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Category Archives: Residential

Does Mesh Wi-Fi Make Sense in Your Home?
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Wi-Fi is a top contender for a technology most of us rely upon. After all, Wi-Fi often provides our wireless high-speed internet and network connections. Without Wi-Fi we'd be stuck watching another reality TV show on a cable-connected device. We couldn't work from wherever we wanted in our homes. Gulp, the horror!

Well, just when you were becoming familiar with Wi-Fi, technology is adapting. Now, you might want to consider Mesh Wi-Fi for your home. If you live in a big house or an apartment with thick interior walls, or your living space is spread out over multiple stories, you may have experienced dead spots. They're no fun, right?

Enter Mesh Wi-Fi. Traditional Wi-Fi relies on a single router. If you were having connectivity issues, you might have invested in a Wi-Fi booster or Wi-Fi extender, but now you can reach far areas with a Wi-Fi Mesh system.

Mesh networks aren't new. They're already in use in businesses and on military bases with their own isolated networks. But now you can also optimize home connectivity with Mesh Wi-Fi.

How Mesh Wi-Fi works

With Mesh Wi-Fi, you'll place several smaller, connected devices around the house. Instead of having one central routing hub linking Wi-Fi signals via radio waves to the modem, you'll have many access points (also known as satellites) capturing and rebroadcasting the routing signals you need for connectivity.

Benefits of Mesh Wi-Fi

Having ready access to a strong, reliable Wi-Fi signal wherever you are in your home is a good thing, but that's not the only advantage of Mesh Wi-Fi. Other benefits include:

  • Greater speed. With all access points broadcasting the same signal, you can cut the lag from having multiple, simultaneous connectivity requests.
  • Better coverage. Typical Mesh Wi-Fi router devices claim to cover from 4,500 to 6,000 square feet.
  • Ease of use. The typical Mesh router system is automated and provides a mobile app for easy management, even remotely.
  • Integration with other Smart Home devices such as Alexa is often a feature.
  • Parental controls are available with certain brands of these router systems.

Securing your Mesh Wi-Fi

Just as with traditional Wi-Fi, the security of your Mesh Wi-Fi will depend on your keeping your router devices safe. This means:

  • changing the device's administrative credentials and password from their default settings;
  • setting up devices to automatically check for and install security patch updates;
  • changing the network name to something unique, not something that immediately identifies the network as yours (e.g. if you live at 804 Water Wheel, don't call your network 804 Water);
  • setting up a guest Wi-Fi network allowing visitors to log on instead of providing every guest to your home with your access credentials.

Mesh Wi-Fi is also known as whole-home Wi-Fi, but you may not need this expansive solution. Consider: How often do you have connectivity issues? How many Wi-Fi dead zones are you dealing with? What's your budget? And do you really want several more devices strewn around your house? You might need only to set up your traditional router and modem more efficiently.

Want to learn more about dealing with slow connectivity or dead spots in your home? Give us a call at (508) 279-1080. Our experts can help you decide on the best Wi-Fi connectivity option for your needs.

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Why You Need Professional Virus Removal
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"Your computer has a virus." Such a dreaded five words! We don't want to come down with a human virus; we'll feel awful and miss work. But when a virus hits our computer, we could lose valuable information or be vulnerable to attack. Chicken soup won't cut it.

Perhaps you have an antivirus product installed on your computer. This computer software is intended to prevent, detect, and remove viruses. Antivirus tools are designed to keep infections out. They can also delete any viruses that may already be on the computer when the software is installed.

The software provides protection by tracking malicious code and other computer threats via:

  • classifying the actions the file or code drives (as malicious or OK);
  • inspecting file signatures for matches to an existing signature in its virus dictionary;
  • scanning for rootkits that can change how your operating system functions.

However, antivirus software isn't that good at cleaning up. When it detects a malicious file, it will delete it. But what if the virus spread before discovery? If the infection spreads before virus deletion, it can do all sorts of damage.

Think of it this way: you have a cyst on your knee. Doctors decide it is pre-cancerous and operate to remove the cyst before it spreads. But, that's all they do. They have seen the cyst. They go for the cyst. However, they don't notice the cancer that's in your shin or femur, because they were only working on the cyst. The rest of your leg remains unhealthy, and you don't even know it!

Getting a Second Opinion on Viruses

If the antivirus software is your primary physician, a computer professional is the specialist you go to for an expert second opinion. For one thing, antivirus products don't always remove all the malicious files. Many viruses start as one thing but can mutate into several different strains. The antivirus software may not be programmed to identify all of the virus variants. A professional actively looks for undetected strains on your computer.

Viruses are always evolving. A recent strain of malware, SquirtDanger, let hackers take computer screenshots, capture passwords, download files, and empty out cryptocurrency wallets.

