Winner, winner! We won the NEPA BlogCon Tech Blog of the Year!

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It’s been several weeks since we closed up our computer repair shop in Mountain Top, making the Dolphin Plaza on Route 315 our permanent home. (Located on 1151 Highway 315 Blvd, Unit 4, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18702, in the rear of the Dolphin Plaza. Come on down and see our new place!)

We’re about as moved-in as we’re going to get, and the dust is still settling, but we are completely open for business. Fixing iPhones and iPads, desktop and laptop computers, etc., etc. And don’t forget, if you’re having trouble upgrading to Windows 10, we are here to help. The bugs are still being ironed out, but quite a few people have reported that they like it much more than Windows 8.

Yep… It’s business as usual, for us, with lot’s of fun to be had! But in that time, we were VERY pleased to learn that we won the NEPA BlogCon Tech Blog of the Year award! Woo!

I (Dee) had a great time at BlogCon, this year. I was also one of the presenters and really enjoyed having the opportunity to share my story and my passion for blogging with the community. I got a lot of positive feedback and even managed to reach a few people on an emotional level. That felt special, to me, and I will cherish that memory for always. Can’t wait to attend next year!

In the meantime, if you haven’t liked our page on Facebook, why don’t you get on that, right away? We had to change a few things around to accommodate the new location and get the information all up to date, so if you notice a few things that seem out of place, or old, outdated information, just let us know so we can get it sorted out.

As always, we are your friendly, neighborhood computer repair shop, but now with more room to serve everyone!

Windows 10 is Coming, and NEPA Geeks are Here to Help You Upgrade

Windows 10 is coming, and as the latest edition of the powerful operating system, it promises to be better than ever.

Windows 10

Microsoft has set the release for Windows 10 to be July 29, 2015 — only a few weeks away. But the really big news is that this version of Windows will be free to current users of Windows 7 and Windows 8. In fact, you may have noticed the new icon sitting in your task bar, asing if you want to upgrade. All you have to do is claim your copy, and it will waiting for you. But what then?

That’s when you call us — NEPA Geeks. We’ll ensure that the upgrade process is smooth and trouble-free.

For a low price of only $99.99, NEPA Geeks will backup your existing data and upgrade your operating system to Windows 10. Your data will then be put on a DVD and returned to you with the computer. (Again, this only applies to current Windows 7 and 8 users who have registered for their free copy of Windows 10.

Curious about upgrading, but not really sure if it’s for you? You will be able to find a TON of information on the new operating system over at Microsoft’s blog, detailing almost anything you could want to know about it.

Still unsure? Feel free to give us a call. We’ll be more than happy to answer any questions you might have on what you need to do between now and July 29th to get ready for the upgrade, as well as what you can probably expect from the operating system itself.

And don’t forget, the price of $99.99 comes with a free backup, ensuring that your data will be safe and secure in the event that you find incompatibilities with your software or hardware, or simply don’t like Windows 10 and wish to revert back to your original operating system. Just let us know, and we’ll discuss details about downgrading.

So, are you ready for Windows 10? July 29 is just around the corner… Better get on it, today!

It’s Spring Cleaning Time for Your PC!

It’s Spring Cleaning Time for Your PC!

Do you have a “dirty” computer? Chances are, you do. Dust, dirt, hair and other things can get inside your computer, causing anything from minor nuisances to reducing the lifespan of the components inside. But how do you know your computer is dirty if you’ve never looked inside? Here are some symptoms to look out for:

Slow Downs

Slow downs are usually a dead giveaway that not everything is running smoothly on your hard drive. Over time, the constant adding and removal of files leaves gaps on the disc where data is overwritten to make room for new applications and files. This is called “fragmentation,” and causes your hard drive to work a little harder and take a few extra moments to find where everything is located.

As part of a tune-up, NEPA Geeks will make sure the hard drive is “de-fragged,” allowing it to work quicker without putting more wear and tear on its sensitive components.

Excessive Heat

Heat is extremely bad for your computer, and the inside of your computer can be like an oven if vents are blocked and fans aren’t working properly. Irreparable damage to the video card, CPU and memory chips can occur within minutes, leading to costly service and repairs. If your computer is giving you odd errors, not booting properly or sounds like jet engine taking off, there might too much heat inside.

At NEPA Geeks, we will clean out the dust, hair and whatever else might have managed its way into your computer before it’s too late. We’ll make sure the heatsinks are free of dust and that vents are wide open for good airflow.

Weird Noises

You might not realize it, but there are a lot of moving parts inside your computer. Spinning fans can buzz if dust and other debris touch the fins. They also buzz when the ball-bearings begin to wear down. NEPA Geeks can replace fans before they fail altogether, allowing your computer to overheat.

Hard drives might not look like it, but they have moving parts, as well. Inside that little metal box is a spinning disc and a “read/write” head that scans the disc and writes or reads data on the disc – it actually looks a lot like a needle on a record! Over time, any of these parts can wear out, leading to buzzing and other noises you definitely don’t want to hear a hard drive make. If not backed up immediately, all of your data will surely be lost. NEPA Geeks can take care of that, no problem!

