I can’t tell you how many times in the past months I have heard people say they want a Windows 7 computer rather than Windows 8 because they have ‘heard bad things about Windows 8′. When I ask them what exactly it is that they have heard that turns them off they tell me that Windows 8 is so different from Windows 7 that it is too hard to use. To me, that is utter rubbish, and I feel sorry for those people who have refused to get Windows 8 on their home machines because of things they have ‘heard’. Notice I say home machines, because Windows 8 for business is another matter due to support from third party software manufacturers for business software.
To me, the only big glaring issue for many people is the lack of a start button in Windows 8 desktop mode (and this can be very simply resolved by downloading one of the many mostly free software add-ons, personally I like Classic Shell **Note: I only install the Classic Start Menu and the Classic Shell Update, deselecting the Classic Explorer and Classic IE9 components), other than that, which as I said is a simple fix, using Windows 8 in Desktop mode is really no different than Windows 7, except that it is more secure, has better built in support for things like multiple monitors and iso files, and has some great new and improved features like a revamped and much more user friendly task manager and Windows explorer.
By choosing Windows 8 you can easily mimic the Windows 7 experience (with add-ons like Classic Shell you can even go directly to the Windows desktop and bypass the new start screen). Plus you do get the addition of the new start screen and new full screen apps like Netflix and great new Xbox live based games like Wordament which are available from the Windows App Store (there are thousands of app with many great ones for free, and more every day). Windows 8 also allows you to sign in to the computer using a Windows live id (Hotmail, Live.com, Outlook.com, MSN email), and when doing so, you can choose to carry your settings and things like internet history etc with you to other Windows 8 computers. When signing in with your Hotmail etc email address you also have direct access to your emails, calendar and Sky Drive (which is between 7-20 GB of free online storage for your documents, photos etc). If you don’t already have a Hotmail, Outlook, Live.com email, I highly suggest getting one and using it for your Windows 8 id, if anything just to get the free Skydrive storage and use of the online versions of Word, Excel and Powerpoint.
I can’t see any downside for using Windows 8 on a home computer over Windows 7, and I can see many advantages such as ones I have outlined above.
The other thing about Windows 8 is its much improved touch interface for those computers with touchscreens. The touch on Windows 8 machines is much improved over previous versions of Windows, and using the new start menu and apps on a touch enabled computer brings a whole new experience to Windows. Many people who at first were hesitant about touchscreens on Windows 8 find that after a very short while, they use touch more and more as it is easier to do many things with touch rather than using a mouse or touchpad.
In the end, by spending a couple minutes downloading a free start menu replacement, and taking a few minutes to learn about the enhancements in Windows 8, I think the majority of people will be pleasantly surprised by their Windows 8 experience.
I currently use a Lenovo Yoga 13 convertible ultrabook as my main laptop/tablet and it is a great testament to what Windows 8 can do as it has both a tablet and laptop mode, incredible battery life, and amazingly responsive touchscreen, and can easily run any full Windows program. For home use I have a Lenovo A720 touchscreen all in one which is fantastic (see review here)
For Windows 8 questions and help with migration, upgrades and new computer setup – visit PensacolaComputers.com
Once again it is hurricane season with an imminent threat looming over the gulf coast. It is time to prepare for the storm and this includes protecting our valuables including our data as best we can. One of the often overlooked things in the rush to evacuate or stay and ride out the storm (not advised if evacuations are recommended) is the protection of our technology, our computers and most importantly the data stored on them. Having a good backup plan is extremely important as today we often have irreplaceable and important data stored on our computers.
For both business and home users, it is recommended to have a two stage backup plan in force at all times, this includes an on-site removable backup device as well as online backup storage. Keeping a full backup of your computer on a removable hard drive is the best way to ensure a quick recovery in case of disaster as you can store an image of your entire computer on a backup drive. If you are running Windows Vista, Windows 7, or have Server 2008 (R2), there is a Windows Backup program that will make an entire image of your computer for you. If you are still running Windows XP, you can get a third party backup tool, such as Acronis to help you create a computer image backup. You should also have online backup, such as Carbonite, or IBackup as a second line of backup. Online backup will help give you piece of mind should anything happen to your on-site backup, but it is not recommended as your only backup due to the time involved in restoring everything (downloading an entire computer’s worth of data from the internet can take a very long time!).
