Heads UP!

Heads Up folks!

I’ve gotten three calls this week from people who have fallen victim to the phone calls from “Microsoft”.  The person on the other end of the phone is very convincing.  Within the first minute or two, you just know that they are right.  You do have spyware or viruses on your computer and you’ve given them your credit card info and let them onto to your machine.

Then there is the phone call that I keep getting and wrote about in a previous blog. https://geekforhireinc.com/who-is-really-calling/ They leave a message that says:

“This call is in regards to the security software we installed on your computer last year. Now we see a red flag on our end stating there is a security breach on it. Please call 1-866-758-1262. I repeat, 1-866-758-1262. Thank you.”

Please be aware that these types of calls are on the rise and they are getting better about fooling you.  I’ve said it before – Microsoft, Apple, Dell, or HP won’t call you to tell you that your machine has been infected.  Don’t give these people access to your computer or your credit card info!

Be careful out there folks!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

Snow Day – perfect time to organize your computer files!

With the beautiful weather outside, it’s hard to concentrate on getting any work done.  The view from the deck outside of my home office is breathtaking – see for yourself:

Snow Day at the Eddy's!
Snow Day at the Eddy’s!

A day like today might be a good day to clean up your computer files!

Organize your photos:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always put my files where I can easily find them again.  Especially my photos!  Every once in a while I’ll organize my photos by date.  I generally use the year and month.  I put the year first so that when the computer sorts the files by name, they’ll remain in date order.  If there are a lot of photos from a particular day or event, they’ll get their own file folder.

  • For example, my files might look like this:
    • 2016-02-February
    • 2016-01-January
    • 2015
      • 2015-12-December
      • 2015-11-November
      • 2015-11-November – Thanksgiving Vacation
      • 2015-10-October
      • etc., etc.

Once I get the file structure organized, I simply drag and drop the photos to the correct folder.  At the same time, I might also rename some of the photos too. Then it’s much easier to search for (and find) the photo of Auntie Em from among the hundreds of photos I took last Thanksgiving.

If I didn’t name the folders by date with the year first, but instead used the month first, when the computer sorted the folders based on name, it would end up looking like this:

  • April 2015
  • April 2014
  • August 2015
  • August 2014
  • December 2015
  • December 2014
  • February 2016
  • February 2015
  • February 2014
  • January 2016
  • January 2015
  • January 2014
  • July 2015
  • July 2014
  • June 2015
  • June 2014
  • etc, etc.

… and that wouldn’t be very helpful at all.

To rename a photo file, simple place your cursor on the file.  Then you can double click on it to rename it, or press the F2 button.  Give it a new name that is meaningful to you.  That will make it easier to find it later.

Organize your Computer Files:

When you store documents on your computer, it’s important to file them in such a way that you are able to find them again.  I’ve watched while friends have downloaded a file or photo from the internet and it goes straight into the “Downloads” folder without even getting a new name!  There are hundreds of files in there.  How will you ever be able to find that pdf again when its name is “2848066_orig.pdf”?  I would suggest setting up your files in a way that makes sense to you.

For example, you could try something like:

  • Family
    • Dick
    • Jane
    • Sally
    • Tom
  • Home
  • Photos
    • 2016
    • 2015
    • 2014
  • Recipes
    • Beverages
    • Desserts
    • Main Meals
  • Work

Then when you need to find a file, you’ll have a much easier time of it!

How do you get motivated on a day like today?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

 

 

 

 

Who is Really Calling?

Computer scams are rampant if my voice mail is any judge.  For the last few weeks I’ve been getting a voice mail message with the following recording:

“This call is in regards to the security software we installed on your computer last year. Now we see a red flag on our end stating there is a security breach on it. Please call 1-866-758-1262. I repeat, 1-866-758-1262. Thank you.”

We’ve also received phone calls from regular people like you or me who fell victim to these scams.

Whenever you receive a call on your home or mobile phone from a number that you do not recognize, be extra careful. Dell or Microsoft or Toshiba or even Apple won’t be calling you to tell you that your computer has a virus.  When you get this kind of call, your spider-sense should be tingling!

