Computer Repair Tips

Let’s Talk Security – Preventative

CrashPlan - One part of a good Preventative Plan
One of our favorite preventative utilities is CrashPlan and the business version CrashPlan Pro.
CrashPlan is a great utility for making sure that your personal data is backed up. It offers several great features for a professional as well as personal professional use.

CrashPlan is designed to maximize your backup solution and help you create a preventative plan that protects you data how you want it. Choose from several ways: online backup, to an external drive, or even to another computer.
Some of the great features are: the encryption used to ensure that your personal data remains yours (a 448bit), the ability to schedule your backups, unlimited storage online (as well as the option to chose your backup destination), and that it keeps multiple versions of your data so that you can recover from unwanted changes to your data. This is a great preventative protection against the newest computer threat called ransomware – a virus type that encrypts all of your personal data and demands that you pay them (at minimum) hundreds of dollars!

To understand how dangerous it is: encryption used in this virus is strong enough that with current technology it would take a government agency to recover your data. And sometimes not even that! Just read the news about one poor police station and this type of virus.

Remember that what makes a computer is not the device itself, but the data that you keep on it or the programs you run. Anyone can buy a new computer, but you can never go to the store for old family photos, or precious memories. And while you’re protecting your data, it’s important to make sure no one can take your data or use it against you.

Dallas Computer Consulting would love to assist you in a preventative plan to make sure that your data remains safe.

Posted in Back Up

Laptop Owners – Warning

I’ve seen more than my fair share of baked laptops.

If it’s hot to the touch, it may be a symptom of a bigger issue. And if not addressed in time you may have a dead laptop from heat!

Here’s just a minor amount of dust build up! This caused serious temperature change that slowed the computer down and could have done serious damage if we hadn’t caught it so soon!

Clogged laptop heat sink

Clogged laptop heat sink

 If your computer is running hot, take a moment to ask why and what that means. Sometimes a simple cleaning can make all the difference!

Posted in Uncategorized

Happy Father’s Day 2014!

Happy Father’s Day this Weekend!

Ties that bind?

Happy Father’s Day!

Dallas Computer Consulting will be closed on Sunday this week in honor of Father’s Day.

We hope you have a great weekend and spend it with people you like and love!

Don’t forget to hug your dad!

Posted in Uncategorized

The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 5

It’s inevitable. Eventually your computer will die. There are 5 Big Computer Disasters that will kill your computer. So let’s discuss how we can minimize this with a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. Final disaster:

Age

Like many things in life, there is an eventual end to your computer. Components will fail, capacitors will pop or leak, and eventually the age of the computer will be slow and unresponsive. This part of the Computer Disaster Recovery Plan is about replacement and migration. The end goal being that eventually you will have to move onto a new computer and how to make that process as painless as possible.

Dead Computer

1) Save Up

First thing that will help you is to budget for a new computer when you get this one. There are cheap computers out there, and there are expensive computers out there, and a myriad of choices in between. Picking the right one you need for the future is impossible, so better to plan is to just match the amount you spent now. With the understanding that it is a slow save up. Dallas Computer Consulting recommends about $10-$20 a month in a year that is $120-$240 for a new computer.

2) Look at your computer usage

People change over time and so do their needs. A child might only need basic computer functions such as Word Processing when he or she first starts school, but in what seems like a short time they may need graphic design capabilities to match their artistic moods, or a machine with more calculation power to handle engineer software for a future job.

3) Don’t buy cheap

It sounds simple, the cheapest is cheap for a reason. Most often it’s already at a limit, either by technology limits, or by age. “Great Deals” are sold based on the fact that support has almost come to an end on a particular computer. In that same vein, the top of the line model might not be what you need either. Dallas Computer Consulting is available if needed to help you sort through the buying process.

4) Verify your Software

If changing Operating Systems, your will need to buy new software. Microsoft Office for Windows will not work on an Apple Mac any more than an Apple software will work on Windows. Also, look at the age of your software. Microsoft supports all of it’s software for 10 years! But that means that Office 2003 is now no longer supported and might run into problems.

5) Migration

Personal Data – the photos, documents, and emails on your computer can be transferred anywhere, but the question is how ready are you to migrate to that new computer and are your programs ready for it?

Remember though, these are still only the basics of a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan and are designed to point you in the right direction.

Thinking about writing up a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan? Want a little help?

Contact us at (214) 226-6288 or Email us at Info@DallasComputerConsults.com

Posted in 5Ways, Age, Back Up, Carbonite, Disaster

The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 4

It’s inevitable. Eventually your computer will die. There are 5 Big Computer Disasters that will kill your computer. So let’s discuss how we can minimize this with a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. Fourth disaster:

Theft

How do you plan for theft? Simple: you plan for what to do after it’s gone. And that’s the real point of this disaster – everything is GONE. In previous parts of The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan we discussed how to minimize the loss, in Part 4 we’re going to discuss how you can also protect yourself.

