Welcome to the Computer Techs Computer / Internet Tips & News blog. This purpose of this site is meant to provide a service to our valued customers, by keeping you informed with the latest news and tips related to your computer and the internet. Consider using the search box on the left side of the website to help you find a specific topic or article, or scroll through articles below to learn something new.


If you’re happy with our service, please consider recommending Computer Techs to a friend or relative. If we service their computer, you get $25 Off your next service call.

The details: Please have your friend or relative mention your name during the appointment, or after the appointment contact Mark Cobb with the name of the person that you recommended/referred. The referred person must be a new Computer Techs customer and not reside in the same household as the referrer.


Massive government and business computer hack will likely effect home users too – What you need to do

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Dec 24 2020

A massive government and business computer hack was discovered early this month (December 2020), but the long term effects likely won’t be known for months or years as more knowledge is obtained about what companies were affected and what data may have been (or will be) breached.

Early details of the hack are explained in these comprehensive articles from CNN and CNET. The hack was spread to thousands of computer systems, altogether likely containing the private data of a majority of US citizens. That data may be compromised and leaked to miscreants if the data on those computer systems was not securely stored or encrypted. Hackers may be holding onto such data for months or years to come.

So what should the home computer user do?

  • Change your passwords ASAP: Data breaches usually contain email addresses and sometimes passwords. If you use the same password for different websites, you are more vulnerable to having your other accounts hacked. Click here to read the top 5 password tips that you need to know.
  • Make sure all of your devices are up to date: By default Windows and MacOS computers update automatically. But other internet connected software and hardware usually require manual updates – such as iOS, iPadOS, Android, internet routers, video doorbells and cameras, streaming media players, etc. If you need help making sure all of your internet connected devices have the latest security patches, please contact us.
  • Be suspicious of every email, phone call, SMS or browser pop-up: Initially do not trust any unsolicited email, phone call, SMS or pop-up in your web browser – particularly if it’s asking you to do something. Treat everything as “guilty until proven innocent”. See how to recognize scams and phishing attempts, and for more information review all of our security articles.

Give the gift of computer help or service

Filed under: Tech Support - Apr 01 2020

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who needs computer help or service? Consider giving the gift of computer help or service with the purchase of a Computer Techs eGift Card. eGift Cards can be used towards payment of remote support or on-site services. Click the link picture below for more details, or to purchase now.

Windows 7 retired January 2020

Filed under: Computing Tips - Jan 31 2019

Updated 1/20/20 to reflect that support for Windows 7 has now ended.

If you purchased a PC between 2009-2012 it most likely came with Windows 7. The operating system was released 10 years ago and has since been replaced with Windows 8 and Windows 10. Microsoft has decided to retire support for Windows 7 effective January 2020, thereby stopping the release of important security and reliability patches.

Computers with Windows 7 have been displaying informational messages similar to the one above reminding about the January 2020 end-of-support cutoff.

While you could continue to use your PC running Windows 7, without continued software and security updates, it will be at an ever-increasing risk for viruses and malware. Going forward, the best way for you to stay secure is on Windows 10. And the best way to experience Windows 10 is on a new PC. While it may be possible to install Windows 10 on your older computer, it is not recommended.

Why updating the operating system on existing computer hardware is not recommended: Since your computer was manufactured over 5 years ago the hardware is nearing the end of its useful life. Particularly, the HDD/mechanical hard drive has an average lifespan of 4-5 years. Additionally an old computer likely has a processor with an unpatched serious security flaw that was discovered in early 2018.

Assuming your computer can be upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10, the job typically takes 2+ hours. Since your current computer’s hardware is past it’s average lifespan – I would hate for you to spend the money for the time involved in upgrading only to have a mechanical failure happen soon thereafter. For about $500 you can get a new computer that’s much faster and reliable.

Therefore it’s time to start thinking about replacing your old computer which will come with the latest version of Windows. But don’t buy just any computer before reading our new computer buying information newsletter .

Some computers come with a Solid State Drive (SSD) instead or in addition to a mechanical/spinning Hard Disk Drive (HDD) – the part that stores the operating system and programs. Computers with a SSD are about 5-25x faster, more reliable and energy efficient – which is particularly useful if you’re using a laptop computer.

