It seems like the last few weeks, our number one service request has been to replace bad power supplies. The power supply is a metal box inside your computer (usually with a fan inside) and distributes power to the mother board, disc drives and various other components. It’s the part with the black cable that plugs into your wall. You can see what one looks like in the upper right-hand corner of the picture to the right.
So, why are we seeing so many dead power supplies? Well, between Jason and I, we came up with a couple of theories.
For one, despite Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction that spring would come early this year, we just haven’t seen it, yet. As a result, people are keeping their doors and windows closed — many with weather stripping to seal up drafts. If you aren’t dusting and vacuuming regularly, dust gets trapped and builds up inside your house, especially for households that smoke, run their fireplace or use coal for heat.
Dust gets pulled into your computer and sticks to the fans, grates and other components, clogging up airways and acting like insulation, keeping the heat from dissipating when components begin to warmup. Dust that clings to fans can cause them to fail sooner as they struggle to keep the air flowing through your PC. A bad fan isn’t just a noisy nuisance, though, it can allow a PC to overheat, which can lead to a cooked CPU and video card, burned out motherboard or power supply. Once a PC begins to overheat, if not immediately shut down, the various parts inside can be ruined in just a matter of seconds. It doesn’t take long!
Dry air isn’t just bad for your skin, it’s bad for your computer, too. Ever get a shock when touching a door knob or another person after rubbing your feet across a carpet? That tiny jolt might sting for a fraction of a second, but it can utterly destroy the vital electronics inside your computer.
Dry skin rapidly sheds dead cells which become dust and mix with other particles in the air, each becoming charged and building up static electricity. Those charged particles build up inside your computers and can allow the components to short or discharge, frying them in the blink of an eye. This is also why it’s important to be properly grounded if you ever venture to open your computer’s case and poke around inside. If your body has built up a static charge, you could easily zap any of the chips inside and permanently damage them. It’s best to keep your computer cleaned out, free of dust, and to never touch anything inside the computer if you’re not grounded and have allowed the static electricity to safely discharge.
Another drawback of the overdue spring is that people are staying inside, using their computers more instead of going outside to enjoy the nice weather. Our modern PCs are an endless source of entertainment and diversion, from playing video games to watching movies and TV shows, chatting online or catching up with friends over social media. Those long hours add up, and as the computer constantly works to stay cool, eventually it will wear out.
Power supplies generally last well beyond the useful years of the average PC, meaning that you’ll probably be ready to upgrade to a whole new system before you have to worry about one burning out. However, for the reasons I’ve stated here, some power supplies might burn out much sooner than others.
In conclusion, whether due to wear and tear over the years from working under normal conditions, a build-up of dust that leads to overheating, or electrical shock damage from static or other sources (lightning strikes, power surges, brown outs) power supplies can go bad for a variety reasons. Why does it seem to be happening so often these last few weeks? That’s anyone’s guess. But with spring just around the corner, it’s definitely time to look into getting your computer cleaned out.
Give us a call if your computer isn’t booting properly or is overheating, randomly shutting down, making a lot of noise or just needs a good cleaning out. We’re more than happy to help!
As a note of caution, if you decide to clean your PC out yourself, be extra careful around the power supply, and NEVER open it unless you are specifically qualified to do so! There are components inside your power supply that can build up a dangerously high level of voltage that can kill you if discharged. Play it safe! Contact an expert, like us, if unsure.
Earlier this week, we finished replacing the broken screen on a laptop that had been dropped. As you can see from the picture below, it was in pretty sorry shape.
Although it might seem like a catastrophe, this sort of damage doesn’t mean the laptop has been totaled. As we often do with a job like this, we ask clients deposit the amount necessary to cover the price of a new part before we do any work. From there, we simply wait for the part to arrive (which, unfortunately, can sometimes take as long as a week) and then get the laptop back up and running in a matter of hours. And all this for much less than it would cost to buy a new laptop!