Thief in the night

1) Encryption

The last thing you want is someone going through your personal documents, family photos, or business records. There are various different types of encryption but they’re all key to you sleeping well after your computer has been stolen.

2) Encryption on your back up

Online back up solutions come with encryption on your data, but the external hard drive is often just an open box you back your stuff up in. Adding this layer of encryption means that if your laptop is stolen, and the external hard drive you back you computer up is in the same bag, or on the desk with your computer, you don’t have to worry about it being accessed. Also another reason to have an alternative external drive and online back up solution

3) Password protection

The online back up solution is only as good as your password. Dallas Computer Consulting highly recommends password managers such as LastPass or KeePass or even RoboForm.

Remember though, these are still only the basics of a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan and are designed to point you in the right direction.

Thinking about writing up a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan? Want a little help?

Contact us at (214) 226-6288 or Email us at Info@DallasComputerConsults.com

Check out the final disaster in Part 5

Posted in 5Ways, Back Up, Carbonite, Disaster, Theft

The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 3

It’s inevitable. Eventually your computer will die. There are 5 Big Computer Disasters that will kill your computer. So let’s discuss how we can minimize this with a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. Third disaster:

Lightning / Electricity

If you live in Texas, then you know about the lightning. Lightning strikes will destroy electronics. And that sad part is, you’ll only wish you could harness that lightning to go back in time and stop it from happening. But how would you get back to the future?

All joking aside, let’s talk about the preventative measures we can take to minimize and reduce damage that lightning and electricity will cause on your computer and electronics. On all electronics there are warning labels indicating how much electricity each item needs to function and a range where it will function properly in. Too much and everything is fried, too low and you can be damaging it just as badly.

At Dallas Computer Consulting we believe that the $3 power strip is just not appropriate. If you are proud of your 42” LED Television or even your trusty old laptop (that one that everyone says is out of date), why would you connect a power strip to it? A good surge protector lists a range of cost that they will guarantee as well as a number of years – it’s the money where mouth is thing. Now, they will try and argue and claim it’s out of warranty – lawyers.

But let’s get back to the basics, for the most part, this is reputation, they’re putting their name out there and wanting to prove their product will protect your system. So there’s a better chance they might care about what happens, and might want to get you a product that saves your system instead of frying it.

In one Texas summer, with lightning strikes hitting, in a weekend, Dallas Computer Consulting replaced 6 computers on a single day, because of the cheap power supplies. So consider the math: Do you feel $1000-$500 worth of computer is worth investing a little more than $3 in?

So let’s build on that Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. 

This part of the plan unfortunately won’t involve your insurance agent. It’ll involve some simple ideas.

1) Surge Protectors

When getting a surge protector, you want to look at three things: clamping voltage – how much voltage it takes before it redirects the voltage, they come in three ranges, with the lowest rating the best 300V, 400V, and 500V; Response Time – How quickly the clamping voltage kicks in, you should never get one that is over 1 nanosecond; Energy Absorption/Dissipation – this rating (in joules) tells you how much the surge protector can absorb before it fails, the higher the better – 200 joules to 400 joules is about what you would need on average, the next level up is 600 joules.

2) Uninterrupted Power Supplies – UPS

If you really want to make a good effort though, Uninterrupted Power Supplies are key. These come in a variety of sizes and the small ones, will give you a decent amount of time to shut a system down. What does a UPS do? It’s a Surge Protector and Battery Back up, in one. Small ones offer (what their box lists) about 15 minutes of battery life. This is based on a standard desktop computer and flat screen monitor. It will most likely be less (considerably if your system runs at full load all the time), but when the power goes out and your computer stays on long enough for you to save that critical document and shut down – that’s a life saver.

Dallas Computer Consulting also recommends one for your other electronics – TV / DVD / etc. And one specifically for the router. With the recent ice storm that hit Dallas, the idea that during one of the power outages the internet could have been on for about an hour (very low power usage), it changes how you could have done business.

3) Unplug devices during bad weather

Relying on Technology is fine, if it’s current. A bad habit observed by Dallas Computer Consulting is the age of the surge protectors and UPS systems. In Dallas, a lightning strike can fry a Surge Protector, or it can burn out the surge protection aspect. Usually there is an indicator light on the Surge Protector to declare if it is still capable of protecting your electronics. UPS systems (some, unfortunately not all) come with software and diagnostics built into the device to determine battery capability, surge protection and general status of the UPS.

Dallas Computer Consulting strongly urges their clients to invest in UPS systems if possible, as the additional benefits from a UPS usually out weight the cost difference.

4) Unplug external hard drives

Dallas Computer Consulting recommends that the type of external hard drive match the need – i.e., if you have a laptop a travel sized external hard drive is probably a better fit than a desktop sized one. But remember to unplug them from your computer when they’re done. Better to have the data protected from a surge or spike than to get fried just because it happened to be plugged into the computer.

