And now, here is your computer news for this month!
First of all, we would like all our clients to know that support for Microsoft’s Windows Vista operating system has come to an end. Microsoft won’t publish public security patches, so it is absolutely time to upgrade your computer if this affects you.
New computers don’t need to be expensive so let us know if this is your case. Please don’t wait on this.
A couple useful hints
Passwords! DO NOT use just a single dictionary or proper noun word as your email account password. People tend to underestimate the importance of the data that can be found in emails and just go for an “easy to remember” password that is not secure enough.
You can use programs like KeePass or LastPass, which generate passwords that include caps, numbers and combinations that can’t be guessed and are stored securely by this program, so there’s no risk of forgetting them. If you want something even simpler, just keep a book or notepad with all of your passwords together, so you don’t have to go hunting in multiple places. Cross out old passwords and date the new ones as you change them.
There’s sometimes faster ways to do things than using a mouse. You probably have seen that when we are supporting your computer we don’t really use the mouse as often as most people do. Power users can use keyboard keys to complete many actions that would take longer by using the mouse. This saves time and effort once you get used to it.
So, a Hot Key is a key or a combination of keys providing quick access to a particular function within a program. Here are some of the most frequently used ones:
Ctrl + C or Ctrl + Insert: Copy.
Ctrl + X or Shift + Delete: Cut.
Ctrl + V or Shift + Insert: Paste/Move.
Ctrl + Z: Undo
Ctrl +Plus : Zoom in
Ctrl +Minus : Zoom out
Have an old cellphone?
We might be able to help you sell your old phone and also recommend a new one, if you’re in the market.
Thank you once again for letting us help with all of your computer woes.
Don’t fall for scams!
This month we would like to give you our ever-popular advice on how to avoid having your computer get infected We’ve received SEVERAL calls from our clients in the last weeks telling us how they were receiving scam calls, popups, and emails.
How do you recognize a scam?
The basic rule is: Did you ask for this? If this email, call, or message on your computer is unexpected and scary, STOP. You can always call me to get an answer instead of following along with a potential scam.
If you got an email from an unknown address or sender DO NOT open it. If you get a weird email from someone you know that has attachments or links that you didn’t expect, delete it and let the person know through a different method.
If you load a webpage and suddenly a screen appears telling you you’re infected and you should call this number, STOP. Call me instead and we can figure out how to avoid these kind of things in the future.
I do all that I reasonably can to secure the computers that I work on, but no security is perfect.
Email scams specifically
There’s no foolproof way to determine if an email is a scam, but here are some things to look out for:
Many scam emails would use the name of popular brands you will recognize and their subject lines will have urgent phrases such as your “account has been suspended” or your account had an “unauthorized login attempt”.
Also, don’t believe in “free gifts”, “approved applications”, or people who claim they have a very serious illness and are seeking financial help. Also, since this is tax season, the IRS is not going to be emailing you, so anything from them is a scam.
When in doubt, if you do business with a company being mentioned, you can always contact them through the phone number on a mailed statement, credit card you have, or the phonebook.
Another very common and serious type of virus usually will pretend to be a UPS, FedEx, USPS, etc delivery notification. Be very careful with any email claiming to be about a package delivery, especially do not click any links in such an email, nor open any such attachments.
Also, no one should ever ask for your password to anything over email.
What do I do if I receive one of the above emails?
Mark it as spam/junk or just delete it. Never open it.
Maybe I’m jumping the gun on spring cleaning – doesn’t really feel that springy out there, but it’s as good a time as any.
As always, we would like to thank you for trusting our services and letting us solve your computer problems.
Organize your files
It’s come to our attention that many people have been losing files that they were sure they had saved in a certain location. They waste time (and thus, money) struggling to find them when it would be so much easier just to have proper organization. These skills are easy to acquire and they will save you more than one headache!
Is your desktop covered with files? Need a plan to organize your computer? If the answer to these questions is a resounding ‘Yes’, you may want to check out Gloria Weinblatt’s 1-on-1 training or seminars on organizing files. Gloria’s a client and friend of mine.
Gloria says: “Learn how to file and find documents in 15 seconds. This class will spend the first part learning the system and the second part will be hands on, so bring your laptop!”. She will offer this hands-on 1-on-1 training for $30 an hour.
Dates are not set yet so please let us know your availability. Before Dec 6 can be onsite and after that, through Skype. In the spring she will be back to do a group class where will come up with a group rate for up to five people.
Don’t be a turkey
Make sure you get your backups checked. I can’t emphasize enough how important this is. It costs thousands of dollars to recover lost data… and it’s often times impossible to do so. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
Prepay with a discount for the new year
Let’s be honest: you know you’re going to need computer help eventually.
