"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.
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Letter from Mike Peterson
On behalf of all our employees and their families at Computer Medics we would like to thank you for a successful 2017 and wish you and your family a properous 2018. If you have any questions about your computers, mobile devices and peripherals, please do not hesitate to call us. We love to help our customers better use technology and take away their headaches.
Carbonite Increases Their Rates
Carbonite has announced that they are increasing their Carbonite Safe Basic and Carbonite Safe Plus Backup Plans effective on February 6th, 2018. The current prices are $59.99 and $99.99 per year. The new rates are $71.99 and $111.99 per year. Anyone who starts or renews on February 6th or later will pay the new rates. If you want to "lock in" the old rates for up to 3 years, you will need to call us before February 6th.
Announcing Computer Medics Cloud Storage
We have been searching for many years to find a reliable and affordable cloud solution for our small business customers and home users with multiple computers. Carbonite's small business plans start at $600/year and have expensive and limited data storage sizes. Over the past few months we have been testing the service and are now ready to roll it out to all our customers. The cost is $15/month/terabyte (TB) for an unlimited number of devices. You can access your files from any computer or mobile device. If you compare it to Carbonite's cost of $6/month, you could start saving money with our cloud service if you have 3 or more computers and/or mobile devices in your business or home. Please call or email us if you have questions about this service or would like to sign up for it.
Managed Service Contracts
Last month I announced our new Managed Service Plans. We have 4 different plans to choose from (Cybersecurity, Maintenance, Server Administration, and Email Administration). We have set up several of our customers with these plans. They like the peace of mind knowing we are protecting and maintaining their systems.
In the ongoing list of notable computer viruses, the Meltdown Virus was revealed on January 3, 2018 by several media outlets. The reports allege that the virus can be contracted by opening an email, going to a website that is infected with it, or downloading an attachment. The virus imbeds itself between the CPU (central processing unit) and OS (operating system) to try and steal information. Why did this virus surface? Since the invention of computers, they have been designed to share information in a trusted environment. However, in our modern-day environment there are people who have taken this feature and have exploited it. Therefore, we must respond by instituting stricter security measures.
How should you respond to this latest virus threat? Like all virus threats, first and foremost, you should not panic. There are companies working behind the scenes to make sure your system is safe. Computer manufacturers are working to create updates to patch this vulnerability. Software manufactures and anti-virus companies are doing the same. Your job is to check your system to make sure your hardware and software is up-to-date. With this particular virus, the most vulnerable computers are those that are 5-10 years old running 4th generation Intel processors or older. Those who have been reading my newsletters for a while know that the normal life of a computer is 3-5 years. Therefore, if you have computer older than 5 years, it may be time to replace it. Please call us and we will help you determine the vulnerability of your system and what updates need to be installed.
What are some practical things I can do to help prevent viruses in general?
1. Use a modern Internet browser, such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Firefox. You should NOT be using Internet Explorer. The end-of-life for Internet Explorer was January 12th, 2016.
2. Update Your Internet Browser. Most browsers have a built-in update feature to check for the latest version (usually located under settings). Microsoft's Edge browser (only available on Windows 10) will automatically be updated through Windows updates.
3. Verify your computer is set to automatically download and install Windows Updates. This feature is turned on by default when you purchase a computer. However, some people will turn this feature off and ignore or delay the updates. There really is no reason not to install the updates. In the past, people complained about the wait-time for updates to install. However, on newer computers, especially those with solid state hard drives, the updates will only take a few seconds to complete.
4. Update your applications when you are prompted to. These applications include, but are not limited to: virus protection, malware protection, Adobe applications, and other third-party software. We tell people if you see a pop-up notification in the lower-right corner of the screen, it is OK to install the update. If you see a pop-up notification in the center of your screen it is likely a scammer trying to gain access to your computer. If you see something like this, DO NOT click on any links or call the phone number you see on the screen.