Most of the time, replacing a cracked laptop screen or defective part costs so little compared to the price of a new laptop that getting the old one repaired is very cost effective. Sometimes, however, it isn’t. In those cases, either when a part is soldered directly to the board, or when the laptop is so old that parts for it are no longer available, you don’t get much of a choice. We’ll make sure you understand your options and tell you when buying a new laptop is the way to go.
If you’re ever unsure whether a laptop can be fixed or not, it’s always best to give us a call and let us take a look at it. You might even be surprised to learn that the laptop wasn’t broken at all, it just needed some TLC to get up and running again.
Another thing to consider when thinking about buying a new laptop is that, while it might be cheaper, it’s not always more convenient. Your laptop is probably stuffed with old memories, projects and other things you don’t want to lose. You probably have photos from vacations on there, movies and music, homework and gigabytes worth of other important data you can’t replace. If the laptop is so broken that it can’t even turn on — assuming the hard drive isn’t dead — how will you get that data off? Fortunately, we have tools that can help. Whether you want the data backed-up to an external drive or transferred to the new computer, we’re more than happy to assist you.
Each of these laptops were repaired, cleaned and returned to their owners in perfect working order. Dell, Asus, Sony, HP… we can fix any brand. We’re you’re local solution for computer repair, servicing all of North-East PA and conveniently located in Mountain Top. Just give us a call at 570.474.5100.
How secure is your password? Is it “password?” Come on… These days, security is more crucial than ever. As more and more of your accounts get tied together with Facebook/Twitter integration, hackers can easily gain access to all of them with just a little bit of work. Don’t make it easy for them!
Here is a great infographic from The Daring Librarian detailing 4 password security tips you should follow when setting a password for any of your online accounts (and 10 other geeky tips you should be using):
And there you have it. Hopefully, this will give you something to think about the next time you need to set a good password (hint: that time should be RIGHT NOW! Remember Password Security Tip #4!)
Despite anything you may have been told in the past, and how no password can be 100% secure, they are all we have standing between us and stolen identities, stolen credit card information and much worse. Personal data, and even work-related information, is at stake. This is especially worrying if you borrow a laptop from work with valuable data on it, work from home on a personal computer or interact with the public, making yourself susceptible social engineering scams at the office. Having a lousy, easily crackable password could cost you your job if you’re not careful.
There’s no guarantee that these password security tips are going to keep you completely safe, but they should definitely make it a lot harder for hackers to get into places they don’t belong.
Viruses, worms, trojans, spyware and malware — what does it all mean? If you’re at all familiar with technology, you’ve probably heard a few of these words dozens of times. But what are they? What’s the difference between them? This lengthy, in depth Ars Technica article covers the basics.
We all try our best to keep our antivirus software up to date while practicing the “tried and true” methods of handling potentially malicious software. For example, you should never click on an email attachment, even if it looks innocuous. The problem is that some malware is very good at looking like perfectly safe file types, such as PDFs, Word documents or pictures, so these things aren’t always obvious (which is why they work so well at being spread like wild fire.)
The best thing you can do is educate yourself. Learn as much as you can about malware, how it works and how it spreads. Learn about the things that viruses can, and can’t, do. This article from Ars Technica is a great start!
Viruses, Trojans, and Worms, Oh My: The basics on malware is the second installment of Ars Technica’s Guide to Online Security, and a good read for anyone who wants to know more about malware and how to protect themselves from it.
From here, you can always look up information on Wikipedia or other security websites and blogs. There’s a wealth of information out there, so take advantage of it! And, if worse comes to worse, you can always give NEPA Geeks a call. We specialize in virus removal and would be more than happy to assist you with any questions you might have.
We are urging Facebook users to be on the lookout for a phishing scheme that is looking to steal your passwords. NakedSecurity recently published a blog post stating that scammers are now using Facebook apps to dupe unsuspecting users out of their Facebook password.
The scheme involves sending users an email purporting to be from Facebook’s security team, telling them that their accounts have been found in violation of Facebook’s terms of service and asking them to click on a link to log in and verify their account to avoid suspension. If you get this message in an email, don’t click the link and DON’T enter your username and password!
