Instagram is a social network that has distinguished itself from others of its kind with its mobile-first, image-oriented style. Rather than writing text posts, Instagram is designed around uploading images and short videos to your profile. It may take some time to get used to its format, but with practice, it’s a great way to socialize with friends.
You’ve heard it before, that phrase, “the cloud.” People throw it around as a corporate buzzword, promote it as a selling point, and gild it like some sort of holy grail of computing, but what exactly is it? The answer isn’t always clear, but let’s go over some of the basic tenets to help better define “the cloud.”
In general terms, the cloud is the Internet. All that cyberspace between your coffee shop wifi and the servers that power Facebook, from Amazon to Bing to Pinterest, it’s all of those and the web of connections that ties them together. More importantly, it’s the infrastructure, and the idea behind it, that forms this mysterious cloud.
One of the main ideas behind the cloud is that everything is “out there” — stored on a server, or in all likelihood, multiple servers, on the Internet, rather than on the computer sitting on your lap. There’s little or no software to install, and in fact, most of the time you simply use the browser (i.e., Chrome, Firefox, Edge, Safari) already on your device to access the cloud. That means since it’s “out there,” it’s accessible from nearly anywhere: the public computers at the library, your friend’s notebook PC, your iPad, your Android phone — you get the idea.
No, we’re not just talking your files and photos, though that’s a large part of it. Now, entire applications run in the cloud. The technical name is “software as a service,” and it runs right in the browser, too. Google Drive is a prime example — when you normally would have used Microsoft Word or Excel on your desktop computer, you can now use Google Docs for word processing, and Google Sheets for spreadsheets and there’s nothing to show for it on your hard drive. It exists in the cloud. Of course, you can download the files, if you so choose, but, typically, there’s no toting around a floppy disk or USB thumb drive; you simply log in to the cloud from wherever you may be.
In the very near past, your choice of operating system could limit which software you installed on your machine. Now, it’s all taken care of for you: if you have a browser, you have the ability to run the software. Granted, the experience may not always be the best, say, on your phone’s smaller screen, but the infrastructure and the idea are still there.
No Upgrade Treadmill
Remember the time you bought that accounting software at your local computer store, then turned around the next week and a shiny new version had just been released? That’s right, you bought version 10 when version 11 was just around the corner. Now you have to pony up some more cash — maybe the full retail price, maybe just an upgrade fee — if you want the latest features. With the cloud, that’s a thing of the past. Sure, there are regular updates and improvements, but they simply replace what was already there in the cloud. The catch is, unlike the one-time software license fees of old, you’re typically now subscribing to that software as a service with a monthly or annual fee, so it’s a bit of give and take.
Built in Backups
Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of all this is if your computer crashes or your hard drive gets fried in a lightning storm, your files are safe out there in the cloud. Typically, data are distributed across multiple servers, perhaps multiple locations, and maybe even in multiple countries across the globe (which is also something to think about in terms of legal ramifications), so it would likely take quite the catastrophic event to wipe out your stuff.
So, now you don’t have to wonder what exactly you’re getting yourself into when you dabble in the cloud. There’s no real mystery involved: it’s simply businesses providing you services remotely from servers connected to the Internet.
Luckily, we at Patient Computer Help are here to help you navigate the cloud, should you have any questions.
Your computer isn’t one of them.
Have you ever sat down at your computer and been forced to wait what feels like ages for it to get from starting up to actually letting you see your desktop? Ever clicked on a program and gotten annoyed by how long it takes to actually start and let you get to work, or tried to play a game that leaves you staring at a loading screen half the time? If you’ve been annoyed by any of those things, it may be time to think about upgrading to a Solid State Drive.
What is an SSD?
A relatively new addition to the personal computer scene, the Solid State Drive (or SSD, for short) is a tremendous improvement on the hard drives that PCs have been using since the 1980s. The standard, bulky hard drive is actually a magnetic platter that spins around when it’s being read or written to, kind of like a high-capacity CD inside a metal shell. It gets the job done, but its constant movement makes it far from silent, and even worse, it’s prone to failure as parts inside it start to break down due to wear and tear. One day, you might boot up your old computer only to find the hard drive has failed, and if it does, recovering the data may be time consuming and expensive, if it’s even possible. (We can help, if needed, with data recovery.)