The best case scenario in case of a hurricane is to take your computer with you, however this is not always practical, and in the case of businesses almost impossible. For businesses it is recommended to move or remove your servers if at all possible before the storm. For computers that must be left behind, it is recommended that both the power and ethernet cables be removed before a storm to prevent electrical shocks from entering the systems – this is true for all electronic devices as well! Also, if the systems are in an area that could possibly be effected by roof leakage or flooding it is recommended that if they cannot be removed, that they are set up off the floor and covered with a water barrier such as heavy plastic bag or tarp.
Having good backup plans as well as equipment protection plans in place is the best way to ensure the safety of your data, and when it comes to irreplacable data, multiple backups are always recommended.
For questions regarding backup systems and backup plans, visit http://pensacolacomputers.com
All too often someone has brought me a computer that has crashed and then told me that they don’t have a current backup, or sometimes no backup of their data at all. Years of family pictures, important financial documents, things that really cannot be replaced, potentially lost. The thing about computers and digital storage is that they can always fail. In the case of most hard drives, the drives are mechanical in nature and will ALWAYS FAIL. It is not a question of if, just a matter of when – just like Hurricanes here in Pensacola FL. Even with new SSD drives that have no moving parts, there is still a chance of data loss due to power surge, or electronic failures.
When a drive fails, it doesn’t neccessarily mean that all is lost. There are a few options depending on what has happened. If the drive electronics still work and the drive can be recognized by another computer it is often possible to do a software data recovery – using specialized software to rebuild and retrieve the data from the drive. If the electronics don’t work, or the drive is physically damaged (the terrible click of death is often a common sign of physical failure), the only option at that point is to send the drive to a data recovery service. These services are quite expensive as the drives need to be rebuilt which can only be done in a ‘clean room’. One important thing to note when considering data recovery options, especially software recovery options: if the drive is ‘on the edge’ of failure, trying to retrieve data can often push it over the edge and cause complete failure, so before you decide to have someone try to do a software recovery, make sure you understand the risks. If the data is critical, I highly recommend a trusted, albeit expensive, data recovery service (it is better to pay a bit more than take a chance on losing everything).
Of course, the above costs of trying to recover data can all be avoided by ensuring proper backups. There are many options available, including backing up to one time media such as CD or DVD (be aware the both CDs and DVDs deteriorate over time), backing up to an external hard drive (external drives are just as prone to failure as internal drives), backing up to a flash drive (flash drives can easily break or be wiped by magnets etc), or in my opinion the best option for most: online backup which stores your data securely on an offsite server. In reality the best backup solution would involve a combination of the above. With Windows 7, you can easily create a system image of your entire hard drive and store it on an external drive, this can even be set to be done automatically on a schedule. In case of drive failure, all you then need to do is pop in a new drive and restore the image. This will restore everything, Windows, Programs, files. Using online backup for critical files in addition to having a on-site backup is advisable because this gives you extra protection in case of things like fires, lightning strikes, or shhhh hurricanes.
The latest crop of online backup solutions include many that are extrememly easy to use and basically allow you to set it and forget it. This usually involves selecting the folders you want to back up, and then anything that is added or changed in those folders is automatically backed up either continuously or on a schedule. There are few online backup services such as iDrive which offer a small amount (usually 2-5 GB or so) of free online storage, however in today’s world, even 5 GB can easily be used up quite quickly. One of the best valued and easiest ones to use that I have found is Carbonite (see link below for a free trial). For less than $5 a month, they offer basically unlimited backup with an easy to use and install program (it is not advised to backup super huge files like movies or such, nor will such files be automatically backed up). Having online backup allows you peace of mind with the ability to restore your files from anywhere with internet access, so even if you lose your entire computer, your data is still safe.
