The Tax Season Has Arrived

Tax season is almost here, and it’s time for you to start thinking about how you will be submitting your income tax declaration. There are several ways for you to prepare and give your documents to the IRS, from having a professional accountant do it for you to completing and submitting the documents yourself or using special software.

Help with Tax Season from LaptopMD

Before you choose this route, you need to consider the security status of your computer system. How do you know if it’s safe to share your private and sensitive financial information with a software program? Let us help educate you on the signs of a compromised computer.

Check your device
Firstly, before you install any tax software on your computer, you need to make sure that the computer is not infected with viruses, malware or spyware. Here is a list of behaviors that may indicate your computer is compromised with spyware:

Help with Tax Season from LaptopMD

  • Your computer suddenly operates very slowly when opening applications;
  •  Random pop-up messages appear while you are on the Internet. No matter what you do, the messages continue to pop-up;
  • An unknown toolbar suddenly populates your web browser;
  • The homepage on your web browser now directs you to a completely different website;
  • The search engine in your web browser has switched to a different service;
  •  Odd error messages pop-up unexpectedly and do not make any sense at all.
What to do?
How do you prevent becoming a victim of Spyware? Here are a few security tips for you to keep in mind:
  • Do not click on any suspicious links within unsolicited emails from people you do not know. If you receive an email that looks like it originated from a legit source (like your bank) but you still find suspicious; do not click the link. Instead, access the site from a bookmark or through a web address that you know is valid. Another trick is to hover your mouse pointer over the web link and if the highlighted link is different from the one within the email body, something is wrong!
  •  Do not input any information into any unexpected pop-up windows. Close these windows and move on.

Help with Tax Season from LaptopMD

  • Only download programs on the Internet from reputable sources. Sometimes ‘free’ software comes with a spyware price tag.
  • One last suggestion is to create a separate user profile on your computer that doesn’t have administrative rights to install software or make any system changes. This way, when you use this profile to visit the Internet, it’s incapable of installing malicious software in the event that it gets compromised.

And the last one
Now that you’re alert to what kind of suspicious activities can affect your laptop during tax season, let us know if you’re experiencing any of these issues. We here at LaptopMD are happy to help you safely submit your taxes this tax season.

Back-to-school. Are you ready?

August is almost over and it’s that time of the year again – the time when children return to school. Parents often spend many hours gathering the required items on their children’s back-to-school lists. However, there is one thing parents rarely consider: their child’s laptop.

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Children will spend countless hours during the upcoming school year using their laptops for classes, homework, and online research. Is your child’s laptop ready for school?

The back-to-school deal
LaptopMD is here to help parents and their children have a successful school year! Malfunctioning effects, such as broken keys, slow processing, viruses, and flashing screens, are all needless distractions. Typing class notes, Google searches, and using software applications should be fast and easy. Our technicians at LaptopMD just want to make sure that your child receives credit for his or her hard work and having a properly functioning laptop is essential to your child’s academic success.

Back-to-School with LaptopMD

To celebrate the back-to-school season, LaptopMD is running a special promotion! From 8/26/2016 – 09/11/2016, all laptop repairs are 10% off at our Manhattan and New Jersey locations!

Back-to-School with LaptopMD

This discount is good for all laptop and PC repairs, including:

• Screen replacement
Virus removal
• Keyboard replacement
• Hinge repair
• Battery replacement
• Motherboard replacement

Together we can make it!
So, if your child’s laptop isn’t working properly, needs a tune-up, or even an upgrade, bring it to LaptopMD! We will fix it and return it to you as good as new! We will make it homework-ready, so your child is prepared for the upcoming school year! Together, we can make it a success!

The Doctor is in the House. On-Site Service.

We understand that you are busy and we value your time. That is why LaptopMD comes to you! Whether you are a business or an individual, when LaptopMD makes house calls, you can rest assured that you’re getting experience and integrity from certified technicians capable of performing any type of repair job. Whether you need help with software installation, computer network setup, printer support, or iPhone repair, our technicians have the training you need.