Other sounds, such as beeps and clicks, might also indicate problems that aren’t immediately obvious or noticeable, but can lead to data loss or permanent damage to the computer’s components. Generally speaking, if something doesn’t sound right, it might be a good idea to give NEPA Geeks a call ASAP.

Give NEPA Geeks a Call

And there you have it! If it seems like your computer is running slower, hotter and making noises it’s not supposed to, it’s definitely time for a spring cleaning!

NEPA Geeks are open from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday, and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm.

Our phone number 570.474.5100.

Lastly, be sure to watch for the grand opening of our Wilkes-Barre store, coming soon!

Protect the Data on Your Home or Business Computer with Our Carbonite Online Backup Setup

Protect your home or business computer with NEPA Geeks Geek Care Carbonite Online Backup setup!

NEPA Geeks is now a Carbonite authorized reseller, meaning that you can now purchase Carbonite’s automatic online backup service for your home or work computer through us. We can even bundle it with our Geek Care Managed Services Plan!

Subscribers in more than 100 countries rely on Carbonite to provide easy-to-use, affordable and secure cloud backup solutions with anytime, anywhere data access. Carbonite has backed up more than 300 billion files, restored nearly 20 billion files, and currently backs up more than 350 files each day automatically. You’ll never have to remember to back up again!

Carbonite offers automatic, continual and secure online backup for your home or business computers so you can rest easy knowing your irreplaceable files are protected. Once installed, your files will be backed up automatically to the cloud – no hardware required.

Anytime, anywhere file access means freedom for you.

Not at your computer?  No problem! You can get to your backed up files from any computer connected to the Internet or even from your smartphone or iPad® with Carbonite’s free app. And, with Carbonite’s Anytime, Anywhere Access, you can view your files anytime – whether you’re at home, or on the go!

Protect your files with Carbonite today!

Visit this link or more information on how you can start backing up the files on your home or work computers, contact us today at staff@nepageeks.com or call 570.474.5100.

New Ransomware Scam Targetting iOS Devices Through Find My iPhone Exploit

We are warning all of our customers with iPhones and iPads that they should immediately back up their devices either to their iCloud account or to their personal computers. Several news outlets have reported that hackers are using a Find My iPhone exploit to remotely lock-up iPhones and iPads.

The “Find My iPhone” feature is an important safety mechanism that allows a user to lock-down and erase sensitive data in the event that their device is lost or stolen. However, in the wrong hands, this feature can be used to disable devices and, in the case of this attack, demand a ransom to reactivate it.

The hackers are using a classic attack known as “phishing” to set up sites that look like legitimate Apple websites. The user enters their email and password into a form on the sites, thinking they are accessing a legitimate website, but are actually sending their credentials to hackers. The hackers then use this information to access and lock the devices using the “Find My iPhone” feature to demand a ransom in exchange for unlocking the device.

Again, if you haven’t done so already, backup your data to iCloud or your computer. (It’s important to note that iCloud’s Photo Stream will only store your last 1,000 images, so users with a large number of photos should definitely back them up to their computer.) Users are being asked to bring their devices to the nearest Apple store if they’ve been compromised. There, they can get their phones unlocked. However, doing so requires a hardware reset, which means that all data on the device will be lost. This is why it is extremely important to set up your iCloud account and backup your data immediately. Doing so is the only way to get your photos, pictures and music back after a hardware reset.

For more information on this attack, visit BGR.com or ArsTechnica.com.

What you need to know about Windows XP End of Life

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Attention! If you are a PC user running Windows XP on your home or business computer, it is extremely important that you contact us right away!

On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will be ending its support for Windows XP. What this means for you is that Windows XP will be left open and vulnerable to any future attacks from hackers.

In the past, hackers found security holes and exploits that would allow them to do anything from hijacking your computer to stealing your valuable information. When these holes would become known, Microsoft would release a patch update that would close the holes and help keep the hackers out. From April 8 on, however, these patch updates will no longer be released, meaning that any new holes or exploits will remain so forever.

If you are a home user, your personal information — along with anything else stored on your computer — could become accessible to anyone knowing how to exploit these security holes. As such, it’s very important that you upgrade to any operating system later than XP. This includes Windows Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8.

If you run a business that has computers running Windows XP, this is especially important as it could mean the end of certain security certifications. Running a computer with XP will soon become a liability as it means that your computers are no longer secure or trustworthy. If your business relies on storing the information of customers and clients, this data could be easily available to hackers capable of exploiting new found security holes in your systems! As stated, it is vital that you contact us right away for help and a consultation on what you will need to upgrade your home or business computers.

A quick call is all it takes to make sure you have everything you need to keep your computers running safe and secured. Our number is 5704745100 and we are available from 9 am to 6 pm Monday through Friday (9 to 5 on Saturday.) Just give us a call and we’ll be sure to help!

Bitcoin for Computer Repair Now Accepted at NEPA Geeks. You can even pay with Litecoin.

According to CoinMap.org, NEPA Geeks is the one of the only computer repair shops (if not the ONLY computer repair shop) in North-East Pennsylvania that accepts Bitcoin for computer repair.