Why are they better?
Upgrading to an SSD will take care of all of these problems right out of the box. Instead of using a metal disc to store its data, an SSD is made up of interconnected computer chips that store data in a way that is easily accessible to the rest of your computer. No moving parts. This results in a silent drive that won’t break down nearly so easily as a platter drive, but that’s not all. In addition to being physically sound, an SSD’s speed is out of this world. We’re talking Ford Pinto vs a Maserati. It’s a real difference.
When a mechanical platter hard drive is told to load something, it has to find it first. The disc has to spin, the reader arm has to move into place before it can do anything. Disc fragmentation occurs when large files have to be broken up into smaller pieces and stored in multiple places on the drive, making things even slower. Meanwhile, an SSD can instantly load any data on it at any time, and it automatically moves data around to keep every file intact. A switch from a hard drive to an SSD will have you seeing your operating system starting within seconds, programs that appear as soon as you click on them, and game load times that are over in a snap.
Even if you don’t want to throw out your old drive, there are still reasons to get an SSD. Most desktop computers are built to easily handle having multiple storage devices installed inside, you won’t have to wipe out your files and start over from scratch at all. By simply moving your files over and reinstalling programs that you want to go faster on your new drive, they will gain the speed boost that comes from using an SSD without the hassle of needing to backup and restore a thing, all while freeing up extra space on your old drive for even more storage.
Or, in a laptop, we can “clone” (make an exact duplicate) the existing drive onto an SSD and put that in the mechanical drive’s place. It’ll be like a new computer.
If you’re thinking about buying a new PC or upgrading your old one with an SSD, we here at Patient Computer Help are here to provide you with all the help you need. We will provide expert assistance with picking out the right drive for your needs and safely installing your new hardware to get you back out there and working faster than ever.
If you have any questions regarding Solid State Drives, contact Patient Computer Help.
Microsoft’s Office suite of software has been a mainstay of workplace productivity for many years. Despite how widespread and well-known Office is, many of its users dislike the fact that the major updates that arrive every few years tend to shake up the interface and other features. The latest version, Office 365, is an even bigger change that has made waves, but for a new reason: 365 represents not just an upgrade to the way the software looks, but its entire business model. It’s a radical change that will completely change the way offices interact with Office, and we’re going to explain it all in this post.
Previously, Office underwent updates about as often as Microsoft released new versions of Windows. New versions of Office added new tools and features each time, but there was always a learning curve because of a new interface and a new way of doing things. This was disruptive to businesses, because it takes a lot of time to learn new software. The result was that many businesses kept old versions of Office just because they already knew how to use it. The same thing happened with Windows itself: despite updates, many businesses still run very old versions like Windows XP because they know how it works and it costs a lot of time and some money to upgrade. That is a major problem for Microsoft (and for you) because these old versions of Office and Windows are no longer officially supported, so they are full of security holes that will never be fixed. They also don’t contain the shiny new bells and whistles MS spent time developing.
To resolve this problem, MS adopted a whole new philosophy for the latest version of Windows, Windows 10. Windows 10 is meant to be “the last Windows” because instead of releasing repeated new versions, Microsoft wants to have one base package and release frequent, small updates to it indefinitely. In other words, no more big changes every few years. Now, Windows will have occasional smaller changes. That means more stability for the user and easier care and security for Microsoft. We suspect that, instead of buying a big update every few years, users will in the future pay for annual subscriptions instead, but that hasn’t yet happened with Windows 10.
It has happened with Office 365, with a similar revamp. The new base version of Office is called Office 365, with 365 referring to the number of days in a year; conveniently, the time between subscription payments. 365 is a product based on an annual subscription, which gives you access to the base software and all software updates that come out in that year. As with previous versions of Office, it is possible to get it for a reduced price under certain conditions, such as if you are a student. Once again, this greatly simplifies the way Office works. Instead of having to make a choice between keeping an old, familiar version and getting a new version that is safer and better, the company just has to stay current on its subscription.