There are times though when you answer the phone and the person on the other end is very convincing.  You might believe them and agree that they can access your computer remotely.  Then when you hang up the phone you have second thoughts.  Some things you should do right away are to:

  • Turn your machine off.
  • Disconnect the internet from your machine.  You may need to unplug the Ethernet cable from your machine or turn off the router if you have wireless service.
  • Turn your machine back on and confirm that your anti-virus is still working and is still installed.
  • Start your virus scanner.  It should tell you whether any malware has been installed, and it should remove those programs.
  • Once your virus scanner has completed and has removed any potential threats, you can reconnect your internet.
  • For the next few days be very cautious about how you use your machine.  For example, it would be prudent not to enter any financial or banking information on that machine – use your phone or iPad instead.  If the machine doesn’t show any signs of continued infection, it should be fine.  If it starts displaying pop-ups or becomes very slow, it’s time to call in a professional to do a through scrub of the machine.

You can find other symptoms of an infected machine here:

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

 

Experts say computers won’t last as long as you think

We have several customers with very old machines and they generally ask us how much longer they can expect their machine to last. We’re talking ten plus years! Remember Windows ME? Yup, we’re still seeing customers with that Microsoft Operating System!

It’s true that the machines that were built prior to 2010, for example, are likely to last five or so years. Some people have gotten them to last longer by taking special care of them. For example, we’re still happily using our 2008 iMac. Eight years later, it still performs very well. However, machines built in the last couple of years were only made to last three to six years.

I talked with Chris about computers in general and how long we can expect them to last.

“Computer technology doubles every three to four years and computers tend to last about four years. The better (more expensive) computers tend to last much longer than the cheaper ones will.”

Other experts around the internet chime in:

“…we use the 3-4-5 theory.  Plan on three years, hope for four, and don’t push past five years.”

“If you’re looking at the computer as a whole, with no interest in upgrading or replacing parts, expect to get at least three years out of the average desktop computer.”

“As a general rule of thumb, I expect laptops to last two to five years. Desktops may last three to seven years.”

“…a good timeframe to consider upgrading is around every three to four years.”

What can you do to help your machine last longer and keep it humming along?

  • Keeping the insides free of dust and pet hair.
  • If a machine is short on RAM, adding more will help it to run faster.
  • Too many protective software programs will make a machine run slower.
  • When the hard drive is more than 50% full, it will begin to run slower.
  • Viruses will tend to make your machine run slower. If you think you may have a virus, run your virus scanner to remove them.
  • Things get bigger and more computationally intense over time, so there are lags.

Remember, even if your machine is running perfectly, to keep your machine backed up regularly. Backups never go out of style and you never know when that hard drive might fail!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area

 

Data Transfer vs. Data Recovery

We’ve been doing a lot of Data Recovery lately so I asked Chris to tell us what is involved in Data Recovery and how it is different from Data Transfer.

Although Data Transfer and Data Recovery are similar phrases, they are different in important ways.

Data transfer is the act of copying data directly from one device to another. (For example when you purchase a new Mac and need to transfer your data from your old PC.) Data transfer tends to be much faster than Data Recovery, because it uses the native copy function provided by the Operating System. But, if there are physical problems on the device, or if the filesystem on the device is corrupt, data transfer will not work because it is not tolerant of errors.

Exploding Disk Drive!
Exploding Disk Drive!

Data recovery is performed by specialized software that is tolerant of physical disk errors and errors in the filesystem. It takes much more time to perform Data Recovery because the process has several steps.

Although Data Recovery is much slower to produce a Gigabyte of data, it is tolerant of errors so it is capable of getting to files and putting them back together.

There are five main steps in Data Recovery:

  1. Is the device accessible?
    • if the disk controller is unresponsive, we would need to replace that and retest;
    • if the disk does not physically turn, we will not attempt to fix;
    • if the disk “clicks” when it is turned on, this indicates internal damage within the hard drive which we will not attempt to fix;
    • if the data is overwritten, we will not know this until after the data is recovered and you have inspected your data
  2. Media Analysis (to find where the good data blocks and the bad data blocks are)
  3. File Analysis (to discover what disk blocks comprise which files and folders, and in what order)
  4. Data Selection (to choose which files and folders should be recovered because they are interesting and necessary, and which files and folders should not)
  5. Data Production (the act of creating new files from the recovered data onto an external hard drive).

