Tag : Computer

Should I power down my PC each night?

 

Sure, leave it on…

For one, it is more convenient to keep your machine running. Rather than waiting for it to boot up, most of us would rather leave it on if we are going to be on and off it for work or play. A typical system takes around 30 seconds to a minute to boot into the operating system. If you have a large number of programs that are set to launch on boot this can add an additional minute or two to the startup process. Awakening a device from sleep mode only takes a few seconds and there is no additional wait for applications because they are still running.power down

Benefits of keeping the PC on will depend on your computers hardware. A PC with a solid state drive will take significantly less time to boot up than an equivalent machine with a traditional hard drive. Take this into consideration when determining whether sleep or off if a better resting state for your machine.

The maintenance of a good computer starts with regular updates, most of which are best left to work overnight. A few of these tasks could be installing operating system updates, creating backups, and running virus scans. Big moves of data, such as moving large quantities of photos to the cloud, can be scheduled automatically to occur at night. This ensures that the machine is kept up to date and that the user is not interrupted with update prompts and data moves during the work day.

I think most users keep their machines powered up because they need them to be. Have you ever gotten all the way home only to realize that important document you need to work on is on your work laptop? This can be a major setback if the work machine is powered off and sequentially pieces of software are unreachable. A device left on allows the user to simply log in and reach the work machine remotely from home.

Sure, turn it off…

Simple fact remains true whether you religiously power down your machine each night or not, every component of your machine has a life span. The back light in a monitor can last tens of thousands of hours, laptop battery capacity will shorten within the first 300 charge cycles, and a solid state drive is good for around 3000 program erase cycles. Powering down the device might extend the life of the parts, but most users hit the point of buying an upgraded machine long before they are replacing anything within their original device.

A massive distinction exists in power use between when a computer is active, idle, and sleeping. Turning the monitor off alone saves a significant chunk of power, while putting the machine to sleep saves even more. A computer that is turned off but still plugged in uses around 0.2W of power, for those trying to save money on their electric bill this summer. A computer that is powered down will avoid the risks associated with power surges and cuts associated with summer storms as well. Of course a surge protector will also help alleviate this risk.

power down Machines now don’t rely on constant reboots in order to survive, but reboots improve performance and that hasn’t changed. A reboot is still the most effective way of solving everyday errors that users encounter. If you find yourself with a application that is non responsive, a printer on the fritz, or some other glitchy activity, a simple reboot can make you feel like a technical genius. Turning off the machine at the end of the day allows the system to perform actions that may only occur when the device powers down. For instance, I learned that my MacBook at home performs clean up functions when powering down, such as clearing stored information from my daily web browsing activities. This is one less thing for me to remember to clear as well as gives me a little extra storage space for my machine. Just from a power down.

So…..basically……use common sense. If you use your computer all day at work, often need to remotely access it from home, and regularly update and backup your machine at night, leave the machine running, it has reason to do so. If you go out of town for a week and know that you won’t be needing the machine – power it down and give it a chance to cool down. If you use your machine for Pinterest recipes and Facebook, and don’t mind an occasional update during the day or often go days without accessing the computer at all, keep it powered down when not in use.

 


If you would like to learn more about the information presented in this blog post, please visit : www.makeuseof.com

 

What to do if you suspect Malware? We have the answers

Most often one does not know that they are infected with Malware until it is indefinitely too late. A few signs can lead you too believe you might be infected, such as incredibly slow PC performance, browser pop-ups when no browser is open, and security warnings from security programs that have never been installed on your computer, can make you feel uneasy about your machine. Try these tools to kick Malware in the butt. malware-microsoft

Update Antivirus

The software IDs within antivirus software identify existing malware based on what has come before and the latest updates available. Make sure your antivirus software is current, with all of the latest installs. Having software that is even one day out of date leaves your machine at risk for encryption. Antivirus vendors offer updates based on viruses they encounter both in the lab and in the field.

Find Safe Mode

Most malware, when designed correctly, is ready to evade System Restore points set in Windows. Perhaps this might be enough to fix the problem, but say that its not, as it most likely won’t be, try running a program designed to kill any known malware process in progress, such as RKill. The other option in this case is to boot Windows in a way that will not allow malware to get started, aka Safe Mode. By first restarting your PC (Windows 8 or 10), hold down the shift key during the boot sequence, and choose Safe Mode within the troubleshooting options.