Well, as far as we can tell, based on the screenshot below:

coin map

This map shows businesses in NEPA that accept Bitcoin, including Centerline Guitar Repair Shop in Hazleton.

If you’ve never heard of Bitcoin, it’s an open source peer-to-peer payment network and digital currency that was introduced in 2009 and has been steadily increasing in popularity and worldwide acceptance as a legitimate currency.

One of the facets of Bitcoin that make it so attractive to businesses and merchants such as ours is the low transaction fee associated with transferring funds. Typically, the transaction fee is lower than the 2 to 3% charged by most credit card companies. This reduced fee helps us keep costs low, which we then pass on to customers and clients by keeping our rates for repairs low. All in all, if we can keep the regular cost of doing business down, it’s better for everyone, and that’s why we’ve decided to incorporate Bitcoin as a method of payment.

We accept Bitcoin for computer repair, web hosting, iPhone and Android repair, and even game console repairs. The cost of parts and all of these services, and many not even listed here, are easily paid for using Bitcoin. So, if you’re one of the many early adopters of this brave, new, digital frontier, we’d be more than happy to assist you by allowing you to pay in the currency of your choice! (Litecoin also accepted!)

For more information, stop in or give us a call. We’re always here to help.

New malware, CryptoLocker, locks your files and holds them for ransom

Because we care about our customers, we want you all to be on alert for a new strain of malware going around. It’s called CryptoLocker, and it extorts money from victims by encrypting their files and holding them for ransom.

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Image source: GrahamCluely.com

What is CryptoLocker? It’s a nasty piece of malware (or ransomware) that encrypts the files on a victim’s hard drive, rendering them unreadable. Photos, documents, PowerPoint Slides, etc… nearly everything you have stored on your hard drive becomes garbled bits of useless data without the key to unlock them. To get the key, victims are asked to pay hundreds of dollars in untraceable currency — with no guarantee that they will ever get them back, of course. To add insult to injury, it seems the bad guys don’t like credit cards, which can be easily traced and revoked by the card issuing companies. They accept only BitCoin, MoneyPak and other annoyingly difficult methods of payment on their ransom.

CryptoLocker only affects Windows users, for the time being. Linux and Apple’s OSX remain immune to the attack, although this could change in the future.

So, what can you do about it?

Currently, the only way to get your files back from CrytpoLocker is to not lose them in first place. What this means is that, if you haven’t been infected yet, buy yourself an external backup drive (many fine models exist at your local retailer for less than $100) and save everything that is important to you on the drive. It’s important that you buy a model with enough space to store your important information but that has enough room to store future backups, as well. If you can, buy 2 drives — one to do automatic backups on a nightly/weekly basis and another that will have only your most precious data, disconnected and safely tucked away where it will be safe from physical damage and/or theft.

If you have malware/virus protection, make sure it is running and up to date! Most of the vendors have already updated their products to check for and defend against CryptoLocker, but there’s nothing they can do once the malware has already ransacked your drive. Encrypted files are EXTREMELY difficult to decrypt. In much the same way data stored by government and financial institutions are encrypted to protect them from hackers, so too will be the data on your hard drive. CryptoLocker is that nasty!

Be wary of any .exe files you might have acquired from unfamiliar sources, and especially don’t run anything sent to you in an email, even from trusted sources. Most often, these programs are spread by people you know who don’t know they are infected.

If you have been infected by CryptoLocker, it’s already too late. We can purge your system of the malware, but encrypted files are encrypted files… There’s nothing we can do. This last fact cannot be stressed enough: encrypted files are very, very difficult to decrypt without the key, and there’ s no guarantee that the files will be decrypted even if you do pay the ransom. Therefore, backup your data immediately and keep it somewhere safe. If you do get infected, all we’ll have to do is get rid CryptoLocker and restore your computer from the backup.

For more information on CryptoLocker, Graham Cluely has an excellent write-up on. Or contact us, and we’ll more than happy to help you out.

Shop Small and Save Big on Small Business Saturday, November 30

Shop small and save big on repairs this Small Business Saturday

As part of Small Business Saturday, NEPA Geeks are extending an offer to save 20% on all repair services.

To redeem the offer, just bring your broken computer, phone or video game console into the shop on Saturday, November 30 to receive a 20% discount on the service charge to repair it. That’s all there is to it.

Cracked screen? Overheating XBox? Viruses and spyware plaguing your laptop? We’ll take care of it, and you’ll reap the savings.

Small Business Saturday is an effort that is sponsored by American Express and began as a way to show support to all small and local businesses in cities and towns across America. We’re just one of the many shops that are taking place in this great cause that helps stimulate the economy, create new jobs and improve the community. Over 100 million people shop at independently-owned and operated businesses each Small Business Saturday, and we’d be very honored if you chose to shop small by bringing your computer or cell phone to us for repair.

As always, computer diagnostics are free, and our technicians are always willing to make house calls if you can’t bring your equipment to the office.

For any questions or problems you might be having, just give us a call at 570.474.5100 and our address is 108 N. Mountain Blvd. Suite B, Mountain Top, PA 18707. We can also be reached at staff@nepageeks.com

For more information on Small Business Saturday, visit ShopSmall.com.