And of course, the most important aspect of the Computer Disaster Recovery Plan is a back up solution. Both offline in the form of an external hard drive, and offsite in the form of an online back up solution like Carbonite

Ready to build your Disaster Recovery Plan?

Contact us at (214) 226-6288 or email us at Info@DallasComputerConsults.com

Check out the next disaster in Part 4

Posted in 5Ways, Back Up, Carbonite, Disaster, Lightning

The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 2

It’s inevitable. Eventually your computer will die. There are 5 Big Computer Disasters that will kill your computer. So let’s discuss how we can minimize this with a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. Second disaster:

Flood

In terms of size and scale, if your home is flooding to a massive extent, the computer is done. It’s water damaged and ruined. But let’s discuss minimizing loss and how some “floods” are merely about inches, not feet. What if your water heater leaks or a pipe breaks? Well if your computer is less than 6 inches off the floor it will be susceptible to water damage.

Dallas Computer Consulting has had numerous dealings with computers that had suffered water damage, but were still able to power on. While the effects were varied and subtle, in a short time frame, all those computers were rendered inoperable because of Water Damage. Continuing from Part 1 Dallas Computer Consulting wants you to build a strong Computer Disaster Recovery Plan to minimize your loss and help recover.

1) Speak with an insurance agent about renter’s insurance or home owner’s. Making sure you have enough insurance means replacing a computer – and not for the value your old one depreciated to, but something comparable.

We never know when a sudden flood could occur, the best thing to do is get things insured simply because you have a lot of things that could go wrong. In Texas flash floods happen in the blink of an eye as easily as a burst pipe in the winter.

2) If your software isn’t in a fire proof safe from Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 1, the least you can do is move it to a clear plastic bin. Something with a locking lit so that the water stays out of it.

A fire proof and water proof safe would be ideal, but sometimes out of people’s budget. At least with a clear plastic bin you can minimize the water damage that can occur and be able to find some software at a glance.

3) Raise the computer system a minimum 6 inches off of the ground

It won’t help if there’s a major flood, but the solution just might save your computer in a minor water leak such as a broken pipe or improper drainage. And as seen in the photo, a great solution to the roaming balls of pet hair that all pet owners know simply materialize overnight.

4) Online Back up Solutions

Carbonite is an inexpensive solution when saving family memories or company files.  A Computer Disaster Recovery Plan is nothing without an online back up.

Anxious to start your Computer Disaster Recovery Plan?

Contact us at (214) 226-6288 or Email us at Info@DallasComputerConsults.com

Check out the next disaster in Part 3

Posted in 5Ways, Back Up, Carbonite, Disaster, Flood

The Computer Disaster Recovery Plan – Part 1

It’s inevitable. Eventually your computer will die. There are 5 Big Computer Disasters that will kill your computer. So let’s discuss how we can minimize this with a Computer Disaster Recovery Plan. First disaster:

Fire

It’s the worst possible thing to happen, and it will destroy everything in it’s path. And there’s no way to salvage something that has been in a truly devastating fire. But there are things you can do to minimize the loss and maximize your recovery. Dallas Computer Consulting recommends that you do the following as part of a computer disaster recovery plan to minimize your loss.

1) Speak with an insurance agent about renter’s insurance or home owner’s. Making sure you have enough insurance means replacing a computer – and not for the value your old one depreciated to, but something comparable.

We never know when a fire could occur, the best thing to do is get things insured simply because you have a lot of things that could go wrong. In Texas it’s especially dangerous because a lightning strike to a roof can set a home on fire!

2) Move your software to a fire proof safe or to a safety deposit box. Don’t forget to make sure you have the activation codes.

This is the most expensive thing you can lose – Microsoft Office Home and Student is $149! And that’s just the basic. This also helps because you will always know where your computer software is located. But leave a little space in there for Number 3

3) External Hard Drives

I know what you’re thinking, those get burned up just like a computer. And you’re right. But the difference is, they’re small enough to keep in a fire proof safe (some of them). This part of the Computer Disaster Recovery Plan is about frequency. Having two external hard drives means that you can alternate drives and always have one in a fire proof safe. If you do a weekly back up and store it in the fire proof safe, you’ll have a computer recovery solution of what’s really important – your data. Those photos, videos, and documents of your life that you can’t imagine losing!

4) Use an online back up solution like Carbonite

You’ve heard the phrase “Not all your eggs in one basket”, that’s what the online back up is for: those times when you forget and leave the external hard drive connected, or worse yet – if the fire starts while it was out and backing up. This part of the Computer Disaster Recovery is about expanded coverage. The idea that airbags are great in combination with seat belts. The plus side to online back up is how it will almost always be the most current back up. The downside is when you have to recover your data and it seems to take forever.

Remember, these are just basics for dealing with the first computer disaster

Check out the next disaster in Part 2

Posted in 5Ways, Back Up, Carbonite, Disaster, Fire