Delete Hiding Places

You should then delete all temp files that could hide malware. To delete temp files, open the Start menu, type Disk Cleanup into the search bar and it will check the C:drive for all temp files that can be safely deleted. The software IDs within antivirus software identify existing malware based on what has come before and the latest updates available. Make sure your antivirus software is current, with all of the latest installs. Having software that is even one day out of date leaves your machine at risk for encryption. Antivirus vendors offer updates based on viruses they encounter both in the lab and in the field. After this process it is advised that you run an antivirus on-demand scanner, such as Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. This program is a great line of second defense against malware because it often comes to the rescue if your initial antivirus fails.

No Connection

A RAT, means that someone is remotely accessing your PC. Your first step in this case is to get off the internet. Turn off the Wi-Fi, remove the Ethernet cable, turn off the router, whatever needs to be done in order to detach from the internet. Now, being disconnected from the internet ensures that you are no longer able to be controlled, but it makes it a great deal harder to receive the latest antivirus without access to the internet. The latest software will need to be retrieved from a third party PC, at a different location preferably, then transferred to the RAT PC via USB flash drive. Another option would be to reboot the computer with a CD. Running a full anti-malware utility, these CDs are sometimes called “rescue CD” and can be used without internet connection. Of course, in order to use this option, a CD player will be necessary.

Portable Help

If all other options have failed, it may be the Operating System that has already been infected, making it impossible to even download the newest antivirus software. In order avoid the OS and let the antivirus do its job, you will need to utilize portable apps through a USB flash drive. These portable apps do not require a direct installation. Apps like this consist of Microsoft Safety Scanner, CLamWin, McAfee Stinger, or Kaspersky Security Scan. You can also try a mix of many portable apps since they will not conflict as you have to run each scan individually. There are also other software options such as Spybot and Symantec’s Norton Power Eraser that specifically target a type of malware called crimeware, that run scams. Although this is measure is aggressive, and often times deletes files that might not be malware, all in the effort of safety of course.


 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about the information presented in this blog post please visit: How to Remove Malware From Your PC

New on our radar…ads spreading crypto ransomware

Crypto Ransomware disguised within ads on big time sites

Ads featured on sites such as The New York Times, the BBC, MSN and AOL have exposed thousands of users to crypto ransomware. Angler, a toolkit that sells exploits for Adobe Flash, started the wave of encrypted ads last week pushing laced ads through a compromised network, according to researchers at Ars Technica.

 

The ads contained a JSON-based file with more than 12,000 lines of obscure codes. Angler attacks unsuspecting users with Bedep Trojan and the TeslaCrypt ransomware, a nasty combination. The three suspicious domains to be aware of are trackmytraffic[c],biz, talk915[.]pw and brentsmedia[.]com. The hacking has spread to answers.com, zerohedge.com, as well as infolinks.com. In addition, affected networks consist of those owned by big names such as Google, AppNexis, AOL, and Rubicon.

 

The best thing users can do at this point is enforce safe browsing. Decreasing the probability of attacks means decreasing the attack surface. Uninstall third-party extensions such as Adobe Flash and Microsoft Silverlight unless necessary. In addition to this, keep installations up to date by following updates as soon as they are made available. Using the 64-bit version of Chrome for browsing is one of the safer ways to browse. Microsoft users should work with Windows 10 and Microsoft’s Enhanced Mitigation Experience Toolkit.

Microsoft Finally Announces SQL Server on Linux

WP18After the long and rocky relationship between Microsoft and Linux, the dust has finally settled with the release of the Microsoft SQL Server, compatible with Linux.  The Microsoft SQL Server hosts an array of new features including end-to-end encryption, in-memory support, and more advanced business intelligence capabilities. The news broke when Executive Vice President of Microsoft, Scott Guthrie, released a blog post headlining the SQL Server as a cross platform performer, excelling both on premises and in the cloud.

Guthrie writes, “SQL Server on Linux will provide customers with even more flexibility in their data solution.” Finally Microsoft and Linux have reached an understanding.

The collaboration stems from Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who has encouraged in full force that Microsoft and Linux can and will work well together. The company has now enabled support for Linux on Microsoft Azure, as well as partnered with companies such as Hortonworks and Ubuntu on Linux support. In addition to this Microsoft has also launched open-source efforts including open-sourcing ASP.NET. The lion’s share of Microsoft’s code has also been moved off of CodePlex and onto GitHub.