Overall, this should be a positive change for Office. The one downside is the more frequent updates means that there will be new features and changes for Office multiple times a year, although each update should be small enough to be manageable. If it turns out that Microsoft puts out updates too quickly or the updates are too different, then we at Patient Computer Help are ready and able to provide you with detailed and customized support. We have years of experience helping businesses get the most out of their software and we can do the same for you as Office 365 becomes the new standard.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help keep you with Windows 365.
Hackers attack personal and business networks at an alarming rate. Victims most often use the term virus to describe the attacks. However, computer security experts classify most threats as malware. Despite the type, all cyber threats can cause serious harm.
Cyber Attacks Increase Annually
In 2015, hackers stole or destroyed almost half a billion files and continue to discover new computer vulnerabilities almost every week. They exploit 75 percent of those vulnerabilities on unwitting Internet users through commandeered websites.
In the same year, businesses experienced a 55 percent increase in security breaches, and a single virus protection firm reported 100 million information theft attempts via technical support ruses. When these attacks succeed, hacking victims often find themselves left with damaged computers.
Why the Confusion?
Differentiating between malware and viruses is sometimes difficult because computer attacks share similar characteristics. As Internet users grow more cautious, hackers find new and complex ways to find and attack victims. Affected computers may show several symptoms, such as:
• Unwanted pop-up advertising
• Sluggish operation and startup
• Unexplained crashes
• Disappearing files
• Numerous error message
Hackers attack all device types including desktops, laptops, tablets and cellular devices using several methods that computer experts classify in different ways.
Malware is a technical term combining the words malicious software. This includes several software attack classifications, including viruses. Other cyber threats include Trojan horses, worms and spyware. Hackers sometimes use one method to introduce other cyber threats. Different threats affect computer systems with variable impact. As a rule, if an unsolicited virus warning pops up on the screen, do not follow the instructions.
One thing the programs share is the intention to harm computer systems and ultimately the users. Some threats spy on users’ activities to discover sensitive information, while others mine unique identifiers to sell to rouge businesses. Other programs hijack computers and instruct them to perform illegal acts without the owner’s consent or knowledge. Once hijacked computers complete the tasks, they are often severely crippled.
Internet security experts classify malware threats in several ways.
Worms attack computers by jumping from network to network without human input and damaging each infected network.
Spyware observes user activity and may change system security settings.
Ransomware locks down a user’s computer and demands payment to free the system.
Hackers use bots – originally intended to gather information for legitimate purposes – to execute illicit commands on hijacked computers, which can include other malware or a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. DDoS attacks employ many hijacked computers to query a single web page at once and disrupt service.
Hackers also use rootkits – intended to allow computer support technicians remote access – to covertly enter systems and deploy other malware.
What about Viruses?
Viruses are a type of malware that infects multiple files on a user’s computer. They jump to other computers and networks via email or removable storage media. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) credits a pair of software retailers for creating the first official virus to curtail illegal software duplication, which went on to spread exponentially as users shared the stolen software. According to Technopedia, hackers began to exploit viruses for their entertainment, then later moved on to hijacking computers for other, more illicit, reasons.
These malicious programs operate invisibly on unsuspecting computer users’ mcahines. Once installed, the programs duplicate, corrupt data and destroy files. This continues until the computer can no longer process the many programs and freezes. Due to viruses’ long history and devastating impact, victims commonly use the term as a catchall phrase to describe computer attacks, while the term malware has only recently grown popular as more software vendors advertise the term. Viruses are malware, but all malware are not necessarily viruses.
Computer attacks, frequently labeled viruses, are increasingly crippling important systems around the world. Yet, hackers deploy several kinds of computer threats. Identifying the attack method is the first step to recovering a damaged system. It is also important to know how to recover a damaged system without causing more harm and possibly losing data forever. If your computer is functioning poorly, you may have contracted malware.
Contact Patient Computer Help today to schedule a support session and return your computer or network to optimum performance.
We have recently begun recommending and installing Emsisoft Anti-Malware/Anti-Virus. It is a great program that does its job without slowing down your computer. Our preferred method to install it is with Kabuto, which gives us remote-monitoring of your Emsisoft’s performance, as well as other health-check items on your computer itself. Call us if we can help.
