Mobirise

OUR STORY

"With modern technology constantly changing, it can be difficult to keep up with. We're here to bridge the gap." - Mike Peterson

    Our founder, Mike Peterson, started Computer Medics in 1999 as a sole proprietor out of his home office in Fort Myers, FL.  He saw a growing need for onsite computer repair and training, especially among older adults who were just beginning to purchase computers.  The business name was chosen patterned after the old time doctors who made house calls, which some of the older seniors could recall.  Mike built the business through offering computer classes and technology seminars in different retirement communities, coupled with superior customer service and dedication to “going the extra mile.”  


    The first major milestone came in 2005 when Mike moved the business to Briarcliff, still operating out of his home, but on a much larger property among other service businesses.   During the next few years, the business grew rapidly, but it never lost sight of superior customer service, such as answering phone calls, scheduling appointments quickly, and creating an environment where the customer's questions would be answered in plain English and not technical jargon.


    In 2007, Computer Medics began to offer remote assistance support. We anticipated this change would become widely accepted and loved by our customers.  This service was made available to local residents as well as those with Northern summer homes. Florida's businesses are dictated by the change in seasons and Computer Medics is no exception. This new remote support offering helped smooth out the seasonal nature of the business and made it stronger.


    Over the next few years, Mike saw the growing need for customers who wanted to drop off their computers for repair and began to build the inshop business.  However, in 2013 the large influx of customers at Mike’s home necessitated a move to a retail location. Metro Parkway provided Computer Medics with a new place to call home.


    Later, Mike saw the growing need for business to business computer and networking support and decided to create a new business division dedicated to their special support needs.  Additionally, he recognized the need to provide faster guaranteed turnaround times for inshop service and priority onsite service appointments.  This proved to be a great success and added greater customer service.


    Today, Computer Medics takes pride and pleasure in providing superior customer service by offering guaranteed, prompt, professional, and reliable computer and networking support for home and business clients via onsite, inshop, and remote service.

STAFF

Mike Peterson

Owner - President
Since 1999

Ken Harris

Contract Support Technician
Since 2005

Scott Lucas

Commercial Support Technician
Since 2005

Alan Fidler

Commercial Consultant
Since 2009

Bobby Belton

Residential Support Technician
Since 2010

Stephen Sullivan

Residential Support Technician
Since 2013

Ross Wagner

Sales Support
Since 2014

Justin McNeill

Sales Consultant
Since 2016

Matthew Lewis

Remote Support Technician
Since 2017

REVIEWS

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NEWSLETTERS

Here we post the latest tech information and tips.

NEWSLETTER ARCHIVES

Disaster Preparedness and AOL Gold

By Mike Peterson posted September 7th, 2017

Personal Letter from the Owner


            I would like to thank those of you who have been with us for some period of time during our past 18 years of business.  During that period we have gone from dialup internet to high speed internet and basic cell phones to smart phones.  Another change is the speed with which information has been disseminated.  By the time our quarterly newsletter was published, some of the information was old or irrelevant.  Therefore, I have decided to change from interval from quarterly to monthly.  Additionally, the Social Media world of Texting, Twittering and FaceBooking has changed the way we digest our information.  We are looking for bite-sized articles rather than in-depth analysis. Consequently, I am condensing the newsletters to 1-3 short articles rather than the 4-7 larger articles.  Please email me if you have suggestions for future newsletter topics or if you have any specific questions.  


Thank you,

Mike Peterson

Owner


Hurricane Computer Preparedness


            Everyone should be aware of the imminent threat from Hurricane Irma.  I do not want to repeat what other news outlets are reporting.  But I want to drill down and cover specific things that you should consider when preparing your computer equipment for the hurricane.  The two biggest threats to computer equipment come from water and electrical damage.  


            Computers and water do not mix.  Here are a few things you can do to mitigate water issues. First, make sure your computer equipment is higher than the expected water level.  If you have a 2nd story, take all your equipment upstairs.  If your computer comes into contact with water, DO NOT TURN IT ON.  We will need to see the computer in our workshop ASAP to disassemble it and dry everything.  If the computer is dried quickly, the computer should turn on and operate normally.  However, if the computer remains wet inside, it will start to rust and corrode rather quickly.


            When it comes to electrical damage, power fluctuations are far worse on computer equipment than power surges.  Power fluctuations are the brief power drops that happen in rapid succession.  The best way to prevent these during a hurricane is to unplug the computer equipment.  If you must continue to work on your computer be sure to have a functioning battery backup unit.  To test your battery backup, simply unplug it from the wall.  If the computer immediately shuts off, you will need to replace either the battery or the entire battery backup.


            Additionally, power surges do not enter your home only through your electrical system, they can also enter through your cable and/or phone lines.  The best way to prevent damage to connected equipment is to unplug your cable and phone lines.  Your cell phone is not affected by surges, unless it is plugged in and being charged by your electrical system.


            Finally, if you decide to evacuate here are a few tips as it relates to your computer equipment.  First, print out your passwords if they are stored in your computer or bring along your password notebook.  Second, gather your software license codes.  They will be important if you have to purchase a new computer and want to reinstall your software. Third, make sure your data backup is current.  If you are using an external hard drive, you might want to open the folders and files on the backup drive to make sure they are up-to-date.  If you are using Carbonite Online Backup, right click on the Carbonite Online Backup icon next to the clock (round green button).  Then click on Launch Carbonite.  Look for the green checkmark next to "Your files are safely backed up."  If you need help with your backup procedure or any other hurricane computer preparedness questions, please do not hesitate to call us.


            First and foremost, take care of you and your family first.  Your property, including your computer equipment can be replaced.  Computer Medics will be here to assist you before and after the storm.  God Bless you and your families.


AOL Desktop Gold Software


            Most of us probably know someone that still uses the America Online Desktop software. Over the past 30+ years AOL has made numerous changes to its desktop software. However, their latest update brings new changes. Earlier this year, AOL began transitioning their desktop software customers to a monthly subscription based service. This new version, AOL Desktop Gold, will replace all previous versions of the software and all previous versions will no longer function.  And their new mandatory subscription service will be $4.99 per month.


            While AOL Desktop Gold will introduce new features to the AOL Desktop software, it will retain the design and features of the previous client versions.  The new features are set to include two-step authentication, encryption of personal information stored in the AOL Desktop software, server-side storage of favorites as well as contacts and automatic updating of the Gold software.  They are touting the software is "optimized for the speed of broadband internet."  Furthermore, this subscription service will include free technical support related to the AOL software and all AOL user accounts.  These services include password resets, reinstalling the software and general questions.  The primary user on the account will need to forward the email containing the AOL Gold download link to other users on the account that wish to use the software.  The new version of the AOL Desktop client supports Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.


            What does this mean for someone currently using AOL? Well the most important thing to take from all of this is that if you want to continue using the AOL Desktop software to access your email, contacts, and favorites, you must subscribe to the AOL Gold subscription service.  If you are not using the AOL Desktop software and have been using AOL's website www.AOL.com to access your email through an internet browser such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome, then you do not need to subscribe.


            Finally, we, at Computer Medics, have been recommending all AOL users switch to a more modern free web-based email service such as Microsoft's Outlook.com, Google's Gmail, or other email providers.  If you are interested in this, please call us and we can help you over the phone with our remote assistance service or we can setup an appointment to come to your home or business.  We will step you through the process of creating a new email account, transferring your favorites, addresses, and email (if possible) and setting up email forwarding from your AOL account.  Furthermore, we can help you send an email to all your contracts informing them of your new email address and walk you through how to start changing your email address with online vendors and service companies.  Please let us know if you need assistance with this as we would be happy to help.

ARCHIVE (2016-CURRENT)

Personal Letter from the Owner


    This Quarterly Newsletter will be a collection of relevant topics that have surfaced over the past few months. Sometimes I wish I could send an email every time there is a important issue that demands attention. I desire that all our customers be safe and wise. On the other hand, I am sensitive to those people who do not appreciate frequent emails from businesses.


    Due to the many important issues that have surfaced over the past few months, this newsletter ended up being extra long. I suggest printing it out and take time reading and digesting it in your easy chair.

I wish everyone a happy and prosperous 2016. Do not hesitate to call, stop by, or email if you have any computer or technology questions. As a devoted technology and forward looking company, we are continually advancing our knowledge and hope you will avail yourselves of our 16 years of experience helping over 8000 clients and completing over 30000 service calls.


    If you are interested, you can click on our FaceBook link at the top and “Like Us” and you will be entered into a drawing every month for a $40 gift certificate toward your next service call. So far, we have given away 44 gift certificates since October 2011.


    Finally, if you like our service, could you please write a Google Review for us? For some people, Google Reviews are the sole reason people call us when they are searching the web for a computer repair company.


Sincerely,

Mike Peterson

Owner


Windows 10 Upgrade News


    For those who have not read my previous newsletters regarding upgrading to Windows 10, let me give you a quick review. Windows 10 was released on July 29th, 2015 and is offering the software for free for all licenced Windows 7 and 8 users for 1 year. As of December 31st, 2015 over 200 million computers have been upgraded to Windows 10. Previous Windows releases have taught us to be cautious due to bugs that are revealed when a new operating system is installed on millions of computers. We typically have warned people not to upgrade for at least 6 months. However, this time Microsoft surprised us. It only took a couple of days before we were flooded with people asking for us to upgrade them. And due to the success we were having upgrading those machines, it only took 2 weeks to decide that EVERY new computer we sell would have Windows 10 installed. It is now 6 months and we have upgraded more than 500 people to Windows 10. Of those 500 people, not one of them have asked to go back to Windows 8 or 7 (you have 30-days to revert to your previous operating system). On the contrary, many people have commented on how much faster their computer is with Windows 10. Furthermore, some have said it cleared up nagging issues that no one had been able to solve. For those of you who have not seen Windows 10, I think it is a blend of Windows 7 and Windows 8, but looks more like Windows 7 than Windows 8.


