Posts Tagged ‘cold snap’

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.

Common Failure Symptoms

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

Much like your vehicle can give off a weird popping, clicking or some other sort of noise or reaction that tells you for sure something has gone wrong and needs attention, computers can do the same. In this article, I hope to help you figure out what something could mean – and that in no way unless specified is it a definitive answer because like other mechanical failures, one symptom could be a result of several different problems.

 

 

Symptoms

Starting with symptoms, we’ll begin with noises. For example, to begin with a very loud noise coming from your computer tower or laptop could mean that one of the case fans is working very hard. This would more than likely mean that there is extensive dirt buildup in between the fan’s blades or even deeper – or that the internal temperature of the computer is getting too high and the fan simply cannot catch up. Some fans are temperature-based as programmed by the BIOS and can react as necessary so the loud fan running could be acceptable if it calms back down after a short while. Either way, if there is a lot of loud fan noise coming from your computer, it needs to be physically cleaned out.

Clicking noises are tricky and can mean several things. Listen to the frequency of clicking, and the volume. Louder clicking noises could easily translate into a failing case fan, and depending on the fan’s speed this noise could be quick or moderate timed, but shouldn’t be very slow. Very slow to moderate speed clicking that is faint or hard to hear could be something much more serious – as this is a likely indicator that a hard drive is either failing or has failed. The clicking noise in this case is usually methodical and repetitive, where a failing fan’s clicking can swoon or change in tempo.

If you press the power button on your computer only to be greeted with nothing more than a black screen and your computer sends out rhythmic beeps in patterns like 1 – 3 – 2 beeps (within the range of 1-4, 1-4, and 1-4 usually) the computer is having trouble starting (obviously) and is trying to tell you why. This is most common with Dell computers, and can be interpreted by a computer repair technician. If you hear these “beep-codes” either take your computer into a repair company or do a Google search for as specific as you know how on your computer’s model and make (provided it was purchased from a brand name like Dell or HP).

Having a CD or DVD in your computer as it starts up may make the optical drive spin loudly (especially older CD-ROM drives) and can sound bad, but this is not the case, it is just rapidly accessing the disk as some computers are programmed to start-up to a CD or DVD instead of the hard disk. There is nothing wrong with this very loud muffled spinning noise unless it’s happening frequently while you’re attempting to use the CD or DVD-ROM drive. In this case, the drive is more than likely failing and will need replaced.

Now we move on to visual symptoms. If you start your computer and it seems like nothing is happening at all, your monitor is on but just stays totally black and you may or may not be getting the beep-codes as mentioned earlier, this could be a variety of issues. For one, make sure your monitor is secured to your computer. The cable that comes from the monitor is likely a VGA (blue, small tip), a DVI (white, wide tip) or an HDMI (thin and usually colorless tip) cable. Ensure that your monitor is both plugged into an outlet to receive power and that it is pushed firmly (and screwed down if not an HDMI connector) into the slot. Some computers have a video card in addition to their onboard video, so if you’re not getting anything from the slot your monitor is currently plugged into, search for another similar port somewhere else on the back of the computer. If you have a laptop and this is happening, this could mean either the GPU (the graphics processor) is loose or failing, or that the whole motherboard could be entering a state of failure.

Then, your computer might be sluggish as it operates. It boots up fine, maybe a bit slower than usual, but it takes forever for things to open and it can be frustrating when a program that used to take seconds to load takes minutes. This is more than likely less of a hardware issue, and more of your computer being loaded down with unnecessary or unwanted software. It can, however, be a symptom of your hard disk or RAM beginning to fail – especially if your computer suddenly becomes slow. If it became slow over a long time, that’s more of a symptom of excessive software.

If your screen is fuzzy or miscolored (on a desktop computer), there’s really two things this could be and hopefully the problem is the first answer. Firstly, your connection from your monitor to your computer could be skewed slightly, or loose. Ensure that the cable is plugged in and secured tightly. If that doesn’t solve the problem then the problem lies within the graphics card, or your motherboard – depending on where your monitor gets its signal from. With a laptop it’s almost more certainly a graphics processor issue, but it could also be simply that the monitor cable is loose on the inside (and this will require opening through the device and procedurally stripping parts away until you can get to the cable).