5. Search your hardware manufacturer's website (i.e. Dell, Lenovo, Acer, Asus, HP, MSI, etc.) to see if they have any updated drivers. This is especially important for the Meltdown Virus since the vulnerability lies in the hardware and requires an update to the motherboard's BIOS and firmware. Updating the BIOS should not be done via our remote assistance service. If a BIOS update is done improperly the machine could be permanently damaged. Please call us for an on-site or in-shop appointment if you would like help updating your BIOS.
In conclusion, your first response to the Meltdown Virus should be to NOT PANIC. If your computer is 5+ years old, it is especially vulnerable and you should consider replacing it. We sell Dell towers and laptops and will take care of transferring your data and installing the applications you need. If your computer is less than 5 years old, you should make sure the software and hardware device drivers are up-to-date. We recommend having your computer checked and updated at least once per year. And if you have purchased a computer from us, your first annual checkup is FREE! Call us if you have any questions or you would like us to remotely clean and check your computer.
Personal Letter from the Owner
For those of you who are not aware, I have decided to change the frequency of the Computer Medics newsletters to once a month rather than every quarter. The computer field changes faster than every quarter and sometimes there are special events that deserve mentioning. Case in point is the Microsoft Windows 10 Fall Creators Update that was released on 10-17-17. All the details about this update are explained in the next session of this newsletter. First I would like to explain some of the new happenings around Computer Medics.
First, I would like to introduce you to our newest Computer Medics team member Matt Lewis. Matt has been with us since August. He comes to us with many years of computer and technology experience and several years work experience with a different computer service company. Additionally, with his call center phone experience he has fit in nicely as our phone answering person and remote assistance technician. His pleasant voice and respectful attitude bring a new level of customer service to Computer Medics. Stephen Sullivan has been promoted to our primary onsite residential computer technician. And Justin McNeill has been promoted to a dual role of Sales and Marketing and business computer technician. We are now a team of 8, which makes us stronger and better as we strive to improve our level of customer service.
Another new development is the introduction of two service plans which we call our Cyber Security Service Plan and Diagnostic Repair Service Plan. We have been offering these service plans to our business customers for the last two years with great success. People love the peace of mind of knowing that no viruses or malware can enter their systems with the Cyber Security plan. We have never had a customer receive a virus or malware with this plan. But if you do, we will remove the virus or malware and rebuild your system for no charge. This does not cover data backup, of which Carbonite Online Backup is still our best recommendation. Additionally, our Diagnostic Repair Service Plan will give you peace of mind knowing that we will take care of all your essential hardware components, so you can continue to work without interruption. The only thing you will pay for is the new hardware cost and the cost to transfer data and setup programs if a new hard drive or new computer is needed.
Another area we would like to expand is the cleaning and checkup for the Dell computers people purchase from us. Each new computer that we sell comes with a complimentary 1st anniversary computer checkup and cleaning done through our remote assistance service. During the 1st cleaning we suggest people call us at the end of the 2nd year for another checkup and cleaning. Going forward, we are going to be proactive and call people when their 2nd anniversary occurs and invite them for a checkup and cleaning. Typically this will cost $40-$80 depending on how much cleaning and updates are needed.
Finally, we would like to expand the number of communities we reach with our computer classes. Currently, we teach classes in communities such as The Landings, Bonita Bay, Heritage Pointe, Shell Point, Barkley Place and others. These classes are complimentary and foster greater computer and technology knowledge leading to a more pleasurable computer experience. We teach subjects such as Cyber Security, Maintaining your Computer, Emailing, Top Internet Websites, Social Media, and Frequently Asked Questions. If your community has a club house or other meeting room, please call us and will put you on the calendar for these free computer classes.
