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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 on-site 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 in-shop 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 in-shop service and priority on-site 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 on-site, in-shop, and remote service.

STAFF

Mike Peterson

Owner - President

Scott Lucas

Support Technician

Alan Fidler

Administration

Bobby Belton

Office Technician

Stephen Sullivan

Support Technician

Matthew Lewis

Office Technician

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NEWSLETTERS

September 2018

Letter from Mike Peterson


Fall is a time we look forward to. The weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer. Soon we will be getting ready for the Holidays and looking forward to all our friends and family that will visit our warm winter wonderland. Thank you for your continued support of our business. We look forward to serving you in 2019 and beyond.


Java Software Ending


The Java software will no longer be provided from Oracle as a standalone application around the time Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7 in 2020. If a program still needs Java to run, the software company will have to include it within their program. For example, Pogo Games or bank deposit applications will have to start including Java with the program itself and not as separate stand-alone download. The main reason for this is because people continue to use the main program but never update the Java download resulting in computer system vulnerabilities. These problems have led Oracle to change the way they distribute their software updates. Fortunately, Computer Medics has known about these exploits for years and has been proactively uninstalling Java. We only leave the software installed if you have an active program requiring it.


Flash Player Should Never Be Downloaded


Adobe Flash Player is a program that is used to stream audio and video. In the past, it was a stand-alone program that had to be downloaded and installed. Now the program code is built into the latest Internet Browsers such as Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Only older outdated browsers such as Internet Explorer needed it. Therefore, you should never download any program that claims to be “Flash Player.” This is a common tactic that scammers employ to gain access to your computer and plant malware to steal your personal data or information. Incidentally, if you are still using Internet Explorer, you NEED to upgrade to a more modern browser. Please call us for assistance.


Windows 1803 Update


The Windows 1803 update is causing some Office programs (Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Outlook) to stop working. The fix is to reinstall the Office software. If we must reinstall Office, we are going to ask you for your license key or Microsoft account information. If you purchased the software from us, we may have recorded it. If you cannot find the license or account information, you will need to purchase a new copy. This is not all bad since most people experiencing this issue are using older versions, such as Office 2003, 2007 or 2010.


Managed Service Agreements


The most exciting thing to happen to Computer Medics since our inception 20 years ago, has been the introduction of Managed Service Agreements. We started with our business customers about 2 years ago and recently introduced them to our residential customers. The basic idea is that we manage your computer equipment so that you don't have to worry about annoying interruptions and costly repairs. These service contracts can provide remote support, on-site support, in-shop support, replacement parts, server and networking support, data backup, malware protection, proactive monitoring, and even the hardware itself. Our service plans start at $25/month/computer. Please call us if you have any questions or are interested in signing up.

NEWSLETTER ARCHIVE

Computer Maintenance

People are always asking us, "How often should I have my computer cleaned and updated?" We always respond with, "How often do you use your computer?" This will dictate the interval of cleaning and updating. If you use the computer every day, then you should have it cleaned and updated every couple of months. If you use it occasionally, then every 6 months. No computer should go more than a year without cleaning and updating. That is why we give every customer who buys a computer from us a complimentary checkup 1 year later. After the cleaning we will ask them to call us at the end of the next year so that it becomes routine. This process can be done remotely and typically takes about 30 minutes to 1 hour. It can also be done on-site or in our workshop. The consequences of not having the system cleaned and updated can be slowness, popups, lockups, shut downs, virus infections, malware infections, loss of data, etc. Please call us if you have any questions about cleaning and updating. We also have Managed Service Agreements where we take care of the cleaning and updating, giving you the ultimate piece of mind.

