Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 3

Don't stick your vacuum right inside your computer
Make sure you don’t use your outside vacuum to clean the inside of your computer!

Well, it looks like we inadvertently skipped a day on Friday. The construction we’ve had going on for over a week now required us to move stuff around and the blog post became a casualty of time. But never fear, we will persevere. Stiff upper lip and carry on and all that. Today, we’re looking at the second part of the compressed air myth, and hopefully teaching you a little more science. Because, you know, Science!

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Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 2

There are many kinds of canned air, make sure you get the right kind
This is NOT for cleaning your computer. Remember: Oxygen + Spark + Dusty Air = Inferno Tornado!

And we’re back for another exciting installment of the column where we learn that things we thought we know are actually wrong. Today, we’ll tackle a…well, not so much a misconception as an incomplete thought, centering on removing the dust and gunk form inside your computer case. And I hope you’re reading this outside on your laptop in a park, because missing this gorgeous day would be a crime worse than my occasional butchering of the English language.

#2: “You should open your case up every couple of months and spray it out with canned air. You can pick the stuff up for dirt cheap at the .99c store!”

Personally, I love compressed air. I remember as a kid turning the can upside down and pushing the trigger in real slow and watching the rapidly condensing moisture fall and his as the expanding air caused a sharp and rapid drop in temperature. It’s actually another common misconception that the liquid that comes out is whatever chemicals have been stuffed into the can, but it’s actually just the microscopic water particles in the air condensing around the nozzle. The air coming out of the can expands so rapidly that (as we learned in high school chemistry) it causes the air to cool. The reason this isn’t noticeable unless you push the trigger in slowly is that with more force, the cold air moves too fast to cause a noticeable temperature drop since the cold is spread out over a larger area. The more you know! ⌂

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Just When You Had It Figured Out: Common Computer Maintenance Misconceptions Part 1

With daylight savings time catching us by surprise, and the temperatures here in NYC hovering right around 50, it’s finally safe to say that spring has almost sprung. There go those lift-passes I hadn’t had time to use. Oh well. And with spring just about here, we will soon be inundated with the usual flood of “Spring Clean Your Computer!!” articles, in which overly-peppy reporters who can barely turn on

Defragging is not only unnecessary but can be harmful
I turned my computer upside down and all my files fell out! Now I need to defrag the floor!

their Powerbooks talk to an “expert” (usually, the only BestBuy employee who couldn’t invent a plausible excuse fast enough) about things that they don’t quite understand themselves and then string the words together in a way that makes things easy to understand but is generally pretty much completely wrong. Don’t you worry, we’ll get to the spring cleaning fever ourselves, but first we thought it might be helpful if we took a minute to dust off the shelves of conventional wisdom and common knowledge, pulled out the clutter of outdated truisms and unsubstantiated rumor, and replaced them with the bright, shiny, polished trophy of truth and accurate information. So without further ado, here is a list of the top 10 computer maintenance misconceptions and downright falsehoods, presented as a daily series (that’s right, you have to wait a day between tips):

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Don’t Let the Holiday Season Slow You Down

I can’t believe it’s already the end of October. The weather is getting colder, ski season is quickly approaching, and excitement is building with the holidays right around the corner! I’ve always felt that the fall is a great time of year to take care of all those pesky yearlong projects that I never got around to, especially because I know that there won’t be a spare minute once the holiday season is here. And if one of those pesky problems is computer related – Let us help! The fall is a great time to get your non-threatening (or worse) computer problems taken care of before it’s too late. Let your holiday season run a little smoother knowing that your laptop is in tip-top shape!

We’re all guilty of just living with all those little problems we’re having with our laptops. Take a look at some of the most common problems our customers complain about and let us know if you’re experiencing any of the same things. Or if you’ve got something else that’s been bothering you for a while – Post it in the comments and let us know!

The Slow Computer

I don’t think there’s anything worse than having a really slow computer and not knowing why.  Whether it’s a recent problem or something that’s been going on for a while now, a slow computer is slowing YOU down. If your computer is holding you back, there’s no excuse for not getting it fixed.  Back in July we wrote a detailed article that talked about the many reasons your computer could be slow.  It’s important to understand that a slow computer can be caused by hundreds of different problems, but at LaptopMD we have the answer to all of them. We guarantee it! Every computer is different but we’ve yet to come across one we couldn’t fix.

The Alert Box that won’t go away

Ever get an alert box that just wouldn’t go away? Maybe it’s a message you’ve been meaning to check that you get when you first turn your computer on or when you’re powering it off.  A lot of times this can be due to an improper setup, a bad settings configuration, or a problem that could be indicative of a larger, unseen issue on the computer. We can figure out why you’re getting that message and more importantly – what you can do to make it go away!

The Program that doesn’t work anymore

Maybe it’s Internet Explorer. Maybe it’s Outlook. Maybe it’s iTunes or something else entirely that you’ve downloaded and installed. If it worked once, it can work again! Don’t settle for workarounds or a substitute program that doesn’t work as well as the one you actually want to use. Bring us your laptop and we’ll help you get back up and running with the software you want!

These are only a couple common problems and advice on how to deal with them.  What are some other common computer problems we could give you advice on?  Make sure your digital lifestyle doesn’t suffer this holiday season!

Today’s top technology myths. Fact or fiction?

Top Technology Myths
Image from www.msnbc.msn.com/

I recently read an article, “Technology’s Biggest Myths” on MSNBC that described some of the biggest myths of technology today and assessed whether they were true or not. I was fairly skeptical but it was actually a pretty good article and cleared up a number of things I wasn’t aware of.  Go ahead, go read the article and then come back, we’ll chat then.