SQL Server for Linux is currently available in a private beta, and will roll out in early 2017.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2500449,00.asp?mailing_id=1592938&mailing=SmallBusiness&mailingID=74D263B8F2379AE682EE8634F4F85239

Chrome 49 Update Increases Extension Visibility 

[caption id="attachment_5575" align="alignright" width="351"]WP 16 You may have noticed this new aesthetic in the top right corner of your screen.[/caption]

Google Chrome has a large fan base of users who have most likely noticed the changes made with the most recent update.  A string of icons now appears in the upper-right corner of the browser window due to Chrome 49. This icons should look vaguely familiar considering they are the extensions installed on your computer. This enforces that each extension has a persistent UI surface.

Google released a statement in which they describe protection as the most influential reason for the change. Hearing frequently that users are blind to the extensions they have installed due to sideloading and installation by phishing this update ensures users are knowledgeable about their extensions. Extensions utilize computing resources and can significantly impact performance and security.

You may notice the color change feature. The icons in your toolbar now change colors to show you which extensions have and do not have impact on your current activities. For instance, if the extension has no impact on the current page, then the icon turns gray to signal the lack of impact. The icon will light back up when the extension impacts the page you are working on again.

Tip for those of you who are wondering where the other icons have gone, your browser window might be small or you may have quite a few extensions installed. Click on the Chrome menu button on the far right of the toolbar. This will allow you to access the icons that have been dumped due to lack of space. You will no longer be able to delete these icons for good, so make sure you know how to access your hidden icons.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2500377,00.asp?mailing_id=1587787&mailing=DailyNews&mailingID=510C4584BD5C3E3CDD5A15D97D2B87C0

Transmission BitTorrent App Infects OS X with First Ransomware…

If you recently installed the Transmission BitTorrent App, most likely you are one unhappy user.

WP15The recently released version of Transmission BitTorrent for OS X contained the embedded KeRanger ransomware, the debilitating program designed to lock and encrypt files in order to extort money from consumers. In case you didn’t read our previous post about ransomware, this malware is extremely debilitating to consumers and business owners alike. It locks files and infiltrates all external hard drives and shared networks, making external hard drive back up prevention useless in protecting sensitive data.

The March 4th version 2.90 of the application contained the malware. The Transmission’s website is encouraging all users who have downloaded this version to upgrade to version 2.91 or at a bare minimum delete the 2.90 version from their computers. If you would rather, wiping and restoring your system to an earlier time period is also an option. Make sure if you utilize this option, that you restore your device to a period before the Transmission 2.90 installation.

Now if you find yourself infected, resist paying the $400 asked to restore your files. There is no guarantee that paying this fee will result in any data retrieval and could possibly be a complete waste of your money. If you decide to do nothing, at least remove the malware installed. Leaving the installation only allows the ransomware more opportunity to further exploit your system.WP14

If you would like to do a little investigating of your own, a new blog post from Palo Alto Networks’ threat intelligence team lists the steps for finding out if you have been infected with the KeRanger ransomware.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2500391,00.asp?mailing_id=1587787&mailing=DailyNews&mailingID=510C4584BD5C3E3CDD5A15D97D2B87C0

 

Ransomware

 

Ransomware Malware Ransomware is the devilish and extremely debilitating program designed to lock and encrypt files in order to extort money from consumers, business owners, and even government officials. It seems that no one is safe in the fight against ransomware. Most ransomware programs are targeted at the most popular operating system, Windows. Ransomware programs can and will target other systems such as Android applications, Mac OS X and possibly even smart TVs in the near future. Not only is this an unsettling forecast for consumers, but also a call to action for preventative measures to protect your most important data files.

What can be done? Most users have learned the hard way that it is better to back up sensitive data to an external hard drive. However, this type of malware is tuned in to this. When a ransomware program infiltrates a computer, it infects all accessible drives and shared networks, encrypting all files found. This makes for a very irritating discovery of locked data across the board.

Rather than rely on the external hard drive method for backups, it is suggested that consumers adopt a new best practice. Ensure at least three copies of sensitive data are made, and stored in two different formats. At least one of these copies should be stored off-site or offline. This way if ransomware locks files away consumers are not forced into a sticky situation of deciding whether to risk paying for the data retrieval or losing the data forever.

What to do when faced with ransomware? Not much can be done once ransomware has attacked. Most security researchers advise not paying for files to be unlocked, as there is no guarantee that the hackers will provide the deception key once paid. Security vendors also worry about the implications for fueling the fire. The more consumers give in and pay for the safe return of their data, the further encouraged ransomware criminals become to continue this practice of extortion.