If you are thinking about starting a YouTube channel and want to know how to make money from it then we at Patient Computer Help are here to give you the information you need. Anybody can start a YouTube channel, but you will need some technical information if you want to monetize your videos and start getting paid. Here is what you’ll need to do:
Create a Google AdSense Account
YouTube is a Google-owned website, and so the first thing you have to do to start making money on your channel is create a Google AdSense account. When you set up an account, Google places advertisements in the sidebar of your website as well as in the beginning of your videos. The advertisers pay Google to display these ads and in turn, Google pays you based on how much traffic comes to your channel. The longer people watch your videos with ads, the more money you will make. We at Patient Computer Help will gladly answer any technical questions you have about setting up an AdSense account.
Start Monetizing Your Content
Uploading a video to YouTube does not automatically mean it begins to make money. You will have to go into the settings of your video and choose to monetize it, either with sidebar advertisements, in-video advertisements, or both. Once you have selected this option, the video will begin making money based on view-time. We will help you navigate this option if you are having difficulty, and can help you setup your account settings so that each upload is automatically monetized.
Follow YouTube Guidelines
YouTube has their own set of guidelines, and if you don’t follow them your video won’t remain monetized. The most common way for videos to break guidelines is by using copyrighted music. If a copyrighted song appears in your video then YouTube will leave it up on your channel, but the money it draws in from advertisements will go to the owner of the copyright instead of you. Avoid this by visiting YouTube’s Audio Library, which contains free music that you are able to include in your videos without worrying about copyright infringement.
Attract Traffic to Your Channel
Monetizing your videos doesn’t do you any good if nobody clicks on them. There are a few things you can do to attract traffic to your channel. The first impression that people get of your content is the video thumbnail. Hundreds of videos of the same subject matter pop up when somebody does a search on the YouTube homepage. Your thumbnail is your chance to stand out from the other videos and make people want to click on your content. Create engaging images that immediately let viewers know what the subject of your video will be. Additionally, make sure that your video is of good quality. With so many options on the internet, people won’t hesitate to find a new video after just a few seconds if your quality is no good. Put effort into your channel and drive traffic by promoting your videos on other social media sites.
A firewall, just as in a car or a building, is a layer of protection between the risks and you. On a computer, that layer protects your computer while it’s connected to the Internet. With all the sneaky malware floating around, you need one, and you definitely should have one in place.
What is a firewall?
Some organizations might have three firewalls (or more): one on each Internet-connected server, one on the internal router, and one on each computer. The firewall is the first line of defense against any cyber attacks. Most computers today come with firewalls installed, and for good reason. When you’re connected to a global network like the Web, your computer is always at risk. Many attacks are filtered and blocked by your firewall without you even knowing, while allowing traffic that you choose to download, such as webpages or music. A firewall can tell the difference between traffic you initiate and traffic you didn’t. In IP (Internet protocol) technology, data is broken up into chunks, or packets, each with its own network addressing information.
Hardware firewall – this is a device, whether external or internal, between your Internet connection and your computer that acts as a router (or may be a router). Routers send incoming traffic to the computer with the specified IP address; if an incoming transmission doesn’t have a specific IP address, or one on your network, it goes nowhere.
Software firewall – if you aren’t using a router, all network traffic will reach your computer. Software firewalls are programs that monitor this incoming traffic so that suspicious traffic never reaches internal systems. This is not dissimilar to a hardware firewall, however a software firewall on many networks can also be configured to block out-going traffic from you computer (i.e., to prevent a virus from affecting other computers). Most PCs come with a software firewall turned on by default.
How firewalls work
Your firewalls use one or more of three basic approaches to control traffic coming in or out of a network:
Packet filtering – This packet information is checked against a set of filters. If the packet is prohibited by any filter, it is discarded.
Proxy services – incoming information is held by the firewall until it can be verified by the requesting computer.
Stateful inspection – key identifiers in each packet are compared against a database of approved senders. If the packet info doesn’t match any of these trusted sources, it gets discarded.
Trusted sources, like your favorite website or cloud storage, get recorded and information from them is allowed through your firewall. But any suspicious Internet packets that were never requested by your computer are simply cut off.