    If you are considering upgrading to Windows 10, we recommend you call us first. We will look up your laptop model to make sure it has updated drivers for Windows 10 and all the necessary hardware requirements. If everything checks out, we will invite you to bring the computer into our workshop for the upgrade. The whole process can take 3-6 hours. But if we help you in our workshop we will only be billed for the active time we are working on it, not the waiting time for the downloads, installation, and updating. We quote people 1-3 hours labor time for the upgrade. Please call us if you have any questions about the process. Please note: We offer Windows 10 upgrade pickup and delivery service for those who are unable to bring their systems to our workshop.


    For those who have upgraded to Windows 10 on your own and are experiencing issues, please bring the system by and we will do our best to solve your issues. After we fix the issues, people walk away happy with Windows 10. If someone has upgraded to Windows 10 on a model that is not able to run it, we will revert it back to Windows 7. Windows 7 is still a fine operating system and supported by Microsoft through 2020.


Internet Access Options


    Does anyone remember the early 2000’s when there was only Dial-up Internet Access? When we measured speed in 28.8K vs 14.4K? And how frustrating it was to try to reach someone whose phone line was busy all night because they forgot to disconnect their modem from the Internet? What about 5 years ago when we searched for hotels that had wireless Internet Access? Nowadays, we seem to have virtually uninterrupted Internet Access everywhere we go. However, we are still faced with a confusing array of Internet Access Providers for our home. Everyone is familiar with Comcast Cable and Centurylink DSL. But there are other options. You can choose a WiFi device from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile that uses cell phone towers. Or there are fiber optic providers such as Summit Broadband, Hotwire, Marco Island Cable and others. All of these Internet providers claim to be the best value. I could probably write 10 pages on the relative merits of each provider.


    However, I want to summarize by saying that you should carefully consider all your options and do not base your decision on emotion or a particular dissatisfaction with your current provider. It is expensive to change providers. You could easily spend $200-$300 for a new modem, installation, first month’s access and an initial deposit. Additionally, if you are part a community association changing providers could mean being stuck with a 10-year contract. Furthermore, if the company is bought out or goes out of business, you could be in a bad situation. Therefore, proceed carefully and do not hesitate to call us if you have questions concerning Internet Access Options.


Power Cords for your laptop AC Adapter


    If you are thinking of bringing your laptop to our workshop for repair don’t forget to bring your laptop’s AC adapter (power cord). Most laptops will not have a long enough battery life for us to complete the service call. For example, virus and malware scans require a lot of battery usage. There are hundreds of different brands, tip sizes, voltages, and amperages. We have several AC adapters in stock, however, we may not carry the specific adapter your computer requires. While we are on the topic of AC adapters, please avoid purchasing “universal” AC adapters from Office Max, Best Buy, Staples, or Office Depot. They might be able to run your laptop, but the low voltage or amperage can eventually damage your battery or your entire laptop. The same holds true for Generic AC adapters that your can buy from eBay or Amazon. They seem like a good deal. But they are generally of poor construction and can overheat and damage your system. Furthermore, they normally wear out in a short period of time. At Computer Medics, we only sell Genuine AC adapters made by your laptop manufacturer and we will match the proper voltage and amperage to make sure it will not damage your system. You may pay a little more, but it will be a better value.


Computer Medics Remote Assistance


    Computer Medics introduced remote assistance to our customers about 10 years ago. We were a pioneer in the area of remote assistance and we had a program that we conveniently called “The Red Cross.” It was optimized to run on a dial-up connection so we could help all people regardless of their Internet speed. We wanted an alternative to on-site service as we struggled with grid-locked SW FL roads during the 2000’s housing boom and when gasoline prices hovered around $4.00/gallon. We soon realized we could service our seasonal resident’s computers year-round in their northern homes, thus smoothing out our our slow summer months. Today, remote assistance is a vital part of of our day-to-day business. We offer 30-days of unlimited remote assistance to every customer who purchases a computer from us. Furthermore, we have aside a full-time technician who only focuses on remote assistance. Please keep in mind that we view remote assistance as a method to solve non-critical issues. If you call us during a busy period, normally in the morning, you may be put in a queue for a call back later in the day. If your problem is urgent, you may want to bring your computer to our workshop or schedule an onsite visit. Be sure to ask for our Priority Service which means 24-hour guaranteed turnaround (excluding time to order parts). We will meet whatever your turnaround time expectations might be. Call or visit our workshop to discuss your specific needs.


CCleaner


    Everyone whom Computer Medics has helped with a computer cleaning or checkup will see an icon in the upper right corner of their screen called CCleaner. This is a program we use to clean your computer and we recommend you use it as well. The frequency of use depends on how often you use your computer. Some should use it weekly, some monthly, some only occasionally. We recommend you run it if you notice your system getting slow and sluggish. However, there is one consequence of running CCleaner that we must warn you about. CCleaner will remove temporary Internet files and “cache” from your computer. This means your recently used websites, form data and passwords will be wiped out. This simply means next time you visit a website, you will need to fill in your personal information again. Then that information will be saved for your next visit.


Microsoft Account Password


    Many of our customers are getting increasingly frustrated with passwords that seem to suddenly appear “out of nowhere.” If you are running Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, this could be a common issue. Windows 8.1 and 10 have Apps that synchronize with all your Microsoft devices and services and create a better computing experience: Office 365, weather, live news feeds, stock tickers, Cortana, Bing, Mail, games, etc. All these Apps can be managed with one account and password which is called your Microsoft Account. Once you create a Microsoft Account, your computer will ask for your Microsoft Account password the next time you reboot your computer. Sometimes, at this point we will receive a call and hear phrases such as “I have never had a Windows password” or “I don’t want a Windows password” or “I don’t know which password to type in.” If you don’t remember your Microsoft Account password, you can reset it by verifying your account with the requested security method, such as a code texted to your cell phone or emailed to you, or simply answering your secret security questions. If you cannot verify your security information, you will not be able to recover your password. In this case, the only option will be to backup your data and reinstall Windows. As you can see, it is imperative to record your account passwords and choose security questions that have definitive answers (ie. not favorite questions).


Adobe Flash Player is officially dead


    Recently, Adobe announced that it would no longer be updating the Flash Player Plugin that has been so common for older versions of browsers, such as Internet Explorer 10 or earlier. They are encouraging web developers to start using HTML5 code that does not rely on Flash. If you are using the latest versions of Internet Explorer 11, Firefox, Chrome, and Edge browsers, which includes everyone using Windows 8 or 10, then you will have the Flash software built into the respective web browser. Therefore, if you see an advertisement or popup for Adobe Flash Player, do not click on it. It is likely a virus or malware. Close the advertisement with the Red X. If you have any questions about Flash Player pop-ups or other warnings, do not hesitate to call Computer Medics.


Telephone Scams


    Old fashioned telephone scammers have been out in force and can be potentially damaging to your computer. It normally starts with a cold call from someone who claims they are from a common company such Microsoft, Netflix, McAfee, Norton, Comcast, etc. Also, cleverly designed (fake) pop-ups may appear on your computer screens with a phone number to call stating that there is some problem with your computer’s security and then we receive a lot of phone calls from long time customers as well as new customers after they realized it was a scam. The representative begins by telling you that your computer is experiencing problems or your computer is sending out malicious software through the Internet. After they make a case and cause you serious concern, they will convince you to go to your browser and type in a website. The website normally shows you fake errors and problems. They will talk about how they are going to help you fix the issues. They will invite you to click a button on your screen, consequently giving them access to your computer. They will proceed to navigate around your computer and show you other supposed problems. Then they will ask you for your credit card so they can “fix” your issues and provide you with any number of years of technical support. The amount they ask for is different for every scammer, but is typically in the $300-$400 range. If you decline, they will keep lowering the amount and the time period of support. Most people become skeptical when they are asked for their credit card number. However, after spending a long time on the phone, some will break down and provide the scammer with a credit card number, address and other personal information. This is normally when our customers call us for advice.


    The first thing we recommend is calling your credit card company to dispute the charge. Secondly, we recommend cancelling your credit card number. If you don’t, your credit card number and personal information may get sold on the black market to other scammers who will make charges to your credit card and possibly steal your identity. Thirdly, now that you have given computer access to the scammer, malicious software is typically planted on your computer that will activate later and wreak havoc on your system.


    Therefore, if you receive a phone call from “Microsoft” or a different company, please verify the identity of the caller and hang up immediately if they claim you have problems with your computer. Microsoft does not have access your phone number. Even if they do, they are not monitoring your computer and will not call you about “issues.” If they persist in calling you, tell them you are going to call the Lee County Sheriff Office’s Fraud Department. If you feel like you are being harassed or defrauded, don’t hesitate to call the Fraud Department at 239-258-3292. Finally, it is a good idea to add your phone number to the National Do Not Call Registry. Call 888-382-1222 or go to www.donotcall.gov. If you are being harassed, you can submit a Complaint through the same website. Please be advised that the Do Not Call Registry does not prohibit phone calls from political organizations, charities, debt collectors, informational calls and telephone surveys.

As always, if you have any questions do not hesitate to call and talk to one of our computer technicians at 239-437-4357. We genuinely want to help you stay safe.