Computer Scams

Those of you who are regular Computer Medics newsletter readers will recognize the dangers of computer scams and the pain and headaches they can bring. Unfortunately, we still receive 5-10 calls per day from people who claim they have been scammed or we recognize that they are about to be scammed. The most common scams are popup advertisements on websites. The websites themselves can be legitimate (i.e. Facebook, Google, Yahoo, Comcast, etc.) however, they generally do not regulate the source of the ad content. Just visiting the site can cause the message to appear if a certain ad loads. After this happens you will typically see a window with warnings such as "your computer is infected" or "you have visited a website with illegal content" or "we have detected many problems on your computer." You will then be invited to click on a "Scan Now" button or call a 1-800 number. If you do either of these things, additional malicious software may be installed and/or a scammer will attempt to gain access your computer. Next, your data may become encrypted (locked) or your computer will start acting erratically. The final step will be for the scammer to collect a credit card number to resolve the "issue" that they created.

If you stop and call us, we will confirm whether or not the message is a scam and help you remove the threat. If it caught early enough, simply rebooting the computer could be enough. Otherwise, we will help you remove the scam via remote, in-shop, or on-site service. And as a reminder, if you have one of our Managed Service Agreements, remediation of any infection is included. Please call us if you have any questions.

Removing detrimental and unneeded programs

One of the things we do during a typical computer cleaning is to remove unwanted programs from the computer. The average person is unware of all the software that is pre-installed with a new computer or software that accumulates over the years. That is where our 20+ years of experience can be used to spot the detrimental and unneeded programs and remove them. This will result in the computer booting and operating much faster, with less popups and error messages. Please call us if you have any questions about whether a program should be removed. There is no charge for this kind of question over the phone. However, if you want us to connect to the computer and go through your list of programs, normal remote rates will apply. This is a short list of programs we have removed over the last month from our customer's computers. Of course, there are hundreds of other detrimental and unneeded programs out there.

Detrimental and unneeded programs

    1. Ask.com or Ask Jeeves (Search tools)
    2. Bonzi Buddy and Coupons.com (Applications)
    3. ISP webmail applications (Comcast/Centurylink/ATT/HughesNet, etc.)
    4. Antiquated email providers and their applications (Juno, Earthlink, Rocketmail, NetZero, Netscape, ATT/SBCGlobal)
    5. AOL (Dial up service and desktop applications)
    6. Discontinued applications (Picasa, Windows Live Mail, MS Money, MS Works, etc.)
    7. Microsoft Outlook with webmail providers (Gmail, Comcast, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.)
    8. Outdated versions of Microsoft Office (Anything older than Office 2010)
    9. Outdated versions of Flash, Java, and Silverlight.
  10. Outdated web browsers (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, AOL, etc.) 
Computer Scams

There are several types of scams that have been going around lately. These are the most common we have seen. The first example is a pop-up window appearing in your browser, stating: "Critical Microsoft Edge Error. Your accounts have been compromised. You must login to your Microsoft Account to verify your information." If you proceed to enter your Microsoft Account email address and password, you are providing the scammer with your personal information which they can use to inflict real damage to your computer and personal identity. In reality, the pop-up is just a new tab in your web browser and if the tab is closed, the popup window will disappear and no harm is done to your computer. This scam is most commonly seen in Microsoft Edge. Sometimes you may need to force your web browser to close using CRTL+ALT+DELTE and use the Task Manager. Or if that does work, simply power off the computer by pressing and holding the power button for 15 seconds.

A second example is a popup window that starts flashing red and is accompanied by a robotic voice talking to you. It is meant to scare people into calling a toll-free number on the screen for help. If the number is a called, a scammer will ask you to let them connect to your computer to "fix the problem." They will convince you to sign up for their remote assistance service plan and ask for your credit card. The reality is that the popup windows is just an advertisement that was spawned from a website. These scammers can purchase ad space on a website (even legitimate ones like AOL and Yahoo), and if you click anywhere on the web page those ''On-Click Ads'', it will spawn the flashing pop-up window.

A third example is a "robo-call" from "Sarah at Microsoft" on your land-line or cell phone. The automated voice tells you that your Microsoft software has been discontinued and Microsoft has filed for bankruptcy. The voice will ask you stay on the line to speak to a representative, and then someone with a Middle Eastern accent will come on the line and try to convince you to let them connect to your computer. 

