Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Which OS is superior? Mac or Windows?

It's true that there are plenty of different computer manufacturing brands, but for the average user, there are only two real choices for operating systems: Mac OS vs. Windows. There's also Linux, but that is used mainly by businesses and advanced computer users. When it comes to choosing a personal computer, you have to take a close look at what both Windows and Mac have to offer, and we'll be exploring some of their respective advantages in this article.

The main advantage of Windows based computers for the average user is price. You can definitely get a computer with a Windows OS for much less than you can get a Mac for. Whether you get a desktop or a laptop, you can save several hundred dollars by choosing a PC rather than a Mac. If the only thing you are hoping to do with your computer are the basics like watching videos and Internet surfing and emailing, it makes a lot more sense for you financially to choose a Windows based PC. You probably have quite a few reasons for liking Mac better--maybe its easier for you to use or its design is better, but it is always going to cost you more money. When your goal is to get the lowest priced PC, though, Windows has a clear advantage. Do keep in mind though, PC tends to be the leading platform for gaming. 

If you are a follower of tech news, you've undoubtedly heard quite a bit about Windows 10, the next important update being offered by the Windows operating system. For some people this is going to be a major blip in the entire Windows Vs. Mac debate because, apparently, when this new release comes out it is going to have some amazing new features. Most importantly, Windows 10 will give you the option of using your computer as a tablet, with a highly functional touchscreen. There will also be the option to use the traditional keyboard and mouse. Of course, as of the writing of this article, Windows 10 is still a future release that we can only look forward to. The release date will be sometime in 2018 at the earliest. By then it is definitely likely that Mac is going to come up with something that will rival those features.

With the newest Mac OS release: OS X High Sierra, you have built in security features that will keep you protected when someone wants to steal our laptop or notebook. iPhones have employed Remote Wipe for quite a while, but it is still new for regular computers. This will help you remotely erase your whole hard drive if your computer is lost or stolen. If you keep personal or very sensitive information on your computer, this will offer you some genuine peace of mind. You will only be able to use this feature with Lion OS as it makes judicious use of the iCloud. As of this article's writing Windows based computers do not have anything that is remotely comparable to this feature. Obviously you still need to run backups of your important data so that, in the event that you do have to wipe your hard drive, you won't lose the data that is most important to you. These are just a few of the points regarding Windows and Mac OSes that you should consider before making your final choices. If you're having trouble making up your mind, you should visit a large computer store, including perhaps an Apple store if there's one near you. It's easier to come to a final decision when you can check out both types of PC with your own eyes and hands.

Advice On Recycling Your Computer

Although recycling is becoming more popular with time, many individuals never think about recycling their computer. A large percentage of people have computers and a good portion even own multiple. You'll find that lots of people trade-in their computers for brand new ones. At times when you get a new computer you can trade your old one in, but if it isn't working too well, how many individuals simply throw away the old one? Often, that computer winds up in a landfill someplace, and it isn't biodegradable, so it will simply sit there, taking up space.

There's a computer recycling program that began in 1994 but only a few businesses and people are familiar with it. If your computer is still operational, you have the choice of offering it to a person who needs it. Although you may think your computer is useless and doesn't work, it could be donated to a few colleges. A few colleges have computer repair classes so they can use it there. What better use for your old pc that doesn't work any more, than a class where they are learning how to repair computers. College students will gain knowledge about how a computer works and how to build one!

You can also donate your computer systems to non-profits. These places can easily fix computers and donate them to people who are not able to afford one. In many situations, many individuals just want a new computer though the old one is still working. While they purchase the latest model, they can give it to someone who might still have use for an older model. You can also get a tax write off on an older pc if you donate it. While there may be an issue with the information that is on your computer system but you can visit your local repair shop to help you with that. These computer repair shops can get rid of the data on your hard drive for a tiny fee or they may not charge at all if you plan to donate it! You'll only be able to find out if you ask!

In several places, you may get in trouble with the law if you dispose of the computer and monitor with other trash. You must find a better option, unless you wish to keep it. Again, you've got the option of making contact with your local college to see if they are happy to take it. There will be a person who will find use for your computer so don't simply dump it into a landfill. A few landfills have a special place for old machines, so tell them what you have, and see what their recommendation is.

It's likely you have never thought about recycling your old pc, but it is something you must do. A personal computer should not land in the dump, any more than other things you recycle. Possibly even more so! If you need help a local computer expert should have no problems helping you out. 

Monday, February 27, 2017

Getting Fooled by Scammers – Your Computer

I don’t think more than a few days go by before I get a phone call – “Hi, I’m calling from Microsoft Technical department. We’ve identified problems with your computer.”  This phrase has ALWAYS been uttered in broken, pretty heavily accented English when I’ve taken these calls. If it was an actual native English speaking person on the other end, it would probably throw me, but I haven’t had that issue yet.