Personal Letter from the Owner

  

    I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving with family and friends.  Our family is getting ready for Christmas and this year we are blessed to be joined by all three of our children.  Our oldest, Joshua, is 24, married to Amanda, and lives in Fort Myers.  Our second oldest, Mesha, is 22, single, and living in Wisconsin.  And our youngest, Naomi, is 20 and engaged to be married to Austin, on May 21, 2017. Our family is happily growing.

 

    On the business side of things, Computer Medics of SW Florida is traditionally slow between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Many people go back up North and those left are focusing on Christmas gatherings with friends and family. Therefore, this would be an excellent time to call us before we hit our extremely busy seasonal time of January through April.

 

    As a reminder, we recommend having your computer cleaned and updated at least once per year.  This can be done remotely, on-site, or in our workshop.  Also, with the release of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, it is very important to have your hardware device drivers updated.  Otherwise, you may start to experience slow performance, lockups, or even device failure. Furthermore, anyone with a Windows Vista computer should start looking to replace their computer immediately because Vista’s end-of-life is scheduled for April 2017.  Please gives us a call so that we can take care of these or any other issues and get your computers in shape for the new year!


Best Regards,

Mike Peterson

Owner


Internet Browers

 

    This month’s newsletter is devoted to the topic of Internet Browsers.  This topic is full of information and misinformation. My goal is to help you choose the right browser for your particular needs.  Of course, everyone's situation is different and yours may require a consultation with one of our expert technicians. We are more than happy to assist you!

 

What is an Internet Browser?


    Internet browsers are computer programs used to access websites or “browse the Internet.”  They are sometimes confused with operating systems, such as Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 10.  Operating systems come pre-loaded with particular browsers.  For example, if your computer is running Windows 8.1, it has Internet Explorer 11. Other examples would be Microsoft Edge for Windows 10 or Safari for Mac OSX. You can, however, install third party browsers and use them instead of the pre-loaded ones.  Examples of third party browsers are Firefox, Chrome, and Opera.  In addition, there is a category of browsers we call Junkware, Bloatware or Malware.  Examples are Slim Browser, Tor Browser, Pirate Browser, Comodo Dragon Browser, etc.  We recommend avoiding any of these types of browsers.  At the worst, they will eventually ask for your credit card number in exchange for “cleaning your computer” or at best they will redirect your searches to their “partner” websites instead of delivering unbiased search results to you.

 

Which browser is the most secure? 


    The most secure browser is Microsoft Edge.  It is only available for Windows 10 users.  It is the safest browser when interacting with secure websites such as banking, brokerages, email, medical information sites, etc.  If any of those types of secure websites will not load with Microsoft Edge, we recommend you call their help desk and ask them to fix the issue or ask them when their website will be supported by Microsoft Edge.  If they are unable to fix the issue, we will help you install an alternative browser such as Firefox or Chrome, so you can access the website.

 

Which browser do we recommend?  


    Picking a browser normally comes down to personal preferences.  All browsers perform the same basic tasks, however, they can “look” different.  Choose a browser that is easy for you to use to perform tasks such as opening new tabs, finding settings, accessing favorites, or printing.  Then we suggest you stick with that one.  It is OK to have a second browser choice in case a certain website does not work with your first choice.  We will support whichever browser you choose to use: Edge, Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Chrome.

 

Are there some tips to for which browser you should choose?  


    If you have a Yahoo, AT&T, or SBC Global email address, Firefox easily links with their services.  If you have a MSN, Outlook, or Hotmail address you should use Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer. If you have a Gmail address, you should use Google Chrome. If you have a Comcast or Centurylink email address, they are not browser specific and you can use whichever one you like.  Finally, if you like reading and printing Internet Web Pages without advertisements, you might want to try the Reading Pane feature included with the Microsoft Edge browser.  

 

Are there any particular warnings pertaining to browsers?


    Do not install any browser toolbars, such as Google Toolbar, AOL, Ask.com, etc. They are normally installed whenever install “free” software such as Adobe Reader.  Or they can sometimes pop-up automatically on websites. If it has the word “toolbar” in it, you’ll want to decline it.  These will slow down your browser and often maliciously modify your search results and settings.  Also, if you choose to have your browser save your passwords, then make sure you have a written backup in case your browser becomes corrupted or we need to run a cleaning program such as CCleaner.

 

    As you can see, there is much more to Internet Browsers that you might have thought about.  If you would like us to sort out your particular browser situation, please give us a call at 239-437-4357.  We can help you remotely, onsite, or in our workshop.

Letter from Mike Peterson (Owner)


    Here at Computer Medics, we are busy helping our seasonal residents with their computers before they transition to their northern locations.  If you are a seasonal resident, the good news is you can take Computer Medics Remote Assistance Support with you to your northern home.  During the summer, you can call us if you have any issues with your system.  If it is a simple problem, we will connect to your computer and fix it over the phone.  If it is a serious issue, we will have you ship the computer to us and will ship it back to you ASAP.  If it is really bad, we can recover the data and transfer it to new computer and ship it to your location up north. 


    Over the years, it has been a joy to interact with all of you.  Many of you are like family to us.  Your many encouraging words help us to tackle all the complicated computer problems.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call or email us. 


Click on our FaceBook link at the top to "Like Us" and to write a Facebook Recommendation.


    Finally, if you like our service, could you please write a Google Review for us?  Google Reviews are are the main reason people call us when they are searching the web for a computer repair company.


Sincerely,

Mike Peterson


Windows 10 Creators Update


    “Windows 10 Creators Update is built to empower the creator in all of us.”  This is Microsoft's advertising slogan for their most recent build of Windows 10.  New innovations in the Windows 10 Creators Update include: Paint 3D, built-in game broadcasting, new features in the Microsoft Edge Browser, Night Light, a “snooze” function for Windows Updates, and enhanced security features.


    The Windows 10 Creators Update will be available via the Windows Update service if you already have a Windows 10 PC that has the latest Windows Updates installed.  Microsoft will send this update out to all devices, in waves, over the next few weeks.  Keep in mind that your computer must have a genuine Windows product key.  The update will be delivered to you when it’s ready. 

 

    When the update has been downloaded and ready for installation, the Windows 10 Creators Update will install automatically during a normal Windows shutdown or restart event.  There will be several reboots before the process is complete.  The whole process should take no more than 30 minutes on a newer computer.  If your computer is older and slower, the process could take an hour or more.  We suggest you let the process complete and do NOT force your computer to shut down.  Even if the computer is seemingly “stuck” on a certain percentage of completion, please be patient and let the process take its course.  Otherwise, if you force a shutdown, your Windows 10 installation may be damaged.   

  

    Over the course of the last two days, our telephone has been busy with people calling us with issues related to the Creators Update.  First and foremost, the most serious issues are from people who are running Windows 10 on older computers that originally shipped with Windows 7 or Windows 8 that were not designed to run Windows 10.  Even though Microsoft was pushing Windows 10 on ALL Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, it was not advisable on those systems that did not have Windows 10 driver software available from the hardware manufacturers (ie. Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, Asus, etc).  Nevertheless, some people still went ahead and upgraded to Windows 10 on a system that should not have the software. Consequently, the Windows 10 Creators Update has exposed the risks by causing drivers not to work (ie. video, wireless, keyboard, mouse, etc).  Sometimes we are able to fix these issues, however, other times the only way to make the system fully functional is to go back to the originally shipped operating system (either Windows 7 or Windows 8).  Microsoft allowed users 30-days to revert back to the previous operating system after upgrading to Windows 10, however, unfortunately many people were not aware of this option.  Therefore, the only way to revert to Windows 7 is to backup the data, install  a fresh copy of Windows 7, install software programs, and restore data. 


    As always, if you are experiencing any problems with Windows 10 we encourage you to call us first so we can troubleshoot the issue over the phone using our remote assistance software.  If we are unable to help you over the phone, we recommend that you bring the system to our workshop so we can perform a full diagnostic.  After we finish the diagnostic and if the problem is minor we will return the computer in proper working order.  If the problem is major we will call you with a couple options: "repair the computer" or "purchase a new computer."  If you choose to purchase a new computer from us we will give you $79, from the diagnostic, toward the new computer.  It is our aim to give you the best solution every time to keep your computing experience enjoyable for the longest time. 


Windows Vista Support Expired


    We have been warning our customers for almost a year that Windows Vista is nearing its end of life.  If anyone reading this has a Windows Vista PC still running; "Replace it!"  Windows Vista support expired on Tuesday, April 11th , 2017. 


    What happens when an operating system is officially expired?  This means that Microsoft will no longer be providing security and functionality patches to the operating system.  Virus and malware protection will no longer be updated.  Consequently, your system will be vulnerable to nasty viruses and malware.  It does not mean your computer will crash, but we suggest you no longer use it to login to your email, banking websites, or other secure websites.  Think back about 3 years ago when Windows XP became officially obsolete.  Virus infections were more and more common and many official sites and applications such as banking, email, search engines, web browsers, desktop applications, etc. Simply stopped working and were no longer compatible. 

 

    You may be wondering "Can I upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 or 10?"  The short answer is “no.”  Most hardware manufacturers (ie. Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, Asus, etc) do not have Windows 7 drivers let alone drivers for Window 8 or Windows 10.  Furthermore, anyone who is running a Windows Vista computer is likely running a system that is 8-10 years old.  So putting any money into a system that old is not a wise investment.  Therefore, we are going to suggest that you purchase a new computer.  If you are not interested in a new computer we would like to you help you back up the data to a flash drive or external hard drive, so you can transfer it to a newer computer

WannaCry Virus Information


    Due to the many phone calls and emails we have been receiving about the WannaCry Virus and the extensive media coverage, I would like to take some time and explain the situation and how you should respond to it.