Some viruses can change the settings of your computer. For instance, a common virus changes your computer's DNS, which is like a bit like the Yellow Pages for the internet. On a virus-free computer, when you type in "Google.com", your browser goes to Google's servers located at the IP address "216.58.203.100." However, an infection can make Google.com on your computer go to a different address. Perhaps a server address cybercriminals use to capture your personal data. It still looks to you like Google, but it's no longer safe. These settings can still remain after the infection is long gone.

Viruses can also leave behind browser toolbars, extensions, and other nasties designed to spy on your Web browsing habits. If you're consistently redirected to unwanted sites, or seeing unwanted pop-up advertisements, it's likely your computer's infected with a browser hijacker.

Ultimately, if you detect a virus on your computer, check with a professional. Don't trust that your antivirus software is going to do the same, thorough job an expert can offer. Sometimes your computer isn't fully safe until the operating system is reinstalled, but you can't know that until someone can go in and see what the virus did and what remnants are still there, lurking.

Cybercriminals are growing more sophisticated and better able to design viruses that disguise their tracks. Avoid being an unwitting victim. A computer security expert can diagnosis when your computer gets a virus, or determine if there are strains on your device you don't know about. Let a security expert protect your computer from harm today! Call us at (508) 279-1080.

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Top Reasons for Onsite Computer Repair
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No one wants to experience computer problems. Whether it's used for personal or business use, your computer is likely indispensable. Essential customer files are on there! All your downloaded music! The family photos! Vendor contracts and employee payroll information! Compounding the crisis is the hassle of going to get the computer fixed. That's why we offer onsite repair services.

When You Need Computer Repair

Regrettably, there are common computer problems you might encounter at home or work:

A blue computer screen with some white text, aka the "Blue Screen of Death", or a STOP error. This one's scary. It could indicate failing hardware, damaged software, driver problems and more. Don't know what any of that sentence meant? That's OK. We do!

  • Having trouble installing new applications.
  • The computer is running so slow a turtle would beat it in a foot race.
  • Your applications are acting possessed and are unpredictable.
  • The keyboard, mouse, or printer are not working properly.
  • Your computer keeps restarting on you.
  • Downloads are taking forever.
  • You can't open that attachment from your boss.
  • The computer freezes or shuts off suddenly.
  • The graphics on the computer screen look wonky.
  • Your computer is making noises mimicking an old clunker car.

Troubleshooting these problems to diagnose what is really going on can be challenging. It depends on how much you know about computers to begin with. Since you rely on your computer for so much, it's a good idea to consult with computer repair experts.

Why Onsite Computer Repair

#1 Convenience.

You don't need to worry about doing more damage when you unplug everything and drive the computer to a repair shop. You also avoid the commute across town, headache of finding parking, and annoyance of waiting in line. Whether a business office or home, our computer repair experts can come to you.

This is more convenient for you. You don't have to lug the computer to a store and back only to have to set it up all over again. Your computer stays right where you typically use it. When we're done, you can just push the power button and get going as if nothing happened.

#2 Context.

Seeing your computer in its natural habitat helps our experts too. Sometimes the issue isn't internal to the computer. So, we wouldn't be able to properly diagnose the problem if you brought the computer in to us.

For example, the hiccup could be caused by a faulty power board or misbehaving printer. Unless you thought to bring those into the computer store too, the problem wouldn't be replicable. And nothing's worse than going to the trouble of getting help only to say "well, it doesn't seem to be that annoying thing right now." That's when the expert looks at us like we're crazy and says "next time, just try turning it on and off again."

#3 Cut Downtime.

When the computer repair service comes to your door, you can also reduce downtime. Whether the computer is essential for homework at home or business services, you probably can't imagine being without it for a few days. It's like losing a limb! Onsite computer repair aims to fix the problem in just a few hours, without taking the computer away.

We can handle most repairs onsite. In some cases, it's more cost-effective to bring the computer back to base. We still save you hassle by dropping the computer back off to you. We'll also set everything back up again when we return your computer. That way you don't have to worry about which cord goes where!

We hope you never need computer repairs. But, if you're ever facing an error message you don't understand or your computer has ground to a halt, give us a call at (508) 279-1080. Our computer repair service experts will be happy to schedule a time to come to you!

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Why is My Brand New Laptop So Slow?
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Your old computer is beginning to slow down. So, you invest in a shiny new laptop. The clouds part and the sun shines down on this bright and lovely new device. Everything will be faster and easier. Only, from the first day, the new laptop is lagging. Why is it running so slow? One of these might be the reason.

#1 Not enough computing power.

In many cases, the laptop doesn't have enough RAM (Random Access Memory). RAM is the computer's main memory. This helps your computer do more at once. Information from the operating system, application programs and data are kept here, when in use, for quicker processing.