To keep yourself safe, don’t reply to messages from ?ac?bóok S?cur?y or click on links in emails that ask for your passwords. No one from Facebook will ever ask for your password, and users should be wary of anyone posing as such.
Part of the scheme being used by the bad guys is a Facebook app designed to look like a legitimate Facebook security page.
This is a screenshot of the Facebook app users will see when they click on the URL in the email. Notice that the name ?ac?bóok S?cur?y is a made-up jumble of characters that were arranged to look like they spell out the words “Facebook Security.”
The app has nothing to do with Facebook and isn’t from Facebook’s security team. Pay special attention to the URL in the screen shot below:
This screenshot, provided by NakedSecurity, shows what users will see if they click on the link in the email. Notice the incorrect spelling of the word “suport” in the “account_suport_help” part of the URL. This obvious, glaring flaw might be easy to spot by people accustomed to seeing these kinds of scams, but they can look pretty convincing to many who are less “tech savvy.” Also be aware that this kind of scheme is very easy to replicate and may use any combination of addresses and designs to fool users into willfully handing their passwords over to criminals.
We all hate getting spam — unwanted junk email — in our email inboxes, but in this case, it’s not just unsolicited ads clogging your inbox, it’s a vicious virus attack.
A new twist on an old scam has victims of a malicious software attack download a computer virus through an email attachment disguised as a secure message from banks and other firms. Be wary of emails with a subject line that says something similar to “You have received a secure message,” and then attempt to get you to download ZIP files (such as securedoc.zip) to read the message. A trojan virus, known as Troj/Zbot-DPM, could be inside and used to get control of your computer.
Computer security site NakedSecurity wrote a blog post giving detailed information on the malware spam attack.
Remember the tale of the Trojan War, where the Greeks build a large, wooden horse and hid soldiers inside? The people of Troy, thinking the horse was a gift, brought it through their impenetrable gates. Once inside, when the people of Troy least expected it, the Greek soldiers unleashed their attack and gained a swift victory. That’s essentially what’s happening when you download this “secure message” ZIP file — you’re allowing a virus to infect your computer and give control of it to some unknown computer criminals.
First of all, don’t click on the link inside or open any attachments that come with it. Simply delete the email and you should be ok. Even if the message looks clear or is from a source you trust, it could be a spoof set up by the scammers. Unless you fully trust the source and can identify the contents, you should be extremely wary.
If you’ve already clicked on the link, downloaded the file and suspect you may be infected, it’s not too late to correct the problem. Just give us a call at 570.474.5100, and we can set up an appointment to do a full virus removal on your computer.
Good news! Oracle has released a patch to update Java. This update will fix the vulnerability that was being used to install the Reveton Ransomware (aka FBI Virus) on unsuspecting users’ computers.
Simply follow the instructions on the Java installer page to get the latest version of Java installed on your computer.
If you have been infected, give us a call at 570.474.5100 to set up an appointment or bring your computer to us to have the virus removed. Click here for directions to our office in Mountain Top, PA.
On Sunday night, Naked Security published a blog post alerting everyone that the patch was now available. Once installed, the latest version does eliminate the current Java exploit. However, the virus is still out there and can infect computers that are not running the latest version of Java. There also still exists other ways to be infected by the virus.
We therefore recommend leaving Java disabled unless there is a specific need for it. Other vulnerabilities may still exist, and there is always the threat of new Java exploits in the future. Unfortunately, there is no way to make the web 100% safe. If you do need to keep Java enabled, make sure you trust the applets that you need to run and be wary of sites that load malicious applets without your knowledge.
In case you missed it, on Friday we published a blog post about a recent Java exploit that was installing the so-called FBI Virus on users’ computers and how to disable Java to avoid infection.
The FBI Virus locks users’ computers and displays a bogus message purporting to be from the FBI, stating that the computer was being used for illegal activity (pirated software, illegally downloaded movies and music, child pornography and hacking, for example) and the owner would need to pay a fine to restore their computer. In actuality, the message had nothing to do with the FBI and was, instead, from computer criminals demanding a ransom.