A fourth example is a pop-up window that warns the victim that they have been infected or could be under a threat of being infected with a vicious malware or virus that will severely damage their operating system and data. They are directed to a toll-free number after which a scammer will connect to your computer and infect the computer with malware and viruses, which is "confirmed" by third party website (really just a different website the scammer owns. They you will be convinced to pay the scammer to reverse the damage the they caused. If you do not pay, they will threaten to remotely wipe your computer and you will lose all your programs and data.

During some of these scam attempts, the scammers will get creative and ask the user to go to Walgreens, CVS or Wal-Mart to purchase a MoneyGram, iTunes gift card, MoneyPak, or other money gifting methods. The customer will give the scammer the code off the gift card to pay for the "cleaning" instead of using their credit card. This makes it next to impossible to recover the money that is lost. We have real-life examples from our customers who have paid over $1000 to scammers with these payment methods.

How should you respond if you a victim of one of these types of fraud?

First and foremost, stop all communication with the scammer. Second, call Computer Medics to talk through what has happened and get advice on what to do next. We do not charge for these calls. Lately we have been receiving 5-10 per day. Third, if you have provided the scammer with your email address and password, you should immediately change the password for that account. Fourth, if you have given the scammer access to your computer, you should have it cleaned immediately by one of our technicians remotely, in our workshop, or on onsite. Fifth, if the scammer proceeds to call you back (and they normally will), threaten to call the Lee County Sherriff Department Fraud Division at 239-477-1242. This is not an idle threat. Lee County has dedicated deputies assigned to fraud cases like these. Most of the time when our customers mention the Lee County Sherriff Department, the scammers will not call again.

In conclusion, if you ever run into any of these scamming methods, do not click on the screen or call any phone numbers, unless it is ours. If someone calls you on the phone, do not answer and hang up immediately if you happen to pick up the call. If you happen become a victim, please call us and we will give you advice on how to proceed. 
Reducing Internet Exposure

Since the invention of the World Wide Web in the 1990's and the resulting complex network of servers and computers, we have been exposed to vast opportunities to connect and transact with other people and companies. On the upside, our lives have been made a little easier through the opportunity to purchase products through the Internet, communicate with people, and have instant access to information. This new internet landscape is ever changing and evolving, introducing new benefits for communicating with others and digesting content such as music, movies, books, etc. On the downside, we have the pressure to be connected 24/7 with our friends, relatives, and business associates resulting in increased levels of stress. Our many digital devices and the inevitable changes after updates and upgrades is adding even more stress and causing us to reevaluate our budgets. Even more troubling is the recent revelation of major companies like Facebook and Amazon who have shared our private information with 3rd party companies without our knowledge. This can lead to identity theft, scamming opportunities and annoying advertising via email, phone calls, and texts. This article is an attempt to help you reduce your internet exposure, thereby reducing the stress that comes with these undesirable activities. Please consider the following action points:

Stop signing up for new online accounts. This means you should guard your email address and only use it with websites that you know are safe and will not share your information. Safe websites might include your doctors, your insurance agents, your banks and brokerages, etc. Unsafe websites might include social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. or websites where you are only transacting with them on a seldom basis. When shopping online we suggest you to check out as a "guest" and not "create an account" unless you plan to come back and purchasing on a regular basis.

Do not post private information, such as your email address, telephone number, physical address, etc. on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social networking sites. It has long been assumed that whatever you post on social media websites is public information that people can search and read. However, Facebook has been recently exposed after it was reported that a 3rd party application had access to private user data. Instead, communicate using phone calls and texts. Or better yet, transaction in person at a local brick-and-mortar store.
Inspect the website's or application's privacy policy, and security settings. Also, make sure the website is secure. A secure site will begin with the https:// prefix and there will be a picture of a secure lock in the web browser. Applications such as Facebook will let you control which 3rd party applications will have access to your data. Also, there are settings which will allow you to communicate privately with other people.