Back already? Wow, you’re a fast reader. Okay okay, let’s continue…

After that article I can’t help but say ‘Where to Start???’. The first thing that jumps out at me is the claim that you can’t get viruses if you only visit G-Rated sites.  In the article, Avast Software (maker of popular antivirus software) will tell you that there are 100 virus infected websites on ‘clean’ content sites for every virus on an adult based content site!

This stuck out to me because we hear this everyday in our shop. One of the most common questions we get is “Why did I get this virus??”. And unfortunately there’s no easy answer for that question. The only thing we can recommend is making sure you have a valid up to date antivirus program and that you’re being aware of any suspicious looking websites that you visit.

Computer Anti-Virus Software
Image from https://cscompsolutions.com/spyware.htm

The second biggest thing that stuck out to me was the Windows Vista vs. Windows 7 speed comparison.  Now, for the not-so-techie people in the crowd, you may not have been as immersed by stats claiming this as I have. I’ve seen countless studies, tests and comparisons that make this claim so I was really interested to hear what MSNBC had to say about the topic. And low and behold, I was right!  Just like a number of other articles I had read, Windows 7 does actually outperform Windows Vista.

If you’ve been relying solely on my critiques so far, I do suggest you make your way to the article and check it out for yourself.  It not only describes the myths I’ve mentioned but also goes over whether or not your new iPhone 4 is alone in its fatal signal strength band issue or if all smartphones share its fate. Also, have you ever wondered if you’ve been getting ripped off for the price of an HDMI cable?

Check it out and let me know in the comments what stands out to you!

Protect Your Laptop, Computer, and Smartphone From Malware

Computer Malware
Image From https://blog.xanda.org/

Malware, or Malicious Software, is a computer program or computer code designed to secretly access your computer system with deceptive intent. Malware is typically disguised as a program that you download from the internet or is installed on your computer without your knowledge. Malware can come in the form of a computer virus, a computer worm (self-replicating), a trojan horse (programs that on the outside appear to do something other than what they do), spyware, adware and even basic computer code. Malware can steal personal information stored on your computer, open your computer to further attack, or allow other deceptive practices toward you and your computer system. You may have malware on your computer and not even know it. Many malware programs look like otherwise legitimate programs but carry with them deceptive intent. Your laptop, computer, and/or smartphone are all susceptible to malware.

In 2008, Symantec, the company behind the popular Norton Anti-virus program, suggested that the rate of malicious code and programs being spread through the Internet may be exceeding that of legitimate programs. Due to its rampant nature, it is important for you to protect yourself and your computer from the malicious intent of Malware.  Continue reading to learn more about Malware and how to protect your computer/device from malicious intent. Continue reading

Computer Viruses Moving to USB Drives

Everybody is now used to viruses being sent through email and malicious websites. In addition to these methods of virus delivery, experts are now saying that “25 percent of new worms (viruses) have been specifically designed to spread through USB storage devices connected to computers”.

So far, these types of infections are still outnumbered by those that spread via email, but it is a growing trend. “There are now so many devices on the market that can be connected via USB to a computer: digital cameras, cell phones, MP3 or MP4 players,” says Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs. “This is clearly very convenient for users, but since all these devices have memory cards or internal memory, it is feasible that your cell phone could be carrying a virus without your knowledge.”

Read the full article, 25% of new worms are designed to spread through USB devices, on Help Net Security.

USB drives, like any device, can harbor and promote the proliferation of computer viruses.  Protecting your devices by knowing the source of the files that are on your drive and regularly running anti-virus software on that drive (when it is plugged into your computer) are two ways to prevent your drive from becoming infected in the first place.

If your USB drive becomes infected with viruses and you need help with recovering your data from the drive, LaptopMD is here to help you.

Computer Cleaning Tips

Computer Cleaning Tips

Dusty laptops/computers tend to overheat and as a result they may restart automatically or not function properly.   When a lot of dust and dirt builds up inside the computer, the computer will stop functioning properly and may need to be taken in for a ‘repair’ job where technicians must take the computer apart and perform a deep clean to get the computer to run properly again.  As preventive maintenance, here are some tips on how to clean your computer, keep it functioning and running safely, and avoid taking it in to the repair shop.

Computer Cleaning MaterialsCan of Compresses air, cotton buds, cloth

  • 1 Can of Compressed Air
  • A Few Cotton Balls
  • 1 Soft Cloth
  • Cleaning Fluid

Before Cleaning

Make sure your computer is turned off and unplugged before you start cleaning your computer.  This ensures that no part of the computer is harmed as you clean it.

Steps to Clean Individual Components

  1. Blow away the excess surface dust with a can of compressed air.
  2. To clean the keyboard, use cotton balls to remove large particles of dust between the keys, then blow away smaller dust particles with the can of compressed air.
  3. Wipe the surface of the keys with a damp cloth but ensure that the cloth is not excessively damp as fluid can damage the computer’s keyboard.
  4. Put a small amount of cleaning fluid on cloth and gently clean the screen.  Make sure you don’t apply pressure while cleaning the computer screen.
  5. To clean the ports on your computer, carefully wipe the inside of each port with cotton balls and then spray each of them with compressed air.
  6. To clean the computer’s fan, hold it and spray it with compressed air.  If you don’t hold it, the air will cause it to spin and could break it by making it spin faster.
  7. To clean the DVD or CD Drive on your computer, open it and spray the compressed air inside.