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.

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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:

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  • 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.

New Year And New Deal

2016 was a great year for us. We at LaptopMD hope this year will be even better, and we are going to help you get your new year off to a great start as well!

So how about we start off 2017 with a special deal? When you bring your laptop or PC in for repair between January 14th – 21st, we will give you $17 off the price(excluding parts). Additionally, you will have some of the best, professionally trained and independently certified technicians in the city working on your device.

Bring your computer in to us. We will take a look at it and give you a free estimate. If you agree with our evaluation, we will begin the repair on your computer.

How To Recover Deleted Files

We’ve all accidentally sent important files to the recycle bin. It’s an annoying problem to be sure, but you can recover these files if you just go into the recycle bin itself and restore them. But what happens if you empty your recycle bin before you restore an important file?

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You might think that anything deleted from your recycle bin is lost forever, but there are still ways to recover these deleted files.

Check backups
If you find that you’ve deleted an important file, the first thing you should do is check all of your backups and sync services. You should find your lost file completely intact if it was properly backed up. If you use Dropbox, you should even find multiple versions of every file waiting to be restored should you ever need them.

How to recover deleted files from LaptopMD

Windows
If you don’t have a backup of the deleted file, there are still some options available to you. Those who use Windows 8 or higher should have access to a tool called File History that can be turned on from your Control Panel. You will need an external drive to use this tool properly, but it will come in handy if you need to recover a lost file.

How to recover deleted files from LaptopMD

Users with Windows 7 have the ability to create system restore points that include “shadow copies” of important files. You normally cannot access them directly, but if you right click on the desired shadow file copy and select Properties, you should be able to get to the file’s previous versions.

Mac
Mac users have a similar tool called Time Machine at their disposal. Like the tools available to PC users, Time Machine keeps backups of important files on an external drive so they can be restored if necessary. Time Machine needs to be enabled before the necessary file is lost, however; it cannot be used after the fact.

Recovery Tools
If you have a solid-state drive and the above recovery strategies don’t work, you’re out of luck. The files you need are lost, and there’s nothing you can do to get them back. On the other hand, you might still have a chance if you have a regular magnetic platter hard drive. With these standard drives, a file isn’t actually lost until the space where it was found has been overwritten by other data. You will need some special software to recover lost data from a hard drive, but the good news is that there is plenty of programs available such as Recuva or Undelete Plus.

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If you are truly at a loss when it comes to recovering your data, we at LaptopMD will be happy to help in any way we can.

6 Greatest Causes of Data Loss

The data we so meticulously save to our devices is always at risk. Here at LaptopMD, we want everyone to save themselves the devastation of losing that data.

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In that regard, here are the six most common causes of data loss we encounter.

Hardware Damage
Hardware is not meant to last forever and rarely lets you know when it’s about to die. The worst part is when hardware dies, you lose your data. This is why it’s advised you update or change hardware every few years.

Computer Theft or Loss
Someone breaks into your home or car and snatches up your computer, laptop or tablet.

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You leave it in a cab or coffee shop and all your efforts to recover it fail. For many of us, loss of data means a lot more to us than the hardware.

Damaging Software
The biggest thrill for a hacker is finding a way to crack what’s supposed to be the latest firewall or antivirus platform. Someone somewhere is virtually attacked every day. While it is advantageous to be connected via your devices, it means opening yourself up to numerous risks.

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From stealing data and slamming you with spam to making you think something’swrong with your computer so that you can pay hackers to “fix” it, these hazards can be hard to avoid.

Power Failures
The latest operating systems are capable of performing auto-saves to memory before a computer loses power. But that shouldn’t be relied on for protecting data. A shutdown can also disrupt reboot operations and make accessing data difficult later.

Damage as a Result of Mishap
We drop our computers. We spill liquids on the keyboard and watch in horror as our machines die.

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Replacing a computer is a hard pill to swallow, but losing your pictures, files, music and other data hurts. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely anyone will design a waterproof computer any time soon.

Accidental File Deletion
Probably the number one issue brought to us is losing whole files or parts of files. The major reason data is lost is due to the fact there are not appropriate workflow procedures and backup strategies in place.

Tips from LaptopMD

These would save a lot of time.