If I haven’t said it enough already, I will say it again. Prevention is key. Know how ransomware reaches your computer. Be especially careful of email attachments, word documents with macro code, and malicious advertisements. Always keep the software on your computer up to date. It is especially important to ensure that OS, browsers such as Flash Player, Adobe Reader, and Java are always updated when available. Unless you have verified the senders, never enable the execution of macros in documents. Finally and most importantly, perform daily activities from a limited user account rather than an administrative one. And always, always, utilize a well running and up to date antivirus program.

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.pcworld.com/article/3041001/security/five-things-you-need-to-know-about-ransomware.html

Three Unbelievably Tiny Computers

The market for a device that can easily replace the standard PC has taken a new approach to size. Don’t be fooled, you may be surprised when you find out what is hiding inside these small machines.

Zotac Zbox Sphere

This computer not only breaks the mold in terms of size, but shape. The Zbox is in fact, not a box, but a sphere. Simply twist the circular top and feast your eyes on the interior powerhouse of the computer. The top half of this tiny PC houses an Intel Core i5-42WP 300U motherboard and 4GB of memory. The back panel provides six USB ports, as well as an HDMI and DisplayPort. In addition, the Zbox includes a 802.11ac WiFi module and a spot for an Ethernet cable if preferred. This almost bowling ball like computer packs a serious punch in terms of creativity and power. WP 4

 

 

 

 

Intel Compute Stick

This tiny PC resembles a USB thumb drive, and has stirred massive attention since its release in early 2015. The Intel Compute Stick plugs into any monitWP 5or’s HDMI port, an added bonus for anyone working in tight spaces. Concerned about over heating? Fear not, this tiny machine has a fittingly tiny fan inside, ensuring fast performance without
overheating. Unfortunately the stick does not have an internal battery and thWP 6erefore must run off micro USB power at all times in order to function. What the Intel Compute Stick lacks in battery capabilities it makes up for with a quad-core 1.3GHz processor and 2GB of RAM, with micro SD support for up to 128GB of storage. That’s a lot of power crammed into 4.5 inches.

 

 

 

 

 

Mouse Box

The tiniest computer of the three is cleverly disguised as a computer mouse. The Mouse Box device contains a quad-core 1.4GHz ARM processor, a 128GB solid-state drive, and built-in b/g/n WiFi. The wireless image transfer module allows for easy visual transmitting in addition to the convenient micro HDMI port. The coolest part? Sticking with the mouse motif, the Mouse Box doesn’t need to be plugged in. The inductive charging mat doubles as a mousepad. Although the Mouse Box is not up for public release quite yet, they most certainly have our attention.  WP 8

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If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.geek.com/chips/the-11-tiniest-most-powerful-computers-your-money-can-buy-1627324/

Microsoft OneDrive raises the bar for cloud storage

Microsoft OneDrive Cloud Storage The Microsoft OneDrive, otherwise known as “device cloud”, is available free of charge for anyone who has created a Microsoft account. Included are 5 GB of free storage, easy access to media files, folder syncing, documents, as well as playing and viewing capabilities in addition to simple storage.

Similar to the iCloud for iPhones and iPads, OneDrive allows iPhone, Android, and Windows phone users to automatically upload photos to the OneDrive camera roll. Combining online storage and syncing into one device, One Drive offers a new convenience for Microsoft users who had to previously deal with separate storage and syncing services. Windows 10 has allowed OneDrive to grow as a built-in capacity. If you utilize other technology platforms OneDrive is compatible with Windows 7 and 8, Mac OS X, iOS, and Android.

 

PROS-

Excellent photo viewing and slideshow capabilities.

Clear interface.

Works with Windows phone, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Easily retrieves any file from a PC.

 

CONS-

Storage offerings shrinking according to a recent release from Microsoft.

Not a share target for Windows 10 apps.

 

If you would like to educate yourself in more detail about material presented in this blog post please visit:

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2409569,00.asp

Items You Shouldn’t Buy Refurbished

CNET has published a short list of items NOT to buy refurbished:  http://reviews.cnet.com/8301-33153_7-57509549-10391733/three-tech-items-you-should-never-buy-refurbished/

Hard drives are listed as #1, and I would tend to agree. Data integrity is never something to gamble on.

Depending on the warranty offered with the refurb product, often the cost savings makes it worth the risk of “inheriting someone else’s problems”.  I recently purchased a Dell XPS 15z laptop from Dell’s outlet (http://www.dell.com/outlet) at significant savings off retail price. The unit was sold as “scratch & dent” return.  So far, I haven’t found any such cosmetic blemishes.  I did have an issue with the display out of the box, but it was fully covered under warranty, and resolved in a reasonable amount of time. Other than that, it’s been a nice purchase and I’ve had no other issues (knock wood).