As was often the case, this ransom was more expensive than what we would normally charge to remove a virus and carried no guarantee that the computer would ever be unlocked. As such, we still recommend customers and clients bring their computers to us if they suspect they have been infected rather than paying the amount being demanded by the message. Again, the message is NOT from the FBI and carries no legal weight.
We’ll have more information as the situation develops, but at present, this most recent threat seems to be eliminated.
According to a blog post on Malware Bytes’ website, there’s a new Java exploit that is being used to infect computers with the infamous FBI virus. The suggested solution is to disable Java. We have links to instructions on how to disable Java listed below.
[UPDATE – 1/13/2013 – The latest version of Java eliminates the exploit being used to infect computers. We still recommend disabling Java, however, be sure to install the latest version of Java — Version 7, update 11 just in case you absolutely need Java on your computer. And if you have been infected, give us a call at 570.474.5100 to set up an appointment or bring your computer to us to have the virus removed. Click here for directions to our office in Mountain Top, PA.]
The Reveton Ransonmware, or The FBI Virus as it is more well-known, locks your computer and displays a message that says the FBI is aware that your computer has been used for some “illegal activities.” The virus then demands that you pay an outrageous fine or risk further prosecution. In truth, the message isn’t from the FBI; it’s a scam by computer criminals looking to extort money from any user who falls for the scheme and pays up to have their computer restored.
The FBI Virus has been spreading for quite a while, popping up on various tech news sites and security blogs. We first alerted users about the FBI Virus on this blog back in November, warning victims to NOT pay the fine and, instead, bring their computer in to be professionally cleaned. If you have been infected, we still stand by that original recommendation. However, if you haven’t yet been infected, we’re now suggesting that you disable Java to prevent the virus from infecting your computers.
Java is a computer language used to make applications that run in your web browser. It requires a plug-in be installed in your web browser to run these applications. Naked Security, a computer security blog maintained by SOPHOS.com, lists several ways on how to disable the Java plug-in, depending on your preferred web browser.
Listed below are direct links to the instructions for each browser:
Choosing to simply pay the ransom to unlock your computer might seem like a cheaper, more convenient way to get rid of the problem. However, you have no guarantee that the computer will be unlocked. Furthermore, your computer will still be infected. That’s why we suggest you bring it in to us at NEPA Geeks. We’ll make sure the virus is gone and that your data is intact. We charge much less than the amount being demanded and have tools that can help prevent future infections. You get your computer restored to fully-functioning condition AND the bad guys don’t get any of your hard-earned money. Doesn’t that sound like the smarter alternative? It is.
Remember: if you’ve been infected, DO NOT pay the fine being demanded by the virus. It is definitely NOT from the FBI. Further, if you haven’t been infected, we suggest that you disable Java using one of the techniques listed above. Let’s stay safe!
We love sharing news about new clients who have decided to make NEPA Geeks their web-hosting home. For example, the latest clients to settle-in and set up shop with NEPA Geeks are Antipode — a troupe of geek belly dancers from State College, PA.
From their site: Antipode is a geek belly dancing troupe hailing from State College, PA. Fusing the theatrics of acting with a mix of cosplay, pop-culture, and off- beat humor Antipode brings the audience not just dance, but full geek entertainment.
I first saw Antipode dance at the 2012 NEPA BlogCon. The troupe’s dance theme that day was “Internet Memes,” incorporating their dance routines with costumes, music and other props to recreate popular internet sensations that people couldn’t stop talking about and sharing on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. The audience was very happy to see them dance as we all took a break from learning about blogging to eat some lunch, relax and network with other bloggers and future bloggers.
Would you like to know more about Antipode? For more information about the troupe — including pictures and information on how to book them for an event — just visit their website at AntipodeBellyDance.com, proudly hosted by NEPA Geeks. Not only will you learn more about them, you’ll also find the answer to a great question: Just what is an “antipode,” anyway?
While you’re at it, take a look at the hosting packages we offer. Our variety of packages will easily fit within your budget. We also offer content and SEO services, just in case you need some extra “oomph” or “pizzazz” to get traffic to your site. Give us a call, today! You’ll be in good company with other satisfied clients, like Antipode!