 

Faulting Components

This section will be what the symptoms are per faulty part, rather than per symptom.

Faulting RAM will cause slower computer load and processing time, can cause your computer to not start at all past the power button being pressed, can cause Windows (or any other OS) to simply not load or present a Blue Screen (or other error screen) and produce “beep-codes” or a long steady beep.

Faulting Hard Drives will cause slower computer load and processing time, programs to not function or load much slower and can cause Windows (or any other OS) to simply not load or present a Blue Screen (or other error screen). Faulting Hard Drives will sometimes have some sort of clicking sound, usually low and faint.

Faulting Power Supplies will cause the computer to not start up at all, can cause random shutdowns or restarts (possibly without any error logs being generated) and can have a loud fan sound coming from the back of the computer – where the power cable goes in.

Faulting GPUs (Graphic Cards and Onboard Chips) will cause the computer to not start up at all, can cause your computer to not start at all past the power button being pressed, can produce “beep-codes”, programs to not function or load much slower, Windows (or any other OS) to present a Blue Screen (or other error screen) in any intervals and can provide “visual artifacts” which are weirdly-colored sections, pixel blocks, or stripes on your monitor.

Faulting Processors will cause the computer to not start up at all, can produce “beep-codes” or a long steady beep. Typically, if a processor is to blame, the computer won’t do much more than fail to start up, as next to the motherboard it is one of the most important components.

Faulting Motherboards will cause the computer to not start up at all, can cause your computer to not start at all past the power button being pressed, can produce “beep-codes” or a long steady beep, random shutdowns or restarts (possibly without any error logs being generated) or Windows (or any other OS) to present a Blue Screen (or other error screen) in any intervals.

The Cloud

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

So, you may have heard of “The Cloud” by now, probably mentioned in an advert or some other form of media, but what exactly is it? Simply, The Cloud refers to the most efficient way currently to store and share information – files are stored over the Internet rather than on a hard drive or through physical devices like CD-ROMs or USB flash drives. Why is it called “The Cloud” though? This is due to the way it is referenced, much like actual clouds; your stored data floats around in virtual space between all applied devices. Using The Cloud has several immediate advantages.

Utilizing The Cloud, files are stored over the internet. Some benefits include having backup protection and instant availability. Many modern companies and tech-savvy individuals are claiming Cloud space for themselves already – and the only two requirements using The Cloud has are the amount of available space, and having an active internet connection.

Cloud storage offers a great method of file backup for personal use OR business use. In the past, companies would copy all of their data to giant tape rolls and send them offsite, while personal users back up their data to physical mediums and store them away. There is a better way, and that would be The Cloud. Say you are working on a presentation for a meeting the next day. You finish it, and save the file to your personal Cloud. The next morning before work though, tragedy strikes, and your hard drive fails! The file could be corrupted or outright destroyed… thankfully; you saved the file to your Cloud. Using a different computer or other internet capable device you access your Cloud and there is that presentation along with all of the other files you have stored there. This works with virtually any kind of file, so long as it fits in your allotted Cloud space.

As previously mentioned, using the Cloud can offer you immediate availability on your files. So long as you have Cloud space and an internet connection, any file can be saved from any location that is linked to your Cloud. Then, anywhere else that is also coupled will have that file accessible as soon as it is downloaded. For example, uploading a document from your office computer to your Cloud will mean that as soon as you get home and without having to have any equipment on you, that file can be downloaded and handled at home – as long as your home computer is on the same Cloud network. Imagine it’s an image – now both computers (along with any others connected) will be able to view it instantly.

How Cloud storage works: It’s really no more than simple file sharing. You can rent space from a company who sells it. That space you are renting from them is on the company’s servers is now your personal storage area. When you upload a file it is sent to that set of computers, and then those computers redistribute it to all of your devices – and typically (depending on network speed) it is usable within seconds.