When setting up a new computer, we set it up in a manner that’s familiar to you – not the way that Microsoft recommends setting up a new computer utilizing a Microsoft account and unnecessary password/PIN that syncs everything with Microsoft’s servers. To read new computer buying information, click here .

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Why you need to stop using Internet Explorer

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Nov 27 2017

Internet Explorer is the web browser that Microsoft included with the Windows operating system through Windows 8.1. Beginning with Windows 10, Microsoft Edge is the new browser that’s included with the operating system and is continually being optimized with performance, feature and security updates. That leaves Internet Explorer 11 – released in late-2013 – as the last major version of Internet Explorer.

With other browsers being continually updated – such as Edge version 41, Firefox version 57 and Chrome version 62 (as of November 2017) , some websites have stopped supporting the use of Internet Explorer. One of those websites is Yahoo – which includes the popular Yahoo web portal, Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Finance.

An advantage of using a newer browser such as Chrome includes faster web browsing, improved security and upcoming features that will help stop fake warning messages that are often caused by webpage redirects and misleading advertisements.

If you need help switching away from Internet Explorer and transferring your Favorites and settings to a new web browser, please contact us.

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Top 5 password tips that you need to know

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Nov 23 2017
  1. Is your email account easy to access by hackers? Click here to learn more and find out.
  2. Learn why your most important password is the one that secures your email
  3. Take a few moments to create a password system that’s secure and memorable. It’s not difficult.
  4. Even though you may have a password system, you still should keep a record of your passwords. Some people put their passwords in a notebook, Rolodex, on their mobile device or online password manager. Which is the best option for you?
    How to safely manage your passwords
  5. Use an additional step to secure your email and other sensitive online accounts:
    Secure your email account with 2-step verification

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Keep your computer secure and up-to-date with our Computer Maintenance Plan

Filed under: Tech Support - Jun 01 2017

Updated June 2020:

Over the years many of our clients have asked for a way to keep their computers secure and up-to-date, and not have to worry about the seemingly constant barrage of updates. With websites getting hacked on a daily basis, and the increasing chance of your personal information being compromised, it’s more important than ever to keep your computer up-to-date and maintained.

With the Computer Techs Maintenance Plan, we will maintain, update and check the security on your computer on a convenient quarterly schedule. Service will be performed via a Remote Support session which takes about an hour. Services include:

  • Install security updates for browser add-ons, program updates, available router updates, critical computer firmware and Windows updates
  • Remove adware/toolbars/homepage hijackers
  • Remove or disable unused or unnecessary apps that cause security or performance issues
  • Check internet connection settings and remove any malicious scripts, DNS or proxy settings
  • Malware scan
  • Check hard drive health and used space
  • Check back-up and restore settings
  • Defragment hard drive files
  • Check browser settings and remove unnecessary extensions
  • Delete unnecessary temporary, log and update cache files to free up drive space
  • Check Wi-Fi settings and adjust if interference or performance issues exist
  • Apply computer manufacturer’s urgent and recommended software and hardware updates if needed
  • Check for print jobs stuck in the queue
  • Check for frequent app crashes or system “blue screen” errors that could lead to more serious problems

Additional benefits of being on our quarterly Computer Maintenance Plan include:

  • Priority callbacks and email replies with simple or easy-to-resolve issues or questions under 5 minutes at no charge.

When you sign up for the Computer Techs Computer Maintenance Plan, you’ll get all of the services above for less than the price of a house call – quarterly remote service for one computer is just $80 payable at the time of each quarterly service. Additional computers maintained during the same appointment time are just $20 each. Semi-annual remote appointments are also available for $89 and $30 for additional computers. On-site service is also available at regular hourly rates. To sign-up for your initial quarterly remote service, schedule your appointment – or contact us for semi-annual and/or on-site service.

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Learn how to spot scams that pop-up on your screen – and how to close your browser

Filed under: Security - Mar 20 2017

Updated March 2017:

Please Print This Article Print This Article this article for future reference on how to close a fake warning web page if it locks your browser.