Who Can We Help?
Our dedicated technicians can service any small business or individual. We offer full support to small businesses on a regular basis. All business clients need computer support from time to time, but you don’t always need a full-time IT engineer. That’s where we come in. We can provide all of your business IT needs without the expense of a full-time staff member.
On site service. LaptopMD

We also provide full service computer and electronic troubleshooting for private clients in your home. Whether you work from home, or you need help with iTunes, email, or some other personal electronic need, we are here to help, in your home and usually within the same day.

About Our Services
For Business or Private Clients:

  • Set up your computer network
  • Solve software issues
  • Install programs
  • Provide computer training and other digital needs
  • Software customizations
  • Network and Printer set-up or connectivity issues
  • iPhone Repair
  • Minor Viruses, and more

On site service. LaptopMD

Most repairs can be done onsite, but some repairs may require additional attention or special parts. Our managers help alleviate these issues during the initial call and assessment to ensure your problem is diagnosed properly and we bring the proper tools with us. If work must be taken off your premises, or if special parts are needed, we will notify you immediately and prorate the onsite support fee.

What Makes Us the Trusted Physicians?
We have more than 15 years of experience, professional, certified engineers, and thousands of positive reviews on Yelp.

On site service. LaptopMD

When we come into your home or place of business, you can expect the same customer service you would receive in our office. We provide the trust and reliability our clients all depend on. We know and understand that you don’t want to invite just anyone into your home or office. That is why we are supported by thousands of positive reviews from customers just like you and the Better Business Bureau. Thousands of New Yorkers have trusted us with their IT needs, you can, too!

Why Should You Choose Our On-Site Services?
Convenience! You need assistance on your schedule, not the rest of New York’s. No lines, no waiting rooms, quick and easy – we will not waste your time.

On site service. LaptopMD

We work 6 Days a week. When you need us, our certified repair technicians are there in a flash. We will take care of you while you rest easy.

Locations We Serve
Manhattan, Brooklyn within 1-3 stops of Manhattan, and Queens.

Schedule your Appointment Now
Find out for yourself why LaptopMD is the best in New York for onsite computer support.We will be right there when you are ready for us. Call us today!

On site service. LaptopMD

 

CryptoWall of Doom

NOTE TO ALL WINDOWS USERS:

If you’re e-mailing, be very careful what files you open. Cryptowalls are Super-Viruses, and they can ruin all the data on your computer.

Cryptowalls generally come in e-mails as .PDF/.EXE file attachments, asking you to open them for more information about a question posed in an e-mail.

Once you open these files, the malicious code sweeps your computer, encrypting all your files. The infected computer receives a notepad file warning of a $500 USD ransom that goes up to $1000 in seven days. The money must be sent in bitcoins and sent to the e-mail directed.

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Top Back-To-School Tech Tips

back-to-school computer tipsWith the school year just around the corner, students across New York are gearing up to ship out to colleges, some going back to a familiar haunts and others just getting ready for a new adventure. And while some students are lucky enough to get a brand new computer, in this tough economy a lot of students and their families have to cut back on expenses and make old laptops and other devices stretch just another year or two. With that said, there are a couple of tech tips and tricks that can give new life to old equipment and make it stretch through one more year away from home.

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Six Problems with Windows and How to Prevent Them – Part 2

Recently, in part 1 of our series on “Six Problems with Windows and How to Prevent Them” I looked at how you can prevent computer nightmares such as non-booting computers, not being able to access your hard drive, and encountering blue screens of death.  Today, I continue the series by looking at the remaining nightmares presented by PCWorld and I provide tips/advice which help you turn those situations into more peaceful occurrences.

Nightmare: No One Has the PC’s Administrator Password

Preventive Steps:

  • While I don’t recommend that you start hacking a system’s password (it can get messy for the average user), I do recommend that you don’t get caught needing a password that you need from one of your employees.  All business principals should share knowledge of an admin password with their Systems Admin.  Passwords are precious, especially in corporate environments, and while knowledge of passwords should be kept to as few people as possible, if you are the owner or executive at a company insist that your Systems Admin shares his or her executive passwords with you, at least for a fail-safe scenario.