 

    WannaCry is a computer virus classified as a "worm" that infects computers and locks all the files on it.  After the files are locked a pop-up appears on the screen asking the user to pay a ransom with bitcoins.  We call this type of virus a Ransomware Virus.   Ransomware viruses have been around for years.  They typically start by a user clicking an email or a website, which will open a popup window that typically covers the entire screen with no way to close the window.  This is when the computer user begins to panic.  A phone number is displayed and the user is led to believe they are calling Microsoft, Comcast, or some other reputable company.  In fact,  the phone number will call a fraudulent company whose sole purpose is to collect money from people.  The fraudster will proceed to ask permission to connect to the computer.  If the scammer is allowed access to the computer he/she will download malicious software which will show bogus problems and security risks.  The fraudster will proceed to ask for a credit card number so they can “clean up the mess.”  If the user refuses, then the fraudster will proceed to plant a ransomware virus on the computer and lock all of their files.  Now the user it is really stuck and can choose to pay the ransom, or refuse and risk losing all of their personal files.  Opening suspicious,  unknown, or phishing email attachments can release a ransomware payload without any person connecting to your computer.


    What makes the WannaCry Virus different from the scenarios posed above is the virus can spread to other computers without any intervention from a user.  Before you get too worried and upset, please note that Windows 10 users already received an automatic update in March to stop this type of virus.  Additionally, anyone who has Malwarebytes Premium, the paid version, will automatically receive an update to stop this type of virus.  To calm people somewhat, none of our 8000+ customers have reported the WannaCry virus on their computer.  The infections are mainly concentrated in Russia and China at this point.


    The biggest takeaways from the WannaCry Virus are first and foremost the importance of always making sure your Windows always has the latest updates.  Second, anyone with an unsupported operating system such as Windows XP or Vista should unplug their computer from the Internet and only use it for Drafting, Picture Editing, Word Processing, QuickBooks or other non-Internet applications.  Third, if you are using the free version of Malwarebytes, you may want to upgrade the Premium version.  We can connect to your computer with our remote assistance software and install it for you.  Third, if you have personal data stored on your computer, you must have a plan to back it up.  The best backup option is Carbonite Online Backup which we will help you setup.  Or if your Internet connection is very slow or you are working in a server environment, we recommend an external hard drive and having one of our technicians assist in setting up your backup procedure.

 

As always, do not hesitate to call or email if you have specific questions about your computer or your backup procedure.

Letter from Mike Peterson


    Before I begin this newsletter, I would like to explain a little about the changes to the newsletter format that I have been thinking about for quite a while.  First, I have decided to increase the frequency of the newsletters from quarterly to monthly.  The problem with a quarterly interval is the computer field changes more frequently than every 90 days.  Sometimes changes and new developments occur on a daily basis.  This leads to outdated quarterly newsletter content.  Second, as a result of the social media world we live in (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) we have come to expect “bite-sized” articles and less in-depth analysis.  The social media platforms have really changed how frequently ideas and news are created and consumed.  Hopefully, shorter monthly newsletters will result in more efficient and effective information dissemination.


Announcing Computer Medics' New Website


    Summer time is traditionally a slow season for Southwest Florida businesses and this summer is no different.  However, we have not been sitting idle.  We have been busy working behind the scenes upgrading our website and it is now “live.”   We would love to have you check it out and offer any feedback you might have.  You can simply reply to this email or click on the Contact Us section.  While you are exploring the website, you might notice that we have added some new service plans that you might enjoy seeing. 


Computer Medics' Service Plans


    The Diagnostic Repair Service Plan is meant for our customers who need and expect high levels of support and do not want to be bothered with frequent small remote assistance bills and surprise repair bills.  First, we will first try to diagnose and repair your issue through our remote assistance service.  If we are unable to diagnose the issue over the phone we will schedule a no-cost onsite service call to take care of your issue.  This service plan includes Internet Connectivity Troubleshooting, which is one of our most frequent service calls.  This means we will test your modem and work with your internet service providers, typically Comcast or CenturyLink, to restore your service.  If the problem is with your router, networking, or computer, we will work on that too.  Note: If your issue requires a new part, you will need to pay for the part, but not the labor.  If you need a new computer, you will need to pay for the new computer and the labor to install it.


    The Cyber Security Service Plan is meant for our customers who want a comprehensive solution to viruses and malware as well as periodic cleaning.  This plan includes Malwarebytes Cloud and CCleaner Cloud.  Malwarebytes Cloud will keep you protected from online threats.  If you happen to get a virus or malware, which is highly unlikely, you will not pay any labor for virus or malware cleaning.  If your computer needs a complete Windows reinstall due to a virus or malware, we will discount the labor time required to reinstall the Windows operating system. (Note: Data backup and restoration, program reinstallation, printer configurations, etc. are not covered.)  The CCleaner Cloud feature of this plan is designed to automatically keep your computer running in top condition.  Note: This service plan is not meant to replace your backup plan, such as Carbonite Online Backup or an USB external hard drive.  Computer Medics is not responsible for lost or damaged data due to viruses, malware, or hardware failures.


    Finally, The Maintenance Service Plan is meant for our customers who want the ultimate protection and preventative maintenance for their computer.  You will have the professionals at Computer Medics looking out for your system and making sure it is up and running in tip-top condition. 


Reduced rates are available for choosing annual service plan billing.  Please call us for more details. 

Personal Letter from the Owner


            I would like to thank those of you who have been with us for some period of time during our past 18 years of business. During that period we have gone from dialup internet to high speed internet and basic cell phones to smart phones. Another change is the speed with which information has been disseminated. By the time our quarterly newsletter was published, some of the information was old or irrelevant. Therefore, I have decided to change from interval from quarterly to monthly. Additionally, the Social Media world of Texting, Twittering and FaceBooking has changed the way we digest our information. We are looking for bite-sized articles rather than in-depth analysis. Consequently, I am condensing the newsletters to 1-3 short articles rather than the 4-7 larger articles. Please email me if you have suggestions for future newsletter topics or if you have any specific questions.  


Thank you,

Mike Peterson

Owner


Hurricane Computer Preparedness


            Everyone should be aware of the imminent threat from Hurricane Irma. I do not want to repeat what other news outlets are reporting. But I want to drill down and cover specific things that you should consider when preparing your computer equipment for the hurricane. The two biggest threats to computer equipment come from water and electrical damage.  


            Computers and water do not mix. Here are a few things you can do to mitigate water issues. First, make sure your computer equipment is higher than the expected water level. If you have a 2nd story, take all your equipment upstairs. If your computer comes into contact with water, DO NOT TURN IT ON. We will need to see the computer in our workshop ASAP to disassemble it and dry everything. If the computer is dried quickly, the computer should turn on and operate normally. However, if the computer remains wet inside, it will start to rust and corrode rather quickly.


            When it comes to electrical damage, power fluctuations are far worse on computer equipment than power surges. Power fluctuations are the brief power drops that happen in rapid succession. The best way to prevent these during a hurricane is to unplug the computer equipment. If you must continue to work on your computer be sure to have a functioning battery backup unit. To test your battery backup, simply unplug it from the wall. If the computer immediately shuts off, you will need to replace either the battery or the entire battery backup.


            Additionally, power surges do not enter your home only through your electrical system, they can also enter through your cable and/or phone lines. The best way to prevent damage to connected equipment is to unplug your cable and phone lines. Your cell phone is not affected by surges, unless it is plugged in and being charged by your electrical system.


            Finally, if you decide to evacuate here are a few tips as it relates to your computer equipment. First, print out your passwords if they are stored in your computer or bring along your password notebook. Second, gather your software license codes. They will be important if you have to purchase a new computer and want to reinstall your software. Third, make sure your data backup is current. If you are using an external hard drive, you might want to open the folders and files on the backup drive to make sure they are up-to-date. If you are using Carbonite Online Backup, right click on the Carbonite Online Backup icon next to the clock (round green button). Then click on Launch Carbonite. Look for the green checkmark next to "Your files are safely backed up." If you need help with your backup procedure or any other hurricane computer preparedness questions, please do not hesitate to call us.


            First and foremost, take care of you and your family first. Your property, including your computer equipment can be replaced. Computer Medics will be here to assist you before and after the storm. God Bless you and your families.


AOL Desktop Gold Software


            Most of us probably know someone that still uses the America Online Desktop software. Over the past 30+ years AOL has made numerous changes to its desktop software. However, their latest update brings new changes. Earlier this year, AOL began transitioning their desktop software customers to a monthly subscription based service. This new version, AOL Desktop Gold, will replace all previous versions of the software and all previous versions will no longer function. And their new mandatory subscription service will be $4.99 per month.


            While AOL Desktop Gold will introduce new features to the AOL Desktop software, it will retain the design and features of the previous client versions. The new features are set to include two-step authentication, encryption of personal information stored in the AOL Desktop software, server-side storage of favorites as well as contacts and automatic updating of the Gold software. They are touting the software is "optimized for the speed of broadband internet." Furthermore, this subscription service will include free technical support related to the AOL software and all AOL user accounts. These services include password resets, reinstalling the software and general questions. The primary user on the account will need to forward the email containing the AOL Gold download link to other users on the account that wish to use the software. The new version of the AOL Desktop client supports Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10.


            What does this mean for someone currently using AOL? Well the most important thing to take from all of this is that if you want to continue using the AOL Desktop software to access your email, contacts, and favorites, you must subscribe to the AOL Gold subscription service. If you are not using the AOL Desktop software and have been using AOL's website www.AOL.com to access your email through an internet browser such as Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome, then you do not need to subscribe.