Do not use unsafe email providers such as Yahoo, AOL and Earthlink. It has long been known that these 3 providers have issues with security. Every few months there are media reporting major data breaching involving these companies. Our advice is to switch to a "modern" email service such as Gmail or Outlook.com. If you will call us, we will help you create a new email address, transfer your address book to the new email address, setup email forwarding from your old address, and train you on using the new email service. Finally, after you have contacted your friends and family and have changed your email address with your doctors, insurance agents, banks, brokerages, etc. we will help you cancel your old email address.

Avoid rewards programs from merchants such as gas stations, pharmacies, and restaurants. This is a big area. Merchants will ask you for your email address, phone number, address, etc. in exchange for signing you up for their loyalty program. This sounds exciting and can lead to some discounts. But now the merchant has your information which they can use it to advertise you, but even worse sell your information to companies who in turn may sell your information to dubious companies that will attempt to scam you.

In conclusion, the Internet has opened us up to a world of convenience through instant information, online transactions and social networking. However, this has given seedy characters the opportunity to purchase or steal our personal data and even our identity. It is our job to reduce our internet exposure. Hopefully this article has been helpful to this end. Please call or email us if you have any questions or comments.

Letter from Mike Peterson


This month's newsletter is comprised of a collection of small issues that we want to make our customers aware of. If you would like to dig deeper into these topics or have specific questions, please give us a call or send us an email. We would be happy to answer all your questions.


Windows 7 Support is Ending Soon

The official Microsoft Windows 7 support end date is 1-12-2020, which about 20 months away. This is the natural 10-year life-cycle of an operating system. Windows 7 was released on 7-22-09. This means that Microsoft will no longer release bug fixes, security patches, and virus protection updates. This will leave your computer vulnerable to hackers and potential crashes. People are asking about upgrading to Windows 10. We do not recommend that. Putting Windows 10 on an old computer can make it unstable and introduce issues. We recommend replacing the computer. We have been selling Dell desktops, laptops and tablets for about 15 years. We will take care of all the work transferring data and setting up software and peripherals on your new computer.

Never Turn Off Windows Firewall

Many of our customers have been following the advice of Internet Gurus and turning off their Windows Firewall. They claim that this is necessary to install programs and updates. This is not true. You should never turn off your Windows Firewall. You will open up your computer to hackers and malware.

Malwarebytes is Always OK to Update/Upgrade

Malwarebytes Premium is always updating and upgrading their software in order to keep up with the scammers and hackers and to block their attempts to access our computers. If you ever see a Malwarebytes update or upgrade, always proceed and allow it.

Snowbirds and Remote Assistance Support

Over the last few years we have noticed a trend of more and more snowbirds calling us throughout the summer with various technical issues and questions. We have a very good remote assistance system in place to handle these issues and questions. And we have a new Maintenance Service Agreement to cover calls such as these. For $25/month/computer, you can call us as many times as you like. Many people like the convenience of having a trusted technician available when they need it. You can still call on an as needed basis for our normal $40/30-minutes of support. These MSA contracts are popular for our local residents too. And for $40/month/computer we will cover onsite and remote assistance support calls. Please call us for more details. Finally, if you have friends and relatives up north that need technical support, they can call us too.

Windows Update 1803

Microsoft recently released another major update to Windows 10. These major updates are "pushed" automatically to people's computers. You can choose to postpoen updates, but you can not block them. After this recent 1803 update, we have been receiving calls from people who have been experiencing strange issues, such has having trouble loading Windows, trouble connecting to the Internet, and some issues with Microsoft Edge. Most of these issues are related to people who have upgraded to Windows 10 on a Windows 7 computer that did not have Windows 10 support. Please call us if you have any issues after updating Windows.

