Got a new phone or PC for XMAS? What about the old one?

Getting new gear for the holidays is great!  But what about all of your personal info on your old electronics?  Don’t let that data get into the wrong hands. In a study by security software vendor Avast, they purchased 20 Android smartphones from eBay and were able to recover from the phone – 40,000 photos – including 250 nude selfies, along with 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts, identities of 4 previous phone owners and one completed loan application. Users THOUGHT they were doing a ‘clean’ wipe and factory re-install on their phones.  It turns out though that after doing this wipe … Continue reading

Here’s how to get rid of Microsoft’s nagging Windows 10 Upgrade prompts

I like Windows 10.  Simple as that.  It’s certainly better than Windows 8 and in computer years, Windows 7 is getting old.  Should you upgrade? – for most of us, yes.  I would recommend upgrading before July, 2016 while Microsoft is still giving the upgrade away for free.  But for some of us, there are many reasons why you would NOT want to upgrade (either now or later) – an incompatible program or piece of hardware, for example.  If you have a Windows 7 or 8 PC and are tired of the constant nag that pops up often from Microsoft … Continue reading

Another tool to help block the dangerous ransomware CryptoWall

Ransomware is a VERY dangerous type of malicious software that can ecrypt (basically LOCKS) all of the data on your computer.  It holds it ‘hostage’ and demands hundreds of dollars to get it back. BitDefender Labs has discovered that a new variant of the very dangerous CryptoWall software (version 4.0) does not infect a computer if it detects Russian as a keyboard language.  So you can ‘immunize’ your computer against this variant by adding the keyboard language to your PC.  No, you do not have to learn or start typing in Russian!  Bitdefender has a free CryptoWall ‘vaccine’ that you can … Continue reading

IMAGE Backup

I LOVE Image backups! Hard drives die (yes, it happens often).  With an Image backup, if your hard drive dies, you can do an Image restore to a new hard drive and in one step, it loads your computer back to just like it was when you did your backup.  Windows – yes, ALL your programs – yes, ALL your data – yes.  In as little as a few minutes (depending on your computer speed, amount of data, etc), your computer can be ready to go again.  No loading Windows, no finding (or re-purchasing) your software/product keys, no downloading data – it’s … Continue reading

Are your website plugins updated? Thousands get hacked!

WordPress is a great platform for websites.  There are a ton of plugins that give websites all kind of great functionality. I’m always reminding you about how important updating any software on your computer that touches the Internet (operating system, web browsers, browser plugins such as Java, etc.).  If you have a website, the same rules apply.  Update, update, update!  Websites with out-of-date plugins are a great target for hackers.  Thousands of un-patched websites are being hacked (which may lead to your website being blacklisted – which is the last thing you want for your website). Here’s a website where … Continue reading

You should install this to protect your PC from the most damaging virus!

For many years, viruses and other malicious software (malware) attacks have been annoying for many of us!  Yes, annoying…but that was about it.  Get your computer cleaned up, then move on.  In the worst case, passwords or other data was stolen and it was a pain to change passwords, establish a credit freeze, etc.  Annoying…but we moved on.  No major damage done. A couple years ago there was a new player in the malicious software game.  A fairly new, but VERY DANGEROUS malware – RANSOMWARE.  This one was a major game changer.  Out with the annoying messages and in with software that … Continue reading

Windows 10 is Here! Now what?

Many have been counting down the days.  July 29th.  Microsoft Windows 10 is now available.  If you have Windows 7 or 8.1 on your computer, you may have even clicked on the notification and ‘reserved’ your copy.  But July 29th has passed now and many are wondering – What shall I do? First off, I want to say that I’m generally a big fan of Windows 10.  Unlike the roll-out of Windows 8 which had a lot of people unhappy with the new operating system, Windows 10 looks like it’s going to be a big hit.  Microsoft is bringing back the … Continue reading

Automatically Backup your Smartphone’s Photos and Videos

I have a 4 year old boy and an 8 year old daughter.  I LOVE taking lots of pictures and videos of them!  Since my smartphone is always with me, I use it for most of these precious memories.  On most smartphones these days, your email, contacts, etc. are synchronized with your server and therefore backed up, BUT the pictures and videos you take probably are not.  Furthermore, if you take a LOT of photos and videos like me, having a space limited backup may be a problem. I would REALLY HATE to lose all of those precious and irreplaceable pictures and videos should my … Continue reading

How do I keep track of all of these darn passwords?