Now you are unprepared!
Even in today’s sophisticated world of technology and knowledge of the risks, more users than not still operate without regular backups. Backup daily, install the latest anti-virus solutions and be ready to reinstall your OS should you have to. If you’re regularly backing up,

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your files will not be in danger if you encounter any of the above issues. In the worst case scenario, you can contact LaptopMD. We use the latest tech to review and save data where possible.

Happy Thanksgiving To Our Amazing Customers

The team at LaptopMD has a tremendous amount to be grateful for this Thanksgiving. At the top of our list we include our great customers. We thank you for the trust and confidence you have in us when it comes to your all-important device. We know you depend on you portable device for so many things and we are committed to ensuring it functions in tip-top condition for you.

Happy Thanksgiving from LaptopMD

In thanks to you for a great year, LaptopMD has a special offer for you during Thanksgiving week. We will provide laptop repair services for you for $20 off(excluding parts). This special deal will start November 25, 2016, and run through December 2, 2016.

Once again, we are grateful to our wonderful customers this Thanksgiving. We stand ready and able to serve you, even during the holiday season.

5 Signs That Often Indicate SSD Problems

A broken SSD (solid state drive) can be a source of frustration for anyone. If you’re worried that your SSD just isn’t working right, there may be some telltale signs that can clue you in, however. SSDs are suitable for desktop and laptop computers alike.

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People who are enthusiastic about saving power, dependability and speed in general can benefit considerably from them. If your SSD is on the verge of trouble, it may display some useful and obvious indications.

The Error #1
Errors can signify potential problems with SSDs. If you notice any “bad block” errors, your SSD likely requires some repair work. If your computer tries to scan a file and behaves in a particularly slow manner, a bad block error could be the cause. If it shows you any type of error message, that’s further proof, too.

5 Signs That Often Indicate SSD Problems with LaptopMD

Other signs that commonly denote bad blocks are incessant errors during file transferring processes, nonstop freezing and overall slowness.

The Error #2
File writing and reading difficulties can denote significant bad block concerns for people who have SSDs. Bad blocks can influence files in a couple of distinct manners. Systems can discover bad blocks when they’re putting data on your SSD.

5 Signs That Often Indicate SSD Problems with LaptopMD

They can also discover them after the fact. If your system just won’t read your data, that’s probably a big warning for you.

The Error #3
The presence of read-only drives can sometimes suggest the need for SSD repair work. This issue is a bit on the unusual side. If your SSD doesn’t give you the ability to conduct functions that call for disk data writing assistance, that could signify a problem.

5 Signs That Often Indicate SSD Problems with LaptopMD

If your SSD manages to be responsive to read-only mode requests, that can serve as additional proof.

The Error #4
Faulty file systems frequently indicate SSDs that need in-depth repair assistance. If you get an error message that tells you that your device requires repair work, your SSD could be the culprit. Your SSD could have bad blocks.

5 Signs That Often Indicate SSD Problems with LaptopMD

The message can also sometimes mean that you have connector port issues. It can even sometimes mean that you didn’t shut your computer off in the proper manner as well.

The Error #5
Incessant crashes sometimes communicate SSD problems.

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If you’re trying to boot your computer and experience seemingly nonstop crashes, you should pay closer attention. A bad block could be the trigger.

The great news
LaptopMD has great news for people who have any SSD troubles. If your SSD needs any kind of repair work, you can count on our specialists to aid you. Although we’re not able to anticipate future SSD woes, we’re experts in helping people address and manage them.

How To Clear Your Cache On Any Browser

Whether you use a PC or Mac, your device will slow down eventually. “Clear your browser cache” is among the first diagnostic steps you will hear from tech people. A cache is a section on your hard disk where the browser keeps files that it downloaded earlier in case they’re needed again. However, too much in your cache could be slowing your device down.

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Bottom line: It is usually a good idea to clear your browser cache once in a while to ensure that things run smoothly. Here is how to go about the process.

Clearing Safari’s cache
Step One: Launch the browser then select Safari in the upper-left corner of the main menu bar. Afterward, select the “Preferences” option near the top of the drop-down menu. A new window with Safari’s settings will pop up. Navigate over to the Privacy category. In the window that appears, click the “Remove All Website Data” button. This is the easiest way to clear your browser cache.