You can prepay for four or eight hours of service. Buy four hours for a 10% discount or eight hours for a 20% discount. These hours will never expire and unused hours are fully refundable!
For businesses this will let you put this capital expense on this year’s budget. If this sounds interesting to you, please give us a call or email right away.
Is Your Computer Haunted?
Watchdog Technology will “exorcise” the ghosts, gremlins and
goblins causing problems in your computer network.
Is your computer slow, crashing and freezing up? Are you haunted by pop ups and spam? Is your computer acting so weird that you think it’s possessed?
If so, these are typical signs of an ill-maintained computer network that’s infected with spyware, viruses or other ghoulies and gremlins. If left alone, these problems could evolve into a much bigger (and more expensive) problem. We want to keep those technology gremlins from getting a hold in your systems.
Here are some things you can do to keep your computer and network gremlin free:
1. Turn off your computer at least weekly! Your computer needs rest to reset itself, and to do some internal checks that happen at start-up. Don’t just let it sleep, but actually let it go through full shut-down.
2. Have a Quality, Premium Antivirus Product. More and more, I’m seeing that for-pay Internet Security software is better protecting my clients than the free software available or the inadequate options included with your computer or internet provider.
3. Require Strong Passwords. I know – we all hate having to keep track of these, but it doesn’t have to be that onerous. Keep a little book of them and most importantly, use a different, good password for each email address and each financial account. For things that don’t matter, you may reuse passwords, but for the ones that matter, make sure they have, at least, upper- and lower-case letters, a symbol and a number.
4. Keep Your Programs Up To Date. Things are changing all the time. It’s a constant arms-race between virus manufacturers and the beneficial software you use. Most programs update on their own, but they need to be checked from time to time. Some software, like Adobe and Java products need manual intervention to update, but those updates must be done. Some programs can even be removed since they’re not necessary for you and are just sitting there as a ticking time-bomb.
5. Backup Your Data. Make sure you have an external backup storage–even better if you have multiple! Use a storage device, back up your files in the cloud, or even just email important documents to yourself to make sure you’ve got backups, no matter what. A quality backup can foil aggressive ransomware attacks, where a hacker locks up your files and holds them ransom until you pay up. If you files are backed up, you don’t have to pay to get your data back. But a backup’s only as good as the testing of it shows to be. You need to have your backups checked occasionally to ensure they’re actually doing their job. This is something that needs to be setup and tested by a professional. Don’t just copy a few files to a flashdrive once in awhile unless you can tolerate the loss of all your data.
6. Don’t Download Questionable Software. One of the fastest ways to infect your network is by downloading seemingly innocuous software with embedded malicious code. When in doubt, talk to your network administrator before doing any update or download of a program that you’re not sure of.
7. Block Unwanted Ads. Just like unwanted email spam, you probably don’t want to see flashing banner ads and things that pop up in front of what you’re reading and start making noise. Having the right (not just any) ad-blocking capability is an easy and low-maintenance way of both saving frustration and removing that attack vector against your computer. Infected ads exist and by simply loading them, your computer can get infected.
8. Don’t Click Weird Links & Attachments, emails from package delivery companies specifically. One of the biggest methods of infection is the malicious link or attachment. Ransomware often pretends to be from UPS, USPS, FedEx, etc. Just mark them as spam. Don’t click anything questionable on Facebook, nor elsewhere.
If you’ve got gremlins and ghosts in your technology – or just want someone to clean up all the dust and cobwebs; give us a call or reply to this email. We’ll contact you to have a quick chat about what problems you’re having and what it will take to fix them. We offer free consultations, help with your digital security, help keeping up with your backups, and fast services for people with all sorts of tech issues. Shoot us a line by responding to this email, or giving us a call at 1-(855)-928-2483.
Hello, folks! We hope your summer was awesome, and here’s to a great fall for everyone.
To avoid getting scammed, remember that you can’t usually talk to representatives of Facebook, Google or Microsoft on the phone.
We’ve recently had a client who discovered that there was a fake Facebook account made with her image and a slightly misspelled name. She went and changed her password, but then listened to another friend of hers who told her to call Facebook and have them resolve this. She ended up googling “Facebook customer support” and called a number where they claimed her computer was badly infected and they’d need to charge $400 to fix it. She let them remote control her computer, but wised-up once they asked for that much money. The number she called was not Facebook—it was a scam.