Sadly, I have gotten this “technical support” phone call several times in the same day. I’m not really sure if this is the SAME bank of phone scammers sharing a list or if there truly are THAT many offices doing this stuff and they just end up tripping over each other. Anyway, you’re going to hear someone pretending to be from Microsoft – or occasionally giving a vague answer about it, but Microsoft will ALWAYS be mentioned in my experience. As a brief side note, unless you truly HAVE contacted Microsoft and given them the info to call you, you will NOT be contacted by Microsoft. Even THEN, you’re most likely to get an email from them. Microsoft does NOT get into helping you proactively with a purported virus issue. They, to MY knowledge, will not even help you if you DO call them with a virus issue. For THAT, you need a good local Raleigh computer repair company – betting you can figure out who WE would recommend….

Now, no matter WHAT you say at this point – other than calling them on their scam, and even THEN, sometimes they continue to try – their primary goal is to get you in front of your computer and let them in.

“My house is on fire.”
“Okay. Are you in front of your computer?”
“I need you to go to the Start button.”

Seriously, these people have that mindset. They likely are not overly familiar with the words that you are using other than “Yes” or “No”. If it falls outside of technical verbiage, they’ll be lost. Just remember, English is almost assuredly NOT their first language.

The last time I got this call, it was even MORE fun. The only machines that were on at that time were a Linux fileserver and a Mac. After confirming that my “Windows machine” was causing problems RIGHT THEN, I asked him how that was possible with only a Linux box and a Mac running in the house. This time, he DID hang up. It’s always fun to back them into a corner though so there’s no way out before you spring your trap. Though I have a feeling that it wasn’t that he wanted to save face, I suspect it was more that there was no money to be made there.

They will try to get you on the computer and PROVE their legitimacy by showing things to you that make you feel like they really DO know what is going on in your computer and they are legit.  IF you don’t know computers – and the registry – it will seem like magic as they show you all these things. It’s sort of like someone saying,

“Go ahead and lift up the hood of your car. I’m going to show you something. Is there a big metal thing there?”
“You mean an engine? Yes.”
“See what I’m talking about? You’re going to see one or two rubber belts there too. You see them?”
“Exactly as I thought.”
“Now there will be 4 wheels on the car. I bet they ALSO have rubber wrapped around them, don’t they?”
“Yeah, that’s what we saw too.”

That’s realistically exactly what they’re doing. Inside your Windows software, there are certain things that are just GOING to be there. So they take you in and act like they are geniuses and point out things like that.

What CAN they do to your computer?

THAT is the problem.d Not that they call you – though wasting your time IS an annoyance. The real problem is that should you follow their directions, they are going to have access to poke around your computer, download things like files that maybe have the word “password” in it, download your email file – that big Outlook PST file maybe that has every email and password hint, bank communications, list of all your friends’ email addresses and SOOOOO much more in it? They can install keylogger software and have it phone home with your usernames and passwords to any site you visit. They can THEN visit your bank AS YOU and do some nasty things – thinking you can imagine.

They can install remote control software that STAYS there even after you THINK they have gone. They can now send email as you (they can also install a quiet little email server right ON your computer….) to all your friends or create other mayhem. They can choose to setup that “FBI virus” or to install the encrypting virus on your computer.

In short, if you let these people in, you no longer can be guaranteed that you DO have sole access to your computer. You can have the equivalent of a thief sitting in front of your computer with FULL ACCESS every day going forward. Full access to everything you do, you have and you create going forward. All your documents, every website you visit, every password you use or even create.

What can YOU do?

  1. DON’T EVER EVER EVER LET ANYONE ONTO YOUR COMPUTER THAT CALLS YOU UP CLAIMING TO BE TECHNICAL SUPPORT.  If you call Buckeye PC up and want us to help you, we will do so, but NO company will call you and give you the premise line above. There truly are only a few organizations that will contact you about any type of problem with your computer that are legit. These all focus on the email and/or traffic coming from your computer. Time Warner has sent out alerts via email that unusual traffic is coming from my IP address to me in the past. It was a customer computer that was being fixed at that time thankfully. Secondarily, your email server people may contact you or cut you off from sending email if they detect large amounts of spam coming out of your IP address/computer.  You will either get an email (most likely) or an actual letter.
  2. IF it’s already too late, you fell for it and they were all over your computer, we suggest a few things. First off – call a LEGIT reputable computer repair place and explain what occurred. Make this a priority. Don’t pull a “Yeah, I’ll get to it later” thing. IF your computer and data have been compromised, the scammers will NOT be waiting to check your bank balances and arranging transfers until THEY get to it later. They’ll be hot on it NOW.   A phone call to the bank to put a watch on your account is likely NOT overkill.  Once you get your computer fixed, you will want to go back and CHANGE YOUR PASSWORDS. You’ll want to change all of them ideally. If that is NOT really possible, then at least change the vital ones – your email, your financials, and your FB/Twitter/other social ones.  Hackers getting into your FoodNetwork profile is NOT going to be the end of the world – you may need to go find that perfect mac and cheese recipe again… But at least you’ll have money in your bank account to MAKE it if you focus on the most important things NOW.  Protect the most vital accounts immediately and the others as you get to them.

There’s a whole lot of this going around these days. DON’T become a victim. When they launch into the “From Microsoft technical support” speech, just hang up.  Of course if you WANT to have fun and waste THEIR time, have AT it!