RAM is like the computer's short-term memory, while the hard drive is the long-term memory. Just as the human brain can't hold everything in short-term memory, RAM can get overloaded too. When this happens on your laptop, the computer processor needs to go to the hard drive. This slows things down.

Resolution: You might see 4GB, 8GB, 16GB or more of RAM available. How much you need is going to depend on what you plan on doing with the computer. For a laptop with Windows 10, we recommend at least 8GB of RAM, but 16GB is more comfortable for a better experience.

Not all laptops will let you access the RAM. When you can, though, upgrading memory can be quick and affordable.

#2 Mechanical hard drive.

Often a single part is letting you down. With a less expensive computer, manufacturers skimp. While it's less common these days, some laptops will come with a mechanical hard drive. You might think of this like a record player with a needle reading the vinyl album. Since something is moving to find data, the laptop runs slower than it would with a Solid State Drive (SSD), which has no moving parts.

Resolution: In many cases, a mechanical hard drive can be easily upgraded to an SSD. However, some super slim laptops have limited upgradability.

#3 Bloatware.

Retailers like to tout all the bells and whistles that come with their laptops. So, when you turn on your laptop for the first time, you may notice there's already a lot of software preloaded. Much of it you'll probably never use. Maybe there are toolbars you don't need, games you'll never use, or stock widgets that you couldn't care less about. These examples of bloatware slow down your computer.

The third-party applications are a revenue source for the manufacturer, but don't always help you. Microsoft, for instance, sells a line of computers that come without any pre-installed third-party software. Computerworld reported those PCs "start up 104% faster, shut down 35% faster and have 28 minutes more battery life."

Resolution: When you get a new laptop, check out the pre-installed software before you add your own. Determine what the existing software will do, and uninstall anything that you won't want.

If your laptop is slow on the first startup, this may be due to system updates. For instance, a Windows 10 automatic update to bolster the security of the computer. You can't do much about these, but look on the bright side, your laptop security is current!

Improved speed is a main reason to invest in a new laptop. Don't let a lagging laptop disrupt your productivity. We can help with a slow running laptop.

Instead of wasting valuable time waiting on a slow computer, give us a call at (508) 279-1080!

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Loving your External Hard Drive
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External hard drives free up storage, offer portability, and provide a lifeline in case of computer disaster. It pays to take good care of these compact, convenient devices.
Here are some helpful strategies.

1. Don't knock the drive.

Depending on the type of drive you have, impact could damage it. The hard drive's mechanical drives work a little like a record player. Envision a spinning platter and a needle reading it. Note, you don't have to worry about this with a Solid State Drive (SSD) as there are no moving parts.

2. Don't pull.

You can damage the drive port with a hard or sideways yank on its USB plug. Remove the device cable with a gentle pull. It's best to unplug the drive cable when it's not in use. Then, when you are reconnecting the external drive, inspect the connector before plugging the cable back in. Look for any damage, debris, or corrosion to help maximize the device's lifespan.

3. Don't skip steps.

You may be in a hurry, but always take the time to remove the hard drive from your desktop before physically unplugging it. On Windows, you'll usually right click on the drive and press Eject. For Macs, you can drag the drive icon to the recycle bin (which changes to an eject button). Never unplug the drive while moving data to or from the hard drive unless you want to risk data corruption.

4. Don't suffocate the drive.

Ever put your hand on the hard drive after prolonged use? It's hot. Don't immediately store it away in a bag or tight space. Give it some time to cool off first.

When it's out, and in use, keep the drive's vents clear of other objects so that it has some airflow. Set it on a flat, level surface. Avoid placing it on paper, towels, or other cloth items that could add to its heat levels.

5. Don't take the drive swimming.

OK, you're probably not going to do that. Yet it's our way of reminding you that condensation is an enemy to your hard drive. Hard drive failures can be caused by environmental factors such as temperature and air quality too.

6. Don't expect immortality or invincibility.

A hard drive isn't going to last forever. They aren't built for that. They can also get lost or stolen. Don't let one external hard drive be the only place you are backing up your data.

Have a backup on your computer, on the drive, and a copy in the cloud. Then, you'll always be ready to move on to a new drive that you will love with the same care and consideration outlined above.

If you need help deciding on the best hard drive for your needs, give us a call at (508) 279-1080

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OK Google, How Safe Are You Really?
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Are you prompting Siri, Google, or Alexa? When you talk a home assistant, you join a growing number of smart homes.

Smart home assistants search online, start phone calls, order groceries, play music, turn lights on. All with a single spoken command.

Research into how people use Google or Alexa demonstrates the core features. Listening to music ranked first. Checking weather and asking for general information rounded out the top three. Setting timers and reminders, asking for the news or jokes (perhaps to make up for the news?) are also common.

Yet, the question remains, just how safe are these virtual assistants? After all, having a smart speaker in your home means there is always an open microphone in your house.