I highly recommend setting up some kind of backup solution if you don’t have one, and doing it today, right now, because one of the most common things I have heard from people is that they meant to backup, but just forgot to. Most people have things like family photos, important documents, emails etc on their computers that are the only copies they have and losing them would really suck. It just makes sense to backup now rather than take the chance and end up having to pay big $$ for a data recovery service when your computer crashes.
If you find yourself in the situation of having a computer crash, visit Pensacola Computers for computer service and computer repair here in Pensacola FL – our advice is always free!
Once again, a round of Facebook scams is hitting users. This recent one is a rehash of one that has been done before that entices users by telling them they can install an app to see who has viewed their profile. In the past few days, messages such as “OMG OMG I can’t believe this actually works! Now you can really see who viewed your profile on:” followed by a link that redirects people to ads, malware, or other garbage.
According to security firm Sophos, over sixty thousand people clicked on the link in a period of a few hours. Sophos recently published a blog post that outlines the scam here. For people who are wondering, Facebook has repeatedly said that there is no way to see who has viewed your profile and no way for such a function to be created. Facebook security encourages users to report any such suspicious activity and remove any references to such things from your news feeds. They also suggest making sure that you only grant known applications rights via your Account>Privacy Settings>Applications and Websites settings.
As always, all users should follow internet security guidelines and not click on suspicious links, regardless of their supposed source. Always ensure that you are running up to date antivirus and antispyware/antimalware software, and do regular scans. You can find links to free antivirus and antispyware, antimalware software on our Pensacola Computers Tech Support page. If you do get infected or have a question, contact us at Pensacola Computers
So many people come to me with problems on their computers, from viruses, to lurking malware that steals their passwords and slows down their systems. The funny thing is that many of these same people also tell me that they only use their computer for general web surfing, email, and …….. Facebook. Of course Facebook has become the most popular social networking site on the internet in the past year, but with this popularity comes problems – wherever there are lots of people, their arise opportunities for nefarious types and criminal activity. Unfortunately, Facebook provides these people with the perfect platform to spread their Trojans, Keyloggers, fake antivirus scareware, and general malware crap that will make your PC very sick.
But how do they do it? Well, they take advantage of people by using their friends to help spread their nasty things. All it takes is one friend getting their account hacked (either by using a simple password, or by getting a virus/malware infection themselves), and then the nasties usually get sent out as links to all this persons friends and family. Of course when you get a link from Aunt Martha that says to check out the latest Family video, or from your best friend telling you that you just HAVE to check out this sale they found, you of course trust it, and click on it and BAM! All of a sudden you have pop-ups, or something is telling you your computer is infected, or you suddenly go to search for something and end up on some site that has nothing to do with what you typed in.
So what do you do? The best thing to do is to NEVER click on the links in the first place, at least not from Facebook. If by chance you have clicked on one of these bad links and your computer gets infected, first step is to try a system restore (this is often the best chance to stop the virus/malware before it gets out of control). If system restore appears to work, just remember to update your anti-virus and anti-malware software and do full scans to get rid of any traces. If system restore doesn’t appear to work, you should then try going into safe-mode (press F8 key repeatedly at start-up), and then update and run your anti-virus/anti-spyware programs.
Sometimes, infections can get pretty nasty – especially if they have been allowed to invite their friends to your computer over a period of time. When this happens, and you can no longer get on the internet, or even get to your desktop, you may need more advanced help. Visit Pensacola Computers for immediate computer service (yes, it’s a shameless plug, but it’s my blog and I really can help when your computer is FUBAR’d)
For those who are still using Windows XP (still quite a few, although that number is rapidly decreasing), here is a short tutorial from Pensacola Computers on how to use System restore in XP Safe Mode. This can be extremely useful when faced with a virus, malware, or any kind of software change that has made using XP in regular mode difficult or impossible. System restore is often the easiest way to reverse the harmful effects of a virus or malware. Always be aware that System Restore, while reversing software changes, does NOT remove files, so even if the virus or malware is not active, the files are still there and must be removed. If you are using System restore due to a virus or malware infection, be sure to run full virus and malware/spyware scans as well as reapplying any needed Windows and software updates. While system restore is not always able to fix a bad virus or malware infection, it is a great first step in attempting to bring your system back to a usable state.
