PC Troubleshooting

What updates should I actually install?

Windows Updates, Anti-virus and Anti-spyware programs, Adobe Flash Player, Java, and other programs that are installed on your computer should be regularly updated. Most of these programs are already set to update themselves, they may need to pop up a notification letting you know that there is an update, or that an update is ready to install. In which case the program will prompt you on how to do that. You want to stay away from anything that says to do an “update”, if it originates from a website, ad, pop up window or anything else that you don’t recognize. Don’t forget, Google is your friend. If something tells you that you need an update for something, and you don’t recognize it, open a browser and Google the name. If it comes back with a lot of results calling it a “virus”, “malware”, or “spyware”, or even if it says that this software crashed my computer, then steer clear of it, and remove it from your computer.

Do I need Adobe Reader?

No. Adobe Reader is used to open and read any file that’s been saved as a PDF. Even though Adobe created the PDF format, it’s a universal format. Therefore, any program that can read and open a PDF will work. Foxit, Cute, Primo and Nitro are just a few examples of other programs that will open a PDF file. Adobe Reader suffers from too many vulnerabilities that can allow malware onto your system. By not using Adobe, you restrict another way for malware to get onto your computer.

How do I run anti-virus, anti-spyware scans on my computer?

Most anti-virus and anti-spyware programs are set up to run themselves. However, if you want to run your own scans, you can. Just open up the security software that you want to run, and hit the “Scan,” “Scan Now,” or other button that gives you a scanning option. Wait for it to finish, and then the program will walk you through on how to get rid of anything it finds.

How do I run a backup?

If you want to run it from Windows, then all you need to do is open “Control Panel >> System & Security >> Back up your computer. There it will walk you through, you will need another hard drive, like an external drive or thumb drive, or use a network location. (This would be a located on another computer, or NAS or even server). If you are using an external drive, then some drives include their own software to run a backup from. You can use it instead if you feel more comfortable with it. Either way, you can set it up to run on a schedule, so that you don’t have to attend to it yourself. Just be sure that the external drive Is plugged in to run the backup, or that the network location is available, otherwise you’ll get an error message telling you that your backup didn’t run.

What if I have questions about how to use software?

There is generally a “Read Me” file located in the programs folder that will tell you how to use the software. Otherwise, remember again that Google is your friend. Typing in “How do I do …..” into Google, will bring up a list of ways to do just that. With Google, you can literally ask it a question, and it will spit out answers for you. There are often YouTube videos, as well, that will show you how to use software.

Someone called and said they were from, “Microsoft”, or “Windows 7”, or a “Microsoft Partner”, and told me that there was something wrong with my computer. Should I believe them?

Hang up. It’s a scam. No if’s, and’s or but’s about it. Don’t give them any information. Don’t let them have access to your computer. Don’t do anything they ask for. No one Is watching your computer, or monitoring your anti-virus, or checking for unusual activity. Microsoft doesn’t care what you are doing with your computer, as long as you’re not pirating their software. These calls are coming from off-shore companies that buy demographics lists from other 3rd party vendors. They specifically target older, retired home owners, because they feel that they probably don’t know much about computers and would therefore be easy targets. Ignore anything they may tell you. If you are concerned about your computer, or what they may have done, give us a call and we’ll set up an appointment to come out and take a look.

Connectivity Issues

How do I connect to my wireless network?

From Windows, look to the bottom right of your screen and look for an icon that looks like a series of bars, indicating signal strength. From there, click on the icon. This will bring up a box that will include all of the wireless networks that your computer can see. If you know the name of your network, and your network password, find it on the list and click on it to type in your password. Your computer will do the rest and when you have full bars, with no red “X”, then you are connected. If you are using a Mac or Linux computer, this icon is generally on the top of the screen, depending on which OS version you are using.

How can I tell if I’m connected to the Internet?

If you hooked up through a wireless network, as above, then you’ll see the status bars on your taskbar filled in. If you’re connected to a wired, or Ethernet connection, you’ll see a different icon in the same place, but there won’t be a red “X”. If there is, then there is no connection either wired or wireless. You can always open a web browser, too, and see if you can connect to a specific website. If you can, you’re connected. If not, and you’re sure you’ve connected everything correctly, give us a call.

Do I need to turn off my computer when I’m not using it?

Back in the day, computers weren’t nearly as reliable after turning them off. Nowadays, computers and their power supplies, motherboards and other components, are much more reliable. So there is no real worry about a computer not booting up, unless there’s something seriously wrong with it. So really, it’s up to you. I have one system that’s on 24 hours/day, 7 days/week, 365 days/year. I have another one that’s set to turn itself off when I’m not using it. And a third that I only turn on when I want to do work on it, and I turn it off when I’m done. Each is reliable and fully functional. As with any electronic device, there’s always a possibility that something will malfunction, though. If it does, give us a call. We may be able to salvage your system.

Do I need a separate router if my ISP (Cable/phone company), already gave me a modem + router?

It depends. I use a separate router to provide my wireless network, and also connect my network printers, NAS, and media server all to the same network. One advantage of this is that if my modem from the ISP ever goes down or dies, my home network will still be up and running. That can happen, as the boxes that the ISP gives you, are made as cheaply as possible, especially with wireless components. Almost any router that you buy from a store or order online, is going to be built better and will probably last longer. I know of clients who replace the modem from their ISP as often as every 6 months, as they just keep having them fail.