The screenshots in this article all have one thing in common. They are all trying to convince you that there are problems with your computer or device, and that you need to call the number displayed in order to fix the problems. However, if you call the number you will be connected to a scammer who will use scare tactics to convince you that there are more serious problems with your computer, and that paying several hundred dollars for them to “fix” the problems is your only recourse. This scam has tricked thousands of people into paying millions of dollars for non-existent problems.

Never respond to a pop-up on your computer or smartphone screen that urges you to call a number for help. If the Window will not close normally by clicking the red “X” on the upper-right corner of the window, try the one of the following in 3 suggestions (listed in order of difficulty):

1. If present, at the bottom of the front window click the checkbox to “Don’t let this page create more messages” or “Prevent this page from creating additional dialogs” then press “OK”. You should then be able to close your browser normally using the red “X”.

2. Turn off or restart your computer using your normal method via the Start button icon on the bottom left taskbar, then Shut down or Restart. If the fake warning website covers your full screen where you cannot see the Start button icon, press the Windows key (  or  located near the bottom left corner of your keyboard) which should bring the Start menu to the foreground.

3. If neither of the above methods work, press and HOLD the power button on your computer until it turns off.

After turning your computer back on and/or opening your browser, don’t go back to the website or email that you had visited immediately prior to seeing the pop-up.

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Why you should ditch your internet provider’s email – and how we can help

Filed under: Security,Tech Support - Oct 26 2016

Updated May 2020:

Over the years we’ve written various articles about AT&T/Yahoo email being plagued by account security issues, bothersome ads in their webmail interface, forced password resets, spam messages sent to user’s contacts and more. The revelation that over 500 million Yahoo accounts have been compromised in recent years leads us to once again advise people to stop using AT&T/Yahoo Mail, and switch to using a more secure and reliable email provider such as Gmail.

If your email address ends in @att.net, @sbcglobal.net, @nvbell.net, or @prodigy.net, the advice above includes you – since Yahoo provides the email and web content services for AT&T Internet customers. We’ve had several customers over the years permanently lose access to their AT&T/Yahoo email due to the lack of security of the service.

In May 2020 AT&T once again changed their login procedure, and began blocking use of the website if you use an ad blocker.

An important security option for online accounts is 2-step verification – neither AT&T/Yahoo or Charter/Spectrum email accounts offer the option. Therefore we recommend that you ditch your internet provider’s email service and switch to Google’s Gmail or Microsoft’s Outlook Mail.

If you’ve got an Android smartphone, you should already have a Gmail address associated with the Google account required for your phone. If you don’t already have Gmail, it’s easy to get a free address and setup your account – and we can help.

Switching email providers can be a hassle. But we can setup the initial change for you, and give follow-up guidance on how to systematically inform business correspondence of the change over time. We’ve got a step-by-step procedure that includes (but not limited to):

Discontinuing AT&T/Yahoo email:

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Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams

Filed under: Security - Apr 25 2016

Originally posted April 2013. Updated April 25, 2016:

Microsoft, your Internet Service Provider (ISP), nor any legitimate company will call to tell you that your computer is infected, and that they need to remotely access your computer (for a fee) to fix it. It is a scam by crooks who are trying to access your computer, scare you into believing that there are multiple problems with it, and demand money to pay for a problem that didn’t exist in the first place.

Another common scam happens when you initiate the call. Don’t call a number that pops up on your screen unsolicited. If you call a company whose number you found from a web search, make sure you visit the company’s official web site – don’t click on an third-party ad. There are hundreds of fraudulent companies advertising on Google, Bing and other search sites masquerading as “tech support” for legitimate companies, and attempt to convince callers that they need to pay hundreds of dollars to “fix” multiple problems with their computer.

Never allow someone you don’t know remotely access your computer. For more detailed information please read New twists in tech support phone scams, Learn how to spot scams that pop-up on your screen, and the Federal Trade Commission’s information about Tech Support Scams.