8-16 characters long…Must contain at least one number…Must contain at least one special character…Must have at least one lowercase and one uppercase letter… The password requirements we see on many websites these days are there to protect you!  Yes, protect you from continuing to use the password “123456” or “password” that you’ve been using all these years (you know who you are)! I’ve also talked many times about how Password Re-Use is a big no no (if a hacker breaks into just one site, he now has your password to a bunch of other sites)!  But how do we keep track … Continue reading

10 Smart & Easy Steps for Safety & Security on the Web

The ‘Web’ is Great.  The Internet is everywhere in our lives these days.  With so much data digitized and connected to millions of other Internet connected devices, safety and security should be on the top of our minds these days.  Here are 10 things you CAN do to help keep yourself safe in our connected world: 1 – Use strong passwords and use some type of password manager.  Your passwords should be MEMORABLE and COMPLEX.  That’s right, you can have complex passwords which are still easy to remember.  I’m not talking about something like: Tq&5p8g%.  How about your Dog’s name spelled backwards … Continue reading

What’s using all of my Hard Drive space?

I was working with a client yesterday who was telling me how her computer was slow and doing weird things.  I clicked on “Computer” and saw her C: drive (her main hard drive) was Red and just about full!  She had a 500GB drive, said she had a bunch of digital photos, but not too much else she knew of.  Windows needs a small percentage of your hard drive to remain free for temporary use.  Many functions may not work properly if your hard drive is completely full (printing, for example, needs some free space to work) and your computer may … Continue reading

Free PC Image Backup Applications

I received an email from a listener, Larry:  “what is a good free program that makes a backup image of ones drive?” Image backups are GREAT!  They take an entire snapshot of your hard drive and copy that to a storage device.  In the event of a major failure (think – your hard drive dies), you would “re-image” the computer to a new hard drive and EVERYTHING would be back – Windows, Programs, Data, configuration, etc.  GREAT!  There are many programs that allow you to make an image of your hard drive.  This is one of the categories where my favorites are commercial (not free, … Continue reading

YES! Now you really should have an Antivirus App on your MAC! Yes, the Apple Mac CAN get infected!

For many years I have heard people say “Macs can’t get viruses” (or some variation).  That wasn’t true then and DEFINITELY is not true now.  As MacBooks and iMacs get more popular, they are becoming a tempting target for the cyber crooks. Although we have had customers bringing in virus infected Macs to Discount Computer Service for many years now, we recently have seen a significant spike of infected Macs.  Yes, now more than ever, just like PCs, a Mac can get popups, website re-directions and other nasty virus effects of malicious software. Oh, did I mention the Flashback trojan … Continue reading

Before you buy that iPhone or iPad – Check it’s Activation Lock Status!

The good news is that Apple’s relatively new Activation Lock feature is deterring criminals from stealing iPhones, iPads, etc.  This feature lets you ‘Find’ your device if it gets lost or stolen and lock it or wipe it out.  A locked or wiped phone cannot be re-activated by the next person unless it is first unlocked by the owner. If you’re buying a second hand iPhone, iPad or iPod touch (any recent iOS device), be sure to check it’s Activation Lock status BEFORE you buy it!  Simply type in the serial number (printed on the device) into the website below. … Continue reading

Tech Solutions Radio moving to Fridays 6-7p on WCBM!

For the last several years, I have loved sharing my Sunday afternoons with the WCBM audience and talking about tech.  I have some great listeners and have loved talking to each and every caller.  I am happy to announce that Tech Solutions Radio will be moving to a new day and time in the WCBM lineup.  Effective February 27, 2015, Tech Solutions Radio will now be broadcast live every Friday from 6p-7p eastern time.   I truly hope all of the weekend listeners can join me at our new day and time.  I thank you for all of your great calls … Continue reading