How To Clear Your Cache On Any Browser with LaptopMD

Step One: Open the “Preferences dialog” then click the Advanced icon. Check the “Show Develop menu” in the menu bar. A new Develop drop-down menu option will appear to the left of the Window as well as Help menu options.
Step Two: Close any running Safari window then select Empty Caches on the Develop menu.

Clearing Chrome’s cache
Step one: Click on the Chrome menu in the upper-right corner, besides the address bar.
Step two: Do any of the following.
• Navigate to Tools > Clear browsing data.
• Alternatively, you can use the Ctrl + Shift + Delete combination.
– Windows or Linux – press CTRL + Shift + Delete
– Mac OS X – press Command + Shift + Delete
• Click Menu > Settings > Show advanced settings > Clear browsing data.

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Step three: A pop-up will appear on your screen. In the resulting dialog, check any browsing data that you wish to delete.
Final step: Click the “Clear browsing data” button to clear your cache.

Clearing Firefox’s cache
The process is pretty much the same as clearing data in Chrome. Click CTRL + Shift + Delete to launch the “Clear Recent History dialog box.” Tick the box next to cache and choose a time range from the drop-down menu, and click “Clear Now.” If your problem persists, try these approaches.
Step One: Launch the options dialog box by either hitting the “Alt” button or clicking the hamburger menu in the upper right side of your browser. If you use the “Alt” button, you will see the pull-down menus from where you will select Tools > Options. But if you use the hamburger menu, click Options.

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Step two: Select the Advanced tab on the right side of the navigation bar then select the Network sub-tab underneath. Go ahead and click the button “Clear Now” and click “OK” to proceed.

One more option!
If you are still facing the same problem even after clearing your browser cache, consider changing your HDD into SSD. Alternatively, you can scan your device for viruses or visit us for more information.

How To Back Up Your IPhone, IPad Properly

Every time Apple releases a new phone, the world goes into a frenzy. There are the die-hards who will wait for hours on end to be one of the first to purchase the new iPhone. Once the dust has settled, and people start to adopt the new phone and want to use it, a sudden dread comes over them. How do you take all the apps, photos, and everything else on your old phone and move it to the new phone?

How To Back Up Your IPhone, IPad Properly from LaptopMD

For some, letting the techs at the Apple Store deal with is a great option. However, that means even more waiting for someone else to do something that is very easy for even the most novice technology user. You simply have to back up the old phone, either to iTunes or to iCloud, and then restore that backup to your new phone. Before you say that you could never figure it out, read through these simple directions and see how simple it really is.

Backing Up Your iPhone To iTunes
This is really quite a simple process, and even people who have a hard time navigating the Internet should be able to do it.

How To Back Up Your IPhone, IPad Properly from LaptopMD

  • Be sure you have the latest version of iTunes installed on the computer.
  • Open iTunes, and connect your iPhone to the computer using the the charging cable.
  • You may receive a message asking if you trust the computer, or to enter your passcode. If you do, follow the prompts.
  • Once your iPhone is connected, you will want to select your phone from within iTunes. This will automatically put you on the Summary screen.
  • There is a section called “Backups”, you will want to select “This Computer” and then select “Backup Now”.
Backing Up Your iPhone To iCloud
  • Connect your iPhone to your home Wi-Fi network. You do not want to transfer all the data over a cellular connection, as it may use all of your monthly available data.

How To Back Up Your IPhone, IPad Properly from LaptopMD

  • Tap the Settings app, then scroll down and tap iCloud.
  • Next, scroll to “Backup”, and tap that.
  • Be sure “Cloud Backup” it toggled to the green.
  • Finally, select “Back Up Now”.
  • Be sure to leave the phone connect to the network until the backup is complete. You may also wish to plug the phone in while it is backing up.

An alternative choice!
With either method, it may take a little time to back up everything on your device, depending on the capacity of your device and what you have stored. At LaptopMD, we hope that everything is clear that you do not have any trouble transferring your information to your new iPhone.

How To Back Up Your IPhone, IPad Properly from LaptopMD

If you do run into trouble, and you cannot figure out how to make it work successfully, visit our convenient location in Manhattan and one of our dedicated experts will help you.

4 ways to protect your laptop in cold weather

When fall and winter arrive, and the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to consider the impact that cold weather can have on your laptop. We know heat can damage our equipment, but too often we forget about the effects that can result from extreme cold, which can damage your battery, corrupt your hard drive, prevent your screen from displaying correctly, and even cause your screen to shatter.

how to protect a laptop in cold weather. Advice from LaptopMD

Here, with the compliments of your friends at LaptopMD, are four ways you can keep your laptop safe in cold weather.