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We can help with many computer issues without coming out to your home

Filed under: Tech Support - Jun 01 2014

A majority of our customers already take advantage of our remote support service

Remote Support allows us to see your computer screen and operate your keyboard and mouse via your internet connection. This can be helpful if you need a quick-fix to a problem, question or other service that doesn’t require an in-home visit. Or perhaps you’d like service outside of our normal in-home daytime business hours. With Remote Support we offer a lower 1/2 hour minimum rate of $49, whereas there’s a one-hour $99 minimum charge to come out to your home. Payment can be made via credit card on our secure webpage at the completion of the service.

Remote Support is available for most services, including (but not limited to):

  • Troubleshoot web browser redirects and fake scare warning screens
  • Help with recovery of forgotten passwords and hacked accounts
  • Virus/malware/adware/pop-up scan/removal
  • PC slowdown issues
  • Software installation and troubleshooting problems
  • Microsoft Office help
  • Data backup and recovery
  • Preventative/proactive maintenance
  • Email setup/customization
  • Training/tutoring

Remote support is not available if you don’t have a connection to the internet. Please contact us if you have questions.

To get started, while talking with your technician on the phone we will have you go to our web page at CTreno.com/help then download and run the “Remote Support” program. You will be presented with an ID and temporary passcode to tell us, which will allow us temporarily access to your computer only for the duration of the call. You’ll be able to watch everything being done on your computer just as if we were there in person.

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What to do if your email has been hacked

Filed under: Computing Tips,Security - Feb 14 2013

Updated 8/29/2016:

Over the years many clients have reported to us that their Yahoo, Hotmail or AOL email account has been hacked. They first notice the problem when they are alerted by their email contacts claiming that they are receiving spam emails with links to prescription drug or work-at-home websites, or a plea for money after losing their passport while traveling overseas.

When attempting to login to their email some will discover that their password has been changed and they are unable to access their account. Others have reported some or all of the following changes:

  • All contacts have been deleted
  • “Reply-to” address changed
  • All email being forwarded to a different address
  • Email signature added or changed
  • The language changed to Spanish or Arabic

If your Yahoo or AT&T/Yahoo account has been compromised, below are some helpful links:

If you cannot access your email account you can call Yahoo at 866-562-7219 or AT&T at 877-722-3755.

To help prevent future hacking of your email account you need to change your email password to something that is secure and different from any other password. See How to protect your internet accounts from being hacked.

If you need professional help with getting your email account back and everything fixed, give us a call.

Also see: How to change your email password

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Happy with our service? Write a review or tell your friends and get $25 off your next service call

Filed under: Tech Support - Jul 05 2010

If you’re happy with our service, please let others know by recommending us to your friends and family, and/or by writing a review about our service. If you personally recommend us to a friend or relative and we help them, you get $25 off your next service call.

Why trust someone who “knows” computers and works on them in their spare time? Why trust someone who you called from a pop-up ad on your computer? You shouldn’t! Computer Techs is a local business that works with computers and related devices on a daily basis and has been doing so since 2003. When you need help with your computing devices, you can trust Computer Techs to be there when you need us, and stand behind our service.

When people search for Computer Support or Repair Services on the internet, they often search Google, YellowPages.com or Yahoo Local. Please consider letting others know about our service by posting a review at one or more of the following web sites:

Google Review

Facebook

Yelp

YellowPages.com User Review

Angie’s List

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10-digit dialing required by October 2021

Filed under: Computing Tips - May 11 2021

If you’re used to calling your neighbor or doctor by just dialing their 7-digit phone number – things are about to change. Beginning October 24, 2021 you must dial 10-digits to reach any number in the 775 area code – and most area codes in the United States.

The change is so that callers may reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing the 3-digit number “988” – similar to dialing “911” for local emergencies.

Beginning October 24, 2021 if you dial only 7-digits you will be instructed to hang-up and re-dial using the 10-digit phone number.

Now is the time to start updating the phone numbers stored in your cell phone to the full 10-digit number.

Spend a few minutes to check out these scams so that you don’t become a victim

Filed under: Security - May 05 2021

Scammers are becoming increasingly clever. Every month we hear from clients who have been scammed by letting someone take control of their computer and coerce them into paying for support for non-existent computer or account-related problems. With a little bit of knowledge of how these scams work, you won’t become a victim yourself.