Leave it on
Firewalls work in one critical sense – they protect you from computers that your network doesn’t trust. Nothing can guarantee safety from all the clever hacker tricks out there, so you really shouldn’t trust any network. If you have kids at home on their own computers, make sure that both their devices and your WiFi router are firewall-protected. If you connect to the Internet via someone else’s WiFi, you want your software firewall active.
Newer firewalls on both PC and Macs are checking each packet in micro-seconds, so they don’t have much drag on speed or system resources. Turning them off won’t give you any real benefit, so it’s better to leave them on and have that extra layer of protection.
If you have any questions about firewalls or computer security, we at Patient Computer Help can assist you with all of your Internet concerns.
Computers are mysterious. They are a box that takes keyboard inputs then outputs beautiful results that we use everyday. The feeling of owning a new computer is like having the world at your fingertips — anything is possible. When your computer is too old, everything feels stagnant. There are several signs that indicate the age of your computer. But what age is too old? We at Patient Computer Help have curated a list of four telltale signs of aging for any computer.
4 Signs that Your Computer is Too Old:
#1 You Cannot Run The Latest Updates
The biggest indicator of an old computer is its ability to handle the newest generation of software. There is a rule of computing that every two years, the average computer will double in its computing ability. Therefore, an eight year old computer is 6% as quick as than a new computer. As you spend time with a computer, you may not notice the slowing speed of the processor. What’s worse, most new software is designed to work with the fastest computers, the newer ones. While they still work with older computers (sometimes), it introduces additional strain on the older computer to keep up.
The minute you upgrade to a new generation computer, the difference will be obvious. If you are unable to install current applications or software, consider upgrading the operating system or purchasing a new computer. Or, let us know and we’ll see if a solid state hard drive (SSD) upgrade can fix your issues.
#2 You Can’t Install the Latest Operating System(OS)
The operating system is the interface that allows you to utilize the pointer and click to any application you wish to use. PCs run on the windows OS while Macs run on the OS X operating system. Although they have different names, the functionality is quite similar. As a computer ages, the specifications or the hardware within the computer become outdated. Many of these parts are soldered into the computer making it impossible to upgrade. Therefore, if your computer is unable to update to the latest version of OS X (Capitan) or Windows (10), your computer may be too old.
#3 There Are Constant Noises Coming From Your Computer
Most technology will make a noise or two during its lifespan. Computers are known to have loud fans that turn on when you are utilizing all of its resources. However, as a computer ages, it will begin to create more noise, more frequently (much like people). This is due to the lifespan of the internal hardware. Computers are not built to last forever. Many computer companies urge consumers to buy or replace their computers every two to six years. This way, they can maintain an optimal level of performance and avoid issues with customer service.
#4 Constant Pop-Up Messaging
As previously mentioned, the internal hardware of your computer is not meant to last a lifetime. As your time with the computer increases, the amount of errors that take place is bound to increase as well. Like most things, a computer will age and die. We at Patient Computer Help are equipped to increase the endurance of your computer but unfortunately, they cannot last forever. If you are constantly dealing with error messages, blue screens, or freezing, your computer may be too old.
A computer is a tricky machine but it doesn’t have to be. At Patient Computer Help, we are dedicated to giving you the greatest possible experience from any computer. Although computers may get old, purchasing a new one is a great experience as well. Furthermore, acquiring a new machine will allow you to reap the benefits of enhanced productivity, newer technologies, and less stress when dealing with your computer.
It is that time again to start thinking about bringing your systems up to date. An operating system upgrade to Windows 10 may seem like a daunting task, but it might be more advantageous than you think. To help you make an informed decision as to why you should take the leap and upgrade now to Windows 10, let us address a few things you should be weighing as you consider moving forward.
Older Operating Systems Losing Support
We all like holding on to those classic operating systems as long as we can. We get used to the look and feel of a particular operating system environment and the thought of change is, by all accounts, somewhat disturbing. With each new operating system upgrade there is always going to be a period of familiarization that is necessary for helping you regain your bearings; however, one thing to seriously consider is that Microsoft could stop providing support for your older operating system at any time. Although they will perhaps continue to support Windows 7 and 8, for example, for some time, other older versions of the Microsoft OS environment will simply become less important to support as more and more users take advantage of upgrading to the latest Windows 10 operating system.