Avoid using your laptop in extremely cold weather
Most laptops are built to operate between 50 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (10 to 35 C). Some laptops can operate below freezing, but many will be damaged if you attempt to do so. Clearly, therefore, you should avoid using the laptop in an area where the temperature has dropped below freezing.

how to protect a laptop in cold weather. Advice from LaptopMD

Move into a car or a sheltered area where the temperature is higher before turning it on.

Protect your laptop when traveling in cold weather.
Exposure to cold comes most often when traveling. Protect your computer by keeping it in a well padded and insulated case when moving around, particularly when the temperature drops below freezing and when the wind can lower the effective temperature even further.

how to protect a laptop in cold weather. Advice from LaptopMD

Should the bag become wet, your laptop could be exposed to moisture damage. Avoid turning it on until you are sure the laptop is dry.

Avoid storing your laptop in an extremely cold place.
Even should you have a case that keeps the laptop well protected, avoid leaving the laptop in an exposed space, such as a trunk, for an extended period of time during extremely cold weather. If exposed to extreme cold for an hour, your laptop could freeze and you could lose all your data. Freezing can also damage your battery and the screen could die.

Allow time for your laptop to warm up.
When you move your laptop from exposure to extreme cold temperatures outside to room temperature inside, let the laptop warm up for about a quarter of an hour and become accustomed to the warmer temperature before turning it on. Should you turn on your laptop too early, the screen and inside hardware might be damaged to such an extent that it cannot be repaired.

how to protect a laptop in cold weather. Advice from LaptopMD

Avoid using an artificial means of heating the computer, such as a space heater or hair drier. Bringing the machine into a warm area quickly could also cause condensation to build up. Be aware of that and give the computer time to dry out and recover.

The last
We at LaptopMD hope that these measures help you to avoid the problems that overcooling could cause your computer.

How to create secure and memorable password

We’re required to have a multiplicity of online accounts in order to access many basic services nowadays, from email to banking to healthcare provider portals. Each one of these online services needs its own unique password, but creating and remembering passwords for so many different services is daunting for even the most tech-savvy individuals.

How to create a secure password from LaptopMD

That’s why we here at LaptopMD have come up with the following collection of tips and tricks for crafting memorable passwords that are safe, too.

Basic guidelines
A strong password is:
  • a good minimum password length is 12 characters;
  • try to include 3 out of 4 of the following: numbers, symbols, uppercase and lowercase letters;

How to create a secure password from LaptopMD

  • definitely avoid using dictionary words, either single or in combination, as password crackers often use dictionary files to guess passwords.

Bruce Schneier’s Method
Back in 2008, Bruce Schneier came up with a method that still works today. In short, the method is to shorten a sentence that you can remember into an acronym.As Schneier writes: “My advice is to take a sentence and turn it into a password. Something like “This little piggy went to market” might become “tlpWENT2m”. That nine-character password won’t be in anyone’s dictionary.” You can also just take the first letter or two of each work in the passphrase and generate an acronym that way. Interestingly enough, this can be far more secure than merely using the longer passphrase as your password.

Reverse the phrase
Come up with something memorable but too worried about its guessability? Try reversing the phrase. This trick can turn practically any series of words into gibberish.

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Combined with mixing up the capitalization and extra symbols and numbers, you can create an easy to recall yet random-appearing passphrase.

Include extra spaces
Did you know you can include spaces in your password on most sites? This little-used trick can do a lot to improve your password’s security,

How to create a secure password from LaptopMD

especially when placing the spaces randomly within the phrase.

Random Password Generator Site
You can also turn to online password generators to easily create a random series of characters without giving it too much thought. PasswordsGenerator is the most popular of these owning to the sheer variety of options it provides,

How to create a secure password from LaptopMD

but there are dozens of other sites available too. The only trick, of course, is remembering the password afterwards.

Conclusion
For us at LaptopMD, your computer health is our passion. Part of digital health depends on having strong defenses against attackers.

How to create a secure password from LaptopMD

Make sure to follow our password advice, and you can rest easy knowing that your data is safe and secure.