            Finally, we, at Computer Medics, have been recommending all AOL users switch to a more modern free web-based email service such as Microsoft's Outlook.com, Google's Gmail, or other email providers. If you are interested in this, please call us and we can help you over the phone with our remote assistance service or we can setup an appointment to come to your home or business. We will step you through the process of creating a new email account, transferring your favorites, addresses, and email (if possible) and setting up email forwarding from your AOL account. Furthermore, we can help you send an email to all your contracts informing them of your new email address and walk you through how to start changing your email address with online vendors and service companies. Please let us know if you need assistance with this as we would be happy to help.

ARCHIVE (2014-2015)

America Online Hip or Obsolute?


    America Online has been in business for over 20 years. Most people have had an AOL account or know someone who currently has one. What was the appeal of AOL in its early days? In the 1990’s, many people were new to the World Wide Web and AOL had the best dial-up access. Furthermore, in 1996 AOL was the first to offer Unlimited Online Minutes for a flat fee of $19.95/month. Incidentally, in 1998, there were more CDs with the AOL software on them, than all other software CDs combined. In the late 1990’s, as high speed internet became common place, AOL dial-up lost its appeal. In response, AOL purchased the high speed cable internet provider and media giant Time Warner in the year 2000. However, since Time Warner had a very small share of the cable Internet market, AOL continued to lose market share. It tried to re-brand itself as a media company with valuable content. But other companies such as Yahoo, MSN and Yahoo bulked up their content as well. Meanwhile, the price for AOL monthly subscriptions went from $19.95/month down to zero. 

What drives AOL today? It is primarily AOL’s rich media content such as News, Weather, Finance, and other information, much the same as Yahoo, MSN, Bing and Google. Those other companies, however, continue to innovate while AOL stagnates.


    Will AOL survive in the future? We think AOL is undergoing a slow death. In our experience, the only people who choose to stay with AOL are those who do not want to lose their AOL email address. If that is your reason for not switching from AOL, we can assist you with moving to a more modern email service such as GMail, Hotmail, or Outlook.com. We will help you setup a new email account, move your contacts to the new account and setup forwarding of your AOL email. Please give us a call and we would be happy to help.


Email Etiquette


    Everyone can agree that email communication has become as important as phone calls and face-to-face contacts. Furthermore, email has unquestionably replaced mailed letters as the primary means of written communication. Therefore, it is important to follow some emailing DO’s and DONT’s. First of all, if you are sending emails to multiple people, put the email addresses into the BCC field. This will prevent all the other email addresses from showing in the body of the email and displaying on a printout of the email. Secondly, it is important to proofread your email before you send it. Improper wording can change the whole meaning of the the email. Sometimes this is due to the non-emotional nature of written communication. Thirdly, do not set your email font to any color other than black. If your recipient tries to print the email and they do not have colored ink, the text will not print. Additionally, when you receive a group message, do not click on the Reply All button. This means all the group members will see your reply. Also, DO NOT USE ALL CAPS WHEN YOU WRITE AN EMAIL. It is called “shouting.” Finally, do not forward email “stories” without verifying the source and the truth of the content. Use www.google.com, www.snopes.com or www.truthorfiction.com to research the content of the stories.


Our Newest Staff Member


    After a long period of training, we are please to announce Stephen Sullivan as a member of the Computer Medics team. He replaces George Gill who has moved on to other endeavors. Stephen has been working with computers since he was 13 years old. His passion toward computers and technology in general, greatly benefits our customers. We look forward to many years with Stephen as a member of the Computer Medics family.


Carbonite Online Backup


    Most of you are aware of Carbonite Online Backup and how easily and effectively it backs up your important files. For those who are not, Carbonite automatically backs up your important files (pictures, documents, and other personal files) securely to their server. The best part is the fact that the backup is automatic. If you accidentally delete a file, or your computer crashes, the files can easily be recovered. This is fantastic. Personally, every member of my immediate family is a Carbonite member and I strongly recommend everyone else be a member as well.


    Computer Medics is now an official partner with Carbonite. Therefore, every time you purchase a Carbonite Subscription from Computer Medics, Carbonite will pay us a commission. Even those who have already purchased a subscription directly from Carbonite can move their subscription to Computer Medics. It costs the same to purchase a Carbonite subscription through Computer Medics. And once you purchase a subscription through us, we will monitor the status of your backup. We will call you if we notice any issues with your backup, such as a backup that has stopped working or a subscription that is about to expire. If you would like to start a free trial of Carbonite, or, if you would like us to transfer your existing Carbonite subscription to our dashboard, please call us. It does not cost anything to transfer your Carbonite subscription to our dashboard.


Customer Referral Bonus Program


    Our customers have been asking for a referral bonus program and as of June 1, 2014 we have implemented one. The process is simple. Whenever a new customer uses our service, we will ask them how they heard about us. If they say “referral,” we will ask them for the name of the person who referred them. We will then add a $10 credit to the referring person’s customer record. There is no limit to the amount of referral credits a customer can earn. Just ask us for your referral credits at the time of your next service call and we will reduce the price of your service call.

Unsubscribe to Marketing Emails


    In this age of fast and free email, most people become inundated with junk email in their inboxes. Nowadays, many businesses will ask for your email address when you do business with them, especially if you purchase online, but even in traditional brick and mortar stores. Some businesses will automatically add you to their email list and a few will share your email address with their “partners” who might share your address with their “partners” and so on. Soon you find yourself receiving more emails from businesses than from your friends and relatives.


    Now the question becomes, “How do reduce the business emails?” Decide which emails you might like to keep receiving such as coupons, offers, newsletters, announcements, etc. Then zero in on companies that are sending you periodic emails, especially those with a high frequency, such as everyday or every week. When you find an email that you would like stop, open it and scroll down to the bottom. Look for the word “unsubscribe”–sometimes the word is so small that you can hardly read it. To make the text bigger press CTRL and + on your keyboard (CTRL and – to make the text smaller). When you find the “unsubscribe” click on it and follow the directions. You may have to enter your email address. If you have multiple email addresses, you must put in the email address that you gave to that business usually the email will tell you. Next, you may have to check a box or uncheck a box to unsubscribe to their email list. They purposely make it complicated, so you will have a hard time unsubscribing. Sometimes it takes a few days for the emails to stop.


    Some people ask about filtering out junk emails. Some email companies, such as Gmail, do a fantastic job with this. Gmail automatically sorts your email into 3 categories called Primary, Social, and Promotions. If you have an email service that does not automatically filter your email, we might be able to set-up a message rule to automatically filter junk emails to a Junk Mail Folder or your Deleted Mail Folder. However, I think this puts a “band-aid” on the larger issue of needing to unsubscribe to the junk emails. Finally, my last bit of advice is to guard your email address. Only provide it to those whom you trust and can promise that they will not share your email with any “partners.” Here at Computer Medics, we only send out one email per month announcing our $40 Facebook Like Us Winner and one email per quarter with our newsletter, which you are currently reading.


Cryptolocker Virus Warning


    For many years I have been warning people about the danger of viruses and steps to protect yourself from viruses. Within the last few years, we have seen a rise in a more sinister threat called Malware. Malware looks like legitimate software. It can enter your computer by clicking on a weblink in an email message, from a Google Search, or an advertisement on a website. Clicking on the link will typically open an advertisement that looks like a legitimate scan of your computer. It will erroneously claim that your computer is too slow, out-of-date, filled with viruses, or countless other issues. Next, they ask you to click on the “Scan” button so the program can find and fix the issues. At this point, you are actually installing their malware program. The consequences of installing malware on your computer are general slowness, popup ads, loss of Internet Access, etc. Their goal is to make you fearful and invite you purchase their so-called cleaning software. At this point, most people bring their computers to us and we successfully clean them and offer them malware protection, such as a Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Professional license for $25.


    However, a couple of months ago, we started seeing a more sinister malware program called the Cryptolocker Virus. It is especially wicked because it encrypts (locks) all the files your computer. There is no way we can clean the computer and decrypt the files. The Crytolocker Virus company will ask for a ransom payment (typically around $400). Even if you pay the ransom, they will not unlock your files. They have started to ask for payment in Bitcoin (a new international currency), which makes it virtually impossible to track or recover your payment. The only way we can fix the computer is to format the hard drive and install a fresh copy of windows.


There are two ways you can protect your data in case you are encrypted with the Cryptolocker Virus:


1. Backup your files to an external flash drive or hard drive, then UNPLUG the device EVERY TIME so it will not be infected if you receive the virus. However, this is risky and inconvenient and it is inevitable that the external drive will fail after being plugged and unplugged every day.


2. Subscribe to an online backup, such as Carbonite Online Backup. Carbonite encrypts all of your files when they are backed up to the “cloud.” If Crytolocker infects your system and the Cryptolocker infected files are backed up, Carbonite will filter the infected files and allow you to restore your good files.


    Computer Medics is an official Carbonite Partner and we sell you their service for the same price as purchasing it direct from Carbonite. However, if you signup through us, we will monitor your backups to make sure your Carbonite backup is working and will call you when your subscription is about to expire. Please click on the link below to signup for Carbonite, or give us a call and we will help you install it and answer your questions.


Cold Calls from Microsoft


    We have seen a rise in the number of reported cold calls from people who claim they are calling from Microsoft Support. A common tactic involves the representative telling the user that their Microsoft Windows is out-of-date and to take action by typing a website address into their browser. The resulting website looks a lot like Microsoft or might have the Microsoft Partner logo on the top. The representative will invite the user to click on a link, so that the representative can take control of the computer and check it out. After they have control, they will quickly install malicious software (malware) and the user will subsequently see a report showing many “problems” with their computer. Then the representative will ask for a credit card number to proceed with the “cleaning.” A typical amount is $149, but the amount will go down to whatever level is successful. It is pretty obvious that the user should immediately hang up the phone, turn off the computer, and call Computer Medics. At this point, we can normally remove any adverse software with our remote assistance software and get it back to normal. If the same company tries to call you again, inform them that you are on the Do Not Call List and you will report them to the police if they decide to call you again. The Lee County Sheriff Office has deputies specifically assigned to investigate electronic fraud such as this.