Scams typically start with a website pop-up, email, phone call or text message from a well-known company such as Amazon, Windows/Microsoft, Apple, or Netflix. You are notified about a large purchase that has been or will be charged to your account – or there’s a problem with your account or device/computer. You’re told to call, click a link or talk to a fraud/account representative to confirm the purchase or account information. No matter how legitimate it sounds – It’s a scam! Read on about some of the most common scams we’ve encountered recently:

  • “Someone just charged an item to your Amazon account. I’m calling to confirm the purchase or refund your money.”
  • “This is the FBI and we’ve detected pornographic images on your computer. You must pay a fine right away!”
  • “This is your friend Bob. Can you please buy a gift card for me so I can give to my niece – I’ll pay you back.”
  • “Grandma, this is your grandson – I’m in trouble and you need to bail me out. Please don’t tell mom!”
  • “Your credit card number has expired. I’m calling to get your new number or your service will be cancelled right away!”
  • “I’ve hacked into your email account – I can prove it because your password is xxxxxx. I’ve got embarrassing pictures of you that I captured with your webcam. If you don’t pay up, I’ll release the the pictures to all of your contacts.”
  • “Your computer protection has expired. If you don’t call right away we’re charging $399 to your account to renew the protection.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Ignore the pop-up, email, call or SMS. If you answer an unexpected phone call, don’t answer or engage with the scammer – hang up. Most likely there is no problem at all. Unfortunately you can’t trust unknown or unsolicited callers to be who they say they are, nor can you trust the name or number on Caller ID – scammers frequently used forged numbers. Never, ever allow someone you don’t know coerce you into letting them view your computer screen or allow remote access. You wouldn’t allow someone knocking on your door to come in – the same should be true for an unsolicited phone call or message.

If in doubt, log into your account normally (not via a link in an email or telephone number provided in a recording) to check for any unrecognized activity. Or you can call the company using the phone number listed on their official website, or printed on a card you have from the company.

If you’ve already gone too far and realize that you’ve engaged in a conversation with a scammer – below are some examples of how you can quickly get out of the situation.

  • “My attorney/caregiver handles all of my affairs. Contact him/her.”
  • “Send me an official correspondence in the mail – you should already have my mailing address.”

Often times scammers tell you that you must act fast – so that you don’t have time to think about it, contact a trusted tech-savvy friend, family member or computer technician. Stick to your better judgement, remain in control of the conversation – or just hang up.

If you’ve already been scammed, contact us for a thorough computer security check so that we can determine when it’s safe to use your computer.

Learn more:

Here’s how to make it easier to read articles in your web browser – use Reader Mode

Filed under: Computing Tips,Internet Tips - Mar 31 2021

Some web pages – particularly articles on news and informational websites – have become nearly unreadable and full of distractions over the years with flashing and inline ads, videos, and unreadable fonts. Reader Mode can make many web pages easier to read – and it’s as easy as toggling it on or off. In this article I give instructions on how to enable reader mode (if necessary) in today’s most popular web browsers – and how to toggle it on or off for many web pages.

Google Chrome

To use Reader Mode on Chrome it must first be enabled in a special settings area:

1. Type this into the address bar: chrome://flags/

2. Search for “Reader Mode” to show the Enable Reader Mode settings shown below. Click on the dropdown box and click on Enable.

3. After you relaunch your browser, Reader Mode will be available to toggle on/off on many websites via an icon near the right-end of the address bar – as highlighted above by the magenta circle.

Firefox

Reader view is built into the Firefox browser. If the page has a Reader View, you will see an icon near the right-end of the address bar.

Click on the icon, and the browser will reload the page in Reader View.

Firefox offers some options for its reader mode that allow you to change font, size, and background color.

Microsoft Edge

Reader View on Edge can be toggled on/off on available websites by clicking on the greyed-out book icon next to the favorites star.

When you click it, it will turn blue, and the Reader View of the page will load.

Safari

In Safari on macOS and iOS, “Show Reader View” can be accessed by clicking the left-side of the address bar, then “Show Reader View”.