Another great reward for upgrading to Windows 10 is that there is improved reliability. While older operating systems had a tendency to freeze or crash every time you turned around, Windows 10 has the ability to operate more reliably than its predecessors. One way to increase the operational efficiency of your Windows 10 operating system is to utilize the on-board Reliability Monitor feature to debug and troubleshoot systems problems across a number of different causal areas of concern. From application to hardware problems, Reliability Monitor will be a useful tool for helping your Windows 10 PC run as smoothly as possible.
With the release of any new operating system, you always expect some level of new functionality. This is generally introduced in the form of new features and Windows 10 has a number of new features that make it easier to use than Windows 8. For starters, the designers over at Microsoft got the hint and returned the start menu to the windows 10 environment for easier use of the operating system. The revised start menu also helps to organize metro apps and is highly customizable for user needs.
Most people, however, don’t like the new Start Menu either. A lot of our clients have found it useful to install “Classic Start,” from Ninite.com. It gives a Start Menu a lot like you’ll remember from Windows 7, and you don’t have to put up with what Microsoft thinks you need.
Another key feature to look for is Microsoft’s personal digital assistant, Cortana, which has migrated from their smartphone application environment over to their operating system environment. Whether Cortana is helping you perform a search or making you crack a smile with a joke, it has become a useful feature that many Windows 10 users have come to appreciate; that’s what’s been reported, though we haven’t found a soul who likes it. Another key feature that has been improved some is the Windows 10 Narrator feature. This feature makes it possible for people with low vision, for example, to have greater flexibility in navigating their Windows 10 operating system and improves browsing functionality on the web; however, do not expect this feature to replace a fully integrated screen reader for blind accessibility use.
If you thought you would be stuck with Internet Explorer in Windows 10, think again. Microsoft finally got around to taking a seriously new look at the online browsing experience of their users and provided Windows 10 with a sleek, faster browser called Edge. Edge strips away much of the clutter and provides users with an improved browsing experience on the web. Edge even tries to anticipate your needs to some degree and will provide additional information, such as directions to that restaurant you are looking up or other related information that might be useful during your browsing experience.
At Patient Computer Help, however, we always install Google’s Chrome web browser as well as Mozilla’s Firefox. We personally like the ease of use of those two over Edge.
Making the transition to Windows 10 is no small decision. While this will come with certain inevitable changes to your computer’s operation, it will also come with a number of benefits. It is time to start taking advantage of these benefits today.
Contact us at Patient Computer Help to help you with any questions or concerns you have with getting your new Windows 10 PC operating at peak performance.
In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to get through a day without using a password at least once. Whether it’s logging in to your computer at the office or purchasing items online, passwords are now a part of our lives. However, while passwords may be a necessity of life, it can often be difficult for the everyday computer user to come up with good strategies to manage them in ways that are safe and effective. With hackers and criminals vying everyday to steal personal information and use it for identity theft or other crimes, it’s more important than ever to know what to do once you’re at the keyboard. If you find yourself in need of some new ideas to manage your passwords, we here at Patient Computer Help are ready to help you solve these and other complex computer issues.
Different Passwords for Each Account
Because password management can be complex at times, many people choose to take the easy way out and use one password for all of their accounts. This is a huge mistake. If the worst happens and hackers manage to access one account, they’ll usually try the same password on the rest of your accounts. Chances are you’ll be in for lots and lots of headaches trying to convince people you didn’t buy this or that. Therefore, using different passwords for each account gives you the best chance to outsmart the criminals and keep your information safe and secure.
Create Unusual Passwords
If there is one thing we see on a regular basis, it’s people who use passwords that are far too easy for hackers to figure out. For example, in a recent Wall Street Journal survey, it was discovered that some of the most common passwords used were password, 123456, and 12345678. With passwords as simple as these, it’s no wonder hackers are having such an easy time gaining vast amounts of personal information. Instead of letting yourself be a victim, try to make your passwords as unique as possible, utilizing a variety of letters, numbers, and symbols.