School, Work, and Play in the Cloud

Helpful Digital Productivity and Cloud Computing TipsIt’s August and we’ve been focusing on back to school tips recently but, as you’ve noticed, digital back to school tips aren’t necessarily just for students.  Practical back to school digital improvements such as efficient note-taking/storage and iPhone protection are for everyone.

In preparing for our digital back to school tips sections, a few weeks ago I came across an article from PC World about Going Back to School in the Cloud and I thought to myself – “this is a great guide to cloud computing that anyone can use”.  There’s a lot to talk about in this article but here are a few key take-aways in the areas of online office suites, online digital storage, and cloud based file syncing and sharing that will help you make better use of new (and old) technology.

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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.

Holiday Gift Ideas from LaptopMD

LaptopMD Holiday Gift GuideEvery year our technician gurus here at LaptopMD like to share the knowledge and insights that they’ve gained throughout the year with our customers to help you make smarter holiday tech purchases.  Buying gifts related to technology can be intimidating especially if you’re buying for someone already savvy in technology or if you are unaware of the various options and brands available.  Use our holiday shopping ideas that we’ve put together to help you with your gift buying this season and relieve some of the holiday stress!

We provide gift ideas for every type of computer user in your house: students, professionals, and normal everyday users. Our list covers Mac and PC laptops, as well as netbooks. We look at the latest in cellphone/smartphone technology and help you determine whether or not you should buy an Android phone or an iPhone as a gift. Additionally, our guide looks at software titles suited for every type of computer user.  Let us know what you think in the comments and if you have any questions regarding your holiday tech purchases.

Laptops

The laptop market is full of options when considering which one to buy.  You may ask yourself questions like these when you go to make a purchase:

  • What’s the difference between a netbook and a laptop?
  • What features should I focus on?
  • Mac or PC, which one provides the better deal?

Use our holiday shopping guide as a tool to sort through the various options you are bound to come across.

Choose the Right One

There are many options out there and the number of choices can be daunting for anyone, including those who work with computers for a living!  To help simplify the laptop buying process, we have come to trust the guides put together PC World Magazine.  PC World’s guides provide the comprehensive help that you’re looking for.  There are several comparison guides online and we’ve included links to our favorite guides throughout this post.

When using these guides and buying a laptop, be sure to take into account the following considerations:

  • Speed
  • Battery life
  • Functionality and Features
  • Durability
  • The End User

Some laptops are good for students but not functional for professionals.  Knowing who you are buying for and what they want will help you frame your decision and make everybody happy.

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What’s the most valuable part of your laptop?

Whether you’re buying a new laptop or fixing an old one, one thing you’re probably very conscious of is price.  But do you really know how all that money you’re spending gets allocated?  And for that matter, what IS the most valuable part of your laptop? Is it the screen? Maybe it’s that super expensive Intel processor you bought? Or is it something else entirely…

If you said ‘DATA!’ then you’re probably right.  At LaptopMD, the most distraught customers we see are those with data loss.  Whether it’s family photos, your iTunes collection, or Excel spreadsheets for work, we often don’t realize how valuable our data is until we lose it.  This leads me to another good point:

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

If you aren’t backing up all of your valuable data in at least one place NOT on your laptop’s hard drive then you’re at risk! Backing up your data is the best way to avoid that sharp twang in your stomach when you realize your vacation pictures from the last two years are gone for good.  That being said, when presented with data loss you almost always have data recovery options available to you. It’s not cheap though, and you can end up paying anywhere from $99-$2500 depending on the level of damage.

Image from https://computer-networks-webdesign.com

A hundred bucks can get you some basic software solutions for bringing your data back.  If you’ve got any kind of physical damage or platter damage though, you’re looking at the $1000+ solutions. Imagine a clean room with giant machinery built specifically to read data off dissected hard drives.  They’ll take the data plates out, soak them in patented aqueous solutions and recover every 1 and 0 they can.  Yeah, it’s intense.

While it’s typically the corporate clients who NEED those lost documents that opt for the pricey, extreme solutions, there’s one practice that can help everyone.  Have I mentioned it before?

BACKUP! BACKUP! BACKUP!

As much as we love your business, we’d prefer to be selling you external hard drives instead of telling you your data is toast. That being said, I think I’ll end on a shameless plug. J  If you DO experience any data loss, we are here to help! Bring your laptop in and we’ll get back any and everything that is physically possible.