Hughes.net Internet Service Provider

Recently we have started receiving calls from people who have switched to a satellite Internet Provider called Hughes.net. They switched because of the poor customer service they received through Comcast or Centurylink. However, after switching to Hughes.net they starting experiencing poor Internet performance. After we investigate, we find their ping times are much too high and their upload speeds are much too low. This is the nature of Satellite communication. The download speeds are fantastic, but the upload speeds are terrible. It is a long way to the satellite. We are encouraging people to swith back to Comcast or Centurylink and try to endure their poor customer service.

Hurricane Preparedness


It is time to have our annual "Hurricane Preparedness" conversation. Though, this year everyone should be listening. Last year brought Hurricane Irma. It could have been a disaster, but God had favor on us. After the hurricane, we made some assessments and told ourselves we would be better prepared next time. Here are some general guidelines to prepare for the next hurricane and keep your computer equipment safe.


   Move your computer equipment up off the floor. After Irma, we discovered that water was a bigger problem than wind. So, move your computer equipment up off the floor at least 3FT (or higher if you live near the coast or flood prone areas).


   Unplug your computer equipment from the wall. After Irma, we (at Computer Medics) came back to find several battery backups that were damaged. Thankfully, none of the computer equipment was damaged. So, the battery backup "laid down its life" for us. Before the next hurricane, we will turn off and unplug the battery backup units. Tip: The effective life of a battery backup is 3-5 years. If yours is older, we recommend replacing it. Call us for details.


   Send in your battery backup warranty cards. Some of the battery backups have $75,000 of warranty protection, but only if you register the device before it fails.


   Backup your data. With the availability of automatic cloud backup services, like Carbonite, this is less of an issue. However, if you have a business it is a good idea to have your data backed up to an external hard drive. Otherwise, if your computer is damaged during the storm it could take days for Carbonite to restore all your data. In addition, Computer Medics has a cloud backup system that can image your hard drive. If it fails, we can install a new hard drive and you will be up and running in a matter of hours. This cloud backup solution is not only important for hurricane preparedness, but critical for everyday use since hard drives can fail or be stolen at any time.


   Have a secondary Internet Connection. After Irma, we had power back on at our business within 48-hours. However, it took Comcast another 2 days to restore our internet connection. During that downtime, we used a Verizon Wi-Fi hotspot from a Verizon MiFi device (about the size of dinner roll). Be warned, if you do not have an Unlimited Data Plan, you need to be careful and not stream many videos, or you could end up with large data overages on your monthly bill. Also, as an backup for Comcast, Computer Medics has a monthly service plan with a router that will automatically switch to a cellular internet service if your Comcast connection fails. Please call us for details.


   Have a secondary source of power. This could be a whole-house generator, a portable generator, or inverters to plug into your car to charge your cell phones and other rechargeable devices. Also, remember the long lines for gas stations and the gas shortages. Prepare early and make sure your car gas tanks are full in case you have to evacuate. Furthermore, have enough gas to run your generator for at least 4 days. Our personal portable generator burned gas at a rate of ½ gallon per hour. We ran it all night to cool our fridges, freezers, and run window AC units. Our family was without power for 14 days after Irma, 8 days after Wilma (2005), and 7 days after Charley (2004).


   Finally, if you are forced to evacuate, which many did during Irma, you should have a list of valuables and important papers that you should take with you. Things such as medications, jewelry, computers, passports, titles, family pictures, etc. Do not wait until the evacuation order is announced before preparing this list.


Support for Windows 7 is ending


The official Microsoft Windows 7 support end date is 1-14-2020, which is about 18 months away. Windows 7 was released on 7-22-09 and is following the natural 10-year life-cycle of an operating system. After the support ending date, Microsoft will no longer release bug fixes, security patches, and virus protection updates which will leave your computer vulnerable to hackers and potential crashes. 