Nightmare: You Think Your PC Is Infected

Preventive Steps:

  • Keep your anti-virus program up to date and run it as needed.
  • Typically viruses infect system files and not your everyday documents so try doing a system restore or system backup to a point in time that you know you were not infected.
  • Viruses can be complex and can get intertwined in the system files so be sure to consult a professional.

Nightmare: An Important File Disappears

Preventive Steps:

  • The easiest solution was covered in yesterday’s segment – backup, backup, backup ahead of time!  See Part 1 for more information on backup techniques.  If you’ve lost the file and you don’t have a backup, check out the PCWorld article for more information.

I hope you gained fresh insight into preventive maintenance steps and ways of dealing with your computer nightmares and problems.  As always, LaptopMD is here to help you with your computer and software repair problems – there isn’t a problem that we don’t know how to take care of.

Is your Windows nightmare not listed or do you need help?  Describe it in the comments and let us help you with it.

Six Problems with Windows and How to Prevent Them – Part 1

We’ve all been there when our computer has failed and the nightmares occur in different forms as written recently in PCWorld: “Six Windows 7 Nightmares (and how to fix them)“.  This article is a good read, as it provides fixes to the problems as they occur, but it got me thinking about simple preventive maintenance best practices, related to each nightmare, that can turn computer and software nightmares into sweet dreams.

Read below for part one of a two-part series on PCWorld’s common nightmares with Windows and the best ways to prevent them or at least make dealing with the computer problems less stressful.

Nightmare: Your PC Won’t Boot

Preventive Steps:

  • Know Where Your Original Setup CDs are – organization is a primary key to mitigating problems.  It’s a lot easier and less stressful if all of your setup/installation CDs are in one place.  Don’t throw your disks away because you never know when you’ll need them but always keep them in one central location for ease of access.
  • Create a System Repair Disc and add this disc to your collection of setup/installation disks.  This is a good idea if you do not have the original startup disks and having multiple copies of an important disk won’t hurt and you’ll probably thank yourself if/when you misplace the other.

Nightmare: You Can’t Access the Hard Drive

Preventive Steps:

  • Backup your computer and essential files onto an external hard drive or online storage service.  Let me say that again – back up your files! We’ve talked about multiple services and devices to use in past articles: SugarSync and PogoPlug/Mozy.com.

Nightmare: Blue Screens of Death Attack Your PC Regularly

Preventive Steps:

  • As PCWorld writes, Blue Screens of Death (BSoD) can be prevented by keeping tabs on your drivers and making sure you are using the most up to date versions.  You can check your drivers using a piece of freeware called SlimWare – this program will notify you if/when your drivers are out of date and where to go to download the newest versions.  Be careful, though, and consult an IT engineer before updating drivers as this could inadvertently cause the problem itself!

Stay tuned for more preventive maintenance relating to Windows like losing a PC Admin’s password, being infected with a virus, and losing an important file from your computer – coming in part 2!

Tell us what your worst nightmare is with your computer right now and we will provide any answers you might need.

Beyond the Moat: Network Security Outside Your Intranet

As we talked about briefly in the last security-related post, most of the top-5 security breaches occur in the office through carelessness and inattention. Most of these issues can be resolved with a good employee computer policy, but what about those network assets that live outside of your companies local area network?

Things like your web page, any remote access software or tunnels you use, your blog, and your social media are all mostly outside of your control. Unless you have a dedicated server in-house that you run your website from, or you have a special relationship with Mark Zukerberg and he lets you personally test the security on your FB, you are pretty much stuck with whatever security features your web vendors provide you with, right?