Visit Pensacola Computers Tech Support page for links for the best free and paid for antivirus, antimalware, and antispyware software.
If you need more in-depth help with virus removal, malware removal, computer service, or computer repair here in Pensacola Florida, please give Jeff at Pensacola Computers a call today at 850*390-4242
I was recently informed that there are companies out there that can get me better rankings on search engines for my web sites, but I am wondering how this is possible when I am already number 1 on all the keywords I want, and on the first page of google for many secondary ones. I also have learned how to jump onto a Google page in less than 1 minute for specific targeted keyword phrases. Using a phrase like Rely on Local Pensacola Businesses, or Rely Local Pensacola, it isn’t that hard to get onto the first page of local Google results (RelyLocal.com is a national company that promotes local businesses, and the RelyLocal.com Pensacola section is a great collection of local area businesses that are a great example of Pensacola business solidarity).
While I could certainly go the route of trying to make money by charging people for SEO, I personally prefer to help local businesses establish a local web presence, and teach them the simple ways of getting good local search placement for themselves. Small business is about helping the community around you, for if the local economy thrives, then you thrive. This is why you must rely on local Pensacola businesses to help you as you help them. I have found more profit by giving things freely that help others profit, than by concetrating only on my own profit. That being said, there are some good programs that are fairly inexpensive that do help local businesses that need some help in the web marketing area (such as RelyLocal.com).
Pensacola SEO rankings (search engine optimization) are not all that difficult to come by as Pensacola is a fairly small market. With the right marketing strategy, and relying on your local Pensacola Business friends, it is easy to rise quickly to the top. If you can use a computer in Pensacola, you can promote your business. Learning SEO goes hand in hand with learning the basics of Social Media. Social Media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are a source of promotion (though the true value of these outlets has not been properly analyzed with time data yet).
Many times I am faced with having to tell someone that their old computer needs to be replaced, and often it is hard to get some people to let go. But let’s look at things from a logical perspective. If you have a 4 or 5 year old computer (or even older in some cases), you have to think back in time to when you first got the computer, and look at how it was used (and what it was designed for). Going back to 2005 and a lot of people were still making the move to high speed internet, and even those with broadband were probably getting speeds of 1-3 Mbps download. Fast forward to 2010 and highspeed internet can easily reach between 10-30 Mbps. This means that when visiting some websites, your computer is getting 10 times+ the amount of information being fed to it every second during page downloads. Add to that the fact that 5 years ago, most websites were text based, whereas today we are bombarded with video, sound, animations etc, and you can see that computers of 5 years ago, even ones that were top of the line, really were not designed to handle what is here in 2010.
So the hard question sometimes is it worth it to upgrade, or is it better to just get a new computer. Generally if your computer is a couple of years old, adding some memory, or upgrading graphics (for desktops) may be a worthwhile option. For memory, 2-4 GB is about the norm today with higher end systems having 8GB or more. Increasing your memory can really help if you multi-task and/or do much with multi-media. Upgrading your graphics card in a desktop can also be a worthwhile option, especially if your computer is currently using onboard graphics. Many websites and programs today are very graphic intensive, and having a good graphics card can really enhance your computer experience – it can also help by taking some of the burden off of the processor. When upgrading graphics though, you have to make sure that your PSU (power supply unit) has enough juice to handle the upgrade.