Internet crimes up over 69% in 2020: Phishing scams more than double and people over 60 the most common victims

Filed under: Internet Tips,Security - Mar 22 2021

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has released its annual report. The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion.

Topping the list of types of reported internet crimes was phishing, which more than doubled last year. People over 60 were the most common victims according to the report. Nevada had the 8th most complaints of the states and territories included in the report – yet it is the 32nd most populous.

The phishing category also includes vishing, smishing and pharming – all techniques via email, voicemail, text messaging or via fraudulent websites that attempt to trick victims into divulging personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.

People over 60 were the most common victim – likely due to the age group growing up in a more trusting society and their less understanding of technology.

Perhaps most surprising is that Nevadans reported the most complaints per thousand people than any other state.

In summary, become educated on how to spot internet crimes so that you or someone you know doesn’t become the next victim.

FTC Identity Theft website guides victims through the recovery process

Filed under: Internet Tips,Security - Feb 17 2021

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.

If you haven’t been a victim, read these tips to help keep your identity from being stolen or compromised in the first place: Prevent Identity Theft.

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Have an old cell phone? It may stop working soon.

Filed under: Computing Tips - Dec 25 2020

Cell phones operating on the T-Mobile and AT&T networks will stop working soon (as early as January 2021) if they don’t support the 4G/LTE calling standard VoLTE (Voice over LTE). Cell phones without VoLTE support on the Verizon network stopped working in 2020.

If you have an older non-compatible phone hopefully you’ve already been contacted by your carrier to arrange for a replacement. But if you only turn on your cell phone occasionally for emergency use, chances are that you may not know about the impending inability to make phone calls. If the last sentence describes your phone usage, now is the time to check with your wireless phone service provider.

Need help with your mobile device? We can help – just contact us. Also read How to improve wireless cell coverage at home.

Goodbye Flash Player

Filed under: Internet Tips,Security - Dec 25 2020

Adobe Flash Player – not to be confused with Adobe (PDF) Reader – in the last decade had been the most common method of viewing video and animation files in the web browser. But the latest web coding standards includes the ability to play videos and animations natively – without the need for a browser extension or add-on.

In July 2017 Adobe announced it would no longer support Flash Player at the end of 2020, and recently all major web browsers have blocked or completely removed the ability to play Flash content. Around that time many security vulnerabilities plagued the software and it became a common vector for spreading malware through the computer browser.

What can you do if the web content you are trying to view says it requires Flash Player? Nothing – it’s up to the website developer to reprogram the site with modern standards that doesn’t require Flash Player.

How to troubleshoot printing problems

Filed under: Computing Tips,Tech Support - Sep 02 2020

When you are trying to print something from your computer and the printer doesn’t respond or the pages come out half-printed or blank, below are some troubleshooting tips to help you figure out what the problem could be and how to fix it.

  • Are pages blank, have streaks or not printing some colors? It’s likely that one or more of your ink cartridge colors are out-of-ink or ink has dried out in the printing mechanisms. Print this test page, then compare the printed output vs. what you see on your screen. If all colors don’t look good on paper, try cleaning the print heads via the printer’s maintenance menu or replacing the ink cartridges. If this is a common occurance you may also want to consider getting a laser printer – or moving to a more humid climate. 😀
  • Is there no response from your printer when trying to print? Make sure that you are printing to the correct printer before clicking “Print”. Often there will be several copies of your printer – usually a wired/USB, and a wireless connection. You will also likely have a PDF printing option, and may have other printers on your network display in your list of printers.
  • Is your wireless printer working sporadically? Wireless printing problems are one of our most frequent calls for service. Often Wi-Fi interference will cause the printer to no longer be reachable on the network. Sometimes simply powering off/on your printer and computer will fix the problem. In some cases you may need to turn off and unplug the power to printer for about a minute. After plugging it back in and turning it on, try printing again.

If you’re still having printing problems, contact us for an on-site printer and/or Wi-Fi diagnostic.

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Watch the world from home

Filed under: Useful Websites - Jul 30 2020

To help pass the time while sheltering or quarantining at home, check out these websites to view live video of webcams featuring scenery and nature.

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