People are asking if it is OK to upgrade their Windows 7 computer to Windows 10. We do not recommend that. Putting Windows 10 on an older computer can make it unstable and introduce problems. Likewise, installing Windows 7 or even Winodws 8.1 on newer hardware will cause problems. This quote is directly from Microsoft and can be found at the following website: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/13853/windows-lifecycle-fact-sheet.


     "Prior versions of Windows, including Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, have limited support when running on new processors and chipsets from manufacturers like Intel, AMD, NVidia, and Qualcomm."   


If you have an older computer, we will recommend upgrading or replacing it. Anything older than 5 years is considered old in our hyper-changing technology environment. But before we sell you a new computer, we will check the manufacturer's website to see if they have drivers for Windows 10. If they do, we will proceed to install a fresh copy of Windows 10. Otherwise, you will recommend you purchase a new computer. We have been selling Dell towers and laptops for over 15 years. We find Dell to be the most reliable brand available. We have a range of computer systems for sale starting with basic entry level models up through business class models. The basic models are ideal for web surfing and checking email online. The business models are for people that need to multitask and expect top performance from their personal computers. The Dell computers in stock here at Computer Medics are available in comfortable sizes. The desktop computer systems come in small and mid-size form factors. The laptop computer systems range from a 13" screen size up to a 17" screen size. We are a full-service computer shop and will take care of all the details when installing your new computer: connecting peripherals and devices, transferring data, setting up software and helping you navigate your new Windows 10 system. Please click on our website to the computers we have in stock. Additionally, we can order any configuration you may need for your particular applications.

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Letter from Mike Peterson


Fall is a time we look forward to. The weather is getting cooler and the air is getting dryer. Soon we will be getting ready for the Holidays and looking forward to all our friends and family that will visit our warm winter wonderland. Thank you for your continued support of our business. We look forward to serving you in 2019 and beyond.


Java Software Ending


The Java software will no longer be provided from Oracle as a standalone application around the time Microsoft stops supporting Windows 7 in 2020. If a program still needs Java to run, the software company will have to include it within their program. For example, Pogo Games or bank deposit applications will have to start including Java with the program itself and not as separate stand-alone download. The main reason for this is because people continue to use the main program but never update the Java download resulting in computer system vulnerabilities. These problems have led Oracle to change the way they distribute their software updates. Fortunately, Computer Medics has known about these exploits for years and has been proactively uninstalling Java. We only leave the software installed if you have an active program requiring it.


Flash Player Should Never Be Downloaded


Adobe Flash Player is a program that is used to stream audio and video. In the past, it was a stand-alone program that had to be downloaded and installed. Now the program code is built into the latest Internet Browsers such as Edge, Chrome, and Firefox. Only older outdated browsers such as Internet Explorer needed it. Therefore, you should never download any program that claims to be “Flash Player.” This is a common tactic that scammers employ to gain access to your computer and plant malware to steal your personal data or information. Incidentally, if you are still using Internet Explorer, you NEED to upgrade to a more modern browser. Please call us for assistance.


Windows 1803 Update


The Windows 1803 update is causing some Office programs (Word/Excel/PowerPoint/Outlook) to stop working. The fix is to reinstall the Office software. If we must reinstall Office, we are going to ask you for your license key or Microsoft account information. If you purchased the software from us, we may have recorded it. If you cannot find the license or account information, you will need to purchase a new copy. This is not all bad since most people experiencing this issue are using older versions, such as Office 2003, 2007 or 2010.


Managed Service Agreements


The most exciting thing to happen to Computer Medics since our inception 20 years ago, has been the introduction of Managed Service Agreements. We started with our business customers about 2 years ago and recently introduced them to our residential customers. The basic idea is that we manage your computer equipment so that you don't have to worry about annoying interruptions and costly repairs. These service contracts can provide remote support, on-site support, in-shop support, replacement parts, server and networking support, data backup, malware protection, proactive monitoring, and even the hardware itself. Our service plans start at $25/month/computer. Please call us if you have any questions or are interested in signing up.