For older computers, adding memory or upgrading the graphics, while sure to add a boost to the system, is not always a worthwhile investment. Most computers today run multi-core processors, and more and more programs are written to take advantage of this. If your computer has an older processor (CPU), even with more graphics and memory, the CPU may become the bottleneck. The other thing to consider with an older computer is that your Hard Drive will fail eventually, and it would be a real drag to spend a bunch of money on upgrades only to have your hard drive fail a short time later (or PSU fail, or CPU, or anything else in your system). The other thing about older systems, is that if during their lifetime they have been overheated (especially laptops), or subjected to power surges (common here in Pensacola), their parts have been stressed, and sometimes when you add fresh parts or increase the demands, the stressed parts can easily fail (sometimes taking the new parts with them).
Of course there are some things you can do to prolong the life of your computer (or at least its usable life). First, ensure that you keep it clean – get some computer/electronics approved compressed air (never EVER use an air compressor!) and carefully blow out the dust, dog hair, dirt etc from inside the case, paying special attention to the cooling assembly of the CPU and the fan assembly’s on the case and power supply (be careful not to tilt the compressed air cans when using!). Secondly, get rid of unneeded programs and startup entries, or if your computer is a number of years old, and full of unwanted programs, re-install Windows (make sure to back up important files first!).
With the great deals on computers these days, it is often better to go with a replacement, than try to prolong an aging system. While computers today don’t seem to last as long as old computers, due to their lower cost, their cost per year has remained about the same. For example, if you paid $1000 for a computer 4 years ago that is ready to be replaced, you spent $250. A $1000 computer 4 years ago was in the low-mid range of computers. Today you can get a low-midrange computer easily in the $500 range. If the new $500 computer only lasts 2 years, your price per year remains the same. Computers today are cheaper for two main reasons – one is that they are massed produced (mostly overseas), and the production costs are much lower, the second reason is that they are not made to last as long (because of cheaper construction as well as the fact that technology is changing so fast).
The best scenario is to know that you want to get a new computer, and shop around waiting for an excellent deal – this always beats waiting until a computer dies, then having to shell out money on whatever is available at the time. For information on upgrading your computer, or a helpful guide to buying a new computer, visit Pensacola Computers. Offering Computer Service, Computer Repair, Networking, Computer Classes, and general help on any computer related topic for Small business and home users, Pensacola Computers serves Pensacola Florida community
If you have been thinking about upgrading to Windows 7, but have been holding off due to the cost of the software, there is some good news from Microsoft. Beginning October 3, 2010 for a limited time (no end date announced), Microsoft will offer the Family pack upgrade for $149.99 – this includes three upgrade licenses for Windows 7 Home Premium. At $50 a license, this is a great deal. In order to be able to qualify for the upgrade, your computer must currently be running Windows XP or Windows Vista and be able to handle the hardware requirements for Windows 7.
To find out if your computer hardware/software is compatible with Windows 7, you can run the Windows Upgrade Advisor. Most systems that run Windows Vista should be able to upgrade to Windows 7 fairly easily. Windows XP users will need to ensure that there are adequate drivers for their hardware, and will have to do a clean install of Windows 7 (upgrading directly from Windows XP and keeping programs and settings is not supported). Windows Vista users can do an in place upgrade to keep their programs, files and settings, however it is generally better to do a clean install to elimate potential conflicts.
Windows 7 was released in October of 2009 and is a great operating system which offers many new and improved features that make using your computer easier and allows you to be more productive.
If you have questions about upgrading, or need some help with the upgrade process, contact Pensacola Computers. Offering computer service, repair and training for Windows 7 and other software, Pensacola Computers is ready to answer any of your Windows 7 or other Computer questions. Visit them on the web at http://pensacolacomputers.com
Wireless networks ( wifi or wi-fi) are everywhere these days with more and more people coming to depend on having an available signal for their laptops and portable devices such as smart phones and iType devices, but with this proliferation comes some issues that people need to be aware of. While it is admirable to want to share your wireless internet access with others, doing so caries a legal risk. Government and law enforcement tend to hold the owner of the internet connection responsible for what is transmitted over it and as such, if your neighbors are using your wireless to illegally download songs, movies or other material that is illegal, it is your door that gets pounded on by the law, putting you in the position of having to prove it wasn’t you. A quite simple solution is to ensure that you have wireless security enabled on your router (if you are unsure of how to do this, you can visit the manufacturers website of your router and check out their support section for directions, or talk to your local computer expert).