Our method of recovering data is “Read Only”, meaning that we will not open the hard drive to get to your data; We will connect your hard drive to an adapter, and attempt to access the data through the disk. We will not open your hard drive because we don’t have a “Clean Room”, and we don’t have the spare parts or the specialized equipment necessary to transfer your platters to another drive in a way that would work and not damage your data. If we were to physically open your hard drive, we would introduce significant contamination to your disk, and this would not improve the chances of getting back your data.

If we find that we cannot access your data, we will stop work, because proceeding will not improve the chances of our getting your data.

If we cannot get your data, and you have a business case for getting your data, we recommend that you send your hard drive to one of the major data recovery companies and not to a local company which says they can do it. Because that company will get “one bite of the apple”; they will need to be able to open the disk in a clean room, and have the resources to get your data, because there is a serious risk that your drive will be polluted by their attempt.

There are a handful of Data Recovery companies in the country which specialize in recovering data from physically bad hard drives. They have a clean room, spare parts, and invasive methods of getting your data. They charge a lot more than we do, but we are usually successful, and we can determine in a reasonable amount of time whether Data Recovery is something we are likely to be successful in doing or not.

Our most exciting Data Recovery story happened several years ago.  There was a fire near Gold Hill, Colorado.  Our customer’s home survived the fire, but the next spring, with all the snow melt and spring rains, a mud slide buried their basement.  Their computer was covered in several feet of mud.  Chris carefully cleaned the machine and then started the data recovery process.  Success!

We can recover data from Windows or Mac hard drives.  The device can be formatted using the Windows filesystem or for the Mac filesystem. It doesn’t matter to us if the computer that the device came from is bootable or not, because the device will be removed from the “source” computer and then connected to an adapter, which will allow the data to be accessed directly.

Let us know if you have any questions about this process. Give us a call or send an email.

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

WHEN Should I Back-up My Data?

We’ve been doing a LOT of data recovery work lately. Hard Drives are crashing. Computers are getting really bad viruses. It’s stressful and can get to be pretty expensive. So, please, please, back up your data!

When? Here’s a handy chart:

20150831 When should I back up my data Infographic jpeg revised

If you need help setting up your backup system, just let us know.  We can help you backup to an external hard drive, to the cloud, or both!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

Protecting Your Pictures, Music, and Other Important Data

It’s summer and time for the weather to act up!  Before the next ___Insert Disaster Here (Flood/ Fire/ Tornado/ Hail Damage/ etc.)____ occurs at your house, there are a few things you should take care of right away.

FIRST:
Back up your data to the “cloud”.  We use Dropbox which I find very easy to use.  There’s also Google Drive, iCloud, Microsoft OneDrive, and others.  (Here’s a link to a review of 13 different options for you.)  Make sure you choose a solution that backs up continuously, and is accessible from all the computers, SmartPhones, and Tablets that you commonly use.

SECOND:
Because Ransom-ware is a bigger problem I also recommend that you have a hard copy of your backup.  Ransom-ware is a new type of malware.  The hacker gets into your system and locks you out of it unless you pay a ransom.  This also affects data you’ve backed up to the cloud.

At least once a month, back up your data to a physical source – an external hard drive, DVD’s, etc.  Then store them in a location outside of your home.

WHY DO BOTH?
To protect your data, you really only need a hard copy back up.  But you’d need to do it very frequently in order to capture any changes to any of your files.  In my experience, people are just not that disciplined!  Plus, you have to remember to take it with you if you have the luxury of packing for an evacuation.  Better to upload file changes automatically to the cloud and take a physical backup once a month, or after you’ve finished a big project.

ALSO:
Put your important stuff in an area that’s easy to access in case your home is evacuated because of an emergency.   Things to include are family photos, family herilooms, tent, sleeping bags, extra clothing, water, food & other supplies for your pets, etc.

If you need help setting up your cloud account or learning how to back up your data to a physical source, give us a call!

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)