Consider Purchasing a Smart Phone Instead of a Tablet


    There are many questions people have when they are thinking about replacing their computer. Questions such as “Can I do everything on a tablet?” “What about a smart phone?” After many years of interviewing our customers, we have found that the perfect device is different for every person. I guess that is why we call them “personal computers.” We inform people that some software programs will only work on a Desktop or Laptop (such as QuickBooks, Turbotax, Scanning, Picture Editing, Corporate Software, etc). And some functions simply work better when you use a keyboard and mouse (such as typing emails and working with pictures). If all you need to do is look up an email or other information from the Internet, then a Tablet or a Smart Phone might be the best solution. I think that the perfect solution for most people is a modern Smart Phone and a laptop computer. The Smart Phones have increased in size, have much better cameras and respond much faster than even a year ago. Common Smart Phone application are Phone, Kindle Books, Camera, Internet, Email, GPS, Games, Mobile Banking, Facebook, Flashlight, etc. These applications are great, especially when you are traveling away from home. But when you are at home, a laptop is superior with its full size keyboard and mouse capability. Furthermore, you can add an external large screen monitor, wireless keyboard and wireless mouse and end up with a sensational experience. 


Popups with Technical Support Phone Numbers


    Lately we have seen a rise in malware programs that generate popup windows that cover the entire screen and place a technical support phone number in the middle of the screen. People call the number and are being convinced that they have a big problem and they need to provide their credit card number to get their system fixed. Thankfully, most people are wise enough to not fall for this trick, especially after hearing a thick accent on the other end of the phone line. The best way to stop this attack is to shut off the computer (hold in the power button). Sometimes, this will remove the pop up window. If not, you are welcome to call us for remote assistance or stop by our workshop on Metro Parkway.


Windows 10


    Many people are asking about Windows 10. We have seen pent up demand for the next Windows version, especially considering the extreme dislike some people have for Windows 8. The release date for Windows 10 is slated for mid-2015, with another evaluation copy available on January 21. We do not recommend our customers download the evaluation copy, unless you are prepared to format your hard drive and lose all your data. Trust me, our technicians are anxiously awaiting the next Windows 10 evaluation copy and will pouring over it immediately to learn the ins and outs of the new operating system. If you have Windows 8 and are struggling with the navigation of Windows, do not hesitate to call us for help. We have classic Start Menu tweak that will make your Windows 8 look almost like Windows 7. If you purchase a new Windows 8 computer from us, we will automatically install this tweak, after which you will say “this looks a lot like my old computer!”

 

Personal Letter from Mike Peterson


    I would like to wish you and your families the very best in 2015. Over the past 16 years, it has been our pleasure to help you navigate the increasingly complex technical world. We always strive to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology and help you protect your devices from viruses, malware, and hackers. I hope you benefit from the information I have included in this Quarterly Newsletter. Please call us if you have any questions. We would much rather have you call about a simple issue, rather than sorting out the pieces after a big problem happens.


Sincerely,

Mike Peterson


Happy New Year!

From: Mike, Scott, Alan, Bobby, Matthew, Stephen, Kristie and Karen

Microsoft Windows 10


    Microsoft has not offered an official release date, but most people think the company has committed to launching the new operating system this summer, before the back-to-school season. Microsoft has released Technical Preview Versions which have provided a glimpse into Microsoft’s thinking about the new OS. Keep in mind that the new features outlined in this article may or may not be included in Windows 10. There are developers and testers who are actively dissecting the new features and are encouraged to give invaluable feedback to Microsoft.


    Here are the biggest new features Microsoft is considering. First, Windows Search has been added to the Windows Taskbar. After opening the Start Menu, you can click on the search bar and start typing, click the microphone and start speaking, or say “Hey, Cortana” to start Microsoft’s virtual assistant. The virtual assistant Cortana, currently found on Windows Phone 8.1 devices, allows users to speak commands much like Apple’s Siri. Secondly, Microsoft is working to improve security in Windows 10. For example, a new feature called ‘Windows Hello’ will scan your finger or iris in lieu of typing a password. Thirdly, Microsoft has redesigned the Start Screen. Windows 8 introduced Live Tiles, but they were designed with touchscreen devices in mind. However, many Windows users prefer to use a mouse and a keyboard, which make multitasking difficult with the Windows 8 interface. Windows 10 will boot directly to the traditional desktop with keyboard and mouse functionality. Click on the Start Menu and you will be presented with a hybrid version of the traditional Start Menu with Live Tiles on the right column and your most frequently used apps in the left column. Click on the File Explorer button and you will find the traditional folder structure than has been used since Windows 95. 


    Fourth, Microsoft has changed the Modern apps, so they will open as classic Windows apps. This means that you can resize the Modern apps and minimize and maximize them at will as opposed to Windows 8 where you were stuck running the apps in a full-sized window. Fifth, Windows 10 will scale seamlessly between all your Windows devices. Modern apps will have the option to switch back and forth between a touch environment (ie. tablet) and a traditional environment (ie. laptop or desktop) so you will be able to use all the gestures you are accustomed to on a Windows tablet and then switch to your keyboard and mouse with your desktop or laptop. This is fantastic if you are using a 2 in 1 convertible device like the Microsoft Surface Pro or the Dell 2-in-1 convertible devices. Sixth, Microsoft OneDrive will be “baked” into Windows 10 which means that you will be able to store all your data seamlessly in the cloud. Additionally, you can research many more features by doing a Google Search for “Windows 10 Preview.”


    In conclusion, Microsoft has decided to aggressively push Windows 10 to everyone with a free upgrade to all Windows 7 and 8 users during a 1-year time period with the goal of providing the same Windows experience for all Windows users and to further marry the traditional laptop/desktop users with the ever increasing mobile devices. If you are faced with repairing a Windows 7 or 8 computer, we recommend that you go ahead with the repair rather than waiting for Windows 10. Official Microsoft support for Windows 7 will end in 2020 and Windows 8 in 2023. 


Windows Live Mail Client Software


    Microsoft announced in 2012 that they were no longer going to upgrade the free email client called Windows Live Mail. There are other free email clients, such as Thunderbird, but they are buggy and limited. If you need an email client, we recommend Microsoft Outlook. Outlook comes with Microsoft Office Home and Business 2013 or Microsoft Office Professional 2013, Office365, or can be purchased by itself. If you do not need an email client, then webmail is for you. Webmail can be accessed through your browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, or Google Chrome). Please call Computer Medics at 437-4357 if you have any questions.


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium


    In March 2014 Malwarebytes changed the subscription model for their anti-malware product (which we have been recommending to keep our customer’s computers safe). The previous licensing model was $25 for 1-license for the lifetime of the computer. The new model is $25 for up to 3 computers for 1-year. Computer Medics purchased 300 lifetimes licenses before they were sold out. Now we have 20 left. Therefore, very soon we will start selling the annual subscription.


Cryptowall Virus


    Cryptowall is a virus that encrypts (locks) files on the infected computer. It then asks the user to pay a ransom with Bitcoins to have the files decrypted. The threat may arrive on the affected computer through a SPAM email attachment with subjects such as fake invoices, undelivered package notices, or other distressing language. The virus can also be obtained through malicious advertisements on websites. This virus is especially sinister due to the fact that it can encrypt files across a network, not just on the affected computer. We have seen several of our customers who have had this virus, but none who have been successful in retrieving their encrypted data. The best way to fix a Cryptowall infected computer is to format the hard drive, reinstall Windows, and restore data from a non-infected backup (such as Carbonite). Computer Medics is a Carbonite Dealer, so please call us at 437-4357 if you are interested in a backup solution. 


Time for a Computer Cleaning?


    The most often asked question we receive is “How often should I clean my computer?” The short answer is one time per year. However, it all depends on how much you use your computer and how it is responding. If you notice your computer slowing down, blue screening, or other erratic behavior, it is best to have a professional diagnose and clean your computer. Just like your car, there are fluids and belts that have to be changed on a regular basis, or else your car will start running inefficiently or break down. A typical cleaning will involve calling Computer Medics and having us connect to your computer with our Remote Assistance software, or bringing your computer to our workshop. We will update Windows, update your anti-virus and anti-malware software, remove non-essential programs, run cleaning software (to remove cookies, temporary Internet files, registry entries, etc), and check the health of your hard drive. Often times we can catch small problems before they develop into big ones giving you the option to pay for a small repair rather than paying to replace the whole computer. Please call Computer Medics at 437-4357 if you have any questions about cleaning your computer. Finally, if you purchased a new computer from Computer Medics, we will perform your 1st annual cleaning at no charge. We will call you approximately 1 month before your 1st anniversary.


Personal Letter from Mike Peterson


    As you probably already know, SW Florida has experienced the largest influx of northern visitors this winter season ever. Building is going on everywhere. We have been working long hours to keep up with the flow of new customers as well as our loyal clientele. We are very privileged to be located on Metro Parkway, one of the busiest roads in Lee County.

As the season ends, we will start seeing more of our local residents who are anxious for us to troubleshoot issues with their computers or upgrade them to faster systems. Businesses start to think about upgrading their systems or their network, so they will be ready for next big push in the fall.


    And don’t forget that if you are summering up north, we have the ability to connect to your computer and fix problems wherever you are. We are very seasonal and always appreciate the opportunity to help people during the slow summer months.


