working right away.  The password seems to have got corrupted for some reason, but we were able to get that reset since they had another administrator account on that computer. There are other ways we can do this as well if it does happen to you – although the chances are very slim of your login being corrupted.

 

Cloud Computing: A Greener Option for Business

Saturday, April 12th, 2014

Online DataCloud computing has garnered a lot of attention in recent years as a green solution for business. The market for global cloud computing will be around $180 billion by the end of 2015, according to a Gartner study. This May, the 9th International Conference on Green, Pervasive and Cloud Computing is being held in China to further examine environmentally sustainable computing and how it can benefit both individuals and big business. The current business benefits of cloud computing include:

Energy Savings

Cloud computing reduces the amount of energy needed to conduct business. A 2010 study conducted by Accenture, Microsoft and WSP Environment and Energy found that businesses using cloud computing reduced their energy consumption by 30 percent for large companies and 90 percent for small businesses. Companies no longer need massive amounts of energy to power their servers and physical hardware.

Going Paperless

Cloud computing is helping businesses go paperless. Putting data on the cloud alleviates the need to leave a paper trail and can save money in printing costs, storage space and supplies. A study done by iDatix showed that a business with eight employees could save $10,000 per year, while a business with 370 employees could save up to $1 million annually.

Shared Data

Telecommuting isn’t just for 20-somethings and work-from-home moms anymore, according to the New York Times. As the U.S. workforce increasingly goes mobile and Internet access expands and speeds up, working from home has become an viable option for many. Telecommuting reduces costs for businesses by requiring less computer equipment, office space, supplies and power usage. It also helps reduce the carbon footprint by reducing the number of people commuting to work each day. Employees can collaborate on projects, share information and increase production speeds while telecommuting, making it a win-win situation for employees and employers alike.

Data Access and Security

Cloud computing increases ease of access to information, making it easier to expand globally. On the cloud, data is transferred seamlessly, cloud backup costs less and disaster recovery is simplified.

One of the main concerns that has prevented businesses from adopting cloud technology is the security risk. Know who has access to your data and limit that access based on user needs. Other smart ways to protect your cloud data include protecting devices with virus scans and password protection and adding a layer of advanced security intelligence analytics. This provides visibility into the data center and infrastructure of the cloud, according to the Guardian. When you have numerous users accessing the cloud from different places, you have to take the right precautions to ensure security.

If you are interested in online backups, contact Cold Snap Technology at 218-744-1210 and ask us about the CST Cloud.

Scam Warnings!

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

There have been a lot of scams going around online recently, some of which seem frighteningly real and are completely fake – designed to scare the average computer user into forking over money to ‘fix’ a ‘problem’. Some recent examples would be: the FBI/ICE Virus, or ‘Microsoft Windows’ technicians actually calling over the phone.

These viruses have been seen frequently in our shop since mid-2013: The FBI, ICE, Homeland Security or similar Viruses. Upon starting your computer, you may be presented with a window that completely locks you out from your desktop. It will cover your whole screen and is intelligent enough to disallow all access to the Start button, Control+Alt+Delete, the Task Manager and every last thing that is useful in beating it. This virus may demand you pay it a fine usually between 200 to 400 dollars or more because your computer was found to be harboring some taboo material, such as child pornography and the FBI has frozen your computer for evidence. This is false – and paying the money will NOT allow you access to your computer again, and could potentially make it worse as it could allow them more control over your computer.

The way this virus asks to be paid is with a Moneypak Green Dot pay card code. This way, the payment is completely untraceable and non-refundable. Do NOT purchase any card for this or give any bank/card information to anyone or anything you don’t know.

Additionally, another recent scam warning is some ‘Microsoft Windows’ representatives calling people’s homes, warning them that their computers are in imminent danger. There are a few things immediately wrong with this, that you should remember. Number one: Microsoft, the actual company will not call individuals for any reason. Anyone claiming to be with Microsoft and calling you without you first knowing the person in real life is almost always lying to you. Number two: Nobody over the phone will know the status of your computer, unless this is a person or business you have previously authorized to have regular checkups with, or if a virus has already infected your computer. If someone calls you and you do not know who it is personally – and they also claim your computer is heading for an imminent issue, virus, or problem, they are lying to you. It is a good idea at this point to hang up and call a reputable computer repair company to get the computer or laptop cleaned up of malware and viruses to be safe.

Aside from legitimate shopping websites such as eBay, Amazon or any online retailers you trust do not give out your credit card or any payment info to anyone. Especially if they claim that they can fix or improve your computer or that your computer is going to be unusable. If you are concerned about the issue or have continuous, coincidental issues such as pop-ups, problem warnings, or “DO THIS NOW OR ELSE YOUR COMPUTER WILL BECOME A PAPERWEIGHT” scares, call Cold Snap Technology at 218-744-1210 and ask about anything you are not sure about, or feel free to stop by; we would be glad to help you.

Adobe Products

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Adobe has several commonplace programs out that you more than likely already have on your computer. These are primarily Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader. Flash is very prevalent on the Internet, with many websites having Flash components, Flash games or advertisements, and Flash-based tool sets. Reader allows you to open and view PDFs (Portable Document Files) as well as load them online, using browsers such as Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox. Adobe Reader integrates into these platforms and allow you to view forms and documents on the web.

It is vital that these programs remain up to date. As of the writing of this article, December 2013, the latest version of Adobe Reader is XI (11.0.04) [Windows Vista’s last version is Adobe Reader X] and the latest version of Flash is 11.9.900.170 (for most major systems). While it’s generally okay to be a couple of minor versions behind (for example, 11.9.900.122 or so on), you still should check to make sure you’re not too far behind. One of the reasons Adobe does these updates is to patch security holes in their software so you are not vulnerable to exploits or attacks that can damage your system.

At the time of writing, the easiest way to ensure your Flash player is working (and check what version) is to go to this link: http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/ This website checks your version and displays it in a little information box, then there’s a chart of the most up to date versions for different operating systems and browsers. As for checking Adobe Reader, just do a Google (or your favorite search engine) search for “Test PDF” and click a couple of the links. If they load, you should be fine.

If you don’t have Flash, or need to update it, (at the time of writing) the easiest link is to just go to http://get.adobe.com/flash and for Reader – if you need it or need to update, it is similarly: http://get.adobe.com/reader .

There are fake Adobe Flash updates out on the Internet. Read the screen carefully, and you can usually tell these aren’t real. The only time you should ever receive an update automatically is from Adobe, or the Adobe product itself. (Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe AIR – etc) These are usually windows that pop up when you turn your computer on (If you have it set to automatically search for updates, which is enabled by default) or on the bottom right of your desktop – unrelated to any Internet browser you are using. If it came up in a pop-up window or another tab, there’s a good chance it’s a virus or malware. If you see the request to update, and are not positive of your current version, download it from the adobe website: http://adobe.com or use one of the aforementioned links.

So just try to remember to check your Adobe products once in a while and don’t be fooled by a website advertisement telling you to get an update. These are some good simple steps to keeping your computer safe from attack and maintaining your PC’s health while making sure you are able to view and use common Internet resources.