Smart Speaker and Home Assistant Safety Concerns

The convenience of the speaker demands that it always be on, ready and waiting for you to say "Hey Siri" or "OK Google". Once triggered the device records the command, sends the data to servers for processing, and figures out its response.

Smart speaker users can log in to view the history of queries on their accounts. This prompts some concerns that these mega-companies will use the information for financial gain. For example, those talking about an overseas holiday might start seeing related ads on their computers.

Someone hacking into the home assistant to gain access to your personal information is another concern. Those who set smart speakers as a hub for many devices also create more points of vulnerability.

It's difficult to anticipate all the ways the assistant could prove too good a listener. In one case, a voice assistant recorded a private conversation and sent it to the couple's contacts list.

Steps to Stay Secure with a Smart Speaker

That candid conversation share aside, few big privacy flubs or personal data breaches have been reported. Nevertheless, if taking advantage of Alexa, Siri, or Google helper, keep these strategies in mind.

  1. Clear your history. Don't leave everything you've ever asked it stored on the company server. The assistant will relearn your commands quickly.
  2. Connect with caution. It's great to be able to turn on the TV and dim the lights without leaving the comfort of your sofa. Be wary of connecting security or surveillance devices to your home assistant.
  3. Mute the microphone. Yes, it undermines your ability to call from the closet "OK, Google, what's the weather like today?" But, turning off the mic when it's not in use stops recording without you knowing about it.
  4. Secure your network. Home assistants do their work by connecting to the Internet using your network. Ensure they are accessing a password protected network. They should use devices (e.g. modems) changed from default password settings.

With a little effort you can gain convenience without worry.

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Repairing Your Computer Quicker for Less
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Have you started to notice your computer's niggles, flaws, and problems growing more severe and more frequent over recent months? These issues can irritate you daily, stop you from doing critical tasks, and even put your data in danger. It may be time to book in your computer for a brief service check or repair to get back on track.

When booking your PC in for a service, you can help your technician get straight to the root of the problem. A few simple notes is all it takes. Many people drop off their computers with, at best, a brief and vague description of the problem they experience.

Technicians have a wide range of tools and years of experience to bring an ageing machine back to health. Even with tools and help, without a clear description of the problem, troubleshooting is far more time consuming and expensive. The best doctors in the world couldn't diagnose a medical condition without a clear explanation of the symptoms.

With just a few simple steps, you can save time and money while ensuring you get your computer back with every problem fixed.

Take Note of the Problem Every Time It Happens

Some computer problems only crop up every now and again. A machine might freeze suddenly, or shut down unexpectedly. Intermittent issues can be frustrating and seemingly impossible to solve, but these occurrences may not be entirely random.

When these events happen, you can help to resolve your issues by jotting down what you were doing and the programs running at the time they happen. Information about what you clicked on last, or settings you recently changed can reveal unexpected links to the computer's behavior.

Detailed notes help technicians to reproduce the problem and see the crash or error for themselves. This can lead to faster fixes, more lasting solutions, and less time spend diagnosing problems in the dark. Simple notes scribbled down on a piece of paper or smartphone app can save you a surprising amount of money.

Keep an Eye on the Environment as Well as the Computer

It's not just things within the computer we need to note down. External factors can play a significant role in how machines operate. Hot and humid days have been known to limit cooling on devices already suffering from heat issues.

Even changing the time of day can raise different computer related issues. There have been occasions where users have reported problems connecting to the internet around lunchtime every day. A seemingly strange coincidence with no apparent cause, until technicians dig a little deeper.

Wi-Fi, which relies on radio waves to send and receive data, uses a frequency of 2.4ghz to communicate with devices. By coincidence, the same frequency is used in concentrated form inside of a microwave to heat food and beverages.

Microwaves, particularly when poorly positioned, or faulty, can cause Wi-Fi issues that disrupt communications every time they are used. Problems that come and go, seemingly randomly, have such a strange link to the computer's environment that they can be very difficult to diagnose.

Take the Right Hardware at the Right Time

Bringing your computer in for repair, whatever the issue, is as simple as picking up the box itself. We don't need the peripherals such as the mouse, screen, or keyboard unless those are the things causing the issue. Bringing in a laptop is as simple as carrying it to us, along with the charger.

If you have concerns about how to safely transport your computer, give us a call first and we can advise you what to bring and how best to pack it.

When deciding when to come in, sooner is always better than later. Computer issues often get worse over time. Vents gather more and more dust, fans run slower and slower. Heat issues in particular drastically lower the lifespan of a machine as time goes on.

A machine that gets less and less stable over time puts your programs and your critical data at risk. Updates applied over a shaky foundation can cause any number of software issues. With data, there's often zero warning before it's gone.

Can you afford to delay?

Give is a call at (508) 279-1080 to book an appointment and give your computer a clean bill of health.

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