    It is always our pleasure to help you navigate the increasingly complex technical world. We spend countless hours reading about ways to keep you up-to-date with the latest technology and help you protect your devices from viruses, malware, and hackers. I hope you benefit from the information I have included in this Quarterly Newsletter. Please feel free to call us if you have any questions. We would much rather have you call about simple issues, than sorting out the pieces after a big problem occurs.


SPECIAL NOTE: I have been told by our readers that the best way to read the newsletter is to print it out first. Then you can relax in your easy chair and take the time to digest the wealth of helpful information inside.

Personal Letter from the Owner


    Here at Computer Medics, we are staying inside and enjoying the air conditioning and looking forward to the first cold front in October. It is the off-season and our business is slow, but we are not sitting idle. We are busy previewing Windows 10 and getting ready for the big release on July 29th. To those who are frustrated with the Windows 8.1 interface, it is a welcome upgrade. To those who are looking for a new computer, it is the pleasant reality you will be facing.


    If you are in the market for a new computer, please be reminded that we have been an authorized Dell Dealer since 2002 and are proud to represent the highest quality computers on the market. Furthermore, many people are not aware of the benefits of purchasing a computer through us. Here are a few benefits: 1. Free diagnosis of your old computer. 2. Free 30-days of unlimited hardware and software support through our remote assistance service. 3. Free 1st year anniversary checkup. 4. Free removal of your old computer and destruction of your hard drive data. Please visit our website for more details.


    For those who like to follow the progress of my family, our son Joshua is turning 23 and is engaged to be married to Amanda Penberthy. The wedding is scheduled for November 8th at our home. Another family milestone is forthcoming.


    Over the past 16 years, it has been a joy to interact with all of our customers. Your many encouraging words help us to tackle all those complicated computer problems. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to call us.


    Please enjoy the helpful information I have put together for you. I am especially excited to share with you what Computer Medics Technicians wish their customer knew before calling us. You will get a glimpse into the mind of a computer technician. Some of them could be considered “secrets” but most are just common sense troubleshooting steps.


    If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to email, call or stop by our workshop. It is always our pleasure to help you. Our staff of technicians is devoted to serving your families and your businesses.


    If you click on our FaceBook link at the top and “Like Us” you will be entered into a drawing every month for a $40 gift certificate toward your next service call. So far, we have given away 45 gift certificates since October 2011.


    Finally, if you like our service, could you please write a Google Review for us? Google Reviews are frequently the reason people call us when they are searching the Internet for a computer repair company. Even you may have found us through Google.


Sincerely,

Mike Peterson


Malwarebytes Anti-Malware


    Recently Malwarebytes changed the way they issue updates for the free version of Malwarebytes Anti-Malware. In the past, it was up to the user to manually update the software. Now, the updates are being “pushed” to the computer and a notification is placed in the system tray, next to the clock on the Windows taskbar. A dialog box or message box may also appear in the middle of your screen. We recommend you install the updates every time you see a notification. This should not affect Malwarebytes Anti-Malware Premium customers who receive automatic updates.


Windows 10 Upgrade


    Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 on July 29th. Microsoft will be returning some Windows 7 features that were dropped in Window 8.1, first and foremost being the Start Menu. And there are some exciting new features being added to Windows 10 as well. The first addition will be Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-controlled virtual assistant. This is a feature that many smartphone users are already enjoying. The second addition will be Edge, which is replacing Internet Explorer as the built-in web browser. Third, a new app will allow Xbox video games to be streamed to a Tablet or a PC. Analysts believe Windows 10 is important to create a uniform operational experience and increased security throughout PCs and laptops (e.g. Dell, HP, Toshiba…), tablets (e.g. Microsoft Surface Pro 3), and smartphones (e.g. Windows Phones). At Computer Medics we are excited about the new features and the increased security that Windows 10 will bring.


    Since 1999, Computer Medics has seen its share of Windows releases: Windows Millennium, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. We have been diligently dissecting the Windows 10 preview releases so we can be ready for the launch date. What does the Windows 10 launch date mean for our customers? First, for those who have existing qualified (genuine) Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 systems, Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be made available for FREE for a period of 1 year after the release date of July 29th. Does this mean that your Windows 7 or 8.1 system will automatically run Windows 10? Not necessarily. If your system is performing poorly with Windows 7 or 8.1, it will likely perform just as poorly with Windows 10. But more importantly than hardware, we must inspect your software and the peripherals you are running to make sure they are compatible with Windows 10. Our best advice is to continue to operate your Windows 7 and 8.1 computers until you are ready to upgrade to Windows 10. Then let one of our technicians diagnose your system and advise you on the upgradability of your system vs. purchasing a brand new Windows 10 system. Every system is different and will require a personal evaluation.


    Secondly, if you are thinking of purchasing a new computer before Windows 10 is available, there is no need to wait. Windows 8.1 is very reliable and secure and you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free anytime within the next year. Finally, please make a note that Microsoft is providing the software and license for free. But Computer Medics will still charge normal diagnostic and repair rates for service to evaluate and upgrade your system.


    On a final note, many of our customers have been noticing a white Windows icon in the system tray next to the clock and asking us if it is OK to register to obtain a free Windows 10 license when the software is released. Our answer is yes. After July 29th, Windows 10 will automatically download in the background through Windows Update and a license key will be provided via email. It will be an optional update and will not be installed without your permission. Before you upgrade, we recommend consulting with a Computer Medics technician before proceeding. And it is always wise to wait a few months until bugs and quirks are fixed. 


Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit


    Many of you are familiar with Malwarebytes Anti-Malware and how it protects your computer by preventing known malware from being installed. Malwarebytes has taken it a step further with Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit. Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit targets vulnerabilities in everyday applications like Adobe Reader, Firefox, and Microsoft Office, rather than the malware programs themselves. We are installing Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit on all the new Dell computers we sell and those computers we have cleaned after a malware infection. Finally, we are installing the Free Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit version and are currently not recommending upgrading to Malwarebytes Anti-Exploit Premium ($24.95). Most of our customers will not be affected by the kinds of exploits that the Anti-Exploit Premium version detects. 


What Computer Medics Technicians wish their customers knew before calling us for help – Part 1 of 4


    Over the past 16 years, our technicians have completed over 30,000 service calls and have taken thousands more phone calls that have not been billable. Our incredible depth of knowledge and troubleshooting skills has earned us a reputation as the best place to come for any computer or networking related issue. Over that time we have come up with a “wish list” of what we think our customers should know before calling us. Of course we know that our customers are at every level of computer expertise and the wonderful technicians at Computer Medics will never look down on anyone for their lack of computer knowledge. We have devised a list of the top 25 things we wish our customers knew before calling us. Some of these things could be considered “secrets” but most of them are common sense approaches to troubleshooting issues. Our aim is to diagnose your issue as quickly as possible. Sometimes we will be able to get you up-and-running without creating a service call. Over the course of the next year, I am going to divulge these “secrets” to you in my quarterly newsletters. They are in no particular order.


    The first question we always ask is “Have you rebooted your computer?” This will fix half of the computer issues. If the computer is not responding, then you will need to hold down the power button for 10 seconds to turn off the computer.


    If you cannot connect to the Internet have you tried the following: Have you tried a different browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox or Google Chrome)? Have you checked the Internet on your other devices (2nd computer, tablet, smartphone)? Have you unplugged and plugged the power cord for your modem and router? Have you called your Internet Service Provider (Comcast, CenturyLink, Shellpoint, Verizon, or community WiFi provider) to see if there is an outage in your area?


    Know what the lights mean on your devices (ie. Modem, Router, Printer, Laptop, Tower, Mouse, etc). The lights are normally labeled and are helpful in troubleshooting issues. If you do not see any lights, then you are likely having a power issue. Make sure your surge protector is turned on, check for a wall switch, check for a loose power cable, or try a different outlet in your surge protector.


    Know where your network equipment (Modem, Router, Switch, etc) is located. Is the equipment in a closet, attic, garage, bedroom, office, or living room? Can you easily access it to look at the lights?


    If your computer will not start, have you tried the following: Have you tried a different outlet on your surge protector or battery backup? Have you checked the wall outlet? Is there a wall switch that controls that outlet? Have you checked the cord between the computer and the outlet? Have you recently plugged in a USB device (Printer, Flash Drive, Hard Drive, etc)? If so, then remove the USB device and try restarting your computer.


    Call us when you are prepared for service. Sometimes you will tell us your whole story, then tell us you need to leave and will call back later. It is almost impossible for us to remember all the details and you might end up working with a different technician when you call back. 

Personal Letter from the Owner


    Here at Computer Medics, we are thankful for the cooler October weather. It is nice to talk to neighbors and friends whom we have not seen outside since the spring. Our business has picked up a little with the first evidence of the snowbirds returning, but we are anxiously awaiting the full influx in January. In the meantime, we are continually striving to keep abreast of the latest technology trends. We hope you and your family have a stress-free experience with your technology equipment this holiday season and in 2016. It is a joy to interact with all of our you. Your many encouraging words help us to tackle all those complicated computer problems. Please call us if you have any questions or concerns. We are standing by to help.


    If you click on our FaceBook link at the top and “Like Us” you will be entered into a drawing every month for a $40 gift certificate toward your next service call. So far, we have given away 34 gift certificates since October 2011.


    Finally, if you like our service, could you please write a Google Review for us? Google Reviews are are the main reason people call us when they are searching the web for a computer repair company.


Sincerely,

Mike Peterson

Owner


Windows 10


    For those who have not read my previous newsletters regarding Windows 10, let me give you a quick review. Windows 10 was released on July 29th. Over 14 million people downloaded and installed Windows 10 in the first 24 hours of its release. In comparison, there were only 4 million copies of Windows 8 installed during the first week. As of October 1st, 110 million people have downloaded and installed Windows 10. Here is a graph comparing all of the 1.5 billion Windows users. 


