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FAQ Page

Maybe a better title for this question is: Why do I have to update iTunes / Java / Flash, again?

Without using phrases like “attack vectors” and “vulnerability assessments” and “penetration testing,” the simple answer is, if you don’t regularly update your software (all of your software) you are literally begging to be owned.

The reasons for a developer or development company to update software are many and varied, but they usually consist of feature additions, bug fixes (where they make the software work like it was intended), and security patches. The question is, when a new software update is rolled out, and you get the update notification, do you read through the release notes and new license agreement? Of course you do (end sarcasm). Long story short, unless you read all that stuff, you can’t know whether or not the update has any security features added. Very few patches don’t include some sort of security enhancement.

If you would like your name to be excluded from the lists of people who assist the nefarious cyber-criminals of the world in doing the dirty deeds they do, update your software.

First, there is a difference between trashing, deleting and shredding a file. Trashing is the usual way of getting rid of things in a Windows system. If you deleted a file and it went to your trash bin, you can fix that by opening the trash folder, right clicking the item you want to bring back and clicking ‘Restore.’

Deleting means you’ve emptied the trash. What deleting means at the system level is, you’ve erased the file descriptor. That’s a fancy way of saying the computer now thinks the area the file was saved is empty. If this is the case, there is a way to un-delete with the right software. There are many software choices, but most of them have license fees associated with them.

Shredded files, on the other hand, are gone forever. While there are machines capable of a partial recovery of those files, they are prohibitively expensive and usually owned by shadowy government agencies. A shredded file is one where the space the file once occupied is written over with random data, or otherwise completely destroyed. If you format a drive, all the data on that drive is essentially gone. You’ve cleared the computer to write whatever it wants to wherever it wants on the drive. You can also install shredding software, for security purposes. If you have files you wish to be un-recoverable, you can simply drop them into the shredder icon, and they are gone forever.

The point is, you have options unless you’ve utterly destroyed your hard drive (and even then, there are options. Very expensive options, but options. Call us, and we’ll discuss your options.

This is a fun one. If you see only lines, or your normal display with new and undesirable lines, it could mean you have a bad display (monitor). It could also mean you have a bad video adapter (video card / chipset). It could also (and most likely) mean that the cable connecting your video adapter to your display is loose. Try jiggling the cable on a desktop. On a laptop, you may need to bring it to us for troubleshooting. If the problem persists, hardware replacement is probably the best bet. In that case, it’s a lot like a wrecked car. If the cost of replacing the parts exceeds the value of the computer, it may be smartest to use the failure as an excuse to upgrade.

If you’re still running windows XP, you have a lot of cause for concern.  When an operating system is in the ‘end of life’ phase, it means the developers are no longer writing patches and security fixes for it.  Running windows XP is the same now as running windows 95 was when XP came out.  It means that when a vulnerability is discovered (and many, many vulnerabilities will be, and have been discovered), it will never be fixed.

Long and short, you need to upgrade.  That is, unless you don’t mind your computer being owned by Russian and Chinese hackers who will use it to attack other users, steal credit cards, obtain all your passwords and generally make life miserable.  It is also important to note that failure to upgrade can result in civil and criminal liability issues.  There is actually case law that can hold owners of computers who fail to protect their computers from hackers responsible for the damage they do.  If their computer is used in criminal activity, they could be required to pay restitution or damages to the victim.

Upgrade.  You know you wanna…

RAM stands for Random Access Memory, and it’s the place where the computer stores all the information that it needs to have ready, but that the processor isn’t using right away (Level 1 and 2 cache RAM are where those things go, but that’s another discussion).  RAM is what is known as volatile memory, meaning that as soon as the module loses power, everything in it is gone forever.  Non-volatile memory would be a hard drive or a CD.  Even with no power, the contents stay on them.

As far as how much you need, the rule of thumb that we like to use is, can the system hold more?  Put in more.  You’ll never be disappointed in additional RAM, but not having enough can be a bad thing.  Is there a such thing as overkill?  Certainly.  If all you do with your computer is surf the internet and check email, you won’t need more than what your system came with.  If you want to do some processor intensive graphics work or play games, more is always better.  Fill those slots and don’t look back.

Java is a programming language used to make software that runs on nearly anything.  It runs on watches, mobile phones, RC cars, your laptop, your tablet, you refrigerator and even your car.  There are certain things that run on your computer that make it necessary to have.  It’s a good thing, and you should update it regularly.

It should be noted that Oracle, the company who owns Java, has, for some unknown reason, chosen to bundle the Ask toolbar with Java updates.  This is a bad thing, and we have no idea why they decided this was a good idea.  It’s very important when installing Java updates (really any updates) to read the screens that offer you options.  If you do, you’ll see that the silly things they want you to add can be declined, usually with a click.  This is how you opt out of email lists, news blasts, stupid bloatware add-ons like the Ask toolbar, etc.

In short, you need Java.  You don’t need anything that comes with it, however.

Yes…

Not just faster, several orders of magnitude faster.  It won’t even be a question.  It’ll be so much faster you will likely say “WOW” out loud after you make the switch.

What is the sound of a cooling fan dying?  Sounds like you have figured it out.  Fans are a cheap repair, unless their failure caused the death of a major system component.  It’s important to dust the inside of your computer regularly (say, once a quarter).  Fans still die as a function of their movement.  As soon as you notice that one has stopped spinning, or is making an awful noise, let us know.  We’ll either get you a fan (for the DIY folks) or replace the fan for you if you’re less inclined to break out the screwdriver.

We certainly hope so.  The reasons for boot failures are many and varied, but usually they’re fixable.  In the rare instance that they’re not, we can usually recover data so that the important things you’ve been saving aren’t gone forever.  There are times, however, that the system is dead, the data is gone and absolutely nothing can be done about it. In those instances, we’ll break the news gently and even welcome you seeking a second opinion.  We’re also not above observing a moment of silence for your deceased system.

Data backup is a very important part of any business IT plan.  It’s also important for home users to consider backing up data that isn’t stored on the Internet in some sort of cloudy type place.  We have several options available, from individual system backups, to server backups, to cloud based backups, all tailored to the needs of each business or user.  The plan is one that we’d need to discuss with you, as we need to properly assess your goals.  We wouldn’t recommend a multi-terabyte off-site backup solution for family photos and recipes (unless you are a prolific cook / family photographer), which is why we’d need to ask questions about your needs prior to making a recommendation.