Microsoft Windows 10 Fall Creators Update
Microsoft began distributing the Fall Creators Update for Windows 10 starting on Tuesday October 17th. This update will be distributed in small batches to the over 400 million Windows 10 devices. This will take several weeks to complete. When your system is ready to be updated, you will be asked to review your privacy settings (which can be left unchanged) before downloading the update. After it is downloaded and installed, your device will be running Windows 10, version 1703. If you would like to see what version of Windows you are currently running, select the Start button (lower left corner), then select Settings, System, About. It is Microsoft’s plan to distribute a feature Windows update like this every 6 months.
Before I get into the specific features unveiled with this Windows update, let me start by explaining Microsoft’s overall goal. Microsoft calls it the Universal Windows Platform. Their aim is to create a common core among all Windows devices such as Windows Desktops, Windows Laptops, Windows Phones, Microsoft Surface Tablets, Xbox consoles and the Microsoft Watches. This will create a unified experience (same interface) which will result in a more pleasure user experience and less of a learning curve when picking up a new device. Furthermore, with every update, Microsoft is taking out more and more antiquated operating system code, resulting in faster and faster startup and response time.
Now I would like to like to highlight a few of the new features included with this Windows update. We consider all of these to be minor and should not cause your computer to crash or give you trouble. First, you can now pin your connections (contacts) to your taskbar from the My People app. This will allow to you quickly contact your favorite people. Second, Windows Defender has been updated to include Ransomware virus protection. Ransomware is the term for a virus that locks your files and asks for money in exchange for unlocking the files. Third, Microsoft Cortana has added a “pick up where you left off” feature when you stop working on an app on one device and pickup another, even if you are using an Apple or Android device. In order for this to work, you must install Cortana on your non-Windows devices. Fourth, the Action Center is getting an upgrade to help sort the priority of tasks. This should help you see what actions are more important than others so you can respond to those first. Fifth, Fluent Design has been implemented. This means Microsoft is adding more transparency and blurring effects to make transitions appear more natural. Sixth, Microsoft has created an Emoji keyboard shortcut (Windows + period) to summon Microsoft’s emoji panel. Finally, Microsoft will allow you to pin websites directly to the taskbar with the Microsoft Edge browser. Look for “Pin this page to the taskbar” option in the browser’s settings. This is similar to the old Windows days when people created website icons on their desktop.
Here are few tips to consider before downloading the new Windows update. First, since Microsoft is dolling-out the updates slowly, it may take a few weeks before you see it. Since this is a feature update and not a critical update, you can wait for Microsoft to push it to your machine. Second, installing the update may take several minutes and up to several hours depending on the speed of your computer and Internet connection. If your update is not progressing after 1 hour (sometimes it will stall on a certain percentage) we suggest that you reboot your computer by holding the power button down for 10 seconds. Third, if your computer is older, you may want to update your hardware device drivers (video card, network card, motherboard, sound, printer, etc.) before and after you install the update. This is something we always do for those who call us for a computer checkup and cleaning. We recommend people update their drivers at least once per year and especially before the semi-annual Windows update.
Finally, if you have any questions or concerns before the update or after the update, do not hesitate to call us. We are ready to answer all your questions concerning the Windows update, hardware device driver updates and general computer cleaning. If necessary, we will remotely connect to your computer and take care of any issues.
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.
UPDATE: COMPUTER MEDICS WILL BE CLOSED ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 8 AND 9 TO GIVE OUR EMPLOYEE'S FAMILIES TIME FOR HURRICANE PREPAREDNESS. GOD WILLING, WE WILL RESUME NORMAL OPERATIONS ON MONDAY THE 11TH.
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.
UPDATE: COMPUTER MEDICS WILL BE CLOSED ON FRIDAY AND SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 8 AND 9 TO GIVE OUR EMPLOYEE'S FAMILIES TIME FOR HURRICANE PREPARATIONS. GOD WILLING, WE WILL RESUME NORMAL OPERATIONS ON MONDAY THE 11TH.
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.
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 "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.
The "Maintenance 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. This plan includes all of the benefits of the "Cyber Security Service Plan." 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.