    Another milestone recently reached by Microsoft was seeing Windows 10 surpass the number of Macintosh OSX users. Furthermore, Microsoft has a goal of 1.5 billion devices running Windows 10 by the end of 2018. With the availability of a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users, that goal should be within reach.


    Reviews of Windows 10 have been overwhelmingly positive. And our experience with installing Windows 10 has been very positive as well. The most positive thing we have noticed is the speed. Everything is faster: Starting and shutting down Windows, Browsing the Internet, Watching movies, Productivity software (ie. QuickBooks, Office, etc.) and so much more. Second, the Windows mouse and keyboard experience has returned front and center with the Start Menu, Recently Used Apps, and traditional resizing of windows. The touch experience is still there, but only if you choose to use it with the modern Windows apps and games. Also when you open the modern Windows apps and games they open as traditional windowed applications. This greatly reduces the confusion between the touch and non-touch environments. Third, there is a notifications icon on the right-hand side of the Task Bar. This is called the Action Center. If you open it, you will get quick access to settings, and can toggle items like Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and Airplane Mode. Finally, most Windows 7 and 8 applications are compatible with Windows 10. As you can see there are many positive improvements to Windows.


    Now I will get into the nuts and bolts on what we have seen at Computer Medics during the first 2 months of installing Windows 10 on over 250 machines. To begin with, as with any operating system upgrade, it is best to have a computer company like Computer Medics help you through the process. Second, we will suggest that you have your data safely backed up in case something goes wrong. If you are looking for a good backup solution, we suggest Carbonite Online Backup or backing up to an external hard drive, or both. Third, we need to prepare your Windows 7 or 8 system. The reason most of our customers fail when they try to upgrade to Windows 10 themselves is because of poor system preparation. Fourth, we will download and install Windows 10. This can take 1-3 hours depending on the speed of your computer and Internet Connection. This is why we STONGLY suggest our customers bring their computers to our workshop rather than doing the upgrade onsite. If we go onsite, we will bill for the entire time onsite (typically 2-6 hours). If you bring us the computer, we only charge for the active time working on your system (maximum of 3 hours). Also we offer a pickup and drop off service for those who cannot drive or are not comfortable disconnecting and connecting their computer system. Finally, we will import your Favorites to Microsoft’s newest browser called Edge, update your security software, install our remote assistance software, check the system for stability, and finish with a few tweaks.


    Another new Windows 10 feature you should be aware of is the new Internet Browser called Edge. Edge is not an upgrade to Internet Explorer, it is a completely redesigned browser. If you are comfortable using Internet Explorer, Chrome, or Firefox, these browsers will work with Windows 10. However, we encourage you to use Edge for several reasons. First, Edge displays websites quicker than other browsers. Second, Edge will quickly become the “standard” for website developers, thus compatible with the majority of websites. Third, a handy new feature called Web Note lets you capture an image of website, add notes and sketches, and save it or share it. Furthermore, it captures the entire webpage, not just the portion visible on the screen. Fourth, another handy tool is called Reading View which is a useful tool that strips out extra parts of a website, like ads and design elements, to give you a clean, focused view with only text, photos and video. Finally, Microsoft’s Bing Search and Cortana Personal Assistant will help you find information quicker. For example, type Weather in the address box and you will get current weather conditions. Additionally, if you highlight a word or phrase on a website and right click with your mouse you can ask Cortana for more information. She will show you definitions of the word or display information from Wikipedia on the right side of the screen. As you can see all these new features make Edge the preferred Internet Browser for Windows 10.


    If you are considering upgrading your existing computer to Windows 10 or purchasing a new computer with Windows 10 we encourage you to call us or bring your computer to our workshop. We will guide you through the entire process. If you are considering purchasing a new computer call us first. We are a Dell Authorized Dealer and every one of our systems will come with Windows 10 installed. The only caveat are business customers who have a server domain who must run Windows 7 or 8 for the time being.


Minimum requirements for upgrading to Windows 10 (To make ensure you have the best computer experience)


Intel Core 2 Quad Processor running at 2.0Ghz or higher

AMD X4 Processor running at 2.0Ghz or higher

64-bit Windows 7 or 8

4GB RAM or higher

Windows 7 hardware or higher (This means if you see a Vista sticker on your computer and your running Windows 7, then you are likely not a Windows 10 candidate).

Microsoft Office 2007 or higher 


Time for a Computer Cleaning? 


    The most often asked question we receive is “How often should I clean my computer?” The short answer is one time per year. However, it all depends on how much you use your computer and how it is responding. If you notice your computer slowing down, blue screening, or other erratic behavior it is best to have a professional diagnose and clean your computer. Just like your car, there are fluids and belts that have to be changed on a regular basis, or else your car will start running inefficiently or break down. A typical cleaning will involve calling Computer Medics and having us connect to your computer with our Remote Assistance software, or bringing your computer to our workshop. We will update Windows, update your anti-virus and anti-malware software, remove non-essential programs, run cleaning software (to remove cookies, temporary Internet files, registry entries, etc.), and check the health of your hard drive. Often times we can catch small problems before they develop into big ones giving you the option to pay for a small repair rather than paying to replace the whole computer. Please call Computer Medics at 437-4357 if you have any questions about cleaning your computer. Finally, if you purchased a new computer from Computer Medics, we will perform your 1st annual cleaning at no charge via our Remote Assistance Support. We will call you approximately 1 month before your 1st anniversary.


Carbonite Online Backup


    I cannot stress enough how critical it is to subscribe to an online backup, such as Carbonite Online Backup. You might say you have a backup, but how often do you remember to backup your system? How do you know you are backing up the right files? How do you know your data is safe and secure? Carbonite solves these issues by automatically backing up your files, encrypting all of your files when they are backed up, and storing your data on secure redundant servers. Other online backup services, such as Dropbox, are not encrypted. This leaves your system open to serious malware and virus infections. Another benefit of Carbonite is if a serious infection such as The Crypto locker virus infects your system and locks all your files. Carbonite will allow you to restore your uninfected files from a uninfected backup on their server. As you can see there are many important reasons to choose Carbonite Online Backup.


    Computer Medics is an Official Carbonite Reseller and we will sell you their subscriptions for the same price as purchasing directly from Carbonite. And even better, if you purchase the subscription through us, we will monitor your backups to make sure they are working and call you when your subscription is about to expire. Please click on the link below to sign-up for free trial toCarbonite, or call us and we will help you install it and make sure all your important files are backed up. On a final note, if you already purchase a subscription directly through Carbonite, we can transfer your subscription to our dashboard (at no cost). Then we will start monitoring your backup status and call you when your subscription is about to expire.


What Computer Medics Technicians wish their customers knew before calling us for help – Part 2 of 4


    Over the past 16 years, our technicians have completed over 30,000 service calls and have taken thousands more phone calls that have not been billable. Our incredible depth of knowledge and troubleshooting skills has earned us a reputation as the best place to come for any computer or networking related issues. Over that time we have come up with a “wish list” of what we think our customers should know before calling us. Of course we know that our customers are at every level of computer expertise and we will never look down on anyone for their lack of computer knowledge. We have come up a list of the top 25 things we wish our customers knew before calling us. Some of these things could be considered “secrets” but most of them are common sense approaches to troubleshooting issues. Our aim is to diagnose your issue as quickly as possible. Sometimes we will be able to get you up-and-running without creating a service call. Over the course of the next year, I am going to divulge these “secrets” to you in my quarterly newsletters. They are in no particular order. NOTE: IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE ITEMS 1-6, LOOK AT MY LAST QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER, OR I CAN EMAIL THEM TO YOU.


    If you cannot print, have you checked the following: Is the printer turned on? Are there any error messages on the printer screen? Have you recently replaced a cartridge with an aftermarket refilled cartridge? Is there paper in the printer? Was there recently a paper jam? Have you turned off and turned on the printer and the computer? Have you gone to Control Panel/Printers to make sure the correct printer is selected as the default?


    If your mouse pointer is stuck in the middle of the screen and you have a wireless mouse: Have you changed the battery in the mouse? Have you tried a 2nd battery? Have you turned the mouse switch to the “On” position? Have you pressed the connect button on the bottom of the mouse? Is the USB mouse receiver plugged into the computer? Have you tried a wired mouse?


    If you want us to trouble shoot a problem, can you reproduce the problem? If the problem is not reproducible, then we are not likely going to be able to diagnose the problem. When it happens again please take detailed notes so we can reproduce the problem and help you.


    Do not shake your computer or hard drive. Regular mechani cal hard drives can be easily damaged if they are shaken or dropped, especially if they are turned on. We cringe whenever someone comes into our workshop with their laptop turned on and then drop it on the check-in counter or rotate it without picking it up. If you are moving a laptop while it is turned on, treat it very gently. Or better yet, have us install a new Solid State Hard Drive and move your data to it. SSD drives are becoming more affordable every day.


    It is much better to shut down Windows every night rather than putting the computer to sleep. Shutting down the computer will allow Windows Updates and Security Updates to install and will clear out any programs that are stuck in memory. The reason people used to put computers to sleep was that they didn’t want to wait 5 minutes for their computer boot up. Nowadays, fast computers with Windows 8, will start in less than 1 minute with a regular mechanical hard drive or 15 seconds with a solid state drive. Furthermore, if you have an SSD drive, which has a fixed number of read/writes, shutting down the computer will prolong the life of the drive.


    Know which operating system you have and how old the system is. This will help us understand what you are seeing on the screen so we can give you proper troubleshooting instructions.