Well, not entirely, there are still things that you can and SHOULD do to make sure that ALL of your networking assets are safe and secure. Let’s take a look at steps you can take by asset:

Web Page –

Yes, it’s true that most of the time your company will be renting space on a shared server, which means what you can and can’t control is limited. That doesn’t mean you need to throw your website to the digital wolves: there are easy, concrete steps you can take to make sure you’re safe from external attacks. The best part is since the server is managed by someone else, usually you just have to worry about these things once.

  • Newer is Better: Before signing on with any hosting provider, check to make sure that they are up to date on the bits that matter. For web security, this means they should have the latest version of PHP and SQL running. Also, browse through their support forums and check to see if anyone is having issues waiting for the hosting company to update it’s servers. If it seems like they are slow to update, this could be a sign of potential future headache.
  • Data Storage: At some point early in the web design process, you need to decide what kind of data you will need to have available on your web-facing pages. Generally, you do not want to store any sensitive information on your web-site’s server, but sometimes (like for an e-commerce site) you have no choice. If you DO have a choice, don’t put anything sensitive on your web server. Store it locally.
  • If There’s No Other Way: If you absolutely MUST store personal or sensitive information, make sure that your hosting company supports encryption for all data transmissions and build your web-site appropriately. Use SSL and HTTPS whenever any delicate details need to be transmitted, and make sure your data is locked down tight on the server.
  • Lock The Door: There are a lot of ways to access data on the web. Make sure you shut down and password protect all of them. A lot of hosts will, for example, provide an open, anonymous FTP login for your account. Turn it off. Make sure all your FTP accounts are protected by strong passwords that are not similar to your other passwords. Also make sure that any databases are password-protected and that the password is not hard-coded into any of the pages that a customer might see. If any directories contain personal or delicate information, make sure they are also locked down with individual passwords, and make sure you have all your access and CHMOD settings set appropriately.

Social Media –

With social media, we have even less control than with remote servers. Unfortunately, they have become a way of life, and it looks like they’re here to stay. Since most of the privacy setting and security features on these networks are entirely in the hands of their owners, there is little you can do about the physical security of the information on them. So, the obvious solution is: control what information you expose to these networks.  Even with Facebook’s updated privacy settings, you have to stop and ask yourself: if something happened at Facebook and a hacker got a hold of this information, would I want people I know and work with to see it? The best security policy for all social media sites is:

  1. Do not reuse your password!
  2. Do not post anything (even hidden, even if you don’t let any work contacts or clients or customers to see your wall) EVER that might come back to reflect negatively on you as a person, as a business owner, or as a trusted member of the community. The risk is simply not worth it. Basically, before you hit enter to post that update, think to yourself: “Would I be ok posting that on a sign in the front window of my business?” If you answer no, don’t do it on Facebook.

If you follow the simple steps outlined in this and the previous security article, you should have nothing to worry about. Just remember: security doesn’t begin and end at your router. It’s a process that needs to be maintained. Stay on top of it and stay alert, and you’ll have no problems.

Network Security: Big Trouble for Small Business

“Our business is too small to worry about security.”

“Who could possibly want any of our information?”

“I trust all my employees when they surf the web. They’re all smart people.”

“Network security is too much of a hassle!”

All various excuses we’ve heard from friends and colleagues with small businesses when asked about their network security protocols. Does this sound like something you or your boss might have said at some point? By all means, then, read on.

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Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 4

Pollen can be bad news for computers.
Imagine this is your fan. Except that if your fan looked this bad, your computer would be at risk of exploding at any moment.

It has been a busy week, and as such not a whole lot of time to update, but we’re back and gearing up for our big spring cleaning promotion set to launch Tuesday the 29th. It’s going to be a good one, so stay tuned for more updates. In the meantime, how about another common misconception? This one might just go ahead and contradict the entire premise of this series (i.e. that spring cleaning is just an excuse for a cheap marketing ploy), so it turns out I’m not immune from making these mistakes either. Who knew?

#4: “Spring cleaning is just an excuse for a cheap marketing push. It doesn’t matter when you clean stuff.”

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