Then of course their is the initial purchase of the wireless hardware needed for your network. Wireless a, Wireless b, Wireless g, Wireless N, Wireless super G, MIMO, bgn, abg, dual band, multi band etc etc – it can get kind of confusing. A quick history on the wireless types as well as their basic specifications and uses:
Wireless a (802.11a) came out in 1999 and is one of the lesser used types of wireless due to the it’s higher initial price and the fact that its signal generally cannot penetrate as far as wireless b/g/n devices and its signals are abosobed more by walls and other objects. This type of wireless operates in the 5 GHz band with a data rate of 54 Mbit/s (realistically about 20 Mbit/s) which gives a big advantage when it comes to interference as the 5 GHz band is much less crowded than the 2.4 GHz band which is used by many other devices.
Wireless b (802.11b) came out in 199 as well and was the first widely adopted kind of wireless router device. With speeds of 11 Mbit/s (real world about 6 Mbit/s) and a typical indoor range of about 100 ft at the rated 11 Mbit/s speed and about 300 ft at 1 Mbit, wireless b was a great choice for early home and small office environments. Unfortunately, wireless b operates in the 2.4 GHz range which causes it to suffer from interference from other devices such as microwaves, bluetooth, older cordless telephones, baby monitors and of course other wireless routers that operate in this range. This kind of interference can get quite bad in populated areas and can cause a lot of frustration from dropped and poor quality wireless signals.
Wireless g (802.11g) came out in 2003 and operates in the same 2.4 GHz spectrum as wirelss b, but with a higher rated speed of 54 Mbit/s (around 20 Mbit/s real world). It is fully backward compatible with wireless b devices, however using mixed wireless g and wireless b devices will significantly reduce the overall speed of the wireless g network. Wireless g unfortunately also suffers from the crowded 2.4 GHz spectrum and is prone to interference issues in areas with other devices which operate in the same frequency. *Note: Super G wireless is a term that refers to a wireless device which uses to wireless g channels to achieve a rated speed of up to 108 Mbit/s, however these devices also have the potential to cause more interference.
Wireless n (802.11n) was released in its approved form in 2009, though many devices were sold before then as ‘pre-n’ devices. Wireless n has significantly higher potential data rates (up to 600 Mbit/s) and is backward compatible with previous wireless a, b, and g devices. Wireless N can operate on both the 2.4 GHz and 5GHz ranges, although it is quickest when operating in ‘pure’ wireless n mode at the 5 GHz mode (‘pure’ n mode being where there are only wireless n devices hooked into the network). Wireless n uses MIMO (technology which uses multiple antennas) to achieve greater data rates over greater distances. There are also now a number of Wireless n routers which offer multi-channel broadcasting which allows the router to actually have 2 wireless networks – one for legacy 2.4 GHz devices and one for 5 GHz devices.
So what does all this mean in a practical sense when trying to figure out what kind of equipment to get? While generally the older wireless b and g devices are cheaper by a few bucks, they are also much more prone to interference so it is recommended to go with wireless n devices whenever possible. Also, if you have an older laptop (or desktop) that is using a wireless b or g card, if you have a newer wireless n router, you might consider upgrading the wireless b and g devices with a wireless n card (you can easily install a wireless n usb dongle on either a laptop or desktop that is currently using wireless b or g, and then just disable the older device through your device manager). Be aware that wireless N devices come in many configurations and different speed ratings (some are rated at the a lower 150 Mbit/s while others are rated at 300 Mbit/s)>
So for a quick recap: If you are setting up your wireless network, or thinking about upgrading it, consider going with the newer wireless n devices. When setting up your wireless network, be sure to enable wireless security to ensure that only allowed people are using your wireless signal. For questions, or help setting up your home or office wireless network here in Pensacola FL, contact Pensacola Computers