Here’s the moral. You effectively can’t call Facebook, Google, or many other free services on the internet. If you need support, you can go to the company’s actual site and try to get help on the Web page (or call me), but don’t try to call the companies. And do not google for support numbers. This also goes for any IRS or banking/credit-card stuff too. If you get a notification you’re not sure about, go to the actual company’s website by typing it in. Don’t click on any links in an email to go to websites— they may be scams. Keep in mind that your bank, the IRS, and other financial institutions will NEVER ask you for your passwords.
As always, if you’ve got any problem at all with your technology-or just want to make sure everything is running smoothly for the new school year- give us a call or reply to this email. We’ll contact you to have a quick chat about what problems you’re having and what it will take to fix them. We offer free consultations, help with your digital security, help keeping up with your backups, and fast services for people with all sorts of tech issues. Shoot us a line by responding to this email, or giving us a call at 1-(855)-928-2483.
It’s May—and it’s time for some spring cleaning! We’re not talking about vacuuming the drapes, though, we’re talking about spring cleaning for your digital world. Let us help you clean your cache, scrub your internet history, back-up your data, and keep your technology safe from invading bugs with a fresh security check.
Take a moment to see if you’ve got any warning signs of malware: unusually slow load times when browsing the internet, feeling like your computer is running slowly overall, extra bars at the top of your internet browser, ending up on a strange page when you open your internet browser, and strange error messages or pop-up advertisements. If you have any of these issues, give us a call and we’ll help you clean it all up with a tuneup and security check up.
We also have a tutoring program in the works about keeping your data organized and backed up properly, so watch out for that.
Lastly, Windows 10. If you don’t want Windows 10 because you like what you have now and it’s working just fine, be aware that Microsoft is starting to automatically install it on peoples’ computers without asking. There is a software called Never10 which can stop this process and I’d be happy to help you set that up.
Cheers and enjoy the lovely weather!
Don’t be an April Fool
Make sure you’re doing your backups or are set up so they’re done automatically. We can help you keep your data safe and accessible if you’re not sure your backups are working right.
Welcome to our new technician
We get to welcome another member to the Watchdog Technology pack; David Evans is joining us as a new technician! As some of you know, Chris will be out of town for a month – he’ll still be doing remote work, but if you need an onsite tech, David will be by to help you out. We’re excited that he is joining our little team and we hope you are excited to meet him.
Bitdefender errors – watch out!
Many clients are receiving weird errors from BitDefender claiming that their license has expired or offering to sell an upgrade. If you get one of these messages, please call us right away. It’s a minor bug and we’ll fix this for free. We want you to feel your technology is safe and secure.
Lisa Blauersouth, Chris Petersen, & David Evans
Quick note here – if you haven’t upgraded your existing computer to Windows 10, Microsoft is being more and more pushy about trying to get you to do it.
If you already have Windows 10 on a new machine or through an upgrade and everything is working fine for you, that’s great. However, if you don’t have Windows 10 already, I don’t recommend you do the upgrade.
Unfortunately, Microsoft has made it very difficult to totally remove the nag prompts to get you to upgrade so I can’t simply give you the instructions here.
If you’ve accidentally been lead to upgrade to Windows 10 within the last 30 days and you’d like to reverse this, please contact me for help. If it’s been longer than this amount of time, there’s no economical way to accomplish this, so I’d rather try to get things working in Windows 10 instead.
This is a somewhat confusing issue and I’m happy to answer any questions you might have about it. Don’t hesistate to email with any questions or requests for me to disable the Windows 10 nagging.
Hello everyone, hope all is well.
Recently, many of you have come to me with various scams or shady offers you’ve encountered online and over the phone.
If you ever receive a call from someone who claims to be from Microsoft or Windows, they may claim you have an error on their computer or that they received information that your computer is infected. THIS IS A SCAM. Those responsible have stolen mailing lists, some specifically of senior citizens in order to target them.
Know that companies like Microsoft will never call you or ask for your password, nor inform you that you need to take any action on your computer, even if you think you may have a virus.
Additionally, be on the lookout for a company called “Avangate.” A client of mine, who was having trouble with her iPhone, googled for help and unknowingly called their number. They then uninstalled her antivirus and replaced it with spyware. Before she knew it, she was charged $500 for what they called “lifetime security.” THIS IS A SCAM.
To avoid these and other scams, a good rule of thumb is to be very wary of those who approach you over the phone, or those who request remote control of your device. When and if you do require assistance, make sure to contact your trusted service provider and only your trusted service provider for this help.
That being said, scammers are finding new ways to make a quick buck every day, which is why I encourage you to call me for a security checkup and/or tutoring session as soon as possible. You can contact me at 952-681-8325 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If this information isn’t news to you, please share it with those in your life who would benefit from this.
Keep safe online.